Tumblr Discussions on Race

Just putting these numbers out here. Actually, I think this is may be from 2014, but really, it doesn’t make much difference. Hollywood talks a good game but is really, really slow to change. I think it takes so long because Hollywood is this big unwieldy ocean liner, and most of the power players on it consider themselves to be above using social media, and interacting  with the public. I think most of them consider that to be the actor’s job, and disdain listening to the public themselves. I think if the ones calling the shots in Hollywood do hear about social issues regarding their movies, it’s probably  second hand/hearsay. (and the ones who do hear about it, just make excuses for their laziness.)

“You’ve just very bravely cast a white person in a role and people are being very critical of it. Here’s how to handle that backlash as poorly as possible.”

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

I’ve noticed that the television creators are much more likely to interact with audiences at Cons, and on social media, than the film/casting directors, and money lenders of Hollywood. The creators of television are just much more intertwined with their audiences, and can know what their audiences think about their product, almost in real time.

For example, the creators of Arrow were on social media that first season, probably just gauging reactions to the show. But I noticed a marked change in the show from the beginning to the end of that first season. The show improved tremendously, and I think many of those improvements were based on the critiques they saw in social media. That’s how fast the creators were able to react to audience reactions. Unlike with movies, the creators for TV don’t have to wait until a show’s run is over before finding out what an audience thinks about it.

I’m not saying that television content creators don’t fuck up, (HBO we’re looking at you!) or that there isn’t an element of racism involved in Hollywood’s decision making process. Just that, in Hollywood, change takes a hell of a lot longer to be implemented because so many of these factors seem to work well enough together to delay progress. To the rest of us it just looks like a truculent inability to move forward.

From the Tumblr: 

Hollywood sticks to the script: Films aren’t more inclusive, despite a decade of advocacy 

The report “Inequality in 900 Popular Films,” released today, from Smith and the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC Annenberg, reveals how little top movies have changed when it comes to the on-screen prevalence and portrayal of females, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, the LGBT community and individuals with disabilities.

“The deficits we see on screen are worse behind the camera,” said Smith. Out of the 1,006 directors hired on the 900 films studied, just 4.1% were females. Only 5.6% of the directors were Black or African American and 3% were Asian or Asian American. Three Black or African-American women and two Asian women worked as directors across the 900 movies. “When we look intersectionally at directors, that’s where we see just how exclusionary Hollywood is when it comes to the hiring process,” said Smith. “The image of a female director seems to be that of a White woman.”

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And riding on the point of that last essay, there’s this one,  in response to  another essay/rant that, basically, blames identity politics, and call-out- culture, for why certain TV shows fail.  Essentially, that person was trying to blame the fans of color for the failure of certain shows. Yeah, that’s not it!

This essay sure sounds like it’s making a lot of sense, but it’s predicated on a bunch of false presumptions.

I agree that hypercritical dogpiling call-out culture is bad. It makes fandom a toxic environment.

Here’s where I find fault in this argument:

Violent fandom backlash/hypercriticism/dogpiling does not actually get shows cancelled, nor does it discourage the creation of future diverse media.

Lord, sometimes I wish it got shows cancelled.

But in reality, when you run the numbers, angry scary fans have a negligible effect on the success or failure of a diverse show.

Shows with a ton of discourse are usually quite successful. Supernatural’s been embroiled in fandom backlash/outcry its entire run and I’ve lost count of how many seasons it has.

Okay but SPN’s not especially diverse, so let’s go to my next example. Speaking of shows I can’t believe are still on the air, Teen Wolf (a show with a non-white lead and numerous LGBT characters) is SIX MOTHERFUCKING SEASONS LONG and fans have been ranting and raving about how shitty and problematic it is since the beginning of season 3 (I myself was one of its loudest and most savage critics back in the day).

Sleepy Hollow was a diverse show that suffered a lot of fandom backlash prior to cancellation. I suppose one might argue that the cancellation was a result of the backlash.

But consider – Sleepy Hollow’s fridged it’s black female lead, Abbie Mills, at the end of its 2nd season, shortly after, The 100 fridged it’s wlw female lead’s primary love interest mid season 3.

There was a shitte tonne of *intense* fandom drama surrounding Lexa’s fridging in season 3 of The 100. Every vaguely liberal entertainment news outlet had something to say about “Hollywood’s dead lesbian problem.” A lot of wlw fans wrote scathing rants and swore off the show.

In comparison, fandom was downright quiet about Abby’s fridging. In fact, the very small handful of posts I read criticizing the writers of Sleepy Hollow made a point of also criticizing fandom’s white feminists for their ‘deafening silence’ with regard to Abbie’s death.

Consequently The 100 just got renewed for season 5. Meanwhile,  Sleepy Hollow is as dead as a doornail.

Seems to me that silence does a better job of killing shows than any amount of screaming and ranting.

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Here’s what actually causes diverse shows to fail:

1) Old white men in power.

@temporaldecay you want to talk revenue? Perhaps you’d be surprised to learn capitalism is not the be all/end all of a tv show/film’s success as people often assume.

For example, we know that movies with diverse casts are more lucrative, yet the industry continues to churn out all-white media. Why? Nepotism. White execs bring in white producers who find white directors to tell white stories and cast white actors.

They keep doing this, even though financially speaking, it’s self-sabotage.

Teen Titans was the most popular show on Cartoon Network when it was canceled because it appealed to an audience (of girls) that wasn’t the intended target audience (boys) and the marketing team didn’t like how this messed up their gendered merchandising strategy. You can read all the details [here]

Which brings me to the next item on the list:

2) Bad marketing (combined with the aforementioned institutionalized bigotry)

There’s a great essay called Shut The Fuck up Marvel that explains in detail the problematic economics of the comics industry – TL&DR, diverse comics are failing not because of fickle and hypercritical fans, but rather because Marvel’s entire marketing strategy is so flawed that fans don’t even find out about diverse comics until they’ve already been axed.

The same is true of a lot of diverse television.

Wonder Woman got hardly any marketing. I didn’t see trailers for the movie. It managed to go viral anyway through word of mouth, and through the inherent publicity of being the first big blockbuster superhero film revolving around a female lead, but it’s the exception that proves the rule.

Still Star-Crossed, a Shondaland period romance/drama based on pro-fanfiction for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet was recently canceled due to low viewership. The show got next to no marketing. The few people who managed to hear about it from tumblr couldn’t even figure out when it was airing due to the network changing the time slot twice within the first 4 episodes.

Similarly, Sense8 season 2 was under-marketed, as was The Get Down. I must have seen about 8 million ads for that garbage suicide apologia show Netflix has been hawking.

Networks don’t want to market diverse shows. They assume diverse shows will magically sell themselves, and then blame fans when they don’t.

3) Appealing to too small of a niche – Novelty vs. Variety

Consider Agent Carter – this show catered to a niche within a niche within a niche – a period noir drama, that was also a science fiction. Lack of POC meant it had trouble attracting POC as audience members. Lack of LGBTQ rep (queerbaiting doesn’t count) meant it had trouble holding on to LGBTQ fans.

The only audience Agent Carter seemed to want to actively market itself to was ‘straight white feminist-identifying women who like retro noir sci-fi’ – that’s so specific. Too niche of an audience to attract the kind of audience a network like ABC expects for its prime time shows.

Compare that to How to Get Away With Murder – which has a little something for everyone. Ensemble cast, multiple sexual orientations, multiple cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds – Shonda Rhimes knows how to cast a big net.

Or Brooklyn 99 – similar kinda deal.

Having a one member of a marginalized demographic in a lead role is a novelty. And novelty’s good for getting people to watch your pilot, but it wears off quickly. People come for novelty, but they stay for representation. I don’t mean representation as an abstract concept. I mean people continue watching a show when they find a character that they personally identify with and relate to. The more character variety, the greater the number of audience members who feel consistently well-represented.

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Discourse is not killing diversity.

This is a lie networks and showrunners tell fans to scare us into silence. They sabotage their own shows and then blame fans for being “too critical” or “too entitled.”

And we buy this bullshit. We buy it and we sell it to other fans. We write big long essays telling fellow fans to count their blessings and stfu.

Fuck that noise.

 

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This one is about how Blade began this whole superhero movie nonsense, that we all love so much. Yes, I blame Blade too. Frankly, even though I was a big Marvel Comic book reader, I had never even heard of this character before the movie was released, but I’m always gonna stan for that first movie, which still holds up very well to this day, and despite that Wesley Snipes is something of an asshole.

I personally consider Blade, and The Crow, to be two of the Blackest superhero movies of the 90s. (I will fight ‘chu!)

And that’s the real difference between Blade and the superhero franchises that have followed. Blade was never a big-name character in the first place. So there wasn’t a whole lot of retro-geek enthusiasm associated with the character. But more than that, Blade, the film, simply isn’t backwards-looking.

There’s none of the Greatest Generation boosterism that clings to the Captain America franchise, for example. Nor do we get from Blade the home front 50s stay-at-home mom-with-kids meme that pops up incongruously in Age of Ultron when we get to meet Hawkeye’s secret, perfect family.

Instead, Blade is deliberately, defiantly hip. Motherhood isn’t idealized; on the contrary, one of the queasier moments of the film involves Blade ruthlessly offing his feral, incestuously sexual, evil vampire mom. If there is nostalgia, it’s for blaxploitation’s up-to-the-minute cool.

The movie’s first grinding, sweaty, sex-and-blood drenched night club scene hasn’t dated at all. Nor has the Afrocentric incense store where Blade buys his formula fix, nor the black, brotherhood embrace between that store’s owner and the hero. There’s a notable lack of cell phones, of course, and the computer graphics prophesying the coming of the blood god look rather dated. But there’s little question that, as much as it’s able, the film is looking forward not back.

And part of the reason it’s looking forward, I think, is race. Blade—unlike most superhero films—is set in a meaningfully integrated world. That Afrocentric shop suggests, quietly but definitely, that Blade is part of a black community and that that community matters to him. One of his two crime-fighting companions Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright), is also black.

The diverse cast, and the acknowledgement of diverse communities, is part of why the film still feels and looks relevant. Here, after all, is a narrative that was fulfilling the call for more diverse superhero movies before superhero movies were even a thing.

But beyond that, Blade makes clear the extent to which nostalgia and whiteness are inextricably bound together in so much of the superhero genre. Retooling old, old pop-culture heroes[1] means, inevitably, dreaming about white saviors and about a time when white people were the only ones who were allowed to be heroes.

THE WHITE SUPERHERO FAD STARTED, CRAZY ENOUGH, WITH BLADE

[1]

A lot of us have talked a lot about how Blade started the current superhero domination in Hollywood and how current films forget that; and though it’s important to ask what kinds of behind-the-scenes decisions have caused that, I like this analysis about how Blade is fundamentally different from what we’re getting today and how that film is, in many ways, incompatible with today’s Ant-Men and Men of Steel.

 

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Another argument for why HBO’s new idea for a show, Confederate, (about an alternative world in which the South won the Civil War), is a truly bad idea:

blackfemalescientist

I’ve been thinking a lot about Confederate, the upcoming project by the creators of game of thrones. I’m not alone in actively hating the idea for this, but it took me a while to figure out why the idea for this show bothers me so much. Part of it is the current political climate, part of it is the idea being not nearly as new or interesting as the creators think it is (sci fi and fantasy is full of stories about chattel slavery in more modern/technologically advanced societies), and part of it is just me not trusting these two guys with this kind of story.

But what it really comes down to for me is this: even if I could buy that the south won the war, I do not buy that black people, in a majority black country, would be content to live in the only slave-holding society in the world for another 150 years. And the fact that the creators of this show can imagine that says a lot about how they feel about black people and their agency.

Like to put that idea in perspective, black people waged a successful national campaign to end jim crow in a majority white country and it didn’t take them 150 years. Haiti rebelled in 1804, and while we can talk current economic conditions (and how frace is primarily to blame for that), what you can’t say is that chattel slavery exists there now. Like what world are you living in where black people aren’t resourceful, smart or motivated enough to end chattel slavery 150 years after the entire world decided that maybe chattel slavery was doing too much.

The entire premise doesn’t work as alternative history because its not an alternate world, its a complete fantasy – a fantasy where black people are not only subjugated but incapable of taking steps to end that subjugation. And that leads to all the “who is this for” and “why would you do this” questions that smarter people than me have talked a lot about.

 

And here’s my man, Ta Nehisi Coates, laying it out, in his own very eloquent way, why the writers of Game of Thrones, and HBO, need to catch some hands:

HBO’s Confederate takes as its premise an ugly truth that black Americans are forced to live every day: What if the Confederacy wasn’t wholly defeated?

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/08/no-confederate/535512/

Of course, any time Black people hold discourse on a subject that directly affects our lives, you’ve got those white people crawling out from under the baseboards, to defend this wtf*ery, because for them Black life is  no more than an intellectual exercise, and we should  get over it, because it’s messing up their ability to be entertained by our misery.

 

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This is one of the most cogent arguments I’ve ever read against financial inequality. I also had no idea of the history of the game of Monopoly.

We played this game all the time in our house. My Mom was, naturally, the Banker, and we always played it Socialist style,  I guess, with everyone getting the same amount of money, and being treated the same, following the same rules. Of course she always won, up until we were teenagers, and started learning more about how to handle money,  like how to plan ahead, and how to delay gratification. 

Monopoly isn’t maybe the best way to learn about money, but it does teach you something about how financial systems work.

So let me get this straight, in Monopoly if you give one player more money to start out it’s “unfair” but if you do it in real life it’s “capitalism”?

 

You know what, I’m going to tell you guys a story.

In my Sociology class a few semesters ago, our prof had us break off into groups and, much to our naive joy, began distributing Monopoly boards! We had no idea what was going on but yay! Games! Of course, once our group, and a number of others, got the board we began to work at setting up and distributing the money…

until suddenly our prof told us to put the money down and pick up the dice.

“Roll the dice and sort yourselves from highest to lowest,” our teacher commanded.  “Now, the highest number is the upper class. The next one is upper middle class.  The next two or three are middle class. The last person is in poverty.“

Well, as the person who rolled a two this was startling and not wholly welcome news.

From that point the game changed entirely. We had to hand out the money so that the “upper class” had this fucking mountain, and then less for upper middle, even less for middle, and I didn’t get any triple digit bills. We would all collect different amounts from passing go as well.

The biggest change though? Going to jail. Upper class didn’t. Period. Upper middle class could go but they only had to stay for one turn or they could immediately pay their way out. Middle class had some pretty easy guidelines for when they could pay to get out. As lower class, it was really easy for me to wind up in jail and REALLY hard to get out. But since I was working with so little money when everyone else had so much I was in jail all the time because there was no “game over”.  If I couldn’t pay I had to go to jail for a certain period of time. I had to take out loans with interest I could never pay back just to get out only to wind up back in it again, rolling dice turn after turn hoping to be able to get out.

It was simultaneously the most enlightening and most awful game I had ever played. I was bored and frustrated and a little terrified about it all. And it wasn’t only me. I would never win, I sort of accepted this, but it was amazing how the middle classes reacted as well.  They were stressed. Because they were always that close to either being able to one-up the upper class or from crashing into poverty with me. They had to fight constantly just to stay in the middle.

(I should also mention that the upper class player in one group felt so bad for the lower income players that they ended up overhauling their entire game and creating a “socialist” society instead. I’m not sure how our teacher felt about that one.)

 

Worth stressing this is entirely in the spirit of the original designer’s aims for Monopoly.

Monopoly’s  original form of The Landlord Game which was explicitly designed to teach people about the unfairness of rent systems. To quote from the wikipedia entry, just as it’s the easiest source to hand…

Magie designed the game to be a “practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences”.[2]She based the game on the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed byHenry George, with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people could find it hard to understand why this happened and what might be done about it, and she thought that if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate.

When the usual suspects start making “don’t bring politics into games” noises, I roll my eyes pretty hard. They have no idea of the history of the form.

 

 

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This final topic speaks to the idea of accurate Representation from a Historical perspective. One of my biggest pet peeves is the bigoted argument against diversity and inclusion, in Fantasy media, coupled with the erasure of PoC from  Historical narratives, and not just because such an argument is irrelevant to a discussion of Fantasy based world-building. 

As an amateur Historian, I’m sick and  tired of seeing the argument about Historical accuracy, from the mouths of lazy, sometimes bigoted, individuals, who have done no research, who have only ever gotten their ideas about what History was like, from various movies and TV shows, trying to uphold the pop culture status quo, by saying we don’t belong in Fantasy environments.

I have found that even the  most well intentioned people are deeply, deeply, ignorant of History, having gotten most of their ideas about it, from whitewashed movies, television shows, and History classes, in which the contributions (sometimes even the presence) of PoC  are erased. When you consider that the vast majority of the world is made up of PoC (Chinese, for example) and that those who are most definitely considered to be “White”  Europeans (whatever that may mean) made up only about 11% of the world’s population in 2010, and by 2060 are set to become less than 10% of the world’s population, I find it more than a little hinky that such  people would argue for Historical accuracy. 

And now we have the Alt-Right attempting to lay claim to this same argument  in an attempt to bolster their racist  beliefs that PoC contributed nothing to Historical narratives, and that all of the humanity’s  major contributions to Literature, Science, and Art, were only done by White men.

Part of the problem is that Historians need to make clear that PoC were History. We were everywhere, not just invented in certain eras, and trotted out when White men needed to conquer somebody. History is far more nuanced and complicated than most people know.

Medievalists, Recoiling From White Supremacy, Try to Diversify the Field

By J. Clara Chan

—-The criticisms of the conference’s diversity stems from problems in medieval studies for decades — that it is still too Eurocentric, male-dominated, and resistant to change. But as the medieval era has become increasingly prevalent in rhetoric used by white supremacists to advocate for a return to racial, ethnic, and religious purity, many nonwhite medievalists are feeling a new urgency to combat the stereotypes that accompany the field.

http://www.chronicle.com/article/Medievalists-Recoiling-From/240666/

 

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And on Historical Anti-Semitism in Art:

thegetty

Dialogue: Exposing the Rhetoric of Exclusion through Medieval Manuscripts

By Kristen Collins and Bryan Keene, originally published on the Getty Iris

We invite your thoughts on an exhibition-in-progress at the Getty that addresses the persistence of prejudice as seen through lingering stereotypes from the Middle Ages.

As curators in the Getty Museum’s department of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, we are interested in how books, and museum collections more broadly, can spark dialogues about inclusivity and diversity. Our manuscripts collection at the Getty consists primarily of objects from Western Europe, which can present challenges when trying to connect with a multicultural and increasingly international audience.

We are striving to make connections between the Middle Ages and the contemporary world—connections that may not be immediately evident, but are powerful nonetheless. Museums are inherently political organizations, in terms of the ways that collections are assembled, displayed, and interpreted. This year’s meeting of the Association of Art Museum Curators addressed how institutional narratives and implicit bias can skew ideas of history and culture in ways that exclude minorities and gloss over the shameful aspects of our past. Groups such as the Medievalists of Color, the Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages, the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, and the Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages, among others, are applying similar lines of inquiry, seeking to decolonize and diversify the field of medieval studies. We stand with these groups.

We were also inspired by Holland Cotter’s call to arms, as he exhorted museums to tell the truth about art, “about who made objects, and how they work in the world, and how they got to the museum, and what they mean, what values they advertise, good and bad. Go for truth (which, like the telling of history, is always changing), and connect art to life.”

Here is our description of the exhibition, still in draft form:

Medieval manuscripts preserve stories of romance, faith, and knowledge, but their luxurious illuminations can reveal more sinister narratives as well. Typically created for the privileged classes, such books nevertheless provide glimpses of the marginalized and powerless and reflect their tenuous places in society. Attitudes toward Jews and Muslims, the poor, those perceived as sexual or gender deviants, and the foreign peoples beyond European borders can be discerned through caricature and polemical imagery, as well as through marks of erasure and censorship.

As repositories of history and memory, museums reveal much about our shared past, but all too often the stories told from luxury art objects focus on the elite. Through case studies of objects in the Getty’s collection, this exhibition examines the “out groups” living within western Europe. Medieval society was far more diverse than is commonly understood, but diversity did not necessarily engender tolerance. Life contained significant obstacles for those who were not fully abled, wealthy, Caucasian, Christian, heterosexual, cisgendered males. For today’s viewer, the vivid images and pervasive narratives in illuminated manuscripts can serve as a stark reminder of the power of rhetoric and the danger of prejudice.

 

“If you don’t know you have a history, it can be hard to believe you have a future.” —-National Museum of Stockholm

James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

 

10 Worst 80’s Videos

There were a lot of really dumb videos in the 80s, and I watched plenty of them. There wasn’t a whole lot else to do on hose long nights of babysitting because there wasn’t any internet. There was however plenty of cable, and MTV

1. Safety Dance – Men Without Hats

Of all the dumb videos released in that era, this is one of the absolute dumbest. Our opinions may vary on which video should be in the number one slot but I think we can all agree, that this particular one is deeply stupid, with images completely unrelated to the song, horrible acting and lip syncing, and even the song sucked. I think Safety Dance qualifies on all criteria  of stupid.

 

2. Rock Me Amadeus – Falco

The song is stupid, but at least kind of fun. The video is equally asinine, but also kind of fun. This makes number two, on the list, because this artist was a total one hit wonder and I kinda like the remixes. I never saw, or heard from this singer again, after this song completely took over the airwaves for one whole-ass Summer.

3. Rock Me Tonight – Billy Squier

Oh, boy! This video is bad, bad, bad. I mean laughably bad. You may not be able to sit through this, because I had to stop and catch my breath, about halfway through it. I’ve never been a Billy Squier fan, but this song isnt really all that bad, nevertheless, I’m glad I didn’t have to subject myself to this video beyond the first time I saw it, and this week. I make these big, mental, sacrifices, so I can bring you the quality entertainment, y’all are asking for…

 

4. 99 Luft Balloons – Nena

I just realized this heading looks like “Luft balloons for 4.99”, which  makes just about as much sense as this song. But at least balloons are in the video, I guess. No, it makes no sense,and is basically a bad concert video. Its also  possible it’s some type of German thing that doesn’t translate well to English, so it kinda gets a pass, but not too much, because I still hate it. I know it must be puzzling to millennials, the types of videos and songs, we were willing to sit through, in the 80s.

 

5. All Cried Out – Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam

I am one of those people who’s a sucker for a sad song, and the reason this is so far down on this list is because I actually like this one. The reason it’s on the list  is because the video is just as trite and maudlin as you could imagine, with all of the emotions carefully displayed for the viewer. I think the only thing the director left out was the singer pointing at the viewer, and then herself.

 

6. Wild Boys – Duran Duran

I am total trash for this Duran Duran, (and The Police), and I liked some of the other videos they made, like Rio, and Hungry Like the Wolf, but this one is both ugly and stupid. The song is alright, but whoever made this video needed to stop watching those Mad Max movies. Now that I think about it, every post-apocalyptic anything after Mad Max, was basically riffing off that movie.

 

7.Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

You may remember this as Dean Winchester’s favorite song, the one we saw him lip syncing to, at the end of the episode Yellow Fever. That particular scene is about a million times better than this video. I actually like this song, and love to sing it in my car especially, but  I just can’t, with this video.

 

 

8. Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

I got no problem with the song, but this video is both creepy and stupid, and  is the fulfillment of every 80s music video (and movie) cliche ever invented. Creepy singing kids ? Check! Wind blowing everything? Check! Gauzy nightgowns?Check!  Running through the dark  in a gauzy, windblown, nightgown? Check! Whatever you do, do not listen to this song first thing in the morning, because it’s totally extra.

 

9. Come on Eileen  – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

This song was recently featured in an episode of Preacher, where both Tulip and Cassidy both admitedt that this song is deeply stupid. They are not wrong. I actually like the song, but this makes the list, because yeah, the song is stupid, and I hate the band name, and there is waay too much use of overalls in this video.

 

10. Cherry Pie – Warrant

Oh boy! I hate everything about this song, the video, the band, the lyrics…all of it. It’s a nasty, dumb video, and song, made by nasty, dumb men.

 

Pictures From Tumblr

 

Entertainment Weekly has a great photos spread of the cast and characters of Black Panther. But not everyone has access to EW, so:

 

And here are the first images from Ava Duverny’s A Wrinkle In Time, which will also be released in 2018:

a-wrinkle-in-time-reese-witherspoon-oprahy-winfrey-mindy-kaling-ew

a-wrinkle-in-time-chris-pine-image-ewa-wrinkle-in-time-oprah-winfrey-image-ewa-wrinkle-in-time-ava-duvernay-storm-reid-ewa-wrinkle-in-time-chris-pine-ew

 

There are some incredible classical, and digital, artists on Tumblr, that are unlike anything on WordPress:

Furiosa // Abraão Lucas

 

 

And now for something completely different:

Great Moments in Black History

kainecarter

Redman’s cousin sleeping on the floor during his MTV Cribs segment.

 

specstestwalletandwatch

When Gucci Mane was asked if he was inebriated in court and answered with “Bitch I might be”

 

 booty-finesser

when ODB went on stage during the GRAMMYS and said “Wu tang is for the children”

 

inovoxowetrust

Nicki Minaj calling out Miley Cyrus on national television giving us the iconic “ Miley, what’s good ”Image result for nicki calls out miley gif

 

savagezoee

When Kanye took the mic from Taylor Swift

Image result for kanye takes taylors mic gif

 

 

doubledoseofdopamine

Originally posted by huffingtonpost

 

vividlyme

When Destiny’s Child announced they were getting back together on Oprah

 

thetattedstoner

When Snoop Dogg asked the East coast about love for the West Coast

 

nohablabs

When Dave Chapelle shot a slavemaster on cable television.Image result for dave chappelle shoots slavemaster gif

 

sistermaryfake

when common called drake Canada Dry

 

tikaboos

When Diana Ross jiggled lil Kim tit …

Image result for diana ross lil kim gif

 

oshuns

When ODB rolled up to the welfare office in a limousine

 

rapunzel-corona-lite

When Rick James told that white bitch from backstage who he was on TV

 

bruddabois

When YG showed up in a bulletproof vest and cut off pants

sauvamente

Whitney Houston trolling Diane Sawyer about her personal life for two solid hours “I ain’t telling you”

 

bruddabois

When “Bobby Bitch” dropped

 

nayborhoodhugdealer

Kanye saying George Bush doesn’t care about black people on live tv

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hutchj

When Jesse Williams got on the BET Awards and dragged every white person by their follicles and some black people too.

Originally posted by frontpagewoman

Originally posted by grantel-works

Originally posted by desingyouruniverse

jeniphyer

Monique letting Beyoncé know that big girls can “uh oh” too

 

ispeakvon

When Django blew up the candy land plantationImage result for django blows up plantation gif

 

thagoodthings

Beyoncé 2016 SuperBowl performance

 

kairo-koutureee

Image result for I like my negro nose gif

Originally posted by frontpagewoman

 

nico-incognito

Annalise Keating getting a sew-in on national TV by Mary J. Blige is honestly the blackest thing I’ve ever seen…

 

Originally posted by getawaywithgifs

 

black-geek-supremacy

Grace Jones being pulled by white dudes in her chariot in Boomerang.

happyblackteenager

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king-emare

When A.I. stepped over Lue

 

blackabsolem

When Frozone was put in his place by his wife even though he needs to help save the world.

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jaythenubian

Vince Carter dunk over Frédéric Weis in the Olympics

 

wittolblackcuckold

When Eddie Murphy dropped RAW, currently the #1 box office stand-up of all times.

Originally posted by undeadliz

 

bossbarnett

When Michel Jackson said “he was not the father”

Image result for michael jackson billie jean video gif

Originally posted by mj-loves-to-tour

 

infamousprincejayyeee

When Left Eye showed Andre who the fuck she was!

Originally posted by freshprincesst

hutchj

When Cissy Houston was side eyeing the hell out of Aretha

Originally posted by musicisneat-blog

 

theblacktroymcclure

When Ray J threatened Fabolous on Hot 97

 

a-shadyqueeen

When Patti Labelle told that white woman on the Tyra banks show she doesn’t eat paper boo

Image result for patti labelle on tyra banks/paper gif

 

loladivine

When Gucci mane aka big guwop exposed Angela Yee for her thot antics live on the breakfast club

 

yoblackpopculture

When Randy Watson showed Whitney how the song is really sung

Originally posted by yoblackpopculture

 

theimaginarythoughts

When Tupac and Snoop Dogg performed at Cochella

Originally posted by da-zona-sul

 

grandpaq

When Rick James told ol’ girl who he was at the BET Awards.

Originally posted by b-h-s

 

halimahmariee

When Remy Ma dragged Nicki Minaj to her grave

Originally posted by yeezusxvi

 

feezy-sama

When A.I put the reporters on blast for talking about practice

Originally posted by this-is-nba

 

sirl33te

when Rihanna threw that stack of cash at Stephen Hill the BET Awards

 

thesoultape94

When they announced the Black Panther movie with an ALL BLACK cast

Originally posted by notias1

 

yadadameanp

Originally posted by gif-weenus

 

whoareyouandwhyshouldicare

Originally posted by micdotcom

 

ohitslikethat

 

soundsfromvenus

Angela Basset burning her husbands shit in Waiting To Exhale

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untilstarsfall

Queen Latifah’s bad bitch girlfriend in Set It Off

 

LORDT
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I love these little gothic themes for such mundane activities as buying a house, or looking for a job. Apparently just about any activity can be made to seem creepy on Tumblr:

Millennial Job Search Gothic

 

tortillapunx

  • you have an interview next week. you always have an interview next week. The managers who interview you all seem to share the same pleasant, blank face. They promise to call you back in a few days. They never do.
  • they say the minimum wage is going up soon.
  • you must have two years of experience. you must have five years of experience. you must have ten years of experience. experience in what, exactly? the job requirements bleed into an ancient latin text as you attempt to decipher them.
  • the people in the photos in the craigslist ads smile eerily at you. their eyes seem to follow you around the room even after you click away from the job posting.
  • do not apply in person, the posting says. do not send in your resume. do not apply. we’ve lost too many employees to the creature as is.
  • you plan on leaving your job soon. you’ve been planning on leaving your job soon for months. you keep making excuses as to why you haven’t left your job yet, but you know deep down that even if you put in your two weeks tomorrow, you wouldn’t leave the company as the same person you were when you applied. if they let you leave alive at all.
  • you seem to see “help wanted” signs everywhere. when you enter and inquire about them, the employees wave you away. you hear their cries for help again as you leave.
  • you are more than qualified for the job that you are applying to. you are over-qualified for the job you are applying to.
  • you do not get the job.

 

 

What’s the 411? LinkSpam

Hey! I got some great reading material for your weekend. 

History of Dance Music

Image result for history of disco

*Actually pretty much all of the Popular musical styles originated in marginalized communities. I was inspired by someone asking a question on Tumblr on why Disco died. The answer is that Disco didn’t actually die, it simply went back underground, and morphed into something else.

http://gawker.com/frankie-knuckles-discos-revenge-and-gay-black-music-1556413442

https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/aeqxwz/dance-pride-the-gay-origins-of-dance-music

https://djmag.com/content/special-feature-gay-dna-house-music

http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/35892/1/chicago-house-lgbtq-history-documentary

View story at Medium.com

https://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/webprojects/LiveMiss/Chicago-House/house-text.htm

Image result for history of disco

 

*This is about the White male backlash against Disco. There are a number of reasons why there was such a backlash, but what I’ve noticed is that its a pattern that keeps repeating itself through US history. A marginalized community creates a musical style that becomes very popular, which is then followed by an urge to contain and control that music, by the preceding generation, when its adopted by their children.

https://aeon.co/ideas/the-night-when-straight-white-males-tried-to-kill-disco

http://www.thedailybeast.com/of-gamers-gates-and-disco-demolition-the-roots-of-reactionary-rage

*This article chronicles how the backlash against Disco was tied into homophobia and racism:

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/224099

*This video by Sut Jhally, which lasts about an hour, discusses the misogyny of  behind so many poplar musical styles, but pays particualr attention to Rock N Roll. Warning this is NSFW:

https://thoughtmaybe.com/dreamworlds-desire-sex-and-power-in-music-videos/

 

At the Movies

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-panther-costume-designer_us_593ff13ee4b02402687cd1d2

<em>The Magnificent Seven</em> vs. The Historical Negationism of Westerns

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/10/how-the-west-was-lost/502850/

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/predator-oral-history-arnold-schwarzenegger-film-1014132

http://www.theroot.com/sophia-coppolas-blatant-erasure-of-black-women-in-the-b-1796386121

https://www.villagevoice.com/2016/10/13/the-men-who-were-the-thing-look-back-on-a-modern-horror-classic/

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/alien-xenomorph-actor

 

Sex and Gender

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Articles on Gender and Sexual expression will always get a read from me. I just find the topic fascinating. Apparently, so do a lot of other people.

*An article about the “Berdache” gender among American Plains Natives Cultures:

http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.gen.004

*This one is about how  much freer men were in the past, to express affection for one another.  The most distracting thing in these photos for me was the smoking of cigars. I found the cigar smoking to be kinda weird. We hardly ever see that kind of thing now.

https://truewestmagazine.com/homos-on-the-range/

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/07/29/bosom-buddies-a-photo-history-of-male-affection/

*I found this great article on Gender expression in other cultures throughout history:

Image result for gender variation in native americans

http://www.teenvogue.com/story/gender-variance-around-the-world?mbid=social_facebook

 

And the obligatory Fandom Racism post:

http://beatrice-otter.dreamwidth.org/343325.html

Black Cowboys/Girls & Black Westerns

 

I recently had a discussion with one of my regular readers (Hi!) about Westerns starring PoC, some of which they hadn’t seen, which inspired me to make a list of some of my favorites.

I love Westerns. If you’ve been reading the Favorite Movies of My Life posts then you know I have a lot of nostalgia for TV Westerns. I used to watch Big Valley, with my Mom, because she loved Barbara Stanwyck, and Bonanza because she liked Lorne Green. Later, we discussed, and watched, shows like Rawhide, which starred Clint Eastwood, and The Rifleman because she was a big Clint Walker fan. From there, she introduced me to Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns, and inspired by her, I went on to watch movies like The Magnificent Seven, because I fell in love with Yul Brynner.

But my biggest joy was watching Black people in Westerns. The existence of Black people in the West has been all but erased by Hollywood, like so much of History has been erased, and supplanted, with images of only White people getting to have adventures, or make History.

Image result for black cowboys

 

*The cowboy is an iconic American figure and in popular mythology almost always a white one. For every Django or Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman’s character in Unforgiven) there are hundreds of white gunslingers. But of the “estimated thirty-five thousand cowboys that worked the ranches and rode the trails between 1866 and 1895, researchers have calculated that the number of black cowboys ranged from five thousand to nine thousand, with the high number representing 25 percent,” wrote Tricia Martineau Wagner, an author of several books about the West, in Black Cowboys of the Old West.

https://theundefeated.com/features/fred-whitfield-and-the-black-cowboys-of-rodeo/

 

 

*How Hollywood Whitewashed the Old West

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/10/how-the-west-was-lost/502850/

Image result for black cowboys

*The Other Pioneers: African-Americans on the Frontier

http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4807

 

Image result for black cowboys

*Black Outlaws, Cowboys, and Lawmen of the Old Wild West

https://owlcation.com/humanities/Black-Outlaws-Cowboys-And-Lawmen-Of-The-Old-West

Image result for african women cowgirls/history

 

*AFRICAN AMERICAN COWBOYS

http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.afam.002

Image result for black cowboys

*10 African-American Cowboys Who Shaped The Old West

http://listverse.com/2016/04/04/10-african-american-cowboys-who-shaped-the-old-west/

Even modern day cowboys are simply not being acknowledged. Lets face it, if you’re a Black person, who lives anywhere in the Southern United States, you know there are Black cowboys. Its unfortunate that Hollywood and television don’t ever seem to remember that. My family is from deep Mississippi, so I know about this, but hardly anyone outside of the Southern states seems to know.

Image result for modern black cowboysImage result for african american cowgirlsRelated imageImage result for african american cowgirls

Image result for modern black cowboysOnly one member of the Cowgirls of Color competed in rodeo events as a teenager. “I was the only black person there,” she says. Photograph: M Holden WarrenKB works to control Yankee Girl during the barrel relay Photograph: M Holden Warren

*They’re Cowboys And They’re Coming Straight Outta Compton

 

 

And Philly:

 

Whitewashing of the term Cowboy:

They’re Cowboys And They’re Coming Straight Outta Compton

http://www.npr.org/2015/04/30/403353200/comptons-cowboys-keep-the-old-west-alive-and-kids-off-the-streets

@@

Image result for black cowboys/will smith

As for Westerns featuring Black actors, here, in no particular order, are some of my favorites:

Gang of Roses (2003)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/gang-of-roses/

Posse (1993)

I remember this movie was a huge deal in the Black community when it was released. A lot of my friends were crowing about how good it was. While it’s not my absolute favorite Black cowboy movie, its in the top ten, because at the time, it was kind of mind-blowing, since the last movie, that was anything like, it had been released in the seventies. And I got mad respect for Mario Van Peebles, who was  trying hard to make Black genre films a thing.

 

Blazing Saddles (1974)

I saw this one when I was in college, as a double bill with Raising Arizona, and laughed my ass off the entire evening. Two of the funniest Westerns ever. This movie was not afraid to go there. My favorite scene is when some racist cowboys bully the the Black railworkers into singing for them, and they burst into a piano-lounge tune called,  “I Get No Kick from Champagne”. The White cowboy’s reactons are  priceless. That scene never gets old!

 

Unforgiven (1992)

Unforgiven has some deep themes. While I’m not a fan of Clint Eastwood, the person,  his films have always been first-rate. Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman are awesome in this movie.

 

Silverado (1985)

I saw this around the time of its release. Starring Danny Glover, and Kevin Costner, it was the  first time I’d ever seen either of these two actors, and the first time I’d ever seen a Black cowboy in a movie.

 

Buffalo Soldiers (1997)

I don’t remember a whole lot about this one. I watched it on cable late one night and remember enjoying it somewhat, so I’m not sure if this classes as a favorite, but I did watch it in its entirety, so felt I should put it here. It stars Danny Glover again, so that may have been my initial impetus for watching it in the first place, since I enjoyed Silverado.

 

Wild Wild West (1999)

I will watch Will Smith in anything, so I was overjoyed to see him in a Western, even if the movie royally sucked. The music video, on the other hand, was the shit. Yes! I know ALL the lyrics!

 

Django Unchained (2012)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/in-defense-of-django-unchained/

 

The Hateful 8 (2015)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/geeking-out-about-the-hateful-eight/

 

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Yeah, I liked this movie!

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/stuff-im-watching/

So When Are We Gonna Stop Letting Joss Whedon Coast on 20-Year-Old White Feminism? — Sublime Zoo

If you were on these rough Internet streets a week-and-a-half ago, you probably caught wind of the Joss Whedon’s age-old Wonder Woman script. You know, that thing that bounced around in production hell briefly, nearly attached to the likes of Charisma Carpenter and Lucy Lawless. It had been rumored for years. Over a decade. And […]

via So When Are We Gonna Stop Letting Joss Whedon Coast on 20-Year-Old White Feminism? — Sublime Zoo

The Wayback Machine: The Incredible Hulk TV Series (1978-1982)

Hello There!

I haven’t been posting very often this week because I’ve been working on some things for you guys to read this weekend.  This one was kind of unexpected. I did not think I’d be doing a post on The Incredible Hulk series, but I’ve been watching this lately and kind of enjoying it, and thought I’d share it.

I used to watch this when I was a kid, and the last time I watched it, was some re-runs when I was a teenager, so its been a few decades. I expected it to be hilariously cheesy, like most of the things I watched as a young girl, and it was those things, but it also had emotional depth, and progressive social messages, at least for the 80s.

Related image

The Incredible Hulk television series lasted five seasons and starred Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner, and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. Recently the El Rey Network had a three day marathon of all 82 episodes and I watched a significant number of them and was inspired to review the series as a whole. How well does it hold up as far as acting, its messages, and its special effects? But also how well does it hold up to today’s standards as a show?

The answer is: Surprisingly well.

Bear in mind, that I had not watched this show in decades , but I was surprised to find myself becoming very engaged with the characters and messages, in some of the episodes. Once I got past a few plot points, and the 70s wardrobe, I was able to settle in and start liking the characters. By the fourth season the show was less earnest, and a lot more cheesy, especially in its search for new plots, but it still held up really well, even by today’s standards.

I like  Hulk the series more than I liked either of the two films dedicated to him, although I prefer the villains of the films, rather than any of the villains of the show, who were often simply extremely petty criminals, who engaged in random thievery,  various frauds, and some occasional street hooliganism.

Image result for incredible hulk 1980s series

In the series, the character is named David Bruce Banner and is a medical physician, rather than a physicist, being pursued by a tabloid reporter named Jack McGee, played by Jack Colvin. I was under the impression that he was modeled afte Kolchak the Nightstalker, but the writers say that wasn’t their influence. Nevertheless, McGee comes from a long line of vexing antagonists, who like to merely hound and annoy the protagonist, rather than try to kill him.

David hitchhikes around the country, taking odd jobs, and getting into various mishaps, which occasionally require the Hulk’s involvement. A lot of the episodes are not unlike Mad Max, or the Spaghetti Westerns of the 60s, (starring Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name), who wanders into a town full of corruption, disrupts that story, and then leaves after everything is settled. On the surface these appear to be standalone stories, but the connective tissue between all the episodes is David’s search for a cure for the Hulk, and his constant pursuit by McGee.

Image result for incredible hulk 1980s series bixby

 

Like Mad Max, Banner often wandered into other character’s  stories, although occasionally he did have a story of his own.  Banner was a lot nicer person, though, who seemed to genuinely care about the events  and people with  which he became involved. Bill Bixby is a remarkably versatile actor, and his firm, quiet competence lends a note of realism to what were sometimes  ridiculous plots. Like the episode, Prometheus,where Banner has to help a blind woman lost in the woods, near a fallen meteor.  He is  attacked by a swarm of bees, triggering a transformation into the Hulk. Afterwards, affected by radiation from the meteor, he can’t fully transform back into his human state. The acting from the blind woman, played by Laurie Prange, is atrociously over the top, but Bixby, is his usual calm self.  I ended up taking quite a number of plots very seriously only because Bixby was so good at what he did, it didn’t occur to me to laugh at them, like the episode where David is held hostage at a private island, and forced to attend a costume party, or the one where three escaped female prisoners kidnap him, and one of them goes into labor.

There’s the episode Alice in Discoland, which requires Banner to be undercover at a discotheque, where he meets, and has adventures with an alcoholic young woman. The plot sounds pretty stupid, and on the surface it is, but once you get past the horrible costumes, and dancing,  it manages to deal seriously with the subject of alcohol addiction. On occasion, the show dealt with heavy subjects, like police corruption, drug addiction, greed, and PTSD,  with a great deal of respect, and surprisingly little preachiness. A recurring theme though, was the young blond damsel, who has been put in distress by some family member trying to kill them for power, or money.

In the episode starring Lou Ferrigno, as himself, in King of the Beach, Lou plays a deaf man seeking independence from his parents, and hoping to open his own restaurant, by trying to become a famous bodybuilder. Lou Ferrigno himself is deaf, and a champion of Deaf people’s rights. (Incidentally, he is still alive, and looking pretty good for a 53 year old man.) On the surface, King of the Beach sounds silly, and there are some silly moments, but Ferrigno’s character is always treated with respect and dignity, and the subject of his disability is not  the main plot. He’s allowed to speak for himself, and articulate his own problems and issues. At no point is Banner placed as a White Savior. Ferrigno’s character is allowed to make his own decisions, and his disability is just part of the character, and all the other characters adjust to it, finding it unremarkable.

Image result for incredible hulk 1980s series bixby

I think the silliest part of the show, and the part I couldn’t help laughing about most often, is that Banner is sort of required to turn into the Hulk at least two or three times per episode, even if some of these transformations are a bit of a reach. After about the fourth season, just about anything could set him off, as the writers had to keep coming up with new ways to make Banner get angry or stressed.

In the beginning of the series the threats were a little more dire, like being buried alive in cement by mobsters, or perhaps a car accident, but by the end of the series, the writers had to stoop to Banner getting stung by bees or getting thrown into some bushes. And while these two events are certainly stressful, you can tell the writers are getting just a bit hard up for reasons that Banner should Hulk-out. There’s also the fact that Banner really does need to learn some defensive tai chi or something because it’s just waaay too easy to beat him up. One interesting point is that as the series continued, it did get a little harder to predict when he would transform into the Hulk. In the first couple of seasons it was fairly predictable.

I do want to discuss the roles of the women on the show. The show featured a lot of women,and in a lot of different types of roles. Although, sometimes they were damsels, they also showed up as villains and schemers, scientists, show girls, single women, wives, mothers, sisters, etc., and their status wasn’t always a part of the plot of an episode. In one of the episodes, King of the Beach, the lone woman in the story started out as a grifter, who later becomes a trusted friend, and business agent, to Lou Ferrigno’s character. No, the show didn’t pass the Bechdel test very often, but it had no problem depicting women as flawed and complicated human beings. I found it interesting that there were a lot of women scientists featured on the show, who were smart and capable, and not necessarily love interests for Banner, although they did occasionally need rescuing.

Image result for incredible hulk 1980s series bixby

Lou Ferrigno turns in a surprisingly nuanced performance of the Hulk. He got to engage in some emoting. You would think the role would only require some growling, yelling, and throwing things, and sure, there’s plenty of that, but there’s also some emotions in there too. He gets to have reactions to people and things that isn’t just anger. It’s a bit different from any of the movie versions of the Hulk, and not much like comic book versions. This Hulk doesn’t speak, but I understand that was a deliberate choice by the creators. The amount of violence the Hulk engages in is pretty low scale. He likes to toss people around, and sometimes a vehicle. I’m guessing that’s because of budgetary reasons. He rarely if ever punched anything or anyone, and there was never any blood, and that would have been due to violence restrictions on television, at the time. He also gets a lot of cardio in that he runs away a lot.

Image result for incredible hulk 1980s series bixby

There’s still the mystery of the stretching pants, which is something fans have been asking themselves about for years. What is funny though is that every now and then while watching old TV shows like this, I become aware of how different the show would be if today’s technology existed then. While watching an episode I’ll think ,”Hey, that wouldn’t have happened if he owned a cellphone.” Or ,” Now you could just Google that!” From time to time, the Hulk would go running through the streets of Chinatown, or New York, and I can’t help thinking that McGee’s job would’ve become obsolete because he would’ve just been able to watch cellphone videos of it on YouTube.

Overall  though, I had a pretty good time watching the marathon, and not just for the nostalgia. Once you get past the surface stuff, the show has a certain amount of depth. Banner’s situation is always approached with compassion and respect, and most of the humor arises out of people’s reactions to the Hulk, never because Banner, the Hulk, or his patron of the week, are being mocked. Most of us remember the show because of the theme song, a tinkly piano tune called “The Lonely Man”, and the show’s opening voice-over, which went a long way towards eliciting sympathy for Banner. There have been a lot of iterations of the Hulk, from Eric Bana to Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo, but the Bixby/Ferrigno version is still one of my all-time favorites.

The Mist Vs. Nightworld: Writing the Supernatural Apocalypse II

I just recently listened to the audiobook versions of these two stories, and was as  struck by the similarities,  as much as the dissimilarities. Suffice to say, if you’re going to write a Kaiju Style Apocalypse, for maximum terror, these are the things you’re gonna need to include: monsters, death, intrepid survivors, and some human villains.

Nightworld, written by F. Paul Wilson, waaay back in 1992, (it was heavily revised in 2001) ,  was the conclusion to a seven book series that started with The Keep, and starred Wilson’s original character, Repairman Jack, (who is sort of like Jack Reacher, only he fights the supernatural.)

In Nightworld, the entire world is beset by  monsters who have emerged from sinkholes that circle the globe. This invasion is the precursor to the rise of an of Anti-God, named Rasolom, and Hell on Earth, as the sun begins rising later every day, and setting earlier every evening. Worldwide. (To someone with even the most basic understanding of Astronomy, that’s already pretty terrifying.) The endgame is an endless nighttime, where the various monsters, that are  allergic to sunlight, can roam, and eat, freely.

In The Mist, a novella written by Stephen King, and first published in 1980, in the anthology titled Dark Forces, the world is overcome by a dense fog, in which all manner of different  monsters live. It is theorized, by the characters, that scientists accidentally opened a portal to another universe, that flooded into Earth.

First, something naturally unnatural has to occur, in the sky or in the earth, like the sun setting at the wrong time everyday, fogs, mists,  tsunamis, or giant holes opening up in the ground. The precursor to all hell breaking loose (literally), for these characters, is if the natural environment has suddenly gone horribly awry.

Second, you are going to  need monsters, and not just Leviathans. You’re gonna need a variety of sizes to induce maximum terror. After all, you might be able to fight off,  or avoid, the big ones, (I say “might”) but smaller monsters can creep into human hiding places, and cause general havoc, as well as sleeplessness.This is what makes these books different from a Kaiju story. They’re more like Kaiju-Adjacent.

You must have gruesome deaths. Some of these gruesome deaths must involve the use of some kind of acid that dissolves its victims alive. In Nightworld, there is a thoroughly disgusting collection of acidic  critters that fly around eating people’s faces. In The Mist there are giant spiders with acidic webbing, as if the idea of giant spiders isn’t  quite terrifying enough,I guess.

Some of your monsters must have wings. It doesn’t particularly matter what type of wings, as long as the creatures can fly. In Nightworld they have insect wings. In The Mist bat wings seem to be the preferred method of flight.

At least some of your monsters must have tentacles. Nightworld fulfills this requirement admirably, by having lots (and lots) of creatures with tentacles, grabbing people and pulling them into small apertures. The Mist has giant tentacles just sitting outside a grocery story, not even attached to anything, apparently. They’re certainly not attached to anything aquatic as grocery stores are normally on land. The Mist pours some extra gravy on its tentacular horrors by giving them tiny mouths.

At least one of the monsters encountered has to be so fantastical, that it defies belief , like The Mist’s Leviathan, or the creature that decides to take up most of the Atlantic Ocean in Nightworld.

Speaking of giant monsters, they have to come from somewhere, and out of giant holes, whether under the ocean,  or out of the ground, as in Nightworld, are the perfect portals for entry. You must have portals. What?! Them monsters gotta get here somehow.

Okay, once you’ve got your monsters sorted into their various sizes, along with where they’re visiting  from, and their transportation, you then have to lay out who it is they’ll be eating. You must have an intrepid group of people, whose job it is to be eaten, trapped, survive, or defeat the monsters.

Intrepid – fearless, unafraid, undaunted, unflinching, unshrinking, bold, daring, gallant, audacious, adventurous, heroic, dynamic, spirited, indomitable;

I’m not sure if The Mist qualifies in that department, as the people in that story seem scared shitless, throughout the entire ordeal. Nevertheless, since all the other criteria are met, we’ll refer to them as intrepid anyway. After all, they do some brave things,  like fighting the giant spiders, and arguing with the crazy religious lady. The characters from Nightworld are actually described as brave and fearless in the book. In fact, one of the characters has a speech about it, and they all engage in some boldness, some daring, and  even some indomitable behavior.

Your intrepid group of people must consist of, at least one straight, honest, stand-up, White guy. It is a requirement that he be both honest, and White, and no substitutes will be made. He must be the kind of White guy who is strong and bold, but also compassionate, idealistic, and willing to protect the little guy. He must be able to clearly articulate why things need doing, and convey those beliefs to the other characters.

In other words, you need Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Nightworld fulfills this quota with two…count’em!, two stand-up White guys. Although,  I feel the writer is clearly overdoing it, by having one of them be a former priest, and the other an ancient swordsman.

In accordance with the James Kirk Axiom, you will them need a pretty  blond  White woman. A redhead or possibly auburn haired woman can be used in a pinch, but she must be heterosexual, and conventionally pretty. No arm fat, tattoos, arthritis, or nervous diseases need apply. Not even allergies. She must be in perfect physical health and form, and above all else, she must remain un-traumatized by any of the preceding events attending the end of the world, like watching her family and friends be eaten.

And for Gob’s sake, no women of color! Apparently women of color, (and any women with tattoos) all get eaten first…or something. Whatever is happening though,  they never seem to make it to the being intrepid  part of the story.

There must be at least one child, preferably a boy, but a young girl will suffice. They can be White, but it is not a hard and fast rule, as it is not  required that they be genetically related to either the White man, or White woman. Sometimes it can just be some kid one of them picked up somewhere. Extra points if the child is an orphan who  just witnessed their family be eaten by the monsters, for maximum trauma. How else are you going to convey to the reader how dangerous the world  is, without the help of crying, screaming children. Also, you can always fill up some time by having the child be in extra special danger, by having them wander off alone, or be autistic, or something.

Nightworld is interesting in that there is a perfectly healthy and un-traumatized child in the story, which is turned on its head, by having the child become autistic, when he helps save the world.

Surrounding this trio are what I like to call the intrepid, but disposable people. They are the  literary equivalent of non-playable characters. Don’t get too attached to them, these characters could be eaten at any second. They should consist of at least one (if not more) men of color, preferably Black or Latino.  You can break the rules and have there be at least one  woman of color in the story, but they can’t have any lines of dialogue, unless its exclamations like “Look out!”, or “Aaaaaahhhh!” Any exposition should be left to any extra White men, that you have added,  preferably a teacher, or a scientist. Nightworld has a priest, who knows what’s happening, and can explain it to those characters who are out of the loop. David Drayton, from The Mist, is an illustrator, which kind of changes things up a bit, but he is still the narrator.

Nightworld is not a good template for casting your characters because all of its major characters are White. (People of color probably didn’t exist when it was written. I have it on good authority, that we weren’t invented, in Horror literature, until about 1999. Well, Stephen King had discovered us, but we had to be magical to get in his stories.) There should be no more than ten of these non-essential characters. More than ten and the reader will  lose track of who they should be terrified is going to die next.

And last, but not least, you must have at least one asshole. No story about the end of the world is complete without at least one human being, who is trying to kill off the other human beings, and  that you wish would hurry up and be eaten by something. By anything.

The Mist is exemplary in that it has two…Count ’em! Two assholes. Norton, the asshole neighbor of David Drayton, and Ms. Carmody, the asshole religious townie. Norton fulfills the role of the asshole who wants desperately to be in charge, but no one will listen to him, who becomes increasingly unhinged. He eventually dies by skipping out into the mist to feed himself to the monsters.

Ms Carmody fulfills the role of the asshole, who is already thoroughly unhinged, before the story even begins, and the intrepid people are now trapped with her crazy ass, and the other scared  people start thinking that human sacrifice makes sense.

Nightworld  fulfills this requirement, in exemplary fashion, by also having multiple assholes in the script. In the unrevised edition of the story, (from before 2001), it was the husband of one of the intrepid people. In the newly improved book, its some random bad guys from  previous books, who mostly don’t come into contact with our intrepid gang.

And finally, the ending can’t be all wishy-washy. (We’re looking at you Steve!) In The Mist, there really isn’t much of an end to the story. We don’t know if David Drayton and his friends ever get out of it, or how long it lasts. (Thankfully the movie corrects this problem, which is all I have to say, in that the movie definitely has an end.) Nightworld correctly follows the rules, by having the good guys win, at the last possible second. You know the rules. Disaster is only averted when the countdown reaches one.

Now my people, go forth, and kill your darlings.

Gruesomely!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 3 (1991-2000)

Oh wow! From here on out its getting increasing difficult to choose one movie. When you’ve watched as many movies as I have, at my age you have a helluva lot of favorites, so this is like picking those desert island movies, (the movies that you would most like to have if you were stranded on a desert island.)

I did have to cheat a few times and choose two:

1991: Terminator 2/Addams Family

Beauty and the Beast was also released this year, so I had a really hard time choosing just one movie. Why is this so hard? I love movies. I find at least one thing to like about even the worse movies, so this is just making it extra difficult, when the movies have fewer flaws to latch onto.

I chose Terminator 2 though, because it was the movie that had the most emotional effect on me. America had just come out of the “Cold War” with Russia, in the 80s, when I had to (real quick) deal with my own existential angst, coupled with the idea of nuclear annihilation. I had a lot of sleepless nights as a teen. That was a very rough period, and watching that movie reawakened all my worst anxieties, especially the scenes of nuclear devastation. I was near tears just at the opening credits, and my anxiety issues almost caused me to walk out.

I have since calmed down about this movie, and can appreciate it for what it is. I still can’t watch the bomb blast scenes, but that hasn’t stopped  the movie from being most excellent, in all other regards, and I’m gonna have to review it someday because the plot and themes still resonate. Also, I have tremendous respect for James Cameron, who managed to tear it up, with some of the best sequels, (to already great movies), ever made.

I chose the Addam’s Family solely for nostalgic reasons. I just love this movie, and never get tired of its humor. I watched the TV show as a child and it was alright. I liked it okay, but the movie built on it in ways that just shone. The acting and actors are, quite simply, perfect. Raul Julia as Gomez simply can’t be topped. And I’ve been in love with Angelica Huston ever since. When I first saw this movie I didn’t even know who she was. Now, whenever I think of her, I think of Morticia. And of course  Wednesday Addams was my personal avatar. If I can be said to have a life philosophy, then Wednesday gave voice to a lot of it. She was smart, practical, snarky, and tolerated no nonsense, often saying the type of  things I actually manged to get away with saying to people, when I was a child,  without getting my ass thoroughly kicked. Incidentally, check out the video series Adult Wednesday Addams. It perfectly captures what she’d be like as a grown woman, and is absolutely hilarious!

The animated version of Beauty and the Beast gets a special mention. Yes, I am also a Disney fan, especially the  years before CGI, and if I had to pick just one Disney film, it would have to be Beauty and the Beast. Its just gorgeous, Howard Ashman’s music was at its best, and I loved all the songs. I know every word of Be Our Guest, and still get chills listening to it today. Why that song resonates with me I can’t even guess! But in every Disney film there’s at least one.

 

1992: Bram Stoker’s Dracula/Reservoir Dogs

I was in Art school when I went to see this movie with some friends. Dracula is another of Cuppola’s  masterpieces. It’s another one of those movies where, when you walk out of the theater, you have to take a moment to readjust to reality. Despite the dodgy acting of its younger stars which has not held up well, the movie itself is one long,  lush, beautiful dream sequence, that doesn’t even need dialogue. This is one of those movies I appreciate, not for reasons of nostalgia, but for solely artistic reasons, and this was one of the first movies I really appreciated as such. I saw it twice in the theater and have watched it multiple times since. Everything, the details, the colors, even the camerawork, has meaning, and I never get tired of watching it.

Reservoir Dogs I saw a couple of years after its release and it was the first Tarantino movie I’d ever seen. It’s one of those movies where you have to ask yourself who that is, and then follow them for the rest of your life, or their career. Despite Tarantino’s many controversies, I have never been disappointed by one of his movies. Even when I didn’t particularly care for a movie, it was still worth looking at. Another reason I like him is because he has managed to singlehandely revive the careers of actors that Hollywood had long forgotten. I would love him just for giving us back Pam Grier, who I grew up listening to my mother rave about. In fact my mother loves Grier so much that she is a total stan for Jackie Brown. I can’t get her to even look at any other of Tarantino’s movies, but Jackie Brown is always on replay. I love Tarantino because he made my Mom redsicover her love for Pam Grier.

 

1993: The Piano

Okay, now I’m reacting to the artistry of the movie. The Piano is one of my all time favorite films, looking incongruous next to movies like The Addams Family, but really it fits right in. Since I’ve been trained as a visual artist; the camerawork, costumes, colors, details, are what attract me to certain movies.  With The Piano though, I really started to pay  close attention to the music in a film.

Music has always been a huge part of my life, (I have moments, milestones, everything), but this was the first time I’d been as engrossed in the sound of a movie, as I was its visuals.  I was haunted by this movie. I thought about it for days afterward. I was moody, examining it, my feelings about it, and puzzling over its meaning. The mood of it simply wouldn’t leave me, and in a lot of ways it still hasn’t left. It’s not a movie I watch often, but when I do, I have to be prepared for several days of thoughtful melancholy afterwards.

Jurassic Park gets a shoutout because I am a total dinosaur fan, and you have not lived until you’ve seen a full grown woman act like  a damn fool in a movie theater, at the sight of one of the most realistic looking T-Rex’s every created for the silverscreen. Does it make me a bi-sexual, if I’ve fallen in live with a female dinosaur?

True Romance: Quentin Tarantino didn’t direct his movie but he wrote much of its dialogue, and it shows, most especially in the scene between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper. In the Sicilian scene, Walken stars as an old school Mob boss trying to torture information out of Hopper on his son’s whereabouts. This scene is right up there with that classic meeting between DeNiro and Pacino in Heat, and is very possibly  one of Hopper’s finest scenes.

 

1994: The Crow

I know I should probably pick something the critics loved like Pulp Fiction or The Shawshank Redemption which were also released this year, but nope. This year belongs to The Crow.

I had just left college around this time, I was working, and had a little bit of disposable income. So you know what I did with that extra money? That’s right! Go to lots of movies. I don’t even remember seeing the other two films in the theater, but I went to see The Crow 3 times, dragging all my friends along each time. I’ve seen this movie lots of times since, then, and read the book a few times, too. Yes, I still miss Brandon. I still feel hurt over the career this beautiful man could have had.

 

1995: Seven

The alternative to this movie was Toy Story. I enjoyed TS a lot but I wasn’t really into it like that, until Jessie’s song, When She Loved Me. Til then, I just thought it was cute.When I started crying in the second movie,  I knew that shit was serious. But I’m not picking that one. I’m picking Seven because:

This was the first time I’d ever heard of David Fincher. I wasn’t expecting too much from this movie when I first saw it. I was ready to dismiss it as one of those dark detective type movies, only with extra Morgan Freeman, whose movie career I’d been following, since he played Fast Black in Street Smart. But Seven turned out to be excellent, and upended any expectations I had about the plot. Oddly, my favorite scene isnt the ending, but the scene where Morgan Freeman’s character (Detective William Somerset) goes to do some research at the libray, and banters with the guards. The music playing during that scene is Bach’s Air on the G String. I’ve watched this dozens of times since its initial release, but the best way to watch it is with Fincher’s commentary on the DVD.

This year also saw the release of one of the most intelligent vampire movies I’ve ever seen,  Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, starring Christopher Walken and Lily Taylor, about a college student who has an existential crisis after she gets bitten by a vampire on the streets of NY. I watched this movie three or four times just trying to follow the conversations in this movie, because gobdammit, this movie is not smarter than me! Except maybe it is. Or maybe its just a bunch of pretentious drivel.

This is one of those movies where you have to pay attention when you’re watching it. No eating popcorn, or chatting with your friends. As a result, this movie was much more successful on video then it was in the theater. And  since this is a Ferrara movie, it doesn’t skimp on the gore, either. There’s a fairly graphic scene, towards the end of the movie, where an entire college faculty  room gets massacred by vampires. These aren’t the most vicious vampires on screen, as they’re too emotionally detached, but that’s what makes the scene so  terrifying.

Christopher Walken also starred in The Prophecy this year, a movie about a new Angel war in Heaven and on Earth. This is also one of my favorites movies. I know people like to write off Walken as a silly actor but he’s starred in a number of very intelligent horror movies.

 

1996: Fargo

I just finished a two part analysis of this movie, and its comparison to Raising Arizona:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/fargo-speaking-of-crime/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/speaking-of-crime-raising-arizona-1987/

 

1997: Princess Mononoke

I had a hard time getting my niece to watch this, instead of her billionth viewing of Spirited Away, but I finally did, and it was worth it, as I used this movie as a way to hone her critical thinking skills. But rather than focus on the environmental issues in the plot she seemed to focus more on the moral issues. We had a good discussion about the morality of Lady Eboshi, the primary antagonist in this movie.

Lady Eboshi lives in a camp in the forest. She is a weapons maker, and to do this, she tears down and corrupts the forest and its creatures. The corruption is spreading to other parts of the forest not associated with what she’s doing, the forest creatures are angry and want to destroy her, including Princess Mononoke, a young woman who has been raised by wolves. Lady Eboshi also takes in “fallen women”, ex-whores looking to escape their old lives and live free of the brothels, and lepers, whom she tenderly cares for and makes sure their final days are comfortable.

My niece and I discussed the moral grayness of someone like Eboshi. What she’s doing to the forest is very obviously wrong, and she doesn’t care about that, but at the same time, she cares very much for the unfortunate people around her, so its not easy to condemn her as a villain. I think I summed it up for my niece like this: That sometimes, good people do very bad things. And sometimes, bad people do nice things. I don’t know how much of this conversation stuck with her because she was about ten at the time. She also seemed quite taken with the little white forest spirits in the movie. I had a much harder time explaining Japanese religious beliefs too her, tho’.

Most other people would probably choose Men in Black or Disney’s Hercules as this years favorite, but apparently, I like to be contrary.

1998: Dark City

Despite the release of both The Truman Show and Pleasantville, this year, for me, belongs to Dark City. Directed by David Goyer who made The Crow, and starring  Rufus Sewell, who a lot of people inexplicably hate, this is one of the smarter SciFi action movies of the nineties. Its not the characters though, its the plot. From its opening scene of a man waking up in a bathtub, to its apocalyptic ending ,the audience is taken on a compelling mystery, just like it s primary character, John Murdock. There are spiral symbols, aliens, mysterious men in black, a captivating beauty played by Jennifer Connelly, a nosy detective played by William Hurt, and a city that moves around at night. Are you intrigued now? Good!

I remember when I first saw the trailer for this movie. I was immediately captured by it. It suits my aesthetic. This movie wasn’t well received by critics, probably because you have to be patient with it. You don’t know anymore about what’s going on than John, and you find out what’s happening only when he finds out. This is one of the movies on which Roger Ebert and I fully agreed. He enjoyed this movie so much he did three separate commentaries for its DVDs.

 

1999: The Matrix

For a lot of people, this year was all about the Sixth Sense, and its twist ending, but for me, and a lot of other geeks, it was all about The Matrix. This is one of those tent-pole movies, that is not only a summation of all the hottest SciFi  film-making techniques of the twentieth century, but also one of those movies to which every  SciFi movie afterwards would be compared.  Bladerunner did it in the eighties, but the Matrix belongs in The Crow/Dark City family of films. Lots of rain! Check. Black trenchcoats! Check. Mysterious agents in black! Check.

This year also saw the release of Fight Club,  and the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Ravenous. As much as I love David Fincher and cannibal movies, I’m not picking those because this is the movie that captured my imagination. The world I would most like to live in, despite the charms of Hobbit-town.As a OG Star Trek fan, I also enjoyed Galaxy Quest immensely.

 

2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I did a review of this movie from a storytelling point of view.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/fight-philosophy-101-crouching-tiger-hidden-dragon/

I’ve said before that I grew up watching Kung Fu and Wuxia movies,  so I’m well used to the tropes used in this movie. I used to work with a rather pretentious white guy who fancied himself something of a cinemaphile. He had seriously lofty taste in movies, and occasionally tried to recommend movies to me. I don’t recall liking anything he suggested but that’s not my point. When this movie was released, he heard great things about it, and checked it out. He came back to work crowing about the wonderfulness of this movie.

I had every intention of seeing the movie anyway but I simply wasn’t as impressed as he was. For him, the movie was the greatest creation since Wonder bread. For me, the movie was a very well made version of movies I’d been watching my whole life. I heard later that Chinese audiences had very much the same reaction. It was a beautiful film but really not a whole lot different than a thousand other Wuxia movies released in the 90s. It was only a new genre to him.

The year 2000 also saw the release of Pitch Black which starred Vin Diesel, who I had never heard of before ,and one of my all time favorite comedies Best in Show, by Christopher Guest. Unbreakable was also released this year and its  one of the most awesome low-key superhero movies ever created, and I’ll have more on it later.

Ooh! Stay tuned for my 2000s movie list, later this month? Next month? And with the success of American Gods, I’d better get started on  my Hannibal Season Three re-watch this Summer, and I have a really nice post on my favorite Supernatural episodes per season. I know I keep promising I’m gonna do special stuff, and these things are sitting in my queue, they just take a bit more time to write then some of my other stuff.

Slainte!

 

Born Sexy Yesterday

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, that’s enough rambling from me.

Here! Have some links!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

1981 – American Werewolf in London/The Howling

 

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

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

1982 – Bladerunner/ The Thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

1983 -The Right Stuff

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

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

1984 – The Terminator

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

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

1985 – Fright Night

See my review:

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

Return of the Living Dead gets an honorable mention:

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

1986 – 3 Films

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

1987 – 4 Films

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

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

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

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

My review:

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

1988 – Akira

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

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

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

1989 – The Little Mermaid

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

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

1990 – Goodfellas

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

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

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

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

 

 

Musical Interlude: Kuliko Jana

First some background: The original singers of this popular song was an  Afro-Pop group called Sauti Sol, who are the Kenyan equivalent of Boyz II Men. They’ve been around since 2005, but I only just discovered them when this song came across my Tumbr dashboard. In it, this  school choir was singing this song with Sauti Sol. I immediately fell in love with this song which had been released, by Sauti Sol, sometime a couple of years ago,  on the album, To Live and Die in Afrika.

For those of you who are already in the know about these things, thanks for posting this on my dash, and I can see why you love them. I’m not a religious woman  but that doesn’t mean I can’t be moved by religious music. This is very possibly one of the most beautiful church songs, I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.

The choir that sings in the first video is the Upper Hill School Boys Choir, from the Redfourth Academy of Music in Kenya, and they are wonderfully expressive.

Please, check out all their videos on Youtube, and subscribe.

 

And this is a version by the original artist, Sauti Sol:

 

More than Yesterday

Jesus is my savior, and then my leader
He loves me more today than yesterday
His blessings are endless, he changes not like human does
He loves me more today than yesterday
More than Yesterday
More than Yesterday
Jesus love me more today than yesterday
More than Yesterday
More than Yesterday
Jesus love me more today than yesterday
I pray to you Lord to forgive them
If only they knew how much you loved me, they’d not mock me
And to my enemies I wish a long life, so that they see you bless me
Know that human beings are surprising
The rejected Jesus thrice before the cock crowed
Know that human beings are surprising
They crucified Jesus the Messiah without hesitation
Jesus is my savior, and then my leader
He loves me more today than yesterday
His blessings are endless, he changes not like human does
He loves me more today than yesterday
More than Yesterday
More than Yesterday
Jesus love me more today than yesterday
More than Yesterday
More than Yesterday
Jesus love me more today than yesterday
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
The Lord is my savior, and then my deliverer
He loves me more today than yesterday
His blessings are endless, he changes not like human does
He loves me more today than yesterday
More than Yesterday
More than Yesterday
Jesus love me more today than yesterday
More than Yesterday
More than Yesterday
Jesus love me more today than yesterday
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
You are the one I depend on, in death or sickness I depend on you father
For anything that hinders me, from getting into heaven you will remove fore me
The Lord is my savior, and then my deliverer
He loves me more today than yesterday
His blessings are endless, he changes not like human does
He loves me more today than yesterday
More than Yesterday
More than Yesterday
Jesus love me more today than yesterday
More than Yesterday
More than Yesterday
Jesus love me more today than yesterday
Kuliko Jana
Bwana ni mwokozi wangu, Tena ni kiongozi wangu
Ananipenda leo kuliko jana
Baraka zake hazikwishi, si kama binadamu habadiliki
Ananipenda leo kuliko jana
Kuliko Jana
Kuliko Jana
Yesu nipende leo kuliko jana
Kuliko Jana
Kuliko Jana
Yesu nipende leo kuliko jana
Nakuomba Mungu awasamehe
Wangalijua jinsi unavyonipenda mimi wasingenisema
Na maadui wangu nawaombe maisha marefu, wazidi kuona ukinibariki
Ujue binadamu ni waajabu sana
Walimkana Yesu mara tatu kabla jogoo kuwika
Ujue binadamu ni waajabu sana
Walimsulubisha Yesu Messiah bila kusita
Bwana ni mwokozi wangu, Tena ni kiongozi wangu
Ananipenda leo kuliko jana
Baraka zake hazikwishi, si kama binadamu habadiliki
Ananipenda leo kuliko jana
Kuliko Jana
Kuliko Jana
Yesu nipende leo kuliko jana
Kuliko Jana
Kuliko Jana
Yesu nipende leo kuliko jana
Wewe ndio nategemea, Kufa kupona baba nakutegemea
Chochote kitanikatsia, kuingia mbinguni utaniondolea (oooh oooh yeah)
Wewe ndio nategemea, (amen) Kufa kupona baba nakutegemea (oh oh)
Chochote kitanikatsia, kuingia mbinguni utaniondolea (wewe, ndio nategemea)
Wewe ndio nategemea, Kufa kupona ndio nategemea (Eh bwana)
Chochote kitanikatsia, kuingia mbinguni utaniondolea (Eh, maisha yangu yote)
Wewe ndio nategemea, (kwa nguvu zangu zote), kufa kupona baba nakutegemea (nakutegemea)
Chochote kitanikatsia, kuingia mbinguni utaniondolea (oooooooh)
Bwana ni mwokozi wangu, Tena ni mkombozi wangu
Ananipenda leo kuliko jana
Baraka zake hazikwishi, si kama binadamu habadiliki
Ananipenda leo kuliko jana
Kuliko Jana
Kuliko Jana
Yesu nipende leo kuliko jana
Kuliko Jana
Kuliko Jana
Yesu nipende leo kuliko jana
Wewe ndio nategemea (wewe), kufa kupona baba nakutegemea (wewe)
Chochote kitanikatsia (uh-huh), kuingia mbinguni utaniondolea
Wewe ndio nategemea (oooh), kufa kupona baba nakutegemea (nakutegemea)
Chochote kitanikatsia kuingia mbinguni utaniondolea
Bwana ni mwokozi wangu, Tena ni mkombozi wangu
Ananipenda leo kuliko jana
Baraka zake hazikwishi, si kama binadamu habadiliki
Ananipenda leo kuliko jana
Kuliko Jana
Kuliko Jana
Nipende leo Kuliko Jana
Submitted by John_the_User on Sat, 17/09/2016 – 08:47

The Mis-Evolution of James T. Kirk

In an awesome, long, and rather intense essay, Erin Horáková deconstructs Star Trek to expose Kirk Drift, a phenomenon in which the character in the original stories is shifted in our memory and perception towards a more stereotyped masculinity — and the change says some things about cultural biases. There’s a cartoon version of Kirk…

via Captain Kirk is not Zapp Brannigan! — Pharyngula

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

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

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

1969 – The Valley of Gwangi

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

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

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

Related image

 

1970 – A Man Called Horse

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

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

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

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

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

1971 – A Clockwork Orange

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

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

1972 – Aguirre: The Wrath of God

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

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

Image result for salem's lot vampire/gif

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

1973 – The Exorcist

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

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

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

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

1974 – Deathdream

Image result for deathdream gif

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

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

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

1975 – Trilogy of Terror

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

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

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

 

1976 – Taxi Driver

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

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

 

1977- The Last Dinosaur

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

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

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

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

 

1978- Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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

 

1979-  Apocalypse Now

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

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

 

1980- Altered States

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

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

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

Next up: 1981 through 1990.

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