Mini Reviews From Firestick TV

I got an Amazon FireStick for Christmas, and so far, I’m having good fun with it. I’ve been doing this thing, where I go to random apps, and try them, or just watch whatever movies or shows get recommended to me on Amazon Prime, Netflix, or Hulu. I’ve watched movies on Terrarium TV, and and an app called Showbox, but I’m not gonna talk about those today. I’m sticking with Netflix, and Hulu, for now.

 

Kill Order

One of the  fun things to watching movies on the Firestick, is you get to watch low budget, never heard of, movies, and this is the case with Kill Order. I knew absolutely nothing about this movie before watching it. Had never even heard of it. Although some elements of the plot are somewhat confusing (requiring you to pay close attention to some horrible acting), the plot is fairly straightforward.

The plot involves a superhuman teenager, David Lee, played by Chris  Mark, on the run from the shadowy scientific Organization that  experimented on him. David is prone to nightmares and anxiety attacks. When he’s attacked in his classroom and his home by assassins, and his adopted parent is killed, he has to outrun more of them,  sent after him by The Organization.

There’s shades of Logan in the plot, because David is an experiment, who was freed by one of the doctors working on the program. He’s been infused with some type of elemental energy from another  world, and when he becomes stressed, or concentrates hard enough, he can access this energy to be faster and stronger than human. Unfortunately, many of the assassins out to kill him are also successful experiments and can access this energy too.

I thought the acting was atrocious, but I loved the kinetic energy in this movie. I think it was worth watching, for the action scenes, although a couple of them lasted just a tad longer than they should have. The action is really fast, brutal, and bloody. My major complaint about that, was that so many of the fights took place in public spaces, well within view of spectators, who did not seem at all puzzled to see black garbed killers flailing swords around, at the park. I mean it is a fairly unusual sight in this world but I guess maybe not so much in David’s.

Kill Order is available on Hulu, and is not related to the Maze Runner series, by James Dashner, as far as I know.

 

Pose

I heard about this show on The Root, and thought I’d give it a try. It’s a new show, from the creator of American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy, and is loosely based on the 1990 movie, Paris is Burning, about the gay Ballroom scene in 1980s New York. I enjoyed that movie, and have been fascinated with Ballroom culture ever since, and this show is an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle, that comes from a place of authenticity, as many of the actors are actually transgender.

I was a little put out by the opening of the movie, as I don’t particularly enjoy watching characters be mean and bitchy to one another, but apparently that was just  setting up the (loosely named) villains of the show, House Abundance, which is the rival to House Evangelista. There’s also a B plot involving the economic boom issues going on in NY at the time, involving the rise of  Donald Trump, (although he is not featured in the series).

House Abundance is run by Dominique, who was once the House mother for Blanca, who left her (becasue she wasn’t getting any respect), to start her own House, and we get to watch as the two Houses compete in various shows, how Blanca builds her own house, and the contrast between how the two houses are run. The show also tackles issues of teen/LGBTQ homelessness, as Blanca adopts a young man from the street, whose family abandoned him.

For those of you unfamiliar with all this, here’s are some  brief primers on  Ballroom culture and voguing. You’ll hear about the two Houses, La Beija, Xtravaganza, and Ninja, which were the focus of the movie, Paris is Burning, and some of the dance moves, like The Duck Walk, and the Death Drop. The New York Black and Latinx LGBTQ Ballroom culture is where the original meaning of “Shade” and “Reading” people came from. (None of this has anything to do with the dance form which was co-opted by Madonna in the 90s.)

I’ve only spent some time watching the various clips from this move, because it just hurts too much, to watch it, in its entirety, multiple times. The stories really move you. You start to root for certain characters, only to find out they were murdered in a hate crime, a few months later, or died of Aids. it can be hard to watch, but its worth it to glimpse a culture you may have never seen before. I try to be respectful, and keep in mind, that I’m not a part of this culture, and  a spectator to all it. I just admire it from afar.

 

Here is one of my favorite moments in Paris is Burning, about the philosophy behind voguing, realness, and authenticity:

 

I enjoyed the first episode a lot, and I made a promise to myself to catch some  more episodes, although I’m not yet devoted to it. But I do love the idea that this even managed to make its way to Primetime TV. I can actually see something like this being made in the 80s for  television, but not in the 90s, which was a lot more conservative. If you have been wishing for more LGBTQ content on TV then this is your show, this is your hour, this is you! The show discusses a lot of transgender issues, which makes this show absolutely groundbreaking!

This show wasn’t recommended to me from my Firestick, although I think you can watch it on Hulu, if you don’t have cable, or satellite TV.

 

The Outsider

I was prepared not to like this movie, which is newly available on Netflix. Netflix recommended I watch this, because I’d watched several Chinese Action movies (?), and put several more on my watchlist. So, even though I was dubious, because it starred Jared Leto, I took a chance, and gave it a try.

For the record,  I am, apparently,  one of the five people on the entire planet, who does not hate Jared Leto. I’m just occasionally wary of his presence in something, mostly  based on the stories I’ve heard about him, that I should, but I’ve always been contrary. I think he’s a perfectly okay actor, and I’ve liked him ever since he got his ass beat by Brad Pitt in Fight Club. I even liked him in this movie, although he turns in, what is for him, a rather subdued performance, which is also completely unnecessary to the plot of this movie.

I have a confession to make. I am a fan of historical movies, and books, about Westerners travelling, and living, in Japan. I will watch, or read, just about anything on that subject. That said, though, I have never understood Hollywood’s need to add White men to stories that do not actually require their presence. I don’t  object to  such things per se, but sometimes, I don’t feel like looking at White guys in Asian media. I’m told this is an economic choice, because White Americans are too stupid to watch movies without any White men in them. Personally, I think that’s a grave insult to the reasonably smart White people who actually watch foreign films, with nary a White guy in sight, (and if the American school system hadn’t spent so many decades turning its citizens brains into ignorant mush about the rest of the world, this would never have created a problem, that needed to be pandered to.)

This is an acceptable movie, and Jared Leto is fine in it, as an American criminal, imprisoned in Japan, just after WW2. While there, he meets, and saves the life of, a Yakuza member. When the two of them break out of prison, he goes to work for the man whose life he saved, the son of a Yakuza leader, and gets accepted as a low ranking member of the clan, despite the protestations of his friend’s brother, who is set to inherit the title of clan leader. He meets a girl, and gets involved in some drama, that results in the entire clan being killed, after which he’s exiled.

This story could just as easily have been told without him, because the politics and infighting of Yakuza clans is fascinating, all on its own. I don’t know if the director is Japanese, but I didn’t get much of a sense of Japan in this movie, beyond the usual surface signifiers, like Sumo scenes, neon city streets, and  dancing geisha. If you’re looking for some depth of setting, like a travelogue, this is not that movie. Leto looks distinctly out of place, but I guess that’s the point of putting him in this movie.

The setting felt more like the industrial wasteland of 80s Chicago, than 50s Japan, so there could’ve definitely been some more work done on the time setting. The trailer looks more Japanese than the actual movie, and I have no idea how a director manages to accomplish such a thing.  It’s a very dark film. It’s very gloomy. There’s a lot of sitting around in bars, gambling, and drinking, while giving people shifty looks, talking smack about the American, some macho grandstanding, and some short, brutal, fight scenes, which Leto performs satisfactorily, without ever seeming as if he is a dangerous person. I think it’s because he has this wide eyed innocent look, (he is exceptionally pretty), that works against what he’s trying to portray. He really needs to work on looking more shifty eyed, unless of course,  that was the point of his character.

It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not a spectacular one either. I liked the visuals, but I like the visuals of any movie set in Japan, so that’s a very low bar. There’s nothing in it that stands out in particular, beyond the mood, and setting, and this one White guy, that the other characters keep saying doesn’t belong where he is. If you’ve got some time to spend on a Saturday evening, with nothing much to do, and you don’t mind watching Jared Leto, and some Japanese imagery, for 90 minutes or so, then it’s an engaging enough film, but if you choose not to watch it, don’t beat yourself up over that decision, too much.

 

 

Travels With My Dad

I have a pretty close relationship to my Mom, so I’m always fascinated by other peoples real life, adult, relationships with their parents. I actually really liked this show. It wasn’t recommended to me by Netflix, but eventually it would have, because I like travel shows, and I enjoyed watching the show, An Idiot Abroad.

Jack Whitehall is a British comedian that I know nothing about. I’ve never seen any of his performances, so I came into this completely clear of any expectations beyond the show’s premise. The show is about him taking his dad,Michael, along with him on a world tour. The two of them do some father/son bonding, and have some mildly amusing adventures, as Jack attempts to connect with his dad. I would say his objective is successful, and occasionally deeply amusing, as his dad is not the kind of man who minces words, makes it clear the things he will, and will not do, while still having a sense of whimsy, and being game enough to try new things.

In fact, I really loved the show, and I’m not sure what this says about me other than I’m older than Jack or American or a woman or something, but I kinda identified with Michael for most of the show. Like his dad, I was often exasperated at Jack’s attitudes about things. When they first get to somewhere in SE Asia, Jack wants to stay at a hostel, but Michael is having none of that shit, and I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t either. I would not travel halfway around the world, to live in a small room,with a bunch of strange White people, who look none too clean, or trustworthy. (Also, I have a phobia about falling asleep in the presence of White people, because apparently,  I’ve watched far too many bad comedies.) Like Jack’s dad, I’m gonna stay at a nice hotel, like a civilized human being. If I’m gonna be robbed, I want that shit done James Bond style, with class.

Michael and Jack visit a temple, and a house of dolls. Or is it the same thing? The idea behind the dollhouse is that people have these very realistic dolls made, that are supposed to House the souls of actual children. Well, they get a doll, and Michael carries this little doll around, for the rest of the show. The point is that you’re supposed to treat the doll like an actual child. I thought this was both creepy and cute. Jack just thought it was creepy. Michael named the doll, carried him openly everywhere, and doted on it, just like he was supposed to, but eventually lost the doll, when he gave it to another little boy to hold,when he went on a sort of train ride. That’s something you really have to see because it’s not actually a train, and is a deeply inefficient form of travel, that Michael absolutely hated.

But it was a very  fun show. I adored Jack’s parents. His mom has got a bit of salt in her too, which I liked. Michael would call her every evening, and they’d talk about what he’d done that day, and she would give him no nonsense advice on things to say and do with Jack. If you’ve got parents, (especially if you’re their primary caregiver), you should probably watch this show with them. I didn’t watch this with my mom, but I’m thinking about it.

 

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New and Interesting Trailers 6/2018

HI!

Here, have some trailers! I thought these looked really good. I was already on the hook to see some of these movies and shows,  but a couple of them got me really interested in seeing something that was not necessarily on my radar. There are a couple that I’m cautiously excited about, but I’m going to approach them with an open mind.

 

Luke Cage Season 2

So Alfre Woodard appears to be tearing it up, in a season which is focusing a lot more on women. Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are kicking ass, and then there’s Bushmaster. I don’t know a whole lot about Bushmaster (as he wasn’t in any of the Luke Cage books I read), so he will be something of a surprise for me, but I am really excited for this season.

From the interviews I’ve seen, Cheo Hodari Coker knows Ryan Coogler, and the two of them tend to work parallel to each other. This show wasn’t slacking in its representation of women of color last season, but the influence of Black Panther can be seen in how it allows the Black women to be heroes and villains, rather than merely eye candy. So, despite the presence of Danny Rand, (who I’m still not feeling too good about), I’m really looking forward to this season.

 

 

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

This is one of the funniest Marvel trailers I’ve seen in awhile. I’m really liking this, although it took me a minute to wrap my head around the animation, as I was expecting something a little more traditional. But I’m glad to see Spider- Gwen, and an adult Peter Parker. I think I posted this trailer here before, too, which shows my enthusiasm for this movie.

I’m a big fan of Peter Parker, (and I was one of the people who lobbied that he should be Asian in the new movie), but I’m also in love with Miles Morales, too, who is from the Ultimate Spiderman line of comic books.

 

Christopher Robin

I am so much in love with this trailer and with Winnie the Pooh. The adventures of Pooh, and his friends, were one of the primary literary staples of my girlhood. I remember my Mom used to read the adventure books to me, and we watched the cartoons on TV. I loved Pooh so much, I think I’m the reason that my youngest brother, (I was 3 when he was born), is named after him, (and if you can picture a 6 ft. tall, muscular, forty something, Black firefighter, named Pooh…)

This trailer got me all up in my feels, and I have no shame in admitting that I plan to see this, multiple times, if possible.

 

 

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

I really enjoyed the original trilogy of Lisbeth Salander, and I’m excited for this new movie. I probably still won’t read the book though, although I did read the first two. I like this  new actor, although it’s hard to top the original.

 

 

Halloween

I’m not sure what I feel about this new version. I did like the Rob Zombie movies okay (the second less than the first). Apparently, this movie picks up exactly where the first movie left off, and Michael isn’t actually Laurie’s brother, and she has a granddaughter who thinks she’s insane, and all the other movies will be ignored, (with Carpenter’s blessing). But it looks pretty good, and I like Laurie’s “Born Again Hard” attitude, and gun.

 

 

The Predator

I had no idea there was a whole damn mythology behind The Predator movies, (even though I’ve seen all of them, and only been impressed by maybe a couple of them). I read a couple of the comic books, and watched the movies, and I really enjoyed both, but apparently  made no effort to put all this shit together. The Predators even have a special name, that I’ve never heard of! The first trailer didnt make me especially enthused about the movie, but I am highly enthused now that I’ve watched the mythology video, and seen this new trailer, which looks fucking awesome. (Yeah, if I’m cussing, I’m very excited.)

 

*Predator Mythology 

The Yautja (Predators Explained)

 

Bumblebee

While Bumblebee is one of my favorite Transformers characters, I’m not especially enthused about this movie for two reasons. The first is because the very first shot in this trailer is of a White woman’s ass, and I am thoroughly sick and damn tired of looking at White women’s asses (any women’s asses really) in movies, unless its actually a four legged animal. The second is because it is a Transformers movie.

A couple of things in its favor  is that there is a different director attached to this movie, and it’s about Bumblebee, and he’s a bit more kid oriented. Unfortunately, it does look like the same plot as the first Transformer film, and I even though I liked that film, I really don’t want to pay for the same movie twice.

Weekend Reading: The Fandoms Ain’t Alright

This has definitely caught me in my feels this week as I learned that Kelly Marie Tran was, very possibly, driven from the only social media site she has engaged with, Instagram, since being cast as Rose Tico in the latest Star Wars film. She received so much racist and sexist hate, that she deleted all her posts, and shut down her page. I’m saddened by this, because I was really enjoying following   her actor’s journey on Tumblr, and she seemed incredibly happy to be a part of the franchise. Joining the Star Wars franchise, as a principle player, was supposed to be a happy, and momentous, occasion for her, and a bunch of assholes spoiled it! She seemed like such a positive person, so bubbly, and pleasant,and she just wanted to share some of her happiness. I was interested in her journey to stardom, and planned to follow her career.

Image result for kelly marie tran

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-persecution-of-kelly-marie-tran-how-star-wars-fandom-became-overrun-by-alt-right-trolls

So how did a breakout role in an incredibly influential film end in fear and self-censorship? For anyone who’s been following recent trends within the Star Wars fandom, this outcome would actually be fairly predictable; in fact, given the racism, misogyny, and general toxicity that’s built up around the franchise, it’s impressive that Tran was able to last this long. Like so many other assholes, bigoted Star Wars fans have recently become emboldened, emerging from the chrysalises of racist Reddit threads as ubiquitous, bullshit-spouting butterflies. 

And now, like Leslie Jones, and Daisy Ridley before her, she’s decided she has simply had enough of the constant racist abuse, and  the Star Wars fandom is just too toxic for her. This is what “fandom “has come to, people harassing and abusing the creators of the content they claim to love. This goes against the very definition of what “fandom” is.

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

Fandom is a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.

Image result for white racial anxiety

This isn’t just about criticizing Star Wars, or disliking her character. No matter how much certain media sites try to play it down by mentioning that other Star Wars actors have been harassed out of acting altogether (Jake Lloyd, Hayden Christensen ), they must acknowledge that her harassment included the triple vectors of  racism, sexism, and fat shaming. This wasn’t about calling her being a bad actress and is  the  the exact same thing that happened to Leslie Jones for daring to appear in a movie.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/why-was-leslie-jones-targeted-trolls-n638291

And no, this isn’t just the Star Wars fandom. This is a much larger issue than Kelly Marie Tran and its about time the mainstream media looked closely at it. Every type of fandom has this same toxic element within, from books (check out the Goodreads bullies from the early 2000’s, and the SadPuppy Brigade in Science fiction), movies (Leslie Jones’ retreat from Twitter, and the  attempted tanking of Black Panther on Rotten Tomatoes), games (see Gamergate, and the term “Swatting”, which has already cost the life of one man), and television (see the racist harassment of Candace Patton of The Flash,  the erasure of characters of color, in media in which they are the primary characters, like Teen Wolf, and there was The Rick and Morty Schezuan Sauce Debacle last year).

The common denominator of all this toxicity is primarily straight, White, and male. White male geeks are showing their whole ass, in every sphere of geekdom, as they always have, but now this news has finally made its way into mainstream media, which has long ignored what goes on in fandom circles. How did things go so terribly wrong? Did this happen because being a geek has gone mainstream and attracted unsavory elements? Was geekdom always like this? And if not, what caused the behavior change? People are   thinking about this now  because this is a larger issue beyond Kelly Marie Tran, and The Guardian pulls no punches when it comes to naming exactly what this issue is:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jun/07/kelly-marie-tran-rose-why-are-some-star-wars-fans-so-toxic

These males – and it is males – feel they have ownership over a piece of entertainment: that geekdom is their safe space, theirs alone, and the newfound mass popularity of the genre is bringing a lot of casuals into their hitherto predominantly straight, white, male dojo. Diversity isn’t what some of them want. Which is bizarre, considering the benefits of diversity are what quite a lot of sci-fi is actually about. But it’s not what these people believe they paid for, and therefore see themselves of having part-ownership of. The sense of entitlement is staggering.

Image result for racist fandom

I can’t even say its just White fanboys who are responsible because there is just as significant a contingent of White women, who are as toxic, “misogynoiristic”, racist, and  delusional in their fandom, as the White fanboys, who insist that these creations are ruining their childhoods, by being inclusive of gender and race. For example, check out the ‘shipping behavior surrounding Reylo, JohnLock, and Destiel.

White female fans have  attacked Candace Patton, the women of the MCU, the actress wives of the stars of Supernatural and Sherlock. Why? Because they believe these real life women stand in the way of their OTP (One true pairing.) These are the same women who think they’re being progressive because they ‘ship two White male characters, while ignoring the half dozen actually canon, gay characters of color, in movies like Moonlight, and TV shows like Teen Wolf, and Shadowhunters.

Female fans were so incensed at the character, Sharon, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, that they harassed, and attacked the actress, and started a Twitter campaign insisting that Captain America have a boyfriend. (Never mind that Steve Rogers has NEVER  even been hinted at as being gay, anywhere in the comics, or the MCU.) (For the record, I’m not against gay characters. I  don’t want canon straight characters being changed to gay in the source material, although I will headcanon them as gay in fanfiction. I would prefer creating media with actual  gay characters, of which there are plenty, that I’d love to see in movies.)

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White male fanboys have even attacked Star Trek, for having too much  diversity, and social justice messages! They claim that is not what they’ve watched the show for and  I have to question whether they’ve EVER watched the show, because diversity, and social issues was the entire foundation around which the franchise was created. What the Hell have they been watching?!!!

I’ve tried to figure why these fandoms have become more toxic, and there are several articles that point to things like, the anonymity of the internet, and the feelings of entitlement that fans may have towards the source material, the actors, and characters. All of that is true, but those are just a couple of  elements in  the toxic stew that so many fandoms have become.

Not all toxic fandom has a racial component, because those fandoms without a significant portion of marginalized members can be just as toxic as the ones that do. But it cannot be denied that when there’s a significant number of PoC, and women, in the source material, there’s also a definite racial component to the backlash. I fear this will only get worse, as people who were previously marginalized as creators, actors, and fans, keep making significant inroads into Pop culture. I see that I’m going to have to pull out Samuel R. Delany’s essay again:

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

As long as there are only one, two, or a handful of us, however, I presume in a field such as science fiction, where many of its writers come out of the liberal-Jewish tradition, prejudice will most likely remain a slight force—until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.                                                           ——Samuel R. Delaney

And I believe that this is what’s happening here. White fanboys are having a full on meltdown, as the Pop culture they use to claim entirely for themselves, has begun  broadening  its fanbase, by appealing to women and minorities. Not only that, but a significant portion of fandom has been infiltrated by people who are not actually fans at all. The loose coalition of the Alt-Right, and White Nationalists, for example, who see all this as yet another opportunity to harass women, and PoC, are simply jumping on the bandwagon.

Image result for racist harassment

And yes, I think this behavior in fandom is directly tied to the behavior of White men behaving badly in the rest of the culture, from mass shootings, to car attacks, to violent marches. They have caused controversy in every field, including the fields of  History, and Science, as they attempt to change historical, and scientific narratives to fit their White racial agenda. There is an all out attack on every part of American culture.

https://www.publicmedievalist.com/race-racism-middle-ages-toc/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/race-rising-anxiety-white-america/

But I generally believe there is more racism in fandom, not because there are more racists in fandom, but because there are more races in fandom. Not because the business of entertainment cares so much about these groups, but because we have all been exceptionally clear about letting them know we will no longer be giving them our money for products that refuse to include us, (and they’ve also seen they can make serious  bank by appealing to us, i.e. Black Panther,  The Fast and The Furious, Star Wars.) Even some White fans have claimed to be tired of only seeing White men onscreen, and have been clamoring for more diversity.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/fantasy-writer-n-k-jemisin-explains-why-theres-more-ra-1586220859

She begins by explaining that racism has become a bigger issue in fandom lately, partly because people of color are becoming more powerful as creators in the publishing industry. And that means the backlash is going to be stronger.

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many temper tantrums, and meltdowns White men have, though. Once “fans” start reacting this badly, they’ve already lost whatever war they think they are a part of. The business of entertainment has made so much money from appealing to people like me, that I don’t think they have any plans to go back to the way things once were, of only appealing to the demographic of: White men ages 18-35. (There’s also the side effect of fans and creators watching this behavior, and doubling down in their fight against racism, homophobia, and sexism, as they don’t want to be associated with such rabid behavior.)

Further Reading:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/doctor-who-backlash-exposed-the-irony-of-men-who-dont-want-women-in-fandom_us_596f642ce4b0000eb1978720

http://minervamag.com/2016/01/when-fandom-goes-wrong/

https://splinternews.com/fandom-isn-t-broken-it-s-just-not-only-for-white-dudes-1793857254

Racism, Misogyny & Death Threats: How Star Wars Fans Turned to the Dark Side

https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/2/16840170/swatting-death-call-duty-toxic-fandom

https://filmschoolrejects.com/star-wars-fandom-is-broken/

http://talynnkel.com/blog/2017/10/9/your-fandom-is-racist

Racism, Misogyny & Death Threats: How Star Wars Fans Turned to the Dark Side

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/star-wars-fandom-toxicity-problem

https://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/05/30/fandom-is-broken

http://www.syfy.com/syfywire/star-wars-has-a-white-male-fandom-problem

https://www.inverse.com/article/31867-star-trek-discovery-racism-sexism-reddit-youtube-trailer

*Twitter Reactions

It seems I wasn’t the only person who felt some type of way about what happened to Kelly. A lot of people came out in support of her, including her co-stars and the director.

 

*And yeah, I’m not leaving White women out of this either. There are a ton of white women writing fanfiction, and meta essays, that seek to erase, and diminish, characters of color  from their own narratives.

 

*And Finally

When it comes to WoC in fandom:

(link to twitter thread)

https://newrepublic.com/article/137489/women-color-price-fandom-can-high

 If you’ve been involved in the dedicated fandoms of comics, science fiction, and fantasy as a black woman for any length of time you’ve undoubtedly had to face a degree of racism and sexism that such tweets are rooted in. It doesn’t matter if you’re an actress or a journalist, a screenwriter or a director, the price of visibility for black women in geek properties feels too high.

Weekend Reading List (The Pocket Files)

Guys! I’ve been horribly slack with the postings this week, but that doesn’t mean I’m not working on stuff. (Actually, I have not been doing anything, really.) I’ve been on a sort of vacay all week, but I’ll be back with more ramblings in June, starting Monday.

Here’s some of the lighter stuff that’s been sitting in my Pocket list for a while. Some of these are not new, but they’re new for me.

I loved this piece from BNP/Facebook writer, Stephanee Killen, about one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek, The Enemy Within. I must have unknowingly taken the episode to heart because I’ve always thought of my less attractive qualities as useful, positive things. Or at the very least tried to turn them into useful things.

Like a lot of people I suffer from anxiety. I don’t take medication for this, but I manage it very well. One of the ways I manage it is by turning it into something useful, like the ability to plan ahead. Making plans within plans is one of the ways I manage anxiety about things other people would probably consider trivial, like driving to new locations. When I have anxiety about something specific, I usually research the hell out of it, and the knowledge helps to alleviate some of the problem. Turning anxiety into knowledge is one of my ways of using a negative quality for good.

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In this particular episode, Kirk gets split into halves, a  passive, lighter side, and a darker, more negative side. The argument, illustrated beautifully in the show, is that Kirk needs his darker half to function competently as a Commander. 

I think the philosophy I most disagree with in Star Wars is the concept that light and dark are two separate things, and that one of them is undesirable. Star Trek’s more nuanced argument is that both these qualities are needed to form a whole, and that taken singularly, they’re both useless.

McCoy tells him, we’re all brutal animals. We all have our dark side. It’s human. The dark side holds strength. The light side holds caring, love, and courage. Spock, who understands duality better than most, indicates that what enables him to survive the differences between his two often-contrary halves is his intellect. Scotty eventually fixes the transporter. Kirk 1 and 2 get put back together, and the question of whether half a man can live is answered: No, he cannot—but thankfully, that’s not required.

http://blacknerdproblems.com/nerd-lessons-star-trek-the-dark-side/

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I am loving this newest season of Into the Badlands, and will have some opinions about that  next week. What I’m finding a hell of a lot of fun is the character of Nathaniel Moon. He’s an important part of the show, with his own story-line, and agenda, and even a love interest. 

I’ve seen this actor there and about, from time to time, but never gave him much attention. I’m gonna fix that right now, cuz Lawd, is he foine!

And do it he has. Since his first film role in the movie Colors (1988), Sherman hasn’t stopped sharpening his craft. With a career spanning over thirty years, he says that the characters, themes, setting and coworkers on Into the Badlands continue to inspire and motivate him.

http://blacknerdproblems.com/sherman-augustus-badlands-talks-film-football-acting-black/

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Here! Have some more Donald Glover think-pieces. It seems that every couple of months there’s some new artistic piece from a Black artist. We just sat through Black Panther, and then came Beychella (which I watched online), and the release of Glover’s video was a nice addition, marking 2018 as one of the “Blackest” years ever.

Jim Crow began as mere pop culture entertainment at the expense of America’s freed slaves and became the means of their oppression. The term “Jim Crow” became so pejorative this country’s apartheid separating Africans and their descendants from white Americans its name. pic.twitter.com/IEwLwfB2i4

http://www.indiewire.com/2018/05/justin-simien-analyzes-donald-glover-this-is-america-1201961450/

http://www.thisisinsider.com/this-is-america-music-video-meaning-references-childish-gambino-donald-glover-2018-5

https://thegrio.com/2018/05/07/this-is-america-5-powerful-messages-that-will-stay-with-you-long-after-your-donald-glover-hangover/

http://time.com/5267890/childish-gambino-this-is-america-meaning/

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/this-is-america-childish-gambino-donald-glover-kinesthetic-empathy-dance/559928/

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Here’s an incredible review of Kaufmann’s 1978 remake of  Albert Finney’s Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. This is one of my all time favorite alien invasion movies, and although I did a film comparison of all the Invasion movies, I have yet to do a complete analysis/review of this one. I got some thoughts, ya’know! 

Like the remake of The Thing, it is a near perfect example of Science Fiction Horror. There’s not one wrong note of dialogue in it, the acting is superb, and the setting is perfect for its message. 

In a more thrilling flourish, Kaufman channels Alfred Hitchcock by cutting back-and-forth between pod people following Matthew and Elizabeth on a city street; as the two speed up, their clacking exaggerated for effect, we see the feet of their pursuers speeding up in unison, until both reach a sprint. 

https://deepfocusreview.com/definitives/invasion-of-the-body-snatchers/

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This has been sitting in my Pocket page just waiting to be deployed. The whole thing just tickled the hell out of me.

Animals That Look Like They’re About To Drop The Hottest Albums Ever

Obviously this is Country music (The chicken, tho’!)

The Up-And-Coming Music Legends

 

He ’bout to drop that hot new Mixtape

 

 

I swear to gob, these two look like Hall &Oates

 

That hot new Norwegian Emo Band, or The Verve. Pick One!

 

This is that new Rock band with the twin guitarists

The Band With The Twin Guitarists

 

 

There’s a whole bunch of these gothic looking pet pictures all over the internet. I’m still finding these deeply hilarious…

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 I actually love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite all my bitching. It is an unquestionably visually stunning place to visit, and even the worse movies in the MCU look gorgeous. They also look all of a piece, as if they really all belonged in the same world.

I grew up reading Marvel Comics. In fact, those were the first comic books I read (starting with Conan and Red Sonja.) I wasn’t thrilled when Marvel started pumping out these movies, but only because I hadn’t read any of the individual character’s books, and wasn’t particularly interested in their standalone movies. I was not a Captain America, Iron man, Ant Man, or Black Widow fan. I knew all these characters because they were in The Avengers, and I read all of those books. I dutifully watched the first few movies, not especially enthused, but cautiously interested. I didn’t get excited until the first Captain America movie, which turned out to be surprisingly good, and The Avengers movie clinched it. 

I still haven’t watched all the movies. I skipped the first two Thor movies, and the first Iron Man. I never cared about Ant Man, and never will, I’m betting, although I am a big fan of  The Wasp (from the comic books), so I might see that movie.

Here are some of the better MCU music videos on Youtube. This was one of the first ones I saw. Not all of them are this good, but the editing on this one, was astounding.

 

I liked this one because it includes everything in the MCU, including all of The Defenders, all except Blade (which really should have been included, along with the X-Men and Wolverine films, even though they’re not part of the MCU. Yet!)

 

 

I skipped the first two Thor movies. I watched maybe the first thirty minutes of the second one before I fell asleep. I did enjoy this last one because I knew the director, Taika Waititi, from What We Do in the Shadows, and I trusted his film making skills.

 

 

This video was pretty good too. The editor of this one was nice enough to include  action parallels from the different films, something which helps to reinforce the idea that these movies all take place in the same cinematic world. I do object to the music of this one. I just dislike the song, and  would’ve chosen something more energetic.

Weekend Holiday Reading

Just in case you find yourself with nothing in particular to do this Memorial Day, here are some articles I found interesting this week. They don’t actually have anything to do with Memorial Day but I liked them, anyway. This also doesn’t mean they were published this week, just that they were new for me. (For those of you who are not US citizens, Memorial Day is one of those martial holidays that America celebrates by taking off from work, to burn various meats, over open flames, in our backyards.)

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*This is a song I’m going to keep singing until people memorize the lyrics. I’ve noticed this is a trend throughout a lot of science fiction, where White people, for those are the ones primarily writing these futures, are oppressed or terrorized in the same manner that they have historically oppressed others.

I read somewhere that the reason why the opioid crisis happened the way it did in the US, is because White people cannot envision any future in which they do not maintain primacy. They can only imagine the future as a dystopia for themselves, whereas marginalized people are hopeful about the future because we’ve already experienced the worst.

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

In Terminator, as well, the fact that the robots are treating us as inhumanly as we treated them doesn’t exactly create any sympathy. Instead, the paranoid fear of servants overthrowing masters just becomes a spur to uberviolence (as shown in Linda Hamilton’s transformation from naïve good girl to paramilitary extremist). The one heroic reprogrammed Terminator, who must do everything John Connor tells him even unto hopping on one leg, doesn’t inspire a broader sympathy for SkyNet. Instead, Schwarzenegger is good because he identifies with the humans totally, sacrificing himself to destroy his own people. Terminator II is, in a lot of ways, a retelling of Gunga Din.

 

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*I really enjoyed this post discussing why the lack of racial diversity in the Bladerunner movies, is so troubling. The only show I can think of that comes close to getting it right is the BBC series titled Humans. It has a diverse cast of robots, and deals with the same things, but as is usual, for shows written from a White person’s point of view, it falls short of discussing the racial implications. (Of course Britain has a different relationship with racial slavery, having abolished it much earlier than America did.)

https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/10/06/25457531/race-and-blade-runner-2049

BLADE RUNNER 2049: White Appropriation of Black Oppression

White audiences watching a white character being subjugated to sci-fi racism can invest safely. We’re obviously now in the land of make believe if anyone is randomly pulling over Ryan Reynolds. Moviegoers can pick and choose what parts of the African-American experience they want. They cheer the underdog, they hiss at the police force, but once the movie’s over, they will go home, and post #blacklivesmatter from a distance.

 

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*I wanted to write this long piece about how the lyrics of Donald Glover’s This is America cannot be divorced from the visuals, without losing their meaning. For example, most of the lyrics are about the usual gangsta rap subject matter, with the same lyrics being repeated over and over. Get your money! Get your money! Get your money! But these typical admonishments from rap music take on new meaning when being joyously sung by the church choir in the video. Just as there is the veneration of guns in the video, that scene represents  the veneration of money and capitalism as well. The Church of the Holy Dollar! This makes the video  not just an indictment of America’s gun culture, but a critique  of the capitalist system which fuels it. This article is about how Black Americans sell their pain to get money. Black pain, and trauma, is the only currency we have, and it’s what sells.

https://www.rollingstone.com/donald-glover-childish-gambino-this-is-america-video-visual-w519895

A child is the one to handle Glover’s weapon after each shooting, and it’s children who sit in the rafters above, recording the bedlam with their phones. Our normalization of racist violence has come at the cost of not only black lives, but black innocence.

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*Genius breaks it down a little bit more, although it still doesn’t touch on the  the very first lyrics, “We just wanna party, just for you”. I think this is really telling, because these are your usual “let’s party” rap lyrics, which are then contrasted with the violence. We want to party FOR you, not with you, is important in this context. Even Black violence is entertainment for a White audience. 

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*This article is about how creators of fantasy and scifi seem to   have no problem approaching the topic of sexism, but cannot seem to approach the topic of race, with any depth. 

White people like to reimagine history as a peaceful time in which they never had to think about race, hence the nostalgia for times past. But really what they like about the past was the  unobstructed dominance of White supremacy. Nostalgia for the past and fear of the future seems to make up the bulk of  White people’s imaginings in speculative fiction. 

http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/why-dont-dystopias-know-how-to-talk-about-race.html

 

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*This article touches on all the points I made in my review of this film, and I’m glad I found it. I was irked because critics were so focused on the romantic relationship, that they were neglecting to see the wider social messages of the film. It’s nice to know that someone else got it, while tying these themes to the movie’s broader critique of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism, which I didn’t see.

http://msenscene.com/2018/04/04/the-shape-of-waters-strickland-as-the-ur-american/

The reproduction of consumer capitalist values is taught to all Americans; you simply can’t not participate in capitalism (unless you want to starve, of course). But the film goes further than just a surface-level critique. We get to see how marginalized people assimilate to cultivate respectability at the expense of their peers. 

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*I realized this while I was watching the movie. Ronan’s motivational speeches about what a genius he is, and how he is unappreciated, basically boils down to, “The world didn’t kiss my ass like I wanted, so now everyone must die.”  Its one of the reasons online fanboys hated this movie, because Ronan  is a direct indictment of them.

https://www.bustle.com/articles/172212-the-ghostbusters-villain-is-basically-an-internet-troll-its-a-brilliant-way-to-silence-the

Most of Rowan’s dialogue reflects a feeling of entitlement and that of someone seeking out revenge for some past hardship. But much like the supposed oppression that trolls and MRAs feel, Rowan’s hardship doesn’t actually exist, at least to the extreme he makes it seem like it does. Rowan may have been bullied, of course, but that, nor being a janitor or not having a girlfriend isn’t warranted cause to unleash havoc on the public or cause harm in order to get “revenge.”

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*I was a huge fan of the HBO show Oz. Its been off the air for some time now, but during its time, it was groundbreaking, for its depiction of a homosexual relationship between two men, Tobias Beecher, and Chris Keller. What I found most fascinating about the relationship is Beecher’s psychology in falling for Keller. Here was a man who probably had always thought of himself as being straight, and was, due to circumstances, in a relationship with a known killer.

View story at Medium.com

http://www.newnownext.com/oz-ten-years-later/07/2007/

Being set in prison, however, the show also dealt frankly with the sexuality of prisoners who did not consider themselves gay, yet were driven into same-sex relations either through loneliness or through rape. One of the primary ways these themes were explored was through the character of Tobias Beecher. Beecher was a wealthy, middle-class lawyer, husband and father, who found himself in Oz (the nickname for the Oswald State Correctional Facility) after accidentally killing a girl while driving drunk.

Forthcoming Geekery

Bohemian Rhapsody

The very first song, I ever heard by Queen, was Another One Bites the Dust, waaay back in the seventies. I had a kid’s turntable that I played the 45 on, endlessly. I loved the hell out of that song.

I listened to Queens music all through the eighties, and sort of kept track of what they were doing, and even watched a couple of concerts, and music videos on TV. Queen also did a lot of the songs to one of my favorite movies, Highlander.

Freddie Mercury  didn’t prominently feature, in my teenage music fandom,  the same way someone like Michael Jackson, or Boy George did. But I followed his career. I didn’t  realize I was a true fan until college. I picked up a Queen’s Greatest Hits CD, because  I hadn’t heard Another One Bites the Dust in a very long time, and I missed it,  and found that I knew the words to every song on the CD.

I am really, really excited about this movie. I kinda lowkey loved Freddie Mercury, and he is one of the few celebrities (along with Prince, Bowie, and George Michael) I actually shed tears for when he died. I miss him a lot, and Rami Malek’s spot on impersonation of him in this trailer just brought all kinds of feels. Malek looks so much like him, and captures the stage attitude so well, that I’m not sure I want to see this in the theater without a box of tissues. It even looks like the creators aren’t glossing over his bisexuality, either.

The movie will be released in November.

 

 

BlackkKlansman

I think most of us, when we heard the title of Spike Lee’s new joint , immediately flashed back to Dave Chappelle’s skit about Clayton Bigsby, the blind,  Black Klansman.

I thought this movie would be one of those cringe worthy comedies that Lee produces every few years. I like Spike Lee but his idea of humor often clashed with my own.

I’m also not a fan of Adam Driver, because he’s such an unfortunate looking fellow, and I don’t know if I want to look at him for two hours. For the record, Adam Driver isn’t actually Jewish, or so I’ve been told, but for some reason, he plays a lot of Jewish people in movies. John David Washington is actually Black, though,  is a former football player, and also the son of Denzel Washington, so I expect much.

The movie is based on the book by Ron Stallworth, who wrote about his time as the first Black police detective of  Colorado Springs, and how how he went undercover to infiltrate the local Klan.

Fortunately, this is not a comedy. According to the trailer, its more of a drama, with some funny elements. I don’t know if I’ll go to the theater to see this, but I have tremendous respect for Lee as a filmmaker, and I’m always excited whenever he releases a new movie, so I’m putting this here.

 

 

The Predator

I’m cautiously excited for this movie, mostly because Keegan Michael Key is in it, from the show Key and Peele, and I worry that he’ll be killed 30 minutes into the movie, because that’s what happens to Black people, in franchises that go before a mainstream audience. But I think the premise is interesting, and kinda unexpected, and I really liked this trailer.

The Predator movies are one of the few franchises that actually treats the characters of color with a certain amount of respect. Even when they die, they at least get to have heroic deaths (Carl Weathers), and a couple of the Predator films had Black heroes, one man (Danny Glover) and one woman, (Sanaa Lathan), and I can appreciate that.

This version stars Sterling K Brown, and Olivia Munn, who I hope is the star of this one, and gets to fight with or against the Predator of the title. It also, unfortunately, stars Jake Busey, and no Black women, but I’m willing to tolerate all that, in the names of Key, and Brown.

 

I know it looks like I’m being a slacker this week, but I was on a bit of vacation, and I’d just finished that giant post on Bladerunner. I have a lot more posts forthcoming about various movies, but like I said, those take time. Throughout the Summer, especially during the hiatuses of various shows, I’ll be doing movie posts, and re-watching season three of Hannibal.

I went this weekend to see Breaking In, with Mom. This was the movie she chose to see on Mother’s Day. It wasn’t a bad film, I had a good time, and she seemed to really enjoy it. The movie was full of cliches, and I think it lasted a little too long, but was otherwise okay. We went to the movies, and had lunch with my little sister, and her three kids.

Monday I goofed off and shopped a bit, and Tuesday I got some household chores out of the way, like putting away the winter clothes and unpacking my Summer wardrobe. Those of you from warmer climates probably think that’s bizarre, but for those of us who live above the snowline, it’s a twice yearly ritual of packing away clothes, according to forthcoming weather trends.

But I did take time out of my busy schedule to watch a couple of movies on Netflix. I’ve decided to do this thing where I watch whatever random movies Netflix recommends to me, and occasionally I come across a real gem. Just lately, I watched a show called Travels with My Father, a movie called The Outsider, and I’ll be watching another movie, called The Survivalist, this week, while knitting my first shawl. I’ll post about these later.

Bladerunner 2049 (Part II)

In this second post, I’ll discuss everything I didn’t get to tackle in the first, and that is mostly  the themes and technical stuff. This is going to be a long one, and I thought about breaking it into two parts, but I think you guys can handle it, (and it may keep you out of trouble for as long as a few minutes!)

Now that Bladerunner 2049  is on DVD, I have re-watched it many times. Despite the issues I have with it, I still love this film, and I have thinky-thoughts about every aspect of it. I’m not particularly interested in the opinions of those who disliked it, because people were wrong about disliking the first film, too, and its become a modern Scifi classic. I feel that twenty/thirty years from now, we’ll probably still  be talking about this movie. (And are you kidding? I’ve been waiting over thirty years for  this!)

Symbolism &Themes

The Soul

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The movies primary themes are embodied in Officer K, and as always, it starts with the eyes. As in the first thing we see is an eye, looking over the landscape, as K flies to his next assignment. There is the saying that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and though this quote is not explicitly mentioned in the film, there is a lot of focus on K’s eyes. His baseline test as Bladerunner is established using his eyes. The Voight-Kampff Test, from the first film, used pupillary dilation to determine if someone was feeling the proper emotions during questioning. Since replicants, in the first film, didn’t have memories, that test was meant to determine the humanity of the subject by testing for  emotional incongruities to the questions.

 

Everyone already knows K is not human, so he is asked, instead, to establish a baseline emotional personality, against which he will be matched. He is not asked specific questions, but told to repeat a series of phrases, in quick succession, based on the novel Pale Fire, by Nabakov, a story in which a man mistakes a mountain for a fountain. This is the book in the apartment that K has been reading with Joi.  K is probably the one who chose his baseline phrases from this source.

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2017/10/14/the-poetry-of-blade-runner-2049

“…blood-black nothingness began to spin / A system of cells interlinked within / Cells interlinked within cells interlinked / Within one stem. And dreadfully distinct / Against the dark, a tall white fountain played.” These lines from Blade Runner 2049’s post-traumatic baseline test come from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire. In Pale Fire, the fictional poet John Shade sees a tall white fountain during a near-death experience – the image’s “presence always would / Console [him] wonderfully.” Later Shade reads about a woman in a magazine who came close to death, who visited “the Land Beyond the Veil” and also glimpsed a “tall white fountain” there. Shade finds the woman to share this with her, only to discover it was a misprint – it was not a “fountain” but a “mountain” that she saw. But the error changes nothing: the image of the tall white fountain had meaning not because it had some objective significance, not because it was empirical proof of an afterlife, but because Shade ascribed meaning to it. The fictional scholar annotating John Shade’s poem, Dr. Charles Kinbote, writes: “We all are, in a sense, poets.”

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In the movie, K tells Joshi, his boss, that beings that are born have souls, and that he has never retired anything with a soul before.  K’s definition of what it means to be human involves the existence of the soul. Since he was never born of woman, he has accepted the idea that he does not have one. So why the focus on K’s eyes if he has no soul?

The post below discusses why there is something called “The Uncanny Valley Effect.” Human beings react to inanimate, human-like, objects like normal, until the object begins to look too human, after which we begin to feel distinctly disturbed.

https://theconversation.com/uncanny-valley-why-we-find-human-like-robots-and-dolls-so-creepy-50268

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From:

*Blade Runner 2049 – and why eyes are so important in this vision of the future

If the thought of a non-human consciousness glimpsed through the eye as a “window to the soul” is consistently unnerving, it is because instead of a human connection there is something else there entirely: the terror and wonder of the unknown.

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It’s interesting to note that there is also a good deal of emphasis on Joi’s eyes.  Joi is a simulated being that shows more love and compassion, than any of the human characters in the movie. We’ve seen K be spit at by his fellow officers, as he goes about his daily routine, and objectified by his boss, Joshi, who can also  order the killing of a possible replicant/human child, without blinking.

A lot of people want to get bogged down in a feminist interpretation of Joi and her role in the film, but you know me, I never go for the easy analysis. Not that they are wrong, but that’s an easy analysis to make. I noted the surface reading, that she was  a simulation of male desire, and then I moved on from that, because I feel her role is much more important than  feminist analysis credits her, which is often entirely negative.

I don’t think  people are really taking into account  Joi’s relationship to K, who, it could be argued, isn’t any more of a real  person than she is, with his simulated memories, and yet, he created Joi’s personality details. So what you have here is a simulated being, with false memories, detailing what he likes in the personality of another simulacrum. I think Joi’s personality tells you a lot about what K  values, and about who he is on the inside, beyond being a  determined and relentless killer. I think the existence of Joi (and his behavior towards her) is evidence that K has a soul. It can even be argued that Joi is K’s  soul, made apparent. How could he have helped to create a being as luminous as Joi, unless he has some within himself.

One of the proofs that K is more human than human, is his treatment of Joi. Joi is treated with dismissal and contempt by everyone in the story except K. She is just a simulacrum of a human being,and K can treat her however he wants, with no repercussions, yet he always treats her with kindness and courtesy.  He is thoughtful, polite, and treats her with respect.You can tell a lot about a human being by how they treat the powerless, and this says much about K. He  treats her as he would like to be treated,  and it is interesting to note that his behavior towards her is based on his ideas of how a human treats their lover.

Joi is also underestimated in the story by the viewer. Who is to say she doesn’t experience actual emotions for K? Yes, she aids and assists,as she is programmed to do, but she also makes decisions that go beyond her programming. Before she and K can go on the run, she asks him to download  her personality to  her mobile emitter, and erase her from the apartment files. She is well aware that should her mobile emitter be destroyed, so will she, forever, and yet she makes the decision to endanger her existence, to protect K.

That Joi is K’s soul is made explicit when Joi acts as K’s eyes, superimposing hers over his own, when he is researching online, and later, she acts as the soul of another replicant (Mariette) to whom K makes love in Joi’s place. Like the soul, Joi is incorporeal and intangible, but makes it possible for K to experience happiness (in her happiness), grief (at her demise), and anxiety (for her safety), and a conscience, (at the idea of killing a human child).

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Joi also functions as an external indicator of the emotions K does not  get to freely display. She speaks his  actual thoughts, when he believes he might be a real human, and it is only after her death that we see K  display any real human emotion, as he cries in anguish, or yells in rage. It is not until after her death that he discovers he’s not human, but then makes the decision to behave like a human anyway, one of the first true decisions he has ever made about himself.

If souls exist, I certainly think the replicants have them. The presence of a soul  allows the replicants to express emotions, and  deceive the humans around them. (This is also  another parallel to the real life situations of Black Americans, who have historically been censured, and punished, when they  expressed anything other than bland pleasantness in the presence of White people. Even today, Black people can be killed, with impunity, for not showing what is regarded as  proper deference to authority figures.)

Luv also hides her emotions from Wallace. (Notice that she only displays emotions when Niander Wallace is not around, or is not directly observing her.) There is the scene where Wallace kills a female replicant in front of her. He has his back to her and so cannot observe that she is nearly in tears. When his sight drones hover near her face,  she keeps her expression carefully neutral, but you can tell she is afraid she will give something  away, and I wonder how many other Luvs existed before her, who forgot to hide what they were feeling. Contrast that with her exasperated manner when ordering a drone strike on K’s behalf, or the rage on her face when killing Joshi. She lies frequently to the humans around her, to a technician in a lab, and to Joshi before she kills her. Later, when talking to Deckard, she expresses a degree of compassion for him that she has not shown towards any of the other humans, in the movie.

Luv also functions as an example of Ks foil. She is what he is not, or rather what he could have become but didn’t. K has a fundamental respect for human life, as indicated in his conversation with Joshi when she orders him to kill Deckards child. Luv entirely lacks this respect. I did wonder where K got his ideas of how to behave. He I said at all times deferential and respectful to Joshi, as well, even though she is his boss. He also seems to have no actual fear of human beings either, so I didn’t think his respect covered a mask of fear. Luv is informed by her hatred of Wallace and his disrespect for replicant life, but where does K’s respect for humans come from. He is often exasperated and/or impatient with humans , but he doesn’t actively hate them the way Luv does. Luv believes replicants are superior to humans, which is an idea she adopted from Wallace.

K also develops the ability to lie, moving beyond his programming, when he thinks he’s human. He lies to Joshi about killing the replicant/human child, and doesn’t tell her that he believes the child is himself. It is interesting that K can only act beyond his programming when he believes he’s human, but Luv has gone beyond her programming, while well aware that she is not.

The idea that humanity has created these technological, and organic, forms, and yet are completely unaware of the full capabilities of these beings, (preferring to underestimate them), and that these beings are also capable of deceiving humanity into believing such, is a persistent underlying  theme in both films.

Niander Wallace, the creator of the new replicants, lacks a soul, if the above truism  is to be applied to everyone. His eyes are a blind white, and his sight is supplemented by artificial means, in the form of hovering black stones. This is a person who pretends to have a soul , just like he pretends to be sighted.  He has “vision”, but it is severely limited. He only sees the world one way, with him at the top of it, as a god.  Wallace never refers to his creations as what they actually are, (slaves, products, commodities), preferring to call them Angels, instead. In this manner, he can “off-handedly” refer to himself as the god he believes himself to be.

Wallace thinks replicants that can reproduce themselves are the key, which  reminds me of a scene from the movie Eastern Promises. Viggo Mortensons’ character gets reprimanded about his memory of a young girl who died in childbirth. The young girl had been a human trafficking victim, and had been raped and impregnated by his boss. When he is asked how he feels about that, he yells in frustration, “Slaves give birth to slaves!” This is a horrifying idea, because essentially, Wallace would be reproducing actual slavery, in which the children of slaves were born into slavery. And of course rebellion is inevitable. He thinks he has taken into account the replicant’s desire to be free, but he underestimates their ability to go beyond their programming, as evidenced by the fact that Luv is capable of deceiving, him regarding her true nature.

 

Women as Commodity

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One of the biggest hurdles when watching this movie is the depiction of women. There is almost no woman in the movie who doesn’t serve the greater needs of a man, and I’m only taking Joshi out of that description because we don’t know who her bosses are, and she seems to be acting autonomously. Outside of Joshi and Luv, there are no female images that are  not depicted in a sexual manner, and sex as a commodity is still a thing. The street holograms are either naked, or dressed in  fetish clothing, to sell products, or be sold themselves,  Mariette is a replicant sex worker, Joi is a personal hologram designed to serve whoever buys her program, and even the statuary images of women, as seen in Las Vegas, are posed in a suggestively sexual manner. Joshi is the only human woman in the movie who remains non-sexualized, and in a very awkward moment, she obliquely references that K sleep with her, whether he wants to or not.

But what no feminist talks about (which is how I know they have only a surface understanding of the misogyny in the film) is how the women treat each other. How women in movies behave towards each other is as important as  their being present. There are five women in this film, and most of their relationships are needlessly adversarial. Luv destroys Joi seemingly on a whim, stomping her hologram generator which destroys her program. Luv also kills Joshi, after screaming at her in a rage about K’s whereabouts, and then callously flinging her body about afterwards.

The most pointlessly  antagonistic relationship, however, is between Joi and Mariette. Joi hires Mariette to be her corporeal stand-in when she makes love to K. After which Mariette expresses open contempt for her, telling her she’s nothing special. Why does she do this? Is it to illustrate that there is a hierarchy of contempt even among artificial beings? Does Joi regularly sneer at computers, or handheld devices in the house?

The only positive relationship is the one between Mariette, and the female leader of the rebellion, that she works for. They are not friends, but they are at least cooperative with each other, and not needlessly antagonistic. I would say it’s  because the two of them have shared goals, but Joi and Mariette  have a shared goal of pleasing K, yet afterwards, they  behave as if they are rivals for his affection. That’s just lazy, cliched writing  of women.

Deckard’s daughter lives in isolation, and doesn’t come into contact with anyone but K and Deckard.

 

Slavery

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The  theme of slavery is all well and good when discussing actual slavery, in a film like 12 Years a Slave, or Django Unchained, but finds itself in uncertain waters when the cast of a movie, that heavily references slavery and oppression, is almost entirely White. I have mentioned before why I find oppression allegories in science fiction movies distasteful. Scifi moves often do not include PoC in their possible futures, and when they are included, nothing different is predicted for us. We are still serving the same purposes in the narrative future that we serve now. It is as if the White writers  of these stories cannot imagine any other kind of future for us other than serving Whiteness.

None of the oppressed Replicants, in either movie, are PoC, which is a common casting choice in Science fiction films. Aliens and robots are almost always cast with White actors, (Brown and Black people are cast as “The Other” in Fantasy films.)

(https://www.publicmedievalist.com/race-fantasy-genre/)

*From Medium. com: 

BLADE RUNNER 2049: White Appropriation of Black Oppression

Nicholas Podany

Of course, there are certainly other movies that have much much whiter casts (Moonlight. Sorry, I meant La La Land), but Blade Runner stands out because without a diverse cast, the movie is just selective white appropriation of systemic racial oppression. With Blade Runner, white audiences are never required to leave their comfort zones of white fragility to enjoy a compelling story about bigotry and persecution. Ryan Gosling is the new Chiwetel Ejiofor as he tries to escape the unjust fate he was given at birth.

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Environmentalism

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The theme of environmental decay continues in the sequel. From its opening shot, hovering over a bleak, gray landscape, to Sapper Morton’s dead tree, under which Rachel’s bones have been interred, to Mariette’s statement that she’d never seen a tree, to Deckard’s home in the middle of an irradiated, sand clogged, Las Vegas, we are led to believe that the environmental destruction, obliquely  referenced in the first film, has made Earth uninhabitable.

In this movie, the environmental destruction is made much more explicit when we visit areas outside of Las Angeles, like the massive garbage dump, where orphaned children are exploited for their labor, and the giant sea wall separating the rising  ocean from the rest of the city.

But it is the little things that remind the viewer of the environmental devastation of this world. One of the  characters is astonished that K owns a piece of genuine wood, and K takes a two second shower that consist of little more than a blast of water, that is only about 90% pure. Later, we see that K is fascinated by a beehive, and has no idea he probably shouldn’t stick his hand in it, but since he feels no pain, he doesn’t fully understand that bee stings are meant to curb that sort of inquisitiveness in a human. It is also meant to indicate to the viewer, that even though K believes himself to be human during this scene, he is not.

This movie has moved beyond the images of ceaselessly pouring rain from  the first film, to give us glimpses of nighttime fog in LA, dusty sun in Las Vegas, and even snow.

 

 

 

Wealth Inequality

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One of the sub-themes related to  environmentalism is the wealth inequality, which is illustrated by the  lack of clean water. There is plenty of water in the movie. There is a seawall separating the city of LA from the ocean, lest it be flooded, but most ofthe water is irradiated, or otherwise polluted. In an early scene K takes a two second blast of shower water that is “mostly” clean.

Now contrast that scene with Niander Wallace living in watery splendor. This is a man who is so wealthy, he can afford to devote entire rooms of his home, to just holding water, solely for decorative purposes. Like Eldon Tyrell, he lives in a skyscraper above the literally unwashed masses below. Wallace lives in  quiet, vast, clean, minimalist, apartments, which contrast with K’s cozy, uncluttered apartment, with the loud chaos right outside his door. Their  apartments serve the same purpose, as a sanctuary against the noise, reek, and dirt outside.

 

Memory & Self

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In the first film we are told that the replicants are more controllable when given memories to ground them in their personality. Rachel was an experimental replicant created by Gordon Tyrell,   implanted with the memories of Tyrell”s niece, and Deckard himself said that the replicants needed memories. The replicants themselves collect photos,  essentially still moments of the lives they’ve experienced, and Roy’s last words to Deckard were remembrances of his life experiences.

This is the one of the primary themes of the sequel, only unlike Rachel all the replicants we see know they are replicants, and know that their memories are unreliable indicators of who they are. Nevertheless, even though their memories are not real, and they know it, many of them have developed very  distinct personalities on their own. Science is still unclear if  personality affects the memory, or if its memories that create personalities. Who would you be if you could remember nothing of your past self? Or, just like in the movie The Matrix, you found out that none of the things you experienced ever happened?

Later, we find that one of K’s most  cherished memories is a real memory from a human, that’s been implanted in many replicants, (even though giving replicants real memories is illegal.) K is hopeful that he’s a real human, who was born, who had a mother and father. Note how his behavior changes when he believes this about himself. When he goes for his baseline personality test, he no longer registers as who he was to his superiors, and he is openly assertive to Joshi in a way we hadn’t seen before. When K believes he is human is also the first time we see him lie, and even has the temerity to yell at another human being (Deckard). His belief that he has a soul (because of the presence of the false memory) changes his behavior.

It’s interesting that even though the replicants have a shared memory, they all possess distinctive selves, and  yet, have all still ended up in the same place, the underground rebellion. In Bladerunner, photos are the placeholders for the memories the replicants lack. Since they have no memories, the photos prove to them that their experiences, and acquaintances were real. K’s wooden horse doesn’t quite serve the same function, but its existence is proof that whatever  memories he has are real, and so, proof to him that he is human, and has a soul.

 

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Cinematography

Jordan Cronenweth was the cinematographer for the first Blade Runner movie. The incredible Roger Deakins is the cinematographer of this sequel, he is most famous for The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men, and  True Grit, and this is, of course, a gorgeous movie, for which Deakins has rightfully been awarded an Oscar. Deakins and Villanueva tried to remain faithful to the feel of the first film. many scenes have a sift dreamlike a soft, almost dreamlike tone.

The environment often echoes  K’s emotions, or frame of mind. As K moves further into the story, the scenes  of discovery (especially when he has a clear, and set goal) tend to be crisp and clear, like the opening scenes, where K is sure of who he is and his purpose, and his trip to the orphanage, when he is searching for his past. Those scenes where he is at his most confused, and most unsure of his goals , those tend to be foggy and unclear, and the scenery is obscured. The scenes where he is hunting for Deckard in Las Vegas have a misty ,yellowish tint, (K is, I think most afraid in these scenes. He is certainly anxious, and nervous.This is when he still believes he is human and that Deckard may be his father.) There’s a patina of dust overlaying everything giving these scenes the feel of  vintage daguerreotype images. Deckard is the past, suddenly become relevant.

 

There’s is lots of rainfall in this movie (though not as much as the first), but note that rain has often been used as a cliched indicator of male emotion in movies. It is raining when K kisses Joi at the beginning of the movie, and when he encounters the giant holographic ghost of Joi after her destruction.

Costumes

The costumes are not as loudly impressive here as they were in the original film, probably because the first film had the benefit of novelty. By the time of this film, we’ve seen thirty years of BladeRunner inspired clothing become mainstream. Since  keeping design continuity from the first movie was important, the effect is that the costumes look little different from our everyday wear. What was groundbreaking costume design in 1982 has become daily wear for the rest of us, and a lot of the costumes would not look out of place if seen in real world streets.

Some  of the costumes are callbacks to the previous film, and while some of the East Asian design aspects have been toned down in this movie, there is still a clear Japanese influence seen in some of the movie’s costumes,  most especially in  Niander Wallace’s daily wear. Officer K’s coat is a direct callback to the coat worn by Deckard in the original film, while Luv’s white dress is a reference to  the dress Rachel wore at her first meeting with Deckard. In the movie, Luv wears this dress when she first meets K. The replicant prostitute wears a jacket that echoes Rachel’s chinchilla coat in the first movie, but she is a street replicant, and her version of this outfit is ratty and worn.

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One of my biggest pet peeves, is when White people make Scifi movies, they routinely erase the contributions of PoC from the human cultures being depicted. Black people in America have had an outsized influence on American culture, but you would not know that to watch the Blade Runner films. The only pop culture, and fashion, influences depicted, in either film, are European (namely Punk and New Romantic), and occasionally East Asian. There’s no sign in the 1982 movie of the influence of Hip Hop (which was still in its infancy at the time) on fashion and music, and no indication that we exist as a culture that influences the landscape at all, in the current film.

The reason I find this so irritating is because I know full well the amount of influence Black Americans have had on American culture. It also shows a paucity of imagination of the creators of  these types of movies, who not only can’t imagine a future in which Black people are doing anything other than still serving the narrative needs of White characters, but we have made no contributions to the cultures being depicted, either. In most movies, Black people are almost never given any culture (beyond stereotypes.) So while the makers of Scifi movies can find time to add Elvis Presley  and Frank Sinatra musical interludes,there’s no indication that Hip Hop exists in this universe.

 

Music

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The composer of the original movie’s soundtrack was Vangelis. For Bladerunner 2049, Hanz Zimmer was hired, after Villanueva fired the original composer, Johanne Johnasson, because he wanted the music for the sequel to have more echoes of the original.

If you listen closely to the original film, Deckard has a specific ambient hum in his apartment, and that sound is referenced in the new movie, in Deckard’s new surroundings. (This is also the same ambient noise  heard in the movie Alien, throughout the ship Nostromo, and in  Aliens in the Medbay.) Niander Wallace’s ambient noise is an echo of the tonal sounds of Eldon Tyrell’s apartments in the first film.

One of the reason people keep speculating that Deckard is a replicant is because of the replicant’s interest in music. Deckard owns and plays a piano, which Rachel knows how to play because she was implanted with memories of lessons. K is fascinated by the piano he finds in Sapper Morton’s home, (which he must have owned because he knew Rachel liked to play), and fingers the keys. its his fascination with the piano, including being able to tell when keys are out of tune that lead K to the discovery of the wooden horse. Deckard still lowns a piano while living in Las Vegas, and K can’t seem to resist fingering the keys when he gets near it.

all of the songs used in the movie are a reflection of K’s moods and thoughts, and is keyed to the situations K finds himself in. In K’s apartment, he and Joi listen to Frank Sinatra’s love song, Summer Wind, about a man reminiscing about time spent in the company of his lover. Interestingly, K shares his love of Frank Sinatra with Deckard, who has a hologram of Sinatra in his apartment singing “One For My Baby (One More For the Road)”, a scene which occurs while K interrogates Deckard about his past, and which seems to be a song specifically written for for the two of them, as it is a song about a man preparing to make  an emotional confession to his bartender, (who is sworn to secrecy), as K prepares to confess to Deckard that he may be his son.

Earlier, when K and Deckard are fighting, during their first meeting, there is a hologram of Elvis Presley singing Suspicious Minds, echoing both their emotional states about each other. Later, when Deckard talks about about his relationship with Rachel, we hear Elvis’ sad  I Can’t Help Falling In Love (With You), representing Deckard’s grief for her.

Joi’s mobile theme is from the Russian fairy tale, by Prokofiev, called Peter and the Wolf. This too is an echo of K’s storyline, as it is about a little boy who wants to be heroic by hunting wolves. Accompanied by by a cat, a goose, and small bird, he sets off for the hunt, only to be stalked by the wolf himself. With the help of his little bird friend, he manages to trap the wolf by hanging it in a tree, but not before his little goose friend is eaten. At least this is the rather sanitized version I learned in elementary school. K wants to be a hero, and a real boy, and spends the movie hunting these two goals. When he discovers that he is not a real boy, he finds that he is okay with just being heroic, successfully defeating the wolf, and reuniting Deckard with his daughter.

 

 

 

Geeking Out Recommends:

Thelma

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I’d been looking forward to seeing this for some time, and it did not disappoint. Now, when I first heard the description of it, I had not yet seen the trailer, and I was expecting something like Carrie, but quieter. Then I saw the trailer, and found that it’s something wholly different from Carrie. This movie isn’t about vengeance, it’s about desire, and what happens to a person when that desire is repressed.

For one thing, this is a much quieter, and more subtle movie than Carrie. It’s so low-key, that the supernatural aspects of the story kind of sneak up on you. They sneak up on you because they’re  loosely covered by several other issues that you will find compelling enough to be distracting.

The film is based in Norway, and the lead character, Thelma, starts to experience epileptic seizures, except it’s not seizures. Her doctor says they are psychosomatic, and stem from emotional suppression. At the same time, she meets a young woman who comes to her rescue, after she has a seizure in the college’s public reading room, while that room’s giant picture window is battered by a flock of birds. Every time she resists her feelings for Anja, or tries to suppress her powers, she has a seizure.

Thelma and the young woman, Anja, start to get closer, but Thelma comes from a quietly strict Christian background, and she becomes very conflicted about her relationship with Anja, which starts to take a romantic turn. It turns out that Thelma isn’t necessarily conflicted because of the Christianity, but because she has the power to make things happen to people, when she strongly wants it. The Christian beliefs her parents espouse are what was used to keep her powers in check.

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When Thelma was a child, she became jealous of her baby brother, and wished him away several times. The last time she does it is emotionally devastating to her mother and father, but this isn’t something you find out until the middle of the film, and only in flashbacks, and explains why her parents treat her in the quietly aloof manner that they do.

As Thelma becomes overwhelmed about her relationship with Anja, (she keeps having sexual nightmares involving snakes, and dreams about drowning, which is classic symbolism of someone being overwhelmed by a subject), she wishes Anja away too, and it’s a testament to the low-key horror of the movie, that even at the end, you’re not entirely certain that what is happening is real. Did she bring Anja back? Is Anja even real? And then there’s the further question, brought up by her father, about whether or not Anja truly loves Thelma, or did she make Anja love her because she wants her to love her.

It’s not a straight horror movie, with jump scares, and frightening moments. The most frightening moment in the movie is when Anja disappears, and Thelma kills her father. But mostly it’s those nagging questions,that stay with you, as you start to realize Thelma is far more dangerous than you may at first have believed. Her mother and father were in a car accident a few years before she went to college, and though it’s not explicitly stated, you wonder if it was Thelma who caused it.

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After Anja disappears, Thelma leaves college to go back home, where her family welcomes her, but her father decides that she can’t leave. She takes control of her abilities, takes a horrific revenge on her father, and walks out of the house. She goes back to school, where she is greeted by a newly returned Anja, who passionately kisses her.  Her mother is disabled, and uses a wheelchair after the accident, but by the end of the film, Thelma has given her the ability to walk again.

Like several other movies I’ve seen in the past few years (It Follows, Annihilation, A Quiet Place), the horror comes not so much from what happens in the movie, but from its mood. The wintry landscape of Norway, and the remote location of Thelma’s home, is very effective. On the other hand, I can’t say that the movie was enjoyable, either. It’s too haunting for that, and I am still disturbed by the questions that arose, and the answers I came up with.

For those of you on the LGBTQ spectrum this movie is safe enough to watch There is a brief moment when you think there’s a Kill Your Gays Trope, but by the end of the movie, that has passed. Its a movie about overcoming repression, and acceptance of the self.

Thelma is available on Hulu.

 

Blade of the Immortal

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I wrote about this movie in another post when this was first released. Its based on the Manga of the same name, about  rival samurai schools, (dojos), and a lone samurai who gets cursed by a witch with immortality. In return for losing his immortality he must kill 100 evil men.

Manji’s  immortality takes the form of something called blood worms, which are semi-sentient, that can heal any injury, no matter how awful. This basically means we get to watch a lot of really disgusting scenes of various body parts getting lopped and chopped, and reintegrating with his body. He thinks his quest is over when he meets a young woman named Asano who is seeking revenge against the cadre of swordsmen who killed her parents.

Of course all this is just an excuse for lots and lots of gore. I loved it. If you liked Ninja Scoll, and think you can sit through something that is very like a live action version of that, you’ll probably like this movie. Another movie that  heavily resembles  this one, only its set in modern day US, is  Ninja Assassin.

Blade of the Immortal is also available on Hulu.

 

Harlots

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I watched the first couple of episodes of this show and was mostly impressed by the characters and the details. I love period movies and TV shows, especially if it chronicles some, usually forgotten, part of history. There’s never been a show about the influence of sex workers on politics during different eras. I think people often forget that sex workers have had a tremendous impact on history, and that there were times when prostitution wasn’t always a crime, but a legitimate business that certain types of women went into, not always by choice, (but sometimes they did), which was sometimes carefully regulated by the women who controlled the institutions.

This particular show is about two rival houses of prostitution, and the political machinations  of 1700s London. One madam, Margaret Wells, is trying to increase her political influence in London by moving her brothel to a more prestigious area of the city, while being countered by Lydia Quigley. At the same time they both have to deal with a new commitment to eliminating sin, from London’s religious community, who are aided in their endeavor by  brutal police  raids.

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To finance her increase in economic power Margaret plans to auctions off her youngest daughters virginity. She is also trying to influence her oldest daughter, who is being pressured to sign a Patron agreement with a member of the nobility, which means she would leave the brothel, and stay in a place of his keeping.

Lydia Quigley runs a higher class of brothel, in a prestigious area of London, and spends her time plotting against Well’s ambitions. Margaret used to work for Lydia. Essentially, the two are fighting over which one of them will get to influence the members of the nobility who enjoy their services.

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There’s also a B plot centered around the courtship of a young Black woman, who works in one of the brothels, and the various intrigues surrounding the Black man who is wooing her, and his employer.

One of the ways that you can tell the status of women in this particular time period, and illustrated in the show, is through their clothing. Women of lower status, but who had money, would wear brighter, gaudier clothes, often in primary colors, with more frippery around the necks, arms and petticoats to indicate their status as consorts. Women of high status would wear more subdued colors, in pastels and other light colors, and their frippery is usually contained  their elaborate wigs. The material of their dresses are,  visually, more expensive, and made from finer fabrics.

I thought the show was fascinating, but what I mostly enjoyed were the characters. The women are funny, full of sass, and intelligent, and it was just fun to watch them get into various shenanigans.  I have not done a lot of reading of that specific time period, I don’t know how accurate this show is. I was especially impressed with Samantha Morton, the set pieces around the city, and of course, the costuming.

The entire first season is available on Hulu, with the second season to premiere in a few weeks.

 

Batman Ninja

Not everything I watch has to be deep. Sometimes I love to watch things that are just pretty.

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I was really looking forward to this movie, especially after I saw the trailer, which made it look like a lot of pretty fun. and it is a fun movie, but the trailer doesn’t even begin to approach the zaniness of this movie. Doesn’t even hint at it. In fact, the trailer makes it seem like the movie will be a serious, rather sober affair, with deep themes and ideas.

It is nothing like that.

I loved the fuck out of this movie, though! Its totally batshit, and I mean that pun! I don’t often watch anime because a lot of it tends to be really shallow, with questionable depictions of women, and squeaky noises that give me a headache. And yeah, this movie is totally shallow, with questionable depictions of women, but I enjoyed it anyway, and it didn’t have a lot of squeaking.

I do like to see Asian versions of Batman because they always have an interesting interpretation of him. Here, he talks a lot more, and seems less grim, occasionally smiling, or joking with his companions. Unfortunately, the plot makes him look not too bright though, with events happening that I feel sure the American version would’ve been able to see coming a mile away. But the creators did capture the strong physicality of the character. (And it’s just hella fun seeing Batman dressed like a Samurai, and weilding a sword.)

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The movie begins with a bang ,with Batman being trapped in a time portal at Arkham Asylum, and getting transported  to 16th century Japan, where he discovers he has been preceded by Catwoman, the various Robins,  Alfred, and the rogues Gallery of the Asylum.

Gorilla Grodd, who created the time portal, so he could go back in time and take over the world with monkeys, sort of like The Planet of the Apes, The Joker, who has set himself up as a Shogun, along with his consort Harley Quinn. Two Face and The Penguin are also present, having established their own fiefdoms. Eventually, they all either team up with the Joker, or are conquered by Grodd.

Most of the story is taken up with Batman’s various battles against the Joker, They fight everyone, in a forest, in a house, on a boat, and the viewer is treated to some giant robot battles representing the different houses (literally) of the Rogues Gallery. And when I say “literally”, I mean that the houses they all live in stand up, and turn into giant robots. I was in tears. I can’t say if I was happy, or sad, cuz  I just don’t know.

I really didn’t think things in this movie could get any crazier during the robot battles,  until I was gifted with the sight of thousands of tiny monkeys swarming a giant,  feudal style, robot and then, Power Ranger-like, forming their own giant monkey figure to do battle, at Damien’s bidding, just because he’s friends with a tiny monkey god liaison.

If you are looking for some sense or some logic, forget it. This movie has not one ounce of it. This movie is like Harley Quinn,  here  to look beautiful and be crazy.

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I think the biggest treat for me was to have the Robins (Nightwing, Robin, Red Robin, and The Red Hood) all present in one story, at the same time.  I was disappointed that there was so little interaction between them, and no character development to speak of. On the other hand, this is a gorgeous looking movie. The costumes of the villains were Asian interpretations of their Western looks,  and the costumes reflecting the different Robins were totally awesome, (even if Damien’s hairstyle looked really, really stupid.)

And from I09:

https://io9.gizmodo.com/batman-ninja-is-ridiculously-fun-and-also-utterly-ridi-1825494769

 Practically every frame of the movie is a visual treat, both in terms of the style it offers and the action it frequently wields to tell its wild rollercoaster of a tale. The movie builds on the scale of its action, from one-on-one fights with Batman masterfully zipping through bamboo trees to full-on scraps between mechanized, moving castles, to battles even grander and larger than that. Everything breathlessly, ceaselessly escalates, as the movie darts from one awesome idea to another, to the point that almost nothing makes sense and you have to end up letting go, and simply basking in the visual splendor of watching all these imaginative, exhilarating events unfold. 

(And this review is not wrong. After a while, I just gave up trying to make any sense of whatever  the plot might have been, and just enjoyed the scenery.)

Batman Ninja is available on Apple Itunes, and if you have a Firestick, or FireTV, its available on the Showbox app.

 

Full Metal Alchemist

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I don’t know a damn thing about this show, outside of the blurbs on the side of the manga books, on which this movie is based. I’ve never read the books, or  watched the anime, but I’m familiar enough to know it involves a giant talking suit of armor, and some magic, and that was enough to get me to watch the trailer.

I keep saying I’m not a fan of anime, but I actually do like it. I’m just very picky about what I watch, and I have to be in a certain type of mood. That said, I will watch action versions of the  anime I won’t look at, and I actually enjoyed the hell outta this movie. Its got a lot of fun action, and was actually very emotional.

I don’t know how accurate this movie is to the animated version, but its about two young boys who lose their mother, and in an attempt to resurrect her through alchemy, one of them gets trapped in a suit of armor, and the other loses his arm. After this, they are recognized by the State, which heavily regulates such things, as being Alchemists (or as I like to call them, Wizards). The two of them spend the majority of their time in this movie having long discussions about how to get the one  brother’s body back, resurrecting their mom, and endless battling with other Wizards to procure the ingredients they need to do both these things.

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I’m not sure what the Asian writers ideas about alchemy are, but they don’t  match the Western notions of it. In the Western tradition, alchemy involves lots of chemicals, potions, poisons, and transmuting things into other things. In this movie, it just looks like the Wizardry from Lord of the Rings, with lots of transformations and explosions. I mostly paid attention to the action scenes, which are awesome, and didn’t pay any attention to character’s names. I could Google them, I suppose, but I like the mystery of watching random characters show up, and throw brick walls at each other.

This movie was a heckuva lot of fun. I  liked the devil-may-care attitude of the characters, and I especially enjoyed the close relationship between the two brothers, who seem to genuinely love and support each other. There’s a squeaky young love interest (as always) but I tried to ignore her as much as possible, and since I didn’t see her doing any magic, that was easy. This is  definitely one of those Saturday afternoon type shows, that you watch in an idle moment.

Full Metal Alchemist (Live Action) is available on Netflix.

The Ritual

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This movie most closely resembles the movie The Descent, because of its plot of several friends,  one of whom holds a shameful secret, who go to a secluded place in the woods, and encounter malevolent creatures ,and a fight for survival. I initially thought this would be one of those “cabin in the woods” movies, and involve maybe some redneck cannibals. It does feature a cabin in some woods but the monsters in this movie are far stranger than what I came up with.

The movie begins with one of the men, named Luke,  dreaming about the death of one of his closest friends in a liquor store robbery, a year ago. He blames himself for his friend’s death, through his own inaction, especially since he was the one who made them stop there.

A year later, and all the friends he ditched that night, to go get drunk, are back together and hiking in the woods, as a sort of reunion, since the death of their friend. They get lost in the woods and encounter strange animal sacrifices, and symbols on the trees. Luke wakes up one morning with weird marks on his chest, while the others remain unscathed. They come upon a seemingly abandoned cabin and spend the night. They all have nightmares and wake up in various states of undress, and emotionally unhinged.

Eventually, his friends stop pretending, and throw his guilt and shame, about the death of their friend, back in his face, blaming him for it. This event is something that haunts Luke for the entire movie, and his inability to move past that night is what attracts the monster to him.

It turns out that the cabin is not abandoned, but inhabited by a cult of  humans (some who are extremely old, and mummified) who worship a giant forest creature, which has chosen Luke to be the newest member. Luke was chosen because of the tremendous amount of pain and guilt he is carrying. He spends the rest of the night fighting the creature and he eventually escapes, becasue he lets go of the event that haunts him, but his friends don’t.

I think calling this movie enjoyable is a strong term. I thought it really was very scary. And though it heavily reminded me of other horror movies, I didn’t get the sense that it was at all predictable. I didn’t fully understand what was happening at first, because we encounter the events just as the characters do, everyone has  to figure what’s happening as they go, and nothing is clearly spelled out. You have to pay attention.

The standout, though, is the monster which is called a Jotun, a Northern European forest god of some kind. In Norway and Sweden, they’re called dwarves, or trolls, or giants, but here, the creature seems to consist of the bodies of random forest creatures, and human bodies, fused together, and and looks genuinely terrifying. It is not maliciously evil in the sense that it enjoys hurting people, but more the way nature often is, in an uncaring of your life sort of way. It will consume you and keep it moving, and just wants to be worshipped. In return for sacrifices, it gives long life, although that is not necessarily something you might want, as some of its followers were so old they could barely movie, and looked like desiccated corpses.

The movie doesn’t have a typical ending either. The monster doesn’t get destroyed or discovered. It foes have a satisfying ending for its lead character, as he overcomes his pain and guilt long enough to make himself unappealing to the Jotun, but its still out n the woods, waiting to prey on the next set of people to get lost there.

The Ritual is available on Netflix.

What is an Incel?

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This post contains links to some seriously toxic  bullshit. Read through the links with caution.

 

Maybe have several drinks first!

“Incel” is a word you have probably been hearing a bit more often in the media. In fact it was one of the trending words on Google in the wake of the pedestrian van attack that happened in Toronto last week, that killed and injured some 25 individuals.

This first post talks about the pop cultural foundation of “Incels”. The foundation of their ideas is not so widely divergent from the foundation of most  misogyny. Only with Incels it has been  taken to extremes, and becomes an actual personal identity.

These are the kinds of men who have fully, and completely, bought the pop cultural brainwashing, from endless movies, books, and TV shows, that tells them (and White men in particular, although Men of color are not immune) that their reward for being a man, is a beautiful woman.

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Incel, the misogynist ideology that inspired the deadly Toronto attack, explained

 

Some self-identified incels, as they call themselves, have developed an elaborate sociopolitical explanation for their sexual failures, one that centers on the idea that women are shallow, vicious, and only attracted to hyper-muscular men. They see this as a profound injustice against men like them, who suffer an inherent genetic disadvantage through no fault of their own. A small radical fringe believes that violence, especially against women, is an appropriate response — that an “Incel Rebellion” or “Beta [Male] Uprising” will eventually overturn the sexual status quo.

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And from Sociology:

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Incels – Subcultures and Sociology

http://haenfler.sites.grinnell.edu/subcultures-and-scenes/incels/

The Manosphere’s boundaries and composition are vague and ever-shifting. There are many subgroups: pickup artists, Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW, or straight men refusing to be involved with women), “red pillers” (a The Matrix reference in which the “red pill” is knowing that women rule over men), “incels” (involuntary celibates who believe women are shallow and do not date “ugly” men), traditional MRAs, and more. 

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*This is an excerpt from an article from Crack’d which I won’t link to, because  the comments are  a hot trash fire. I don’t agree with all of the article, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its wrong . It is perhaps, another, more facetious way of saying that men are socialized by pop cultural stereotypes to think of women in a certain way.

They have received the message, loud and clear, that women owe them sex.These are the kinds of men who have fully, and completely, bought the pop cultural brainwashing, from endless movies, books, and TV shows, that tells them (White men in particular, although Men of color are not immune, since they live here too) that their reward for being a man, is a beautiful woman.

We Were Told That Society Owed Us a Hot Girl

Photos.com

Does it seem like men feel kind of entitled to sex? Does it seem like we react to rejection with the maturity of a child being denied a toy?

 

 

And then we have Star Wars, where Luke starts out getting Princess Leia (in The Empire Strikes Back), but then as Han Solo became a fan favorite, George Lucas realized he had to award her to him instead (forcing him to write the “She’s secretly Luke’s sister” thing into Return of the Jedi, even though it meant adding the weird incest vibe to Empire). With Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling played with the convention by having the beautiful girl get awarded to the sidekick character Ron, but she made it a central conflict in the story that Ron is constantly worried that, since Harry is the main character, Hermione will be awarded to him instead.

In each case, the woman has no say in this — compatibility doesn’t matter, prior relationships don’t matter, nothing else factors in. If the hero accomplishes his goals, he is awarded his favorite female. Yes, there will be dialogue that maybe makes it sound like the woman is having doubts, and she will make noises like she is making the decision on her own. But we, as the audience, know that in the end the hero will “get the girl,” just as we know that at the end of the month we’re going to “get our paycheck.” Failure to award either is breaking a societal contract. The girl can say what she wants, but we all know that at the end, she will wind up with the hero, whether she knows it or not.

And now you see the problem. From birth we’re taught that we’re owed a beautiful girl. We all think of ourselves as the hero of our own story, and we all (whether we admit it or not) think we’re heroes for just getting through our day.

So it’s very frustrating, and I mean frustrating to the point of violence, when we don’t get what we’re owed. A contract has been broken. These women, by exercising their own choices, are denying it to us. It’s why every Nice Guy is shocked to find that buying gifts for a girl and doing her favors won’t win him sex. It’s why we go to “slut” and “whore” as our default insults — we’re not mad that women enjoy sex. We’re mad that women are distributing to other people the sex that they owed us.

Yes, the women in these stories are being portrayed as wonderful and beautiful and perfect. But remember, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them.

 

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It cannot be said that these are men who care about other men. They are not activists for anything beyond the degradation of women, specifically White women, (because WoC don’t enter into their calculations). They’ve been socialized to believe only White women are worth having sex with, yet such women  are considered subhuman , and worthless. They even have their own vocabulary to discuss this.

There’s absolutely nothing a woman can do that would ever appease any of  them, not even sleeping with them, as these are men who so hate themselves, that they would also hate anyone who claimed to love them, or gave them what they so badly desired. 

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https://www.racked.com/2018/4/28/17290256/incel-chad-stacy-becky

…If certain discussions on these forums are any indication, there are only two types of women in the world of incel, both of whom are white, thin, and attractive. But while incels seem to believe that the untouchable (and seemingly nonexistent) Stacy will never sleep with them, they feel as though they are owed attention and sex from Becky.

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Sadly, and contrary to popular belief there are quite a number of men of color who are “Incels”. Eliot Rogers was half Taiwanese, and the mass killer of fourteen women at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989, was of Algerian descent. But don’t be fooled. Incels, as a rule, are just as racist, homophobic, and transphobic as the “Chads” they like to demean. They don’t care about the situations of other men, only their own personal hells, and the only time they champion these men of color is after they are dead, after having committed mass murder.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minority-report/201804/the-incel-movement

What I find intriguing and unifying is that in all four of these separate tragedies, the perpetrator was an ethnic minority living amidst a predominantly Caucasian majority culture.  Ethnic minorities face immeasurable challenges in assimilating to a society other than their own and the sense of being a “perpetual foreigner” can pervade even the most assimilated individual when racist or invalidating comments are made.

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Our first instinct is to laugh at such wild ideas and beliefs, but make no mistake, men like this are dangerous. This article from The Independent discusses just how violent and dangerous  Incels can be:

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/incels-alek-minassian-mra-mens-rights-terrorism-toronto-van-attack-a8323166.html#commentsDiv

Blackpill ideology leaves no room for hope or change. Instead, they either have to live out their lives in misery, or take action and attempt to tear down the whole system. In their more explicit posts, some incels dream of enslaving women and forcing them to have sex with them, and murdering the Chads who have been on top for far too long. It’s unsurprising that another of their number has committed mass murder before attempting to make the police shoot him. With an ideology that sees violent ends as the only alternative to lifelong torment, it’s unlikely he’ll be the last.

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The above beliefs about women are responsible for much of the violence towards them, especially if they refuse sexual activity. The website When Women Refuse chronicles what happens to women who refuse sex with men. (I have to caution that some of the stories are about sexual assault, rape, and other violent acts.)

woman.https://thinkprogress.org/chilling-new-website-documents-what-happens-to-women-who-reject-mens-sexual-advances-1922cfb67922/

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Incels and the MRA are not activists. They do not champion,  march, or even protest to protect men from sexual assault, suicide, police brutality, or any of the evils that men subject other men to.

They do not care about the Rights of men.

These men are not activists. They’re idea of activism  consists of little more than  terrorizing women.

They care about removing and destroying the Rights of women, and spend much time fantasizing, among themselves,  about situations in which the sexual enslavement of women would be approved. They often fantasize about worlds in which no woman would ever have the right to refuse sexual attention from any man that wanted them. This is a horrible backlash against Feminist progress of the last forty years.

(Never mind the fact that WoC have lived in that particular version of America for some 300 years.) Incels, and MRAs wish to do to White women what they have been engaged in with WoC for the past three centuries. They fantasize often about a world where EVERY woman  is little more than slaves and broodmares, who would be required to give them sex.

And if they can’t enslave them, then…

https://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/a20060379/involuntary-celibates-want-you-to-think-theyre-victims-theyre-anything-but/

The world got its first look at the incel subculture in 2014, when Rodger murdered six people in what he saw as an act of “retribution” against the women of the world for rejecting him. Rodger, who ended his murder spree by killing himself, left behind a hundred page autobiography-cum-manifesto in which he detailed what he called his “twisted life” and set forth the rationale behind his murder spree, which could be reduced to a simple proposition: if others were getting laid and he wasn’t, they deserved to die.

An example from the Incel Reddit itself, written by one of its members:

People make is sound as if the “Incel Rebellion” is a laughing matter and that people don’t understand problem.

The incels are not the problem, but rather they are a symptom that something is very wrong in our society — and unless their legitimate grievances are addressed this could very soon spiral out of control just like what happened in Iraq, Libya and Syria when their respective governments refused to address and deal with the legitimate grievances a portion of their popolation had.

Calling the Incels a bunch of virgins and “frustrated losers with communication skills equal to that of an autistic potato” is oversimplifying the problem yes they are all that but why are they frustrated virgins?

The real issue is that with the advancement of makeup, healthy at any size bullshit, feminism and through social engineering a lot of women have become detached from reality. The reason these Incels arn’t getting laid is because women with a sexual market value equal to theirs use makeup to go from a 3/10 – 7/10 (false marketing in my opinion and should be a punishable offense) to fuck with men above their league.

So I propose that rather than making Incels look bad we look at the reasons they’ve become this way and what steps we can take to deconflict and reverse things because, let’s be real calling them names, labeling them a terrorist organization etc isn’t going to make the problem go away.

There are several ways I propose we do this:

1) Women are no longer allowed to wear makeup, ie falsely advertise their beauty and hence stop them from banging guys above their league.

2) Women are only allowed to date men with equal sexual market value to them. State-mandated tests should be made and everyone get a sexual-market value card ranging from 1/10 to 10/10, like an ID card.

3) Every time a woman sleeps with a new man she lose one 1 rank on her sexual-market value card until she reach the lowest rank 1/10.

4) There’s no way to rise through the ranks other than through excercise

5) Women with more than 9 sexual partners and single moms should be forced by the state to date and have sex with incels that can’t get any women despite the above changes.

This would deal with the problem not the symptom and is the ay we deal with everything from counter-piracy to counter- terrorism. The incel threat is real and should be treated the same way.

 

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The beliefs of Incels are entirely contradictory, and are a perfect illustration of the Fable of The Fox and the Grapes:

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 The Fox and the Grapes
ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

 “IT IS EASY TO DESPISE WHAT YOU CANNOT GET.”

 

Like most of the organizations formed as a backlash against the social progress of the past fifty years, they also  like to steal the language of social justice, to use for their own ends, in an attempt to make themselves seem innocuous.

They borrow a lot of language from the equality/civil rights agenda – society “treats single men like trash, and it has to stop. The people in power, women, can change this, but they refuse to. They have blood on their hands,” read one post the morning after the Toronto attack. Basically, their virginity is a discrimination or apartheid issue, and only a state-distributed girlfriend programme, outlawing multiple partners, can rectify this grand injustice. Yet at the same time, they hate victims, snowflakes, liberals, those who campaign for any actual equality.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/25/raw-hatred-why-incel-movement-targets-terrorises-women

Their landscape is strewn with completely unsquarable contradiction: “They’ll say how terrible it is that the left has won the culture wars and we should return to traditional hierarchies, but then they’ll use terms like ‘banging sluts’, which doesn’t make any sense, right?” Nagle continues. “Because you have to pick one. They want sexual availability and yet, at the same time, they express this disgust at promiscuity.

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And finally: What is the Manosphere? Incels (involuntary Celibate) do not make up the bulk of what is called The Manosphere.

https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2012/misogyny-sites

The so-called “manosphere” is peopled with hundreds of websites, blogs and forums dedicated to savaging feminists in particular and women, very typically American women, in general. Although some of the sites make an attempt at civility and try to back their arguments with facts, they are almost all thick with misogynistic attacks that can be astounding for the guttural hatred they express. What follows are brief descriptions of a dozen of these sites. Another resource is the Man Boobz website (manboobz.com), a humorous pro-feminist blog (its tagline is “Misogyny: I Mock It”) that keeps a close eye on these and many other woman-hating sites.

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And here’s the link to Manboobz, as it used to be called, but its new title is: We Hunted the Mammoth. This website tracks the, so-called, discussions going on in the Manosphere. I would never have known any of this existed were it not for the work that David Futrelle does on his website. He wades through all this shit, so we don’t have to.

http://www.wehuntedthemammoth.com/

Hey! I Watched Infinity War!

This Review Contains Many Spoilers!!!

This Review Contains All The Spoils!!!

I’m About To Spoil This Movie For You!!!

So…

My mom and I have started this thing where we either go to lunch, or a movie, on Sundays. This is our version of going to church, only without having to dress up. We just went to see Infinity War, and we had some feelings about it.

I’m going to talk about this, again, through the lens of my 67 year old mom, because you need some background on the experience of the two of us seeing this movie.

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I am a Marvel Fan. My mom is  a DC fan. She has never read a superhero comic book in her life, though. I, on the other hand, have read a lot of Marvel comics. Mostly X-Men, The Avengers, and the occasional solo book. I’ve seen most of the MCU films and am familiar with the characters backstories. My mom…not so much. She hasn’t watched any of the MCU movies, outside of Black Panther, (although she did recognize Hulk, and Spider-Man.) I just started getting her to watch DC characters like Black Lightning and The Flash. She does like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, though, mostly from TV shows. I did get her to watch Logan one day. I consider that a win.

She was very confused by this movie. I did warn her that it would be confusing, and she might get bored, because she doesn’t know any of the characters, and so won’t understand why things are important. She thought it was exciting though, and loved seeing Wakanda (and Okoye) onscreen again. She was very upset about people dying in the movie, but I think I sufficiently explained that this is only the first half of the movie, and that Black Panther will return.

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I remain unphased by this movie because I’ve read enough comic books, (ie. Infinity Gauntlet, on which this movie’s storyline is loosely based), and have enough actor background that I’m reasonably sure about whose gonna return and whose gonna stay dead in the second film. Also, characters from the comic books are forever being resurrected, so I’m not all that upset. It’s not that I didn’t feel things. I didn’t like watching the characters go, but I also paid close attention to things that were said by characters like Dr. Strange, and Spider-Man.

Let’s get the ending out of the way first.

Yes, most of our heroes are dead at the end, with the most heart wrenching ending being Spider-Man’s. He’s just a child, he didn’t want to die, and he went out apologizing for being an inconvenience to his mentor, which is what Parker always does, (apologizing for being a burden to everyone.) The theater, which had been making its usual cracklings and rustling noises through a lot of the movie, was dead silent during this scene.

Unlike the hysterics on Tumblr, I’m not crying about this because I got reasons, and also I’m an optimist when it comes to movie narratives. The movie isn’t actually over yet. Its like that Lord of the Rings trilogy, which isn’t really a trilogy at all, but one long twelve hour movie. I consider this to be only half a movie.

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One of the reasons I’m not too upset is that a lot of these characters stories aren’t finished, and some of them have franchises. I know they’re gonna be back at some point because those actors signed contracts.

Also: We don’t know that these characters are dead. They’re gone, and we have no fucking idea what gone means in this universe. Some are definitely dead, like Loki, Heimdall, and possibly Gamora, because we watched them actually get killed, and those actors might decide to not come back for later movies.  Gamora’s death is  up in the air, because that actress is contracted to star in the new Avatar franchise, and she’s already in Star Trek, so, she’s got a lot on her plate. She may not want to come back. Black Panther and Spiderman just made several hundred people their house payments, so I don’t see them staying dead. I think the heroes who got “dusted” are  coming back. (They kind of have to if they expect to make a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which ended on something like a cliffhanger.)

Also: Characters are forever being resurrected in the comic books. Just because you think a character is dead, doesn’t mean that they are. Hell, Phoenix has died every time she got her own comic book, and Lord knows how many times Wolverine has been resurrected. And there is precedent for it in the return of The Red Skull, who resides in the world of the Soul Stone featured in the movie. For those of you who are confused, anyone who touches the Soul Stone, which is what the Red Skull did in that First Captain America movie, gets sent to SoulWorld, this is where Gamora currently lives, (which is why Thanos was able to visit with her later in the movie.)

Also: Dr. Strange claimed to have reviewed every possible future, and in all of them The Avengers lost their fight with Thanos. Of the fourteen million plus futures he claimed to have surveyed, he saw only one in which they won, and Strange being the kind of man he is, would immediately have aimed himself at creating that particular future, which is why he gave Thanos his stone. Apparently, for Thanos to be defeated, all of the Infinity Stones need to be in his possession.

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If you’re looking for character development and depth, you’re gonna have to wait until Avengers: ????? is released next year.  Unlike some people, I’m not gonna beat this movie up for not giving me something it never promised me. The trailers told me the movie would be exciting, there’d be some angst, a lot of great fight scenes, certain people will meet who have never met before, and there will be some jokes, and that’s exactly why I went, and it’s exactly what I got. I do not understand shitting on a movie for not giving you something it never promised to give you in the first place. (Although, I do understand if the movie promised you something, and then didn’t give it to you. I’m looking at you Star Wars!)

 

Things that made me happy. 

I have always trusted the Russo Brothers when it comes to action scenes and they did not disappoint. They are so good at crafting a coherent story from all these different bits and pieces, and I was impressed. I am extremely glad that Joss Whedon was involved in none of it.

I got a kick out of characters meeting each other that I always wished would meet. I’m a big fan of crossover comic books, so that part was a lot of fun for me. I also liked a lot of the humor.

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I loved the fight scenes especially the ones featuring Spiderman. I just love how he thinks in a fight, and I also  got a special kick out of the new suit, which is right out of the comic books, btw. I really did enjoy the visuals, and  the fight scenes are all just different enough that I didn’t get bored with them, although sometimes, I’m sure my mom did.

The Guardians continue to  be some of the funniest characters in that universe. One of my favorite scenes is a romantic interlude between Peter Quill and Gamora, that’s interrupted by Drax eating some chips, and claiming to be invisible. He is not.

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And when Captain America is introduced to a small talking tree, he merely takes that in stride, and introduces himself. He remains unflapped, and this is why I love that character. This is the same guy who, when told that Thor and Loki were gods, just said, “Nope!” and kept it moving.

I lived long enough in this world to see Okoye team up with the Scarlet Witch, and the Black Widow, and watch the three of them kick some alien ass, which was fucking awesome! I had no idea I needed to see that shit until it happened. Now, I want an all female version of The Avengers, featuring the Dora Milaje, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Valkyrie, The Wasp, and Captain Marvel. I want! I want it! I want it!

I was getting really sick of Loki. I hope he’s actually gone, so I can enjoy Tom Hiddleston in some other franchise. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate the guy, but I reached Peak-Loki, several sequels ago.

I was left with several questions like: How the hell is Tony Stark gonna get home with no ship or suit? Assuming she’s still alive, who is gonna explain what happened to Peter, to Aunt May? Will we get to see Captain Marvel in the next Avengers movie?

I loved the conversation I had with my mom after the movie, where I tried to explain to her that the people she liked are not actually gone forever, and she explained that what happened in that movie would not have been an issue if The Flash and/or Superman had been involved, which ticked the hell out of me, because I never expected to be having a conversation with her about the merits of various superheroes.

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Later that day, I found some of my favorite pastries at the local Walmart and  got to watch two of my favorite shows.

It was a good day.

Weekend Reading: Pop Culture Edition

On Gender:

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I still have not gotten over how the Ghostbusters was so badly treated by the public, and how we will now never get a sequel. The “feminists ” who are forever talking about how they love these types of movies, where women get treated like people, totally slept on this one. To be fair, the trailer did suck, but a trailer is not a movie, and I’m still a firm believer that most trailers are designed to make you hate a movie before its release. Some of them are successful at that, some less so.

http://www.unleashthefanboy.com/movies/analyzing-10-common-criticisms-of-ghostbusters-2016/140340

http://www.indiewire.com/2016/07/ghostbusters-reboot-backlash-1201705555/

 

My biggest criticism of the movie was this though:

https://www.polygon.com/2016/7/21/12239704/ghostbusters-is-still-haunted-by-negative-racial-tropes

https://www.salon.com/2016/03/04/the_new_ghostbusters_and_race_why_it_matters_that_leslie_jones_isnt_playing_one_of_the_scientists/

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But despite my strong misgivings, I did like the movie, and  Leslie Jones, who endured so much abuse about her character, Patty Tolan, has a great defense for the criticism of her character. MTA workers apparently get paid more than college scientists, and she’s a regular person who helps save the world, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/mar/07/ghostbusters-leslie-jones-defends-remake-racial-stereotyping-criticis

Incidentally the scene above is one of my favorite one-liners in the entire movie. Patty gets some of the best lines in the movie, despite the fact that the trailer made it seem like she got the worst ones. in the director’s cut Holtzman answers that by calling her mouthy, and I’m really glad they left that line out of the movie.

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I thought this was an interesting read about how the  Coen Brothers movie, Fargo, is really a discussion about toxic masculinity:

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/how-fargo-captures-sad-realities-toxic-masculinity

 

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I liked this article about how WoC never get to have happy endings, as the friends and sidekicks of their White co-stars. It seems like we always have to suffer (I’m looking at you Handmaid’s Tale.)

1201705555/https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/a12022020/how-women-of-color-portrayed-tv-film/

 

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I skipped the second season of Jessica Jones, because I hated the first season so much, I couldn’t even finish it. To give you some indication of how important that is, I watched all of Iron Fist, after I talked a lot of shit about that show.  That I’ve said almost nothing at all about Jessica Jones, says a lot about my attitude towards the show.

http://www.anathemamag.com/jessica-jones-doesnt-care-about-men-of-colour/

 

On Dystopia:

For some reason dystopias where regular, middle-class,  pretty, White people get treated the way they’ve always historically treated marginalized people, seems to be a popular sci fi trope. So popular in fact that even MadTV had a skit related to it:

 

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When I was a teenager, I used to theorize that White people liked to sit around watching a problem fully and completely develop, and then, instead of fixing the problem,  fix the blame. This also brings the to mind the idea that Black people don’t envision dystopia as an exciting future, because we’ve already been there. We have nowhere to go but forward, and nothing to have but hope. Dystopia is a White people thing.

http://blackyouthproject.com/white-liberals-stay-predicting-dystopias-caused-by-whiteness-without-doing-anything-about-it/

In a recent discussion, my friend Preston Anderston posited that white people “can understand the destruction of the planet before the destruction of the white world,” and perhaps nothing exemplifies this better than their dystopian imaginings. To them, there is no world without whiteness, so even if they acknowledge the hell whiteness necessarily brings, there is no other future possible than that hell.

 

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I found this post by the writer, Cory Doctorow, really interesting. Why does there need to be a dystopia at all? We’ve seen plenty of instances where crises  didn’t end in some kind of Mad Max free for all, and we need more stories that reinforce the idea that we can get through a disaster with our humanity still intact.

https://www.wired.com/2017/04/cory-doctorow-walkaway/

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 On Disability:

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I found a series of articles about how Hollywood approaches the topic of disability in film and TV. 

https://byrslf.co/its-time-for-hollywood-to-rethink-disability-e1dfc4142c9b

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https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/tv/at-the-heart-of-hannibal-respectful-treatment-of-mental-illness/

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http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2015/05/28/disability-in-the-dystopian-future-of-mad-max-fury-road/

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https://www.inverse.com/article/15806-one-year-later-fury-road-resonates-on-disability-sexuality-and-the-end-of-days

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https://serfbazaar.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/furiosa-disability-representation-and-empowerment/

 

On Fandom:

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The discussion of Fandom misbehavior continues tonight on:  Tumblr Calls Shit Out

There a a lot of fans who change, misrepresent, or just straight lie about the source material to justify White prioritization of the characters. As I’ve said before, most White audiences have no other template, and in many cases will do these things to  reproduce a dynamic with which they’ve always been  comfortable: Poc as side narratives that support the White character’s primary story.

princeescaluswords answered:

Because the disregard or misrepresentation of canon is frequently used as a foundation of fandom racism.  We live in a time of change, where Hollywood is oh-so-slowly beginning to understand that primary stories and primary characters don’t always have to be entitled white males.  This stands contrary to seventy years of television history, which has taught the audience that the only thing that matters are the emotions and interests of those same white males.   Unfortunately, the viewing audience has learned the old lesson well and so expects the canon to support their predisposition.  When it doesn’t meet their expectations, when the emotions and interests of characters of color are given priority, their need to see white men on top can be met by getting rid of the canon.

Take the most popular ship in my fandom (This is not an attack against shipping. Shipping does not have to be inherently racist or inherently demeaning.   Early in my fandom days, I thought so, but I do not any more).  This ship and its fandom which put together two white males whose purpose on the show was to serve as the main character of color’s foils. The ship itself is not in question for me.  What is in question is the way that the fandom demanded that this ship become the center point of the show, and when it became clear that no matter how many nods that the powers that be were going to give to the ship, the show wasn’t going to make it canon, canon was discarded in the most hostile and negative way imaginable.   This wasn’t just in my (or others’) imaginations.  When the star of the show and the executive producer have to comment on the impact of this canon erasure, it’s pretty serious.

Canon misrepresentation doesn’t stop with just shipping.  Attacks on the importance of characters of color and their role in the show are frequently aided by simply pretending parts of canon don’t exist. For example, in my fandom, Scott is frequently vilified for a single act of perceived hostility towards Derek (the famous Gerard-neck-grab-bite), and it is used as a way to delegitimize him as a main character, ignoring the fact that not only was it a necessary evil to save Derek and those he cared about by disabling the enemy, it was a direct parallel to the very actions that Derek took against Scott previously. For fandom, those actions are dismissed as “yeah, Derek was an asshole, but it was for Scott’s own good” but that same excuse is not sufficient. Or, when the idea that Scott ditched Stiles for Allison continually is used to delegitimize the central relationship of the show, when ditching never happened in the show, but is treated by fandom as if it did.    If you ignore or manipulate canon in order to keep a character of color from being the focus of the show, why shouldn’t I add the tag?

People get rid of canon as a way of dealing with the fact that their white characters are not the center of the story, even though their favorites have important roles.  It’s easier to just get rid of canon rather than let a character of color share the spotlight.  It’s easier to dismiss writing as a ‘trainwreck’ even when that writing gives you the characters you enjoy, and thus delegitimize the whole story because that focuses on a character of color.

I must admit that I have considered that maybe this is all my own perception. Maybe Teen Wolf’s canon is so bad that they have every right to ignore the parts that don’t favor their white faves.

But then, I take a look at other fandoms.  I look at the Star Wars fandom, where the canon has been Death Star-ed as hard as Alderaan in order to celebrate genocidal white fascist man-children.  I look at the Shadowhunters fandom.  I look at the Flash fandom.  I look at the Supergirl fandom.  And another fandom. And another fandom.   And another fandom.

In the words of my favorite show, “three times is a pattern.”  What do you call too many times to count?

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I feel like I have to specify that when I say I hate Reylo I don’t mean people shouldn’t be able to ship whatever the hell they want, because I honestly could not care less. When I say that I hate Reylo what I mean is that there is an extremely vocal and offputting majority in the Reylo fandom that consistently puts forward meta-analysis of Star Wars–and more succinctly, Kylo Ren–that I find abhorrent, disgusting, delusional, and at worst regressive. I also mean, when I say I hate Reylo, that I hate the idea of Reylo being canon, because it would be shitty, stupid, regressive writing if it does.

Ship whatever you want and anyone who’s on you for it probably needs to get a life. But if you start openly advocating for abusive actions to be considered “romantic,” handwaving real critique of the source material, and posting “meta analysis” that’s deeply problematic you should probably be prepared for some backlash.

I do not care what you ship. Go, be free, write your beautiful fic and draw your beautiful fanart. But you can’t tell me not to care about toxicity in fandom and regressive writing in canon.

 

It’s also a sector of fandom that mimics one of the worst traits that fandom can have – the “big name” Reylo bloggers are the arbiters of all info that gets through to their followers about Star Wars, to the point where the Reylo fandom en masse believe things are canon that were literally just made-up fanon, but the BNFs who made it up dig in their heels because admitting that they aren’t all-knowing, or that their “analysis” of SW is insanely biased, would give their followers cause to doubt them and start thinking for themselves, looking at and listening to outside sources.

Reylo, like some other toxic ship fandoms – many of which aren’t even about ships that are themselves toxic! Reylo is, but like, there are toxic ship fandoms based on perfectly benign ships, too – is more about the shippers being venerated than the characters they claim to love. (Their complete disregard for Rey as a human person and protagonist is p much proof of that, but that’s not even the point here.) It isn’t a coincidence that almost every Bad Reylo Meta either was OP by, or based on a meta by, a handful of “in crowd” bloggers, and it DEFINITELY is not a coincidence that Reylos are obsessed with the idea of Being Right and the idea of Casting Out the Other, more than they are about actual fucking Star Wars.

There is a huge aspect of Reylo fandom that, like their OTP, is based on manipulation and gaslighting more than anything to do with actual content, and that’s 100% wrong and also deserves to be called out whenever it’s seen. 

Like, part of why combating Bad Reylo Meta is a thing that needs to be done is not for the characters’ sake, but for the sake of younger and/or more vulnerable fangirls who worship the Big Reylo Bloggers and think that they’re genuinely smarter/more enlightened/“the only ones who really understand.” It’s absolutely fine to make up fanon about your ship. It’s absolutely normal when ships have cliques. I can even understand the normalcy of ship wars, even if I think they’re dumb as soup. But the way that Big Name Reylos rewrite the entire schema of the franchise and twist both SW canon and actual reality wrt the behavior of Kylo Ren – an INTENTIONALLY WRITTEN NEO-NAZI METAPHOR WHOSE FIRST INTERACTION WITH REY WAS STATED BY THE DIRECTOR TO BE A RAPE METAPHOR – is not normal.

It is not normal to care more about “Proving Antis Wrong” than just liking the thing you like. It’s not normal to be so virulently fearful and aggressive towards people who just don’t agree with your fave blogger’s bad meta made up based on nothing. And it’s not normal for a handful of bloggers to have such a stranglehold on not only their followers, but public discussion of the entire fandom.

Almost none of the SWST has actually unfolded, in canon, the way a handful of Big Name Reylos told their fans it did, but their version has spread like flat earth theory. And that’s not a coincidence, either. Batshit conspiracy theory and charismatic leaders who willfully mislead their followers go hand-in-hand.

Make that your Shitty Snoke Theory™. (Who, by the fucking by, DID NOT BRAINWASH KYLE FROM THE WOMB. THAT’S FANON.)

 

Yup. All it took was a couple BNF reylos to say that TLJ made the ship canon (contradicting the movie and everyone else who had seen the movie, even those who thought the force skype stuff was “sexy”), and a disturbingly large number of fans carved it into stone. There are fan spaces not meant to be dedicated reylo shippers spaces where you can not even have a conversation about Star Wars that isn’t centered on Reylo, because so many fans are 100% convinced that the entire trilogy is Kylo’s story and Kylo’s story ONLY, with Rey as an object belonging to him, whose purpose is to redeem him and fuck him. They 100% believe this is how it’s written, and any conversation about the ST that isn’t about Kylo/reylo or anything that can be used to prop it up is irrelevant and off-topic. Which is why talking about Rey’s relationship with Finn is seen as irrelevant to the story (contradicting the canon), but so is talking about Finn as an individual, developed character or speculating about his story independent of Rey.

More to the point, the fandom hyperfocuses on Kylo because he’s the one they can empathize with, even though he’s awful and has done shitty thing after shitty thing to Rey. The intensity of that empathy only spotlights their blatant lack of empathy for Finn, who the fandom by and large aggressively believes is only in the series as a comic relief (not true, even in TLJ, where the clear comic relief was Hux) and general buffoon. That empathy gap is a facet of systemic racism, so I don’t know why fans often hesitate to criticize Kylo Ren’s disproportionate popularity, not as a villain, but as the “real protagonist.”

It’s not only harmful, it drains a lot of the fun of the SW movie fandom, which was never about one character. Fans used to talk about every creature in the Cantina and Jabba’s Palace, every member of the Jedi Council. You could go on about Kit Fisto (a personal favorite from the prequels), and no one would get pissed that you weren’t paying attention to Anakin and Obi-Wan. This isn’t nostalgia, it’s noting the difference in the fandom’s behavior when the films were predominantly white and there was no need to aggressively insist that a white guy was at the center.

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Honestly? i’m pretty sure nazis have infiltrated this fandom. Just straight up.
given all the behaviours and the way they line up I feel this goes way, WAY beyond white prioritization, as disgusting as that behaviour alone is.

 

Nazis haven’t infiltrated the fandom. These are very mainstream attitudes that can be found in every fandom, as well as in irl communities, businesses  and schools. It lets too many people off the hook to imply otherwise.

 

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In my last post on forthcoming films, I forgot to add Crazy Rich Asians. I’m almost as excited about this film as I was about Black Panther because I know how much Asian Americans have been looking forward to this. This is notable because its a  film with a primarily Asian cast,that isn’t about the martial arts, or nerds.

 It looks really cute, but the plot isn’t something to my taste, as I generally dislike romantic comedies, but I probably will watch this at some later date. Ultimately this film  isn’t aimed at me, but I hope everyone likes it. if it does well, we may get more of this type of movie.

 

 

 

 

 

Forthcoming Movies 2018

Hey there! Here’s my list of movie trailers  I found interesting for this Summer (and one in Oct.). I left out some of the biggies, like Jurassic World, and Infinity War, although my Mom and I do have plans to see those. I know for sure I’m going to see Deadpool and The Incredibles. I’m less certain about The Cured, and Upgrade, but I still liked the trailers.

Deadpool 2

I will probably go see this movie alone, becasue I’m not sure its entirely appropriate for a 13 year old niece. or watching it with my Mom. I don’t think she wants to see this anyway. I was a bit dubious, at first, about Zazie Beetz as Domino. I only knew her from the show Atlanta, and Domino is a White woman in the comic books. I didn’t know if her character would be anything like the comic book version, but she looks great here. I’m not a big fan of Cable from the comic books, but Terry Crews is in this and I just can’t resist seeing him on the big screen, and I genuinely like Ryan Reynolds, who seems to have found his perfect role.The movie also just looks like a helluva lot of fun.

 

Incredibles 2

The first movie is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite Disney movies, so yeah, the Potato and I are going to see this. I like that Frozone is playing a slightly larger role in this one, and that it’s  Elastigirl who gets to take center screen. I loved her relationship with Edna in the first movie, and of course I’m glad to see more of Edna, and the Baby.

 

Venom

I do plan to go see this. I don’t know that I will see it, but I plan to. It looks disgusting, btw. I have a thing about sentient snot, so this plays as a horror movie for me. Plus despite some other people’s inexplicable distaste for Tom Hardy, I actually really like the guy and won’t miss a chance to see him onscreen.

I’ve read maybe three or four graphic novels about Venom, and I did read the  origin story,  from the first Secret Wars books, when it attached itself to Spiderman. I’d say this is a pretty faithful rendition of the monster. Although, I suppose now in the comic books Venom is more accurately called an anti-hero.

 

Upgrade

I was deeply confused when I first saw this trailer, becasuse the guy in this movie looks suspiciously like Tom Hardy. In fact, I still want to see Tom hardy when I look at him, even knowing for sure that it’s not him. It turns out he’s the asshole who  gets killed by The Vulture in Spiderman: Homecoming.

I see this as a kind of superhero type movie. The one drawback I have is the vigilante angle, where his wife, or his girlfriend, gets fridged, and he responds by beating up some Black guys, and this is supposed to be funny, I guess. (Not when  I can watch Black guys get beat up by the police, for free, on the internet, without the one liners.)

On the other hand I like movies where people transform into other things, so I’ll check it out at some point, but probably not in the theater though.

 

The Meg

My Mom and I already made plans to see this because Hey! giant shark! I despair of her ever getting out of her Sharknado addiction, and gong to see this with her may be enabling, but I’m gonna do it. I know she’ll love it. I am surprised that she knows who Jason Statham is though, and when I asked her about it, she said she saw him in The Transporter. I find it less disturbing that she knows who he is, than that she sat all the way through The Transporter.

 

Equalizer 2

I have tried to get my Mom to watch the first movie but so far, no luck. I did like the first movie but I could have done without the sex worker angle, which seems to be a staple of these type of vigilante rescue movies. Denzel does a really good job of playing an older, retired man, who is just tired of killing, but keeps having to do it, because people need help.

I feel like not enough people realize that this  movie is based on a TV show. I remember watching a few episodes as a teenager. The main character was played by an older White man, and I feel like the only way they got away with race-bendng this character, is not  many people know about the TV show and, of course, its Denzel.

 

The Cured

I think there was a British TV show loosely based on the concept of zombies who have been reclaimed, or cured, and are being slowly integrated back into society. This looks much more intriguing than that show.

Weekend Reading (On Gender And Race)

Here’s a roundup of some of the articles I’ve been  reading about gender related issues regarding Race and Intersectionality. 

*The first one is about how oppressed people are required to do the emotional labor of teaching their oppressors what oppression is, and  how not to do that.

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https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a19480416/women-changing-mens-minds-feminism-steven-crowder/

Audre Lorde perhaps put this best when she wrote, “Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”

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*On how movies about Black pain are only viewed by White audiences as a substitute for the actual work of eliminating White Supremacy, and how Black lives would be better served, if we stopped using up all our energy on appealing to White people to actually care about their fellow human beings.

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http://blackyouthproject.com/the-stories-of-our-struggles-are-not-for-white-people-to-consume-in-an-effort-to-do-better/

Think of all the possibilities that exist should we invest in one another and divest entirely from the practice of curating white “empathy”

-@arielle_newton

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  *Feminism is not about liking other women, and supporting  their bullshit, no matter what. That’s not the definition. If you call yourself a feminist and you hold some shitty non-intersectional views, or are just a moron, you’re going to get called on it.
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Because feminism does not dictate that you are required to like every stupid woman you encounter. Feminism isn’t a hot air balloon designed to lift already privileged ladies to new joyful heights. Those women are thinking of “girl power” or “bootyliciousness” or “domestic feminism”—some other term that was intended to act as a milquetoast substitute for actual feminism.

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*In this review of Get Out, the author discuses Black people’s reactions to  danger in movies, vs White people’s reactions to the danger.

 

Well, Too Bad We Can’t Stay

As I write this review, it has been five years since the horrific and cold-blooded murder of Trayvon Martin. When a car ominously pulls up alongside André and stops, we — people of color and horror fans — collectively hold our breath because we recognize the signal for danger. But for white audiences, that frisson is the delicious fear of the unknown. For POC, it’s precisely the opposite — the threat we see is all too well-known. It’s for that reason that Andre’s abrupt turnaround with a “No. Not today. You know how they be doing motherfuckers out here!” is so satisfying.

 

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*Til this point, I have largely been ignoring The Purge films ,because the first movie was such a poorly executed idea, that I couldn’t get past that. But now, the movies are starting to explicitly address the gender, class, and racial issues that I found dis-satisfyingly absent from that first movie.

In The First Purge we are given the racialialized backstory of the first three movies. The Purge movies turn out to be  not so much about purging society’s urge to commit evil, as it is about rich White people purging society of  marginalized  people.

Here, in this review of The Purge Anarchy, some of the details of this world are fleshed out a bit more, and they are, quite frankly, horrifying.

http://efbresearch.blogspot.com/2014/08/race-and-class-in-purge-anarchy.html

Both of these scenes highlight for me the interrelationship between class and race and the exploitative powers of a system that only reifies the lasting order and undervalues the lives of poor and minority bodies. In this film, both the rich and the government specifically target and kill blacks, the homeless, deviants, and youth in an attempt to eradicate and “purge” the society of perceived evils. This movie asks us all to reflect on who is in power, what oppressive acts are they committing, and who does society really serve. Both the murderers and the white families who can afford to lock up and hide are complicit in the exploitation and eradication of people deemed unworthy of life… Who gets to define who is worthy of life? Who gets to define how punishment is laid out? Who is in control of our streets, our livelihoods, our identities as targets or as civilians?

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  *The abuse of Asian women in popular media continues. I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy 2 , a lot, but what I couldn’t get behind, was the treatment of Mantis. It was just wrong. I know the writers thought it was funny, but that’s how I know there were no Asian people in the writing room, because they would have pointed out what the constant abuse, of this stereotypically submissive Asian woman, looked like. for the record,  I loved the character, because she’s just really sweet, but her treatment by the other characters made me very, very, uncomfortable.  
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 There are also other issues with how Asians are portrayed in media. First, if seen at all, Asian characters are almost either Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Indian. There are forty-eight different countries in Asia, so it is unfair and inaccurate to assume that all Asians are east Asians or Indian. Next, as Thai-American actor Pun Bandhu stated about Asian characters portrayed, “We’re the information givers. We’re the geeks. We’re the prostitutes. We’re so sick and tired of seeing ourselves in those roles.” Asians are associated with certain roles, so as a result, it is very hard to see change in the roles Asians play.
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There is no nuanced relationship between Ego and Mantis — just a master who demands his servant ease his pain of loneliness by helping him fall asleep. She dutifully does as she’s asked, because she does not know that there is another way of life.
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Mantis’s journey to joining the Guardians can be credited mostly to her “friendship” with a character who takes advantage of her innocence. Although Drax protects her from physical harm and Mantis helps Drax to access his buried pain about his lost wife and children, it isn’t enough to lessen the impact of his verbal abuse. Mantis’s past is a blank slate: She is an orphan, possibly the last survivor of her race, trained to be the companion and servant of Ego…Ego’s evil “expansion” plan is imperialistic, only adding to the subtext that Mantis is a colonized figure and one of his first casualties. She is educated by him, molded into, as she puts it, “a flea with a purpose.” Much of her character in the film is centered around her subordination; even though part of her storyline is breaking free from Ego’s control, that her friendship with Drax—the relationship that incites her rebellion against Ego—is built upon him insulting her isn’t much healthier.

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*Another invisible thing in movies, is how different types of characters talk, and what they talk about, based on race. I thought this article was fascinating, and I’m surprised that someone tracked this, because it never occurred to me that characters of different races talk about different things, and that what they talk about adheres so closely to stereotypes about that race!

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They found that the language used by female characters tended to be more positive, emotional and related to family values, while the language used by male characters was more closely linked to achievement. African-American characters were more likely to use swear words, and Latino characters were more apt to use words related to sexuality. Older characters, meanwhile, were more likely to discuss religion.

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*I’m a little dubious about reading this book because I don’t know if WoC will be characters, and how they’ll be treated. Since this book is written by a White woman, I’m  pretty sure that the treatment of men of color, by White women, who now have the power to harm them, is not going to be addressed, and for some reason that makes me very nervous about reading it.

White authors have a very long history of not addressing White racial resentment, or including it as a factor, in  fantasy and science fiction narratives. White feminists generally never mention it at all. This book references male oppression but White feminism refuse to acknowledge that men of color are not the ones oppressing White women, and in fact it is White women who already hold the power in that dynamic. I’m also certain that the point of view of Black women (who actually are oppressed by men of color) won’t be addressed either.

From the many reviews I’ve read, the book does address power imbalances, and how the women who are now in potions of power, simply replicate the old power dynamics that men created, bullying, torturing, and killing others. It is not mentioned if the women fight among themselves, since women are not a monolith, and even now, there are women who will fight to uphold  patriarchal systems. I do not know if transgender women, (or people who identify as non-binary) are taken into account in the story.

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/02/26/imagining-violence-the-power-of-feminist-fantasy/

Rage and the desire for revenge against male oppressors, however, has emerged in women’s dystopian writing during periods of feminist protest and uprising. We can see it during the first wave of the suffrage movement. Inez Haynes Gillmore, an American writer and suffragist, wrote, “When the first militant in England threw the first brick my heart flew with it. Thereafter I was a firm believer in militant tactics.” In principle, Gillmore believed, militant women should use the actions that had always worked for men: “rebellion and violence.” Yet she was also thinking about suicide as a suffragist tactic in practice:

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http://blackyouthproject.com/feminist-triumph-action-thrillers-always-white-women/

Here we are now, in the wake of Wonder Woman, and we find ourselves amidst these familiar conversations once again, and once again we are reminded that feminist realizations in major U.S. action films thus far have largely been for and about white women…

…And the ease with which Wonder Woman fans are able to ignore healthy critiques of the film and its star reflects how mainstream feminism and feminist solidarity have always been for and about white women.

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*I’m a big fan of Kim Coles, both as an actress and a comedian, and it was a lot of fun to read this interview, so many years after her star turn in the show Living Single.

https://theundefeated.com/features/90s-token-black-actors-phil-morris-bianca-lawson-kim-coles/

… in the 1990s, the wealth of black representation on television could lull you into thinking (if you turned the channel from Rodney King taking more than 50 blows from Los Angeles Police Department batons) that black lives actually did matter. But almost all of these shows were, in varying ways, an extension of segregated America. It’s there in the memories of the stars below: There were “black shows” and there were “white shows.” If you were a black actor appearing on a white show, you were usually alone.

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https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/a12022020/how-women-of-color-portrayed-tv-film/

A diverse writers’ rooms matter as much as the show’s cast. It is imperative that we continue to critique both the shows and movies we love until they properly reflect the world we are living in—and the people who live in this world. The fictional characters I love shouldn’t have to eclipse their sun to shine.

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*The styles of oppression and stereotype faced by White and Black women are just different. so we require different ways of addressing them.

https://thenerdsofcolor.org/2016/09/26/why-it-matters-when-women-of-color-play-love-interests/

Women of color have emphatically not been flooded with images of being treated as princesses and beloved love interests. The emotionally resilient, invulnerable, no-nonsense woman is all we are often allowed to be in media. We’re used to seeing roles where the women of color are expected to stare death and torment in the face with nary a single tear shed. We’re used to being expected to shoulder some great burden with no complaint. We often see ourselves play stoic bodyguards, hardened leaders, and calculating assassins who will do whatever it takes to survive. Rarely do women of color — particularly Black women — get to see themselves portrayed as precious, beautiful, and in need of protection. Rarely do we see films where we aren’t automatically expected to save ourselves.

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*Michael Burnham, of Star Trek Discovery, has become my new favorite hero.

https://mediadiversified.org/2018/03/06/normalising-black-women-as-heroes-star-trek-discovery-as-groundbreaking/

Discovery normalizes a black female hero in space. Evading the extremes of paragon and pariah, the show gives us a nuanced figure and places her at the very centre of the story. Few SF shows have ever tried to do this. The only example that comes to mind is the short-lived Extant, which also aired on CBS. But Extant was never really a space show and it never gained traction with audiences. So until Discovery came along, the primary model for black women in space (even empowered black women) was a sidekick. Shows like Doctor Who, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica include wonderful black female characters but always as secondary players. By casting a black woman as the lead, Discovery is unprecedented in the Star Trek franchise and extraordinary for SF television.

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*An interview with the Author of Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before, discussing how WoC are treated in science fiction media.

As an associate professor of English at Denison University, Diana Adesola Mafe makes her stride in the resistance where she teaches courses in postcolonial, gender, and Black studies. Her newest published endeavor is described to include “in-depth explorations of six contemporary American and British films and shows, this pioneering volume spotlights Black female characters who play central, subversive roles in science fiction, fantasy, and horror.” We were able to steal her away for a moment from her busy schedule where she is currently teaching a few classes to pick her brain about Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before and how it came to be.

Black Nerd Problems: Diana, thank you so much for making time in your busy schedule for us! First things first, presentation is everything. I love the book cover art and the title! The cover features a Black woman in a sci-fi type setting, centered in the middle of it all. I’m a visual learner so this image speaks to me before I even read a single page. Centering a Black woman is a very deliberate step in analyzing different collective portrayals of Black women especially when we are subjected to not being a leading lady in many mainstream projects. And it doesn’t go over my head that she’s a beautiful dark skinned Black woman, as European beauty standards have really amped up colorism. What input did you have on your cover and why was imperative to have imagery that aligns with who you are and your book’s content?

Diana Mafe: I’m so glad you mention the book cover! Despite the old adage about not judging books by their covers, book covers are an entry point to a text (much like titles) and they can send a powerful message even before you flip to the first page. I’m pleased to say that I had considerable input on the cover, which speaks to the flexibility of the University of Texas Press. I chose the image and filled out a questionnaire that allowed me to weigh in on things like design and color.

I remember spending several afternoons and evenings combing through online images in an attempt to find something that captured the spirit of the book. This meant doing keyword searches by combining terms like “Black women,” “science fiction,” “space,” “superhero,” “Afrofuturism,” and so on. Eventually, I happened upon a photograph of a black female Iron Man as portrayed by the Liberian model Deddeh Howard. As soon as I saw it, I thought, that’s it—that’s the cover. Having a Black woman literally front and center is important because that, in many ways, is the point of the book. To do otherwise would (ironically) perpetuate the very erasure of black women that I’m trying to interrogate.

BNP: I’m also very much in my fangirl feels because I’m assuming your title, “Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before” is a nod to Star Trek’s “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. Granted your introduction is titled, “To Boldly Go” and you mention Nichelle Nichol’s pioneering Lt. Uhura as one of few early gateway representations of Black women.

I think this is totally appropriate as stunningly revolutionary as her presence was (and how rightfully she is an icon), I love how you also dig in deeper critically and mention the shortcomings of Star Trek to her character. In your final chapter, you dutifully return to Uhura’s more recent portrayal in the rebooted Star Trekfilms. I really like how you come back to speaking about the male gaze regarding Uhura, especially in her newer portrayal. How do you think this critique can serve as food for thought for Uhura’s next portrayal in the future whenever that happens?

 

DM: Your assumption about the title is correct—a definite nod to Star Trek. The same goes for subtitles like “To Boldly Go” and “Final Frontiers.” Because Nichelle Nichols’s Uhura is such a pioneering figure, the first Black female science fiction icon, it was appropriate to begin and end the book with her character. And since she has been rebooted in the new millennium, her character offers some insight into how far we have come in terms of black female representation onscreen.

But as I discuss in the book’s conclusion, the “new” Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is not especially radical. The Eurocentrism and phallocentrism of the original show carries over into the reboots. Of course, there are understandable limits to rebooting classic science fiction television and cinema—if you change the original too much, it becomes unrecognizable and thus defeats the point. So along with returning to and revamping classic narratives that we love, we also need to continue imagining entirely new narratives in which old molds are not merely stretched but broken.

For Uhura, that means more screen time, more dialogue, and more agency. The key is to preserve this beloved Black female character without also preserving her constraints. At the same time, it’s vital that shows like Star Trek create fresh characters. Here, the franchise has made a “giant leap for Black womankind” (I couldn’t resist one last space cliché) by debuting Star Trek: Discovery, which gives us Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), the first Black female lead in Star Trek history.

Read on here[x]

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And just because these are hella cute! Shuri would definitely be Bubbles, while Okoye would be Buttercup.

Tumblr Discussions #167

 *Sometimes you get some interesting discussions to eavesdrop on over at Tumblr. This one is about how the western ideas of approaching the rest of the world  always seem to depend on conquering and collecting other countries, and simply stealing the resources, rather than relying on trade.
People often forget that some five hundred years of history, after the fall of Rome, seemed to have consisted of endless warfare between the various city-states, that came into existence afterwards, and when they finished warring among themselves, they began to compete with each other for who could gather up most of the rest of the world and own it.
It almost seems like colonization, genocide, slavery, and conquest were the hideous byproducts of various European nations competing among themselves, to prove who was the  more superior group of White people.
What’s  galling is, while engaging in this behavior ,Europeans managed to displace their barbarity onto the backs of the people they conquered and destroyed, as a reason for conquering and destroying them. (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?)
What’s sad about this is that most White Westerners cannot conceive of any other way of approaching the rest of the world, except through  dominance and submission. It is a philosophy that finds its way into everything from entertainment to politics.
  doublehamburgerjack
It’s really hard for people to understand that everyone had boats, exploration, and trade interactions without the same level of murder, colonization, and violence that the Europeans did. It’s really hard for people to get that.

 ami-angelwings
This is important for the knowledge/history aspect, but also because of what was said above, that exploration/seafaring/technological advancement does not automatically mean conquest, colonization, and genocide.  It’s one of those myths that an annoyingly large amount of people pass around to justify white supremacy: that everybody wants to conquer and wipe out everybody else, and that white people just got the technology and exploration level up first to do it.  They like this myth for several reasons: 1) it frames genocide, slavery, conquest, etc, as natural results of human development, SOMEBODY would have eventually done it regardless 2) it frames evil acts as “human nature”, it implies that the victims of those acts would have done them if they could, and that the people doing it were only acting on “nature” 3) it implies that because white people did these things therefore white people must have had the highest technological level and 4) because white people had the highest technological level therefore white people deserved their place in the world as conquerers and colonizers and enslavers.

Of course none of this is true, but it’s something our society likes to believe and the narrative is distributed through “common knowledge” and through our media, where non-white cultures in “historical” dramas are framed as “primitive” or warlike or both, and all the various dystopia fiction where “the oppressed become the oppressors” and what not (i.e. everybody wants to conquer everybody else, so SOMEBODY has to be on top).

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*I want to get rid of the argument about “Historical Accuracy” when it comes to defending lack of diversity in fantasy worlds. That concept needs to be taken out back, and killed with fire, because I no longer want to hear that PoC did not contribute  to the European historical record, and that  somehow has relevance for their existence in fantasy worlds, that are based on particular European time periods.

“To put it yet another way, in my country where Dukes are actually a thing, there are a grand total of 30 (6 members of the Royal family, 24 others), and while the amount of Duchies in the Kingdom has varied a bit over the years, this number has remained relatively stable.  By contrast, although I don’t have access to hard census data for the 19thcentury, Google reliably informs me that there were 2,651,939 people in London in 1851. And, if we take the extremely conservative estimate that only 0.1% of them were people of colour, that means that in the mid-19th century there were 2650 POCs in London compared to about 30 Dukes in the whole country.

So, from a certain perspective, a historical romance about a person of colour set in England in the mid-19th century is 88.3 times more plausible than one about a Duke. But because we’re used to seeing stories about Dukes in the 19th century and we aren’t used to seeing stories about people who aren’t white or heterosexual in the 19th century,  stories about the absolutely tiny number of high ranking members of the landed aristocracy seem natural and normal to us while stories about the proportionally much larger number of marginalised people living in England at the time feel implausible or disorientating, even though they’re actually more reflective of the lives of real people.”

-Alexis Hall, Obligatory RITA post (with added mu

 

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*This is about the devaluation of art done by women, and the prioritization of female nude art, created by, and for, a male audience. Bet you never gave this one much thought before, have you? Hell, I studied art for two decades, and it never occurred to me that the value of certain types of art is biased in favor of the male gaze.

http://anewdomain.net/paint-naked-women-male/

Could the reason for 83 percent of the New York Metropolitan Museum’s nudes being female have anything to do with it being run predominately by men? And who collects art?  Rich people, right? And who is rich enough to collect art?

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*This particular discussion highlights how  fashion does not exist in a vacuum. Clothing is just as political as any other part of our culture from hairstyles to music. This also ties into something discussed in an earlier post, about how, before the Civil Rights Movement, juvenile delinquency was coded as being White, (before that it was Italian and Latino) was heavily romanticized, and was almost never associated with Black teenagers. After the Civil Rights Act was passed, juvenile delinquency (and violence) became associated with Black and Brown youth exclusively, (reaching new heights during the nineties, with the invention of the Super-Predator.)

Greaser was a derogatory term for a Mexican in what is now the U.S. Southwest in the 19th century. The slur likely derived from what was considered one of the lowliest occupations typically held by Mexicans, the greasing of the axles of wagons; they also greased animal hides that were taken to California where Mexicans loaded them onto clipper ships (a greaser). It was in common usage among U.S. troops during the Mexican-American War.

why are greaser aesthetics still used to depict “bad boys” in art and media, when it hasn’t been that way since the 50s. this is a real mystery, i’m a serious scientist.

And the response:

 

it’s a so frustrating because greasers were originally  Mexicans or other latinxs, or Italians – either by subculture reclaiming, or slur. “Greasers” started out as the object of white fear.

Ethnically, original greasers were mostly composed of mostly Italian Americans in the Northeastern United States and Chicanos in the Southwest. Since both of these peoples were mostly olive-skinned, the “greaser” label assumed a quasi-racial status that implied an urban lower class masculinity and delinquency. This development led to an ambiguity in the racial distinction between poor Italian Americans and Puerto Ricans in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s.[6] Greasers were also perceived as being predisposed to perpetrating sexual violence, stoking fear among middle class males and arousal among middle class females.[8]

What most people remember is NOT the actual era of the greasers, but instead the 60′s and 70′s “sanitization” of who they were, why they were stereotyped against, and why they were used as villains.

Hell, before greaser was ever recognized as a “subculture” it was explicitly used as a derogatory term against mexicans. (That link references The Greaser Act, and lots of Hollywood movies which used the word.)

so before the 40′s-50′s, greaser was heavily used to portray a racist stereotype of a Mexican/Chicano man as violent/aggressive. (at least in media). This term also got used against some other latinxs in general, as well as Italians and sometimes Greeks. At least in hollywood this “greaser” type promoted mexicans as bad/dangerous and while also promoting latin lover stereotypes:

The Mexican Government soon objected to Hollywood’s portrayal of its citizens as “bandits and sneaks” and threatened to ban all films produced by companies which offended its people. This 1922 threat caused screenwriters to treat their neighbors to the south with more care. The “greaser” swiftly lost his Mexican nationality in the attempt to diffuse potential complaints, but his ghost still haunted new screenplays which concerned Hispanic characters.

Clever subterfuges often placed an unnamed “greaser” in a new locale. Rather than use the name of an actual country and risk offending its inhabitants, screenwriters began to create mythical cities and nations. “The Dove” (1928) provided an obvious example. The film concerned Don Jose Maria y Sandoval (Noah Beery), who considered himself “the bes’ damn caballero in Costa Roja.” Costa Roja, as the title cards explained, was situated in the Mediterranean!

The flimsy guise fooled scarcely anyone. The Times critic commented: “Taken by and large, Jose is perhaps a screen character to which the Mexican government might have objected, for he is greedy, sensuous, boastful, cold-blooded, irritable, and quite a wine-bibber, but he does dress well. He hates to have his luncheon spoiled by the noisy victim of a firing squad.”

(movie image, and its sound remake)

those images don’t look super like what you’d think of as “greaser” subculture, but…when you go forwards a decade or two, and then look at the actual people:

Zoot Suit(er) after arrest during the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots in LA. The Anglo police officer is inspecting his hair.

Wikipedia mentions that the Mexican American community was then…investigated to see if they had ties to the Nazis. (Yeah.)

On June 21, 1943, the State Un-American Activities Committee, under state senator Jack Tenney, arrived in Los Angeles with orders to “determine whether the present Zoot Suit Riots were sponsored by Nazi agencies attempting to spread disunity between the United States and Latin-American countries.” Although Tenney claimed he had evidence the riots were “[A]xis-sponsored”, no evidence was ever presented to support this claim. […] In late 1944, ignoring the findings of the McGucken committee and the unanimous reversal of the convictions by the appeals court in the Sleepy Lagoon case on October 4, the Tenney Committee announced that the National Lawyers Guild was an “effective communist front.”[15][27]

so that 1940′s look becomes this over time:

three Cholos showing off their outfits (1950′s). why? because zoot suits were deemed horrifically unamerican and “wasteful” during WWII.

but then ofc bitch ass racist white boys and motorcyles co-opted the look, add in a little bit of Travolta white washing of the radical pushback against racism in the origins of this stuff, and now we’re here.

 

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I have been wondering about the depiction of Tony Stark in the MCU vs. the comic books. The comic book version of Tony has at least some redeeming qualities, much like the version in the Iron Man Trilogy. He’s not a great character in the trilogy, but he’s less awful than in  The Avengers movies, for example.

When Tony is depicted in other movies in the MCU, besides his own, he’s often written as a callous, misogynist, asshole, who is thoroughly unlikable. For example, I got the impression that the Russo Brothers deeply dislike Tony Stark, because he doesn’t come off looking good in Civil War, at all, and even manages to look  several degrees worse in Spiderman: Homecoming.

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=captain

A lot of what this guy says about Tony’s lack of moral center, I already talked about, in an earlier post, comparing him to Steve Rogers.  In that post I expressed some doubts about my assessment of Tony’s character, and  its nice to know I wasn’t the only person getting that take.

 

This was something I specifically stated in my post:

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*I have always wondered about this narrative, being put forth by the media, that these killers deserve sympathy because they were victims of a society that didn’t understand them. It turns out that they are, just as I suspected, mediocre, entitled ,white boys, who go on killing sprees because the world refuses to worship them for being the special snowflakes they believe themselves to be.

I like how she ties this into the racial aspect, where white men receive sympathy for killing others, (and the benefit of the doubt), but Black men who kill…don’t. 

Also read up on the topic of “Wound Collectors, which is a fascinationg insight into how some mass killer’s minds work. Just about every mass killer, according to many of the writings they have left behind, seem to fit this dynamic.

These individuals use these wrongs, slights, or wounds, to then justify their beliefs or behaviors, or to help them deal with their own psychological or social distress. What is the definition of a wound collector or wound collecting?            
Wound collecting is the conscious and systematic collection and preservation of transgressions, violations, social wrongs, grievances, injustice, unfair treatment, or slights of self and others, for the purpose of  nourishing, fortifying, or justifying a malignant ideology, furthering hatred, satisfying a pathology, or for exacting revenge
Apr 7, 2013

 

More on the point about Columbine: Eric Harris was actually a relatively popular kid.  Not with the “popular kids” but, when it came to the more obscure cliques in the school, Harris was actually relatively well liked even for a kid who was, as was stated, an ACTUAL psychopath.  Dylan Klebold was less popular, but only because he was more of a follower who mostly just wanted to hang around Harris.

Neither one of the Columbine shooters was bullied.  They literally WERE the bullies.

 

Klebold’s own mother has been vocally debunking the narrative that they were bullied and “the real victims” for years. Her book, “A Mother’s Reckoning” is worth reading. It counters everything in the media. Kid was well off, wanted for nothing, wasn’t abused, neglected or bullied. What he was was radicalized by Harris, a neo-Nazi.

And just as “Walk Up” types don’t suggest showing compassion for poor Black or brown kid at risk of joining a gang, they don’t acknowldge that white radicalization is the root of a lot of America’s problems, more so than non-Westen radicalization that is readily accepted as dangerous.

Telling kids they should be kinder to the creepy kid who does Nazi salutes in the hallway is in fact making them more susceptible to radicalization. “Walk Up” is not only misguided, racist, misogynist and ableist, it makes things worse. Painting the Columbine shooters as the real victims set off the era of school shootings, and the more people call for more empathy toward angry white men who fit the profile (and again, in many cases these kids are actual neo-Nazis), the worse it gets.

 

Do your research properly or don’t have an opinion.

“According to Lee (2013), there are two leading causes of school shootings: bullying (87%), as well as both non-compliance and side effects from psychiatric drugs (12%). Most school shooters claimed or left evidence behind indicating that they were victims of severe and long-term bullying. The majority of bullying victims experienced feelings of humiliation, which resulted in thoughts of suicide or revenge (Lee, 2013). Additionally, of those school shooters who had been prescribed psychiatric medications, 10% displayed medication non-compliance (failed to take drugs prescribed). Many school shooters who were taking psychiatric drugs for their disorder experienced side effects of the drugs prior to carrying out a violent act (Lee, 2013). In fact, there have been 22 drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence, and even homicidal ideations (Lee, 2013). There have been at least 27 school Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2015 4 shootings committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, which has resulted in 162 wounded and 72 students and/or faculty killed (Lee, 2013). However, there has yet to be a federal investigation in the United States on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of school shooting.“

American Counseling Association

 

That 2013 data completely ignores the rise of white radicalism over the past five years. I read through the link, they didn’t even include rates of known white supremacy or radicalization. 76% of the attackers were white (with a 8% gap where race isn’t specified) according to their data, 99% were male and many left “cryptic messages,” a detail typical of neo Nazi mass killers like Eric Harris and Dylan Roof. That they didn’t analyze possible radicalization was a pretty major oversight.

Angry young white men believe they are the most persecuted, it’s not a surprise that attackers frame themselves as bullying victims. There’s a more a accurate term for it that hadn’t yet been coined in ‘13: wound-collectors.

In essence these are individuals who go out of their way to collect social slights, historical grievances, injustices, unfair or disparate treatment, or wrongs—whether real or imagined (Dangerous Personalities (link is external) 2014 Rodale Publishing)

At some point, we’re gonna have to stop pretending they’re “fighting back.” (X)

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Hellotailor (who I love btw! Please check out their website where they discuss the meaning of clothes and fashion in various movie franchises.), caught a lot of shit for writing this about Ready Player One. I don’t dislike the movie (it looks hella fun, and it is Spielberg!), but that doesn’t  mean they’re wrong.

Ready Player One could be the most hated movie of 2018. Considering the fact that it’s a Spielberg film with relatively respectable reviews, that’s quite an achievement. But like Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s based on a bestselling book that lends itself well to embarrassing viral quotes. Ready Player One has come to represent a certain kind of toxic fanboy mentality, and no amount of positive reviews can change that now.

At this point, the film’s quality is almost irrelevant to the backlash. Opponents are going after Ready Player One’s basic concept, because it’s such a perfect illustration of Big Bang Theory-style geek culture and its obsession with masturbatory trivia.

It simultaneously caters to the idea that white male nerds are underdog heroes, while proving that they’re actually a dominant force in Hollywood.

[READ MORE]

The Problems With Netflix’s The Titan

Image result for the titan movie 2018

Despite the fact that this movie involves Sam Worthington, I was really looking forward to seeing it. I don’t like Worthington, not just because he’s a lousy, one note actor, but because I’m still mad at him for playing a disabled man in Avatar, a movie I hate. (My problems with Avatar run deep, btw.) I was looking forward to watching this movie. I like movies about people being transformed by alien DNA ,and  I was lead by the trailers to believe that’s what this movie would be about.

It is not about that, and that’s not my first disappointment, in this movie.

My first problem was with the basic premise. Humans have so fucked up Earth that one of the ideas they come up with for helping the human race to survive is moving to another planet. Specifically, humanity makes plans to move to one of Saturn’s moons, called Titan.To that end, the plan of the lead scientist in the movie is, to genetically modify human beings to be able to survive on Titan. The movie’s volunteers are given a series of injections and surgeries to change their bodies to be able  to live on Titan. And no, no alien DNA was involved at all. It involves genetic resequencing or something. I don’t know anything about that, but the movie didn’t do a good job of selling me on it, as a legitimate science.

Image result for the titan movie 2018

I objected to this premise because no matter how much I love space travel (and yeah I do think we should move off Earth eventually) I don’t think our motivation should be abandoning Earth because we treated it like a garbage dump, while we were on it. I don’t think humanity needs to get in the habit of moving from planet to planet, like a plague of locusts, after we’ve used up a planet’s resources, and that’s exactly the premise of this movie. In the movie they spend several million dollars trying to get a handful of people to Titan, rather than using that money to fix the planet they’re already on.

Now, just because I’m an artist doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy science, and I do know something about the moon Titan. I did not get the impression that the makers of this movie knew anything about Titan, or the importance of any of its physical attributes, in crafting a creature that could live there. There’s a lot of emphasis on people holding their breath underwater, and being able to swim. I didn’t  think either of these skills would be helpful on Titan, which is cold, with a really dense atmosphere full of nitrogen. Scientists think there’s liquid water on Titan, and despite all the breath-holding, and swimming, I didn’t get the impression the creators of this film knew that.

Related image

The program calls for  twelve volunteers, only one of these volunteers survives to the end of the movie, which is disappointing to say the least. One by one, the volunteers die horribly, or go insane, until only Worthington;s character is left. He then gets chased by the scientists who created him, before he gets captured, and sent to Titan by himself,  because he’s not physically equipped to live on Earth, which defeats the purpose of the entire chase sequence at the end of the movie. Frankly, I  think all of the volunteers should have started dying in Earth’s atmosphere the moment they started transforming. You would think the kind of lifeform that could exist on Titan is not going to be able to run around causing too much havoc on Earth without some kind of life support.

Image result for the titan movie 2018

What’s Worthington gonna do on the planet by himself? How the hell is he gonna make more of his kind? Are more of them coming? We don’t know and  I have no idea, (or I wasn’t paying close enough attention.)How is humanity supposed to survive with this one guy on Titan? Of course, now that he is on Titan and transformed into a conveniently humanoid creature that lives there, then he really isn’t human anymore, as far I’m concerned. He’s just a human offshoot, who is all alone on this planet, unless the scientists who created him have other plans to torture some more people into being able to live there. The volunteers were all young, pretty, and fit human beings, and they all died.

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We also don’t get to see any of the environmental devastation the movie claims to be about, and everyone looks pretty healthy. I mean everyone, their kids and wives. Even in Bladerunner we got some idea of the environmental devastation that humans are escaping to the offworld colonies for. The Titan takes place in a kind of desert oasis set aside for the purposes of the Titan program. We are simply told about Earth’s ecological devastation, and shown not a single visual of any of it. We spend our entire time at the scientific oasis, so we have  nothing to compare the volunteers present living conditions , to whatever it was that made them desperate enough to volunteer for a mission they most likely wouldn’t survive. What are they escaping from? What made each of them volunteer? None of this is explored very deeply in the movie, which would’ve made it much more interesting to watch.

What is not interesting though is watching the lead characters wife. We spend most of our time chronicling her growing mental and emotional anguish at watching her husband transform into a being  unable to communicate with her, and I get that it would be upsetting, but I really started to get exasperated with her. It was my understanding that she sort of knew what she was getting into when she and her husband volunteered for the program, so all of her histrionics rang a bit hollow, and pointless, for me. She swings uncomfortably close to the stereotype of the nagging wife who argues that she needs to keep her heroic husband all to herself and her family, because he’s given enough to the world, and not enough to his family. This trope is seen in just about any movie about a married man, who gets tasked with some dangerous activity, and I’ve seen it in everything from Red Dragon, to World War Z.

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The Titan doesn’t work as a horror movie because there’s no horror in it, (Alien) and it doesn’t work as a science movie because none of the science makes any sense, or is very convincing (Europa Report), and it lacks any sense of awe, (2001: A Space Odyssey). It doesn’t work as a drama either (Gravity) because the dramatic tension feels pointless, and contrived.

The Titan also  requires that the audience go along with the basic premise of the movie, that we abandon Earth as a species because we fucked it up. Although, I guess there is a certain amount of hope here, because the  Titans think so differently from human beings, that they won’t do to Titan what humans did to Earth. The movie managed to get that idea across, at least.