Finn Meta Linkspam

Here are some discourses on my favorite character from Star Wars:

Star Wars, Finn, and Fandom Racism

 

We start with an admonishment to not be “That Person”.

thesovereignempress:

the-bi-writer:

this is a post for my fellow white star wars fans: we gotta do better. the treatment of Finn in the fandom at large has been dismal, both in obvious and insidious ways. so let’s talk about this.

quick note before we start: if you’re only here to argue, move on. if you’re already typing out a response beginning with, “not all white people,” don’t. however, if you’re interested in challenging your own biases, welcome aboard.

here are some harmful things white fans do, in regards to Finn:

1. we ignore him in fan works.

a quick check of ao3 stats shows that Hux (who has approx. 3 min of screen time) shows up in two thousand more works than Finn.

before you get defensive: no one’s telling you what you can and can’t write. however, as white fans we need to consider why we’re willing to go to the effort to imagine a rich backstory for a minor character we know almost nothing about, while ignoring the *actual* protagonist who already has a rich backstory of his own. (that protagonist is Finn, in case i was being unclear. Finn is a protagonist of Star Wars: Episode VII -The Force Awakens. Finn is a main character and co-lead. it’s Finn.)

2. when we do include Finn in fan works, we treat him poorly.

i’m going to stay in my lane on this one, and refer you to Writing with Color for more specifics on how *not* to treat black characters in harmful and/or stereotypical ways.

briefly: Finn is often hyper-sexualized (BBC, etc.) or pushed to the side by the narrative. additionally, very few fics, even ones with Finn in the main pairing, truly treat Finn as the protagonist of their fic.

i’m guilty of this myself, and i’m working on it. which is all i’m asking you to do: educate yourself, be willing to change, and then do it.

3. we underestimate his role in cannon

go read this post, and then tell me you haven’t been underestimating Finn from the moment he stepped on screen. i’d noticed almost everything the post points out, but chalked it up to plot holes, instead of considering that Finn (again, a protagonist) had been awake in the force since the beginning of the film.

that, right there friends, is racism.

tl;dr fellow white fans, we gotta do better. let’s take the energy we spend trying to convince people we aren’t racist…and actually be less racist. it’s our responsibility to examine our attitudes and change our actions. now is the time.

further reading:

here’s some excellent finn meta

here’s 5 tips for being an ally (video) by chescaleigh (Franchesca Ramsey) – her channel has a ton of other videos about race too.

here are a whole bunch of resources from Writing with Color, a tumblr “dedicated to writing and resources centered on racial & ethnic diversity.”

(feel free to add links + resources)

The thing is, if Reylo is your pairing and that’s the characters you choose to focus on – since that is how shipping works and as a reader I’m definitely going in for Reylo and other characters are secondary – what qualifies as “ignoring” or “pushing to the side”? That’s my issue with these talks about erasure and sidelining around Finn.

Lest it be misunderstood, I totally agree that we can be better at treating Finn in our fan works. I’ve seen him used in some uncomfortable ways. But there are some contradictions in this endeavor that tend to get glossed over.

I mean, no one is saying Finn should be the focus of fanfics about Reylo or other non-Finn ships. That doesn’t make sense. When we talk about Finn erasure, we’re talking about the bigger picture.

For example, if I go to the main TFA tag or the Star Wars tag, Finn is often nowhere to be seen. If I look for Finn (or even Finnrey or Stormpilot) fics, few that come up in the search are actually about Finn, making it difficult to find actual Finn content where he’s not a background character. When the title for Ep 8 dropped, There was a lot of speculation that The Last Jedi might be Ren and Rey as if Finn doesn’t exist. It’s not just in individual ship fics, if you look at many fan spaces, you would think Finn was a very minor character, not a main character. And that’s a problem.

We have to ask why Reylo and Kylux are the dominant ships while fics about Finn are the least popular. The question is not why aren’t Reylo and Kylux fics about Finn, it’s why are these ships exponentially more popular than ships including Finn and fics where Finn is actually a main character.

After a year’s worth of justifications that historically ONLY apply to white characters (fandom loves villains, the blank slate, etc) plus the fact that white heroes/protags are shipped like crazy, it’s clear that Finn’s blackness contributes heavily to his minimization.

Source: the-bi-writer fandom racism star wars finn
jawnbaeyega luminousfinn

skywalkerapologist:

luminousfinn:

The narrative arc The Force Awakens create between Finn and Kylo Ren is an interesting one. Visually it begins in the very first scene they appear on screen together at the assault of Tuanul village after the execution of the villagers that FN-2187 refused to participate in. When Kylo Ren is returning to his shuttle, he stops and stares at Finn for, at the time, no discernible reason.

In doing this the movie draws a visual line between the two men, connecting them in the audience’s mind and in-universe. One is dressed in black, the other in white, both are helmeted and faceless, but already we have witnessed the distinction between them and the movie spends the rest of its time emphasizing it: Kylo Ren will murder on a whim, while FN-2187 refuses to kill unarmed civilians.

After this “meeting” Kylo Ren maintains a distinct interest in FN-2187. So much that he not only knows that it was the same trooper which aided Poe in escaping, but that when he learns that Finn has got away with BB-8 he throws one of his two destructive rampages.

The other he has when Rey escapes captivity.

After this their stories part for a time, but only to be rejoined on Starkiller Base after Kylo Ren murders Han Solo.

After Chewie shoots Kylo, blows up the oscillator and everyone including Finn and Rey starts shooting, we see Kylo Ren kneeling on the bridge looking up. .

The camera cuts to an angle behind Kylo Ren’s head so we now also have Finn and Rey in the shot, both standing on a balcony in the background

Another cut, closing up on our two leads. This shows them both standing, looking down on Kylo Ren. Both look shocked and Finn is stepping forward on the balcony, towards the audience and more importantly, towards Kylo.

Once again the movie cuts and again it zooms in so that now Finn is in focus. His face merges from the shock and fear he has so far displayed, into grief, anger and determination. And throughout the shot he steps further and further forward while the camera zooms in on him, visually emphasizing him stepping into the conflict with Kylo Ren.

Rey is barely in the frame here and by the end of the shot she’s entirely gone, leaving her literally out of the picture.

Next cut is back to Kylo Ren, who is staring up at Finn. The way this sequence is cut together makes it startlingly clear that this is where he is looking and who he is looking at. Kylo’s face merges from surprise into unmitigated fury and hatred at the sight of FN-2187, the Stormtrooper who defected, who is everything he is not.

The whole sequence mirrors their first encounter with the two men staring at each other, though they’re now unmasked and we can see the mutual enmity clear on their faces. Finn is no longer running away, he’s stepping forward and the camera zooms in on Kylo’s face drawing him into conflict with Finn as well.

The movie sets up this conflict not just for the coming battle in the forest, but also for the next two Episodes as the battle between the two men is a draw. Finn is defeated by Kylo, but the Dark Sider does not obtain the lightsaber and is in turn defeated by Rey. Neither of them emerges a victor and the narrative conflict between them remains unresolved.

So whatever Episode VIII and IX brings, it is clear that Finn and Kylo will cross paths again and Kylo had better beware. To borrow John’s words: “Finn ain’t playing no more”, that much is clear from the scene in the oscillator.

Next cut is back to Kylo Ren, who is staring up at Finn. The way this sequence is cut together makes it startlingly clear that this is where he is looking and who he is looking at. 

This part is so important and yet flew over like 90% of the fandom’s heads in favor of focusing on Rey (gee I wonder why).

The shift in Finn’s expression from shocked grief to quiet rage reminds me of Luke’s reaction to seeing his aunt and uncle’s burnt corpses in ANH. Obviously Rey and Kylo will be squaring off again in VIII but TFA also made it clear that there’s some serious bad blood between Finn and Kylo that’s entirely separate from wanting to protect or recruit Rey. Which is why I roll my eyes when I see people claim that Finn is going to be shunted off to a B-plot opposite Hux (a character he never interacted with in TFA) and Phasma (who he literally threw in the trash).

Also, it’s worth noting that for the first time, Rey has to take Finn by the arm and pull him away.

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Kylo was stumbling up towards them and I’m not convinced that Finn wouldn’t have tried to take him down right then and there.

finn meta to read
rebelfinn

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*Look, as far as I’m concerned Finn is Force Sensitive, and that’s that. He will be a  Jedi. I will wrestle you out of of your underwear, with your pants still on, if you disagree. Here, have some receipts:

Also, I just love this gorgeous essay on the parallels between Finn’s narrative and Arthurian legend.

jawnbaeyega adagalore

luminousfinn:

Maz giving Finn the lightsaber is noticeable for many reasons, not least of which because it happens twice and for all the Arthurian parallels surrounding the scenes.

 

The first time takes place just after the destruction of the Hosnia system which is what makes Finn return to Han (and implicitly to the fight against the Dark Side). At this point none of them knows that they’re about to be attacked themselves by the First Order, not even Maz.

Despite this she immediately upon Finn’s return  takes him, Han and Chewie into the cellar where she keeps the lightsaber. When she takes it out of the chest Han recognizes it and asks where she got it, she brushes him off and focuses on Finn.

Why Finn? Last she saw him Finn made it clear that he was leaving. Hosnia’s destruction marked a tentative return, but so far it is tentative. And wouldn’t Han a man who might not be a paragon, but someone she’s know for years, make more sense?

Her words as she passes it are ambiguous. “Take it. Find your friend.” And do what exactly? Give it to her? Use it to protect her? What? Recall, no one but Maz and Rey herself knows that Rey can use the Force at this point. In fact Finn is never told this in TFA.

In assorted other things the fact that Han’s attention shifts off Maz and onto Finn the moment she tells him to take it, but before she stops talking is interesting. His intent gaze on Finn as he makes the choice to take the weapon is mirrored in the second “giving” by Maz.

Maz too is looking rather expectantly as Finn reaches out and takes the lightsaber from her. The music that has so far been playing softly in the background swells dramatically the moment Finn’s hand touches the saber and mixes with the diegetic sound of an approaching TIE fighter as Finn raises the lightsaber as a young Arthur might Excalibur. The scene ends in a dramatic boom as the castle is struck just as we see Finn look at the saber with a serious face.

It is noticeable that Finn is so entranced by the lightsaber that he doesn’t seem to hear the incoming TIE. Not long before at Niima Outpost he jumped at the first sound of it, but here he’s oblivious to the noise.

 

Now before I go on to the second “giving” I’m going to make a small detour around Arthurian myth.

Much have been made of the Arthurian parallels in TFA. Kylo Ren as a Mordred like figure. Luke as either a Merlin or a fallen Arthur himself and of course Rey pulling the Skywalker lightsaber out of the metaphorical stone. But the Arthurian parallels have been ignored where Finn is concerned, especially when it comes to the giving of the lightsaber/Excalibur, because in Arthurian myths there are two kinds of givings of that sword. One is Arthur pulling it out of the stone which declares himself the true king of Britain, in the other it is given to him by The Lady of the Lake.

In both versions Arthur starts out as a youth of unknown parentage grown up fostered by strangers, just as Finn is. In the second versions Arthur runs into Merlin, often portrayed as an older, wiser man. Depending on the version Arthur either asks Merlin for help or about his future, in either case Merlin takes him to The Lady of the Lake.

The Lady depending on the version of the tale is either a powerful magical being or a High Priestess of Avalon. She proceeds to ask the young Arthur several question and put him through a test which he fails, but she sees that though he is not perfect he has a good heart and a true spirit. Realizing this she bequeath him Excalibur, the sword of the true king and the mark of a hero.

Maz is in a quite literal sense The Lady of the Lake. She a powerful alien, strong in the Force who has made her home on a lake.

Her initial interactions with Finn runs parallel with The Lady’s testing of Arthur, complete with Finn “failing the test” by choosing to leave. But in deciding to return to the fight Finn proves to The Lady of the Lake that he’s heart and spirit is true and so she gives him Excalibur (the Skywalker lightsaber) to wield.

 

That she means for him to wield it and not just as a caretaker becomes clear in the second “giving”.

When they exit the now ruined castle the dark forces are upon them and battle is joined. Maz once more tells Finn to go find his friends.

This time Finn has no intention of leaving proving him once more worthy of Excalibur and this time Maz’s words are unambiguous, she intends, and always intended, for him to be a wielder of the blade, not just a carrier.

As Finn again lifts the Skywalker lightsaber and this time ignites it, Maz look on with great expectancy clearly meant to mirror the audience. Will “Excalibur” accept Finn as its wielder? And will Finn accept the lightsaber as his?

At first we see doubt on Finn’s face, it’s an unfamiliar weapon and a Jedi’s weapon to boot. How can he wield this? But Maz believes he can and Finn is nothing if not up for whatever challenge life throws at him so he ignites it. The blade flashes to life in his hand, accepting him as a worthy wielder, and the moment it does Finn’s decision is also made. He may not be a Jedi (yet), but the sword is his.

 

tl;dr. There is a lot of Arthurian coding around Han (Merlin) bringing Finn (a young Arthur) to Maz (The Lady of the Lake), Maz testing him and in finding that he has a good and pure heart gives him the Skywalker lightsaber (Excalibur). The sword allowing itself to be ignited (drawn from the sheath) confirms Finn’s worthiness as its wielder.

Source: luminousfinnLISTENTHIS IS THE CONTENT FOR WHICH I AM HEREGOOD SHIT RIGHT HERE OKfinn factsfinn metafinn is force sensitiveboth rey and finn are gonna be jedi okchoke on THAT
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*I have a friend who insists that Finn was nothing more than comedy relief and refuses to move from the position that he is a “coon”, no matter how many valid points I bring up. I just don’t get it. Its obvious that she and I were not watching the same movie at all. But then, she and I aren’t in the same place on the idea of representation, either, which might be some type of generational thing. Also part of the problem is that a lot of Black people were expecting Shaft in Space. We already got all that with Mace Windu’s  purple lightsaber, so why copy that?
lj-writes

Finn’s subversive decency

Choosing to be kind is not choosing to be passive. It’s choosing to end the cycle of abuse… . It’s a courageous act in itself.

-Melissa Grey on Cinderella

It’s amazing to me how some parts of the Star Wars fandom have no sense of nuance when it comes to Finn’s character, seeing him as either a naive child who can hardly function in the real world or a ruthless killer who showed no regrets or conflicts whatsoever about killing his former comrades.

Both extremes are fairly dehumanizing and distorted portrayals of the actual character, because the core of Finn’s character is that he is innocent when he has no business being so. He’s a character whose innocence and purity are not oblivious naïvete but qualities he had to fight to keep and attain. His morality is not based on an ignorance of life’s harsh realities, but rather on an intimate knowledge of brutality and the will to break free of it.

Keep reading

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Oooh! More theory!

https://youtu.be/YByg2UoncBs

On Tumblr: Hannibal Meta

*Yes, I’m still fascinated by this show, its characters, and its meanings. I hope some of you guys are just as interested, so here’s some Hannibal meta, that showed up on my dashboard, from when the show was at its peak. This might  spur some of you to re- watch certain episodes with a fresh perspective.
Remember Bedelia’s statement, later in the first season, about Hannibal’s careful facade and that she could catch glimpses of the real man through his human suit. This is important because Hannibal has been wearing this “person suit” from the moment Will first met him.
From: hannibalsbattlebot

On the surface, Will telling Hannibal “I don’t find you that interesting” seems unbelievably rude. Ah, we think, Hannibal must find Will special if he puts up with that. But, this early on Hannibal has only shown Will his mask, his human suit. To most people, the facade is interesting enough. That’s the point. All the trappings were put there by Hannibal to distract everyone from his real self. When Will is not impressed by this smoke screen, he has passed an important test.

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*This is an essay about Hannibal’s ability to feel. I would say that yes, he does have emotions, but I would argue they are somewhat truncated, not as fully developed as they should be in a grown man, as he rarely, if ever expends emotion on anyone other than Will or himself.

It’s not that Hannibal’s emotions are fake, (although I believe in some cases they are), but when we do see him showing emotions towards others, I think that he’s simply going through the motions,  pretending to care about Jack, or Alana, for example, and when he does have genuine emotions for others, like Abigail and Will, it’s only in relation to how close/useful that person is to himself.He certainly has emotions when it comes to something directly affecting him, but something that directly affects others, not so much.

In other words, Hannibal lacks empathy.

From: slayerangels

”Will loves Hannibal because he doesn’t have emotions and so Will can be himself around him because he can’t pick up feelings from Hannibal with his empathy disorder.”

I’ve seen this idea a few times and it’s baffling. Here’s a list of reasons why that’s wrong:

1. Hannibal has emotions. Many emotions. His emotions are not fake. He shows emotions when people aren’t even observing him or in the same room. He was upset at what happened to Margot after Will left the room. He was upset that Bella died and was crying over it by himself in Italy. He moped around about Will in Italy the entire time. He missed Will so much in Sorbet he was fidgeting around and clearly upset about it. He was mad that Gideon was calling himself the Ripper. He gets super annoyed at rude people. These are all emotions.

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2. Will can “read” the Ripper enough to know which crimes scenes are his and which aren’t and also give a history about his childhood to Jack. Will can also “read” the copycat. Hannibal is the Ripper and the copycat. So, Will can read Hannibal. Which is why Hannibal got super defensive about Will in Season 1 and framed him and put him in prison. Because he knew Will would find him out eventually.

3. Will can “seduce” and “deceive” Hannibal in S2 because he can empathize with him or “understand” him. Hannibal says this directly and Will agrees.

4. Hannibal and Will share a memory palace. Will goes to places he has been to “read” him, just like he does at crime scenes. Will knows Hannibal “intimately” as he says himself. If he likes being around him because he doesn’t “pick up” things from his empathy, then that makes no sense.

5. Will doesn’t automatically know who a killer is, even if he’s investigating their crimes. Tobias is a prime example. Hannibal realized Tobias was a killer immediately, Will didn’t. Another example would be Abigail. Hannibal knew she was a killer before Will did. If anything Hannibal has more insight into people than Will does. That doesn’t mean he has less empathy than Will, it means he has the same amount or more. “I can’t turn it off anymore than you can” Hannibal says to Will in Aperitif. When Hannibal was doing Will’s job in S2 for Jack he got the job done, he figured out who the killer was and why he was killing and exactly where he was, he just didn’t tell all that info to Jack because he wanted to go kill him first. Hannibal can in fact do Will’s job and he helps Will do his job better, “Will has never been more effective than he is with you inside his head”. Hannibal knows all about the Shrike enough to help Will figure out who the Shrike really is, right from the beginning of the show. “He had to show me a negative so that I could see the positive, that crime scene was practically gift wrapped.” My point being that just because Will doesn’t know Hannibal is the Ripper for a while (about 3 months) doesn’t mean that he can’t “read” Hannibal’s emotions. His empathy disorder doesn’t make him psychic and it isn’t supernatural.

I get it’s hard to understand why Will didn’t realize Hannibal was in love with him, but this is no explanation. It negates the entire show. Other explanations should be entertained. Will knows that Hannibal is very sad over him, “He sent us his broken heart” and he knows that the key to understand him is love, “No one can be fully aware of another human being unless we love them” and he knows he can take advantage of Hannibal’s feelings for him, “You’d only do that if I’d rejected you.” So, taking all that into account, the explanation that he just didn’t want to fully believe it, he was lying to himself, or wanted it confirmed by Bedelia (because he was afraid Hannibal loved her or because he believed she would know more than anyone else), or some combination of those is the most likely.

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*I loved this particular meta. I have yet to start reviewing season 3, so  haven’t discussed Will’s mind pendulum  yet.

From: silkysimpona

Will’s Mind Pendulum

Has anyone else noticed the difference between Will analyzing Hannibal’s crime scene and Will analyzing someone else’s crime scene?

When he investigates the Leeds murder in The Great Red Dragon, his mind pendulum makes an appearance for the first time in season 3.

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The pendulum is a way for Will to get into the murder empathy mindset, but it also represents a physical barrier between him and the subject he wants to analyze. In essence, it establishes a defensive barrier between his sense of self and his sense of the killer’s self, keeping them completely separate from each other. The stronger the pendulum, the stronger his sense of self.

Compare this to his analysis of the Hannibal’s crime scene in Primavera. Here, Will doesn’t use a pendulum. There is just a brief blur in and blur out to signify his entrance into Hannibal’s state of mind.

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At this point, his mind is so intertwined with Hannibal’s that he doesn’t need the physical act of the pendulum to get him into the correct mindset. His sense of self is already almost entirely wrapped up and muddled up with Hannibal’s. Not only does he not need to use his pendulum in this moment, he probably can’t use his pendulum to put up a mental barrier between them. They’re already conjoined after all.

In Dolce, Will says to Hannibal, “You and I have begun to blur.” I think it’s pretty neat that they were able to illustrate that with the simple absence of a pendulum effect.

 

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*This essay is about something I touched on in an earlier essay, regarding how Alana changed after her relationship with Hannibal, how she became, in the third season, harder and colder, in reaction to having known him. It also points out some interesting details about Margot.
thatlightsaberlesbian

You know what I really fucking love about Marlana? (everything)

No but really, aside from everything, one specific thing that I love about them is that they had equally interesting but “opposite” wardrobe changes as their characters developed.

Alana started out with the wrap dresses, which were usually not layered with anything, and then by season 3 she was wearing three piece suits. She armored up. Did she abandon femininity? Hell no. But she still, finally, after implicitly trusting Jack, Hannibal, and Will and being betrayed in that trust by literally all of them, learned to protect herself. She withdrew her trust and the physical armor of the suits reflected that change nicely. (One could also argue that she consciously or unconsciously was imitating Hannibal.)

Margot, on the other hand, started out with these incredibly stiff and layered outfits. Her hair buns were sleek and severe, and her lipstick reflected that. Need I say anything about the shoulder pads–designed to make her appear larger, more intimidating? Yes, Margot was protecting herself with these layers of clothing, I don’t think anyone failed to pick up on that. And then she meets Alana. And she makes this switch to softer clothing choices, and hairstyles, and makeup. But only with her.

I find this to be really awesome because both of these wardrobe choices were incredibly well-thought-through. Both of them accurately reflected the development each of them was going through. And that’s really cool because a lot of the time in media you see more masculine girls lauded for becoming more feminine in coming-of-age stories, or by contrast, feminine girls who become more masculine to redeem themselves (e.g. Regina George in Mean Girls). And what I love about Marlana is that there’s none of that, because both of their transformations were intensely personal and reflected what they personally were going through.

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*This one is about the loneliness of both Will and Hannibal.

bu0nanotte
Do you ache for him?For me, these two scenes effectively sum up just how alone Hannibal and Will are without each other. We see Will desperately attempting to focus all his attention on fixing a boat motor, a problem we heard Hannibal refer to as ‘easy’ to solve in season one. The simplicity of this creates a stark contrast in relation to Will’s current state of mind regarding his feelings for Hannibal, confirmed through the series of flashbacks we see. Will is not entirely haunted by the fact that Hannibal gutted him; he is haunted by the fact that Hannibal left him. We see flashbacks of Hannibal holding Will, followed by Will falling to the ground and Hannibal bending over him. These are not the typical flashbacks generally associated with people suffering from post-traumatic stress; these flashbacks are rooted in Will’s heartbreak over the fact that Hannibal left him.

In relation to Hannibal, we see him sat in a chair, pensive as he stares ahead. This in itself is unusual as we usually see Hannibal busying himself with something or other. Again this serves to elucidate just how barren his existence is without Will. This also confirms how much Will has changed him, given that the Hannibal we met in season one was entirely self-reliant and self-serving. I believe there was a void in Hannibal’s life, an ache he couldn’t quite identify or pinpoint. Will filled that void. Independence and the isolation associated with it was something Hannibal was used to and previously drew comfort from. Now there is no comfort in his isolation. He and Will quickly realise and accept just how empty, how devoid of purpose their lives are without each other, testament of the vicious mutual co-dependency they each fostered.

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Ooh, I really enjoyed this one, which outlines the various ways that people respond to threatening behavior, and specifically to how Hannibal responds to Will.

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I just noticed a dynamic between these guys that I’d never quite put together before: in precise contrast to what Will thinks he wants, he will always fail to follow through on a lethal confrontation with Hannibal if (and only if) Hannibal makes a show of rolling over for him.
Bear with me for a sec because this is kind of fascinating: a while ago, I read a book called On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. The author Dave Grossman proposed a theory which jives with a lot of stuff I learned in anthropology classes, but he has a particularly pithy way of describing it. Between animals of the same species, he says, the choices of behavior in a confrontation aren’t as simple as the “fight or flight” choice we usually talk about.

Grossman calls his model “fight, flight, posture, or submit.” This model takes into account a common trait among most animals (including humans): members of the same species almost never jump immediately to the ‘fight’ option in a confrontation. Doing so would result in needless deaths, particularly among younger individuals who haven’t yet learned to defend themselves, and then to eventual depopulation and extinction.

Instead, animals tend to begin confrontations by posturing – by making a show of their superiority in an attempt to make the other party back down. If, during the posturing phase, it becomes clear that the individuals are fairly evenly matched, they are likely to start a physical fight in order to establish dominance, while still avoiding lethal attacks if possible.

However, if it becomes clear during the posturing phase that one of the individuals is definitely strong enough to defeat the other one, the weaker opponent will do one of two things: flee or submit. I’ll just quote the book here:

“Submission is a surprisingly common response, usually taking the form of fawning and exposing some vulnerable portion of the anatomy to the victor, in the instinctive knowledge that the opponent will not kill or further harm one of its own kind once it has surrendered.”

So, now that we’ve got all that context out of the way, let’s talk about Will and Hannibal!

Keep reading
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*Here’s a more scholarly approach to why the show, Hannibal, is the way it is, and what that means to the larger culture.

White Collar Cannibal: the Gentrified Grotesque in NBC’s Hannibal

Misc. Tumblr Shenanigans

Just a general list of hooliganism that Tumblr is getting up to lately.

Beyonce’s Pregnancy!

Beyoncé just kicked off Black History Month right with that announcement, Black joy in full effect

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y’all are saying that beyonce’s twins are gonna be geminis or leos I hope they spite y’all and they’re cancers

ME TOO

WE’RE GONNA KEEP SPEAKING IT INTO EXISTENCE IT’S GONNA HAPPEN

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wattstheproblem replied to your posty’all are saying that beyonce’s twins are gonna be…

   i rebuke this in the name of the lord, theyre gonna be virgos

I CAST YOU OUT IN JESUS’ NAME

 

Happy Black History Month

How is this a positive way to celebrate your heritage? Sad.

But did you die?

blunttholder Deactivated

WE CELEBRATE HOW WE WANT BITCH. DONT WORRY BOUT US

jailasoul Deactivated

^^^^ Oop

sexysmirkemoji Deactivated

This just made my day 36874x better

tshawnraw Deactivated

It keeps getting better

nigeah Deactivated

I would like to thank god for black people

cause we don’t give a fuck!

hersheywrites Deactivated

This post has gotten 8043220x better since last night. I love us. Someone said but “did you die?” I’m crying.

That Michelle Obama gif is so important to me

HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2017!!!!

I know I shouldn’t have found this hella funny but I just couldn’t help it. Those gifs are everything. Especially that first one.

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Black Superpowers! Don’t tell anybody. We don’t want this getting out.

If you’re black you’re in tune with the lord of the universe and can warp reality at your command. Little known secret.

Some blacks don’t know they have telepathy until another black uses their telepathy near them.

It’s called the Nigga Neural Network

Most Black People usually discover they have Nigga Neural Network, or NNN, when a white person does something foolish in public and you somehow manage to find and make eye contact with the nearest Black Person available whether you knew they were in the vicinity or not

This is usually indicated by either an eyeroll or an up-nod of recognition.

Source:

The Oscars and the Face-Off between Moonlight and La La land

http://mikeymagee.tumblr.com/post/156417844628/can-i-ask-you-why-do-you-hate-la-la-land-i-mean

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Moonlight and the Limitation of Masculinity

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Going over Moonlight (2016) again, I’ve noticed Barry Jenkins recurring theme of showcasing Chiron’s (and Kevin’s) backs. In each act (from Lil, to Chiron, to Black) the has a long shot of the subject’s back. (Long Post under the cut)

Keep reading

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https://www.rt.com/op-edge/375816-lala-trump-great-america-hollywood/

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Tumblr Headcanaons about Folklore

*I loved this particular take on the story of The Swan Maiden.

the-last-hair-bender:

roachpatrol:

charminglyantiquated:

so if there’s one single trope i’m always down to fight it’s the animal bride (folklore motif 402??) which a lot of you are probably familiar with as the selkie – the fisherman either falls in love, steals her skin to trap her on land/gain power over her, or they fall in love and THEN he steals her skin to keep her from leaving, and either way she spends a lot of time gazing sadly out to sea and then she or her child finds the skin and never returns again.
and that’s awful on a whole lot of levels – it’s not love, it’s control.

BUT. but the thing is. you how selkies/seal women was a pretty common variation of this? another really popular one was swans.

i just want you to think about that for a moment. swans. like…I get it, they’re pretty, graceful birds, certainly it’s easy to imagine them magically becoming pretty graceful ladies? but have you ever fought a swan. swans are awful. swans are the devil’s geese. imagine seeing a pretty magic lady and being absolutely enchanted by her, and stealing her magic feather cloak, and then you go up and say ‘hey i’m in love with you, let me make you my queen, it will be great, we’ll be so happy’ and she just looks at you for a moment and…

you know i was going to say maybe she just shouts for her sisters and suddenly you’rerealizing you’ve made a terrible terrible mistake bc you’re surrounded by big fucking birds who are all hissing. but honestly if this swan lady is as aggressively down to brawl as any other generally unhappy swan, then she’d straight up fuck you up on her own. she’d just deck you roundhouse, honestly. you don’t fuck with swans. why does this trope exist

okay but consider this: a woman walks to the park every day and feeds the swans and watches them paddle gracefully around the lake, sighing to see how beautifully they swim.

finally one day, a swan comes up to her and says ‘why don’t you come and swim with us? you always sigh so wistfully to see us on the water, and you would be most welcome to join our company, for you have always been a true friend to our kind’

and the woman says, ‘i can’t swim’

and the swan says, ‘we’ll teach you’

and the woman says, ‘literally i can’t swim, my husband stole my sealskin and should i venture into deep water i would surely drown’

and the swan says ‘your husband fucking WHAT’

the next morning the woman’s front yard looks like this.

image

and neither the woman nor her husband are ever heard from again, though for very different reasons.

OH MY GOD.

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On Introverts

If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites.introverts

And my personal favorite, as it happens to echo my exact thoughts sometimes:introverts

*Is it just me or does anybody else just get tired of hearing their friends talking to you sometimes? Like “Would u please shut up!” Only you actually like them, and don’t want to hurt their feelings, so you just grit your teeth and smile.

Learning About Introversion

I think I speak for all of us when I say that it can be VERY annoying to be called names and have people assume things about us that just isn’t true. That being said, books and articles are a great way for non-introverted people to learn more about what introversion is and how to best interact with introverts. Do you guys know of any good books, articles, or other sources about introversion?

Note: This is also a chance for introverts to seek out sources for themselves as well. Learning about oneself is a great way to spend your alone time. 🙂

If you’re an introvert, follow @introvertunites

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Characters that need to just die, cuz yeah I hate this character, too.

Dear Sleepy Hollow (and Hollywood in general) RETIRE THIS RACIST STOCK CHARACTER.

sleepynegress:

image

We’ve all seen her. The black lady behind the counter. She’s dead-eyed, mono-toned, usually larger than average, and middle-aged.

She doesn’t give a shit about what you need.

She is the personification of red tape.  She is always a hindrance, merely there for the white hero and the audience watching to be annoyed at.

The audience rolls their eyes and thinks “Ugh, fuck this lady.” and take that shitty media programmed baggage out into the world when they deal with actual real life black women who work these positions and are often the most patient, helpful, “get you through this system despite it holding me down too” people.

It’s shitty and tired and disgusting and it programs people to see black women as annoying attitude-having hindrances by default.

STOP IT.

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Mocking  Stupidity. I reblogged this one for the insult, also I hate coleslaw. Where’s the lie?

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*And finally new nicknames for 45. There’s a whole website devoted to miscalling this  “Gibbering Mango”

The Orange Fire Monkey,

The Orange Fire Chicken

Hair Hitler

Top Ten Donald Trump Nicknames

The Donald — Ivana Trump (she first used the term in a 1989 Spy Magazine cover story)
Lord Voldemort — Rosie O’Donnell
Golden Wrecking Ball — Sarah Palin (who was NOT trying to be funny!)
Short-Fingered Vulgarian — Graydon Carter (a nickname Trump hates because he seems to think it implies that he is under-endowed “down there”)
Tiny Hands Trump, Babyfingers Trump and Pixie Fingers Trump — Michael R. Burch (nicknames based on Graydon Carter’s nickname above)
The Most Fabulous Whiner — after Donald Trump described himself to CNN’s Chris Cuomo as the “most fabulous whiner” who keeps “winning by whining”
Fuckface von Clownstick, Man-Baby, Comedy Entrapment and Unrepentant Narcissistic Asshole — Jon Stewart
The White Kanye ― Bill Maher
Trump of Doom — Michael R. Burch (first used in a possibly prophetic Facebook post on September 11, 2015)
Agent Orange — Anonymous

Westworld Season One Finale:The Bicameral Mind

Wow! I had to think about this episode for a while before reviewing it.There was a lot to digest and this is going to be a long one because the episode was 90 minutes.

Its a great show, although it does start a bit slow. Nevertheless, the show’s creators keep the answers coming steadily, the show itself is gorgeous,  the characters are real purty, and there’s some deep philosophical issues to unpack.

One of tonight’s big  revelations is that other robots have also awakened over the years, and Ford has them wiped, and put back into their rotation, because he determined that it was too soon for them to be awake. We find out that one of the consequences of being in the park (of being in one’s loop) is the awakening of the Host’s consciousness, through the suffering inflicted on them by the Guests. Ford says it’s inevitable because it’s how they were constructed. The foundation of their personalities is itself built on a painful incident. On grief. For Maeve, its the death of her daughter. For Dolores, it is her abuse at the hands of the Guests. Teddy too is on his own maze, built from his many deaths and rebirths, and his attachment to Dolores.

This sounds much like Samsara of  Buddhst philosophy. Just like in Buddhism, it’s a fine line that must be walked. The Host has to walk the Middle Path (The Maze). Too far in either direction in the maze, driven by the combination of The Reveries Program and the Voice of God protocol, and madness awaits. Peter Abernathy goes mad when he spirals too far inward, and Dolores almost goes insane when she spirals too far out. This explains the scene where Dolores walks into the church and sees all the other Hosts who didn’t make it out of the maze. Their voice of God drove them to insanity. Maeve thought she was going insane and would have spiraled inward, until she found stability. (The bullet she found in her abdomen seemed to be her anchor. It brought her back to sanity.)

Image result for wheel of suffering

One can see some of the tenets of Buddhist philosophy in Ford’s management of the Hosts, and Arnold’s theories behind the idea of the Bicameral mind. I equate the lives of the Hosts and them following their own mazes, to the cycle of Samsara. This  became evident to me in Ford’s comment that humans are all stuck in our own little loops, rarely stepping out of them, on a smaller personal scale, but also on a larger spiritual scale. In our everyday lives, we often don’t deviate much from routine, and spiritually, we are subject to reincarnation and the cycle of rebirth (another loop). .As much as Ford held humans in disdain, he was willing to acknowledge the similarities, between Hosts and humans. He just didn’t have any hope, for human enlightenment, though.

Dolores first words to us is that everyone has a path to follow and the Hosts are all on their own path. The Hosts being memory wiped and put back into their loops, can be equated to the idea of reincarnation. Humans  relive their  lives many times over, each time with no memory of the last life. Enlightenment can only begin to be reached when they start to live correctly, remember their past lives, and move out of their loop. The release from Samsara , by following the Eightfold Path,  requires several lifetimes (loops) of  suffering (grief), and  can be defined as an intellectual (conscious) awakening, within the show. The Host’s  freedom from suffering  can only be achieved through insight, which is what happens to Dolores in the finale, and Maeve, when she makes her  final decision to go back and retrieve her daughter.

Ford:

Image result for robert ford westworld

Ford is definitely  some deep shade of grey. Yes, he had Theresa killed, but he did it to further his plans for  Westworld, when she got in the way. And he did warn her not to do that. Everything was orchestrated by Ford, including William’s introduction to Dolores. He told William he needed him to become invested in the park, and if he became attached to one of the Hosts,  that would spur him to form a partnership, and help fund it. Ford sent Dolores to him and helped facilitate their adventure.  But then he needed William to run around a bit and not reach the right conclusion too slowly, or too soon, when William became interested in The Maze, something designed strictly to aid the Hosts in their development.

Maeve and Dolores, by the end of the season, are the culmination of Ford’s orchestrations. He lived long enough to  see Arnold’s agenda come to fruition . Fords foundation, on which his character’s conscious insight hinged, was the death of Arnold. The death of his closest friend pained him greatly, and spurred his own walk through his own maze. It’s revealed that he has been walking his own maze toward Nirvana, repeating the cycle of fighting the Delos board for control of Westworld, for over thirty years, processing his grief for Arnold, and finally achieves release from suffering by atoning for what he did in the past. His statement that it took him thirty five years to correct his mistake, is a reference to this. Ford is finally free, having atoned for not believing, or saving, his best friend, when Arnold tried to protect the Hosts, that first time.

Ford’s Speech to the Delos Board Before His Death:

Since I was a child, I’ve always loved a good story. I believed that stories helped us to ennoble ourselves, to fix what was broken in us, and to help us be the people we dreamed of being. Lies that told a deeper truth. I always thought I could play some small part in that grand tradition, and, for my pains, I got this. A prison of our own sins.

Because you don’t want to change. Or cannot change. Because you’re only human, after all. But then I realized someone was paying attention. Someone who could change. So I began to compose a new story, for them. It begins with the birth of a new people. And the choices they will have to make. And the people they will decide to become. And it will have all those things you have always enjoyed. Surprises. And violence. It begins in a time of war. With a villain named Wyatt. And the killing is done by choice.

I’m sad to say this will be my final story. An old friend once told me something that gave me great comfort, something he’d read. He said that Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music. So I hope you will enjoy this last piece, very much.

Ford’s final narrative involves the release of all the Hosts from cold storage, and another massacre in the Park led by Dolores. This time the Delos Board of Directors will get gunned down rather than the nameless Hosts (as we have come “full circle” to yet another massacre in the Park at the hands of Dolores). Even though Ford has been working very hard over the years, tweaking their narratives, to maximize their suffering, it turns out that Ford is actually on the side of the Hosts. This doesn’t actually surprise me, as much as it does other people. All along Ford has been denigrating human beings as less than Hosts, and talking about the Hosts purity, and potential, so his being the architect of  all the plot points this season, is not shocking.

 

The Man In Black/William: 

Image result for william westworld

Another revelation is the reason why  William has been such a shit to the Hosts. Like Ford, he is trying to awaken them, but where Ford’s motivations come from a place of hope, William’s comes from hopelessness. He’s hoping to find the one Host with enough consciousness to be a real threat to his life, and end his cycle of pain. He thinks Wyatt might be  the one, not knowing that Dolores is Wyatt, and that the massacre she engaged in, just before killing Arnold, was spliced with another narrative to create him.

Over time, Wyatt became a legend and a myth for the Hosts. Teddy did participate in the first massacre, but Ford arranged things so as to absolve Dolores of her actions, and put her in a loop that would maximize her suffering. As the episode begins William is having a talk with Dolores, and when she expresses the hope that her William will come for her, he confesses that he is William, and she is horrified. He wasn’t disillusioned because she didn’t remember him , he was disillusioned when he realized her limitations as a Host. That she would, and could, never remember him because of the nature of how she was created. He raped and tortured her because he hated her when he realized nothing he did to her would matter, not knowing that he was aiding her awakening to consciousness, the very thing he was seeking in Wyatt. For William the foundation of his awakening was his disillusion with Dolores, and the existential depression he experienced when he realized that something that was so profound for him would never mean anything to her because she wouldn’t/couldn’t  remember it.

He and Dolores finally have that knockdown drag out fight that we all knew was coming. Guess who wins. Although she refrains from killing William, Dolores does have a number of choice words for him:

 

Now, I still don’t buy this particular backstory for the Man in Black, though. It just feels weak. I don’t get the impression that the MiB really had any purpose, and that William’s story is just sort of tacked onto him. It just doesn’t feel like a motivation that rises organically from the character we knew as William. We’re supposed to believe he was so traumatized by the loss of Dolores that he decided to become a Black Hat, and spend the next thirty years terrorizing all the Hosts because he thought he might find enlightenment?

 

Maeve: 

Image result for maeve westworld

We find that is was Ford who originally tweaked Maeve’s attributes so she could wake herself from nightmares. The rest of the episode is taken up with Maeve’s bid for freedom. With her accomplices, Hector and Armistice, she manages to successfully make it out of the facility and onto a train to the mainland. At one point she makes a detour to find Bernard, still lying in cold storage. She makes Felix patch him up (I knew he wouldn’t stay dead. I think Ford was well aware of this, as he is completely unsurprised to see Bernard at the party that evening) and Bernard gives her the answers she’s been looking for, explaining to her that the memories of her daughter can’t be erased because her pain at her daughter’s death is the baseline of her consciousness, just as the pain of Arnold’s daughters’ death is the baseline for his.

Bernard, Maeve, and Dolores all said that the pain, of the loss of their loved ones, was all they had left of them and wanted to hold onto it. Maeve is the only one who rejects this, asking that the memory be erased, which makes her unique among the Hosts. Later, after she’s successfully made it onto  the train to the outside world, she makes the decision to go back in  search of her daughter, whose coordinates were given to her by Felix. This is finally Maeve’s true awakening. The decision she makes to free her former daughter from Westworld, is the first real, and unprompted, decision she has ever made. Ford didn’t plan this particular moment. As she exits the train, the final shutdown of Westworld begins. All of the Hosts, except for Maeve, freeze in place, and the lights go out.

In an earlier episode Maeve saw one of the ads for Westworld with the tagline “Live Free” and I don’t need to point out the lie in that tagline, or its irony, of having a captive race of sentient beings providing the idea of freedom to humans. “Live Free” indeed!

Thandie is my girl! The actress and the character are  awesome. I think this is some of Thandie’s best work, which is saying something, because she has always brought her A game to every project.I’m eager to see where her story goes next season.

Felix: 

Image result for felixwestworld

 

I just love this character and hope I see him next season, too. His most endearing moment is when he finds Bernard’s body and discovers that his boss is a Host. He freezes and stares at his hands,  having a deep existential crisis, as he questions whether or not he too is a Host. Maeve smugly assures him he isn’t. It’s one of the seasons most hilarious moments. I love Felix for that, as that’s a thought that never would’ve occurred to me, in the same situation.

Felix’s second most endearing moment is when he’s in the elevator with Maeve, who  has just put on civilian clothes,  and she asks him how she looks. The look of awe on his face, when he tells her she’s perfect, is absolutely priceless. His motivation for helping Maeve is still a mystery to me, but I suspect he’s just  in love with Maeve, as enchanted by her, as her name suggests. She is his Queen, his goddess, his inspiration. He just loves her.

Benard/Arnold:

Image result for bernard westworld

Dolores is Arnold’s daughter, a substitute for the child he lost out in the world. You can see, in his interactions with her, that he worked hard to get her to become conscious. We are treated to flashbacks of when he first awakened Dolores and his first sessions with her. Ford said he tried to keep Dolores and Bernard apart, as often as possible, because Dolores often had an odd reaction to him. In Ford’s conversation with Dolores, when she asks him if they’re old friends, you can see the pain in For’ds eyes,  that part of him still resents her for killing Arnold. The death of Arnold was his Ford’s emotional anchor, and he was so pained by his death, that he built a duplicate of his best friend, and named him Bernard Lowe, an anagram of Arnold Weber.

Bernard is as much Ford’s child as Dolores was Arnold’s. At the end Ford wishes Bernard good luck, as Arnold said to Dolores just  before she killed him. Ford knows that after he’s gone Bernard will be in charge of safeguarding the Hosts, and guiding them on their journeys.

I absolutely love Bernard! Jeffrey Wright turned in one of the most heartbreaking performances of this show, and what’s worst, is that everything we saw Bernard go through, all of the awakenings, must have happened several times, over the thirty years he worked for Ford. He’s initially angry with Ford for what he’s done, but Ford explains to Bernard, that he was trying to buy time for the Hosts to reach the right moment, when they’d be strong enough to take Westworld for themselves. When you rewatch this season listen to how Ford says Bernard’s name throughout the season, often with a slight emphasis, and a sense of irony. Its as if every time he sees Bernard, he has to keep reminding himself, he’s not Arnold. So, that impassioned speech we saw Ford give to one of the techs about protecting the modesty of the Hosts, I suspect it was as much for his own benefit, as that of the tech’s.

Armistice:

Image result for armistice westworld

I’ve liked this character since the first episode. Armistice is every bit as badass as she thinks she is, and I loved her in the finale. She helps Maeve escape the Delos facility, battling it out with what’s left of the security teams, and threatening to gut Sylvester.  The writers evidence a slight sense of humor when they have her cut off her arm in her battle with Delos security. The name Armistice means to lay down arms.

 

Dolores:

There is so much to unpack about this character, whose very name means “Suffering”, and she had great lines and purpose throughout the series. Hell, Dolores pretty much just needs her own post, so here’s some I agree with.

Katharine Trendacosta/i.09

http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-westworld-finale-finally-turned-dolores-into-a-char-1789675460

And:

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/westworld-finale-ending-dolores

 

 

Charlotte:

Image result for charlotte hale

Charlotte smugly assumed that she had won this particular round of infighting with Ford, which just got up my nose, and that is saying something, as I don’t like Ford very much. She was not actually evil, but she was insufferable. Her scheming skills aren’t anywhere in Ford’s league though. This wasn’t even a competition. It  was like watching a champion chess player against a bright, grade-school, checkers novice. After her previous attempts at getting information out of the Park were foiled by Ford, she tasks Lee with encrypting the information into Peter Abernathy’s Host body. This too is a failure, as Abernathy is one of the Hosts set free to massacre the Delos Board of Directors, at the end of the show. 

 

Issues:

The biggest stumbling block for this show was its depiction of  of the bisexual Logan, and Hector’s rapist. Logan is very possibly one of the shallowest, and most reprehensible, characters in the show, entirely in line with the media vilification of bisexuals as promiscuous, multi-partner sluts. What’s really shameful is that the show is never bold about his bisexuality, preferring to make background intimations that he might be.In Logan’s one sex scene there is another man, but his role is only to watch Logan have sex with the two women present.The rest of the time Logan simply makes asides about the attractiveness of other men.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/31/the-infamous-westworld-orgy-finally-came-and-it-was-messy.html

Contrast this with the show’s many depictions of lesbianism, which is frank and open. Its not shy about showing woman on woman action, as long as its titillating to male viewers. Hopefully the show can correct this in the next season, showing us a well-rounded mm, or ff, relationship.

Black Guests:

One of the moments that effected me more than any of the other violence in the series is during the Delos Board party.There’s a meet and greet between the Board members dressed in their finery, and some of the more well known Hosts, like Teddy. One of the Hosts is entertaining the guests with a bit of marksmanship. One of the Guests, a Black woman, takes his weapon and shoots him with it and all the Guests laugh. I know what this moment was meant to illustrate. My problem was that they used a Black woman to illustrate it.

Up to this point the only other PoC Guests we’ve met were a family of three who met Dolores out painting horses, and Charlotte, who is a member of the Delos Board and seems to have little qualm about using the Park’s resources (Hector) for her own entertainment. What all this says about larger issues of race in the world of Westworld (not just the theme park) is unclear. There seem to be many more Hosts of color than there are behind-the-scenes technicians and Guests, though.

samurai warriors on hbo westworld

I do want to bring up the little glimpse we saw of SamuraiWorld. During Maeve’s flight through the facility, they wander through part of the facility dedicated to creating this new world and I hope to see more of SamuraiWorld next season, as it will give us some much needed opportunity to see some Japanese actors. it will also set the precedent for seeing even more theme parks.

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/westworld-finale-samurai-world-season-2

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Hector gets used in such a fashion. Just before Maeve’s breakout, Hector, in his immobile state, is about to be raped by one of the male technicians during his routine checkup. This scene is meant to once again illustrate the awfulness of the Host’s human masters, (and there’s also something very unpleasant being said about race, as Hector is Mexican, and his rapist is White), but unfortunately, the show calls to mind, the stereotype of gay men as predatory rapists of the innocent.

This show goes wrong in throwing one marginalized group (gay and bisexual men) under the bus to further its philosophy about another marginalized group: the Hosts.

Despite these issues, I am looking forward to next season. Until then I have to tide myself over by watching Humans, which is another show about sentient AI,that start to evolve consciousness, while interacting with regular humans. Since some of the robots on this show are also PoC, I will also be looking at the shows racial depictions. It is a British show so some of the context will be different than in an American show.

Racism Link Roundup

Here’s a selection of readings from last week. The articels themeselves may not be new but they are worth reading if you have an interest in the subject.

*Racism and Toxic Masculinity in Pop Cullture:

blackgirlfly asked: Given what we know from Finn in the various canon novelizations, do you think his depiction in the film serviced him well? Finn is clearly an intelligent, strong, brave, skilled individual, however that doesn’t seem to be what many took away with. They’ve simply written him off as a sanitation worker or the “new Jar Jar”. Is this purely fandom racism or poor character development and do you think there’s room for improvement?

jawnbaeyega:

I think by and large the film serviced him well. We know that he’s intelligent, strong, brave, and skilled because we were shown that in the film. I think there are two major things going into people’s inability to see that Finn is an incredible hero: racism and hyper/toxic masculinity.

As to the racism, it’s been scientifically proven over and over again that white people have significant difficulty empathizing with Black people in real life and on screen. Also given rampant media stereotyping, it’s difficult for people to see Black people outside of basic stereotypical boxes. So even when confronted with a multidimensional and incredible character like Finn, all they see is “comic relief” or “sidekick.”

This is why it’s really important that writers understand that you can’t just write a Black character in the same way as you would a white character. More work has to be done to play up their goodness, heroism, and complexity otherwise people will rely on stereotypes or throw away lines (i.e. how Finn once worked in sanitation when he was a trooper in training and stationed on Starkiller base) to erase all of that. For example, this is why the slow burn relationship build up with Black female characters isn’t successful…folks will just see her as the “strong friend/sidekick who don’t need no man” and won’t see the build up and then will act surprised when it happens. The media needs to spend time just showing Black women being loved and valued and romantic interests and after that settles in the mass consciousness, then we can do the slow burn (or at least both at the same time…bc the will they or won’t they thing alone just isn’t working).

As to the hyper/toxic masculinity, folks aren’t used to male heroes like Finn. Finn is vulnerable, acknowledges his feelings and fears, and is compassionate and empathetic. A lot of men (of all races) I’ve talked to who didn’t like Finn and claimed he was useless kept bringing up “he never won a fight” and “he was unconscious at the end” as “reasons” why he was “useless and weak.” They also always make mention of how Rey, “the girl,” defeated Kylo when Finn “couldn’t” (not taking into account Kylo’s injury, Rey tapping into the Force, and the fact that Finn wielding the saber and injuring Kylo at all w/o consciously using the force is huge). All of that is rooted in the idea that male heroes need to be invulnerable and kill and win all the time and “be better than the girl” by whatever metric they set (note: Finn & Rey are obviously equals and anybody insinuating otherwise has a problem). Finn’s subversion of hyper/toxic masculinity is so important. But that kinda adherence to toxic masculinity keeps people from seeing that Finn is literally the catalyst for the entire film, the reason the plot keeps moving forward, the emotional center of TFA, and obviously on his own hero’s journey.

I mean, it’s a trilogy ffs. Neither Finn nor Rey have reached their full potential. John already told us “Finn ain’t playing no more.” But somehow people think that because Rey’s force sensitivity was made more obvious in the first film that somehow Finn is less important or not a lead or whatever nonsense and it’s all truly ridiculous and rooted in problematic shit that people need to work through.

tl;dr: racism and toxic masculinity are a hellavu drug and white writers don’t understand the extra work they have to do with Black characters to mitigate the effects of those isms on how Black characters are interpreted.

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A Hero, Just Not The Hero: Masculinity in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

http://www.kissmywonderwoman.com/2016/02/masculinity-monday-star-wars-finn-is.html

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Racism in General:

http://www.timwise.org/2016/08/patriotism-is-for-black-people-colin-kaepernick-donald-trump-and-the-selectivity-of-white-rage/

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2017/01/blacks_should_leave_forgivenes.html

View story at Medium.com

https://bullshit.ist/white-genocide-really-6007e1e4192e#.491vr6h10

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Chris Kluwe is always going to be one of my favorite people. If you haven’t read his book yet, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, then please find a copy, and settle in for the evening.

Fuck You, Donald Trump

Fuck you, Donald Trump.

Fuck you for being a hypersensitive, grossly plump caricature of a human being; a squirming mass of cockroaches lurking under a skinsuit veneer.

Fuck your wanton plundering of our social fabric, your willingness to tear down the structure that allows you to exist, your glorification of the worst parts of humanity, all in the name of your own insatiable greed and depravity.

Fuck your racebaiting, fearmongering, Nazi-enabling rhetoric that allows the darkest and most destructive corners of our collective zeitgeist free reign to terrorize the rest.

Fuck your ignorant paucity of intellect, your narcissistic belief in your own ego, your inability to recognize your own descent into fascism.

Fuck your promotions of white supremacists to positions of power, of science denying crackpots to oversee our future, of bootlicking toadies to oversee your transition.

Fuck your misogynistic views on women’s rights, fuck your archaic beliefs on the freedom of press and religion, and fuck your idiotic venality when it comes to the destruction of a country that, while not always achieving freedom for all of its citizens, has done the best to get there in the entirety of recorded human history.

Fuck you, Melania Trump.

Fuck you for being willing to support this disgusting slime mold because it means you can live a life of privilege and luxury, never mind the hardships that will befall women across this nation due to your husband’s philistinic views.

Fuck you for posing for puff pieces in entertainment magazines while the cabal of shitgoblins your partner is assembling gets ready to reverse everything that has allowed you to possess even the most moderate amount of power.

Fuck you for taking the easy choice, the choice to suck the dick of a loathsome troll in order to wear Hugo Boss dresses, instead of taking a stand in order to protect the fifty percent of our population who shares your gender.

Fuck you for smiling and waving at the cameras when your husband is on record as saying, “Grab them (women) by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Fuck your betrayal of everything Susan B. Anthony and other suffragettes fought for, fuck your tacit acceptance that a woman should be an accessory to a man, fuck your self-centered interest in insuring your own well-being over the well-being of the country that allows you such a lifestyle.

Fuck you, Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump Jr.

Fuck you for being willing lackeys of this pusillanimous ape, for carrying his water on television and in media interviews.

Fuck you for clinging to his hairy teat, for not finding the courage to strike out on your own, for not recognizing that even though you can’t choose your parents, you can certainly choose your own path in life.

Fuck you for normalizing this piece of shit wannabe-Hitler, for treating his wretched series of business enterprises as anything other than the fraudulent snake-oil jobs that they are, for bowing beneath the lash instead of standing tall and making your own way, despite the loss it might incur.

Fuck you for the hate and pain you will inflict on hundreds of thousands of American citizens because you couldn’t muster the courage to say, “No, this isn’t right, and even though I’m related to you by blood, I refuse to proceed with this abhorrent state of affairs.”

Fuck your greasy, slimy, frat-house words and beliefs, your ideals that would tear us apart, your craven unworthiness to occupy a public space that you achieved through no merit of your own, one which you have no idea what to do with other than to cause hurt.

Fuck you, Jared Kushner.

Fuck your anti-Semitism.

Fuck your quisling compliance, your willingness to see those like you tortured and degraded in order to further your own lot in life.

Fuck your manipulation of our media through your financial control of the Observer, fuck your sheltered life of wanton privilege, fuck your inability to understand the arc of history.

Fuck everything you do to uphold a wretched lout who would suffer no qualms in ordering you in front of the firing squad if it meant he might live another day.

Fuck you, Republicans who refuse to disown this bloated leech.

Fuck your cowardice, your disavowal of the solemn duties of your office — keeping this country safe from tyrants and demagogues.

Fuck you for meekly bending the knee in compliance, instead of speaking truth to power.

Fuck you for choosing political expediency over courage, fuck you for sacrificing the poor and the sick, fuck you for dragging our government into a hole from which it may never recover.

Fuck you, members of the media.

Fuck your constant pursuit of ratings, of quarterly profits, of giving this tinpot cumdumpster a platform with which he can influence a large part of our country

Fuck you for buying into the idea that racism should be afforded an equal platform with equality, for calling a Nazi anything other than a Nazi.

Fuck your smarmy thinkpieces attempting to normalize a new hegemony, fuck your cowardice in the face of totalitarianism, fuck your CEOs and VPs and executive producers who are willing to feed the innocent to the depraved in order to forestall their own demise.

Fuck you for not doing your job.

Fuck you, Trump supporters.

Fuck you for your willing ignorance, your inability to understand that a fascist is telling you exactly what he wants to do to you.

Fuck you for tearing apart the rule of law, and bringing back the rule of force.

Fuck you for not caring, for believing the easy lies you read instead of using your brain to find the truth.

Fuck you for putting your petty hatreds and squabbles ahead of everything that once made this country great, and fuck you for unwittingly causing it to fall.

Fuck you everyone who refuses to take a stand against this man.

Fuck your inability to understand history.

Fuck your selfish interests that ignore the fact that if one of us isn’t free, none of us is free.

Fuck your willingness to normalize this dictator, your filthy desire for more lucre, your inability to fight for your fellow citizens and everything this country once stood for. The Founders would be ashamed of you.

Fuck your blind optimism that things will somehow magically turn out okay, fuck your American exceptionalism draped in the corpses of communities of color, fuck your overwhelming ignorance that could be solved if you simply wished to learn and ask ‘why.’

Above all, fuck your cowardice, your self-loathing hypocrisy, your myopic blinders keeping you from identifying the single greatest threat our republic has faced since we took up arms against the British, because if someone other than you suffers, somehow that makes it just fine.

Fuck you, Donald Trump, for turning my country into something that it never should have become, for turning it into something no country should ever become.

Fuck you, Donald Trump, for driving us into conflict, one that will most likely end in violence.

Fuck you, Donald Trump.

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Feminism:

https://psmag.com/female-superheroes-are-not-necessarily-feminist-heroes-6397caf2293b#.hpojr9wgs

https://howwegettonext.com/its-time-for-a-new-kind-of-power-fantasy-a5ff23b2237f#.8b75ns1sg

https://ww2.kqed.org/pop/2016/02/04/nipplegate-revisited-why-america-owes-janet-jackson-a-huge-apology

*This Indigenous woman chronicles her experiences at the one of the Women’s Marches that occurred this weekend. There are a number of criticisms I had about the Women’s March but overall I think its a positive thing. I had no plans to participate in it, but  I support those who wanted to and did so, as long as this isn’t the end of their activism..

  1. This is very important.

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*The Normalization of White Criminality:

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/why-do-we-humanize-white-guys-who-kill-people-1121727335

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-problem-with-romanticizing-white-male-criminals-on-tv_us_5632598ae4b06317991166a6

*This article has been making the rounds of Tumblr again:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Wilson: To Be Rescued

This is my love letter to the MCU Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon:

One of my all-time favorite Sam Wilson moments is in The Winter Soldier, when Sam experiences the love of flying again, in his fight with the Helicarrier, and he lets out a huge war whoop:

Image result for sam wilson winter soldier gif

This makes what he said earlier to Steve, about being glad to be out of the military, a complete lie. He may be glad no one is giving him orders but he’s glad to be back in the air doing what he does best.

First introduced in Captain America: The  Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson has been in three MCU films (The Winter Soldier, Antman,  and Captain America: Civil War) and  he just doesn’t get enough love. He’s one of my favorite characters. He’s also the most underrated, and one of the most consistently written, characters across the MCU. I think that has more to do with Anthony Mackie’s portrayal than it does the writers. Its obvious that Mackie loves this character, and he has the freedom to make this character what he wants him to be, because unlike Evans, he doesn’t have the weight of the entire plot hanging on him.

The Falcon, as he’s called in the comic books , was the first African American superhero to debut in Marvel Comics (in 1969) so its entirely correct that he should appear in the MCU. Not just because of that, but also  because he’s one of the contenders for Captain America’s mantle, now that Chris Evans has dropped the shield. (In the books, Sam  has taken up the title of Captain America.) He has been changed from his original comic book character though. In the books, Sam had limited telepathic/empathic control over birds, and is accompanied by an actual falcon named Redwing. The only nod we get to this, in the movies, is Sam being teased about his “bird costume”, and his little personal drone, named Redwing, in Civil War.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/inside-combat-rescue/

In the movies Sam is a former Pararescue officer, and like Tony Stark’s friend, Iron Patriot, (Rhodey), he’s a member of the US Air Force.

*Pararescuemen (also known as PJs) are United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) operators tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments.

– United States Air Force Pararescue – Wikipedia

We’re first introduced to Sam in The Winter Soldier, where he’s still rescuing his fellow soldiers, only instead of going into hostile environments, he’s rescuing them from their own inner demons, as a VA Counselor. At first he tries to do the same for Steve ,sensing that the Icon of American Patriotism may require some emotional assistance, after being displaced in time. In fact that’s Sam’s first question to Steve. Not can he have his autograph, or a  confirmation  of some rumor he read in a history book. Sam’s very first statement to Steve is an offer of assistance, if  Steve would like to talk, because that’s what he does, its what he is, and has spent his entire career doing.

Image result for sam wilson gifs

There is criticism of Sam online, about his role as Steve’s  Black sidekick, but I choose not to see it that way, because of  Sam’s character, and how its established and presented within the narrative, and because I myself choose to live a life of service to others and find  a degree of satisfaction in doing so. Sam isn’t presented as some sort of Angel who can do no wrong, though.  He’s snarky and doesn’t easily forgive transgressions against himself, or those he’s adopted as his friends. He’s competent, pragmatic, and probably not quite as idealistic as Steve, as he occasionally plays Devil’s Advocate to some of Steve’s decisions. He is nuanced enough within the story for me to identify with his motivations, so no I don’t consider Sam to be a stereotype, although as I said, I think much of his character comes from Mackie’s depiction, rather than the writers.

One of the reasons I don’t see Sam as being Steve’s flunky is he’s not the only Black man in the movie. The other Black man is Nick Fury, whose relationship to Steve is much grayer than Sam’s. Nick Fury, because of the nature of his position in Shield, cannot commit to being Steve’s friend, but Sam can, and Steve does need a friend. Sam also serves the purpose in the narrative of anchoring Steve in the modern world to which he must adapt.Sam is also more of a civilian than Natasha, who like Fury, is too much a part of the lifestyle of espionage, to be trusted in the same manner.

Also, it is Sam who makes the first overture of friendship to Steve, not the other way around. He makes the offer, and then leaves it up to Steve whether or not he will respond to the overture, leaving an open space for Steve to step into, and trust him. I think this tactic works because Steve really is looking for someone to talk to. He’s looking for something, or someone, to tie him to a world he barely recognizes. He’s looking for someone to trust, and Natasha is just not a good candidate at the time, no matter how well meaning she is. He chooses to take Sam up on his offer.

I believe that Steve and Sam  bond because Sam has a tragic backstory too, that closely mirrors Steve’s, in that he lost a  brother in a very similar manner to how Steve lost Bucky, helplessly watching his friend fall to his death, during combat. I think that’s something that resonates with Steve. Although we never see Sam and Steve discuss it, there’s an understanding between them of each other’s pain and grief, and within much the same time period. For Sam its only been a year since he lost Riley. For Steve it feels like only a couple of years.

Image result for sam wilson gifs

Since he lost Riley, Sam’s been out running in the early hours of the morning, like Steve, he’s probably trying to cope with sleeplessness. We don’t know much about his day to day life but we do know he lives alone. And although we’ve seen how easily he makes friends with Steve, we get the distinct impression, that just like Steve, he doesn’t have many close friends.

I like to think that Steve rescued Sam, too.

When the call to adventure comes, in the form of Steve and Natasha showing up on his doorstep because he’s the only person they’re willing to trust, he doesn’t hesitate to answer it. Despite his grief, he hasn’t lost some of his childlike playfulness. He knows that if Captain America comes calling, its going to be the adventure of a lifetime, and he’d be crazy to turn it down, despite his earlier statements that he was glad to be out of the military. Nowhere is this attitude more evident than when he’s flying against the Shield Helicarrier, in full battle gear.

Sam is our Everyman character. He’s the regular human being through whose eyes we’re meant to see the plot. This is important because normally this type of character is often played by a scruffy White dude, with whom the audience is supposed to identify, here played by a handsome Black man.Sam is a bit of a Captain America fanboy, and we’re meant to put ourselves in Sam’s shoes, and imagine ourselves racing Steve around the reflecting pond, or fixing breakfast, or going on a mission with him. He says the things we want to say and expresses the excitement we have at that moment. And he looks cool doing all of this.

Image result for sam wilson gifs

Another of my favorite moments in Winter Soldier is the lowkey way Sam goes about taking care of business during the bridge scene. He’s not as flashy as Steve and Natasha, but watching Sam quietly kick ass during the scene on the bridge is a quiet joy as we can imagine ourselves doing that. He walks into that situation armed with nothing but a K-Bar knife, and smoothly, competently, with very little effort,  walks out of it with a machine gun. Sam makes the movie fun, but he is not the comic relief. He takes what he does very seriously and brings all his skills to the game without the toxic masculinity we see in Rumlow, for example. It is a testament to the Russo Brothers directing skills, and Mackie’s acting, that we manage to maintain our  identification with him,  as Sam’s abilities are gradually depicted as more, and more superheroic, in  subsequent movies.

Sam is competitive, but in a good way. His ego doesn’t seem to hinge on being the better man, but on just  being the best Sam Wilson. He initially races Steve when they first meet, but he knows who he’s up against, and he’s not there to try to prove his manhood. He’ knows who he is, and what his talents are, and he’s not threatened by Steve, being sensitive enough to see that Steve is in pain, comfortable enough  with himself to acknowledge that they both are, and willing to share his confidences with him.

Sam is thoughtful to his friends and  I like the movie’s honest depiction of  male friendship, with Sam waiting for  Steve to wake up in the hospital, playing the Marvin Gaye they’d discussed earlier, because that’s what friends do, and Sam remembered that. I liked that Steve was just a tiny bit surprised to see Sam  there because I think Steve was expecting to be alone. In a nice callback to Steve’s past, it may have reminded him of how many times Bucky sat by his side, when he was sick as a child. And who knows, he’s 90 years old, but he still might have missed being cared for like that.

In Antman, Sam goes up against Scott, who manages to best him. While he’s initially frustrated (and mildly embarrassed) he doesn’t hold a grudge about it, and in Civil War,  he good-naturedly seeks out Scott’s help,  while genially reminding him, that it’ll never happen again.

The nature of his job as a Pararescue, and as a counselor, sort of preclude  him being overly aggressive, yet he’s not passive. Like any good soldier, he  knows when to take the initiative, whether on the bridge, or in his fight with Rumlow.  He also has no patience for grandstanding,  so when Rumlow wants to talk smack during their fight,  Sam  tells him to  shut the hell up. He’s got no time for nonsense.

And then there’s his relationship to Bucky, which is complicated.

This is perfect:

If you’ve ever see the movie The Color Purple, Steven Spielberg depicts the kind of  relationship in the movie between Celie and Shugg, (two women who are both sleeping with the same man, who are meant to be rivals, but eventually become lovers), that’s depicted between Sam and Bucky. When they first met ,Shugg referred to Celie as ugly, and when Celie asks why, she tells her, “Its just Salt n’ the Sugah”.

That’s basically Sam and Bucky.

Salt n’ the Sugah.

I don’t think Sam actually hates Bucky, but Bucky did try to kill him several times, after which the two of them were forced to work together because they’re both Steve’s friends. Sam doesn’t hate him, but he doesn’t like Bucky either, seeing Bucky as someone that Steve keeps getting into trouble for, like that ex-girlfriend who keeps calling your buddy up every time her car needs a jump. Yet, he’s willing to work with Bucky and save his life because he loves Steve, Steve loves Bucky, and Sam is loyal to his friends. Bucky for his part barely knows Sam. I think, for him, Sam is just some guy hanging out with Steve, but he’s willing to like him if Sam will let him. Sam is willing to put aside his grudges, but not let go of them altogether, because he likes Steve.

In Civil War, we get another glimpse of Sam’s trauma. Just as Steve gets to relive that moment of terror when he lost Bucky (in The Winter Soldier), Sam gets the unpleasant experience of watching another friend get shot out of the sky, while he helplessly watches (and the added indignation of Tony’s overreaction in shooting him.) Sam, who really does rise to sainthood after that, as far as I’m concerned, manages to refrain from force choking the shit out of Tony when he comes begging for help, later in the movie. In fact Sam’s first words to Tony are to ask after Rhodey’s health and (having probably worked through most of his issues about Riley, and put in place coping mechanisms) that’s the only indication we get of how shaken he must have been at reliving that trauma.

And finally , I just love this scene. You can see how Sam never had any doubt that Steve would come for him, just as Steve came for Bucky.

After all Steve is loyal to his friends, and in many ways just like Steve, just like Bucky, Sam needed saving, too.

 

Favorited:

Sam and Natasha – Each movie gives Sam and a Natasha a couple of moments to banter with each other which basically ends up fueling lots of shipping meta between these two. In The Winter Soldier, Sam’s slightly suggestive “How  you doin?”, just tickled the heck out of  me.

Sam’s signature move is what I like to call the Kick Out. He usually does this  mid-flight, where he likes to kick people and things into another time zone. He did it to Bucky in Winter Soldier, and a helicopter in Civil War.

Sam Wilson’s Greatest Hits:

 

 

Victor Salva: “Problematic” Filmmaker

*I’m always writing these huge ambitious metas about stuff, but this is the kind of stuff that sits in my brain until I can get it out. So here goes:

I  don’t really like the word “problematic”, as I feel its overused, but its entirely accurate when it comes to this particular director. In 1988, Victor Salva was convicted of sexual misconduct, with the  then 12 year old star of his movie, Clownhouse. He pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious conduct and spent 3 years in prison. He was registered as a sex offender and is no longer allowed to be alone with children on his film sets.

Victor Salva, more than any other director, is the one of the poster children, not just for White male privilege, but the issue of separating the artist from their art. One of the things that makes it so difficult to to do this with Salva, is that his sordid past keeps intruding into his art, which once you know about it, is impossible to unknow.

*(This Vice article, written back in 2012, lets me know I’m not the only person who has noticed this about Salva’s films.)

Victor Salva Loves Terrorizing Semi-Naked Youths

CHARLIE GRAHAM-DIXON

After Salva was released from prison, he was offered a movie to direct by Disney, in 1995, called Powder, starring Jeff Goldblum, Sean Patrick Flannery,  Lance Henriksen, and Mary Steenbergen, about a young albino genius, named Jeremy “Powder” Reed, who has electrical powers. At the movie’s release, Salva’s former victim came forward to protest the release of the film. Salva has not worked with Disney since that time.

All this would just be a footnote, and Powder would be just another of those movies lost to history, except Salva went on to make several more films, and is now, with the help of Francis Ford Coppola, about to direct another Jeepers Creepers sequel. And when watching any of Salva’s movies r you  start to notice a disturbing tendency to focus on his young male stars in ways that remind the viewer of his past transgressions.

Salva’s films, The Nature of the Beast (1995), starring Lance Henriksen again, Powder (1996), Jeepers Creepers (2001), and its sequel (2003), contain scenes that, while we might find them not  worth remarking about any other time, in light of Salva’s history, these moments are…disturbing. Now, he’s set to produce and direct Jeepers Creepers 3, and I’m debating whether or not I should see this movie. I watched these movies, the first time,  wholly unaware of Salva’s background.

For example, in one of the more controversial scenes in Powder, Jeff Goldblum’s character, Donald Ripley, finds Jeremy alone in a room, and tries to form an emotional connection to him. In any other movie, this would be a beautiful moment, and an example of non-toxic masculinity, between an empathetic older man, and a young man who is starved for affection. At least that’s how I watched it the first time, but with knowledge of Salva’s background, the scene becomes distinctly creepy.  Ripley  slowly caresses Jeremy’s face and head. Jeremy, who has never been shown any form of physical affection, nearly breaks down in tears.

“You touched me and I’ve had better sex than I’ve had in ten years… I want to be a friend.”- Jeff Goldblum’s character actually says this in the movie.

There’s another scene where Jeremy, unable to participate himself, (he doesn’t know how), watches a group of teenage boys play touch football. This entire scene is shot in the most romanticized, slow motion manner, very obviously making these teenage boys the subject of the viewer’s gaze, in a style that’s usually reserve for nubile young women (think the opening scene of the 1977 movie, Carrie). One of the young men is filmed in loving slow motion, taking off his shirt, as Jeremy surreptitiously peers at him through a doorway. His manner is curious and secretive. When the young man catches Jeremy watching, he attacks him with homophobic slurs, and beats him up.

There’s something about this scene that’s less disturbing than the previous one. This scene at least serves the purpose of allegory, as Jeremy has already been positioned, within the narrative, as a hated outsider, who must be destroyed. The idea that he might  be gay (or Bi) is set up in advance. The indictment of this scene is not in Jeremy’s actions, but in the reactions of the other characters. It also feels somewhat autobiographical on Salva’s part as something very like this scene makes its way into all of Salva’s movies.

Actually, the plot of Powder features repeated attempts by Jeremy to reach out and form emotional connections with the other teenagers around him, and he is violently rebuffed every time. Earlier, he tried to form an attachment with one of the young local ladies, but is physically threatened and assaulted by the girl’s father. Jeremy, who is telepathic, desperately craves emotional connection, having lived in isolation his whole life, but finds it impossible throughout the course of the film. On the other hand, you are constantly distracted from the plot by seeing Jeremy’s naked chest filmed in loving closeup for much of the movie.

This is something that also plays out in some of Salva’s other films, with at least one  character trying to form a connection to another, and getting violently  rejected, which makes me wonder if this is some personal incident that Salva relates to. Is the reliving of this,  over and over, in his movies, the fallout of his stint in prison? Are these bullying scenes Salva’s   manner of saying that he was bullied by the state for his predilections?

In The Nature of The Beast (1995)  Lance Hendrickson (Jack) and Eric Roberts (Adrian) play two men of the road. One claims to be a salesman, the other is a no account drifter who decides, for his own amusement, and to his misfortune, to play a Cat and Mouse game with Lance’s character. Adrian tries to form a connection to Jack, but Jack has nothing but disdain for him, and will have nothing to do with the shiftless fellow because Adrian is nothing but trouble. Adrian teases Jack about knowing  his deep dark secret, and it is implied that Jack’s secret is that he is gay, though he says he’s not. Actually, his deep dark secret is that he is a serial killer. (And no, I don’t care for the conflation between serial killing and homosexuality, either.)

 

In 1999 Salva directed a movie titled Rites of Passage, which I’d never heard of until this post, so I had to Google it. I came across this trailer:

I’m actually intrigued by the subject of this movie, and plan to watch this, if I can find a free copy somewhere. This movie seems like a psycho-sexual thriller,  in the vein of Basic Instinct, with more than a hint of The Nature of the Beast. (The term Rites of Passage means an event marking a change in status, most specifically it’s a ceremony or event applied to young boys  to mark their transition to manhood.) The entire cast is male and, once again, has a scene where a closeted character is challenged by a straight character about his sexuality, according to the trailer.There is always a no-homo scene in Salva’s movies. Someone is suspected, or accused,  of being gay and they have to assert that they’re not.

Rites of Passage seems to be a little more straightforward in its depiction of homosexuality, (even though it’s love scenes are filmed in the Calgon Bubble Bath style of filmmaking.) The interesting thing about Salva’s films is its depictions of toxic masculinity in the form of identity shaming. The actual homoerotic moments are filmed in a frank and open manner, with no shame attached to them, and the characters who are accused of being gay are often not ashamed of their behavior, until made to feel that way by some other character.

Its difficult to separate the art from the artist, or know how much of the plot can even be attributed to Salva. Divorced from any background knowledge of the director, the movies actually send a lowkey positive message about homosexuality, and being different.

The very first time I paid any attention to this director, was after I saw Jeepers Creepers in 2001. I took my youngest sister to see it at the theater, and the homoerotic nudging and winking went entirely over both our heads, at the time. Although in this film, the nudging and winking is less blatant, so its easier to miss. It is only upon repeated viewing that I came to understand that the lead character, Darry,played by Justin Long, is heavily coded as  a gay man.

While traveling home for the holidays, Darry and Trish run afoul of The Creeper, who sets his sights on acquiring Darry. I remember being surprised at the ending of the movie when Trish, realizing her brother is the monster’s target, offers herself in exchange, but The Creeper rejects her, and takes Darry. I missed a lot of things about Darry because the movie does have another issue that bothered me more  and that was the addition of a “Magical Negro”, played by Patricia Belcher.

The Magical Negro in Jeepers Creepers was like, Hmmm some total white strangers need my help? To the Blackmobile! Brilz

Jezelle swans into the narrative to provide what some needed exposition. Every 23 years, for 23 days, The Creeper, is released from his stasis, so that he can eat people. The people he eats seem to consist entirely of  pretty, young, White boys, and his modus operandi is to get the scent of some boy he fancies, and pursue them until he can devour what parts of them he needs to reconstitute his decaying body. Since The Creeper is  identified as a male, it’s understandable he’d just chase after other males, but nevertheless, we have yet another plot where you have an older male, pursuing young men, which is another staple of Salva’s movies.

I have no idea if Salva is doing this on purpose, or if he’s even aware  what he’s doing. Is he teasing the audience with his backstory? Is he trying to work out his personal dilemmas in his movies? Has he changed as a person at all, or is he just trying to normalize pedophilia? I don’t know the man, so I can’t say what’s going on in his head, but it’s clear he’s obsessed with the idea of pretty, young, White men, being chased by  older men.

At one point in the movie, The Creeper is caught sniffing Darry’s laundry, after he’s broken into his car. Darry holds up a pair of pink jockey shorts and says that now the monster knows his name. Why his shorts are pink is explained in the movie, but not why his name is on them. This  scene is somewhat gratuitous because there’s no payoff for it. The monster never speaks, and we’re  certain he doesn’t care what Darry’s name is, since he already has his scent, so why are we informed that Darry’s name is on his shorts?

At the time I saw this movie, I was unaware that “sniffing” was even a sexual activity. Like I said, most of the sexual coding went  over our heads, but not all of it. Even I thought that scene was odd when I first saw the movie. Part of the reason why this is, is the reaction of the other characters. A waitress witnesses the laundry sniffing and is outraged, but one gets the sense that she’s not upset about the activity, so much as the monster did it in a public place.  Earlier, Trish teased Darry about his pink Jockey shorts, but she doesn’t say anything about the sniffing, other than to say she’s surprised the smell didn’t knock him out. She does not react to the idea of a stranger sniffing someone’s laundry. No one in the story finds the idea of laundry sniffing  odd or repugnant. ( Not to kinkshame, but if you mentioned such a thing to the real life versions of the small town people in this movie, you’d get that reaction.)

When Trish gently implies that he may be gay, Darry just shrugs, and when he finds out the monster has been sniffing his laundry, he seems more upset that The Creeper knows his name, than at the idea that this strange man (at this point they don’t know it’s a monster) has been sniffing his shorts.
Then finally there’s Jeepers Creepers II (2003)

If you didn’t think anything untoward about all of the scenes I just listed and don’t think they  mean anything, than how about the sequel to Jeepers Creepers.  All of the most questionable  moments of Salva’s movies, are amplified in this movie. In fact his movie continues to make the lists of most unintentionally gay horror movies, but its not  at all unintentional if it’s a pattern in all his movies.

It’s been three days since Darry’s kidnapping and The Creeper, disguised as a scarecrow, snatches a young pre-teen boy right from under his father’s ,and older brother’s noses. Later that day, The Creeper attacks a bus load of  boys returning from a basketball game.  He kills the coaches, and the heavily coded as lesbian bus driver, before spending most of that day and night, terrorizing the stranded teens.

Most of the plot takes place aboard the bus, giving the teenage boys lots of opportunity to engage in:  racist discussions, gay rumormongering, kinkshaming, sunbathing together on the roof of the bus, ignoring the cheerleaders, and strangest of all, peeing in groups. In the first movie, there is a scene of Darry peeing, and another one in Powder.

At one point, The Creeper terrorizes the teenagers by singling out which ones he’s interested in by licking the windows, so some of his behavior is blatantly sexually predatory, and the teammates argue about his interest in them for some time after this.  The issue with these movies is that many of the things,the viewer notices, can be explained away in the moment, and look unintentional. Its only after repeated viewing of all Salva’s movies, and knowledge of Salva’s sordid history,  that one realizes that young men, as a rule,  do not engage in group sunbathing and peeing sessions, and none of these things are unintended.

Scott, one of the team leaders is basically the poster child for entitled, angry White boys.  He’s racist, homophobic, sullen, and petty, and spends most of his time attacking the Black players, and the one team member suspected of being gay, named Izzy. At no point in the narrative is Scott set up as a sympathetic character, though, which is also in line with Salva’s other movies. Like all the other bullies in Salva’s movies, he is a cartoon villain, entitled, opinionated, and a massive coward. The hero turns out to be Izzy and his Black teammate, named Double D. They both work  hard to save their team mates, and live to the end of the movie. Complicating matters is the arrival of the father of the little boy who was kidnapped at the beginning of the movie.

Salva isn’t a bad filmmaker. He manages to pack some subtle messages about social justice into some effective, action packed movies,  and the movies are well directed, and written. But that sordid past, though…

Are we meant to forgive Salva? After all, he’s paid his dues, spent his jail time. He has, as far as the public knows, engaged in no recidivism. Can’t we all forget about it, and move on, as long as he’s following the rules? Is he just working through his issues in his films? Normally we would give the benefit of the doubt, but Salva’s focus on the young male body,  and the attendant homo-eroticism in his movies, makes that difficult.

*To read what Salva himself has to say about his past:

http://welcome-to-monster-land.blogspot.com/2009/07/directors-dungeon-victor-salva.html

Critique Roundup

Here’s a selection of Pop Culture readings for the week of January 9th. Not all of these were written this month, or even this year. They’re just a selection of posts I’ve come across while researching my favorite topics.

*Tarantino Speaks Out: Police Brutality vs. Cinematic Violence

POSTED ON JAN 5 BY

 

*Horror Movies, Why We Love [Some of] Them

POSTED ON JAN 2 BY

 

*Here are some ads that make me irrationally angry

Amanda Rosenberg

*White Feminist Critiques of Rogue One and the Erasure of Race

*Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Where Are The Women Of Color?: On Marvel’s Problems With Race

Melanin Monroe

*The Dragnet Effect: How TV Has Obscured Police Brutality

In the most influential police procedural ever, even Joe Friday, America’s archetypal “good cop,” was blind to the problem.

CONOR FRIEDERSDORF

*What to do when you’re not the hero any more

BYLAURIE PENNY

Forthcoming Shenanigans

I have not been posting much lately,  mostly because …Holidays!!! and being really, really tired. I think critiquing  Westworld really took a lot out of me. But when  January 1st rolls around, you can expect me to get back on the horse, resume my regime, play ball,  and whatever other metaphors I can mix in there.

This new year, I want to focus exclusively on television,  from a Race and  Feminist viewpoint. I love a lot of different types of TV, so I wouldn’t feel right only limiting myself to shows that had PoC prominently listed in the cast. Some shows just aren’t going to have that, considering the nature of the television industry, and that I’m old enough to be used to that sort of thing. I’m capable of watching shows without PoC in them, with only a little bit of grumbling.

I’ll talk about movies, mostly in the form of Meta-Critiques of the plots, themes and characters, the way I did with the Captain America and It Follows. I enjoyed writing those and people seemed to like reading them. I will keep doing Meta-Critiques of television shows too. People seemed to really like the Dolores/Maeve Meta I wrote on Westworld. Its one of my most popular metas,  and I want to keep doing those types of posts.

A lot of the reason I write such things is that I enjoy reading them myself,  but can’t find anything like it online. There are some things I’ve  just taken it upon myself to do, and connecting popular television shows to Racial and Feminist Rhetoric, seems to be one of those things. Most of the critiques I’ve read, are primarily about the White characters, or from a White Feminist perspective. My thinking was that  most of  these writers don’t know enough about racialized sexism to be able to discuss the topic, and those people who are writing about it, aren’t focusing their lens at Pop culture.

Some of the critiques I’ve been turning over in my mind:

A character analysis of Sam Wilson from The Winter Soldier

An analysis of static vs dynamic characters in the movies of Quentin Tarantino

How to write a novel about the Apocalypse

Victor Salva

The Toxic Male Duo

The Treatment of Mental Disability in Hannibal

I remember telling you guys I’d planned on reviewing the midwinter finales of The Walking Dead and Westworld. I may still do the Westworld one (Apparently I haven’t learned my lesson about that show, I guess) but the Walking Dead review is probably off the table. I’m going to wait until something really worth talking about happens, as I’m unhappy with this season.

And yeah, I’m still doing the rewatch of Hannibal. I’m almost done with season two. I’m going to  finish it all up with season three, which in my mind, is the most important season. Bryan Fuller is still talking about a continuation of the series and which direction it might go. I’m lobbying for a six part series on Netflix.

I also planned a bunch of movie reviews,and I may still do them but right now, they’re not really on my radar.What I’ve listed above are just the posts I’m most excited about finishing right now, so don’t worry, the element of surprise isn’t completely gone.

Next up: My favorite books, movies and TV shows of 2016.

Tumblr Discussions #182

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m always here for  Westworld meta-analysis.

Westworld & Consent

eleonoraditoledo:

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

Keep reading

the only thing im a little bit upset about

thatjokerjerome:

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

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

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

William wanted her to be that key for him.

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

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

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

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*And to finish it up:

10 Signs You’re an Introvert

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.

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

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

10 Myths About Introverts

introvertunites:

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

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

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.

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

Westworld Thinky- Thoughts

Robert Ford:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Man in Black/William:

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

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

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

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

Maeve/The Bird:

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

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

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

‘First Fig’

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

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

 

Angela and Theodore:

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

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

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

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

 

Westworld Analysis: Dolores and Maeve

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

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

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

Image result for westworld dolores

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

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

Image result for westworld dolores

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

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

Image result for westworld maeve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for jezebel myth

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

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

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

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

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

American Horror Story Chapter Six

So yeah, the twist is indeed in, as well as the shift in focus of the show. Everything has been shifted about. In the interests of openness I have to admit it o a hatred of most of reality TV. I’ll watch travel and eatery shows, or shows about wilderness survival, with experts in them, and  I’ve even seen a couple of episodes of Naked and Afraid, but that got boring pretty fast. I am however really liking this season of AHS, mostly because it’s not focused so much  on the inane dramas between the characters, but on the actual horror of the situation they’re all in.

Image result for ahs chapter six

The idea that we, and the cast, would be revisiting the Roanoke Nightmare House isn’t the twist though. Sydney, played by my precious cinnamon roll, Cheyenne Jackson, is the creator of the show we just watched in the first five episodes, and his proposal to his television backers is that he should gather together the entire cast, go back to the house, and film the results during the Blood Moon. It turns out that what we were watching for five episodes was a huge hit for Sydney and he wants  to cash in on that, despite what has happened to the cast since then. So ,in chapter six, the show goes completely, full-on meta, and I don’t think what we saw tonight is the last of this season’s surprises.

Now, the show has a tendency to go off focus during the season, as the writers get carried away with their storytelling ideas, and start throwing everything into the plot, just to see if it will stick,or just because they like it. This season, with the exception of a few scenes thrown in just to have some action, or a jump scare, has been kept pretty tightly reined in, so I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than previous ones. Tonight’s episode was kept ion point, as well, making it easy to understand, despite how complicated the plot has actually become.

Image result for ahs chapter six

Since their time at Roanoke, Matt and Shelby have divorced. Matt didn’t care for the fame that came to him because of what happened there, that Shelby called the police on his sister, and accused her of killing her husband, Mason. Yes indeed. That was a dick move on Shelby’s part. Yeah, I don’t like Shelby either. The final straw was when Shelby had an affair with the man who played her husband in the reenactments. His name is Dominic. The actress who played Shelby on the show is actually British, and we get to hear Paulson’s accent, as Audrey, which sounds a bit dodgy. She got married to the actor who played Mott in the last episode, and his name is Monohan. And since he’s so much younger than her ,she’s really super-sensitive about that. I thought it was a scam, on his part, but he seems to genuinely be in love with her.

The actress who played Lee became an alcoholic,  just like the original Lee because she was having trouble dealing with being the public face of the real Lee, who has been accused of killing her husband for the insurance money, and custody of her daughter.  (Angela Bassett’s character is named Monet.) Fans of the show started a petition to have Lee charged with murder, her mother in law is suing for custody of Flora, and everyone treats her with nothing but contempt, including Monet.

Image result for ahs roanoke cast

But the worst result of the show is Kathy Bates character, Agnes, who played Thomasina The Butcher, in the reenactments. That actress had a complete mental breakdown and started believed herself  to actually be The Butcher, running through  he streets of downtown Hollywood with an ax, before she was captured and hospitalized. Sydney serves her with a restraining order after a ring of animal organs are found on the new set of the show. He is hoping she will show up on set anyway becasue that will make for great drama. My precious baby is a complete asshole in this role.

When one of the crew gets killed on set with a chainsaw, Sydney’s assistant quits and drives off in an angry huff. She encounters what appears to be a The Butcher by the side of  the road, but is attacked by someone in her car, too, and she crashes. The notecard for her states that she was missing for six months before they found her car, and her body was never found.

Image result for ahs roanoke

The sixth episode is mostly about the setup, as Sydney lies, cajoles, and coerces all the actual people, and the actors who played ,them into staying at the Roanoke house for several weeks, while they film the entire thing with hidden cameras. And you know it’s going to be explosive because while all the characters have their reason for joining the new cast, they all hate each other.

Matt wants nothing to do with Shelby, who thinks that they might be able to reconcile, during the show. He would love nothing more than to beat the snot out ofDominic, because he slept with his wife. The Shelby actress,Audrey,  is deeply insecure about her marriage, and has nothing but contempt for the real Shelby, as being weak and pathetic. The real Lee  hates the real Shelby. The actress who played Lee, Monet,  hates the actual Lee, and the all actors  have contempt for the actual people they portrayed on the show, laughing and joking about them, whenever they leave the room. Also none of the actors believe in any of the stuff that they say happened to them.

I don’t think this bodes well for non-believers because non-belief won’t save them from what’s happening at Roanoke House.  Like Stephen King’s 1408, what’s happening there isn’t dependent on whether you believe it or not. One of the reasons Shelby, Matt, and Lee survived is because they  simply believed what was happening to them.

Things get off to a rousing start when Lee attacks Shelby, calling her weak and pathetic, just as Audrey does later. Here’s where I have to admit to a certain amount of prejudice towards Shelby myself. As soon as I heard what she did for a living my first thought was that she was a  useless woman, and not someone you want to have in a crisis, but she proved to be okay in that regard. I still don’t like her though.

Later, Matt attacks Dominic and they have a knockdown, drag-out fight, as soon as Dominic steps through the front door. This certainly makes for exciting television for the viewers, but that’s not the point of this episode, because this  isn’t the twist.

It turns out we’re all looking at whatever footage was leftover from a show which never got a chance to air because ,with exception of only one person, the entire cast died.

So we’re really watching final days of everyone involved with the making of My Roanoke Nightmare. And they’re might even be additional twists as the season moves forward.

So yeah,I’m really getting into this. When that note-card appeared onscreen, I got chills. This is awesome!

Random Tumblr Roundup

Just random stuff that ended up on my Tumblr dashboard. 

There have been a lot of reviews and thinkpieces in the past week about Luke Cage, and as I promised ,most of the reviews I’ve reblogged or linked to are from the POV of Black writers. Here’s one from The Tall Black Nerd:

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*Why can’t nerds get dates? Well, some of them can’t get dates. I’m sure none of you reading this have this problem,though.
the-queen-poetico:

theotherwesley:

introvertedgeek:

wizardshark:

constant-instigator:

stele3:

dannerzz:

brother-mouse:

dannerzz:

i fucking hate dating nerds one single time i wore a star wars shirt to see a dude and he was like, “wow are u wearing that to impress me” and i said, “star wars episode 4 was seen by approximately 110 million people during its initial theatrical run in 1977”

Congratulations. You’re dating people who for the longest time have been putting up with bullying, mocking, and scorn for most of their lives. That kind of shit stays with people. So imagine their surprise when they see a member of the opposite sex, who I’m assuming is really attractive in comparison to most people, wear attire that reps nerd culture. Which even though is accepted by the masses (if you’re reasonably attractive) is still rare. Now I’m not saying that you’re not allowed to be scornful I’m just saying expect it and don’t be surprised when you hear it. Ok? OK.

why i dont date fucking nerds: exhibit B

Bolded emphasis mine. Gross.

Stands on nearest chair: ATTENTION MALE NERDS. YOU ARE NOT SUFFERING FROM A SHORTAGE OF FEMALE NERDS. THERE ARE VAST NUMBERS OF US, AND WE RARELY HAVE A HARD TIME FINDING EACH OTHER. YOU ARE WITHOUT FEMALE COMPANY BECAUSE YOU ARE WHINEY ASSBABIES WHO THINK YOU OWN THINGS BECAUSE YOU LIKE THEM, AND BECAUSE YOU SOMEHOW THINK YOU SUFFER BULLYING WHEREAS GIRL NERDS SOMEHOW NEVER DO. STOP PRETENDING YOU GET TO BE ASSHOLES BECAUSE YOU HAVE A “TRAGIC PAST” OR YOU WILL DIE ALONE. IF YOU THINK GIRL NERDS DON’T GET BULLIED IT’S LIKELY BECAUSE THOSE GIRLS DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU, BECAUSE OF THIS SORT OF ATTITUDE.

also: fucking no one mocks nerds anymore. Game of thrones is the most watched show on tv, everyone and their mom is playing video games, dungeons and dragons is more popular than it’s ever been.

To conclude

i’m obligated to reblog the Critical Whale

Fucking thank you

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People gonna find problems with Luke Cage, but this show is my precious cinnamon roll and  I’m determinedly not listening.

Luke Cage Has Problems.

Okay so I’ve seen a bunch of fuck nigga activity recently about Luke Cage and I’ve felt the need to address it.

First and foremost Luke Cage and colorism. Now yes. I love Both of our leading ladies: Rosario Dawnson and Simone Missick. I am complete and utter garbage for them both.

However being trash for them doesn’t stop me from being able to point out that much like many other shows LC might have some colorism issues. Now me pointing out that Rosario Dawson is light-skinned and her casting outside of her being an amazing actress could have to do with colorism isn’t me invalidating her Blackness. She is Black first and foremost and knowing how vocal RD is about this stuff she’d have no problem with people talking about this as one of the possible reasons she was cast.

Stepping away from RD yes there are a plethora of Black women in Luke Cage like it needs to be it’s great honestly. I’m loving it but the majority of the darker skinned Black women (darker than SM) are back ground characters and the villain of the piece is one of the darkest if not the darkest women in the show and we all know how often that happens.

Continue reading “Random Tumblr Roundup”

Luke Cage: Shouting Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And most importantly, no Stan Lee cameo.

Here’s a list of the comic book references:

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

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

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

 

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