…And Then It Imploded!

All four of these huge racial implosions happened in the space of a year:

 

Star Wars

This one started in December, just after the release of the last film in the Skywalker trilogy.

In the latest news on racism, we have John Boyega, now that he is free of Disney, which means he is also free of any promotional obligations to them, is lowkey stating what every Black person has felt about the Star Wars fandom, since he first encountered its most toxic members nearly six years ago: F*ck you arseholes!

For the past two weeks he has been trending on Twitter and certain members of the fandom are mad as hell! Here’s an overall  assessment of the situation from Youtube’s Clownfish TV.

This entire thing is so long and convoluted that I cannot possibly go into everything wrong with this fandom. So here’s some links, most of which are all kinds of fun as John speaks in his own words, on his own terms, and let’s  toxic fans have it.

I have long observed that you do not come for British actors and comedians on social media. They are a class of entertainer who have absolutely zero f*cks to give as regards American’s delicate feelings, and tolerate no nonsense from us. Yes, it is primarily Americans who are acting a damn fool about all of this. Americans are so used to throwing their weight around in other countries, that I’m not surprised we try the same shit on social media, and then act surprised when people from other countries push back.

https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2486615/john-boyega-get-candid-about-stupid-star-wars-fan-conflicts

https://www.cbr.com/star-wars-john-boyega-toxic-fandom/

Incidentally, both Kelly Marie Tran, and Oscar Isaac, both pulled a Mark Hamill, and have made it clear they are through with this particular  Disney franchise, and were dissatisfied with how their characters were mistreated in the story. This entire thing must have been especially trying for Kelly Marie, who started out in the franchise as a sweet and bubbly newby, who was excited by her new role, was having a lot of fun, and looking forward to an illustrious career, and look what the so called “fans”  did to her.

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

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/star-wars-actress-kelly-marie-tran-reveals-how-she-coped-with-internet-trolls-after-casting-201413884.html

Tran, Boyega, and Ridley have endured years of trolling and bullying from a virulently toxic fandom. (Daisy, less so since, as she isn’t on social media.)

 

American Gods

This happened in the fall of last year:

In October and November of last year, one of my favorite actors, Orlando Jones, found out he’s been fired from the cast of American Gods. where he played Anansi, and African Trickster god. Here’s the timeline of the event from Orlando’s viewpoint. According to Orlando, it’s a complete, racist,  wtf*ery…

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Here are Jones’ comments on his departure from American Gods.

September tenth, 2018, I was fired from American Gods. There will be no more Mr. Nancy. Don’t let these motherfuckers tell you they love Mr. Nancy—they don’t. I’m not going to name names, but the new season three showrunner is Connecticut-born and Yale-educated, so he’s very smart. And he thinks that Mr. Nancy’s angry get-shit-done is the wrong message for black America. That’s right, this white man sits in that decision-making chair, and I’m sure he has many black BFFs who are his advisors, and made it clear to him that if they did not get rid of that angry god Mr. Nancy, he’d start a Denmark Vesey uprising in this country. I mean, what else could it be?

To the wonderful Neil Gaiman, thank you for allowing me to play this role, for writing this wonderful book, for opening the door for me to become a writer/producer on season two of American Gods, thank you, sir. To the magnificent Bryan Fuller and the incredible Michael Green, thank you for creating this series and for allowing me also to become Mr. Nancy. I hope the fans enjoyed it, because really this is about you. I hope you loved it as much as I loved doing it, and, you know, we’ll see each other again real…

https://slate.com/culture/2019/12/orlando-jones-fired-american-gods-mr-nancy-charles-eglee-starz-gaiman.html

I have no plans at this time to watch the third season. The showrunner for hte first season was Bryan Fuller who is an exemplary showrunner, and out gay man, and has no problems with writing complex, and sometimes, controversial shows. The second season saw new showrunners, and while the season wasn’t a bad season, the drop in cohesion and quality was noticeable. I expect it to drop even further wit hthe ousting of Orlando, and a writer’s room that doesn’t want to be bothered writing its Black characters.

That some of it held together at all, is apparently due to Orlando Jones stepping in to help write not just his own character, but many of the of the characters of color  on the show, as the writers couldn’t bring themselves to be bothered to do it, and for which he received no producer credit. They also did not announce his firing in a timely enough manner for him to audition for a new position in an another show.

Here’s what Orlando stated, in his interview with TVLine:

I showed up in Season 2 of American Gods, and they hadn’t written for my character at all. They certainly knew I was coming. That was literally the studio’s job. And they didn’t do that job. And I wasn’t the only person: They didn’t do it for all of the characters of color. So if you really care about these characters of color, then why don’t you write for them? So, I found myself in a very odd situation, because Neil Gaiman was the one who asked me to write a [character] Bible for Mr. Nancy [at the start of Season 2]. I didn’t jump into the writing process and throw my weight around. I was invited by Neil Gaiman. And when I wrote that character Bible and sent it to him, I got back a message I wasn’t expecting. As a fan of the human and, you know, as a writer myself, I was overjoyed. It was all caps the email, you know, “I F–KING LOVE IT. Spread it around.” …I spread around that character Bible. And I suddenly found myself writing, not just Mr. Nancy, but Ibis and Salim and the Jinn and Sam Black Crow and Shadow Moon and all of the characters of color who weren’t written.

Not only did the creators of the show fire Orlando Jones, but they also got rid of the Jinn and Salim, the only MENA actors in the series, and the only openly gay couple (which the show was too chickenshit to show last season), that I’ve ever seen on TV.

I don’t think the creators on these shows realize what a massive fanbase some actors of color have, and Orlando has a huge Black fanbase on Twitter, with whom he regularly interacts. They are incredibly loyal, and vocal about their love for him, and producers and creators of these shows do not understand how much we certain Black actors, They need to recognize that it is that fanbase that’s tuning in to watch these shows. Celebrities like Orlando, Viola Davis, and Gabrielle Union, have a huge cache of good will in our communities, and to dismiss or disregard it, is sheer stupidity.

What has happened since is that about half the main cast has vacated the show. Mr. World. The Jinn, Salim, and New Media.

 

******

What happened here is not that much different from what happened on Sleepy Hollow. A show that was based on a Black female character got new showrunners, who mistreated the lead actress, and decided to focus more of their writing on the White characters in the show to the point where the original lead actress was simply written out of her own show (and replaced by a lighter skinned actress, btw). Not because of anything she’d done, but because the writers either didn’t want to focus on her,  didn’t know what to do with her character, or were too lazy to write a woman of color.

I say let this new season of American Gods go the same way as Sleepy Hollow. its not a good look when a successful show keeps cycling through more and more mediocre (and cheaper) showrunners. I won’t be watching the new season, and believe we should ignore it until it goes off the air. Don’t talk about it, don’t tweet about it. Let the third season be its last.

https://wearyourvoicemag.com/entertainment-culture/the-sleepy-hollow-ing-of-american-gods

Last week, Jones went public on Twitter about being let go from American Gods, citing that Eglee did not think the “angry” message was the right one to send to Black America and that he would know since he writes from “a Black male perspective”. 

What we are witnessing, once again is “whitening” of a show. Every time Hollywood creates a show aimed at a Black audience, they consider that audience to be expendable once the show gets good ratings. They then try to reset the show to appeal to whiter audiences, instead, get rid of everything that drew us to the original story-line (watching characters of color in a fantastic setting), and  considerably “lighten” the characters each season thereafter.

The decline of American Gods and its once sharp-as-nails grasp of the concept of race in America mirrors such issues, with the departure of Mr. Nancy bringing the casting of Herizen Guardiola as Yoruba goddess Oshun back into question. Oshun, sans her appearance in Lemonade, has always been depicted as a beautiful, darkskinned goddess. And it takes a specific type of toffetry and caucasity to assume the opposite and also assume that there cannot be two darkskinned goddesses onscreen at the same time (re: Bilquis).

*****

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But the producers of American Gods aren’t just in trouble for this issue. Fremantle Media, an Australian based company, that usually produces Reality TV shows, is being investigated for the firing of Gabrielle Union, a Black actress from America’s Got Talent.

https://www.kingofreads.com/a-complete-timeline-of-the-gabrielle-union-americas-got-talent-saga/

The Romance Writers of America

Most of this happened in December of last year, and continues to now:

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Last year, I published a link to an article on the lack of diversity n romantic fiction, and how women of color were fighting to be included:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/04/fifty-shades-of-white-romance-novels-racism-ritas-rwa

********

NOW:

The Romance Writers guild imploded earlier this month ,in a series of vents which has culminated in the mass exodus of at least a third of its members. Here’s a timeline of the events, as we understand them:

https://www.claireryanauthor.com/blog/2019/12/27/the-implosion-of-the-rwa

********

a summary of my understanding of the situation

  • courtney milan is a chinese-american romance author and was the chair of the romance writers of america ethics committee
  • she wrote a twitter post where she called a book by kathryn lynn davis ‘a fucking racist mess’ (because it was)
  • davis and suzan tisdale file a complaint because How Dare She
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  • are you guys seeing this because oh my fucking god ARE YOU SEEING THIS
  • “it was the nineties and she did a lot of research into chinese people, you’re just racist against white people”
  • they kicked courtney off the board because of this
  • immediately people started resigning because that’s horseshit
  • so many people resigned
  • SO MANY
  • it turned out the people resigning were some of the only people keeping the absolute bugfuckery of the people in charge at bay
  • the decision was rescinded like “oh whoops our bad” but like?? too late????
  • all the dirty laundry is coming out on twitter
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  • there are petitions to get the president, president-elect, and executive director of rwa recalled because they’re clearly fuckups
  • either the rwa is going to need to go through some big changes, or a lot of authors (particularly queer authors and authors of color) are going to have to make their own org
  • the founder of rwa was a black woman so bigots taking over is especially fucking galling
  • courtney milan is also the reason we have dinosaur emojis
  • that’s not really relevant except who the fuck steps to the woman who got us dinosaur emojis

 

  • Courtney Milan is not only a great author and the person who gave us dinosaur emojis.
  • She is also a lawyer who clerked for Federal Judge Alex Kozinski.
  • In 2017 she spoke the WaPo and exposed Kozinski’s pattern of sexual harassment, also shedding light on how the clerking system’s confidentiality rules created an environment in which it was effectively impossible to make complaints about the judge one served under.
  • This is a massive clusterfuck from the ground up, but particularly because Milan is just about the worst possible person to fuck with in a situation like this.
  • The Board also took on the Case of the White Lady Publishers Who Don’t Like WoC Pointing Out Racism on Twitter, but has this same week refused to speak on Dreamspinner Press not paying authors.
  • So that’s a look at the priorities of what is *supposed to be* an authors’ advocacy professional org.

courtney milan managed to do a TON of good while she was on the board by taking neither prisoners nor shit, and being very vocal about calling out fuckery in the community, but now it’s looking like there were people within the rwa looking for excuses to get rid of her for exactly those reasons

hopefully they’ll be able to get the org back into good hands, because otherwise that’s a lot of resources that are going to go to waste (think: millions of dollars) while good people have to start over

 

******

*This entire timeline has resulted in the  canceling of their annual awards event.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/01/08/romance-writers-america-cancels-awards-program-writer-racism-controversy/

 

 

The Knitting Community

This began around this same time last year, and wound up in the Summer months:

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Since this event began Ravelry has banned any form of support for Trump from its website. You can still be a conservative and discuss politics, you’re just not allowed to openly express any support for him, or his administration, on the site.

We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.

This includes support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content. Note that your project data will never be deleted. We will never delete your Ravelry project data for any reason and if a project needs to be removed from the site, we will make sure that you have access to your data. Even if you are permanently banned from Ravelry, you will still be able to access any patterns that you purchased. Also, we will make sure that you receive a copy of your data.

We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.

The Community Guidelines have been updated with the following language: “Note that support of President Trump, his administration, or individual policies that harm marginalized groups, all constitute hate speech.”

Policy notes:

  • You can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
  • We are not endorsing the Democrats nor banning Republicans.
  • We are definitely not banning conservative politics. Hate groups and intolerance are different from other types of political positions.
  • We are not banning people for past support.
  • Do not try to weaponize this policy by entrapping people who do support the Trump administration into voicing their support.
  • Similarly, antagonizing conservative members for their unstated positions is not acceptable.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xwnp4a/the-real-reason-ravelrys-ban-on-white-supremacy-is-surprising

 

 

Geeking out About: The Watchmen TV Series

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Last Sunday was the season finale of the nine episode Watchmen TV series, on HBO,  and I’ve been having all kinds of thoughts. From the first episode, to the finale, my thoughts have just been all over the place. This show took me on a journey, but it was satisfying, and I’m not as angry with Lindhelof as I was when the series began. This makes up for some of his past transgressions, like Prometheus, and the ending of Lost. I was exasperated by some of it, some of it galvanized me, and some of it made me feel really, deeply, some type of way. The plot is a little too intricate to get into here, but I have provided plenty of links, for those who are curious.

First off, the series is a direct sequel to the comic book, and not the much maligned movie from a few years ago. This story (most of it) takes place thirty years after the events in the book, with flashbacks to some periods in between. I talked about the setting  in a  mini review.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2019/10/28/october-viewing-list-ii/

 

Review

https://tv.avclub.com/life-on-earth-gets-a-lot-weirder-but-watchmen-continue-1840145375

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And People’s Thinky Thoughts:

 

https://www.vulture.com/article/watchmen-hbo-easter-eggs-references-episode-guide.html

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https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a29592776/watchmen-redfordations-racial-injustice-act-explained/

https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a29565670/watchmen-hbo-backlash-controversy-white-supremacy/

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https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/10/20/20919750/watchmen-hbo-regina-king-review-damon-lindelof-race-policing

https://www.thedailybeast.com/hbos-watchmen-pisses-off-comics-fanboys-its-woke-propaganda

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https://www.motherjones.com/media/2019/12/the-best-tv-show-about-racism-was-a-comic-book-fantasia-heres-how-watchmen-did-it/

Viewing List – November Edition

These are the reviews from things I watched in October and November. I will try to make these as short as possible, but y’all know I’m good at blabbing about TV shows, so wish me luck with that.

 

Dolemite is My Name

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I was kinda excited about seeing this, nevertheless i was surprised by how much I liked this movie, and I can think of no better actor to play Rudy Ray Moore than Eddie Murphy, a comedian I have  always had tremendous respect for, and who really doesn’t get enough credit for all the work he’s done, in the past 30 years.

Now, I have to give a little bit of background here. I grew up in the time period in which this movie is set. I would have been 2 maybe three years old at the beginning of the movie, but I have very distinct memories of grownups being really excited about Moore, and Yes, I did encounter a couple of those racy album covers in my mom’s collection, but I don’t think she knows I remember she was a Rudy Ray Moore fan.

I have a very clear memory of mom, and her then boyfriend, taking us to the Drive-in to watch The Human Tornado, which came out in 1975, and was a sequel to Dolemite.  I would have been five, and my brothers would have been 3 and 4. She would have had the assurance that, since we were babies, we would all be asleep by the opening credits. I don’t think she knows I was wide awake No, I wasn’t scarred for life or anything, but I definitely  remember parts of  the movie, and even some  it’s theme song. I know this is a genuine memory because I have never seen the movie as an adult.

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Anyway, all this to say that this definitely brought back some memories. There are some things about Black culture that only Black people know. I’m gonna let y’all in on a little secret.

Black people have our own stories, which seem to parallel stories from other cultures. Most of them you’ve probably never heard of,  unless you grew up in the culture, or have parents of a certain age, like my Mom. My mom used to tell us stories about the Signifyin’ Monkey, the lion, and the elephant, (only without all the cursing, and never the whole story, since its fairly raunchy.) Probably not the sort of things one would tell one’s kids today, but things were different back, then, and my Mom was kinda weird. It has a pretty long history, too. If you have ever  read American Gods, Anansi tells a story that is directly based on the folklore tale , titled How the Monkey Got the Tiger’s Balls:

Numerous songs and narratives concern the signifying monkey and his interactions with his friends, the Lion and the Elephant. In general, the stories depict the signifying monkey insulting the Lion, but claiming that he is only repeating the Elephant’s words. The Lion then confronts the Elephant, who physically assaults the Lion. The Lion later realizes that the Monkey has been signifyin(g) and has duped him and returns angrily to castrate the monkey, rendering him unable to reproduce.[3]

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

http://mogley.tripod.com/monkey.html  

The Signifyin’ Monkey is part of the Dolemite theme song. Since this is a Rudy Ray Moore biopic, there’s a lot of cursin’, and some mild nudity. Its not half as raunchy as the actual Moore, but I think he’d be satisfied with what was shown in this movie.

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I also enjoyed it outside of the nostalgia factor. There’s a scene, in the early part of the movie, where Rudy encounters a plus size woman whom he recruits into his comedy troupe. This woman later  became known as  Queen Bee, who was every bit as raunchy in her style of comedy as Rudy. The story is arranged in such a way that you’re meant to cheer Rudy as a driven, hard working man, who triumphs against the small minds of others. Needless to say, most comedians probably couldn’t get away with most of the comedy routines, in this movie. The seventies featured a lot of new culture, that we take for granted now, and one of those things was raunchy Black comedians.

There were plenty of Black comedians before Rudy, who said some fairly racy stuff, but they mostly worked what was known then as The Chitlin’ Circuit, which were a collection of venues where only only Blacks could perform, since they still, even in the seventies,  considered too raunchy to play in the mainstream (i.e. White ) circuits. Rudy was one of the first of these type of comedians to go (sort of) mainstream, in that even White people heard about him, although he still would never have been invited on The Johnny Carson Show. So, the movie is one of those low key inspirational films, about overcoming racism in Hollywood. The first half of the movie is very caught up in people telling Rudy “no” , telling him what he can’t do, or making fun of him for wanting certain things, and Rudy going off to do those things anyway.

I have since learned that Eddie Murphy has received a Golden Globe nomination for this role. but I don’t think he will win. He does some great work here, but its not the best work he’s done, and really, I thought it was a walk in the park for him. He can play this type of role in his sleep. But I did enjoy watching him, because his charm makes the occasionally cringey plot, very watchable.

 

The Mandolorian

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I am loving The Mandolorian, and not just for the Baby Yoda scenes. (No, that isn’t actually Yoda, but some distant descendant, since this series is set after Return of the Jedi.) This series is full of some of the classic themes we expect from Star Wars. George Lucas has said the original Star Wars was based on the works of Japanese film Director Akira Kurosawa, most specifically, Seven Smaurai, and you can see some of the influence here.

In fact the series heavily reminds me of the Japanese Manga called Lone Wolf and Cub, in which an itinerant samurai, a ronin, wanders the Japanese landscape, with his tiny son, searching for vengeance, and  getting into various adventures. The only differences between that, and The Mandolorian, is the son doesn’t have force powers, isn’t on anybody’s wanted list, and isn’t half as cute as Baby Yoda. The show takes care to focus on the relationship between Mando and Baby Yoda, too. There are a lot of really cute moments between them, and the public seem to have really taken a shine to the little guy, much the same as his adoptive Dad.

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Its also a classic story about a character’s personal growth.  Mando starts out as a bounty hunter, who is just there for the work, so he can buy some new armor, but makes the decision to take the baby and run, rather than deliver him/her to his clients. There are larger mysteries which haven’t been answered yet, like who exactly is the Mandolorian, why does everyone want the baby, and where did this baby come from.

The production values, the costumes, acting, and special effects, are all top notch. It really does have the look and  feel of one of the movies, which makes it very easy to watch, although this luxury comes at the expense of the episode running times, which never get beyond 45 minutes. I can live with that, especially since the action scenes are the highlight of the series. In one of the earlier episodes, there is a full on fight between a team of Mandolorians and the various ne’er do wells, and criminals, on the planet on which they’ve all been hiding out. When CG is used, its mostly for the creatures, and action scenes, and is largely invisible, as its supposed to be.

 

 

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War of the Worlds – BBC Version

 

There have been umpteen different versions of this show. A book, a radio program that, as it is rumored, gave some people the shits back in the thirties, as they thought it was real, several movies from the fifties to the nineties, one of which starred Tom Cruise, another TV show, and now this.

Its a three part miniseries from the BBC, and so far I’m really liking it. Its got some nice production values. You can see where the money went in this one. The special effects are well done, and not that usual cheap TV stuff you sometimes get in big idea shows, and the show, quite frankly, looks gorgeous. The acting is acceptable,  although the only actor I truly recognize is Robert Carlisle.

And this show is not fucking around with its theme. H.G.Wells wrote the novel as a reaction to the British annexation of the Congo, and the atrocities that were being committed during the colonization of India. He wrote a book about the violent colonization of England by a superior technological force, as a condemnation of the British Empire’s activities, and the show makes this connection loud and clear, right in the opening credits. In the first fifteen minutes of the show, you hear characters having conversations about the might of the British Empire, and how wonderful it is to live in such a powerful country. By the end of the first episode though, the Martians have shut that talk down.

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There’s also some melodrama involving the two stars of the show, Rafe Spall, the brother of Timothy Spall, as a fellow named George, and Eleanor Tomlinson as his paramour, Amy. The two  are madly in love, but cannot be together, because George’s  wife refuses to divorce him, She hates him, and wants to remain married to him just to spite him. The family is scandalized, his older brother,  is outraged, and the  the rest of the community don’t know how to think of this thing, where the two of them are living together, unmarried. Plus Amy is pregnant.

I was not initially interested in the melodramatic aspect of the show, but the show does this thing, where it flashes back and forth to the future, after the alien invasion has been conquered, but the Earth is a literal hot mess, because the aliens weren’t just there to invade, they were terrraforming. Amy is wandering through the red deserts of what used to be England, with her young son. She has been separated from George for a long time, but still holds out hope of finding him. I didn’t care, at first, but I decided that I liked the characters. At least, I liked Amy, and that seems to be enough for me to start to care the rest of it.

The show opens with her and George witnessing the launch of the ships from Mars. Its a little different from the movies, because the ships look like meteors as they land, and that’s hat people think they are. They look like black globes that float off the ground, and are capable of setting people on fire from a distance. The tripods break out of the ground after the globes explode, and start their rampage, although the tripods aren’t so much interested in annihilating people, as they seem to be in seeding the planet with various gasses and chemicals. Like I said, this is not an invasion, exactly. They are transforming Earth into another version of Mars, and if you look at the flash forwards, their mission seems successful.

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I did have some criticism about characters doing stupid things, but this is only because this is one of those situations where the audience knows more about what’s going to happen than the characters do, so there were a lot of instances where people are standing around looking at things, while I yell things like ,” Get the fuck out of there!!!!’, and, “Run!” There are  various government officials who act like the mayor from Jaws, and simply bluster uselessly at the reports they’re getting from other parts of the country, about the annihilation of entire towns, even though the city is filling up with refugees from those areas. The British are so full of themselves about the initial events, that I have to admit, it was a bit satisfying watching them get their asses handed to them by the Martians, which point the show is trying to make. Basically, the show is saying that the British “ain’t all that!”

There are lots of closeups of boiling ant colonies, along with images of English people living their best lives, not unlike the ants, walking the streets of their mighty London, and looking quite busy, and the tripods themselves look very insect like, such that there is a connection being made between the idea of  invasive species, and the colonizing aliens, and that what is being done to England by the Martians, England is currently  doing to other countries, and been quite proud of themselves for it. We know the English are proud of their activities, but we don’t get any idea how the aliens feel, though. There are scenes where people touch the black globes that have dropped to Earth, and see smeary lingering images of their hands and faces, in the glossy sheen of the alien device, in a very,  “We have met the alien, and they is us.” type moment. So yeah, the show ain’t being  coy regarding its critique of British empiricism.

The setting for the various iterations is England, at the height of the British Empire, when it was engaged in the violent colonization of different countries. The English were largely brought low after WW2, (look up London Blitz), so its interesting that the first American version showed up in the fifties, (1953), when America, having won some victories during the war, (and starting to feel itself to be the shit) began engaging in its own world dominance behavior. (Before the War, America pursued an isolationist stance.) The 1953 version, (and subsequent invasion movies, like Strange Invaders, and Independence Day), were not about the humbling of America, so much as they were  America conquering some  great enemy, against all odds.. The 2005 version is a response to 9/11, where its made clear that the alien invasion is a stand-in for the terrorists, and America doesn’t triumph, so much as get lucky.

Not all alien invasion movies are violent. Some of them are enlightening, like 2001, and/or  hopeful, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This series is in the truest spirit of the book, however, which was a rebuke to British hubris.

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* https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/movies/2012/06/13/Behind-the-fiction-lie-factual-themes-in-alien-movies/stories/201206130200

Once they were analogies of the Cold War or Vietnam. Sometimes the underlying theme is corporate greed, environmental destruction or fears of technology supplanting humans. The movies feed on public fear of enemies from abroad, which in today’s world, he said, could even include mortgage bankers.

The Irishman (Netflix)

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*****Here Be Spoilers****

 

Let’s  get something out of the way first.

Yes, I’m aware of what Scorsese has said about the current crop of superhero movies, and yes, I was offended, until he clarified his statements in a recent Vanity Fair article. I’m glad he did, because I was prepared to stay mad at one of my all-time, favorite directors. Well, I’m not as angry, but he is not wrong. He’s not right though, mostly because I don’t think its fair to compare the two types of movies. They serve very different purposes for their audiences in that one type of film consists of exciting power fantasies (like the first half of the movie Goodfellas), and righting wrongs, and Scorsese’s films seem to be about the consequences of that amount of unchecked power,  and what it actually gets you. Superhero movies make no claims of depth.  They are not dramas, although movies like The Dark Knight, The Winter Soldier, and Logan come very close.

The Irishman had a brief theatrical run, of about a week or two, before it settled on Netflix, which is where I viewed it, with a great deal of anticipation. There’s a lot of backstory about why the movie is airing on Netflix, but I’m not covering that here. Like a lot of people, I went into this expecting something similar to Goodfellas, and Casino, since Scorsese seems to have some sort of lock on the depiction of  White men in the mafia life. The movie is definitely about gangsters, and appears to be having some kind of dialogue with the other two films. It would be interesting to watch all three of these movies back to back, to see what they are saying to, and about, each other.

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I loved this movie, and I wasn’t expecting that. Everyone involved is at the top of their game. I didn’t think Scorsese had a lot more to say about the mafia life, that he hadn’t already said, but he does.

Like the other two films in this trilogy, it’s a meditation on crime and regret. I think a lot of people have had a  very wrong takeaway from Scorsese’s movies. Although he seems both fascinated with , and terrified of, this lifestyle, he definitely does not approve. These are the kinds of people he knew growing up, and he seemed to have kept, in the forefront of his mind, that they were not good people, no matter what their claims of nobility, or  how fascinating their lives were.

These films are not a glorification of their lifestyle.  Henry Hill, in the last third of Goodfellas, just flat out states this. Scorsese has never sugarcoated who and what these people are. The violence in these films is always  sudden, and brutal.  Hill spoke on the topic in Goodfellas, but here its just shown. Scorsese always  has  his characters realize, by the end, the horror of the decisions they’ve made. Every participant ends up  dead, or regretful, and there is a an onscreen commentary, on the fate of each one of the character’s introduced, in the film. The bottom line is, if you choose the mobster life, because you have romanticized notions about it, it will end badly.

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I knew a young Italian man, in college, who told me that his father met some people in the life, but he also told me that one of the key things is never to invite them into your life. Don’t ask them for favors, don’t hang out with them in their places, don’t befriend them. They’re like vampires. You have to let them in.

A classic example, is the restaurant owner from Goodfellas, who allows Tommy, and his friends, to frequent his restaurant. Just like Henry did as a child, he thinks its exciting to be associated with these men. He admires the life, and believes he is friends with them, until the time comes for Tommy to pay the massive bill he’s run up on his tab. These guys are just taking advantage of him, but he is still too enamored of their life to see that. In an effort to get Tommy to pay his bill, the restaurant owner goes to Paulie, (Tommy’s boss), and makes Paulie a partner, in exchange for taking care of Tommy’s bill. Paulie takes advantage of him too, until he  goes out of business, as they steal  him blind, eventually the restaurant gets burned down for the insurance. The owner romanticized their lifestyle. He failed to see them as the unprincipled thieves they were. He invited them in, and he lost everything. The same thing goes for the character of Spider, a mirror of the young Henry, who romanticizes their lifestyle, and gets killed by Tommy, for standing up for himself, with not a single tear shed by any of the witnesses.

The Irishman  follows another low grade member of a mafia crew, a hitman named Frank Sheeran, (Robert DeNiro), as he befriends various mobsters, and paints houses (carries out mob hits). Most of the movie is about his friendship with Jimmy Hoffa, (Al Pacino), and his confession that he killed him, after being assigned to do so by his then bosses, one of which is also a close friend, Russell Bufalino, played by Joe Pesci. The movie is based on a book by Charles Brandt titled “I Heard You Paint Houses?”, which is the line in the movie said by Pacino, when he and Frank first meet over the phone. So once again, you have someone who invites these people into his life. Hoffa knows who, and what, these people are, but he romanticizes the life, and has an outsized sense of his worth to them.

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Right away, the mood and setting are very different than the other two movies, (Goodfellas and Casino), which open with exciting scenes of violence, (and interestingly, with men in cars). This movie is reflective and melancholy. The opening scene is a quiet shot of Frank, in a senior citizen’s home, reminiscing about his past, to his lawyers. The movie is a flashback, but unlike Henry Hill”s story, Frank has no misty-eyed remembrances for the things he’s done. He joined the mob because he was a soldier who needed to do something with his life, after he came back from the war. He didn’t join because he loved the life, or glorified its denizens, and this is probably why he survived, although that’s no consolation, either. He is an old man filled with regret, and we come to have some amount of sympathy for him, although Scorsese never lets us think, for a moment, that he is a good guy. Nor does he show Frank as vicious or evil, for its own sake, although the things he does, are indeed,  vicious, and evil. Scorsese presents him as just a guy, who made the best choices he could, in the circumstances presented to him.

Deniro definitely deserves some form of recognition for his role here, but the two major highlights of the movie, for me, was Al Pacino’s Jimmy Hoffa, and Joe Pesci’s much quieter turn, as Russell Bufalino. You want to be reminded of his role as Tommy in Goodfellas, but this character is wholly unlike him. Bufalino is smarter, and more calculating, with a cool menace that the hotheaded, showboating, Tommy lacked. He and Frank become friends, and get to be quite close, but Frank, (and hence the audience), never forgets the power dynamic between them. Russell is his boss, and should Frank prove to be a threat, or an inconvenience, Russell could have him killed, and it would be just business.

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This was the most interesting part of the movie for me. Y’all know me. I love to watch different types of  characters interact. It’s interesting because movie audiences don’t often get to watch the  process of two grown men, who have been steeped in pride and machismo, their entire lives, put themselves in the vulnerable position of trusting a stranger, while navigating the power and violence of their positions,  to  become friends. You can see them feeling the other out, trying to reach a place of comfort. I found myself totally caught up in the moment. The faint distrust, and the questions they ask of each other, without actually asking them: What do you want from me? Are you a stand up guy? Will you give me straight answers? Can you be trusted?

Frank’s relationship with Hoffa is covered just as deeply. The most  fascinating part, is comparing how trust is shown between Frank and Hoffa, and Frank and Russell. Scorsese doesn’t fall into the trap of having the characters make grand declarations of how much they love and trust each other. There are scenes with Frank and Russell hanging out with each other’s families, or having dinner together. Some scenes with Frank and Hoffa are just them talking in Hoffa’s bedroom, before he goes to sleep. At one point, Hoffa nods off while talking to Frank, he trusts Frank so completely, and Frank just quietly sits there for a while, watching him sleep, and glancing out the window, and that scene is unexpectedly moving. It’s hard to know what Frank is thinking during that scene. The specter of violence hangs over everything he does, and that scene is even more tragic, when you know what happens between them later.

There are not a lot of women in this movie, and none of the men have any moral standing. The moral center of this film is Frank’s daughter, Peggy, (Anna Paquin) who sees her father beat a man on her behalf, when she is a child, and this impacts her relationship with him, for the rest of their lives. She gets probably three lines in the entire movie, but Scorsese sets her up, by giving us long closeups of her face, and her disapproval, and fear, of her father, (and by association, Russell), is apparent. We don’t need a loud, dramatic shouting match between them, to know that she has seen what kind of man he is, and  will never love him. Frank tries to reconcile with her before his death, but she will have none of him.

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Frank doesn’t just regret the things he did when he was younger, but all the familial relationships he let fall by the wayside, while prioritizing his relationships with the men he worked for, all of whom are now dead. He has to pay for his own funeral, buying his own tombstone. There’s no one alive, who would come to his funeral, anyway. The movie ends with Frank, alone in his room. He is the last one left of that old life, and he has nothing to show for it. Once again, Scorsese presents the mobster lifestyle as empty and meaningless. If you don’t die horribly, at the hands of someone you trusted, then you die alone, with no one to care.

There’s a lot of the movie I didn’t talk about, like the cinematography, and music, which are pretty standard for a Scorsese film, with some upbeat sixties songs, the most prominent song being, In the Still of the Night, by The Five Satins, which bookends the movie. There are two opening scenes, one with Frank beginning his story in the nursing home, and the other, the beginning of the story, which features him and Russell, taking a road trip, with their wives. The movie starts out really cute, with the wives fussing with their husbands in the car. Everyone is very comfortable with each other, at first, but as the trip continues, the tension begins to mount, as we overhear increasingly nervous phone calls between Russell, Frank, and Hoffa, finally culminating, in the last third of the movie, in Russell’s order to Frank.

The cinematography is superb ,as usual, but there are a few uncanny valley moments in the film as Deniro, Pesci, and Pacino had to be de-aged in a few of the scenes. The de-aged faces aren’t as emotive as their actual faces, so I kept getting jarred out of the story, by wondering every now and then, how the actors got de-aged for their roles, but this doesn’t happen a lot, and is easily ignored. If you’re not a fan of Scorsese’s mobster films, this still may be worth a look for you, because its very different in tone, but I do have to warn you,  that just like in the other movies, the violence is flat, graphic, and unforgiving. When it comes to acts of violence, Scorsese does not fuck around, or wince. People get beaten and shot, and there’s a harrowing scene where Frank shoots up a restaurant full of people. I have become a lot more squeamish, as I’ve gotten older, and these scenes were hard for even me to watch.

Despite its three hour run time, the movie didn’t make me feel restless at all. I sat through the entire three hours, and never missed them, or a moment of dialogue. The movie simply pulled me right in. It was moving, with moments of sheer horror, and is a testament to Scorsese’s skill as a director, as nothing is explicitly stated by any of the characters, yet its message is loud, and clear. I don’t know if this movie will be nominated for an Oscar. It, and everyone involved, should.

The Irishman is the best movie I’ve seen this year.

SCP: Special Containment Procedures

 Hi! Welcome to my new obsession!

The shared world of SCP has been around for about ten years now, but I’m just now hearing about it, and I’m kinda mad about that. SCP is a shared world anthology series, not unlike Wikipedia, about an organization somewhat like the Men in Black, that does all of the above for paranormal events, people, places, monsters, objects, and any other things that may potentially harm humanity, are just plain weird, or anomalous.

SCP is old enough  that you can spend weeks reading about the different events, protocols, and monsters of this universe, some of which are truly terrifying, some of which are deeply funny, and some of which are just cute. Anyone can contribute (once you’ve done your research) usually in the form of stories about the organization’s encounters with the weird, dangerous, and/or paranormal. Strictly speaking, there isn’t any canon, and writers are free to reference other characters, events, and  monsters in their own works. Some of these works take the form of personal narratives, fictional stories, biographies, and internal memos of the various anomolies.

For those of you have a little trouble with the written word, there is a huge trough of videos about SCP on YouTube, some of which are audio versions  of  the more famous and popular encounters, some are examinations of various creatures, and artifacts, and explorations of events and places.

For a quick rundown of the past ten years, including stories about experiments, first encounters, and biographies of the hundreds of creatures, beings, places, artifacts, and events, you can visit the following Wiki:

SCP Foundation

 

What is the SCP Foundation?

Most of the things featured, in this shared world, are about monsters, (and y’all know I love monsters), but there are also quite a number of benign objects, and a few downright cute ones, which are often classified not just according to their level of danger to humanity, but how much, or how little, procedure is involved in containing them.

I spent the entire weekend watching videos about the different creatures, places, and events of the SCP, from the funniest (a company that that will get a regular, plain, ol’ llama out to you immediately, no matter where in the world you are), to the most terrifying, ( a god-like creature, that is  set to destroy the world, after the breaking of seven chains, six of which have already broken), to the cutest, (a small orange blob that loves to be tickled, and might be the savior of humanity! ), to just the oddball, (a vending machine that can dispense almost any beverage that can be imagined, a shower curtain that kills you with your worst fear, and a company that specializes in selling dinosaur meat.)

 

There are a number of different  “object” classes, and the site is also used as a guide, for writers who wish to contribute to this shared world experience:

Safe

Safe-class SCPs are anomalies that are easily and safely contained. This is often due to the fact that the Foundation has researched the SCP well enough that containment does not require significant resources or that the anomalies require a specific and conscious activation or trigger. Classifying an SCP as Safe, however, does not mean that handling or activating it does not pose a threat.

For a complete list of Safe-class articles on the site, click here.

Euclid

Euclid-class SCPs are anomalies that require more resources to contain completely or where containment isn’t always reliable. Usually this is because the SCP is insufficiently understood or inherently unpredictable. Euclid is the Object Class with the greatest scope, and it’s usually a safe bet that an SCP will be this class if it doesn’t easily fall into any of the other standard Object Classes.

As a note, any SCP that’s autonomoussentient and/or sapient is generally classified as Euclid, due to the inherent unpredictability of an object that can act or think on its own.

For a complete list of Euclid-class articles on the site, click here.

Keter

Keter-class SCPs are anomalies that are exceedingly difficult to contain consistently or reliably, with containment procedures often being extensive and complex. The Foundation often can’t contain these SCPs well due to not having a solid understanding of the anomaly, or lacking the technology to properly contain or counter it. A Keter SCP does not mean the SCP is dangerous, just that it is simply very difficult or costly to contain.

For a complete list of Keter-class articles on the site, click here.

Thaumiel

Thaumiel-class SCPs are anomalies that the Foundation specifically uses to contain other SCPs. Even the mere existence of Thaumiel-class objects is classified at the highest levels of the Foundation and their locations, functions, and current status are known to few Foundation personnel outside of the O5 Council.

 

Most of the contained creatures and artifacts do not have names, only numbers, but same have both. Some of the more famous SCPs are The Shy Guy, The Flesh That Hates, and The Blood Pool, which are some of the more horrific “things” the organization keeps a watch over.

 

The  top five most terrifying SCP encounters:

 

There are also a number of security clearance levels with D and E being the lowest.

Class D personnel are expendable personnel used to handle extremely hazardous anomalies and are not allowed to come into contact with Class A or Class B personnel. Class D personnel are typically drawn worldwide from the ranks of prison inmates convicted of violent crimes, especially those on death row. In times of duress, Protocol 12 may be enacted, which allows recruitment from other sources — such as political prisoners, refugee populations, and other civilian sources — that can be transferred into Foundation custody under plausibly deniable circumstances. Class D personnel are to be given regular mandatory psychiatric evaluations and are to be administered an amnestic of at least Class B strength or terminated at the end of the month at the discretion of on-site security or medical staff. In the event of a catastrophic site event, Class D personnel are to be terminated immediately except as deemed necessary by on-site security personnel.

 

There are a few channels on YouTube that explore and chronicle these creatures and events. For those of you who are not interested in being scared, there’s something here for you too, as there are a number of deeply funny SCPs out there. There are several different classes of SCP. The less strange and horrible ones are  classified as SAFE. If you’re not a fan of horror, try to steer clear of anything labeled Keter, or Euclid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New TV Trailers (November 2019)

Per my usual announcement, whenever I make these posts, some of these I’m excited for, and some a little less so, but I hope to be able to watch most of them.

 

Doctor Who Series Twelve (2020)

I really enjoyed having a lady Doctor, mostly because she heavily reminds me of a cross between David Tennant, and Peter Capaldi ,and I’m not sure if that’s on purpose. I could have done without a few of the episodes, in that the writing, and story, wasn’t the best on at least a couple of them, but there were at least a couple that stood out too, and since we have a new crop of writers this season, I’m looking forward to what they’re going to do. At least the trailer looks exciting.

 

 

 

 

Antelbellum (2020)

No one knows anything about this show, movie, or whatever. I’m intrigued by the trailer though, and I really like Janelle Monae, so I’m going to check it out. Jordan Peele is one of the producers on this, so it should be an interesting story, even though I generally try to avoid slave narratives, because I’m really, really, tired of them. However, if someone has a clever way of approaching it, I’m willing to give it a try..

 

 

Hunters (12.15)

This airs on Amazon Prime next month, and I’m looking forward to it. Its about a clandestine group of Nazi hunters, and its set in one of my favorite fashion decades, the seventies.

 

 

 

 

V Wars (12.5)

I don’t know what to think or feel about this show. I want to like it, but I’m not a fan of the lead character, and TV has messed up too many vampire shows for me to feel at all confident about this one. I have read some of the books this is based on, and I wonder how closely the show will follow them, which chronicles a breakout of vampirism in America, and it will destroy society, unless humanity wipes it out. I’m not a huge fan of the book series, either, mostly because I didn’t like the writing style. I want to like this though, and I’m going to give it a try.

 

 

 

Lincoln (1.10.20)

For some reason, I was really excited about seeing this. I do not normally seek out cop and detective shows, but I like the books this character is based on, and I liked the movie, which starred Denzel Washington. Some things I’m just not attracted to but if it has an interesting twist, has a diverse cast, or an actor I’m especially fond of, I’ll at least try it.

 

 

 

 

The Outsider (1.12.20)

This is another show based on a Stephen King novel, called The Outsider. I liked the book okay, although I don’t think it’s one King’s best. It did keep me intrigued, though. If you haven’t read the book, I’m not going to give away one of the plot details, on which the initial mystery is based,  which is classic  King, however. Also, if you are a fan of Holly, from the Finders Keepers series, she is one of the major characters in the book, which almost counts as a standalone adventure for her.

 

 

 

The Neighbor (12.31)

Okay, this looks and sounds almost exactly like the plot of the 80s show, Greatest American Hero, which starred William Katt, in which an alien crashes to Earth, and gives  special artifact to some nobody who happened to be close to the crash, which gives him superpowers, which he then has to navigate without any instructions. I’m not especially excited about it, but the trailer looks really cute, and its on Netflix, so it will be easy to check it out.

 

 

 

A Christmas Carol (12.19)

Every couple of years someone has to make a new version of Dicken’s classic Christmas story, and quite frankly, even  I’m not immune to a sappy, holiday story about the redemption of an asshole. I used to read this book every year, and I’ve missed a few, so its probably time to break it out of the mothballs in my closet, and read it again.

 

October Viewing List

Raising Dion

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I binge-watched this entire series last weekend. While it wasn’t entirely what I expected, it wasn’t bad, and I will be back for a second season. It was a pleasant series, not as intense as I thought it would be, pretty fun in a lot of places, with the occasional thrill of tension  in others.

I did go into this with some assumptions based on the trailers. I thought it was going to be a straight superhero origin story, but it turned out to be as much about Nicole, his mother, as it was about Dion.

Nicole was a  professional dancer, now turned single mom, after the death of her husband , and she and Dion have moved to Atlanta. Nicole is one of those people whose life always  seems to  careen from one disaster to another, and when Dion develops superpowers, that just complicates her ability to find and keep a job. When we first meet them, she is still job searching, with the help of her older sister, and she still has not yet told Dion that his father is dead, and won’t be coming home, which is rather heartbreaking. (She eventually gets around to telling him.) Dion’s dad died under mysterious circumstances, and Nicole is still in  mourning, while her sister and her girlfriends do their best to console her.

 

The show mostly turned out to be a mystery, and not the government thriller I thought it would be, as Nicole delves into how her husband died, while he was  working for a Biology corporation. She’s spurred on this journey by Dion’s development of powers, so while trying to figure out how Dion got powers, she is also trying to find out what happened to her husband.

I wasn’t into the plot too tightly, but I did enjoy the secondary characters, like her husband’s best friend, Pat, who starts out  endearingly dorky, and obviously crushing on her, and  great as Dion’s godfather. Later in the series, his story changes, and I wasn’t ready for that ,and I was kinda mad about it. Her sister is one of those likable/unlikable people, who at first, seems super critical, but will totally ride or die for her little sister, which made me like her more. I liked these two characters okay, and Nicole was okay too, although I could have done with a lot less dancing in a couple of the episodes.

The two stand out characters for me though were Dion and Esmeralda. The actor playing Dion is as cute as a button, and Dion is imaginative, and kindhearted, which goes a long way with me. Esmeralda is a gem ,and that actress reallt endeared herself to me. Esmeralda is especially smart and insightful and I was glad to see that the show didn’t focus all her personality into her disability, but it does inform certain aspects of her personality.

Esmeralda uses a chair, and when we first meet her, is around the time that Dion discovers he has powers. He declares that he is a superhero, but Esmeralda reminds him that he isn’t a superhero yet, and has to earn that title. One of the things she says about herself is that she can turn invisible, and this is important, because people’s disregard of her allows her to be especially attentive. Because people don’t pay close attention to her, she is able to pay attention to things other people ignore, as she is the first person to figure out, (outside of his mother), that Dion has powers.

So yeah, I already like the characters, and the show is pleasant enough. There are no world ending stakes involved this season, as the story remains mostly small and personal, which will give the show room to expand, as Dion grows into his abilities.

 

Batwoman

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I can’t say that  enjoyed this episode, but I didn’t hate it either. It was a busy episode and I’m still processing it. Let’s just say there is some real potential in the show, and that there is room for some improvement. It was occasionally cheesy, and yeah, some of the dialogue needs help, but it wasn’t actually a bad show, and I’m gonna stick around for the rest of the season, because the action scenes were top notch and I just like Ruby Rose, the actress who plays Batwoman.

I’ve been a fan of Batwoman/Kate Kane fan since she was re-introduced a few years ago, and Rose just perfectly fits this character. Once again, I was not heavily invested in the plot, and I wasn’t  really feeling many of the side characters either,  except for Kate’s bubbly stepsister, Catherine, who is the daughter of her father’s second wife, and is a medical student. Kate lost her mom and bio-sister in a car accident, when she was a child, and she hates Batman because he was there to save them, but left the scene, and Kate watched them die.

We meet up with her while she is undergoing some Bruce Wayne type training with some sassy Indigenous guy, with long White hair, at the behest of her father who, for reasons of love and safety, is trying to keep her out of his hair, after she got kicked out of military school, for fraternizing with another female, her girlfriend, Sophie.

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She and Sophie are given a choice. They can reject their relationship and stay in school, or they can be expelled. Kate chooses to be expelled, but Sophie chooses to deny the relationship and stay. At first, I  was mad about it, but Sophie is a Black woman, from a modest background, who worked damn hard to get where she is, and while she appears to love Kate, she is not willing to sacrifice her potential career for her, as she may not get another chance in life. As she tells Kate, she doesn’t have the luxury of being able to take a stand, while Kate comes from a wealthy family, who will always take care of her, and I thought that was a nice touch.

So Kate’s dad sends her away for some training, and Sophie stays behind and gets a job with The Crows, Kate’s father’s security agency, something which Kate covets, but her father gives her the runaround about. When Sophie gets kidnapped by a villain called Alice, Kate returns to a Gotham which has been missing Batman for  three years. Kate is desperate to save Sophie, and prove herself to her father, and we get some twists and turns in the plot, and some fairly emotional scenes between Kate and Sophie, and Kate and her dad. I thought all that  was too much too soon, as I don’t feel we had enough of a setup to warrant tearful conversations, yet.

Anyway, there was a lot to unpack, as the show covers a lot of emotional  territory, along with Kate finding the Batcave, and meeting one of her father’s  security consultants, named Luke, who appears to have no actual security skills beyond having a big brain. We get a little bit of backstory, and a subplot about a traitor among The Crows.

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I liked that the show made some real efforts at diversity. There are plenty of poc in the cast, and they all have distinct personalities. There are only two White guys in the cast, Kate’s dad, and  one of the villains, and I find it interesting that shows are doing this thing now where they do cast White men, but only as secondary characters, or villains, the way it was done in Star Trek Discovery. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens often enough that I’ve noticed it.

This isn’t my first run in with Kate Kane. I first saw her in a crossover episode with Legends of Tomorrow, a show i still like and occasionally watch, and will be watching this season  because there’s supposed to be another crossover with Arrow, and Supergirl, called Crisis on Infinite Earths.Now, i’m probably one of the few comic book readers who has not read that particular series of books. As I’ve said, I was a Marvel fan at the time of that event, and I could care less what happened in the DCU comic books. I don’t dislike the DCU. All the characters I know are all current, or former, members of the Justice League, Teen Titans, or Legion of Superheroes. Of those characters, the only ones I truly cared about, at the time, were the members of the Justice League.

I will will watch all the shows and some of the movies, though. I’m picky about a lot of pop culture, but  I’m not entirely sure why some things capture my attention, while being indifferent to other things. For example, I didn’t ever give a flying rat’s ass  about Aquaman in the comic books, but I liked the movie version just fine. Well, anyway the big new event this season on the CW is the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, with multiple Supermen, which should (and it better) be exciting.

 

 

 

The Dead Don’t Die

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This is an exceedingly odd zombie film, which I had a lot of fun watching. Even though most zombie movies give me anxiety, I watch them anyway, because, its zombies, and there was a little of that tension here, but the movie was more comedy than horror. Its not the kind of comedy seen in Shaun of the Dead, or Evil Dead II. Its more of an intellectual kind of comedy, that doesn’t make you laugh out loud, so much as make you nod, and chuckle,  which is the hallmark of a Jim Jarmusch film, really.

The movie has an all star cast of Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, Rosie Perez, Tom Waits, Tilda Swinton, and a bunch of others, and is a very oddball film. it heavily reminded me of the movie Rubber, a movie in which a telekinetic car tire goes on a killing spree, in Southwestern America, and if you have not seen that movie, then you probably should. At the very least it will prepare you for watching any horror  movie directed by Jarmusch.

According to the movie, there is a worldwide zombie outbreak because the earth has been thrown off its axis by fracking, or something, but this isn’t important, and barely mentioned in the film. Ronnie (Murray) and Cliff (Adam Driver), are the Sheriff and deputy of Centerville, a small Midwestern town. The first time anyone notices things have gone off kilter is when Cliff notices that the sun has not set at the correct time, and  the town crankypants, (Buscemi), notices his chickens and cows are missing. When the diner is attacked by two zombies, Ronnie and Cliff investigate, and Cliff reaches the swift conclusion that it was zombies.

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There are long moments of characters standing around, or sitting somewhere, having bland conversations about the situation, the world, or sometimes each other.The town is visited by what Cliff calls hipsters from Cleveland. Cliff takes a liking to one of them, but its all pointless since everyone in the movie gets eaten, even after Cliff warns them to stay inside and not go out at night because of the outbreak.

The humor comes from the laconic acceptance, by  all the characters, that the town has been invaded by zombies, and from the activities of the zombies themselves.  The director has taken the idea of the zombies being attracted to the the things they did in life, and just ran with it, which results in the Chardonnay quote, seen in the trailer. From time to time, one of regular humans will freak out about the situation, which is only meant to offset the calm of the other characters. This movie is the exact opposite, in mood,  of The Walking Dead TV shows. The zombies are given odd quirks of personality. They still eat people, but they also like tennis and coffee. There’s a country song that plays throughout the movie, called The Dead Don’t Die, and I kind of liked it. When Ronnie asks why that song keeps playing on the radio, Cliff explains  that that is the theme song.

Image result for dead dont die gifs

Tom Waits plays the  homeless guy, who lives n the woods, named Hermit Bob, who makes voiceover observations of the events happening in the town, and  whom everyone thinks is crazy.  He’s also the only survivor at the end of the film. I  liked Cliff, who is both pragmatic and intelligent. He occasionally mentions that he’s got a bad feeling, and when Ronnie asks why, he says he read the script, and that things do not end well, which is correct. They don’t. Ronnie is unperturbed by Cliff’s insistence that there is a movie script for their scenario, and that he read it.

Swinton plays the new town mortician who also turns to to be an alien. You could tell she was a strange one, because she  made weird observations, and  carried a samurai sword that she was extremely good at using. She is both delighted and unbothered by the zombie outbreak. Yes, there is a UFO in this movie. From time to time, one of the characters will  forget that they are in a Jim Jarmusch movie,  and behave as if they are actually in a big budget zombie movie instead, and try to do something heroic, but it doesn’t work. The movie ends with the deaths of all the other characters, and  Hermit Bob shaking his head with the  observation that the world is a messed up place.

It’s A Black Thang II (On Tumblr)

This was an old post that somehow got switched to another blog! But theres no such thing as an out of date laugh, (although I could be wrong about that.) Well, I hope it brings smiles to your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

 

 

Man, we just don’t get good Star Trek meta, like this, anymore…

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vulcandroid

i will never be over the fact that during first contact a human offered their hand to a vulcan and the vulcan was just like “wow humans are fucking wild” and took it

 

roachpatrol

Humanity’s first contact with Vulcans was some guy going “I’m down to fuck.”

Vulcans’ first contact with Humans was an emphatic “Sure.”

 

lilian-cho

@sineala

star-lord

#iiiiiiiiiiiiii mean vulcans had been watching humans for a long time#they knew the significance of a handshake but still#they had to find some fast and loose ambassador#willing to fuckin make out with a human for the sake of not offending them on first contact#lmao#star trek

give me the story of this fast and loose vulcan

 

moonsofavalon

“sir…these…these humans…they greet each other by…” *glances around before furtively whispering* “byclasping hands…”

*prolonged silence* “oh my…”

“sir…sir how will we make first contact with them? surely we…we cannot refuse this handclasping ritual, they will take it as an insult, but what vulcan would agree to such a distasteful and uncomfortable ritual??”

*several pensive moments later* “contact the vulcan high command and tell them to send us kuvak. i once saw that crazy son of a bitch arm wrestle a klingon, he’ll put his hands on anything”

 

evilminji

Elsewhere, w/ kuvak: “….my day has come.”

 

lierdumoa

The vulcan who made first contact with humans is named Solkar guys. Y’all just be makin’ up names for characters that already have names.

Bonus: here’s a screencap of Solkar doing the “my body is ready” pose right before he shakes Zefram Cochrane’s hand:

adreadfulidea

 

I swear Vulcans only come in two types and they are “distant xenophobes” or “horny on main for humanity”. Also apparently this guy is Spock’s great-grandfather and frankly that explains everything.

Source: lycanthropiste st

 

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Black Hogwarts was tending several months ago. Yes, this is still funny as hell! (Number five is my favorite, and check out The Sortin’ Durag.)

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Tumblr would not be Tumblr without calling out racism in fandom, and we have to keep explaining this multiple times cuz, as my Mom used to say, ya’ll hard-headed, and you don’t listen!

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Carrying the fandom load

It does get tiring at times staying conscious of bigoted tropes in fandom, deciding not to support racist art, wondering if a quote is appropriative of Jewish experiences, discarding a homophobic fanwork idea, and more.

So as a Fandom Old I can see why some fans long for the “good old days.” Back then anything went! Total creative freedom! We were wild and unfettered! None of these long-winded discussions, we just went and did it and did not give a single fuck!

Except freedom wasn’t for everyone, was it? You only had that total freedom if you were unaffected by fandom’s racism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, ableism, and a host of other bigotries that are a reflection of the world we live in.

Fandom was never the carefree, escapist enterprise some of us like to think it was. It’s just that minority fans were bearing the load of others’ freedom in silence. Too often, fans who were marginalized in real life could not escape to fandom because fandom would uncritically celebrate their oppression and trauma. And if they dared to speak about it they were bullied and shouted down into silence, into leaving.

I speak in the past tense but this is still ongoing, obviously. Fans of marginalized identities are a little more vocal now, but are facing a sustained and vicious backlash that accuses them of being “bullies” and starting “discourse” and “drama” and of “virtue signalling.”

It’s not about discourse or virtue, though. It’s about fans being told that they are not welcome unless they bite their tongues, grin, and go along with a thousand stings and slaps in the very spaces they go to have fun. It’s about fans having to watch characters who look like them be constantly erased and demonized. It’s about fans having to spend endless amounts of time and energy educating other fans about their oppression when all they’d like to do is unwind after a long day made longer by those very issues.

It’s not about virtue. It’s about people.

The thing is, fans who criticize minority fans and their allies for “discourse” aren’t angry about the fact that fandom puts these psychological burdens on minority fans. They’re mad about having to share a tiny little part of the burden minority fans, most visibly Black women, have been carrying for too long. In the minds of these “discourse”-critical fans the burden of considering the impact of fandom and fanworks is not theirs to bear. It is the lot of fans who are not them, “others,” to pay the cost for the majority’s creative freedom. The very suggestion that the load exists, and worse, that all of fandom should share in it so marginalized fans don’t carry it so disproportionately, is enough to make a lot of fans uncomfortable. I know, because I feel that discomfort at times, too.

The thing is, the load of thinking about marginalization in fandom spaces was always mine to bear. It’s every fan’s responsibility to be conscious of how they create and consume fanwork so that they don’t hurt other fans, so fandom can be inclusive and fun for everyone.

No, it’s not pleasant. It’s not fun to always watch yourself and second guess your choices, to fall short anyway and be called out and confront the fact that you have so many unconscious biases and have hurt others. I get it. I do. I want to think of myself as a good person. I don’t like admitting to wrongdoing. I hate challenging myself. I don’t want to think about this hard stuff. I just want to have fun!

But think about how much LESS fun it is when it’s your own humanity on the line. Many marginalized fans don’t have the luxury of just letting go and having fun, not when they always have to brace themselves for the next psychological assault.

These fans have been carrying this fandom burden and are punished for saying it’s too heavy. If you’re feeling a little less feather light in fannish activities than you used to, that’s a good sign! It means you’re starting to carry, in a very small measure, the fandom load of consciousness. It’s something you should be carrying as part of a community, and chances are it’s still not nearly as heavy a load as many marginalized fans are still made to bear.

A community joins together, watches out for its members, shares in the good and the bad. If some members are asked to bear the costs of others’ fun and either stay silent about it or leave, then the promise of community rings pretty hollow, doesn’t it? Sometimes discomfort is a good thing, and if my small discomfort means I am sharing in a tiny measure of my rightful load in fandom spaces, then it is a very good thing indeed.

 

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I think I may have posted this here before, and its definitely not funny, but at the same time, its the funniest shit I have ever encountered. People who are so incredibly pressed about having all those “icky” Brown and Black men in their favorite media, so incredibly adamant that the only valid type of “ship, is between two White men, that they are willing to Photoshop them out, for their White faves.

Wow!

 stitchmediamix

So I’m writing something about how characters and actors of color are literally cut out of images in order to center white characters/actors (usually for shipping purposes) and I’d like to be able to actually link to examples of instances where that’s happened.

I’ve got an image of John and Daisy where John has been replaced by Driver (courtesy of @xprincessrey ’s recent post in the fandom racism tag) and SEVERAL images where Iris West has been erased and replaced by Caitlin that I referenced in my presentation on the misogynoir directed towards her.

I need more examples though and I honestly don’t know how to find what I’m looking for. And… I’m really bad at finding images on the internet.

So if you have collected any receipts on this particular fandom phenomenon where fans cut out characters/actors of color from images in order to focus on a white character or ship, please let me know. I’ll link to your post on the subject if you’ve made one and give you credit for finding the images that I use if you want it.

I need examples of:

  • Anthony Mackie being cut out of press images for either Winter Soldier or Civil War
  • Scott/Tyler Posey being cut out of Teen Wolf press images or scenes in the show
  • Photo manips where Finn/John Boyega has been replaced by Kylo/Adam
  • Any other fandom that cut characters of color out in this way!

I’m writing a thing and I’m working on the header image already but I’d like more examples because man… People need to know that this is a thing that happens and pictures help drive the whole thing in.

(Also, unfortunately I have no idea how y’all  can submit straight up images to me because I don’t use tumblr submit for several reasons, BUT you can always DM me images on twitter or use Tumblr IM if you don’t have links  to images, but want to send them to me anyway.)

If you can share this with your followers, that’d be awesome.

elandrialore

R3ylo manips

Original photoshoot with John and Daisy

St3r3k manip

Original promo image

St3r3k manip

Original image of Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed, and Tyler Hoechlin

St3r3k manip

Original image of Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien

St3r3k manip

Original image with Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien

kyberfox

@stitchmediamix

Here’s a video of Finn getting cut out not just of his own confession scene – a character defining moment for him – and Kylo being inserted, he’s also replaced in the hug he and Rey shares. xx

The OP of that then made a gif set of some of the scene they’d cut where they replace Finn with Kylo because they were so proud of their work. x

And here Kylo is edited in instead of Finn in the scene where Rey gives Finn a “wow he looks good” look at Jakku. x

uprisingofcolor

@stitchmediamix

Here’s an entire gif set of Jake Pentecost getting cut out of his own trailer to center his white co star.

Oh, and here’s OP’s Response to @kyberfox calling them out (X), they take it about as well as you’d expect. This happened a day or so(?) after the trailer dropped, just for a frame of reference.

diversehighfantasy

The Doctor Who series 3 “Fix It”:

Here, they didn’t erase Martha Jones entirely, they made her a third wheel in a series the fandom felt Rose was rightfully entitled to. IMO this is as much of an in-your-face “fuck you” to Martha as pretending she didn’t exist.

Britchell. This is a more obscure ship, but it relentlessly erased, sidelined and minimized one of my favorite characters, Annie Sawyer of Being Human (UK) for being romantically involved with Mitchell, played by Aidan Turner, who also played Kili in The Hobbit. Britchell was a crossover between Mitchell and another character played by the actor who played Kili’s brother Fili in The Hobbit. Anyway. Britchell is the biggest ship in the Being Human fandom to this day.

Annie x Mitchell: http://reyesbidal.tumblr.com/post/53885860951

Britchell (in a nutchell):

nerdsagainstfandomracism

In Shadowhunters Jalec and Clalec shippers always use Malec scenes for their manips in order to erase Magnus. Here’s an example of a Clalec manip (x). I stay away from their tags and blacklist Jalecs and Clalecs on sight, but pretty sure Google has plenty of more examples. Luke is constantly excluded from the group fanarts, fan videos, etc.

Also, Rickylers in TWD always try to erase Michonne from her own narrative.

Source: stitchmediamix fandom racismracism in fandom Erasure ShippingLong Post white prioritization ReblogMod P.

 

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Tag me! I’m Blacktose Intolerant!

anonymous asked:

so you’re jamaican and not regular black?

yourbigsisnissi answered:

What the hell is regular black?

 

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Tweets from Satan!

My 2019 Fall Lineup

Here’s a quick rundown of the shows I’m most interested in for Fall. Some of these are already playing. Some, I’m less excited by the idea of the show, than the potential for it to be good, but of course, I always hope they’re good shows, whether I stick around for them or not.

Playing Now

Carnival Row (Amazon Prime)

I watched a couple of episodes of this, and  just wasn’t feeling it. I felt really distant from the characters, and I think its because of the acting. In a lot of ways this is  a typical historical romance film, but with an overlay of politics, as the different races of The Fae are displaced by violent colonization, to another world (not this one), where they are refugees and immigrants. There’s a lot going on with politics, some heavy enemies to friends romance, some tragic romance, and a police procedural. I’ll get into more details in a later post. I think some elements of the plot are intriguing, and some of it is just exasperating, but at all times, I definitely think it’s a more well thought out world than that Will Smith’s Bright,  which aired on Netflix, and  featured a lot of the same themes.

 

Wu Assassins (Netflix)

I watched a few episodes of this, as well, and I liked the plot, and a couple of the characters. The fight scenes are very well done, but there’s a slight tongue in cheek element to the show that kept pulling me out of the story, because some of it is a little ridiculous, and the writers seem to know that, on some level. Ironically, I would have been more intrigued without any of the supernatural elements. I’m going to watch a few more episodes, and see where it goes, but I’m not especially invested, although its not a bad show, and its nice to see Asian characters headlining TV series. I kept wanting to compare this series to Warrior, which was excellent, and Into the Badlands, which got three seasons, and this show came up wanting, mostly because of the acting.

 

The Dark Crystal (NETFLIX)

I haven’t watched this yet, but I fondly remember the movie from the 80s, and when I finally watch, it I’ll let you know what I think.

 

The Terror: Infamy (AMC)

Okay, I did watch a couple of episodes of this. I know a lot about Japanese history, and Japan  as a society, (basically I have a head full of trivia), but I am not Japanese, and just like the series Warrior, this show throws you right into the deep end, and you have to  understand what’s happening, and try to keep up. Since I’m not Japanese, or an immigrant, I understand what’s going on, on a surface level, while suspecting that there are deeper meanings behind what I’m watching, because there’s a lot of Japanese mythology involved. Is it scary? Yeah, sure, but its mostly scary to me, because I have no clue what the fuck is happening beyond some malignant  spirits,  tormenting people at a Japanese internment camp.

 

Two Sentence Horror (CW)

I watched a couple of episodes of this, and I’m lucky I found it, because there’s no promotion of this show at all. It’s  an anthology series, with each episode focusing on one story, for thirty minutes. I enjoyed the first story I watched, which involved a murderous vlogger, and it was interesting because the vlogger was a Black, female, serial killer, who made makeup products out of her victims. I am going to check out a few more episodes too, because I like the idea of the two sentence story, and it seems to have taken a page from the new Twilight Zone, by casting PoC in unusual roles. The second story I watched was about a Japanese family with an abusive ghost, that ended with me all up in my feels. So far, its not delivering what I expect, and I like that.

 

Cannon Busters (NETFLIX)

I haven’t watched any of this yet, and I’m eager to get started. It’s an anime by a Black team, with a Black cast, which is kind of cool. It heavily reminds me of Afro Samurai, and really looks like fun.

 

 

September

6: Travels with My Father (NETFLIX)

I’m really enjoying Jack Whitehall’s travels with his father. I watched the first two seasons, and really liked the dynamic between Jack, and his rather staid, and conservative, British father, who is annoying, but still manages somehow to still  be hilarious. The first season was Jack trying to get his father to loosen up by visiting some of his favorite places around the world. The second season was about his father giving him the same treatment on the continent. I’m looking forward to their adventures in the new season, when they visit some of the crassest places in America, thanks to Jack’s ideas about what American life is actually like.

 

6: Titans (DC)

I was a little disappointed at the ending of the first season, but I like the trailer for the second season, and it looks like fun because of the addition of Krypto and Superboy!. I’m going to check it out and see what other new cameos show up.

 

10: Mr. Mercedes (AUDIENCE)

I didn’t get into the last season too much, but this is the third season, and its  loosely (kinda) following the events of the second and third books, and its okay. I’m not a stan or anything, but its the kind of show you watch on a lazy Sunday night, when not much else is on TV.

 

18: American Horror Story:1984 (FX)

So, I know I’m going to watch this, although I am not in the mood to relive any of those 80s hair, clothes, and musical numbers. On the other hand, it does feature an 80s style serial killer, and the writers are all batshit, so I expect this to be halfway enjoyable, to the point where I just might stan, and geek out, since I lost interest halfway through the last season.

 

26: Creepshow (Shudder)

I haven’t seen much of this beyond the first trailer. I probably won’t see much of it because I refuse to sign up for yet another app just to watch one show.

October

*4: Raising Dion (NETFLIX)

This one I’m really excited about, as I saw the trailer for it over a year ago, about a young Black boy with superpowers, who is on the run from the government.This trailer really got me in my feels, because it isn’t so much about Dion and his powers, as it is about his mom, and her ability to cope with raising a super, and I like her already, just from the little snippets I’ve seen.

I’m here for it!

 

6: Batwoman (CW)

A lot of people hate this show based on the trailer, but I’m actually intrigued. I first saw Batwoman, cameoing on another show, and I’ve read all the comic books about her. Yes, the dialogue needs some serious help, but I like the actress, and the action scenes look like fun. Kate Kane is not the only gay character in the DCEU, but she is the only one with her own show, so I’ll check it out.

 

10: Supernatural (CW)

I’m looking forward to the fifteenth and final season of this show. I told ya’ll I was in it to the end, and I meant it. The last couple of seasons aren’t as exciting as they used to be, but at least two or three times a season, the show airs a real gem, that reminds  me why I stan. As problematic as this show is, I still love The Winchesters, and I’m sticking with them.

 

11: Charmed (CW)

This is one of the few fantasy shows with women of color as the cast, including an Afro-Latina, and also several lesbian characters of color. Its also not a bad show, either. I didn’t catch all of the last season, but I’m gonna be right there for the first episode of this new one, so I can see what’s what.

 

15: Treadstone (USA)

This is intriguing. Its a show based on the  brainwashed sleeper agent idea behind The Bourne series. Treadstone was the program that created Jason Bourne, and this show is about the aftermath of that third movie, after Jason put a stop to it. I’m gonna check it out, because that world was interesting, and the fight scenes look really good.

 

21: Black Lightning (CW)

When the last season ended the family of Black Lightning was about to go global, to fight some kind of intergalactic menace, and I’m here for it. I am more than a little tired of the Tobias Whale storyline,  and wish they would move away from it. Also I’m deeply intrigued by what’s going on  in the ThunderGrace relationship, and I’m looking forward to some answers.

 

TBD: The Watchmen (HBO)

I no longer have access to HBO, so I probably won’t see this. I’m not especially intrigued  because, while I liked the movie okay, I’m really not much of a fan.  On the other hand, it’s Regina King, and I love her, and watching her play a vigilante is gonna be the shit, and this trailer slaps!

November

12: Disney +/ Available At Launch

So the Disney network starts on the 12th, and I’m looking forward to it for a number of reasons. There will be plenty of content, so I’m getting a good deal on my money, and I’m looking forward to watching several of these movies, like Fantasia, and Bao.

Movies

“101 Dalmatians”
*“A Bug’s Life”
“A Goofy Movie”
“An Extremely Goofy Movie”
“Bambi”
*“Bao”
“Big Hero 6″
“Born in China”
“Cars”
*“Fantasia”
*“Finding Dory”
*“Finding Nemo”
“Free Solo”
“Frozen”
“Fun and Fancy Free”
*“Hercules”
“High School Musical”
“Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”
“Inside Out”
“Iron Man”
“Lady and the Tramp”
“Lilo & Stitch”
“Mary Poppins”
“Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers”
“Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas”
*“Moana”
“Monsters University”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”
*“Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 1″
“Ratatouille”
“Remember the Titans”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
“Sleeping Beauty”
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
“Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace”
“Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones”
“Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”
“Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope”
“Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”
“Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”
*“Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens”
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars”
“Steamboat Willie”
“The Good Dinosaur”
*“The Incredibles”
*“The Little Mermaid”
“The Parent Trap” (1961)
“The Prince & the Pauper” (1990)
“The Princess Diaries”
“The Rocketeer”
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (short)
“The Sword in the Stone”
“The Three Caballeros”
“Thor: The Dark World”
“Toy Story”
“Tron” (1982)
“Up”
“Wall-E”
“Zootopia”

 

The Mandolorian

This looks like so much fun.

 

The World According to Jeff Goldblum

So does this! Also, who doesn’t love Jeff Goldblum.

TBD

The Witcher (Netflix)

I talked about this in an earlier post. I’m not as enthused about it as some people.  Ironically, I’m really not into High Fantasy shows that have elves and orcs and shit,  because of the simplistic messaging and overwhelming Whiteness. Game of Throes only caught my attention because of the addition of Ice Zombies.

 

 

The Truman Show (1998): Questioning Reality

During the late 90’s there was a spate of existentialist movies, that asked questions about the nature of reality, the self,  and questioned our sense of who we were. Movies like Dark City, The 13th Floor, Pleasantville, The Matrix, Existenz, and yes, The Truman Show, all questioned if the world we lived in was truly real, if we were real, and if nothing is real, does anything we experience matter.

The Truman Show didn’t just question reality. It asked questions about freedom, and self determination, as well. Truman is a man who has been imprisoned in a pleasant middle class, artificial, bubble his entire life, with a pretty blond wife, a non-descript job, one close friend, and a tragic past that’s specifically designed to hold him in place, and keep him from moving forward. His life is comfortable and certain. It is difficult not to see parallels to our own lives in Truman and his circumstances.

Truman has a daily routine. He does the same thing every day, with the same catchphrases, ordering the same food, the same magazines at the newsstand, driving the same route to and from work. Truman is mostly happy with his life, but its not an exciting life, so he fantasizes a lot.

Image result for truman show astronaut  gifs

One of the first images we get of Truman is his childlike fantasy of being an astronaut. Truman longs to do something different, go somewhere else, be someone else, but he is trapped in place, as so many of us are, by our jobs, our circumstances, monetary concerns, our families, and other obligations, that we consider more important than our freedom to do as we please. Like Truman many of us fantasize about being  someone else, someplace else, and for most of us, fantastical visions of riding dragons, or pretending to be a favorite cartoon character, are enough.

Many of us live in comfortable bubbles, occasionally  chafing at our restrictions, and any attempts to break free of those restrictions can get you branded with labels like mentally ill,  mid-life crisis, or hysteria. Your desire to  break free, can often make other people deeply uncomfortable, and can prompt them to deploy tactics that will get you back into your bubble, to be quiet, and complacent, once again.

Truman is a man who has been held in captivity, since he was born, by an avant-garde filmmaker, named  Christof, who adopted him, kept him imprisoned in a fake world, with actors and actresses as friends and family, and put his entire life on live television. Everything in Truman’s life is manufactured, his job isn’t real, his marriage was carefully orchestrated, his best friend is an actor, his father was conveniently killed when he was a child, and he has been socialized with a number of phobias (aqua-phobia) that make it near impossible for him to leave the fake set.  In other words, his world is carefully designed to keep him in place, keep him from questioning it, and keep him from growing, changing , or progressing.

Image result for truman show   gifs

Many of us live the kinds of lives we are reluctant to leave, it can be difficult for us to grow and move forward because we’ve become used to how our life is. It can be difficult to try new things, or make big changes in our lives, even changes we need to have, because we fear the unknown future. If you’re someone who has a great fear of the unknown, then moving into a future you cannot see, would be very difficult. This is how Truman engages with the world in the first half of his life, until a monkey-wrench called “first love” throws everything he knows into question. He falls in love with a young woman named Sylvia, who wasn’t chosen for him, and she is, rather traumatically, removed from his world. Truman developed such a special longing for her, that she came to represent the one thing in his life he didn’t have, uncertainty, and the unknown.

He begins to question the world he lives in. In other words, he starts to wake up, especially after  he experiences a series of strange events. like seeing his supposedly dead father, chunks of sky falling on his car, a photo of his wife with her fingers crossed behind her back (which indicates that she was lying). Truman attempts to express his nascent suspicions to his wife, mother, and best friend, who only try  to gaslight him, with temporary success. Over time, Truman begins to test his theory, and finally reaches the conclusion that the world he lives in, and the people he knows, is not real.

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Truman only begins to ask the right questions, after he sees the patterns around him, and starts putting those patterns in the correct order. When he sees his dead father on the street, the man is immediately whisked away by a group of strangers. Later that week, there is a radio mix up, where he hears one of the camera men narrating what he is doing. He notices a pattern in the people who cross in front of his house. He notices  patterns and reaches proper conclusions. He begins to see the artificiality.

For example, he suspects that he is being watched, that the people in his world are fake, and  don’t know what to do when he does  unexpected things. So he disrupts his routine in small ways, like walking into a different building, or deciding to accompany his wife (a nurse) to a surgery that was made up in an attempt to explain something he saw earlier that day. By behaving unpredictably, he has introduced uncertainty, and the unknown to the set, which disrupts everyone else’s routine, as well.

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Ironically, many of us suspect that the world we live in is a facade, as we seek to explain the uncertainty of our life, rather than the certainties. This theory was especially popular during the last years of the 20th century, which accounts for the popularity of  films, in which the protagonists question the randomness of their lived experiences. In the Matrix, Neo tells Trinity about a number of events that happened to him when he was unaware he was in the matrix, and asks her what that means. Trinity’s answer is that the matrix cannot tell you who you are. She is in essence telling him that when he lived in the matrix, that he was not his true self.

Since the events that occurred to Neo can be said to have been contrived by computer programs, his reactions to those events were inauthentic, and not evidence of his true self.  Another argument that can be made, however, is that such contrived events are not any different than random events contrived by a god, and if we can accept that our authentic self is in evidence when under the aegis of a mythological figure, than why can we not accept the authenticity of self while under the control of an AI?

One of the reasons that Truman gives for desperately trying to escape Christof’s prison, is that he wants a real life, an authentic life. Christof tries to talk him into staying in his artificial world by telling him that life is no more authentic, in the “real” world, than it is in his fake one. he tells Truman that there is no truth, thereby  illustrating a fundamental misunderstanding of Truman’s motives. Truman is not searching for truth. He is searching for “the real”, which is not the same thing.

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But, as we all must do, if we hope to move forward, to progress in our lives, Truman takes a leap of faith, into the unknown. At some point, if we hope to meet our real selves, we must all walk through a mysterious door, into an uncertain future. Truman has no idea what is on the other side of the door he’s about to walk through, but like Red, from the Shawshank Redemption, he hopes to see Sylvia, and take her hand. He hopes to find himself. He hopes to be happy. He hopes to find love.

He hopes.

And so must we all.

 

It’s A Black Thang!

I’m not saying that Black people are the only ones who can watch these shows, but this is pop culture that is unapologetically aimed at Black audiences.

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Dolemite Is My Name

Some of us are old enough to have actually watched some of Rudy Ray Moore’s movies, like Dolemite and The Human Tornado, which they don’t show on Tv much anymore ,for…reasons.. Some of my younger readers would have encountered his movies as parodies on MadTV, or Key & Peele. They were often laughably bad in and of themselves but they were groundbreaking because Moore was one of the only Black independent filmmakers of the 70s, and was one of the primary directors in the Blaxploitation era.

The first time I saw a Rudy Ray Moore movie, it was at the Drive-In. I was maybe nine or ten years old, and the movie was The Human Tornado, which I wasn’t supposed to be watching, because I was supposedly asleep in the backseat with my two brothers, and because his movies ARE NOT FOR KIDS!!!! I don’t think I can stress this enough. Well anyway, I watched it and I don’t think my mom ever realized i saw the movie, and I haven’t ever told her. I suspect if I told her this, I’d be subject to this:

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Now couple that information with the return of one of the greatest comedians of the 80s and 90s, Eddie Murphy, who hasn’t been relevant in some time, and this is looking like a comeback role, in a classic film. Actually what it is is the making of Dolemite from Moore’s point of view. There are some other great actor/comedians in this, and even more importantly, this is airing on Netflix in September.

The Black Lady Sketch Show

The Black Lady Sketch Show is now airing on HBO, but you can watch select sketches on YouTube. This is such a great show, and I say that even though I don’t subscribe to HBO anymore. The sketches are soooo funny, and some of them are spot on.

Check out Invisible Spy for example. I’ve always thought that women of color would make exceptional spies, because so few people pay attention to us, especially when we’re doing something stereotypical, like housekeeping! The spy in this sketch is invisible all the time, and thats a commentary on how being fat, and dark skinned, renders a person irrelevant. Even her coworkers don’t know what she actually looks like , even though they’re looking right at her. I got that, as I’m always being compared to some other Black woman that people know, someone they went to school with, a cousin, or somebody’s neighbor.

But one of my favorite sketches is the Ball for Basic Bitches! I’m far too contrary to ever be considered “basic”, I think, but I perfectly understand it, though, and Basic Bitches can be fabulous too, only a lot more quietly, I guess.

Got to Youtube to watch the surreal Dance Biter, which stars my favorite comedian Quinta B, the hilarious Invisible Spy, and a sketch about how obsessed America is with beauty standards, called A Day With No Makeup.

 

 

The Rundown w/ Robin Thiede

Robin Thiede is currently one of the stars of the Black Lady Sketch Show, but if you want to see the kind of work that led up to her starring in the above show, then The Rundown is where you need to see it.

The Rundown aired on BET, and showcased different comedians, although Robin was the star. I never watched the show itself, and only just saw a few episodes because they were recommended after I viewed TBLSS, and frankly, I’m impressed. This first sketch is based on the show Stranger Things, and the character of Eleven, and is what I like to call , uncomfortably hilarious, a style that Key and Peele often specialized in.

My favorite though is this video for the Weak Black Woman, because not everybody can be woke and strong, Some of us are too tired from working on those spreadsheets for the Stevenson account, I guess. Not quite as pointed as the Basic Bitch Ball, but close enough. And the second is a parody of the series Stranger Things, that I laughed waaay too hard at.

Missy Elliott and Lizzo

I’m a huge Missy fan, and have been since that first song. Now I have a new heroine, Lizzo, who is fat, Black, and absolutely, unapologetic ally, who she is, here she teams up with Missy Elliot, and Megan The Stallion, to celebrate some more “Hot Girl Summer”. I wasn’t outraged by the dancing but I was bothered at the idea of these ladies wandering around a public parking lot, at night, in bikini wear. Well, theyre wearing fur ,so I know they won’t get cold, but apparently that was a bridge too far. (See what I mean about me being sort of Basic?)

News After San Diego

Last week was the 50th San Diego Comic Con, and we got  some exciting news and trailers from it. Well, exciting for me, at any rate.

Let’s start with the trailers for forthcoming movies and shows:

Top Gun

I am not a Top Gun fan, because I’m just not into military films, as a rule, but I know some of you guys are really into this stuff, so here’s the new trailer  for it. Its funny but I’ve seen all of Tom Cruise’s movies, but would not call myself a fan of his. He just just keeps starring in things that interest me, like spy movies. Perhaps the word I would prefer to use is “tolerate”.

 

 

Creepshow

I just watched these movies back to back a few weekends ago, and they’re still pretty effective.  The original films were an odd mix of horror and humor, and I hope this new show can hold up to the same standards.

 

 

Picard

After the success of Star trek Discovery, I am cautiously excited about this show. I really like Jean Luc Picard as a character, and I really like the idea of him having more adventures after his retirement, and it looks gorgeous. Buuuuut…. I’m still not as enthusiastic about it, as I think I should be, and I wonder if I have Star Trek fatigue. Nevertheless, I’m gonna check this out.

 

 

The Witcher

Not sure how I feel about this show. I’m not a gamer, and only know about this show, and this world, from reading books about the artwork. I keep having to suppress laughter at Henry Caville’s wig, which is very distracting, and  I don’t know why. On the other hand, this trailer looks fucking awesome!

 

 

Watchmen

This is another trailer that looks really  interesting, but I’m not a huge fan of the movie, beyond thinking it looked pretty, nor am I a fan of the philosophies espoused in it, and I’m not sure I want to watch an entire season of something this intense. I can think of a whole bunch of reasons not to watch this, in fact, but I probably will watch it, because I love Regina King , and I’ve never seen her is this type of role before. We keep asking for these types of roles with Black women, and then don’t support them, so I’m definitely gonna be there, but I’m afraid  I may not actually enjoy it.

 

Preacher

I missed the last season  of this show, but I can see by the trailer, that its as zany as it ever was.

 

 

Star Trek Short Treks

I may have to subscribe to CBS All Access again because they are making more of these little one offs, that look really good. I enjoyed the last three or four they made, which occurred between the season’s for Discovery, and were basically back stories for some of the characters we met last season, or some established characters, and one of them presented an interesting mystery for the future, that had bearing on the end of the last season! So I am looking forward to what I’m going to see here. It looks like fun, and I really did enjoy this version of  Spock, btw.

 

Batwoman

I’m really excited about this show, but only because I saw the a couple of The Legends of Tomorrow episodes which featured this actress. Yes, the dialogue is atrocious, but then the same thing was said about Titans, and I liked it okay. This trailer has been horribly panned by well…the usual suspects really, but I’m past caring whether or not they think something is bad or good, based on whether or not there’s women in it.

I gotta say, that while the MCU may be tearing it up on the big screen, the DCEU is killing it on the small one, ,as far as diversity, and inclusion, with plenty of characters of color (that they don’t always get right, but at least they’re trying, which is more than I can say for the MCU), but also plenty of openly gay and lesbian characters, (of which the MCU has but none), who are not all White people. The DCEU really does need to  work on the  dialogue though.

 

 

Snowpiercer

I watched the original move, and while I got the message behind it, it was still so incredibly depressing that it didn’t even make my favorites list for the year of its release. The trailer looks fascinating, but I don’t know if I want to visit this horrible little world on a regular basis. W’ell see how I feel bout it after its air date.

 

 

Wu Assassins

This looks like pure, campy, martial arts fun! It heavily reminds me of last Power Rangers movie.

 

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And the big news is the upcoming slate of movies and shows from phase 4 of The MCU, including Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, The Eternals, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and Blade, and The X-Men!

Now, its been said that the new Blade movie is a reboot, and will star Maharsala Ali who has been wanting to play Blade for a while, and people are very excited abut this, (including me).

Its also been stated that Blade, like Deadpool, and Venom, which are not actually a part of the MCU in the same way as Doctor Strange, and Spiderman, will be a standalone franchise, like the other two, or maybe part of phase 5, or a TV show, or well…its not exactly clear. On the other hand, Blade may actually be part of the MCU, and there might possibly be a crossover with Dr. Strange, as in the comic books, there is a crossover between Strange, Morbius, and Blade. There will definitely be a Morbius movie though, so I’m hopeful that is the plan for these movies.

I love, love, love, the Blade movies, and have watched all the other versions, but remain unimpressed by those. A lot of people forget that there was a  live action television show, and a cartoon, as well, and Wesley Snipes recently did a brief cameo on the hit TV series, What We Do In The Shadows.

Mahershala Ali is the only Muslim actor to receive an Oscar, for his role as the drug dealing Juan in the movie Moonlight, so I am really looking forward to seeing him in this new version. If you want to see what he’d be most like as Blade, then check out his character in Battle Angel Alita, which looks like he’s auditioning for the role.

 

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More news from the CON is that Natalie Portman will be starring in the new Thor movie, which will be directed by Taika Waititi, and its rumored that she will play the new Thor, like the character from the comics. Creators have clearly stated that Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is the only openly gay character in the MCU, and its possible (at least we hope it is, since Waititi is both the writer and Director) that we will see her get a Queen in the new movie. (This is after Thor has handed over his Kingship to her at the end of Endgame.)

 

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Ava Duvernay is making The Eternals, which will racebend the  white, male, character of Makkari,  to  a deaf Black woman. Lauren Ridloff you may remember from her stint on last season’s The Walking Dead. I’m good with this becasue I just really like this actress.

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There’s also news about the MCU: Shang Chi, about a brilliant martial artist, which has found its lead character actor, and his villainous opponent, The Mandarin, who will be played by Tony Leung, who has starred in Hero and The Grandmaster:

 

And for the rest:

 

 

Also, one more movie I’m really excited about, because I just love this idea of time traveling to save loved ones, and its an opportunity to showcase, yet another, little Black girl in a Thriller, is this little gem, called Don’t Let Go! I thought at first it was going to be a ghost movie, but it turns out to be a little more in depth than that, and I’m here for it..

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten SNL Skits

I grew up watching Saturday Night Live. I would stay up late at night, when I wasn’t supposed to be up, just to watch my favorite comedians. SNL is well over thirty years old now, and its really hard to pick the best ten skits, so I’m just going to stick with my ten favorites. There are definitely more, but I’m limiting this to ten, or we’d be reading all day, because ideally, I could do the top ten of each season, or even each decade. I tried not to pick the classics that everyone else picks, but the ones that especially resonated with my childlike silliness.

 

Samurai Delicatessen and Hotel /John Belushi

This is one of the first skits I remember seeing. I didn’t know who John Belushi was, and I’d never really watched the show that closely, but this one just caught me up, and I was thoroughly tickled. This is probably hella racist, but in my defense I was about 14 at the time, and this is very clearly a parody of Toshiro Mifune’s character from Seven Samurai, rather than a critique of Japanese culture in general. Watch Chevy Chase’s perfectly calm reaction to being confronted with two angry, fighting, samurai.

 

Land Shark/Cast

This skit still makes me laugh uncontrollably to this day. Just the idea of sharks getting smart enough to realize that all the food is on land, and knocking on doors, announcing what they are, and people letting them in! This is of course a straight up parody of Jaws, which came out in 1975, and was one of the biggest movies of the 70s.

 

James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub/Eddie Murphy

I showed this one to my mom, a few years ago, and its the first time I’ve ever seen her giggling, but still kind of outraged, as she kept asking why it had ever been made. I explained to her that its just how the mind of Eddie Murphy works. He had so many great skits, from making himself up as a White man to clock racism, to a parody of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, that it was really hard to pick just one of them.

 

 

The Continental/Christopher Walken

I loved it whenever Christopher Walken appeared on the show, because I hoped for an episode of The Continental, which was about a horndog, who was always trying really hard to get this one women to spend the night with him. She always managed to escape, usually while giving him his comeuppance.

 

 

Church Chat/Dana Carvey

A perfect parody of little, old, chastising church ladies. The Church lady was fearless in her critique of perfectly innocuous things, that nobody else was ever angry about, and you just know she had a purse full of Kleenex, and peppermints.

 

 

Black Jeopardy/Chadwick Boseman

I’m still laughing about this because it was so timely, and  the Black Jeopardy skits are all ridiculous. I could have listed the one from 2016, which featured Tom Hanks,as Doug, because that was one of the more political versions, but I went with this one, because I like the idea of T’Challa, from Black Panther, starring in a game show about African American vernacular, and winning.

 

 

Ed Grimley/Martin Short

Ed is, for some reason, one of Martin Short’s little known SNL characters, and I don’t know why, considering that this character even had his own cartoon show. I like Ed more than any of Short’s other characters because he’s just sooo weird. He also reminds me, not a little bit, of Pee Wee Herman.

 

 

Sprockets/Mike Myers

Mike Myers is probably one of the greatest SNL cast members on the show, and he has a lot of great characters to choose from, from Linda Richman to Wayne’s World , but his character, Dieter, from Sprockets, this Germanic, avante-garde, parody of German art culture in the 80s was the funniest for me. It was really really weird, and being the strange girl that I was I was delighted by it.

 

 

Space: The Infinite Frontier with Harry Caray/ Will Farrell

Will Farrell has so many great characters to chose from, but I wanted to pick this little known fellow, who was this incredibly clueless host of a talk show, who was barely aware of what talk show he was on, let alone what the topic was. He said such bizarre things to his guests, that the most fun part was watching his guests try not to laugh at him. I didn’t know until much later that this was a parody of an actual sports telecaster!

 

 

Buh Weet Sings/Eddie Murphy

This is one of the classic sketches from the Murphy years. I couldn’t leave this without adding a second one from him. I remember knowing all the wrong words to the songs he was singing in this sketch. This was a parody of the little racist Sambo character from the original incarnation of The Little Rascals, called Our Gang, from the 50’s, and that was actually how the character spoke. Was it racist? Hell yes! Was Murphy’s  parody funny as shit? Hell yes!

 

 

Honorable Mention

Billie Crystal’s Clueless Talk Show host of Fernando’s Hideaway, who somehow managed to get a hit song based on this famous catchphrase:

 

Top Five Guest Stars

Christopher Walken

 

Alec Baldwin

 

Jeff Goldblum

 

Justin Timberlake

 

Tom Hanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep! I Saw It On YouTube

I’ve kept my posting light this week, because its too hot to concentrate on stuff, and I’d been prepping to do some cooking and grilling for the fam this week. Mom and I have got this thing down, where she does the prep work and I do the grilling and checking.

So here are a bunch of videos that gave me a happy this week, and one that didn’t!

 

The Mighty Grand Piton

I can’t wait to see what this is about! Do you know how many Giant Robo cartoons there are out there featuring little Black girls, set in the Caribbean?

That’s right! None! Plus I just like saying the name Mighty Grand Piton!

So right now, I think this show is only in the pilot or planning stages.

https://www.thelineanimation.com/work/the-mighty-grand-piton

 

 

Eugene Lee Yang (From Youtube’s The Try Guys):Coming Out 

Last week, Eugene Yang came out. I mean we all sorta guessed, but its my understanding that coming out isn’t about our feelings, its about the feeling of the person doing the outing. So this was his big public coming out, and he had some things he wanted to get off his chest about that, so he directed and produced this video, and its just beautiful.

In the following video, he talks about the process of choreographing and designing it.

 

Look Behind You

I’m not gonna say this made me happy, but it was deliciously scary, and I highly recommend Brian Coldrick’s book, on which these images are based. Its called Behind You, and is a great Halloween gift, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

 

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep is based on the Stephen King book, of course, and is a sequel to The Shining. Here Danny Torrance, (ewan McGregor) is all grown up, but is still trying to master his psychic visions, while working in a nursing home. He gets  drawn into a psychic battle between a little girl named Abra, and a group of psychic vampires called The True Knot.

I did enjoy the book on this, although I wouldn’t classify it as one of my favorite King novels. The movie looks promising, and the director looks as if he’s taken some care with the adaptation, but I don’t know if I’ll be seeing it in the theater.

 

 

Itsy Bitsy

See, its movies like this that give spiders a bad name. Its just straight up spider bigotry is what it is (said by someone with who does not have even a healthy amount of arachnophobia.)

 

 

Carnival Row

I love the visuals in this, and I will probably watch it. I know nothing about this except its airing on Amazon Prime, sometime this year. I love “Urban” Urban Fantasy, and this looks gorgeous, and intriguing, and, as far as I know, is an original story, starring Carla Delevingne, and Orlando Bloom ( who is looking gritty and unrecognizable). Its a serial killer/detective story, with mythological creatures immigrating to America, to escape some type of war, and looks like its set in the early 20th century.

 

 

Undone

Amazon is getting all interesting and shit this year. I don’t know if the same guys are behind this TV series, but it heavily reminds me of A Scanner Darkly, which was an animated movie about philosophy, which starred Keanu Reeves, and looked a lot like this. Here, Rosa Salazar, from Battle Angel Alita, experiences  some trippy, “timey-wimey”, visions, after a car accident. I will defintiely check out the first episode but I wont guarantee I’ll keep watching it. When TV shows start to get too trippy, , like Legion, I have a hard time mentally processing them.

 

 

Ready or Not

For some reason, I’ve already fallen in love with this movie. The idea that you need to audition to get married into this family, by surviving them trying to kill you, is hilarious. It also has a Cabin in the Woods type feel, in that I think the family members are on a schedule, where they have to kill you, or something really bad happens to them. Also, I just find the idea of killer brides, to be deeply funny.

 

 

Knives Out

This movie has the same flavor as Ready or Not, but with the feel of an Agatha Christie novel, starring all my favorite actors. I once mentioned to a friend of mine that  all horror movies could be boiled down to the plot of Ten Little Indians, which is basically, put a bunch of people in a space they can’t escape from, and start killing them. This looks more like a traditional whodunnit, with humor added, and check out Chris Evans being an asshole, Post-Captain America!

 

 

Jacob’s Ladder

The original Jacob’s ladder ttotally freaked me out, but only because of its novelty. I dont think you can reproduce that feeling here for people who saw the first movie, but the idea of a Black version of it never occurred to me. I guess this is the age of Balck people as the stars of horror movies now, thanks to Jordan Peele. Everyone wants to try to capture that magic of seeing us in new and different roles, and not all of these movies are going to be successful. This doesn’t look as scary as the original. but it does look intriguing. Incidentally, there is a whole thing where movies starring White casts, got remade with all Black casts, so this isn’t a new thing.

The movie does have two things going for it: Michael Ealy, and Nichole Beharrie, who both come with their own, but different, built in, fanbases.

 

Nope!

Charlie’s Angels 

I’m so disappointed I’m not even gonna subject you to this trailer. If you wanna see it, you’re gonna have to punish yourself. I really did expect better.

Instead, why don’t we do a refreshing throwback to some  90s, R&B, with one of my favorite videos from TLC:

Mini Reviews: Swamp Thing; Good Omens; NOS4A2; and “Ma”

Swamp Thing

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I read these comic books like they were religious texts, way back in the eighties, when they were being drawn by Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, when it was called Saga of the Swamp Thing. The books existed before these two artists worked on them (since 1972) but I only read a few of them, sporadically. I had a general idea of the history of the character when I started reading the books, and from the beginning, Swamp Thing has always been heavily based on body horror, with occasional excursions into mystery, dream logic, humor, and  psychedelia, especially during Alan Moore’s run in the mid-80s.

The original story is a scientist, Alec Holland, working on a sort of bio-restorative formula involving plants, for  Arcane Industries. The CEO’s niece is Abigail Arcane, and she develops a relationship with Alec after he becomes the Swamp Thing, which occurs after he falls into the swamp during a murder attempt. Alec spends most of his early years trying to find a cure for what happened to him, and running from the Arcane corporation. Arcane himself is eventually killed, after turning himself into a hybrid insect like creature, in an attempt to reproduce the Swamp Thing effect.

I started reading the books in earnest when Alan Moore started writing the story and his approach changed the entire plot and nature of the story. He crafted a story that was beautiful, majestic, and terrifying in brand new ways. If you’re going to read any of the Swamp Thing books, start a few issues before Moore’s run, (when Len Wein was the writer) so you can get an idea of what the main character was like before that big change. Alan Moore’s run starts with the story The Anatomy Lesson.

That said, the TV show contains little of these qualities. It moves too fast and paradoxically moves too slow, in that we keep waiting for events to happen on screen. Why? Because these are some of the least interesting characters in a TV show. Abby is an earnest, but essentially boring young woman, and a lot of it has to do with the actress who was chosen, I suspect, more for her looks, than any kind of gravity she may have as an actress. The man playing Alec Holland is both unlikable and boring. There a a handful of exciting moments when the plant life in the movie gets a bit rambunctious, and attacks everybody, but those moments are not scary. There is a little bit of the body horror element from the comic books. Why the plant life in the swamp is acting a fool, I don’t know. I must have missed the explanation when I tuned out for a moment.

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I simply could not get into these characters, which is important if I expect to care about a show. I didn’t care about either of these people. I realized this when Abby experiences some pointless drama in the form of a mother figure who hates her for accidentally killing her other daughter, and makes a scene at a party. I tried to care, but this dramatic moment, this pathos, happens too soon, and I don’t know this character enough to give a flying hot damn who does, or doesn’t, like her in the show. Alec likes her, and the two of them flirt a little bit, but since I didn’t like him, and she doesn’t have enough of a personality, I didn’t buy their budding romance. It doesn’t help that the two of them have all the chemistry, and  romantic passion, of a pair of titmice. Nor did I care when Alec gets killed later in the episode and gets turned into the Swamp Thing. I should have cared. I wanted to care. I didn’t.

I feel like the show’s creators put in too many pointless action scenes that don’t actually help the story, or build Abby and Alec’s relationship, or give them much character. We start the episode off with the plants attacking a boat of strangers in the middle of the swamp. The show immediately gets on my bad side, when the only Black man I’ve seen in the entire episode, gets killed in the first ten minutes of the show, and it serves no purpose other than to introduce us to the plants, the only creatures that have a strong personality. I’m hoping that’s the point, and that its a callback to the most famous Swamp Thing story ever written, The Anatomy Lesson. Alec gets turned into the Swamp Thing at the end. I felt that was too soon, and also  that the show had just been vamping to reach that particular moment, because things happened to these characters, and we’re meant to care, but we haven’t spent enough time with either of  them to care about anything that has happened, or will happen to them,  and we wouldn’t want to spend more time with them anyway, because they are  boring. There’s just no spark to these people at all.

I cannot recommend this show. I’m going to persevere  because there’s the possibility of improvement, and the rest of the season may have better tone and pacing than the premiere. The show has since been canceled, so I have all the time in the world to  get around to watching these episodes. I don’t think it was canceled because it was bad. There was some kind of internal fight going on between the creators, the networks, and the producers.

 

+

Good Omens

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This is the total opposite of Swamp Thing. It helps that I’m a fan of David Tennant, who always plays somewhat the same character in everything, but since he’s so charming, and funny, he can get away with it. I even like Michael Sheen, although I’m not as familiar with his career as I am with Tennant’s. The two of them star as an angel and a demon who are trying to prevent the apocalypse because they love living on Earth.

The show is heavily based in Christian mythology, but you don’t need to know all of that to like the show, since a lot of things get explained to you, even as you get thrown in the deep end. There’s a lot of information that gets thrown at you, in voiceovers, and characters speaking their thoughts, but it never feels overwhelming, because the imagery is so much fun. This show doesn’t take any of itself seriously.

Keep in mind that although I’m familiar with the book, I haven’t ever read it. I’m a Neil Gaiman fan, and I’ve read a little bit of Terry Pratchett, and I can’t think  of two more interesting people to write a biblical mythology story together. I like to think of this as a love letter to Christian mythology, sort of like the biblical version of Galaxy Quest. None of this story is done from a place of hate or disrespect. Its an irreverent show, naturally, but its not mean-spirited.

The two celestial entities were both responsible for trying to bring about the End Times, but end up botching the whole thing by losing track of where they put the Anti-Christ. The two celestial entities eventually find the Anti-Christ a week before the apocalypse is set to begin, having been working with the wrong boy who was suspected to be the Anti-Christ, but wasn’t. Just the whole lead up to the two of them losing the Lucifer’s son is hilarious, involving various dim witted and jealous demons, a sect of Satanic nuns, and the pregnant wife of some nobody from a small town in England.

God is portrayed by a woman (Frances McDormand), Adam and Eve is played by a Black couple, and Benedict Cumberbatch is Satan, (but we already knew that). I loved all the colorblind casting going on in the show. The demons are played by every race of humanity, including an Asian woman, and a Black man with a tiny lizard living on top of his head. I’m still unsure if the lizard is the demon controlling the man, or if he is just wearing the lizard for decoration. We get the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse on motorcycles, some of which are women, and the gateways to Heaven and Hell are the escalators in  the local mall. I love the dialogue, and the acting here. The show is just fun to listen to, and watch, and its utterly ridiculous.

But the highlight of the show is the relationship between the demon and the angel. The two of them are meant to work together to bring about the end of the world, and have known each other for centuries, having developed a great deal of affection for one another. Neil Gaiman himself says that its a Romance. Since both of them are asexual beings, they have to express their love and affection for one another in different ways, and they often do. The actors have such great chemistry and its a joy to watch them interact.

I have not finished watching all the episodes, but I don’t think you need me to say that as wild as that first episode was it just gets zanier. Good Omens airs on Amazon Prime.

 

NOS4A2

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Yeah, I was gonna write this long thing about how I loved the book, but was disappointed in this show, but Imma be frank. I fell asleep on it. Zachary Quinto is his usual creepy, yet excellent self, but the lead actress is bOOOOOring! And it is definitely the actress. On the other hand, the show looks great!

NOS4A2 is written, not by Stephen King, although I can see where people might get that idea.  It was  written by his son, Joe Hill, who I’m a big fan of. Charlie is a young lady with the ability to find any object. She discovers this power by riding her bicycle through a magical covered bridge. This draws the attention of a vampire like creature named Charlie Manx, who for decades has been abducting children, and feeding on their innocence, which  turns the child into  a cannibalistic vampire-like creature not unlike himself. All of these feral children live in what Manx calls Christmasland, a perpetually wintry land decorated like Christmas.

Now, I do like to give shows the benefit of the doubt, when the premiere does not inspire enthusiasm, and give the rest of the season a cursory glance at least, but I really don’t want  to sit through that actresses’ lackluster acting for the rest of the season. There’s also the possibility that the show is just too complicated to be written for TV. So, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna try again, and see if it gets any better, because I want to like the show as much as I liked the book.

*

I have watched a couple more episodes of the series, and I’m starting to actually like it. The acting is better, I like the lead actress more than I did in the pilot, there isn’t any less of the family drama that I cared so little about in the pilot, but I understand a little more of the family dynamics in the show, and the villain is suitably creepy. Zachary Quinto is his usual elegant self. I could really do without the Magical Negro though.

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

The Magical Negro is a trope created by white people: the character is typically, but not always, “in some way outwardly or inwardly disabled, either by discrimination, disability or social constraint”. The Negro is often a janitor or prisoner.[7] The character often has no past but simply appears one day to help the white protagonist.[8][9]He or she usually has some sort of magical power, “rather vaguely defined but not the sort of thing one typically encounters.”[8] The character is patient and wise, often dispensing various words of wisdom, and is “closer to the earth”.[6] The character will also do almost anything, including sacrificing him or herself, to save the white protagonist, 

This character definitely fits that trope. We know nothing about her personally, and she shows up right when the lead character needs her,  so she can talk her into fighting the villain, which she knows all about, but seems unable to fight herself.  This actually is a character from the book, although I don’t remember that she was a Black woman. I wouldn’t be surprised because Stephen King has always had this problem of adding Magical Black people to his stories, and Joe seems set to follow his father in that regard. It ‘s also very distracting that she looks like one of my favorite YouTube,  makeup tutorial, personalities, and that’s all I can think about when I see her.

In one of the season previews there’s a scene of that character, being beaten up, and I’m not here for that, because I’m just fucking tired of watching Black pain on TV right right now, no matter how necessary the writers think it is. On the other hand, I suppose I should be grateful that at least her story doesn’t involve police brutality.

I don’t know that I want to watch the rest of the season. The show has gotten better, since that first episode, but my enthusiasm still isn’t up there yet.

 

 

Ma

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I had no plans to go see this movie. It wasn’t even on my radar, but my Mom managed to talk me into watching this with her after I abruptly lost interest in watching Godzilla. I’m a Godzilla fan, but I was just too tired to sit through two hours of Kaiju fighting. I thought Ma would be a bit more relaxing, in the excitement department, and it kind of was, but it was also kind of emotionally wrenching. Ma is a very sad movie. There’s also a few moments of graphic violence, and one full frontal scene of Luke Evans, but I can guarantee you will not enjoy it.

Octavia Spencer plays a woman named Sue Ann, who works at a veterinary clinic, in a Podunk little town, that people desperately want to escape from. She is a lonely, and put upon woman, and one of the few Black people who live in the town. The movie doesn’t have an obvious racial message, but as I’ve said before, there is a racial component, simply because they cast  Octavia, rather than the White actress the role was written for. So, because Tate Taylor cast a Black actress, there’s an element of racism in how she is treated by all these White people in the story, and there is a tiny bit of awareness of this when Sue Anne attacks the only Black man in the movie by slathering his face with white paint. She is condemning his “go along, to get along”, attitude with his White friends, by  whitewashing him. I think that particular moment was added by Spencer, because it is so specifically a Black condemnation. In the Black community, one of the worst insults you can give someone is to say they’re a “Wannabe White”, or that they are “acting White”, and that is her way of showing contempt for him.

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Sixteen year old  Maggie is moving back to the little town with her mother, Erica, played by Juliette Lewis, after her parents divorce. Luke Evans plays the town’s local hottie, Ben Hawkins, who all the girls lusted after back in high school, and who owns a small fleet of vans for his small security company. They all have children, and Sue Ann runs into them while they are trying to buy beer at the market. She get them the beer, but the makes them promise to only drink at her house. After a while, all the local teens are partying at Sue Anne’s house, and Sue Anne is getting to experience what its like to be liked and popular in a way she didn’t get in high school. The original teenagers, sensing her neediness, start trying to avoid her, which pisses her off. driving.

This is one of those little towns where everyone grew up together, and everybody knows everyone, because they all went to the same school.  A lot of what happens in the movie arises out of events that happened when Erica, Ben, and Sue Ann were kids. Sue Ann and Erica were supposedly friends, and both of them had crushes on Ben. Ben thought nothing of Sue Ann, who became emotionally disturbed after he orchestrated her sexual humiliation in front of the whole school. Sue Ann has a host of issues, and yes, she is mean, and she is a killer, and while her  long standing need for revenge against Luke, and the others,  is completely out of proportion,  you get why.

You’ll probably hear a lot about how insane this movie was and there are elements of crazy in the movie, but its really not all that wild. Its been advertised as a Horror/serial killer type of movie, and while  there are some horrible elements, its mostly a Thriller, a campy movie with moments of uncomfortable laughter, because a couple of the characters are a little over the top in their performances, and there’s just a tiny hint of subversive humor. This movie doesn’t take itself completely seriously.

I have to take a moment to  scream about the performances. Octavia Spencer tears it up wonderfully. You can tell she was having sooo much fun making this, but just manages to miss chewing the scenery. Its a fine line, which she just manages to skirt. Her performance is phenomenal, and scary, and surprisingly sympathetic. There’s one scene where she is in a rage, sitting in her car, and some teens drive past and throw a can of beer at her, and she breaks down and cries. She has been mistreated by lots of people up to that moment, but apparently that was just one time too many, and she just loses it. She very cold-bloodedly kills at least three people in this movie.

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It’s rare to see a movie villain in a vulnerable moment, though, and its not until a little later that you understand why she’s like that. Sue Ann is a sad, angry, little woman, desperately seeking the love and attention she was denied as a teenager, and after you see her back story, you have some idea why the town folk treat her the way they do. She just wanted what any ordinary teenager wanted, which was to be the  popular girl, and get the popular guy, and that guy betrayed her trust. By hosting the teen’s parties at her home, she gets to relive her teenage years, the way they should have been, and she gets addicted to that.

Make no mistake, she is a villain and what she is doing is absolutely wrong, but like Eric Killmonger, you feel for her, and her story resonates with you, although you can’t agree with any of her tactics. Now, this is what I mean about what happens when you change a single component of the story. You end up with some deeper moments than you thought you would, because in the hands of a White actress, this would have become your run of the mill, crazy, killer woman story, but changing the race of the lead character only, adds an uncomfortable racial component, that wouldn’t otherwise be there. This same thing happened with the movie Alien, whose principal role was written for a man. At the last moment they cast Sigourney Weaver, and inadvertently made her a Feminist icon in doing so, without being an overtly Feminist film. Ma isn’t in that league, but it is a more interesting movie than it would have been, because of Octavia’s casting.

The second best actress in the movie is Juliette Lewis as Erica. I really feel that Lewis is one of the finest actresses in Hollywood, but because of the kinds of characters she plays, she really doesn’t get enough love and/or recognition. She is one of the few White actresses I stan, but because she always seems to play working class, and poor women, people tend to equate her with her characters, and think of her as not being especially bright. I would love to see a movie with just her and Spencer,, because together, the two of them are awesome.

Here, Lewis plays a newly single Mom, who is feeling some amount of guilt for leaving Maggie’s father, and moving them back to her home town, which  she was so desperate to leave. There’s an element of shame in her return, as well. None of these things are explicitly stated. Its all in her performance, and her interaction with the other characters, and their thinly veiled contempt of her. There’s also a certain amount of guilt in her seeing Sue Ann again. You can see the tension between the two of them, when Sue Ann visits Erica at home, and Erica acts relieved, as if she’s glad Sue Anne doesn’t hold a grudge against her. Erica never came to her aid, or did anything to help, after Sue Anne’s humiliation.

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Later in the movie, Erica drops the civility mask  between her and Maggie, who she has been coddling since the divorce, even though you can sometimes see her disapproval  at Maggie’s decisions. She puts her foot down, and gets her daughter in line, to try to save her life, and my Mom loved the moment she stopped trying to be Maggie’s friend. One of the rawest moments in the movie is when Sue Ann is threatening Maggie, and Erica pleads for Sue Ann’e  forgiveness, in an attempt to save her daughter’s life. Lewis really sells it, and you feel for both these women, who still feel as if they’re paying for mistakes they made decades ago, but nobody will allow them to forget.

I’m still not sure how how I feel about this movie two weeks later. I should say I liked it. I can’t say that. I didn’t hate it though, and its not a bad movie, and the performances make it worth watching.

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