Recently (as of last week) Netflix held what it called Geeked Week, and aired a bunch of new trailers for shows that it will be airing this year. Some of these don’t actually have dates, or just say they’re coming soon, and then there are the movie trailers that are still being released daily. Here are a few that caught my eye.
The first trailer was a tease of this one. Now I don’t know why we need to be teased about a real trailer that’s coming later, but this is what movie studios are doing now, so alright. I have to admit I know very little about Black Adam outside of him being an enemy of Shazam, with a lot of the same superpowers. I didn’t read any of the comic books which featured him, but I did read a few Justice Society books. The Justice Society is the DC version of The Avengers, I think, but I know more about some of the other characters than I know about him.
I’ve read a few of the Hawkman books (not a lot) but I’m excited about Aldous Hodge (from Leverage) as this character. I love that actor. I’ve read quite a number of books on Dr. Fate’s adventures though, and I never pictured a greying Pierce Brosnan as this character. Dr. Fate is sort of the DC version of Dr. Strange. (It doesn’t matter to me who came first at all.) I thought someone much younger would be chosen. The last Dr. Fate book I read starred a young Asian man as the new Fate, so I was kind of hoping for an Asian actor, but I see the casting company decided to go old-school for this particular iteration.
Well, it looks interesting. I don’t know that I’ll go to the theater to see this because I’m not overwhelmed or anything, but I like Dwayne, and the movie looks kinda fun, with plenty of adventure and explosions.
Yeah, I never even heard of this until a few days ago and I don’t know any of the actors here. I’m not sure what to think of this yet. I will probably check out the first couple of episodes but only because it looks like a Horror version of a superhero movie. Once again this is just a teaser, so maybe after I see the full official trailer I might feel some type of way.
Wednesday Addams is my spirit avatar (and that of a lot of other snarky young women, I imagine). I did watch the Youtube series that aired a few years ago, and that was a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to this version and I hope it’s good. I heard it’s going to be somewhat like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as she goes to live on her own, and fights various supernatural creatures. I like the look of the actress as she seems to have captured the attitude in just this brief glimpse. The actress is actually Latina as befits the daughter of Gomez Addams, and Morticia Addams, who are being played by two of my favorite Latine actors, Luis Guzman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones! Also Christina Ricci will be playing a character in the series, so YAY!!!
This too is just a teaser so when I see a full trailer my opinion may change, but I like this okay.
Wow, I don’t even…
I remember watching this television series as a child, and this Rob Zombie adaptation is so faithful to the original that it’s hilarious. I can tell that this is Rob’s love letter to a TV series that probably influenced his sensibilities for the rest of his life. Everything on the screen feels so authentic, from the makeup and costumes to the attitude, that I wonder how this is going to be different from the original. Once again, this is just Netflix teasing us, so my feelings may change after I see the full trailer.
Oh yeah, Cassandra Peterson, ( The Great Elvira) also has a cameo, so now I’m actually curious.
Prey (Hulu Series)
I would not ever refer to myself as a fan of this franchise although I have enjoyed several movies in it, but this looks intriguing. This is the first television series based on the original film, basically, it’s a prequel, and I’m okay with that. This looks like it’s getting back to the original terrifying roots of the mythology. I remember watching the first movie with Arnold Schwarzeneggar and being frightened out of my pink bunny slippers because no one knew what the hell was happening. Since then we’ve all gotten very used to the Predators thanks to some of the less effective sequels, but I like this one, and I’m going to check it out.
I know. I know, I always say things like that and then I never write a review, or mention it again, but I actually mean it this time.
I like how this trailer just doesn’t explain anything. Is this some future Earth that’s been invaded by an alien lifeform? Are these humans exploring some weird planet? Is this a Lost World story? Who knows! I love weird wildlife movies (like Annihilation), so I will probably give this a look once it starts streaming somewhere.
Yeah, I’m not paying the cost of a mortgage on an unknown quality like this. I’m gonna wait for a safer, less costly venue, the TV in my living room.
The Sea Beast
I don’t know what to think about this beyond that little girl is absolutely adorable but in keeping with most little kids in movies, she’s also kinda annoying. On the other hand, I love monsters, especially monsters from the ocean, so I will probably watch this for the actual Seabeast mentioned in the title. This looks like a buddy movie for kids, and I support that. Maybe I’ll watch this with my ten-year-old niece.
Yup! I got no idea what this is about, but I like historical series set in this particular era, so it has captured my attention. Don’t know that I’m gonna watch it, or that I’ll stick with it beyond the first episode, but it at least looks interesting.
I like the animation here, and it has an Afro-futuristic feel to it, so I’m interested. I don’t normally watch romances either, but the voice actors are a great list, with Kid Cudi as the starring character, and Timothee Chalamet as his smoked-out best friend. It has a great cast of Rap artists and actors (like Jessica Williams from Fantastic Beasts 3) and I like the music.
Synopsis:Entergalactic is an original, animated story about a young artist named Jabari — voiced by Mescudi — as he attempts to balance love and success. Finding the latter brings Jabari a step closer to the former, when moving into his dream apartment introduces him to his new neighbor, photographer it-girl, Meadow — voiced by Jessica Williams. An explosion of art, music, and fashion, Entergalactic takes place in the only city that can handle all three: New York.
Now this one I’m very excited about not just because it looks like hella fun but because Jamie Foxx and vampires just sound like a winning combination to me. Hopefully, this will be funny too, because Jamie is a great comedian, and we need more funny vampire movies.
I remember this was one of those series I was mildly excited about. I mean I like Loki, I guess (lukewarm sigh) and I most definitely like Tom Hiddleston, so why didn’t I care about this. I don’t know. Sometimes my excitement for a show just peters out or loses momentum. The level of excitement simply wasn’t enough to carry me all the way to the end of the series, although in my defense, I did watch the first two episodes, and the last episode, and genuinely liked them. I mean I don’t have bad memories of what I did watch, and I remember it was entertaining enough to watch to the end of each episode.
Unlike a lot of people, I don’t feel obligated to watch everything the MCU puts out into the world. I sometimes just skip things, and I think the reason why I’m capable of doing that is that I read the comic books of most of these characters. I know enough about them to skip their shows and still be able to pick up anything they’re in later pretty easily.
Okay, I remember being very excited about this because I read the book a long time ago. I love movies set in Japan and have watched a helluva lot of them, and because it has Ken Watanabe in it, and I really like him. But…and here goes my unpopular opinion (as if I cared what’s popular) the lead actor in this series is quite possibly one of the blandest, and most boring men to ever walk across a TV screen. This lack of character was okay in the last movie I saw him in, which was Baby Driver, (and before that he was the forgettable young man from the Carrie remake) but for the life of me, I cannot understand why he keeps getting hired for stuff. Just stop! Is Hollywood hiring him because he’s such a nonentity that you can write any character onto him? I don’t know.
Oh, and while the book was compelling, the series is just kinda boring, which is a shame because some of my favorite Japanese actors are in it. It’s about an American journalist who gets involved with Tokyo’s criminal underground while working in Japan. Unfortunately, the show’s timing couldn’t be worse, because although it is based on a true story, its yet another one of those stories about a foreign country as seen through the eyes of a white American, giving it an exotic orientalist feel, and I was not in the mood. If I wanted that, I could just watch The Last Samurai again, a movie which also stars Ken Watanabe and a less boring Tom Cruise.
Raised By Wolves
This looked interesting in the same way that Westworld looked interesting, but I quickly lost interest in it after I found out it had religious themes. I’m not opposed to religious themes in general. I’ve watched plenty of such movies, but I’m not in the mood to watch futuristic religious oppression. I think it has something to do with some interplanetary religious authorities trying to take back some children who were kidnapped by a couple of once protective robots. You would think this would be right up my alley as there’s a lot of symbolism, violence, and aliens or something.
I have seen the trailers and some of the action scenes are awesome, and it’s a gorgeously shot series, but that’s not enough to make me want to sit through some series that have heavy themes that I’m simply not in the mood for. I allow myself maybe one or two thematically heavy series in a 6 month period. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to watch more than two of these types of plot-dense shows at a time because they’re just exhausting.
I heard a lot about this series and at first, I thought it was about a Horror movie that came out a few years ago. I now realize that there are a couple of these corporate Horror things titled Severance. The main one came out around 2005 or so and involved office workers being killed off during a corporate wilderness retreat. It’s supposed to be funny. I haven’t watched that either.
I did start watching this though, although it’s not usually my type of show, and while enjoyable is a strong word, it was compelling enough for me to watch through at least three episodes. It’s about a mysterious corporation that requires its employees to have their memories wiped before going home in the evening. When they’re at work they’re not allowed to remember their home life, and when they’re at home, they can’t remember what it is they do at work. You get thrown right into the middle of this plot right at the beginning.
I will probably finish this, but I took a break to watch Fantastic Beasts 3, which I also did not finish. I’ll get back to them both soon enough. It’s a very weird, quirky show. I’m convinced that the characters are probably part of some kind of bizarre social experiment because I’ve watched several episodes and I still don’t understand exactly what it is they do at work besides type at their computers and eat weird foods. I haven’t really seen any of them “working” (at least not in the way that I understand that term).
I really wanted to like this series but I lost interest after the first episode. The most annoying thing I remember from the first episode was the lead character’s hairstyle, which is, I’m not gonna mince words, distractingly ugly. I wanted to get into the series, even though I never played any of the videogames (I have read the art gamebooks though). Maybe I was just tired or something but I couldn’t gin up any excitement. Sometimes a show isn’t bad or anything, I just get distracted by something better. That’s not the case with Halo, which was just a great big “meh”.
I couldn’t really tell you what it was about except its full of the usual cliches of humans fighting against some type of violent alien horde, a young girl caught in the middle who befriends some type of experimental soldier of death created by some kind of duplicitous government authority, and how he goes off-script and has to be hunted down by soldiers like himself. It heavily reminded me of a movie called Soldier, from back in the 90s, which starred Kurt Russell. I got all of that from the first episode. They tried but this was not especially exciting, although I am willing to concede that maybe it got better in later episodes.
Is it fair to say that I started watching the first episode of this series, got distracted by some yarn, and fell asleep? No really, I meant to watch it. It was playing on the TV as I fell asleep, and when I woke up, Netflix had paused and asked me if I wanted to continue watching and I said nah, and went back to sleep. The show wasn’t boring or anything. I didn’t watch it long enough to be bored, but this sort of thing happens frequently because my bedroom is full of interesting stuff.
Okay, okay, I’ll try again at some point, but sleepy people cannot be trusted to finish TV shows.
But hey, the ten minutes I watched looked pretty good, if depressing, and Cillian Murphy is very pretty.
I watched approximately two, maybe three episodes of this show and I liked what I saw, despite the fact that the first time I saw a trailer for the show, I hated Jodi Comer’s character. Later, I thought the character was funny. The character actually turned out to be something in between. I started watching it because there were some strong parallels between this series and Hannibal and I really like Sandra Oh. I was not wrong about the similarities, but I stopped watching it in its entirety because I watched Hannibal and felt I’d already seen it all before, only this time with two women.
The show really is pretty good from what I saw but it suffered from being too much like a favorite show of mine, that had just ended.
I don’t know what it is but I am unaccountably attracted to shows about assassins, so I made the decision NOT to watch yet another show about a retired assassin, but I couldn’t help myself. The show looks really, really good, and I just have not had the time to watch it in full. If I play my cards wrong I will continue to still not have the time to watch it, because I already have a bunch of series on my “to be watched” list, although I suspect I will fail, and during some dull moment on the weekend I’ll end up bingewatching another show about an assassin trying to be a good person. I did catch a couple of episodes back when I had cable, enough to be able to point to a couple of characters I like and a little bit of back story on them, but I haven’t sat down to watch it in order.
You see how this is right? Most of these shows I wanted to watch and I told myself I had to watch them because they looks really good, and then I did not do that, and now I feel some type of way about my inability to actually place my eyeballs upon the images without either falling asleep or being easily distracted as if I were a toddler. This is just a warning to young people (people younger than me, anyway), that once you hit your fifties, every time you sit down in your house your body will take that as a sign that it is time to go to sleep.
This is another show that I keep hearing great things about such that I’m starting to feel somewhat guilty about not watching it, and so it goes on the list of series I keep meaning to watch, but never quite find the time. Now to be fair, I did watch the first season and lost interest almost immediately, but then I was also not being distracted by another bunch of science fiction shows. Apparently, I only have so much room in my head for sci-fi series, and there is some kind of quota. I know enough about it to have picked up some names, have a couple of favorite characters (Nagata and Bobby Draper), and even did a review of the very first episode, but for some reason, the show just isn’t sticking with me, and I think it’s because of the political angles of the show. That part just doesn’t interest me and I don’t feel like following any of that. I suspect that I’m not getting into it because the show simply isn’t weird enough and from what I have seen, more than a little dystopian, and I’m almost never in the mood for that. I haven’t looked at it in so long that I cannot even begin to tell you what it’s about.
OTOH: There are things I did watch.
I did watch The Mandolorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and I actually am watching Obi Wan Kenobi, which I was mildly excited about, but wasn’t really expecting to like!
Here’s a list of some of my favorite opening scenes. The opening scene of a film will often establish a plot, introduce the characters, setting, mood, or theme of the film. Outside of the trailer, its a movie’s first impression. I love all kinds of movies, so don’t be too surprised that there are no Horror movies on this list.
This opening scene from the second X-Men film is action packed, visually stunning, introduces the basic plot, and also a new character, and the rest of the movie isn’t a disappointment either.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
I wanted to put these two movies upfront. This is also an establishing scene of a new character, and just as visually stunning as the first movie on this list. It drops slightly behind it though, because without the theme or plot, its just a gorgeous opening action sequence. Also, the rest of this movie isn’t as good as this opening scene, and this isn’t one of my favorite characters, although this entire sequence says a lot about what type of person he is, is just loads of fun, and makes me wish I had this superpower.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
You would think that this would be a great opening scene for the rest of this movie’s characters, and themes, but no. This opening has almost nothing to do with the plot or themes of the film. Its simply an introduction to the setting we’ll be visiting for the next two hours, which is fine, because this is yet another visually arresting film, but I thought it was lacking in character development, which for me, is one of the more important aspects of getting into such a fantastical film. This opening is a favorite of mine, because I’m both a huge David Bowie fan, a movie extraterrestrial fan, and a Science Fiction fan, and I feel this song was perfectly chosen for this scene.
Here is yet another sequence that introduces the audience to a very specific setting. We know all we need to know about this world, from the opening, and what type of movie we’re dealing with: SciFi Noir. This is a dark world, full of gray characters, scuttling through this rainy, urban, corporate hellscape of auditory and visual noise, or flying through it in cars. This is America’s dystopic future.
It also introduces two important characters, and sets the plot in motion, as it’s the death of the interviewer in this scene, that requires that another Bladerunner be called in. Upon first seeing this movie, these things are all a mystery, but you later learn that all of the primary components of the rest of the plot are present, like the Voight-Kampff Test, the Bladerunner, the speed and power of the Replicant, and just why they’re banned from coming to Earth.
I love this opening. It introduces the three primary characters, the basic plot, and the theme: Regret. This is the autobiographical story of a mobster wannabee, his rise, and eventual decline. This is the scene just after the protagonist and his two friends kill an actual mobster, a Made Man named Billy Batts, and now need to hide the body. Contrast the protagonist’s final statement in this scene, with the look on his face. That is the face of a man who is wishing he were anywhere but where he is….
Sometimes I get a feeling about a movie just from watching the trailer, and I have almost never been wrong when i got that feeling. Even with movies that didn’t do particularly well at the Box Office, when they were released, if it was one where I got that feeling, it would eventually go on to become a Classic, or Iconic film. I had that feeling when I first saw the trailers for Alien, The Thing, and Bladerunner. And I had that feeling for this trailer, too. Not that I’ve never been wrong, but even at a very young age, I knew what movies I was gonna love!
I remember walking out of the theater, after watching this movie, and my brain had to take a few minutes to readjust to reality. I had the unsettling thought that the “real” world wasn’t real. And I guess, I’m not the only person who felt that way.
I chose this opening scene, not becasue it’s particularly special, or well done, (although it is), but because I’ve seen a number of scenes like this in other films, and I’ve always loved them. So, when a martial arts movie starts off with some watery ass kicking, its always loads of fun for me. Martial arts movies love to do these types of scenes, because it’s a very easy way to convince the audience that the fighting is real, and that those arms and legs are actually connecting with faces and bodies! Its also a great way to make the scene feel dramatic, and important to the rest of the movie, although really, this is just a scene from earlier in the film, showcasing the lead character’s skills.
Below, is another one of my favorite movies, and of course, the opening scene looks uncomfortably wet. Slow motion ballet fight scene? Check! Fight scene in a tavern? Check! Gruesome fight ending? Check!
This has to be, hands down, one of the most awesome car chase scenes in movie history. I love everything about it, from the introduction of the lead character, and getaway driver: Baby. To the music: Bellbottoms by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion! (which I used to listen to a long time ago.) To the cutely mediocre compact car with the great gas mileage: The red 2007 Subaru Impreza!
This entire scene just slaps!
And back down to Earth, with the Intermezzo from The Cavalleria rusticana, by Mascagni, and the opening theme from Martin Scorceses’ 1980 Raging Bull, which is now considered a modern Classic. I was just a kid when it was released, so I didn’t see this until I was an adult, long after I knew this theme from other movies. There’s not a lot going on here, but from this, you know its going to be a somber tragedy, about the rise and fall of a Boxing career. This is way down here at the bottom of my list, although most of these are not in any particular order, because its really upsetting for me to watch family dramas, and I generally hate them. But I liked this intro.
Here’s some reading for your weekend. Some of these articles are not new, but they were new to me when I read them, and I thought they were interesting enough to share:
*For those of you outside the US, this topic may be puzzling to you. The reason there are so many stories about this recently is because of the progress of technology. We can now clearly document the racism that Black people (and other marginalized groups) are on the receiving end of in this country. (This article lists several.)
Sadly, the only takeaway that a lot of White people get from the widely publicized police shootings of unarmed Black men, is that they can call the police, who will then come and punish us, or remove us, and there is a very clear reason that many of these incidents have been instigated by White women. In a few of these cases, it is made clear by the participants, that the reason they’re calling the police, is that they hope we will be killed.
The bottom line is that White supremacy is not the sole province of White men. White women are not innocent, and have been willing, sometimes eager, participants in its practice.
This study examined full-length superhero movies to determine if there are gender differences in characters’ roles, appearances, and violence.
*A lot of Black superheroes are strictly small time. Its interesting that superheroes written by White men are only ever tasked with taking care of their immediate environment, which is almost always a crime- ridden neighborhood in the inner city. This is not to negate the existence of Cosmic and Planetary superheroes, but that there are so many of them willing to forgo protecting the planet, or the galaxy, in favor of just hanging out in the ‘hood, is something I hadn’t noticed before.
Traditionally, movies have done a curious thing with black heroes: Charge them not with saving the world, but rather with protecting their immediate, ethno-specific domains, or, in many cases, to put it bluntly, the ghetto.
*This has been an issue since the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Before that, Asian people had largely been vilified in the media, and by politicians, as a menace, or as not really being American. After the passing of the CRA there was a concerted effort to use the achievements of certain ethnicity of Asian Americans to make backhanded slaps at Black people, in an attempt to negate the effects of White supremacist policies on both groups.
Since the end of World War II, many white people have used Asian-Americans and their perceived collective success as a racial wedge. The effect? Minimizing the role racism plays in the persistent struggles of other racial/ethnic minority groups — especially black Americans.
*I had a long rant ready about the whininess of comedians who claim political correctness has destroyed their careers, but this article states what I wanted to say clearly enough. What they are complaining about is simply what happens to older comedians who can’t adapt to the times.
Comedy increasingly is taking the form of a conversation rather than a one-way expression of ideas and information, and cranky older comedians who opt out of this dialogue risk becoming relics of an earlier era.
*This made me think about a lot of the art created by marginalized groups in hte US ,and how so much of it is created to uplift the self- esteem of the group. What Gadsby says she was doing in her stand-up is the exact opposite of rap music, for example. There is no such thing as self- deprecating rap music. I thought of this because I had been listening to Django Jane ,and how that is an anthem for QPoC, and the things Janelle Monae says about herself in that song, are a celebration of her strength, and identity, and it makes me wonder if Gadsby’s approach to stand-up, has more to do with being Tanzanian rather than American. or if its just her own introverted personality at work.
Here, you have two very different women, both of them somewhere along the LGBTQ spectrum, one White and Non- American, and the other American born, and you have two very different philosophical approaches to their performances. Gadsby claims her self- deprecation was the price she paid for speaking, as if she needed permission to talk about her life, and could only do so by making herself smaller. This does not seem to be the case with Janelle, who creates art that celebrates herself. Janelle doesn’t ask permission. She is telling the listener how wonderful she is, which is one of the major components of a form of music that was created by an often denigrated, and marginalized group of people. Such a form of humility may have served Gadsby in the environment that produced it, but Black Americans can’t afford to be humble.
“Do you understand what self-depreciation means when it comes from someone who already exists in the margins?” She asks, “it’s not humility, it’s humiliation.” And Gadsby was done having her very identity being a source of tension. She was done cutting herself down. She was done humiliating herself.
*I’ve watched a lot of Science Fiction and its interesting how many or how few characters with disabilities are present, and how little accommodation is made for them. I cannot recall any stairs on Star Trek, but I also didn’t notice if other accommodations had been made for hearing, height, or sight disabilities. I’m going to have to re-watch a lot of my favorites, and make notes.
Our real world is a remarkably inaccessible place. I haven’t made it to a movie theater on opening night in years without running into a plethora of issues, from broken captioning devices to nondisabled people sitting in seats for wheelchair users and their companions, to theaters that are physically inaccessible to me because of those dang steps and staircases.
*Thandie Newton, from Westworld, has a lot to say about diversity in SciFi:
Your character Maeve in HBO’s “Westworld” is an android or “host” in a theme park. What do you think it means to have characters of color in genre work? A lot of what’s in the mainstream doesn’t have people of color. What irritates me is that science fiction is the place where you could have us. Science fiction is a projection of a time that hasn’t even happened, so if you don’t populate that place with people of different skin tones, shame on you.
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.”
*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.
Think of all the possibilities that exist should we invest in one another and divest entirely from the practice of curating white “empathy”
*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.
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.
*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.
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.
*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.
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?
*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.
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.
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.
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.
*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!
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.
*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.
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:
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.
*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.
… 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.
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.
*The styles of oppression and stereotype faced by White and Black women are just different. so we require different ways of addressing them.
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.
*Michael Burnham, of Star Trek Discovery, has become my new favorite hero.
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.
*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.
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…
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.
(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.
(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.
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!
(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!
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.
I just wanted to list a few resources for understanding the history of Black representation in Science Fiction and Fantasy film and comic books. I’ve only read a few of these though. The rest are on my TBR pile for the rest of the year.
We’ll start with Samuel R. Delaney’s famous essay. I’ve been offering this essay to everyone on Tumblr as the answer to their questions on why we’ve been seeing so much blatant racism in fandom. It also answers the question on why people like the Sad Puppies exist.
—–Delany countered that the current Hugo debacle has nothing to do with science fiction at all. “It’s socio-economic,” he said. In 1967, as the only black writer among the Nebula nominees, he didn’t represent the same kind of threat. But Delany believes that, as women and people of color start to have “economic heft,” there is a fear that what is “normal” will cease to enjoy the same position of power. “There are a lot of black women writers, and some of them are gay, and they are writing about their own historical moment, and the result is that white male writers find themselves wondering if this is a reverse kind of racism. But when it gets to fifty per cent,” he said, then “we can talk about that.” It has nothing to do with science fiction, he reiterated. “It has to do with the rest of society where science fiction exists.”
This basically means I am well into the book (at least 20%) and dedicated to finishing it. I often have multiple books going at once, and switch out according to mood and whether or not the book needs to be returned to the library soon.
Kill Society – Richard Kadrey
I love this entire series, which really needs to be made into a movie starring Vin Diesel, because that’s who I picture, and whose voice I hear, as Sandman Slim. The plot, for this newest book, is a total ripoff of Fury Road, but I’m here for it.
Rupert Wong: Cannibal Chef – Kassandra Khaw
These books are really gory, but also unexpectedly funny. I wasn’t sure what I expected when I picked these up, but the title is basically what the book is about. Rupert Wong is paying off some kind of debt by acting as a chef in demonic restaurants. Yes, they eat people. This is a distinctly Asian setting, and it’s also funny as, well..Hell. It’s on sale at Amazon for less than four bucks.
Phantom Pains – Mishell Baker
The first book in this series titled Borderline, is very probably the best fantasy novel written last year. That book made my top ten list, and this sequel is looking to make it on there for this year. Its also on sale at Amazon for 2 bucks. Grab it!
Aliens: Bug Hunt Anthology
I haven’t got very far into this book beyond the first story, which was all kinds of fun, so I’m looking forward to reading the other stories. This book is on sale at Amazon for 2 dollars, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last, so grab it up,now.
To Be Read
Which basically means I’ve gotten about 10% of the way into these books before continuing with the books I’m already in the middle of reading. I often read multiple books at once, switching to a different book according to my mood, or whatever is near to hand. This means that finishing a book can take a while, as I make incremental progress across several books.
The Change (1-3) Guy Adams
I’ve read the first book in this short series, and its genuinely scary. Its about an alien invasion of Earth that killed off most of the human race outright when it occurred, but for the survivors, the world has gone hideously, horribly, wrong. I think these are based on his first book, The Change Orbital, which is also pretty terrifying.
The Witch Who Came in From the Cold – Malcolm Gladstone
I like the ideas of spies who do magic, and I like some of Gladstone’s writing, so I wanted to try this one. The opening chapter is very exciting. The book consists of a bunch of nested, shared-world stories, by different authors, sort of like G.R.R.M.’s Wild Cards Series.
Strange Practice – Vivian Shaw
I haven’t read much of this one but the description is adorable. A woman physician in Victorian London, who is related to Van Helsing, gets caught up in taking care of the illnesses of various supernatural creatures like werewolves, vampires, and mummies, and has to save their existences from some murderous monks.
Urban Enemies Anthology
Famous Urban Fantasy authors put the spotlight on some of their more villainous characters from their popular series.
Magicians Impossible – Brad Abraham
I have no idea what this is about as I’ve only read the first chapter. What I did read was very exciting , and I’m eager to keep going.
Graveyard Shift – Michael Haspil
I was really looking forward to this book, the moment I read the first blurb. This is an interesting story, that’s not unlike the Rivers of London series by Aaronovitch. The lead character is an ancient Egyptian demi-god, working as a kind of supernatural cop, in a world of vampires, and werewolves, who have just come out of the closet. I’m working on it.
Books To Recommend
I have so many recommendations to give you, but I’m going to stop at these few.Most of these are Dark Fantasy and Horror. There are no monster romances in any of these books, nobody talking about their favorite pair of boots, or what clothes the hot guy is wearing, because that kind of stuff just puts me right to sleep. The darker and more unusual the Fantasy, the more I’ll like it, especially if it takes place in the modern world.
The Barker & Lewelyn Series by Will Thomas
This is the only mystery on the list. I’ve become obsessed with Hard Victorian mysteries, and Will Thomas has one of the best. The lead character is totally a Sherlock Holmes clone, but I don’t care. I will read about Holme’s clones, all day, every day. There’s a difference between a hard mystery, vs a soft mystery. A hard mystery is more a police procedural. Its darker and grittier, and I especially like mysteries that take place before modern forensics.
The Rivers of London Series
I’ve written about this series before. Its hella fun. I like to think of it as a calmer, British version of the Harry Dresden series. Peter grant is a Black cop who gets involved in magical events in London.
King Rat – China Mieville
This was the very first book I ever read by this author. I didn’t know what to expect but the description sounded vaguely intriguing. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was unlike any Fantasy I’d eve read. I’ve read nearly every one of Mieville’s books since then, and have never been disappointed.
The Iskryne Series – Elizabeth Bear
I love it when writers take fantasy tropes and turn them upside down. Bear takes the concept of bonded animal companions all the way to its limit, and that includes how sexuality is handled. Bear’s writing partner for the series is Sarah Monette. There’s not a lot of human women in the books but it more than makes up for that with the ideas that are introduced, and the setting.
Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse Series – Ben Templesmith
This is the funniest comic book zombie series ever written. At least part of the reason for that are Ben Templesmith’s ridiculous illustrations. Wormwood is not the name of the zombie, mind you, but the name of the tiny, snarky, worm that’s possessing the corpse, who fights various lovecraftian horrors from outer space.
The Works of Brom
Just about any one of Brom’s books is a gem. They’re not comic books but they do contain some beautifully dark illustrations, and cover such topics as: damnation, Peter Pan, toys, and a motorcycling demon. His latest book is called Lost Gods and is about a young man trying to find his way through Hell, to save his endangered wife back on Earth. If you have a taste for weird, then Brom is the writer for you.
God’s Demon – Wayne Barlowe
This is the only prose book written by Barlowe although he has written/illustrated other boos about fantasy figures, science fiction, and aliens. In this story, the war in Heaven continues into Hell, as one of the Fallen, Sargatanas, tries to redeem himself, and win back God’s favor. The novel is based on a series of illustrations Barlowe did for his book, Barlowe’s Inferno, which is a guided tour through Hell.
The Skyscraper Throne Series – Tom Pollock
I love fantasies based on cities, especially when the city is a real character in the book. Such s the case with The City’s Son series. If you liked China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, then you’ll love this YA series.
The Matthew Swift Series – Kate Griffin aka Catherine Webb
Once again you have a fantasy series where the city is a separate character in the book. The city of London holds all the magic, and people who are attuned can access it. This series has a number of Asian and Black characters that I thought were interesting, including a Black female sorceress, who is an apprentice to the lead character, who isn’t, quite, human.
Bone Street Rumba Series – Daniel Jose Older
Daniel Older does for diversity in New York what Ben Aaronovitch does for the city of London. The main character is Carlos Delacruz, a half-ghost,dealing with supernatural events in his working class, Latinx/Hispanic, neighborhood. If you’re looking for diversity, and strong women characters, check it out.
The Eric Carter Series – Stephen Blackmoore
Much of this series is based on South American mythology. Eric Carter is a modern day necromancer, who gets involved with an Aztec goddess, after the death of his sister. Lots of action, but still less bombast, and more diversity than the Harry Dresden books.
The SNAFU Series
This is an entire series of military horror books, where human beings fight aliens, werewolves, vampires, and various monsters that defy description. If you like military horror then check these out, along with books like:
I originally added this little essay as an addendum to the last Tumblr discussion, but it just kept getting longer the more I thought about it. I’d been thinking of writing something like this for a while , and the Tumblr discussion, and its reception by my readers, spurred me to elaborate on the issue.I’m a person who is always seeing connections between what others would consider unrelated events, and that’s how my mind works when it comes to people. I see connections between certain types of behaviors and attitudes.
I’m an avid consumer of media. As a Geekgirl, I love media, but I’m not in love with it. I don’t consume it unquestioningly. I’m perfectly capable of indicting the media I love so much for its bad behavior. Why? Because it can be better. I’m also a Black American Woman, so I can’t really afford to be blind when it comes to such things.
Even when I was very young, I was critical of the media I watched, and read, and listened to. The first real memory I have of this: I was about twelve, sitting in my kitchen with my Mother in the background, doing whatever Moms do. I was watching television and although I forget what show it was, I know it was Science Fiction, because I turned to my mother and asked “Mom, how come there ain’t any Black people in the future? What happened to us?” And without missing a beat in whatever she was doing, she glanced at me and said, “Maybe we left.”
First, a little background on my Mother. She was a child of the sixties, and a member of the Black Panthers.* She very much believed in community service, and always spoke to me and my siblings about being Black Americans, and the things that should be important to us because of the way the world might treat us. So this answer from her is entirely in keeping with her general aesthetic. This is just the kind of thing she would regularly say.
This idea was such an intriguing concept for me, though, that I have never forgotten this conversation. Where did Black people go? Why did we leave? It wasn’t until I was older that some answers started to come to me.
I talk about these subjects, such as racism in media, because for PoC, these stereotypes have real world repercussions, and a lot of White people, (and PoC too), who believe themselves to be very Progressive and liberal, reproduce the attitudes they see in the media, without even realizing that’s what they’re doing.
What’s the first thing you think of when I say the word “Paris”? The Eiffel Tower, Baguettes, the French language, Romance. Chances are, you got these ideas, and images, about Paris from TV and movies, not from actually visiting the city. If this influence works with foreign locales, then it most certainly works with lives and people, influencing your thoughts about places (Russia, Japan) and people (with tattoos, Muslims), and events (weddings, Proms) you may have never encountered.
For example, the idea that marginalized people need to be of use to White straight people is one that’s pervasive in every form of media from movies to TV, to books. This culminates in White people who treat PoC, gay people, and others as if these (other) people are actors in a movie which stars themselves.
I’ve encountered this myself, with men telling me to smile because they believe my purpose on earth is to make them feel comfortable and do their emotional labor. Or White people who get angry when I don’t please them by laughing at their jokes or being as friendly as they would like me to be, once again making them comfortable or doing their emotional labor.
Why? Because I have to be useful to them. I have to be a sidekick, a friend, a mammy, or a love interest in their personal movie of which they are the star.
Both of these attitudes stem from the same foundation, however, of not thinking of other people as separate people from themselves, who have their own agendas, separate from whatever makes them happy. PoC and other marginalized people have their own lives, and sometimes their desires, goals, wants and needs are not going to align with with someone else’s.
This is a an attitude that is prevalent not just in everyday life but in every strata of American society, from people who are angry about people on welfare, to the idea that other human beings must be PRODUCTIVE to be worth life and respect, or to receive food, clothes, or housing. This attitude promotes lack of compassion for others and their circumstances.
This same lack of compassion leads others to dismiss the claims, by marginalized people, of their discrimination, and the same lack of compassion in excusing the police shootings of Black people (because Black people are not considered USEFUL to the world.)
When you believe that other people are the sidekicks of your life, it is that much easier to consider their lives expendable or, like Immortan Joe, (Yeah, that’s what you’re acting like!) to use them for your own ends. How much easier is it then, to believe that person’s life is worth nothing when it has no obvious use for yours?
What happens in the media affects the real world in ways people don’t often consider. Most of our values, ideas and thoughts about the rest of the world is influenced as much by television and movies, as the people who surround us. Television and movies teach us how the word works, what to expect of our lives at certain ages, how to fall in love, how to behave at a wedding or Prom, how to behave at 25, 45 ,and 65 years old, and how to think about people who may be wildly different from us.
The constant message that everyone (this includes me) receives from the media is that White Stories Matter more than all others (The Sidekick Effect), that their lives are the only stories that are worth being told (Erasure, Whitewashing), and that marginalized people don’t have stories of their own (The White Savior Trope), that are separate from making White people feel good about themselves (The Manic Pixie Dream Girl), or fixing their love lives (Ghost, Hitch), or maximizing their happiness (The Legend of Bagger Vance).
People of Color, and other marginalized people, do not have to be USEFUL, to be treated with respect, compassion, or be worthy of being loved.
*And yeah, all these lies being spread around about what the Black Panthers actually stood for, is incredibly infuriating to me because of my connection to them through my mother, and uncles, who were directly involved in the local chapter.
**Yes, there will be a part two about Black Lives Matter vs. the Mainstream Media
I’m not going to recap as there are people online right now recapping like a muh-fuh, and doing a much better job of it than I would. Actually I have to confess, I didn’t pay that close attention to the plot of My Struggle.
Its my understanding that other people were not greatly impressed by the first episode, either. I didn’t care for the plot but I love that Mulder and Scully are back on TV, in brand new episodes. That the show would be revived, after such a long absence, just makes me hopeful for the future of Hannibal.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the mythology episodes. I’m not into alien conspiracy theories. I probably know more than I rightfully should about the mythology, considering how little I cared for that aspect. Most of my favorite episodes were one-off, Monster of the week episodes. As soon as any of the characters start mentioning abductions and aliens, I just tune-out and watch the pretty people. So that’s what happened with the first episode. I am aware that stuff happened and plots were advanced, I just have no memory of any of it.
I did enjoy the second episode much better, about two superpowered teens searching for each other. It had a certain amount of pathos in it. I’d forgotten over the years that Scully and Mulder had a child together and that they can never be together because the gub’ment, won’t let them. So, I had some feels about all that.
I noticed their boss, Walter Skinner was back and still being kind of an asshole, without actually coming right out and actually being an asshole. The Cigarette Smoking Man is still smoking, despite the cancer that’s torn out his throat, which is frankly, kind of disgusting. That man’s got some serious fucking addiction, right there. Wow!
Abigail Hobbes, from Hannibal, cameo-ed in this episode. My mind keeps rejecting this actress’ name. I just watched her chewing the scenery in The Magicians and for some reason my brain has taken a disliking to her, and I can’t pinpoint exactly why, as she’s not a bad actress. She’s not actually doing anything bad onscreen. I’m just tired of looking at her, maybe.
Oh! I do have a memory about the first episode with Mulder declaring that everything he thought he knew about the alien conspiracy was all lies and there’s no actual aliens involved in the conspiracy. Its just regular people being dicks. It almost always is. I could’ve told him that. And how many times per season did he make such declarations.
Mulder is looking a bit care-worn but Scully looks as fine as she ever did. Possibly even better, and Hell, I didn’t even know Skinner was still among the living. Surely, I thought he might have shuffled off the bureaucratic coil a long time ago.
As far as I can tell from the three episodes that have aired, its the same formula as before. There is a mystery. Mulder and Scully investigate, find out the truth, some heads are exploded and they wrap it up and move on to the next strange event.
As I’ve said before, I’m only a middling SciFi fan, so I never read Childhood’s End, though I’ve read a lot of First Contact type books. I think I’m a little bit spoiled because when I started reading SciFi, I mostly missed all those “Classics” and skipped right to Octavia Butler and other female writers.
I was an adult when I first heard about Childhood’s End, though I’d read other books by Arthur. C. Clarke. Remember, this was pre-Internet. There were no Rec sites , or Goodreads, when I was a child and none of the people I knew were very adventurous in their reading material, so I had no one to talk to about the what the best books were. I just meandered down the aisles of the library picking out the most interesting covers.
That said, I’m sort of sad I never read the book. I don’t actually have time to read it now, but I’m sure its better than this series. Not that the series is bad. Its not exactly awful. It has a slight problem, though.
I didn’t make it to the half hour mark before I was looking around for something else to do with my brain, like watching something else.
The dialogue was mediocre, the acting and actors were not compelling..
Okay, I know this sounds like a bad review from someone who doesn’t know anything about Childhood’s End, but really its not. I suspect, even people who know the written story will be less than enthused by this series. My point is that I know just enough about SciFi to know what I like to read or see onscreen and this isn’t it.
On the other hand, in the shows favor, its really difficult to make intellectual SciFi entertaining on screen, for two hours. In short bursts, like an anthology series, its acceptable, but it’s really difficult to watch people talking for two hours unless what they have to say is of immense interest. The people in this show are not having those kinds of conversations and what conversations they do have are badly written.
And let’s get this out of the way, now. My feelings about this will probably spark outrage somewhere on the Internet, but I was less than enthused by the plot because it was extremely Ameri-centric in tone, and totally illustrates the outrage PoC have about whitewashing, in the movies. The idea that huge stories can’t be felt, told, or understood, unless there’s a white man attached, for the viewer to identify with.
Out of the 7 billion people on Earth, the aliens decide that the world will trust a bland, lily-white, farm-boy from America’s heartland? Really? And when the alien expressed its reasons for choosing him, that’s when I totally lost my shit and started screaming at my TV: WHAT?YOU MEAN YOU CANT FIND ANY OTHER HUMAN BEINGS WITH THOSE PERSONALITY TRAITS? NOT EVEN ONE PERSON FROM EACH COUNTRY?
Well obviously this alien is stupid and didn’t do his research. He knows enough to spout idioms but obviously hasn’t been paying attention to any of the political situations on this planet if he thinks the average, nobody white guy from Kansas has that kind of clout.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to have spokespersons for each country on Earth? Or people with political experience? The vast majority of the people on this planet are Chinese and the alien couldn’t find one Chinese man with the qualities he was looking for? Not even Chinese-American? Really? Someone who represented the populace they’re supposed to placate. I find it highly unlikely that people in rural China, Africa or South America are going to give two shits about the message from some white guy from Iowa, Nebraska (or god knows where,) let alone trust him to tell them anything useful.
I’d also like to point out that Ricky is possibly the worst public speaker, ever. Nope. His speeches weren’t inspiring anything in me but a sudden urge to turn the channel.
Yep! This was the point where I just became completely exasperated. But it’s not the writers fault, though. No. Its the fault of the people who cast this show., who finally remembered that PoC might actually be looking at it, and decided to throw black people a bone and toss in a black kid with a disability.
On the other hand, the special effects are awesome and I love Charles Dance as Karellan. Unfortunately, in order to listen to Karellan, Ricky had to be present ,cluttering up the scene. Can we make a movie that’s all about Karellan’s backstory?
Yeah,this first episode does not bode well for the rest of the series, but I’m adventurous remember? I’m going to give it another try. Maybe I can swallow my objections and get past all this and see something good or compelling or intelligent about the series.
Cuz it’s like this: I’m a SciFi fan who hasn’t read the book and was bored to death. Imagine what this series must be like for non-SciFi fans.
Frankly, I think I have enough stuff to watch without being inundated with new shows this January. I think its very inconsiderate for television to air all these great shows, all at the same time, and in such a way that I don’t have any time to look at them, but that said, I am looking forward to some new stuff that I may or may not like.
I can’t promise anything, though. I’m going to use the same tactic as used this Fall. I’m going to start watching these shows and then weed out the ones that just don’t make the cut. But even if I don’t review them or even like them, I ‘m still eager to try them out:
This is one of the top shows I’m looking forward to this season. I loved the books, (I’m still reading the third book. The second book is okay but not as good as the first) and the characters look not so different from how I imagined them. I don’t like that it looks sort of like a sexier version of a CW show, but the books are described as Harry Potter with sex and drugs.
I’m a big fan of Thomas Jane, and this looks like an outer space, noir, mystery mashup thing I would like. It s probably a little more Dashell Hammett in Space than Outland.
Nope! I never read the book, nor do I have the urge to read it now. I know a little bit about it because scfi fans keep talking about how wonderful it is, but I’m interested strictly in the show. Now that its actually a series, I don’t want to spoil all my questions by reading the books. Its really nice to see the SYFY channel start actually trying to be a science fiction network after having gone so wrong, in the past.
I really really want to like this because I liked the movies but the actor they have here only reminds me that he’s not Chris Tucker. He’s just not funny. Also, there might be some racist yellow peril and Asian sexism in here, that I can’t abide. I don’t see this show being much of a rival for Into the Badlands.
I can watch just about anything with angels and demons in it and I’m a big fan of the original movies, so this is right up my alley. I’m looking for a certain amount of depth from this one.
Legends of Tomorrow:
This just looks like fun. Good mindless fun. This will probably be playing in the background while I do other stuff.
I was a fan of the original but I don’t expect the dynamic of the old show to reassert itself, but it is nice to see this show make a comeback.
I lost interest in this show about four or five episodes into the season. Its not a bad show, it just wasn’t compelling enough to hold my attention in a sea of other, better shows. I really like the idea of a female led show but it made my shit list when it had no WoC in it in NY city (which had a massive population of PoC, during that time period), and the fandom got on my last nerve with BS about how WoC need to wait their turn while White women get theirs. (These are people who need to learn the definition of the term intersectionality.)
I’m hoping the show does better on the diversity front now that it has moved to LA, but I’m not holding my breath, and no, I still don’t want anything to do with the fans of this show.
There will also be the staple shows like Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow, American Horror Story, and The Walking Dead.
I know I haven’t been doing any Sleepy Hollow recaps but I just have not the time. I haven’t stopped watching it or liking it, though.
Coming Soon: Ash Vs. The Evil Dead Review, some more movies, and a Jessica Jones Overview.
Hopefully I can get some Meta Essays out for Hannibal, George Miller’s Feminist credentials, and Tropic Thunder (although that one is a long shot. I haven’t even started it yet), during the hiatus.
So many promises, so little time.
This should be like Field of Dreams. if I write it, y’all will show up and read’em. Right?
I’ve been a SciFi geek since, birth, I think. I didn’t truly realize this until I was about twelve years old and made quiet plans to marry Mr. Spock from the Original Series Star Trek. Or was it that time I realized I wanted a Robbie the Robot of my very own from Lost in Space? Or the time I asked for a replica of the spaceship from Space 1999 and my Mother actually found one and bought it? Or the time I wore my Mork from Ork suspenders, to school, every day for a week?
It’s only been in the last ten years that I’ve realized just how much a love of robots has been a major part of my childhood. ( It would explain why I totally lost my spit after only watching the trailer for Bladerunner and why it took me nearly a week to recover from watching the first Terminator movie.)
I decided to compile a list of some of my favorites. If you have some ,let me know in the comments but remember, these are MY favorites. You probably have a completely different set and that’s cool beans. There’s a metric ton of robots out there. They all need some love.
1. Optimus Prime
Voiced by Peter Cullen during the show’s heydey, during the depths of the eighties, Optimus was, hands down, the coolest f*ckin’ robot on Saturday morning televsion. He was strong, compassionate, honorable and honest. He devoted himself to the highest ideal of protecting all life. He is, like, the Superman of robots.
And for the record, I’ve seen a couple of the Transformers movies and I was shocked tha they still managed to keep those elements of his personality intact. I’d been admiring robots for a few years up to that point but he was the robot I never knew I wanted.
I saw this in a movie theatre at 14, along with a Double-Bill of The Evil Dead II. That was the best four hours of my teenaged years (and no, that’s not sad!) Portrayed by Peter Weller, in the 1987 movie, of the same name, it has since become an iconic character, and you know what? When I first saw him, I knew he would be. The body language, the jaw, the vocal intonations, are the things by which all subsequent portrayals of Robocop were measured and found wanting.
And when that massive hand-cannon popped out of his right leg, ready to hand, my first thought was, “I want one of those!” (Never mind what I would’ve done with it.)
3. The Iron Giant
Produced by the man who would later become one of my favorite animation directors, Brad Bird, and voiced by the man I would later refer to as, my future ex-husband, Vin Diesel, this was the only cartoon, about a robot, that ever made me cry like a baby, and the only movie whose motto I had ever aspired to live up to.
Although Buzz Lightyear’s enlightenment, in the first Toy Story movie, came pretty damn close, he doesn’t get a shoutout because I’ve learned that I hate it when robots make me cry.
Kind, childlike, honorable and perpetually curious, Data is the only robot, that I ever wanted to be (or just date.) Data had the unenviable job, on the Enterprise, of asking human beings all the hard questions about being human. Portrayed by Brent Spiner, Data epitomized the best of humanity without ever truly succumbing to it’s worst.
I had no idea that Bender’s last name was Rodriguez (and does that make him Hispanic? Can a robot be a member of a human culture?) I watched Futurama, the first couple of years after it aired and I loved this drunken, profane, snarky, asshole of a robot from the moment he was introduced. With a drink in one hand and a cigar in the other, he’s not evil, but he’s definitely the Anti-Data. I can’t help but feel that was a deliberate decision on the part of his creator. Bender being Bender just brings to one’s attention just how much of a trope is the honorable robot, who wishes to human. Bender doesn’t sit around wishing to be human, he just gets to doing it.
The first robot I ever truly admired, he’s so obviously the Star of Star Wars. He’s, brave, spirited, plucky and I’m guessing he’s got more than a little smart-assedness in him too, if C3PO’s reactions are anything to go by. If someone were to make a movie, based entirely on his adventures with Chewbacca, I’d watch the Hell out of that.
Portrayed by Michael Ealy, in the show Almost Human (which was regrettably canceled, despite that shows promise) , he displayed a mischievous sense of humor in constantly needling his partner, played by another favorite actor of mine, Karl Urban. One of the few robots I’ve seen who had a notably deliberate sense of humor, he and Karl had a wonderful chemistry. Dreamy, blue eyes…check! Sensitivity…check! Compassion…check! Intelligent and funny…check!
He is the ideal boyfriend, that Karl never knew he wanted.
Aawwww c’mon! He had to be on this list, even if he is late to the party. He’s just so dern cute. Look at him! He is the Hello Kitty of robots? Like being babysat by a walking, talking marshmallow, with about that same level of intelligence.
Okay, that’s it! I want a stuffed, Baymax doll this Xmas.
The titular character from Robert Mason’s novel, is also the star of the movie, of the same name. I loved the book character, but the film version wasn’t as much like the book as I would’ve liked. On the other hand, how awesome is it that they picked a Black man, Mario Van Peebles, to be the hero, in an action movie?
This is how awesome that shit is:
That’s right, beeyotches! That level of awesome!
10. The T-1000
Played by the scarily focused Robert Patrick in 1992’s Terminator II, the T-1000 is one of the scariest robots ever. I don’t know what the Hell a mimetic poly-alloy is but I seriously hope humanity never invents it, as this would most definitely be it’s wacky outcome, in a totally pants-shitting, that’s not funny kind of way. I remember leaving the theatre after the movie. It took me several days to stop side-eyeing everybody on my bus route.
(If it does exist, then we need to draw up some laws and shit about not ever using it.)