Siren: Season One Review

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Siren is an interesting show, but its not necessarily a great one. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like about this show, and parts of it are very compelling, but it does have a couple of  issues, that become  obvious over time.

When I first saw the trailers for the show, I had the idea that it would be a typically cheesy series. Maybe a little darkness. A little horror. I wasn’t sure what the lead actress was trying to convey in the ads. Without any context, it just looks like bad acting. It turns out there’s a reason the actress looks the way she does, and a lot of that has to do with the attitude of the character she’s trying to depict, and can mostly only show through her body language, which is very distinctive. Rynn is a predator, and her behavior reflects  the catlike, prickly, attitude of a creature you don’t want to mess, with because it has no qualms about hurting you, as one poor human predator learns when he tries to molest Rynn, after picking her up on the road.

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Eline Powell plays Rynn, who comes to land in search of her sister Donna, who has been captured by the US military and is being experimented on, (for Gob knows what reasons), by a man named Decker. During Rynn’s  search for Donna, she meets Ben and Maddie,  oceanographic researchers at some small local institute.

Ben  is the eldest son of one of the founding families of the town, whose foundation was built on  the slaughter of some mermaids in the 1800s, something that will come back to haunt its inhabitants. Maddie is the girlfriend Ben’s mother disapproves of, and the adopted daughter of the town sheriff, Dale Bishop. Ben has three close friends (Xander, Calvin, Chris, and Xander’s father), who work on a fishing trawler, a goody- two- shoes brother, and  a mother who was hurt in some kind of accident, and uses a wheelchair.

One night, the trawler captures Donna but she is stolen away them by the Navy, along with Ben’s  friend and co-worker Chris, who was scratched or bitten by Donna. He and Donna eventually escape imprisonment but not before Donna is horribly traumatized, and has a chance to bespell Decker with her siren song.

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Rynn’s presence in the town of Bristol Cove opens up a history’s worth of secrets, most of these secrets are smugly alluded to by a local shop owner named Helen. She has secrets. The town has secrets. Everybody’s got secrets. Its just secrets all the way down. Later, we find out that Helen used to be one of the mermaids, but gave up her life in the sea, to become human.

Donna is understandably angry at being mistreated by humans, and wants to destroy as many of them as possible. She is eventually aided in this endeavor, not by Rynn, who is fascinated with humans, but by two other mermaids, who are angry at humans for over fishing their cove, while the mermaids starve. Eventually tensions reach a high, and a mini-war begins, between the mermaids who have been so traumatized by humans that they want them all dead, and the humans who are suffering losses because of the mermaid’s retaliations.

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The show has some well done action scenes, with some nice stunt work, and the cinematography is well done. There are times when people’s actions, and motivations are unclear, and as I said earlier, some of the acting is not the best, especially the actress who plays Maddie, but that might be because, in the first episodes, she isn’t given very much to do, beyond  looking  pleasant or worried.

We watch  Rynn’s English get better, and she starts to act more human, but still retains just enough of her natural mermaid behavior, to seem thoroughly alien. You can tell the creators put some real thought into how a water based, highly intelligent, predatory being would behave if it found itself in human culture. Pay close attention to the mermaid’s body language, not just when interacting with humans, but with each other as well.

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But this show may be  most well  known for its sheer diversity in front of the cameras. Almost every culture is represented by at least one character, along with several characters of mixed race, like Xander. Helen is played by Rena Owen who is of Maori descent. So it seems fitting she’d play a mermaid. There are Black mermaids, like Donna, which is a first in a network TV show, and the show’s creators manage to make her look thoroughly convincing.

It is not until you see Donna in her natural form that you remember that most fantasy creatures are depicted by White people, unless the plot calls for them to be villains, and despite the fact the Europe isn’t the only place in the world where the mythology of mermaids exist.  Donna does some questionable things (so does Rynn) but the writers are careful never to code her as bad or evil. She is traumatized, and justifiably angry, and the writers allow her to express this without apology, refusing to give in to the stereotype of making her an irrationally angry Black woman, and it is clear that the writers took some time to research the African legends of Mami-Wata, which is what they seemed to have based her character on.

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http://blog.swaliafrica.com/mami-wata-the-mermaids-in-african-mythology/

There’s an Asian mermaid, a Black merman, an Indigenous sheriff, and numerous individuals of various races randomly dropped into the background.

A lot of these actors are not well known, (Rena Owen is the only one  know) and a few of them are first timers, and it shows in the degree of their acting skills. Its not quite as bad as the “schmacting” in some of the  CW shows, but every now and then, you get taken out of the story by someone hitting a wrong note. But that’s okay because the show makes up for it, with its depiction of the mermaids and their culture. If you’re expecting Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid then this ain’t the show for you.

And yes, the mermaids do sing, but not in a recognizably human way. The creators seemed to have put some thought into that as well. The mermaid’s singing sounds like a low, deep-throated humming sound ,with no especially discernible melody, and no rhythm, and actually does  sound like something you’d hear under water. At any rate ,it seems very compelling to the characters who are subjected to it.

Photo: Freeform/Sergei Bachlakov

Despite all of the diversity on display, the characters don’t pay much attention to it. At first, I was concerned that Ben’s mother simply didn’t want Ben in a relationship with a Black girlfriend, but the real tension seems to  be something personal between her and Maddie, that Ben knows about, but has nothing to do with. We witness Maddie, and Ben’s mother, tiptoeing around each other, before reaching some type of accord.

The mermaids don’t pay any attention to the different skin tones, either. I’m mot inclined to refer to them as different races, because from my point of view, the mermaids are all one race, and have a very distinctive culture. I do occasionally cringe because the mermaids are coded as very animalistic, they sometimes get called animals by the humans around them (including Ben) and so many of them are portrayed by PoC. This cringiness is slightly offset by Rynn calling Ben out on his descriptions of her people, and shaming him for it.

The mermaids are the real intrigue on this show, although there is plenty of drama and mystery. They are shown as being  predators who will kill humans when given the opportunity to do so, (if you come into the water with them, for example). They are capable of coming out of the water, shedding their tails, and putting on a human disguise. The society they come from is matriarchal, and Rynn eventually becomes the alpha female of the particular group that resides in Bristol Cove.

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One of the more interesting things is Rynn’s relationship to Maddie. Because the mermaid’s talk more with their bodies, than their voices, we get a lot of scenes of Rynn standing unnervingly close to people, unexpectedly touching people in an intimate manner, and a general lack of boundaries from her, and this includes Maddie, as well. Ben is sort of compelled to be near her because of the singing, but not Maddie, who hasn’t heard her siren song, but seems just as gobsmacked by Rynn’s  presence as Ben does.

Rynn is starting to think of Ben and Maddie as a kind of family, (possibly as her mates, or something similar), and in her roundabout way, has told Maddie that she loves her (since English is not Rynn’s first language, I suspect something got lost in the translation). She clearly does not think of Maddie as a sister. She has a sister,  and doesn’t treat Maddie anything at all the way she treats Donna, to whom she is, at times, deferential, sisterly, angry, or devoted. To give you some idea: Rynn spends the night at Ben and Maddie’s apartment. They settle her on the sofa with a blanket, and go to their bed. Rynn, unhappy with this arrangement, gets in their bed, and contentedly falls asleep between the two of them.

It’s not a bad show. I’m going to give it a nice, solid, B/B+, but it does need just a bit more polish, and  I am cautiously intrigued by it, despite its  misses. I do wish the acting was a little bit  better, and I do hope we get to see other supernatural beings on the show, as has been hinted at by Maddie. I will be back for a second season if it gets renewed. And you should probably check it out, at least once,  for the novelty of seeing a Black merman.

Weekend Reading (On Gender And Race)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-@arielle_newton

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

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

 

Well, Too Bad We Can’t Stay

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Read on here[x]

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

I’m Looking Forward To Watching…TV

Ooh! There’s some great stuff coming to television this spring. Also, some not so great stuff, but we won’t know that until we look at it, soo…

Now:

Altered Carbon (Netflix): I have not yet watched this. I will get around to it and let you know what I think at some point.

 

 

Ash Vs The Evil Dead Season 3 (Starz): I’ve watched a couple of episodes of this season. Lucy Lawless has returned, and Ash finds out he has a daughter. I don’t think I’ll watch the entire season, but as far as I can tell, the show is even gorier, and zanier, than that first season. Next to Happy, and Legion, its one of the most batshit shows on TV.

 

 

Mute (Netflix): I started watching this but checkedout because I got bored. Since then I’ve read a number of great reviews comparing it to Balderunner and Altered Carbon. I also happen to like the lead actor who  played Eric from the show True Blood. There’s lot so secretive conversations, half naked dancing, and neon, so my tolerance may be a bit low, but I’ll try to watch it again.

March:

(1) Atlanta:Robbin Season (FX): I missed a lot of episodes of the first season, so I had to go back and catch up. I’ve watched the first episode of this new season, and really enjoyed it. You have to see it to believe it. The special guest star for this episode is Katt Williams, playing a man who owns an alligator, and has kidnapped his girlfriend until she pays him back the money she stole.

 

(2) Ravenous (Netflix): I think this show is Swedish, or Danish, or French or something. Its not in English anyway. It’s about a small town beset by zombies, and looks intriguing. I’m taking some vacation next week, so I’ll check it out then, and let you know if the subtitles are worth it.

 

(7) Hard Sun (Hulu): I have no idea what this is aobut, but the description sounded kinda like a British version of The X-Files. I like the X-Files, and I like British shows, but I don’t know that I’ll like this. It just sounds interesting.

 

(7) Hap and Leonard Season 2 (Sundance): I’ve read a couple of the books, and the show looks like fun. The books are definitely an acquired taste, and have a kind Pulp Fiction meets Justified feel to them. I’m interested to see if the show captures the same flavor. I’m not going to bingewatch it though, just check out a couple of episodes. The trailers look like fun, but I don’t know that I’d enjoy a steady diet of this.

 

(8) Jessica Jones Season 2 (Netflix): I couldn’t make it through the first season of the show for…reasons. Maybe I’ll have better luck this weekend. I want to like Jessica, but she is such a downer type person, that its hard to watch her series. She was cool in The Defenders, and the trailers look a bit more appetizing though, so I’m going to try again. Maybe I’ll see more WoC in this season, yeah?

 

(9) The Outsider (Netflix): Despite my judgmental nature, I’m not actually  willing to completely condemn a show before I watch it. I’m also one of five people who does not simply hate Jared Leto, although I probably should. I’m not a fan, but I’m not averse to watching (or liking) any vehicle he happens to be in.I also happen to like movies about The Yakuza and will pretty much watch anything with them in it, probably because I get a kick out of watching Japanese men behaving badly.

 

(9) A.I.C.O. Incarnation (Netflix): I rarely watch anime series, but this looks interesting and scary, so I’m going to try it.

 

(11) Timeless Season 2 (NBC): I have never watched this, but I’m sure some of you may be interested in it. Its my understanding that the show did some interesting things with the Black character last season, and have not neglected to take into account that he is a Black man, who travels into time periods that are probably not too good for his health.

 

 

(21) Krypton (Syfy): I would not normally have included this, because I have no interest in watching a show that doesn’t actually feature Superman, and the trailers look a little too soap opera-adjacent for my tastes. But hey! I’m sure someone, somewhere is very excited about this, and it might turn out to be a good show.

 

(26) The Terror (AMC): You already heard me gushing about this one. Still gushing!

 

(29) Siren (Freeform): This is like a horror movie version of The Little Mermaid. The acting looks really dodgy, but I’m going to try it, because i’m always here for evil sea-creatures, pretending to be beautiful, but talent-less actresses.

 

(30) The Titan (Netflix): I’m not a huge fan of the lead actor here, but I like the idea of hideous transformations and planetary travel.

 

(30) A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 (Netflix): I missed the entire first season, but hey! it’s still on Netflix, so theoretically I can catch up anytime, right? Well, maybe someone besides me can catch up. I liked the movie okay, but I got bored in the first episode. Not that its a bad, or even a boring show. I’m just much more likely to fall asleep while lying in bed with the Netflix on.

 

 

April:

(2) The Crossing (ABC): I like the premise of this show which reminds me of The 4400, which was canceled right when I was starting to get into it. Hopefully this has shown up at a good time, and will do well. Sometimes half the success of a show is the timing of its release.

 

(3) Legion (FX): I think the first season hurt my brain.This is unlike any other superhero show on television. If you like wild situations, that may or may not be tangentially related to the plot, or even real, occasionally linear dialogue, and zany imagery, then go for it.  I think this show broke my head, but I’m gonna watch it again anyway.

 

 

(8) Killing Eve (BBC): People are always clamoring for female lead shows that are dark and thrilling. Well here you go! I hate the lead character, just from the trailer alone, but I know there’s an audience out there for a female psychopath. I do happen to like and respect Sandra Oh, and she looks wonderful in this.

 

 

(13) Lost in Space (netflix): I don’t know why they’re making a remake of this, but I’ll watch it, since I watched and sorta liked the original. Of course I was a kid when I saw the original so that may have been a factor in my enjoyment, and also I wanted a Robbie the Robot just like in the show.

 

(13) The Expanse Season 3 (Syfy): One of these days I’m going to watch one of the seasons The Expanse, all the way through to the end, after which there shall  commence a day of celebration. There shall be much rejoicing, (and possibly some wailing and gnashing of teeth, too.)

 

(22) Westworld (HBO): AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Allow me to repeat that, in case you didn’t get that…uh’hem! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

 

(22) Into the Badlands Season 3 (AMC):  Well naturally, to punish me for my enthusiasm, my two favorite shows will air on the same night. Fortunately HBO likes to show multiple repeats all week long, so I can watch this, and record the other. And of course you know, this means reviews, reviews, and more reviews.

 

 

 

May:

Apparently, there’s nothing coming on TV in May. All the stations will just be blank, which will be the signal for the Apocalypse to begin, because What the Fuck!!!

Oh yeah right!  Bear Grylls is gonna be doing some shit, on the last day of the month, if you’re into that sort of thing!

SAVED!!!!

 

June

(7) Cloak and Dagger (Freeform): I read this comic book as a teen, but I don’t think this show is gonna be a whole lot like the comic, which is a really good thing, because that book was hella racist. I mean half the stuff they did with those two characters, would not fly on TV today, without a major backlash. Cloak’s superpower is that he absorbs light, and Dagger’s power is that she emits it.

 

(22) Luke Cage Season 2:

Write your own, highly  enthusiastic, response here!

TBD:

Castle Rock (Hulu): We still have received no date for this show. All I know is that its coming to Hulu this year, but I can wait. It looks interesting.

 

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

Image result for the furthest station cover

 

I just finished Aaronovitch’s latest novella, starring Detective Inspector Peter Grant, and I’m very very satisfied. It’s certainly enough to tide me over until Ben’s next full length Peter Grant book, which I can’t wait to see in hardcover, one day.

I can’t recommend this series enough. I’m thoroughly addicted, but I can’t explain exactly why this series is so compelling to me. Is it the low key use of magic? Is it Peter Grant’s mordant snarkiness? Or the fact that he’s of African descent?  Is it the side characters, like Toby the Ghostfinding dog, or Peter’s magically inclined niece, who talks  to the foxes of London, or just the common, everyday,  police procedural stuff? Probably all of the above.

I especially liked this book which I finished it record time, for me anyway, although I do wish it had a bit more Beverly Brook in it. Beverly is one of the physical incarnations of one of the rivers of London. She and her sisters are some of my favorite recurring characters.  Her sisters are the incarnations of the rivers Fleet, Tyburn, and Lea, while their mother is the female incarnation of the Thames. This just tickles the Hell out of me, btw. All of them look African, which I think is an odd/but not odd thing, considering it’s London. I like Beverly, because she has a snarky sense of humor too, and she’s dating Peter.

How do I describe the mood of these books. Well, it’s very low key as I said. There’s magic in it but it’s so subtle as to appear almost mundane. Also Peter, the narrator, is so used to magic, that he describes the most extraordinary events as if they were commonplace. The books are more like police procedurals, with an overlay of magical events, rather than the deep magic world of the Jim Butcher books, which I also love. The series isn’t much like those, if that’s what you’re imagining. First of all, they’re set in London, and the author fully recognizes the diversity, with a large cast of different races of people, most of whom are cops. So Peters magical activities are fully sanctioned by the authorities, and explained away, with no one actually acknowledging their magical origins. There’s magic in this world, and quite a few people encounter it, and believe in it, but it’s so quietly done, that most regular people don’t recognize, or want to realize, that’s what they’ve just experienced.

Peter Grant comes from a musical family, and some of the books go deep into magical theory, and music, which is interesting. His father is a somewhat famous Jazz musician,who is suffering from some, not quite clear, mental illness. I love that Peter is not some lone, token black guy, as he comes from a fairly large family, on his mom’s side, which he mentions visiting from time to time. But for most of his time, he’s at work for The Folly.

The Folly is run by one Thomas Nightingale, whose age is indeterminate, but he’s old enough to be considered a Master Magician, and did some magic, for the Crown, during WW2. Peter is his new apprentice, after having run into a magical serial killer in the first novel. In the current  novella, Peter is doing most of the heavy lifting, as he and a colleague track down a missing woman, who disappeared on the Metro. Her disappearance has incited some very public ghostly activity, which is momentarily frightening to the passengers, although they don’t often remember the scare long enough to tell him the details. Since ghosts are involved, and the Folly is the Special Crimes Investigation Unit, Peter gets the call.

I love the side characters in this series.  From Walidd, the physician who specializes in autopsying magical deaths, to Molly, who is some type of supernatural creature, working as a domestic at The Folly, to Peter’s arch nemesis, The Faceless Man, and his new apprentice, Leslie May, who used to be Peter’s girlfriend.

It’s also been fun watching Peter’s rather innovative, and unorthodox, approaches to magic, to the headshaking chagrin of Nightingale, and Peter’s growing abilities over the course of seven books. He is also starting to get a reputation, among his fellow officers, for blowing things up. There’s at least one major explosion of something in each book, that Peter is at least partially responsible for, although sometimes Nightngale gets in on the action.

The bottom line is, I love this series. I think it’s one of the best British Urban Fantasy series out there. Heck, I love British Urban Fantasy in general.  There are no love triangles, nothing so mundane as vampires or werewolves, and no lone White heroine, worrying about her supernatural boyfriend, or which shoes to match with her weapons. There’s little melodrama, clever writing, and likable, quirky, and diverse, characters. A lot of the magic is based on British History, much of it unique to London, and it’s wealth of magical locations, and objects.  The plots are somewhat involved, but no more so than your typical police novel. With occasional magic.

It’s not too late to get in on this series, which is fun Summer reading material. Each book builds on the next, but it’s not required that you  read them in order, as they are also standalone books.

The Rivers of London or Midnight Riot is the first book,

followed by:

Moon Over Soho

Whispers Underground

Broken Homes

Foxglove Summer

The Hanging Tree

And now The Furthest Station.

*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for free. If  you have a platform, and you’d like to review books for Netgalley, it costs nothing to sign up.

The First Black Female Planeswalker

On August 3, I was excited to unveil a project I’d been working on for nearly a year. I had been working with Magic: The Gathering to produce a brand new character; a character who is a biggie for their Planeswalkers cast of characters. Kaya, Ghost Assassin has made history as the first black woman […]

via The Creation of Kaya, Magic: The Gathering’s First Black Woman Planeswalker — thenerdsofcolor

Talking on Tumblr

Not me!

My general attitude when reading things on Tumblr is this: That’s really all I can do on Tumblr, which doesn’t invite a whole lot of immediate discussion. If you want fast discussions, Twitter is good for that, but discussions on Tumblr take a while and sometimes you may never know how the discussion went unless it shows back up on your dashboard. If you can find these discussions, please visit…

View On WordPress

Talking on Tumblr

My general attitude when reading things on Tumblr is this:

That’s really all I can do on Tumblr, which doesn’t invite a whole lot of immediate discussion. If you want fast discussions, Twitter is good for that, but discussions on Tumblr take a while and sometimes you may never know how the discussion went unless it shows back up on your dashboard.

If you can find these discussions, please visit the original websites (which sometimes include tags) and  make haste to go read them because sometimes these little talks can get lost and you’ll never be able to  find them again.

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File this under things people need to know. Don’t just accept this person’s word for it, though. Do the research. My job is researching things, so I have and can vouch for the truth of it, but you should still look these names and themes up for yourself. Google is your friend!

rdtrashpanda:

ginsengmask:

at the women’s studies conference I went to last semester, someone did a presentation about how the myth of the black “welfare queen” was created and it’s so crazy to think that Reagan managed to make the American public believe that all black women were simply lazy and took advantage of the system when in reality, Reagan’s whole tirade against these supposed elaborate schemes of black women were based off of one Linda Taylor who assumed over thirty aliases and amassed a large amount of riches through a number of different ways (theft, forgery, insurance fraud, child abdication). It’s so easy to sway this country to believe racist allegations such as these because they don’t even care to find evidence to support such claims, they honestly just want an excuse to paint the black community as lazy criminals

The book I’m reading, The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah, talks ab Nixon and Reagan specifically using coded language to create the illusion of “race neutral” politics that were truly created to harm Black people such as Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” where Nixon told an advisor, “you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the Blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this without appearing to” and Reagan’s “war on drugs” when Reagan launched a propaganda effort to associate drugs and crime with people of color, creating the stereotypes of “crack whores” “crack babies” and young Black men as “predators” that we still see today

What’s even weirder is that Linda Taylor was such a consummate con artist that she lied about her race and people believed her. She was born to white parents (and might have had some Indigenous American ancestors), but told people she was Black, Asian, Hispanic, & Jewish as it served her needs. The myth of the Black Welfare Queen is based on a long term con run by a white woman.

(via dynastylnoire)

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Sometimes some deeply philosophical discussions occur, like people vs utilitarianism, and how some of that philosophy ties into different forms of bigotry:

jorj-cardas:

gap-var-ginnunga:

siriustachi:

siriustachi:

silversarcasm:

bloodblonde89:

fluttersheep:

silversarcasm:

the idea of people having to be ‘useful’ is just so gross, like people do not exist to be used

having to produce something and have a use is a capitalist ideal and not an intrinsic part of humanity

just by being alive you are human and you are worth something and you can never be useless

this applies to animals as well

“Having to like DO THINGS is SO OPPRESSIVE. No one had to like DO THINGS before evil capitalism. In ancient times food, water, and shelter just existed and everything was taken care of for me”

Guess what happened to people who didn’t do things before capitalism? They died. Cause if you weren’t hunting, gathering, or useful in some aspect of nature. You were killed, died or starvation, dehydration, or exposure.

Being useful is literally part of our biology. Fucking moron. You pull some idea out of your ass because you literally don’t want to get off your ass.

I’m not saying nobody should ever do things ever, I’m saying people don;t have to produce to an arbitrary standard in order to prove their right to live

And if you really think disabled people deserve to die if we can’t ‘contribute’ or be useful in a way you approve of then congrats youre a fucking monster

actually there’s significant evidence in terms of Neolithic burials that disabled people who would not have been able to hunt for themselves (the archaeological evidence mostly shows mobility disabilities because it’s visible in the bone record) were well fed and cared for by their communities

so the “people like you would have been left to die” argument isn’t just cruel and violently ableist, it’s extremely historically inaccurate and based off of projecting modern prejudice on prehistoric cultures

sources because I’m on my laptop now!

note: in the neolithic era, a person in their 40s or 50s would be considered elderly

12,000-year-old burial of a woman about 45 with mobility disabilities both congenital and acquired

burial of a 40-50 year old Neanderthal man who had survived to old age with a deformed right arm and a long-healed head injury that would have made him blind in one eye

neolithic burial of a man in his 50s who lost the use of his left arm in adolescence

neolithic burial of a man in his 40s with evidence of a significant mobility disability caused by an injured hip and leg, some time in adulthood but long before his death

neolithic Asian burial of a man in his 20s with a congenital disorder which would have made him a quadriplegic around age 14. He survived for 10-15 years after that.

5th century burial of child with Down Syndrome

i read somewhere that you can measure the worth of a society by how it treats it’s helpless, elderly and sick and i think that’s totally on to something. this also ties in with the whole “survival of the fittest” garbage that people (mostly violent machismo men) spew without knowing what it actually means.

the inherent idea of productivity = worth IS a product of a culture based off of industrialization and capitalism, anyone who says otherwise is blinded by bias and needs to read some anthropology.

Animals do this, too. There’s a ten year old orca named Tumbo with severe scoliosis. He’s slower than the rest of his pod, but his mother and brother stay with him and help him hunt. He’s a transient, too, which means he travels great distances daily with his pod, and hunts dangerous prey like seals and sharks. Yet despite his disability, his pod takes care of him, and his pod thrives, even with the care they show him.

As someone said above me, a society can be judged by how it treats the sick, elderly and disabled. If animals can show such compassion, what’s a human’s excuse for lacking the same compassion for a fellow human being?

Source: silversarcasm
nerdsagainstfandomracism

I’m always fascinated by the fact that people can suspend their disbelief long enough to accept/enjoy the fantastic, exaggerated, or straight up ridiculous aspects of fiction. But as soon as someone brings up the idea of making people of color (or any marginalized group) the center of those types of stories, we suddenly have to abide by realism.

-Mod Finn

Anonymous asked:

what does this have to do with feminism? Personally I am really excited for the new movie and I am very interested with the new casting. But all these people are saying is that they don’t agree with changing the movies dynamics they knew and loved.

profeminist answered:

Here’s the problem. Let’s say that in the 70’s and 80’s white guys made up 90% of awesome lead characters in movies. The number may be higher than that but let’s use it as an example.

Now cut to today when Hollywood is rebooting everything beloved. If we don’t “change movie dynamics,” the reboots will also be 90% white men, leaving women and POC out of the picture AGAIN.

The “movie dynamic” that is so beloved is exclusion. It’s male supremacy. It’s white supremacy. It’s the belief that a white guy’s story is universal, while everyone else’s is niche. It is changing, it will change, and it should change. It was unjust in the first place.

Important point guys are missing: if there had been fair representation all along and there were a ton of great franchises led by women when we were all growing up, maybe nobody would need or want to gender-flip franchises, although that would still be fine. 

But there wasn’t. So to say, “don’t change things,” means “keep it white and male, I was the center of the universe and I don’t like having to share.”

Also, FYI those were the polite sexist responses. 

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So not only do we have to put up with the woobification of obvious villains in fanfiction, we also have to contend with the villainization of PoC, like Nick Fury, who was just doing his job.

Sometimes I just get so mad because Phil Coulson respects Nick Fury almost as much as the fandom disrespects Nick Fury. All your faves respect Nick Fury more than fandom does. Steve Rogers respected Nick enough to lie to his superiors and find out what Nick was trusting him with. Natasha Romanoff and Maria Hill were openly hurt when they thought he was dead. Clint trusted Nick enough to tell him about his family, trusted him to find a place for them, keep it off the map and off the books and Nick did that. Hell, Tony even came down out of a doughnut because Nick Fury told him too. The Avengers exist because of Nick Fury. The Avengers have repeatedly fought for and beside Nick Fury. Instead of recognize the complex character that he is, fandom has made the decision to erase, ignore and villainize him, but given that it’s a stupid ass decision, I have elected to ignore it.

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Why Japanese people shouldn’t be asked their opinions on American whitewashing:

thatfoureyedbitchDeactivated

I was watching this video today which was Japanese people reacting to some video called “Weeaboo Cringe Compilation,” and when they started asking Japanese people how they felt about the people in those videos, it was a bunch of positivity and “as long as they’re happy” bullshit. Then I just logged on to fb (which idk why I don’t just delete it at this point) and there’s a video where I guess the producer of the Ghost in the Shell commented on Scar-Jo’s casting, and he’s pretty much like “this is a great way for the story to be told across cultures” bullshit.

And I don’t want to speak over Asian Americans, but that shit pisses me off so fucking much! Stop asking Japanese people how they feel about westerners/Americans wearing Kimonos, wearing yellowface, being cast in live adaptions of their stories, being problematic weeaboo trash, etc! They don’t live in America. They don’t live here. There’s a reason why John Cho and Ming-Na Wen spoke up like “this is bullshit” but a Japanese producer doesn’t care. BECAUSE THIS SHIT LITERALLY DOES NOT AFFECT THEM. At least not negatively. In a best case scenario, the movie is a hit, and Ghost in the Shell gets more readers and people buying the dvds and movies and etc and giving that company more money. Japanese actors can easily get jobs in Japan (as long as they’re good). In America? Asian actors get so few roles that they make up like less than 1% of the roles available (that’s an old statistic, and idk if that’s changed in recent years, so tell me if that’s gone up), and if they do get roles, it’s crappy background characters that are racist stereotypes and caricatures of their cultures. Japanese people don’t have a voice here because it doesn’t affect them. AT MOST, it affects them with western tourists traveling to Japan acting like idiots, but 1) Japan would love the money that would make them and 2) the average Japanese person STILL doesn’t have to deal with an asshole like that. So they don’t get to speak on things and be looked at as the “voice of reason” like we don’t know why Asian Americans are mad/annoyed at the whitewashing!

Japan and the US’s racial makeup is like completely different. So what constitutes as problematic or whatever in one isn’t major in the other and vice versa. A country where any live adaption they did of an anime would easily provide the correct representation can’t speak over a nation where whitewashing of roles about non-white countries and cultures is rampant. And it irritates me because of course the Japanese are going to love someone like Scar-Jo playing a Japanese woman. She’s the epitome of white beauty that gets fed to us to worship. Like, you can’t ask a Japanese person how they feel about this shit without talking about years of white imperialism, the US relationship with Japan (especially after WWII), the image of ideal beauty world-wide being a white woman that looks exactly like Scar-Jo, the status that comes with that level of “beauty” etc. There are too many layers as to why a Japanese person who’s lived his entire life in Japan and will never be in America to live and become a citizen might love the casting while actual Asian Americans who live here won’t. It’s so basic and lazy and fucked up and disrespectful to Asian Americans to even try it. And I’m sick of people doing that shit.

Source:
*I think this poster has a point. Japan is a nearly homogeneous society, that was colonized by westerners, so the dynamic between Japanese people and Asian-Americans  is completely different. Japanese citizens are exposed to Western culture and thinking, but  without the actual Westerners, which creates a great deal of exotification of white people in Japanese culture.
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And there are some deeply important discussions about why Finn is Force Sensitive, along with some very compelling arguments, which I’m inclined to agree with. I’ve watched the movie about three times now, and the argument for this is legit, along with reasons for fandoms unwillingness to accept that he might be:

claranovak asked:

Why is that person so obsessed with disproving FS!Finn, Rey had not awaken at that point of the film. It doesn’t take a master degree. In fact Snoke obviously didnlt know about Rey UNTIL Kylo told him about her much later in the film. Hell, I don’t think even Kylo knew about Rey’s ability until the interrogation scene since he didn’t comment on it when he was mocking her about Han Solo and her friends (it also explains why Kylo seemed so personally angry at Finn in their fight).

luminousfinn answered:

cont. Kylo was obviously as interested in Finn as he was in Rey. That only makes sense if they are both force sensitive and a possible threat. And not just because Finn was some random stormtrooper. Considering stormtroopers get sent into recondition Finn’s doubts wouldn’t have caused that big of red flag alone. There has to be something else about him.

*Oh that ones easy. It starts with r and ends with ism.

When you consider the fact that Finn was envisioned and written as a white man (see all the concept art, in every piece Finn is drawn as a white guy), then all the clues and queues surrounding him isn’t even remotely subtle. And Rey (envision as a white woman) gets the more obvious clues because Abrams, Kasdan & Kennedy et al. knows that people will focus on the (white) man over the (white) woman.

The issue arose when John got cast as Finn and Abrams didn’t do rewrites to account for race. Because if people will focus on the white male over the white female, then they will focus on literallyanyone else (even the blurred out two bit white villain with no skills and less personality in the background) over a Black male lead.

But Abrams subscribe to the colorblind theory so I doubt he would ever even consider this an issue.

Back to your points.

Heck, even when Kylo does tell Snoke about Rey he sort of doubts it and doesn’t seem to have sensed her himself, despite the fact that she used the Force not that long before. (Exact words: “If what you say about the girl is true, bring her to me.”)

And Kylo does initially seem very dismissive of Rey. (Just a scavenger.) Right up until she laser targets his creepy obsession with Vader.

Yeah, since reconditioning is a thing and Phasma seems very much to be on top of things there, Finn’s doubts alone would not have cause Kylo Ren’s obsessive and unusual attention to FN-2187.

And it is very unusual. I’m working on an analysis of the scene between Hux and Kylo Ren on the bridge, during Finn’s and Poe’s escape and it highlights not only the interest Kylo has in Finn, but also how very extraordinary that interest is.

But more on that when I get the whole thing typed out.

Source:

*To elaborate on my contribution to this post: and tie all these posts together. Trust me! There is a theme here and that is “utilitarianism”. The usefulness of other human beings to the narrative. Fandom is nothing more than an extension of ideas given (to them) by Hollywood. Fanfiction, for example, is nothing more than fantasies being written about fantasies, and as a result, all that most Fandom can do, is reiterate the specific dynamics they’ve been taught by Hollywood films, for the past seventy plus years.

The only narratives (and justifications) Hollywood has given the public for having any marginalized person in a movie, is if that person is useful to the white lead characters. This goes for everyone who is not white, straight, cis, and male. For decades most white women could only be in movies unless they served the purposes of the male protagonist.  We even have special words for it: Women in Refrigerators, The Sexy Floor Lamp, The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Their purpose in a movie is not to affect the plot, but to affect the men, who affect the plot.

The same is true for people with disabilities, most often used as “inspiration porn”, to  make the protagonist of the story, or sometimes even the audience, feel good about themselves. Almost the only time you see people with disabilities get cast at all, is in horror movies, as the monsters, or to inspire the main characters and audience to live better lives.

 The same is true for LGBTQ people, which is how we got the term, “the Gay Best Friend”. Usually, they only exist in the plot to give support, and sympathy to the straight characters, or prop up their love lives somehow. In thrillers and horror movies, they exist to be killed, so as to alert the protagonist that the villains are getting close, or to indicate to the protagonist that they are in a Horror movie.

And PoC, serve all these purposes, The Black Best Friend, The Caddie, The Maid, The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, The Black Guy Dies First. The only narrative that most white people have seen PoC perform for the past seventy years is that of being useful to the main characters, who are white. Yes, there are movies that exist outside that dynamic but most white people don’t, or won’t go see those films.

It’s the reason why fandom can’t see PoC in fantasy narratives that include fantasitical creatures like elves and orcs, and why Finn, from Star Wars can never be seen as anything other than Rey’s friend, rather than a possible  love interest. Its the reason people speculate that Michonne should die at Negan’s hands next season, to illustrate Rick’s whitemanpain. It’s the reason white Fandom doesn’t know what to do with T’Challa, other than make him Bucky’s Sugar Daddy,  and the Dore Milaje who challenged their white fave, Black Widow, gets vilified for being a big ol’ meaniepants, when she was merely doing her job of protecting her possible future husband. And its the reason why Nick Fury gets vilified, and Tony Stark gets woobified in fanfiction, for committing much the same types of behavior.

The only narratives most white people have to work from are marginalized people as servants and slaves, counselors, helpers, and  mentors to the white protagonist. And when not cast in  helping roles, then they are infantilized, or erased from their own narratives, so that the White Saviors can look good taking care of whatever problems they can’t solve for themselves.

Hollywood  has insisted on reproducing these  dynamics in film after film after film, since its inception. We should not be at all surprised at all the racism and bigotry we have seen  in the Fandom. Is it any wonder that there is a dearth of imagination, and a complete inability to see marginalized people outside of the boxes  in which Hollywood has kept us. They are merely reproducing the only kind of  stories they’ve been given. The fault isn’t entirely on the fandom. A large part of the fault lies with Hollywood.

This also ties into my earlier posts about how insidious racism and bigotry are. You have to remain vigilant and constantly examine what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it, if you don’t want to end up simply reproducing the racist, ableist, homophobic,  and sexist narratives we’ve all been ingesting since we were children. Its even worse when you  reproduce the mainstream narratives, while believing that you’re being progressive.

 

 

The Magicians : Mendings, Major and Minor/Impractical Applications

With each episode this series is slowly turning into must-watch viewing. I’m actually starting to like Quentin and Penny, the two characters I liked the least because they’re just jerks. Well, I’m at least starting to feel for Penny a little bit more. I much too often would like to pinch Quentin. (I wouldn’t pinch Penn as he’s kind of scary.) I’m still not feeling Alice, although the past two episodes have gone some way towards giving her more character. I continue to find Elliott and Margot delightful. Okay, maybe Elliott is bi-sexual. He seems to be in a relationship with Margot while still pining over Quentin, because Quentin is straight.

151008_2918610_The_Magicians__Trailer_3000x1688_541077059573.jpg

I’m starting to have some deep sympathy for  Julia and the other Hedge-Witches, who are disdained by the magical nobility, (i.e. people who have been classically trained in magic), although the Hedge-Witches do act like magic is a drug and they have serious addiction. Dean Fogg makes it very clear to Quentin though, that he has zero fucks to give about Hedge Witches.

The show continues to only partially follow the script from the books. Some elements of the series, like Julia’s part of the story, happen in the books, but are more fleshed out in the show. Some elements are wildly different from the books. Hilariously, Elliott and Margot are  just like the characters they’re based on. Quentin is less mopey than in the books and there’s a lot more Dean Fogg in the series, which is cool because I like him. He has the unenviable job of herding cats, (that is young magicians), too powerful for their own good, into responsible adults.

The book is entirely from Quentin’s point of view, so the series breaks that up by focusing on the details of individual characters that Quentin knows, otherwise the series would feel very claustrophobic.

In “Mendings, Major and Minor“, we get our first trip to Fillory, and naturally the first person to go there is our resident teleporter, Penny, just as I called it. He doesn’t like or appreciate this new gift. Denise Crosby makes a cameo as Alice’s weird aunt, who runs a kind of magical Camp David, that Elliott and Margot are vying with each other to get close to as a mentor. She is so ” Bohemian Sex in the City” with her attitude. I like her and hope to see more of her.

The students get sent to various mentors based on whatever magical powers they’ve displayed. Quentin’s mentor  is a podiatrist. I’m not sure  she uses any of her magic in her job but Quentin is unimpressed either way.There doesn’t seem to be much focus on what the students will accomplish with their magical abilities, after they graduate, or how this makes them better than Hedge-Witches.

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Penny’s mentor is a curmudgeonly old man who seems entirely disinterested in his student, especially when Penny voices frustration about not being able to block the mental emanations of other psychics. He keeps receiving calls for help from one of the  members of the third year class, who all went missing. She’s being held prisoner by the creature that seems to have overtaken Fillory,  The (Moth Headed)  Beast, who is every bit a s frightening as he was in the books.

Quentin finds out his dad, played by Spencer Garrett, (who has starred in just enough of everything that you sort of vaguely remember him from somewhere), has brain cancer, and just like Alice last episode, he wants to fix the problem with magic. He’s warned against doing this by his podiatrist mentor, who says there are some things magic wasn’t meant to fix. I thought we learned this lesson with Willow (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but I guess it bears repeating in every show that involves magical instruction.

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Quentin  gets drafted  to participate in the Brakebill’s version of that chess game we saw in the first Hogwart’s movie, only this game involves actual magical skills, and is called Welters.

In his quest to save his father, Elliott introduces him to  the hilarious and tragic Cancer Puppy, an unofficial Brakebill’s mascot, that is supposed to remind the students of magic’s limitations. (Since the puppy couldn’t be cured of its diseases, its been held in a kind of puppy stasis.) Quentin, while attempting to cure it, kills it, something which was wholly unnecessary. This is the show continuing  its tradition of pissing off at least one social justice group or organization per episode. Still, Cancer Puppy is really, really cute, though.

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But look on the bright side, Cancer Puppy got fridged for a good reason. Since magical abilities come from adversity and pain, Quentin  gets a significant power boost.

Julia’s situation continues to become more desperate. She tries to get back into the Bodega but is rejected by Pete,who tells her there are other magical houses in the city, in return for a lay. (Hmmph! Still not sexy. Work on it, show!) The houses  are so magic poor that any of them would be desperate to have Julia as a member, so they’re not good places for her to learn anything. She goes to Marina to demand the magic that she took from her, is told that its locked in Marina’s file cabinets, and no one can access them but her. Marina responds later, by mind wiping Julia’s boyfriend James, so that he doesn’t remember  her, taking away Julia’s last slice of normalcy.

Yep! I think we get the idea that Marina is supposed to be a bad guy, but beyond being evil for evil’s sake, I don’t understand what she’s trying to accomplish by treating Julia this way. However, if suffering offers a magical boost, that may be what Marina is after. The more angst Julia suffers, the more powerful she will  become.

It turns out that Kady is just fine and back at school. She is  still stealing magical objects from the school to give to Marina, so Marina has a very good reason for not harming her, which we find out in

 

Impractical Applications:

This episode hews a little closer to events in the books. The students must pass a series of trials or be kicked out of the school. Margot and Elliott (One day I’m going to learn how to spell their names. Don’t look at me like that! Its a  feat that  I remember their names without Googling them), are the ones in charge of putting the first years through their paces, and who the Hell chose these two people to do this? The two of them don’t strike me as responsible enough to  run anything. They spend far too much time giggling and joking for me to take them seriously as instructors.

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Quentin finds that Penny went to Fillory and is excited to find its a real place, even though Penny ain’t having that shit and shut up, Quentin! Quentin tells him The Beast is not part of the Fillory narrative, though.  He and Penny  have to work together through the trials and cheat on one of the tests together.

Penny’s mentor tells him he should limit his  teleportation powers by tattooing an anchor on his arm and Kady agrees to do this for him, while lying to him about her family life, explaining that her mother is dead and she grew up poor, etc.

Kady is still being forced to steal magical artifacts for Marina. It turns out that Kady’s mother, Hannah,  is a Hedge-Witch. In her zeal to learn magic she caused the deaths of several people and Marina took her magic and banished her, but kept her daughter as payment. So Kady is paying off her mother’s life debt or something and they have, at best, a strained relationship.

The Magicians - Season 1

Julia meets Hannah,who hatches a plan to get her magical abilities back from Marina. She tries to get Kady to help them but Kady is uncooperative and angrily walks out on her mother. Julia goes along with her plan and the two of them work the spell together to steal Marina’s filing cabinets full of magical spells (and how low-brow can you get. Filing cabinets?) When Marina finds out what happened, she backtracks the working to them, and kills Kady’s mother.

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In one of the student trials, each student is set to catch some animal for Elliott and Margot and they all pass, but the last test requires them to get naked, tie ropes around themselves, and tell their partner the absolute truth about something, after which the rope will fall off as they transcend. Quentin gets paired with Alice and confesses his years of institutionalization and running from his life, while Alice confesses that she knows how good she is and tries hard not to be the best student because she’s already unpopular enough. Their ropes fall off and they begin to writhe in pain.

Penny confesses that he’s falling in love with Kady, who has to immediately break his heart by declaring that she is just using him to maintain her cover at Brakebills and  never loved or liked him. They all transform into geese and fly off north.

This is a part of the book narrative. They all transform into geese, fly North, and engage in some more magical trials. The book is mixing a lot of original material with events  from the books and if so then our protagonists will get to Fillory, where they will have some type of showdown with The Beast, if the show lasts beyond this season. The show-runners seem to be taking their time about reaching that point as we have had quite a bit of filler. It’s useful filler in that it help us understand these characters better but the plot is still moving very slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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