Black Lightning The Review

So this review is going to be a little unusual because I’m going to talk about my Mom first. If you’ve been reading this blog then you know that she has had a huge influence over my tastes in pop culture and we often enjoy movies and TV shows together.

One of the things we really  didn’t enjoy together, very much, was comic books. I know she has read them, but she pretty much stuck to Archie and Peanuts, and those were the comics I was introduced to as a little girl. I went from there to Marvel, where I read Conan and Red Sonja, and then superheroes in the 80s and 90s. My Mom pretty much stopped reading comics, and moved on to paperbacks.

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So, while my Mom does know something about superheroes like Batman and Superman, whom she disdains for some reason, and I do remember watching Wonder Woman, and The Incredible Hulk with her, when I was a kid, she is not specifically a fan of superheroes, really. I couldn’t get her to watch Captain America, Daredevil, The Defenders or Spiderman, but I did get her to watch Luke Cage, which I consider a success. Apparently, if its a Black superhero, she will watch it, because she also really loved Blade, and seems to be looking forward to Black Panther. She binge-watched (for the first time) Luke Cage, the weekend after it aired.

Basically, I know my the kind of stuff she likes, so I tried to sell her on Black Lightning. I was only slightly nervous, because I wasn’t absolutely sure she would like it. I told her it was like Luke Cage, which I think she maybe watched too fast, because she only has vague memories of really enjoying it. (I did inform her there would be a season two of the show this summer.)

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I don’t know why I was so nervous though, because I should’ve remembered that she loved Blade, and yeah,  she loved Black Lightning. She mostly really got into the action scenes., which I have to admit were very exciting.  Now, anytime I can get my 67 year old Mom to watch a superhero show on the CW, it must be compelling. I have to tell you, my Mom is what you might call, an enthusiastic television viewer. She is very loud and vocal about what she is liking on the screen, and this was the case with Black Lightning. The loud whoops, and cheers I heard coming from her part of the house, was more than enough to vindicate my decision. She was even giddy enough to try to tell me about the episode afterwards, even though I told her I’d already watched it! I was getting a tiny bit worried because she was very worked up about Anissa having superpowers.

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I had already watched the episode the night it aired, and recorded it on the DVR. Wednesday nights are her dialysis evenings, and after her session is over she likes to watch a couple of hours of TV and fall asleep. So now she’s excited to watch 9-1-1 on Wednesday nights, and Black Lightning on Tuesdays.

As for Black Lightning, I did very much enjoy it. Its very possibly one of the most unapologetically Black things on TV, or at least on the CW.  From the dialogue, to the plot, and music, there’s a lot of cultural relevance in it for Black audiences, and this appears to have worked because the show got good reviews. I was not wrong in comparing it to Luke Cage, because the plot is very reminiscent of that show. The show isn’t related to any  of the other superhero shows on the CW. Meaning it doesn’t take place in the same universe as Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow. Nevertheless, I’m really glad a lot of non-Black viewers came out in support of the show, and seemed to enjoy it. too.

Jefferson Pierce is Black Lightning, a high school principal, who  has been  retired from the superhero/vigilante lifestyle for some nine years. He is separated from his wife, with whom he has joint custody of their two daughters,. One of his daughters, Anissa, is a part-time  sex education teacher at the school (so viewers will definitely be receiving some sex education this season, along with history lessons), and the other, Jennifer, is one of the top students at the school. When Jennifer falls into the company of a local gangbanger, who threatens her, and her sister’s  life, their father has to come out of retirement to rescue them both.

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As I’ve said before, I’m always here for some Black girl damseling, but that isn’t all we’re in for though, as it turns out that Anissa also has superpowers. She can change her physical density, which gives her speed and strength. In the comic books, her superhero name is Thunder, and her little sister, who has powers much like her father, is known as Lightning. (She has the ability to transform her body into lightning, which is all kinds of awesomeness). I haven’t read much about either of them in the comic books, even though I was a fan of Batman and the Outsiders in the early nineties. I first encountered Thunder in a story where she was fighting with her dad about choosing the superhero lifestyle. She is currently a member of The Outsiders. I suspect that title  is going to become very popular after this show.

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Black Lightning and Luke Cage (Misty Knight) will be only two of three shows, that I know of, which will feature Black female superheroes.  The other show is Legends of Tomorrow with Vixen. It will have the groundbreaking distinction of being the only show on television with a Black lesbian superhero (in the comic books Thunder is the partner of superhero  Grace Choi, who is being played by Chantal Thuy) This is notable for two reasons. Grace Choi will be the only Asian (Vietnamese/Canadian) lesbian superhero on TV, as part of an interracial couple, (where neither partner is White),  which is pretty rare.

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Another thing I liked about this show was the relationships.  We see a positive ex-wife/husband relationship. They act like mature adults who talk to each other about their lives, and raising their daughters. Its evident that Jefferson and his ex-wife still love each other, but for some reason feel they can’t be together.We get to see a positive family dynamic between a father and his two daughters, and we get to see a loving and supportive relationship between two sisters, which is also interesting on TV, as there are rarely more than one or two WoC in any narrative.

My Mom seemed especially interested and excited at the idea that the daughters have superpowers. She was very vocal about it at any rate. Which kind of saddens me, because sometimes a person doesn’t know they need something until they’ve seen it. She’s probably wanted to see Black women with superpowers her whole life. And it was not until we started getting Black directors and content creators, that she got the chance to see it. I read comic books as a kid, so I had Storm, but my Mom had none of this growing up.

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http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-comic-con-2017-black-lightening-won-t-avoid-social-1500782478-htmlstory.html

So I just want to give a shout-out to the Black  men content creators, who have not forgotten that their “sistahs” exist, and want to see representation for themselves. We want to see ourselves kicking  ass and having adventures too. Ryan Coogler, (The Dora Milaje), Cheo Hodari- Coker (Misty Knight), and the husband and wife directing team (Salim and Mara Brock Alil) of Black Lightning, have not forgotten to give Black women strong, positive roles in their new venture, something which White directors (especially White female directors)  always seem to forget, or only remember as an afterthought. Black content creators are doing the Lord’s work and I thank them for it. Plenty of little Black girls, including my niece, will grow up watching versions of themselves saving the world. And my Mom can finally get to see those Black female superheroes she didn’t know she needed.

This is one of my favorite scenes where Jefferson’s daughters surprise their father by joining him on his morning run.

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As for the more questionable stuff: If you’re having anxiety issues surrounding police brutality, or implications of rape, then use caution while watching this show. There are a lot of guns (mostly used by gang members),  but you don’t really see many people get shot, until the end of the show, (and those are all villains). There is a mildly graphic scene where a man gets eaten by piranha. Don’t ask!

I have to admit to feeling a good deal of tension surrounding the opening scene, when Jefferson gets pulled over by  cops for driving while Black, and he and  his daughters are threatened. It’s a very harrowing scene, even when you remember that none of these characters are going to die ,or there’d be no show. This doesn’t seem to be one of those shows where “anybody can die”, but only the marginalized characters ever seem to get killed, so you guys are safe on that front.

There are three primary villains in the show. One of them is a low status employee of the local drug dealer who stalks Jennifer after she goes out to a club with him. One of them is an associate of Jefferson named La La, played by William Catlett,  and the other is Tobias Whale played by the albino actor, Marvin Krondon Jones III. Although ,once again, we really need to examine this thing where people with albinism are cast as villains all the time. I’m pretty sure that such individuals don’t like seeing themselves as the bad guys all the time in popular media.

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The show tackles several topics. like the generation gap in activism, gangs, gun control in schools, and it also presents interesting ideas of how Black men handle oppression. There’s Jefferson’s manner, which is to try to lift up as many people as possible. There’s La La’s way of handling it, which seems to be just giving in, and the Kingpin-like Tobias Whale approach, which is to take advantage of the system to get ahead, and  attempt respectability.

After Jennifer and Anissa are kidnapped,  Black Lightning has to come out of retirement to rescue them. It seems the stress of being kidnapped, and nearly killed has unleashed Anissa’s abilities, so while we come into Black Lightning’s story in the middle, we will get to see the origins of Thunder and Lightning, and how they navigate the world with powers. We’ll also get to see how Jefferson deals with his children having abilities, and his daughter’s coming out,as a lesbian.

The show-runners have said that for the first season their focus is going to be on Black Lightning’s origins, and his beef with Tobias Whale. Most of his adventures will remain at the street/vigilante level, as with the first season of Daredevil ,and they’ll explore how Jennifer and Anissa deal with their new powers.

I also want to give a shout-out to the soundtrack director. Every form of  modern Black music gets represented , and I spent more than a little amount of my time not paying attention to the plot, as I sang along to some oldies, and even got introduced to a few new artists.

As with most pop culture  aimed at Black audiences, I’m mostly reading and signal boosting reviews from PoC , because I feel like these are the reviewers who can best understand  what they’ve just seen, and be able to speak to the authenticity of the show, as regards Black culture, although most reviewers, of all races, seemed to have enjoyed it.

Be here for further updates. I wont be doing a week by week review but I will keep abreast of events,  and come back to discuss some of the highlight episodes.

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Adequate Representation & Fandom Racism

 

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I think Samuel R. Delaney really summed this up best when he outlined how the rise in racist behavior from White people in fandoms (and most other ventures and organizations) is often directly commensurate with a rise in the number of PoC who are participating in said event. Not to imply causality here, but certainly there is a correlation.

 

*(Warning for graphic descriptions of lynching.)

“Racism and Science Fiction”
by Samuel R. Delany

From NYRSF Issue 120, August 1998. “Racism in SF” first appeared in volume form
in Darkmatter, edited by Sheree R. Thomas, Warner Books: New York, 2000.
Posted by Permission of Samuel R. Delany. Copyright © 1998 by Samuel R. Delany.


Racism for me has always appeared to be first and foremost a system, largely supported by material and economic conditions at work in a field of social traditions. Thus, though racism is always made manifest through individuals’ decisions, actions, words, and feelings, when we have the luxury of looking at it with the longer view (and we don’t, always), usually I don’t see much point in blaming people personally, white or black, for their feelings or even for their specific actions—as long as they remain this side of the criminal. These are not what stabilize the system. These are not what promote and reproduce the system. These are not the points where the most lasting changes can be introduced to alter the system.

 

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

 

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Delaney was specifically discussing Genre literature in this essay, but this same reasoning could also be applied to television, film, fandoms, tech startups,  travel, medicine, and academia. The reason why so many people like to look back to the “Good ‘Ol Days” and say there wasn’t any racism back then, is because there weren’t enough PoC involved in that particular industry back then, to trigger the “Pushback” behavior we’re seeing now, at least not in enough numbers that White people thought it worrisome.

There isn’t more racism being expressed in fandom. It’s the same amount of whitewashing, erasure, and White prioritization that  has always existed. The only differences now is that with the rise, in number, of fans of color, White bigots have become more  vocal in their efforts to push back against those numbers, and there are more of us to call them out on their behavior.

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Whether they know what they’re doing or not, fans are participating in an effort to drive PoC away from spaces they have always considered safely theirs, and not just against PoC, but women as well. This happens in every industry, and it has always failed.  There has never been a time when White bigots (whether they knew they were bigots, or not) successfully managed to send THOSE people back where they came from, or halt their participation in some cultural pursuit. Nevertheless, each generation of newcomers must go through the same song and dance of defending our presence, wherever we happened to show up, or defending our interest, in something we found entertaining.

And I am a WoC, so I have had to work doubly hard at this.

Star Trek Discovery Review

 

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Before we get started on the second half of the new season, let’s talk about what I liked and disliked about this new show, and do some quick character reviews. I know some of you had some doubts about this show and you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth your time, based on my observations. I’m gonna try to be as fair as I can considering I’m biased.

Let me lay out my credentials: I’m an OG Star Trek fan, since about ten or so. I’ve been around since the replays of the Original series back in the 80s, and have watched every episode, multiple times, over the last 35 years. I’ve seen every movie multiple times, can quote dialogue, know most characters backstories, from having read almost all the books , and vowed I would marry Mr. Spock when I was twelve years old. I was a Trek fan before I was a fan of Star Wars,and that’s where the bulk of my nerd-love went.

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I have to admit, I’m kinda addicted to this show, which surprised me, after my initial reserve of those first two episodes. I got into it about six episodes in,when CBS All Access offered a special subscription. As I’ve said, there’s nothing else on the network worth looking at, but I’ve heard there are some promising shows for the future, and I think this is one of them. It’s tackled a couple of sensitive issues with Star Trek’s usual care, and lack of hysteria, and it has some intriguing characters.

The major plot consists of Captain Lorca’s efforts to create a weapon that will help Starfleet win in the war against the Klingons. To that end, he has Michael’s transport shuttle waylaid, so he can use her big brain to help him to do this. Over time, we learn that he has Carte Blanche to do whatever he pleases, as long as it accomplishes his goal. When they find another ship whose crew wiped out by a hostile alien, called a tardigrade, they capture the alien, and use it, (and it’s parasitic relationship with some sentient mushroom spores) to create a new form of trans warp drive, that allows their ship to movie itself anywhere instantly.

When Michael and Stamets find out that their use of the creature is killing it, Michael, in her compassion, sets it free, and prepares to use her own body in place of the alien, to communicate with the spores, but Stamets sacrifices himself instead, and by the end of the season, they have accomplished their goal of creating a new weapon in the war, to spectacular fashion, in an episode rivaling the TNG two parter, The Best of Both Worlds. But Stamets is so changed in personality by what he has done, as to be unrecognizable from when we first met him,and there will be repercussions from that, as biological experimental weapons are outlawed in Starfleet.

 

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In the meantime, most of Michael’s actions, on the ship,revolve around her navigating  new, and old,  relationships, and occasionally saving the ship. She is usually the one person who thinks differently enough from any of the other characters (due to her dual heritage) that she is able to come up with solutions to their problems.

 

Up first:

I like the relationships and characters most of all. ST has never shied away from relationship stories. In fact, I’d argue those were some of the best episodes of any of the series. But Star Trek has always been very plot driven, too, and Discovery does not skimp on that end. I find everything except the  Klingons to be compelling. The special effects are good, and the writing is well done, often involving a primary plot, a B plot, and a couple of smaller subplots, all of them elegantly intertwined, such that what you think is a B or subplot could have an effect on the main one, at any moment, or come into play later in the season.

A word of warning:

 

This is a very dark show. If you liked DS9, then you’ll probably like this one. I was not a huge DS9 fan until after the series ended. But I like how dark this show is. The characters aren’t as blandly pleasant as they were in TNG, which I also liked a lot, or as polarizing as in the Original series. The show has dealt with war, ptsd, rape trauma, spiritual possession, revenge, and treason, and that’s just in the first half of the season.

If you’re used to thinking of Star Trek as light and fluffy, then just remember the Original series had some occasionally very dark episodes too, that addressed serious social issues, like Toxic Masculinity, in Charlie X, and The Enemy Within. It dealt with sexism in Turnabout Intruder, and frequently dealt with issues of population control, slavery, conflicted identity, and the nature of violence. One of my all time favorite episodes of Voyager was the introduction of a member of the immortal Q Continuum who wanted to commit suicide, but was prevented from doing so by the others, in Death Wish. I think that’s probably the only episode, of any of the series, to ever bring me to tears.

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If you’re looking for fun and fluffy, this has very little of it to go around. There are occasionally beautiful moments, (you can see this show costs money), and some lighthearted banter, but that’s not the focus of the show.

Now let’s talk about the six primary characters:

Michael Burnham:

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Its hard to get a grasp on this character. She really is the main focus of the show. She has most of the onscreen time,and many of the episodes revolve around how she thinks and feels, but she is not an especially demonstrative character, due to her Vulcan upbringing, and it’s takes time, and lots of viewing, to get some idea of what she’s thinking and feeling. She is brave, idealistic, and earnest. And at least is not as stiffly formal as when we first met her. She is learning to act more human, I’m going to argue that she either suppressed or ignored her emotions as being irrelevant, because that’s how so many Vulcans operate.

We need to keep in mind that the third episode and the subsequent episodes take place immediately after her court martial, so I’m guessing all within the space of a year, or a few months. Her entrance to Lorca’s ship gets off to a rocky start, as she is rebuffed by Tilley, and tested by Stamets, and rebuked by Saru, who is terrified of her. But over time, these individuals start to understand her worth, as she regularly saves their lives, and they warm to her.

Everyone questions her purpose on the ship, but Lorca knows why he wants her. She’s smart as fuck, and has no qualms about kicking Klingon ass. And I think he just admires her, for her. She has been a great asset to his ship, but no matter how useful she is to him, she has to always keep in mind that she is under a life imprisonment sentence with Starfleet, and is, basically, a convict, whose sentence has been briefly commuted. When Lorca’s mission is over she believes she will go back to prison, so that’s the sword that is hanging over her head throughout all her missions,and informs some of her decision making.

 

Tilly:

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Tilly is Michael’s roommate, and I immediately disliked Tilly, at first, because of the way she treated Michael when they first met. But, I’ve grown to really, really like her. Sometimes more than Michael, but Michael is a very heavy character, who is hard to cozy up to, because she’s so closed with her emotions. Tilly’s emotions are wide open, which makes her more easily accessible, and one of the most likable people on the show. If Michael is the intellect, then Tilly is the heart of the show, and in their friendship, we can see a reflection of the relationships of the Original series, (Kirk, Spock ,and McCoy, who often acted as Kirks intellect and conscience). The only word that can truly describe Tilly, is ” bubbly”.

She is often the comedy relief, for whom Michael plays the straight man, and has sort of appointed herself to be Michael’s emotional liaison, helping her navigate a human social system, without any rank to smooth the way, and I would argue that they are great friends, or getting there. Michael has none, so has to work out each individual relationship, as she encounters them. Tilley has also appointed Michael to be her mentor, and I can’t tell you how heartening it is to watch Michael develop the same relationship with Tilley that she had with Gheorgiu, and fulfilling Gheorgius wishes for her.

Another thing I have to applaud the show for is Tilly’s relationship with Michael is  treated as a priority for both of them, and the writers show that by not creating a trite love triangle between Tilly, Ash, and Michael. It is Tilly who shows initial interest in Ash, but when she can see that Ash and Michael have a connection, she steps aside, and encourages Michael to pursue a relationship with him. In the hands of lesser writers, Tilly and Michael would have competed for Ash’s attention, and I appreciate that these writers were more mature.

Bryan Fuller is known for having positive female relationships in his shows and I am here for it, and I love seeing it.

 

Ash Tyler:

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Ash is played by the exceptionally handsome Shazad Latif, he of the big round eyes! When Captain Lorca gets kidnapped by the Klingons, he gets trapped in a cell with Ash, who had been a prisoner for some time, and was only alive because L’Rel, a female Klingon, took a romantic fancy to him. He later talks about his time with her, to Michael, and we come to understand that he was in fact raped repeatedly by L’Rel, as he slept with her to keep from being tortured and killed, like all the other prisoners who were captured before him. When L’Rel surrenders to Lorca, she gets sent to brig and we see Ash have his first panic attack, as he suffers from ptsd. The writers handle the issues of rape, and post traumatic stress, delicately, and with respect.

After a successful mission with Michael, that saves the ship, Ash gets appointed to Head of Security, as he and Michael form a strong emotional bond. It’s not exactly a romance yet, but there is an implied intimacy of feeling between the two, and they do discuss having a future romantic relationship. Later, during a time travel episode, they share their first kiss. Star Trek has portrayed many different types of romances, but this is one of the few interracial relationships, on any of its shows, that do not involve a White partner, (most interracial relationships on TV involve a White partner), or an alien, and I think it’s handled very well, with care and sensitivity for both their issues, although I suspect it will turn out to be tragic, as the future doesn’t look good for an ex-con, whose only free on sufferance, and a Head of Security in Starfleet.

 

Lt. Saru:

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Saru is played by the inimitable Doug Jones, from Hellboy, and The Shape of Water. If you’re interested in some interesting tidbits and updates on his career (along with some great philosophical analysis of mythology in pop culture) then check out, and follow, his brothers website:

For smart, philisophocal reading on superheroes, follow my oldest brother Bobby and scroll down his WordPress entries!

Saru is another character that is hard to warm up to, but only because he’s so bluntly, and directly suspicious of Michael. I have to keep in mind that Saru is traumatized by the loss of his captain,which really wasn’t that long ago, and blames Michael, and in many ways, himself. Saru is an alien from a member of what he calls, “a prey species”, and so has developed a keen ability to detect danger. He often talks about being risk avoidant, but I’ve seen this character be brave and fearless in a couple of episodes, so I’m taking what he says about himself with a grain of salt.

Over time he does begin to warm up to and trust mIchael, but he never loses his initial suspicion of her. He’s still very wary, but the two of them reached a moment of ,if not friendship, then at least detente,when Michael is delivered Gheorgius last will and testament in the form of a giant telescope, that was her family heirloom. Gheorgius last words to Michael is the first really tearjerker moment in the series, which is only equaled by the scene in which Michael offers the telescope to Saru. In fact we learn about what Saru thinks and feels in that episode,so we reach a fuller understanding of him, even if he is difficult to warm to. He’s not a bad character. He’s not even especially dark. He’s just afraid, but I’m very protective when it comes to Michael’s character, and tend to give the side eye to anyone on the show, who doesn’t like her.

Saru is too traumatized to ever trust Michael. He is always going to be afraid of her, and what she might do, but he makes it clear that he has the utmost respect for her, and I’ll accept that.

 

Lt. Stamets:

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I think all of these characters start out as inherently unlikable, but over time you grow to like them,and none more so than Stamets. He is also a lot like Lorca, in that he is focused and needs to work on his social skills, as he is very blunt and direct, and I initially hated him. When he first meets Michael, he tests her scientific knowledge, but once she has proven she is capable, he simply doesn’t care about her past. She is a member of his crew and the only person he considers smarter than her, is himself. As a character, he is every bit as idealistic and brave as any of the other characters from previous series, and becomes much more likable after he forms an intimate relationship with some sentient mushroom spores. (Don’t ask!) Although, without the influence of the mushrooms, Stamets is the kind of person you’re either terrified of, or just want to slap the living shit out of.

Stamets is married to the ships doctor, Hugh Culber. I liked how their relationship was portrayed in the show, as just like any other. The audience is gradually introduced to them as a romantic couple, living together as partners, over time. Culber doesn’t have a huge role in the show as of this time, but we’ll see more of him as the series progresses. There’s also another one of the first (and few) gay kisses on a Star Trek show, (DS9 had a couple of them), and it is given the full romantic treatment, with swelling music, and swooping camera angles, that it should be given, as Stamets prepares to risk his life to save the ship. Earlier in the season Michael got her own romantic moment with Ash.

Culber is focused and dedicated in his work, and is an absolute cinnamon roll compared to Stamets. Nevertheless, you can see in their interactions with each other, why Culber loves him,and Culber is one of the few people who can call Stamets on his bullshit, and get away with it.

Anthony Rapp, and Wilson Cruz, are both openly gay actors who play openly gay characters, which is how it should be.

 

Captain Lorca:

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Let’s get this out of the way. You will not like Lorca. He isn’t meant to be liked, and he isn’t likable. If you’re expecting someone like Picard or Kirk, then you need to go home, cuz he ain’t the one. Picard, Kirk, and the others were captains of exploratory, diplomatic ships. They were chosen specifically for their positions because of their charm, idealism, diplomacy, candor, and all those other fine qualities. Lorca is the captain of a ship of war. He is mysterious, shifty, shady, unreliable, ruthless, conniving, and morally gray, but he is not evil. At least not actively so. He was appointed to his position for the specific purpose of puttin’ a whoopin’ on some Klingon asses, and that’s his top priority. His job, and his ship are focused on creating new weapons for Starfleet. He is focused and blunt (I can identify with that to a degree), and will sacrifice anyone or anything to meet his ends.

He likes to collect things, and his dimly lit office, (he has some kind of eye disorder that makes him allergic to bright lights) is full of all manner of alien curios, including a live tribble, and some Gorn armor. He’s intriguing and I ljust know he’s getting shipped with somebody on this show even though he isn’t close to any of his crew. He’s generally respectful but he’s not a warm man. The only time we ever see him be warm is with his lover, and oldest friend, Admiral Cornwell.

He is the kind of man that makes no effort to be the bigger person. He saves Ash from the Klingons but when he finds out that Harry Mudd is a spy for them, he leaves him behind to be tortured by them, which is something that comes back to bite him in the ass later, When his lover, Admiral Cornwell , gets captured by the Klingons, he makes no effort to rescue, her because she called into question his ability to command,and planned to report him to Starfleet. And although there are no details, the loss of his light vision is directly attributable to some dust-up he had with Klingons.

It’s interesting that no mention of him is made in any of the other series, which take place long after his death. So I do wonder what happened to him and the technology he created in this show. I very much suspect that he and his ship are destroyed, or are lost somehow. Although we need to keep in mind which universe this show takes place in. Is it the 2009 Star Trek Verse, or the Original series/movie Verse?

 

Favorite episodes:

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Episode 6: Lethe – This one is about Michael’s relationship with Sarek, her decision to join Starfleet, and a mystery she needs to resolve between the two of them to save Sareks life. Some great character work from Sonequa, and Frain.

Episode 7: Magic To Make the Sanest Man Go Mad – This was my all time favorite episode, which surprised me because I’m familiar with the old Harry Mudd episodes from the Original series,and those were not my favorites. So when I heard that the new series would re-introduce this character, I automatically dismissed him. But this episode proved extremely likable.  And Rainn Wilson makes a very compelling Harry Mudd.The events of this episode are directly brought about by Lorca’s previous actions in an earlier episode.

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*There’s a scene where the crew is having a party and the music you hear playing in the background is definitely Al Green’s “Love and Happiness”, and Wycliffe Jean’s “We Tryin’ to Stay Alive” and  Tilley refers to this as Classical music. (All you gotta do is put some of my favorite music in your show to make me a fan for life, apparently. ) Michael dances with Stamets, and Ash and Michael share their first kiss. This episode sets up Michael as being qualifying romantic potential.

Episode 8: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum – I actually think this is one of the weakest episodes of this season, because the plot is rather typical, what sets it apart is Doug Jones awesome performance, as an exceptionally dangerous being, possessed by another alien species. This episode belongs entirely to Lt. Saru.

Episode 9: Into The Forest I Go – The last episode before the hiatus is just some great plotting,as far as I’m concerned. Outside of the Harry Mudd episode is the second best of the season, and a great setup for the major changes to come in the second half.

 

The show picks up the second half of its season on January 9th. And while I’m looking forward to new episodes, I’m kinda pissed that I have to wait a week between them as CBS has string the episodes out to keep people subscribing to their channel. They seem pretty aware that the only reason any of us signed up for it is to watch this show,and that as soon as it’s over, we’ll drop this channel. Hopefully, they’ll release some new shows before we all feel an urge to cancel it.

Hi! Have Some Mini Reviews

Attack of the Killer Donuts

Yep! Its attack of the Killer Donuts. I was eager to watch this the moment I heard about it, but didn’t know where I’d be able watch it. I thought maybe it would take at least a year for it to reach the Syfy channel, maybe. Its actually on a library app called Hoopla. (If you have a library card, and your library subscribes to Hoopla, you should be able to access free books, movies, comic books and music.)

Yes, this movie is exactly as stupid as it sounds, carrying on in the grand tradition of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and stars our boy, Ponyboy,  I mean C. Thomas Howell, yucking it up, as a cop who naturally, loves donuts. I’d list the other actors in this movie, but you still wouldn’t know who they were. It’s an entire cast of nobodies, who will never be anybodies, because that’s just how atrocious their acting is.

It’s hard to make a parody of a parody, but this movie actually  manages to successfully spoof Killer Tomatoes. Johnny is a hapless loser, whose blonde bombshell girlfriend cheats on him, and who doesn’t recognize that  his childhood friend, Michelle, has been totally crushing on him. He lives with his Mom, while his uncle lives in the basement and does weird medical experiments on rats. Also, his Mom is secretly sleeping with his nerdy best friend, Howard. Johnny works in a local donut shop that’s been going out of business for years because the town is nearly dead.

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Michelle is a techinical genius, who fixes computers, in her spare time. Unfortunately, her shiftless, dumbbell brother takes all the credit, and refuses to pay her for it. Michelle has been crushing on Johnny since they were little kids, and I totally bought into their relationship. The actress is good  enough, and there’s just enough backstory, to be able to sell her friendship with Johnny. Why does she love him, especially since she’s the smartest person in town? Because it’s in the script.

When Johnny’s uncle’s weird resurrection experiment manages to contaminate some donuts, the infection soon spreads to the rest of the shop, where the donuts come alive, sprout giant teeth, and decide to chew their way through the town’s inhabitants. Do not stop to ask yourself pertinent questions like: Where did they grow those teeth from? How are they moving around without legs?  Where is all the flesh they’re eating going to if they don’t have stomachs? And do the donuts produce poop? Never mind all this! Just enjoy the sheer goofiness of watching crullers, twists, and creme filled long johns, flying through the air, and trying ot bite people.

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I got a real kick out of this movie, though. It’s not very deep and I got a few hearty laughs out of it. The characters are definitely meant to be mocked and ridiculed. The three smartest people in the cast are Michelle, Howard, and Johnny ,who manage to fight off the donuts, and prevent possible donut Armageddon, by beating back the donuts using a combination of bravery and batlike objects, and blowing up the donut shop. The body count is pretty  low, but only because the movie doesn’t have a large enough budget to star more than ten to twelve people anyway.

The characters who are meant to be liked are likable, and you root for them to survive. The characters who are meant to be hated, are hatefully over the top, and you gleefully hope the donuts will eat them, like Johnny’s asshole boss, who allows Michelle to be bullied and sexually harassed by some dudebro customers, and Johnny’s faux-girlfriend, who is only with him because he keeps giving her money. Michelle is waaay too pretty and smart for Johnny, but that’s also on purpose. Heroes in these movies are almost always outshone by their girlfriends.

The stars of the movie though, are the donuts who chase, bounce, jump, bite, and generally act like a pack of rabid weasels. Occasionally someone  eats one of the cursed donuts and they, in turn, become rabid, and attack people, too. These are some of the cheapest, funniest special effects, I’ve seen in a while and I loved it! You could do worse than spend a happy, mindless, 90 minutes with this movie.

 

Star Trek Discovery

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I re-subscribed to CBS All Access because they offered some kind of special to sign back up. Of course I’m sure they realize, that as soon as the first season of this show is over, I’m going to unsubscribe to this  channel, because there’s not a whole hell of a lot to offer on this network. I generally don’t watch CBS. (They don’t have especially interesting shows, there’s almost no diversity, and there’ aren’t a whole lot of movie choices, either.)

Well, I subscribed so I could watch the first half of the first season of Star Trek Discovery and I have to say. I’m hooked! It took about three days to get through the first 7 or 8 episodes and now I’m invested. Like a lot of shows that do so, it improved from the pilot episode, with the introduction of new characters and themes.

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The first two episodes don’t really give a lot of indication of what the show will be like the rest of the season, and by the 4th and 5th episodes the show has definitely developed its flavor, with a good balance of light heartedness, and seriousness. Michael Burnham’s character takes a real turn when her prison ship is diverted to the Discovery by Captain Lorca.

Michael isn’t well received on the ship. Most people either hate her or fear her, except for Lorca, and her roommate, Tilly, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. There’s also been the introduction of a love interest named Ash Tyler, played by the lovely Shazad Latif, who was rescued from a Klingon ship, suffers from PTSD, and may be a Klingon spy. I’m also really liking Anthony Rapp’s character, after I hated him in the first couple of episodes. Something happened to him that made him much more likable and approachable, without changing his essential nature.

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Each episode has a philosophical theme, that can get a little bit heavy. and I’ve gotten the impression that a lot of the kids on Tumblr aren’t used to Scifi shows being like that, I guess. But if you’re an OG Star Trek fan you should be well used to that sort of thing. The show definitely captures the spirit of Star Trek, if not the exact timeline and details. One of the things you may have the hardest time with is people cussing, and actual (not implied) sex scenes, because up til now, its mostly been a very PG type of show.

I’ll do a more in depth post on this later this month, after I’ve had some more time to think about the characters and plot.

 

Justice League

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Certain parts of this movie I really enjoyed, mostly any scene that didn’t involve Batman, or the villain. The end of the movie is a hot and colorful mess. The pacing is off, the music is annoying, just really, this could have been a  better movie.  But there are things to like about it. The most compelling story is Cyborg, and I wish I’d gotten to see more of The Flash, because all we got from him is quips. He still turned out to be my favorite character in the entire movie, which was a suprise because I thought it would be Aquaman. (Cyborg is too grim and tragic to be a favorite, although I really liked him, and I look forward to his solo film.)

It doesn’t help matters that every time I heard the villain’s name, I thought of the band Steppenwolf, (I did not know this was an actual character in DC comics.), and the funky remix of Magic Carpet Ride would play in my head.

 

Thor: Ragnarok

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This was a much better movie, even though I was trying really hard not to compare it to Justice League.  I really love Taika Waititi, and his brand of humor is stamped all over this movie, plus there’s a lowkey anti-colonialist message underneath all of the fun.

My favorite moment is Hela’s entrance into the story, and the introduction of Fenris. I didn’t know I needed to see a giant wolf  until I saw it. The Hulk turned out to be a lot funnier than I thought he would be, and of course, Jeff Goldblum was gold! Tessa Thompson was having waaay too much fun blowing shit up, and catwalking her way through the action scenes, and I loved it. Heimdall has a much larger role in this movie, and I’m eternally grateful at getting to watch Idris Elba kick some ass with a giant sword.

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Funny moment #213!

I had a great time!

 

Blade of the Immortal

I used to read this Manga back in the nineties, becasue that’s what I was doing back then, reading Samurai Manga, and binging YA novels. If you’re looking for a fairly faithful rendition of the manga, this will do.

Manji is about to die in battle when he’s approached by some type of immortal nun, who infects him with something called blodworms. The bloodworms heal any injuries he gets, no matter how severe or life threatening. In the books, he can only be killed after he kills 1000 men. Well, in the movie its been 50 something years, and he hasn’t killed 1000 men yet, when he’s contacted by a woman, Rin, who wants him to avenge her family’s deaths at the hands of the local sword fighting school.

I really love Samurai movies, ever since I first watched Seven Samurai, and will watch almost any one of them. I really liked this one, but not for the story, which I found not too remarkable. I liked it for the gore and sowrdfighting. I’m pretty sure Japanese viewers will get a lot more out of watching this movie than I did, but for me it was all just eye candy and some great fight scenes. And there are a lot of those, and naturally, there’s also a lot of blood. Blood and appendages are flying all over the place in this movie, re-attaching themselves, only to be lopped off later in the film. While this has the unintended side effect of muting any danger that Manji might be in, Rin is still in peril, and you’ll have to settle for a will she or won’t she survive type of thrill.

 

Valerian and the City of One Thousand Planets

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I was really hyped to see this movie because its got creatures, aliens, scifi costumes, and action and adventure, and I like Dane Dehaan. I ended up being disappointed, not because this is a bad movie, but because  it has so little substance to it, and I just expected more. Despite all the alien candy on display, the most fascinating thing, in the entire movie, was Cara Delevigne eyebrows. Talk about eyebrows “on fleek”. I kept staring at them, wondering when she had time to do her makeup, with all the shooting and running around she had to do.

I was also mildy excited because there was a big deal about the  singer Rihanna being is in this movie, as a shapeshifting character named Bubble, but she doesn’t appear until about 3/4 of the way in, and is killed off soon after, as she sacrifices her life for the two White protagonists, after one of them tortured her for information. Everything aobut this character is just bad, when looked at from the perspective of race. Everything!!! She’s toyalty of some kind, who was kidnapped and enslaved, and reduced to the level of a sex worker, (who is happy to be whatever you want). The worst part is that this tragic character is meant to be a form of comedy relief.

So let’s get this right:

Enslaved? Check!

Sex worker?Check!

Torture of yet another PoC? Check!

Comedy relief? Check!

Sacrifices herself to save the White protagonists? Check!

*Sigh!*

It’s like the writers went through a list of all the  Black film stereotypes they could find and wrote the character around every one of them. It wouldve been better if this character had never existed at all. (That would still have not improved this film however.) I know Rihanna is a huge scifi geek because she said so, but she really needs ot choose her nextproject with more care. I had no trouble with her performance of Bubble, however. She came across as funny and sweetly vulnerable.

There’s a lot of action in this movie. A lot of running around all so that everyone can end up in the same place, which has the side efect of making you think all the running around was to no purpose, a series of film vignettes, loosely based around the movie’s McGuffin. There is the same underlying theme of colonialism as in Thor Ragnarok, but it’s so nebulous you can barely see it.

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And so am I.

 

Thangs I Been Looking At (Mini – Reviews)

Ghost Wars

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I’m  impressed with this show, ,not just for its good production, but because it’s actually scary. I don’t normally pay much attention to literary ghost stories, but movies and TV shows seem to work for me a bit, although I still prefer monster movies, where normalcy has been upheaved by something that’s blatantly malicious, and then order is restored after the creature is defeated. Ghost stories are too open ended for me to really get into them, and sometimes they’re just not very scary to me.

The ghost stories that actually scared me were The Sixth Sense, Ju-On, and, The Ring. In my mind, everything made since those movies have been nothing but ripoffs of the originals. But I actually like this show. There’s just enough uncanny shit happening to keep me off balance. I like the characters and their issues. The acting is better than I expected (because Vincent D’onofrio is present as a town preacher.) and there’s also just enough social subtext to make it compelling.

 

 

Roman Mercer is the town outcast because he can see ghosts, especially the ghosts of regular townspeople, so he has a reputation. In the pilot, he was attempting to leave town, but there was some type of explosive paranormal event that prevented that, and killed the bus full of people he’d been on. (His best friend is a young lady who is also a ghost, and she warned him about the bus crash in advance.)

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So now this remote Alaskan town is being overrun by ghosts, who are definitely malevolent. What event awakened them all, and what the ghosts want, is still a delicious mystery, that I’m here for. The ghosts can possess people, cause nasty hallucinations, like when the town preacher, while giving a wake in the town bar, sees blood pouring from his drinking glass, and they cause people to believe the town bridge  is still intact, when its been destroyed. The only thing that saves everyone is that Roman can see through the hallucination, and prevent people from trying to drive across.

There have also been some interesting character changes as the townsfolk who didn’t believe in Roman’s abilities, now have no choice but to believe, as they are being attacked by ghosts, and those who did believe in Roman’s powers, and hated him for it, have since realized his usefulness, and stopped bullying him.

 

Kim Coates and Meatloaf also star in the show. I’ve liked Coates ever since I first saw him in Waterworld, although he’s been around since the late 80s. In the show he plays either a lovable rogue, who is responsible for his little brother’s death, or the town ne’er do well. I wasn’t sure of Meatloaf’s acting abilities until I saw him in Fight Club, although I’d also seen him in other projects. He plays one of the town bullies.

I think I’m going to stick with this show for a while. The Syfy Channel is slowly starting to build back its reputation for interesting shows, and I’m glad. The Expanse, Dark Matters, Killjoys, Z Nation, Superstition, Ghost Wars. By focusing on character, paying close attention to diversity, (lots of women in these shows, lots of PoC, and most importantly lots of different WoC), and coupling these things with interesting  concepts, Syfy is slowly getting back its street cred as a network that geeks are not ashamed to admit to watching.

 

Superstition

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I really like the idea of this Black family that fights supernatural creatures in this small town, and I have tremendous respect for Van Peebles for breaking new ground, just by adding racial diversity to genre shows. He’s done Westerns (Posse), and werewolves, (Full Eclipse), and now he’s taking a crack at the Supernatural/Buffy style show, involving family dynamics with monster killing.  I don’t know how long this show is going to last because I haven’t seen many people talking about it anywhere, but I hope it at least finishes out one season.

The problem I have is with the execution of the ideas on the show. The acting could be better, (its a little dodgy) and the plot needs to be beefier. I feel like it should’ve lead with the demons/monster plot, and then worked in the soap opera aspects, once we got to really know the characters. I  think the plot leans a little too heavy on the drama, and we just met all these characters, so we have no incentive to care about their emotional issues.

The Hastings are basically a bunch of badasses who use deadly weapons and magic to battle the forces of evil. The eldest son was estranged from the family, but has come back home, and been welcomed back into the family business of monster killing, so we learn about what’s going on just as he does, as he needs to be taught the ropes.

Sadly, not much was known about this show before it aired and the only place I saw any promos was on the Syfy network itself. The network does not appear to be as invested in this show as it seems to be in other shows, like The Expanse, and Z Nation, and that’s why I don’t think this show is going to last very long. But I’m here for it while it airs.

 

Stranger Things Season Two

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I get why people like this show. There’s a definite nostalgia factor, and those kids are cute as all heck, but My feeling about the show was kinda meh. its not a bad show, and it has excellent production values, but I just wasn’t deeply invested. I wasn’t carried away, I guess.

Maybe part of the reason I didn’t find this especially compelling is because I didn’t watch the entire first season. I saw bits and pieces of it. Enough to get a general idea of what was happening, but not all the tiny details, like names. I liked all the little 80s callbacks, and I liked quite a few of the characters. Wynona Ryder plays Michael’s Mom, and she was her usual excellent self. Sean Astin plays her love interest, and he is a goofily cheerful character that I sort of liked. The most interesting two characters were Lucas, and his seeming love interest, a ginger haired skater- girl ,who just moved into town. Lucas’ friendship with her causes a minor riff between the four friends.

Eleven escapes from her overprotective adoptive father, but after the two of them have a falling out,  she finds herself having adventures in the city, where she falls in with a group of thieves led by another girl with tattoos, and the ability to cause illusions. She eventually leaves them when she receives a premonition that Mike is in danger. Eleven’s activities are the most interesting part of the show.

Michael, the boy who befriended Eleven in the first season keeps having visions of a massive creature that has infested (infected) the entire town. He develops a connection to it, and eventually becomes possessed by the creature. When the rest of his family and friends realize what’s happening they spring into action to prevent the creature’s release, into the town, from the local  medical facility, but its already too late, as one of Michael’s friends has befriended a small  frog-like creature that turns out to be a juvenile form of the monster.

I didn’t dislike the show, and I bingewatched all ten episodes, but I wasn’t wildly enthused either. I can recommend it if you don’t have anything more pressing to watch, or if you just really love 80s nostalgia. Really, the most compelling thing in the entire show was the monster, and I want to see season three because I’d like to know what’s going to happen to it, and Eleven.

 

Jeepers Creepers 3

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Don’t worry. I didn’t pay money to see this movie. At any rate I couldn’t have even if I wanted to. Sensing that people wouldn’t want to associate too much with the cinematic output of a convicted pedophile, the movie’s creators sought only a limited, one day, release, before sending it directly to video, or rather the Syfy Channel where I saw it the weekend before Halloween.

I did not care for this movie because it’s a confusing mess. It takes place between the first and second films, but that isn’t immediately apparent, as only two of the characters from the first film appear in it, and only one of the characters from the second. Ridiculous things happen in the movie that I couldn’t make sense of, and even though there’s a lot of exposition, (I mean a LOT! People talk and talk and talk.) all the talking didn’t make anything about this movie any clearer.

Most of that talking is is from a brand new character, a cop named Tashtego, who is constantly stressing to the other characters how evil The Creeper is and that he must be killed. There’s lots of shots of he Creeper being his usual weird and nasty self, terrorizing teenagers, eating people, etc. For some reason, someone thought it would be a grand idea to prominently feature the creature’s truck, which is tricked out with various booby traps, which is what the police find out when they try to investigate the dead bodies lying in it, and a pack of obnoxious teenagers find this out too before they’re promptly caught and killed by The Creeper. He still likes to hunt  pretty young men, but occasionally takes time out of his busy schedule to terrify a woman or two.

One ofthe most baffling scenes is the discovery of a disembodied hand of The Creeper that gives people visions when they touch it. This isn’t something that was even hinted at in the first movie, although in every film, there’s the one character who seems to mystically know shit about The Creeper, so as to give more exposition on him. Exposition that illuminates not at all.

Since The Creeper can’t actually be killed, and we saw him in the second movie that was released we pretty much know how this one ends. He doesn’t get caught. At any rate, it matters not one bit, because I don’t believe Salva will be making any more of these. I sense that the makers of this movie just wanted to release it quietly, and get it off their books, and get Salva out of their hair, so I don’t think he’ll be making another Creeper movie any time soon. It’s very possible that he won’t ever be making any more movies again, since no one wants to be associated with him, especially in this new climate of awareness involving past sex scandals.

 

Seoul Station

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I was really excited to get to see this, the moment I heard of it, especially after watching Train to Busan. Seoul Station is an animated pre-quel to the live action Train to Busan, and its every bit as harrowing, nerve wracking, and action packed as the movie, despite the medium. It takes its time getting started but like the live action movie, once it gets going it doesn’t let up, doesn’t let you have a rest, and you get attached to the primary character just as in the other film.

In Seoul Sta. we see the beginning of the zombie infestation, and how it managed to escape notice until it got out of hand. This happens the way it always does by affecting the poor and underclass first. We meet a young woman who just escaped prostitution with  an abusive pimp, but the man she’s currently  living with isn’t much better. He’s having money issues and keeps trying to convince her to sell herself so they can pay the rent. At one point he hits her, and she;s so used to being treated that way she doesn’t even fight back.. (I wasn’t expecting that scene and it kind of threw me for a bit, so here’s my warning in advance. If you have trouble watching such things,s know the movie contains scenes of stalking and domestic abuse.)

We follow this young woman for the rest of the movie, after she breaks up with her current boyfriend. She barely manages to stay one step ahead of the zombie infestation, running from one seemingly safe place to another, only for those places to be overrun by the dead. From a police station, to the subway, to an alley that’s been cordoned off by the police (who think its all some type of insurrection), she has to use all her strength, and wits to stay ahead of the zombies, while wearing nothing more than a little pink dress and bare feet. She’s not an entirely sympathetic character either, as one of her most annoying traits is a complete inability to close doors behind her, thereby exacerbating her zombie issues.

In the meantime she’s also being pursued by her current boyfriend and her former pimp, both of whom have try to make their way through the zombie infested streets of Seoul. I was a little confused at first, because I thought her former pimp was her father, but it turns out he’s just lying to enlist her boyfriend’s aid in finding her.

A funny observation  about this movie (and I don’t know if this is just something that’s done in the movie, or if people in Seoul actually behave this way) are the many people who are  willing to verbally harangue strangers in public. From her landlady screaming at her about her late rent, to when she screams at her boyfriend at a cyber cafe, to random disturbed people on the street, characters are forever running up to others and screaming at them. Needless to say you cannot do that shit in America, where you just run up on somebody and start yelling, especially during a Zombie apocalypse. (You will get your ass beat for that just on a regular Tuesday.) Sometimes they just scream gibberish, but sometimes the rants are very specific. At any rate, some of this behavior serves too illustrate the lives of the rather downtrodden, and in some cases, criminal individuals.

Unlike the live action film, none of the characters are your typical salaried workers, which is a refreshing change from American made films, in which we watch your standard  American family endure some kind of crisis. Some of them are not the least bit nice, or innocent, either. There are homeless people bullying each other, and salaried workers, who treat the homeless characters with disdain and contempt. I don’t know if the creator is trying to make some kind of social argument about life in Seoul, or not, though.

Seoul Station is available right now for free on Amazon Prime, (or for rent). This is an absolutely excellent double bill, with its sequel, but you’re going to have to rest between films, because neither will give you a moment.

The Mummy

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I was not impressed by this movie. In fact, I think I hated it. Tom Cruise looks worn and tired, the plot is rather lackluster, and I was not expecting Russell Crowe to be shamelessly overacting in this movie. Its not a bad film, in the sense that the people who cared about it, tried their best, to make it look good, but the movie is simply uninspired. The first Mummy movie in the last trilogy at least had a feeling of freshness in its lead female character, Evie. Here the only female character we are meant to pay attention to is boring and flat, and the other one is the villain.

Essentially, The Mummy tells the origin story of how a modern man gets chosen by an ancient priestess, Ahmanet, to be the avatar of the Egyptian god, Set. It would’ve been a much more interesting movie, if they had just stuck to the portion dealing with Ahmanet, but you know Hollywood hates WoC, because its unthinkable to them that one of them (namely Sofia Boutella, who is actually Egyptian) would ever be the head of her own franchise. Franchises must be led by your standard white guy named Chris, or Tom in this case. One of these days Miss Boutella will be treated with respect and won’t have to kiss tired looking men, twice her age, to be in a movie.

Tom should  stick with those Mission Impossible, and Jack Reacher movies, which I actually like. He looks as if he’s enjoying himself in those, and I like a Tom Cruise film in which he appears to at least be having some fun. Here, he  looks like he can’t wait for the movie to be over, and seems like he’s just going through the motions until it ends.

I was only mildly excited to see this in the theater, and I’m glad I didn’t waste my money. My advice is to skip this and watch the 1999 version again.

Bladerunner Blackout 2022

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The third prequel  short based on the movie Bladerunner 2049 has just been released. It’s my understanding that it’s not necessary to have watched these shorts to understand the movie. They’re more along the lines of extras on a DVD, but just like with The Animatrix, I hope they make more of them and collect them all into an anthology.

Here, in chronological order, are :

Bladerunner 2022: Blackout

 

Bladerunner 2036: Nexus Dawn

 

 

Bladerunner 2048: Nowhere to Run

 

And for those of your still interested in the world of Bladerunner, the writer K.W.Jeter, wrote a trilogy based on the original film back in the  nineties, which I enjoyed.

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Blade Runner Sequels

 

 

And finally the Philip K Dick book at the foundation of all this wonderful eye candy:

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Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 5 (2011 – 2017)

Here it is! This is the final part of the movies of my life series, where I list my favorite movies for each year I’ve been on Earth. This has been an eye opener for me too, as some of these I hadn’t really thought of in quite this way before, and the realization that so much of my earliest movie watching experiences are the product of Mom, and nostalgia.

My tastes really started to branch away from hers in my teens, which I suppose is normal. I’m still a lot more adventurous than her, when it comes to choosing movies. I’ll go anywhere I think is interesting, while she likes to stay in her comfort zone, although I can occasionally talk her into watching new things.

 

2011: Attack The Block 

I did a review of this movie here:

 https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/why-we-love-attack-the-block-2011/

This movie is mostly notable for starring my precious cinnamon bun, John Boyega, in one of his first movie roles.

I had two other movies to choose from,The Tree of Life, and The Road. I would have chosen one of these but The Tree is such a complicated film to describe, it would take an entire post just to parse its meaning. The movie has no straight plot, and is really nothing more than a series of images and vignettes with voiceovers loosely strung together with a theme. I love it, not  for its philosophy, but for its mood. The imagery, and music are beautiful, and it has a lot of quiet moments where scenes simply play out to their conclusion, with no explanation.

http://www.scholardarity.com/?p=1361

I love The Road but I was never going to chose it as my top film for this year becasue while it has a hopeful ending, it’s really just  too bleak and depressing a movie to ever be considered enjoyable. I really like Viggo Mortensen though, and think this is very possibly one of his best films.

https://reelrundown.com/movies/The-Road-Movie

 

2012: SkyFall

This year saw the release of The Avengers movie, which was a lot of fun for me; the movie Chronicle, with Michael B Jordan, which I’ll be discussing in another post; The Amazing Spiderman, which I absolutely did not hate, but didn’t love enough to make it my choice for my best movie this year, and finally Django Unchained, which I defended in an earlier post.

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

But my choice for this year is Skyfall. I wasn’t a big fan of the first two Bond movies but I like this one. I think it perfectly captures Bond’s  washed up nature, fighting for a corrupt  political system,  that sees him as expendable. I think David Craig does some of his best acting here. For me, the film was most enjoyable for the introduction of Ms. Moneypenny, played by one of my favorite actresses, Naomie Harris, and its development of M’s character, who does not come off looking too good.

 

 

2013: Snowpiercer/Afflicted

This movie was a tie between SnowPiercer and the movie Afflicted. I reviewed Afflicted here. I think it’s one of the best vampire movies I’d seen in a long time.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/geeking-out-about-afflicted-2013/

As for Snowpiercer, what can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said by better writers than me.:

https://no-award.net/2014/08/01/snowpiercer-the-revolution-cannot-be-trusted-if-its-white/

https://alanw2000.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/snowpiercer-analysis-bong-joon-hos-sci-fi-masterpiece-by-alan/

http://aldianews.com/articles/culture/film-television/snowpiercer-and-one-white-dude-rule-them-all/34908

 

 

2014: Captain America The Winter Soldier

I had a really hard time choosing between Captain America: The Winter Soldier, It Follows, and What We Do in the Shadows. Ultimately, I chose Captain America because  I really enjoyed all three movies in the franchise, and What We Do in the Shadows is such a lightweight, silly thing next to these other two movies. There’s nothing wrong with lightweight, but it just didn’t win out against these two heavyweight message movies.

I’ve done two reviews of It Follows, that’s how intrigued I was by this movie:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/it-follows-2014-more-thoughts/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/the-monster-it-follows-2014/

I’ve also done a review of What We Do in the Shadows, which cemented Taika Waititi as one of my favorite film directors, forever, and one of the main reasons why Thor: Ragnarok might make my favorites list for this year:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/geeking-out-about-what-we-do-in-the-shadows-2014/

I am working on yet another post about Captain America right now, but I have done an entire series of posts on its characters, Sam Wilson, Steve Rogers, and Black Widow. i love it for its message,its characters,  the action scenes are top of the line, and its sentimental moments, which callback to the first movie.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/on-the-right-captain-america-and-iron-man/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/black-widow-lying-liar-who-lies/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/sam-wilson-to-be-rescued/

 

 

2015: Mad Max Fury Road

Most people think I would have chosen Star Wars Force Awakens because of my love for John Boyega/Finn, but really the characters were my only real reason to love it, and I’m also mad because Han Solo was killed, and I haven’t gotten over that yet.

No, the movie that did it for me, this year, was Mad Max Fury Road. I’m a total George Miller stan. His Mad Max movies were so influential,during the 80s, that every post-apocalypse movie since, has tried to ape his style…and failed! They simply could not capture the essential something in his movies, which were  combinations of intelligent writing and ferocious action, and Fury Road is no different. An action movie with a message that every post-apoc movie will try to ape in the future…and fail! For me, Fury Road was my Wonder Woman, (which is another reason why I wasn’t too impressed with that film.) One of the few woman-led actioners against which all others will be compared.

 

2016: Train to Busan

This was one of the best zombie movies in the past few years in my opinion. This is me, squeeing about this movie:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/train-to-busan-2016-2/

I have another post on its comparison to World War Z later this year.

 

 

2017: Logan, Get Out, Spiderman Homecoming, and ?

I haven’t yet chosen a film for this year yet, but the three films in the running for my favorite so far, are: Logan, Spiderman Homecoming, and Get Out. I’m also greatly looking forward to the yet to be released films, Thor Ragnarok,  Justice League, and Bladerunner 2049. I might choose one of them. We don’t know! What do you think, I’ll choose?

 

My Favorite Michael Jackson Videos

The King of Pop’s Birthday is coming on August 29th, and I just wanna celebrate it with a list of my favorite videos. There’s no argument that Michael Jackson revolutionized the music video genre, in a way no one else had before him, when he released Thriller, waaay back in 1982.

In 1982, I was 12 years old. I had been listening to, and watching Michael dancing in videos, since I was a tot. My Mom loved the Jacksons. She named my baby brother after two of them. (I received a more normal sounding name becasue I was born before the Jackson craze.) So yeah, because Mom loved The Jacksons, we grew up loving them too, although I can’t think of anyone in my neighborhood who didn’t.

When Thriller was released, Black people collectively lost the entirety of their shit. The videos released from that album were such major events, that there were specially televised.  There was no thing such as social media at the time. It was all word of mouth, and Michael was all anybody talked about. People dressed like Michael, tried to dance like him, he popularized the Jheri Curl…

 

Image result for the jheri curl

And all this was before cosplay was really a thing.

And when he released the video to Billie Jean… well, lets face it! There was no more cooler person on Earth than the King of Pop. Genius is a word that gets bandied around so much these days, but really it should only be reserved for people who changed the world so much while they lived, that all others will be compared to them long after their deaths. Michael was a dancing, singing genius.

Anyway, all of that is to say I have a long list of favorite Michael Jackson songs, but only a few videos really make the  cut. Here they are in no particular order:

 

Billie Jean

There was nothing cooler at the time then those flooding pants, white socks,  that everybody starting rocking after this video came out. I was more impressed by the light-up sidewalk. There’s a great deal of mystery happening in this one. The beat and dancing are prefect, as always.

 

 

Thriller

I think everybody knows the dance from this video. I remember watching this with my family, as it was a major television event at the time, and all anybody talked about at my school  for about a month.

https://youtu.be/sOnqjkJTMaA

Stranger in Moscow

I think the cinematography is just beautiful here. its one of the few music videos that can bring on tears. Its simply gorgeous.

https://youtu.be/pEEMi2j6lYE

Smooth Criminal

I love the dancing in this video. And of course I love to watch Michael dressed up as a gangster anytime. The spats and the silhouette suit him very well here.

https://youtu.be/h_D3VFfhvs4

Earth Song

This is one of my Mom’s favorite songs, and one of my favorite videos. This is another one of those videos that made me cry when I first saw it. The power of Michael’s voice, his message, and the imagery, are all literally breathtaking.

https://youtu.be/XAi3VTSdTxU

Who Is It

There’s so much mystery going on in this video, and the homage to Blue Velvet wasn’t lost on those who watched this.

 

Remember the Time

This is one of my all-time favorite videos ever. This is very possibly one of the Blackest music videos ever made. Of course I wasnt going to miss The Supreme Goddess, Iman. She just looks stunning.

https://youtu.be/LeiFF0gvqcc

Scream

This is the only video, in which both  Janet and Michael starred,  at the height of their careers. I liked the playfulness and pseudo-attitude. Its just fun to watch, even if the plot is  completely baffling.

 

 

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.”

 @@ 

 

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.

.

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.

.

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.

 

@@

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.

 

@@

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.

 

@@

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.

 

 

@@

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

Image result for kanye west/george bush gif

 

 

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

Image result for grace jones boomerang gif

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.

Image result for frozone and his wife gif

 

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

Image result for angela bassett/ waiting to exhale gif

 

untilstarsfall

Queen Latifah’s bad bitch girlfriend in Set It Off

 

LORDT
@@
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

Image result for at the movies

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

Image result for sex and gender

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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