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Yesterday, Darwin and I were watching a Big Name Spy Thriller on DVD.  It had the same plot every other spy thriller uses:

STEP ONE: Spy Protagonist learns of an object he needs to get hold of in order to save the world or himself (called "the McGuffin").
STEP TWO: Spy rushes from exotic location to exotic location in search of the McGuffin while various Bad People try to kill him.  Various vehicle chases through crowded cities ensue. Much time is spent on Magic Computers.
STEP THREE: An Evil Person within the Spy's own organization, who is secretly employing the Bad People, tries to sabotage the Spy's efforts and nearly succeeds.
STEP FOUR: The Spy gets the McGuffin, kills the Bad People, and kills the Evil Person.

We want to look at the Magic Computers.

Goodness me, computers can do anything these days!  Especially in a movie.  According to the movie Darwin and I watched, in fact, a computer and its attached hacker can:

1. delete a thousand files from another computer in a split-second
2. shut off the electricity to a single building in a foreign country with less than a minute's work
3. track down a single person whose face appears on a traffic camera anywhere in the world seconds after his face shows up
4. grab control of a landline telephone and use that phone to take control of an unconnected laptop sitting a foot away from it (I shit you not--the movie actually had a CIA hacker do this)
5. enhance a distant, blurry photo of a woman into a photo clear enough to use on a magazine cover in less than a second
6. hack into one of the most secure mainframes in the world while the owners of said mainframe watch helplessly (why they don't simply unplug their modems goes unexplained)
7. instantly toss video and photo files to huge, Star Trek-style screens on a wall without anyone ever saying, "Hold it . . . hold it . . . dammit, the system is really slow right now . . . a couple more seconds . . . okay, here we go . . . "
8. instantly notice when a particular person even touches a computer anywhere in the world or accesses a particular file saved on a flash drive, but CAN'T TRACK A CELL PHONE!

Not one of these things is remotely possible today.  Number 4 had both Darwin and me in an outrage, it was so stupid.  And this movie (one of the Jason Bourne flicks, if you have to know) isn't in any way unusual.

Hollywood computers and computer operators can find out literally anything, in seconds, in ways that bear no resemblance to reality.  If you need to know it or find it, a computer will do it for you, no matter how outrageous.  All you need is a character who is supposed to be a "brilliant hacker."  ("Brilliant hacker" is code for "magician.")  Hackers and computers are basically witches with crystal balls.

It's become a bad trope.  True hacking or other computer ability takes years and years of practice.  You need to study code, spend weeks writing programs, make friends with other hackers and learn the seamy underside of the Internet.  It's an extremely precise field.  If you make a mistake, you'll get caught right quick, with dire consequences.  The field also changes every day, sometimes every minute, and you have to keep up.

But Hollywood treats computer work like musical talent.  You can sit the right person with the right talent down at a computer, and BAM!  Instant hacker who can get you exactly what you need to know.  It gets so bad that on SUPERGIRL, Winn went from low-level IT guy to having the ability to take down an alien computer system--with a virus he wrote in the nineties!  Because . . . talent, right?  Because there are people who can sit down at a piano and turn out amazing work with almost no experience, so it must be the same with computers, right?

No.  It doesn't work that way.  All the computer talent in the world won't grant you knowledge and precision.  Hollywood is just using a cheap trick.  As a writer, I can understand wanting a quick tool to push the story forward.  The Magic Computer will do that.  The problem is, Hollywood does it so often, and so badly, that it's become a bad, BAD cliche. 

And have you noticed that no one ever touches a mouse?  It's true!  Hollywood is all about fingers chattering on the keyboard.  In reality, of course, everyone--including hackers--spends most of their time with mouse and cursor.  A clicking keyboard is more dynamic on the silver screen, though, so Hollywood runs with it.  Except we've noticed.  (Now that I've pointed it out to you, you won't be able to help but notice it!)

Please, Hollywood--end the Magic Computer.  We know better.
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All my students were buzzing about the Netflix show 13 REASONS WHY.  I'd heard of it, of course.  I knew about the controversy.  And I knew, even without watching, that it in no way portrayed suicide accurately, and I had no desire to watch it. 

But then I found out a high school friend of mine, Brian d'Arcy James, was in it as the father of the suicide victim.  Brian mostly does stage work on Broadway (he's currently playing King George in HAMILTON), so I rarely get to see his work.  Most recently I saw him in the movie SPOTLIGHT, and it's always fun to see him perform.  So I decided to give 13 REASONS a look.

I lasted about five episodes.

I suppose I should warn about spoilers in the following, though the show has been out for months, and I don't see it as my job to protect anyone from plot spoilers after that long.  But I'll be nice. SPOILERS.

The show was absolutely awful.  Part of it, I'm sure, is that it does cater completely and unabashedly to the teenaged crowd, and there's really nothing in it for adults.  That's okay--I can enjoy a teen show on its own merits.  But . . .

The premise:  A teenage girl commits suicide (and the show was bad enough that I can't remember anyone's names, so I'm reduced to giving them epithets), and a few days after her death, a set of cassette tapes appears on the doorstep of the main character.  The tapes are an audio diary from Suicide Girl explaining, in detail, how thirteen different people drove her to kill herself, and, she says on the first tape, if you don't listen to all of them all the way through, something awful will happen.  "You're being watched," she says (feeding into the adolescent feeling of being the center of the world and that everyone is always watching you).

Okay, we all know suicide doesn't work this way.  Netflix was even pressured into putting a little disclaimer at the beginning of the first episode to this effect.  But a disclaimer doesn't stop me from thinking, "This would never happen" and "That would never work" and "This isn't remotely possible," which yanks me constantly out of the story and reminds me that I'm watching a fake for fake fakey-fake TV show.  I can't even pretend it might possibly somehow be a little bit real, which wrecks the viewing experience.

Suicide girl, you see, goes through some world-wrecking bullying at school which culminates in graphic sexual assault (I didn't get that far, but I read about it) that is so bad it drves her to kill herself, but she somehow manages to hold it all together long enough to formulate and execute an extensive, Machiavellian postmortem revenge  plan with dozens of moving parts that hold together without input from her.  She narrates the tapes in a chipper, snarky tone with no sign of being upset or unhappy. 

Seriously.  I have an easier time believing in an magical island full of warrior women created by Zeus, or a skinny kid from Brooklyn being transformed by a mysterious drug into a super-hero than this.  If Suicide Girl is so smart and savvy and together while putting this plan off, why doesn't she ask for help?  Or get her revenge while she's alive to see it?  Hell, why not just run away and leave the tapes behind as 13 Reasons Why I Ran Away?  None of it makes any kind of sense.  Easier to believe in giant apes living on an uncharted island than this.

The characters are also unlikable and uninteresting.  Every one of them.  There's Football Boy (the eventual rapist) who heads up a coterie of friends who hang out in his rich parents' pool house (which is bigger than most people's houses) and is for some reason worshiped by the entire student body (in reality, most students at a high school can't name the quarterback, nor would they care).  He drinks, does drugs, and beats up smaller students.  We also have Suicide Girl's Bitchy Best Friend, who gets into a fight with her over a boy (of course) and slaps her in the cafeteria.  We have Camera Kid who peeps into windows and takes pictures of Suicide Girl while she's dressing.  We have Asian Lesbian-in-the-Closet Girl who is being raised by two dads but is somehow too closeted to admit she is herself lesbian.  (WTF?  So being adopted and raised by two men turns you both gay and closeted.  I was ready to punch the fucking screen at that one.  Or just knock the writers' teeth so far down their collective throats that they could chew their own shit as it came out their asses.)  We have Miscellaneous Teens who spread half-naked photos of Suicide Girl around with their phones and make fun of her about it.  I wouldn't have wanted any of them in my classroom, let alone in my life--or on my iPad.

And we have Doormat Boy, the viewpoint character.  He receives the tapes and starts listening, but can't bring himself to listen to more than five seconds at a time before anxiety takes over and he has to stop.  Here's where things become even more unbelievable.  Doormat Boy, we learn, is something like the ninth or tenth person to get the tapes.  The tapes have been passed around from teen to teen, and everyone keeps asking Doormat Boy if he's listened to "his" tape yet (the tape that talks about his role in Suicide Girl's death).  When he says he hasn't, the asker always shouts, "What are you waiting for?  You have to listen!!"  But Doormat Boy can't do it.  And why?  Because if he did, the show would be over.  The show needs him to listen to one tape per episode.  So, against human nature and every bit of reason in the universe, Doormat Boy listens to one bit at a time.

Doormat Boy always does what the person next to him says.  Suicide Girl orders him to be her friend, and so he does.  Football Boy's friends pressure him into drinking, so he chugs a beer.  And, of course, Suicide Girl orders him to listen to the tapes on the first cassette, and he does.  I heard that later he starts standing up for himself, but I wasn't willing to wait for it.

Suicide Girl herself is a nasty little bitch.  She's mean and snarky to her friends.  She walks all over Doormat Boy.  She calls him names (the fact that she calls him by a series of demeaning nicknames instead of his actual name turns into a running joke).  Whenever she asks him for advice and he gives it, she says something cruel to him in return, and when he finally gets up the gumption to protest about it, she simpers at him and walks away.  She starts arguments with her friends and parents over inconsequential matters just to have drama in the episode.  Bitchy, nasty, unlikable.  If I was supposed to feel sorry she was dead, by Episode 5 I wasn't.

I also couldn't swallow the idea that no one tells anyone else about the tapes.  Ten-odd teens have gotten hold of these tapes, and they've told their friends about them, but NOT ONE PARENT has learned of them?  No.  Just no.  Someone would talk about it to an adult.  Or an adult would find the tapes by accident and give a listen.  Or they'd stumble onto their teenager listening and demand to know what's going on.  ("Why are you listening to a tape?")  There's no way something like this would remain a secret when this many people know about it.  I've seen it in action.  Just last week at school, a kid kept spraying stink bomb aerosol in classes as a prank.  It was supposed to stay a huge secret who was doing it.  But within twenty minutes, someone ratted him out.  Someone ALWAYS talks.  Always.  The tapes would be public knowledge in a matter of hours.

And why DOES everyone do what Suicide Girl says on the tapes?  Sorry, hon, but you're dead.  You don't get to reach out of your grave and tell other people what to do.  If I got a bunch of cassettes from a dead person that said, "Go to Spot A in town and listen," I MIGHT continue listening, but I definitely wouldn't go to Spot A to do it.  My overall instinct would be to return the tapes to Suicide Girl's parents, untouched, or maybe to erase them and throw them out.  I certainly wouldn't obey orders from beyond the grave, if for no other reason than a feeling of "Fuck you."  Yet on this show, every single person follows orders.  Another point of disbelief.  No one erases the tapes or throws them away or says, "Fuck this!"?  Sure.

And Brian's role as Suicide Girl's father?  Well, he was barely given enough screen time for me to form an opinion.  He's an adult in a teen drama, so he'd shown up in maybe four scenes by the time I stopped watching.  I'm glad he got the chance to be on what's inexplicably a hit show, though.

When I got halfway through Episode 5, I realized I was watching the show out of a sense of duty more than any enjoyment, and that I actively disliked bringing it up on Netflix.  There was nothing redeeming in the show, nothing fun or interesting to watch, nothing that made me look forward to more.  The show actively pissed me off, in fact.  I decided to remove the show from my queue, and you know what?  I felt a strange sense of relief. 

No more banal adventures of Doormat Boy and Suicide Girl.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Now the Internet is losing its shit over a screening of Wonder Woman:

Short version is, a movie theater company arranged a women-only screening of WONDER WOMAN.  In certain quarters of the Internet (you know the parts I mean), this was met with howls.  Clutch your balls, gentlemen!  The wimmins have become sexist!  How dare they!

Shut your fuckity-shit mouths, trump-holes.

Let's look at what's really going on, shall we?

First, the guys howling sexism aren't really worried about sexism.  They're being small children.  For thousands of years, men have had power over women, and we're now in a society that is trying (and usually failing) to right this wrong.  Certain men, the ones who have only half a scrotum among them, are afraid of this.  So they meet every positive change with a demand for an equal-and-ridiculous sexist change.  "Women have demanded equal access to men's spaces such as men's clubs and men's board rooms and men's jobs, but now they want a special women-only place?  THAT'S NOT EQUAL! THAT'S HYPOCRISY!"  And they leap around clutching their balls because they're afraid someone is going to cut them off.  This can't actually happen--you can't cut off what doesn't exist.

At any rate, the WONDER WOMAN screening is a party, and a party is allowed to have a limited guest list.  Tell you what, ball-clutchers--when all of you demand to be included in baby showers, bridal showers, and strip clubs where men bare all, I'll believe your whimpering about WONDER WOMAN.  Until then, it's plain your protests are as fake as your wife's orgasms.

Second, if you're really and truly upset about a special screening for just women, then arrange a special screening for just men.  Go for it!  Nothing's stopping you--except the fact that you have a sphincter where your mouth should be.  There's no rule that says the group that arranged the women-only screening is required to arrange a men's screening for you--that's your job.  Get off your flabby, artery-clogged asses and arrange it.  Maybe I'll even buy a ticket.  If I'm in town.  And I can stand the thought of sitting next to a bunch of emasculated ball-clutchers with half a scrotum among them.

Nah.  I wouldn't be able to.  I'll wait until the movie opens and make my sons go see it with me.  Like real men.

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My husband Darwin likes horror movies.  As a rule, I don't.  I do like SF movies, though, and here we have ALIEN: COVENANT, which combines the two genres.  This, I thought, would be a perfect date movie!  Horror for Darwin, SF for me.

Then I learned it has a gay couple in it.  A married gay couple.

You might think this would engender happiness.  Joy.  Even a certain amount a giddiness.  Instead, my metaphorical ears went back and my hackles went up.  I spent a few minutes looking up spoilers and discovered my hackles were justified.

I will not see this movie.  I will not rent the DVD.  I will not support this movie.  And I urge you to do the same.

SPOILERS (you are warned)

According to various on-line sources, the sins of the same-sex relationship portrayal are the standard ones we've come to expect.  First, although there were several initial shots to the contrary, there is little or no indication of a marriage--or any kind of relationship--between the two men throughout the film.  They don't touch.  They don't exchange endearments.  There was apparently a brief moment of hugging between them in a preview, but that scene has been cut from the film, and that preview has been removed from the Internet.  In other words, gay people are still invisible.  No LGBT characters are actually in the spotlight.  No LGBT protagonists.  Just a couple of background guys who may or may not be in a relationship.

But the worst sin comes early in the movie.  Hallett, one of the men, becomes infected with the alien infection, and a baby alien bursts out of his face.  (Not his chest, like in the other movies, but out of his freakin' face.  He's gay, so we have to up the nastiness.)  While the ship's captain leans in to murmur quiet apologies, Hallett's husband Lope whispers, "I love you" and then is forced to walk away.

One more time, we have the tragic gay.  Gay men continue to be the objects of tragedy and disgust and ridicule.  We're only interesting or worthy if we watch our partners die.  No happy relationships for the gay guy.  In fact, we're going to get an alien burst out of our faces, just to super-compound the tragedy.  Because, you know, just dying of an alien tearing out of your chest isn't bad enough for the gays.  Let's make it worse.


I will not spend a dime for that movie.  I urge you to avoid it as well.
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Google Home has a new ad that (supposedly) features a same-sex married couple with children.  Let's have a look, shall we?

I'm glad they're showing this, I suppose, but I'm seeing the cowardly cop-out.  Let's take a media literacy look, shall we?

Firstly, all throughout they use odd camera angles, foreground objects, and blur to confuse and hide. The camera hides us behind water glasses, pans across blurry people, and looks upward from weird angles. This hides what's going on, in case you're offended by it.

Then, when Man #1 enters, he's blurred out and he walks behind yet another foreground water glass. Then we pop to shot of Google Home sitting on the table, and another blurred person walks in front of it. Man #1 wants to know about his day, and a shaky-cam shudders and shimmies while we get a shoulder touch--just a teensy one. Wouldn't want to show any real affection, would we? Nor would we want to show a gay man touch his children at the breakfast table, for fear of anyone screaming "Molester!"

We pop back to GH on the table, surrounded by more blurry objects, then a shot of the kids surrounded by blurry water glasses, then a shot of Man #2 surrounded by blurry water glasses as he asks about his day.  Blur, blur, blur.

The camera pans sideways to push Man #1 out of the shot so we don't see the guys together for too long--wouldn't want that!  Then a shot of Man #2 framed by blurry children as he offers to "take the kids."

Then we have the big moment!  The camera pans left in order to center the blurry boy in the middle of the screen so his whole head takes up the screen just as Man #1 zips by Man #2 for a good-bye kiss--WHICH WE DON'T SEE because it's blocked by the Giant Blurry Boy Head.

Did Man #1 actually kiss Man #2? We can't tell for sure, and Google is too chicken to say.

Then another shot of kids and blurry water glasses, and we end with a brief, semi-obscured shot of Man #1 and Man #2 as Man #2 rushes off with the children.

The commercial is a clever piece of cowardice that Google pretends is bravery. If they get too much flak, they can claim that the men are brothers or even roommates. If they get support and praise, they can say the men are married.  Cowardice. We expected better, Google.

stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Darwin and I finally saw BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  My thoughts:

--Emma Watson isn't a great singer. Her voice is quite weak compared to Paige O'Hara. Come to that, none of the cast members has a standout voice, except the opera singer lady. I don't really want the album, as a result.

--They plugged a number of plot holes in this version, including why the villagers seem to have no idea an enchanted castle inhabited by a monstrous beast is within easy walking distance of their village; why the enchantress punished the castle's inhabitants as well as the prince; and why the village seems to enjoy summer weather, but the castle lives in winter.

--They used more material from the original fairy tale, including Belle's father cutting a rose from the Beast's garden.

--LeFou was clearly in love with Gaston throughout this movie.  I'm still not happy with Disney for handing us a villain as our first LGBT character, despite the fact that (SPOILER) LeFou redeems himself by the end. The final scene ticked me off all over again.  All the media outlets reported that LeFou would dance for a moment with a man, and he does--but first he dances with TWO women.

--We had a moment of gay panic mixed with a transgender moment.  During the seige of the castle, the wardrobe attacks three of the villagers by stuffing them into elaborate women's outfits.  (This happens in the original movie as well, but with just one man.)  Two of the villagers are so freaked out by being men in dresses that they run away.  (Gay panic!)  The third man realizes he likes the look and sashays away instead.  I wasn't as happy about that aspect as I should have been because the whole thing was played for laughs.  Trans people are played as objects of comedy and ridicule, you see.  I'm surprised the right-wing nutbags didn't say anything about this--the scene actually lasts longer than LeFou's dance with another man.

--This movie's version of "Gaston" is actually superior to the original.

--The French Renaissance baroque style of decoration for Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Lumiere are intricate and incredibly detailed, but ultimately it's difficult to make out details because facial features--eyes, mouths, noses, etc.--are so tiny.  And Mrs. Potts reminded me of that toy plastic phone from Toy Story 3.  She seems more like a windup toy.  It's cute, though, they way have Chip use his saucer like a skateboard.

--They definitely didn't change the main theme of the movie: it's a woman's responsibility to rehabilitate an abusive man by loving him so much that he'll change from a beast into a kind, handsome prince.  It made me squirm in my seat to watch Emma Watson start to fawn on the guy who, moments ago, screamed at her, pounded on her door, and ordered her locked in her room to starve.  Let the wolves have him, girl!

Overall?  The movie was done well, but I can't recommend it because of the themes and its poor treatment of LGBT people. Try harder, Disney.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
I subscribe to three different news feeds that specialize in media news so I can keep up with the latest media information for my media literacy class.  For weeks and weeks, a single story has dominated the headlines: the "gay moment" in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

By "dominated," I mean the top four or five stories EVERY SINGLE DAY discuss this topic.  If you read media news, there is IS no other story.  They do try to vary the narrative.  How is the lyingly-named One Million Moms reacting?  What about that drive-in movie theater in Alabama that won't show the theater?  How much gay is there?  Is LeFou an appropriate LGBT breakout character?  Gasp--Malaysia won't screen it.  Gasp--Russia is slapping an "adults only" label on it.  Can we squeeze another interview out of a cast member?  How many times can we re-quote the director's original statement?  And on and on.  The news eats a sandwich, vomits it onto a plate, eats it again, and barfs it back up, fork at the ready.

Really, the only question is: will this have an impact on the box office?

Psh.  No.  It won't.  Did you see how much extra publicity this whole thing is getting?  No one is talking about anything but this movie.  Every network and news outlet has done multiple stories on it, and consumers are snarfing the vomit sandwich right down.  Couple that with nothing else opening this weekend (because no studio wants to compete with a major Disney opening), and you have the perfect set-up for a record-breaking blockbuster.  One Dozen Moms has their boobs in a bunch over this, but they only helped it happen, so maybe they need to learn from their mistakes and shut up.  They won't, but they should.

Anyway, we got a close up and personal dose of the phenomenon.  I wanted to go see BEAUTY AND THE BEAST because I use the 1990 movie in media literacy class to talk about abusive relationships--Belle is trapped in a relationship with an abusive beast who isolates her from friends and family, won't let her work or leave the house, expects her to fulfill his every wish (breaking the spell), pushes for a fast commitment, threatens violence, and shows sudden mood swings.  Textbook abuser.  In the end, Belle loves the Beast so much, that she literally changes him into a kind and gentle prince.  Great message to send our girls: when your man abuses you, it's your job to love him enought that he'll reform.  The abuse is YOUR fault.

Did Disney change this around for this new version?  I doubt it, but I want to see the movie so I can comment appropriately during the domestic violence unit.  Darwin and Maksim came along for the ride.

When we arrived at the theater for the 1:45 matinee, however, the ticket seller said, "We only have a few front-row seats left for that showing."

I conferred briefly with Darwin and Maksim, and they said they were okay with that, so I asked for three tickets.

"Oops!" said the seller.  "It just sold out!  And so have the 2:45 and the 3:30 showings.  The 3:45 still has some seats."

We didn't want to wait around two hours, so we decided to wait until next weekend.

If this is any indication, however, One Dozen Moms and the other groups did their job--the show will shatter all kinds of records.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
So the live-action version of Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has a gay character in it, and the right wing is eating apeshit crackers over it.

I'm not happy, either.

Yes, the apeshit crackers crowd are freaked for all the wrong reasons.  One Million Moms--or, more rightly, One Dozen Moms--screeches that it's not appropriate for the CHIL-dren to see such things on screen.  A drive-in theater in Alabama made news because it's refusing to show the movie.  (So a couple dozen bubbas will have to drive one town over to see the movie in an actual theater instead of watching it in the middle of a hayfield.  Oh noes!  The movie is doomed!)  These people haven't complained about the hetero stuff, though--Belle kissing the Beast, Lumiere kissing the dust mop/maid, Gaston's attempts to basically rape Belle.  And wait--isn't Belle basically being forced to fall in love with an animal?  Good heavens!  But let two men hold hands, and these nutbags act like Disney has gone XXX rated.

What's truly stupid is that this isn't the real reason to be ticked.

The gay character in B&B is LeFou, Gaston's little sidekick villain.  Here he is from the original cartoon:

SPOILERS: According to the press releases and news stories, the live version of LeFou has a crush on Gaston and flirts with him once or twice in the movie, but it goes right over Gaston's head.  At the very end of the movie, we get a brief glimpse of LeFou dancing with another man at Belle and the Beast's ball.

That's it.  That's the whole thing.  Less than ten seconds of LGBT content.

The "yay!" people are praising it.  LeFou is Disney's first openly gay character.  (Other characters have been hinted at, but never confirmed.)  What a step forward!  How fantastic!

I give it a thumbs down.

LeFou is a bumbling, sycophantic idiot.  He's clumsy, stupid, easily cowed, and comes on the receiving end of a great deal of the cartoon violence in the movie.  Gaston punches, kicks, slaps, drops, and crushes LeFou, and he begs for more.  LeFou attempts to murder Lumiere during the seige of the Beast's castle.  He's an evil, brutish, buffoonish clown.  His name is French for "fool."

This is what Disney hands us and says, "Hey, LGBT people!  This is how we're going to represent you! Isn't this great?"

Fuck you, Disney.

On top of it, the movie only gives teensy flashes of the character being gay.  A subtle flirt.  A half-second, "blink and you miss it" dance.

Fuck you, Disney.

How about creating some characters of note?  Some good guys we can root for?  Someone who isn't stupid, foolish, idiotic, or clumsy?  A strong person?  A likeable person?  A person kids can look at and say, "I want to be like him"?  I mean, when kids play "Let's Pretend", no one wants to play LeFou.

After hundreds of years of being denigrated and portrayed as the villain, we need good guys.

I can see the reponses already: "LeFou is going to redeem himself.  If he's dancing at Belle and the Beast's ball, it must mean he's changed sides, and he gets a boyfriend in the end, so he's happy.  What's wrong with that?"  Sorry, no.  For hundreds of years, LGBT people have been the villains, the bad guys, the tragic ones.  We still haven't been the protagonists, the strong ones, the powerful ones in these movies.  Not once.  Disney is handing us a rotten little crumb instead of a full meal.

This is why the apeshit crackers people are angry for the wrong reason.  Disney is timidly giving us partial LGBT characters instead of fully-developed, strong, likeable characters we require and deserve.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Netflix has remade the 80s sitcome ONE DAY AT A TIME.  The difference?  The working-class single mom now heads up a Cuban family.  Grandma lives with them, and she's played by (surprise!) Rita Moreno.  Schneider isn't so much the building super as a slightly batty trust-fund baby who has nothing better to do than to hang out with the family.

It's a fun show, and I'm enjoying it.  It takes a number of issues facing the Hispanic (Cuban) community head-on: preparing for a quinceneras; families split up by deportation; veterans and the VA; veterans and PTSD; discovering a teen child is gay; figuring out how to balance being Cuban with being American.  Lydia, the grandmother, has a particularly poignant story about her role in the Pedro Pan flights from Cuba in 1962.  Like all families, they fight, make up, worry about money, deal with divorce, and hide and reveal secrets.  The main point?  This Cuban-American family is just like yours.

The show is well worth watching.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Saturday we all went to see the Lego Batman movie, mostly because Maksim wanted to see it, and partly to get out of the house on a Saturday evening.

Batman and the Joker are facing off in a self-aware Lego universe.  The Joker is upset that Batman refuses to acknowledge him as his #1 enemy, and so embarks on a master plan to destroy Lego Gotham and force Batman to admit the Joker is indeed his arch-enemy.  Meanwhile, Batman is also dealing with the ramifications of spending his life alone.

First and foremost, it's a silly movie.  They go for jokes first, and if that's what you're in the mood for, it's very funny.  The animation is great, though some scenes are a little too frenetic to follow what's happening--so much is going on in a single frame, you just can't follow it, and the movie seems more designed for home viewing on a DVD player with a really good frame-by-frame pause button.  The movie seems to have a hard time mixing both heart and action--the plot moves along at a good clip, then comes to a dead halt while the characters emote at each other.  After a while, you're able to predict the next emotional beat.  It overall lacked the punch of the first Lego movie.

But the comedy is fast and furious, with many references to Batman from the 1940s comics, to the 1960s TV show (lots and lots of those), to the Tim Burton Batman movie, to the Dark Knight.  The Justice League and Super Friends make cameos, including Zan and Jayna and Gleek (remember them?).

Maksim enjoyed it very much and wants to see it again.  Aran liked a great many one-liners, but wasn't enthralled.  Darwin and I felt . . . meh.

In all, it was a fast, light, silly movie for the kids or the "gotta see 'em all" Batman fan.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
A few years ago, Archie Comics unveiled with fanfare Kevin Keller, the first gay character in their comics universe.  There was some backlash, but overall the character proved enormously popular.  So popular, in fact, that he was given his own comic book.  Take that, right wing freakazoids!

So naturally, Archie Comics' very popular character was given a slot on CW's RIVERDALE.  And I've been watching.

First, I'm glad to see Kevin is there.  A gay teen with a major role.  Cool!  And he has a dating life.  Also cool.

However, on a show filled with hyper-masculine male characters (even the morose, artistic Jughead is a boy's boy), Kevin is the feminine gay guy.  He dresses overly stylishly, the actor's lipstick and rouge are redder than the other males' on the show, his hair is heavily moussed and overly styled (instead of artfully tousled, like every other teen male on the show), and he speaks half a hair below the "you GO girl!" register.  And he's the Gay Best Friend of one of the female leads.  Although we've only had two episodes to work with, we've seen no hobbies, no family, no background, no nothing for Kevin.  He exists pretty much to give Betty someone to talk to.  In other words, he's a stereotype.

On the other hand, we have Moose.

In the comics, Moose was a big blond bully who in the early days beat Archie up for his lunch money.  Over time, Moose evolved into a big lunk with a secret big heart.  The bully thing faded and he and Archie became friends.

On the show, Moose has a sort-of girlfriend, but the real object of his affections is Kevin.  He pursues Kevin with a fair amount of single-mindedness, in fact.  Kevin, however, isn't so sure about this.  Kevin finds Moose attractive, but Moose insists he just wants a . . . physical relationship, no strings, no emotion.  "I'm straight," Moose stoutly maintains.  Kevin refuses to believe this. He thinks Moose is gay, but he doesn't want to get involved with someone who can't admit he likes guys.

Moose himself is as hyper-masculinized as the other males on the show.*  We also don't have the neutered-gay-boy problem I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog, which is great.  I'm interested in seeing how this plays out.

*I'd prefer that NONE of the males were hyper-masculine, really, and instead represented more realistic teenagers.  However, if we're going to have a show filled with chiseled everything, I'd rather not have the gay character be the only one standing out as different in that regard.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
I've been watching RIVERDALE.  I want to know how they managed to negotiate this with the owners of Archie Comics, really.  The show is dark and moody and focuses quite a lot on the sex lives of the characters, quite the opposite of the original comic, which pretended no one had heard of sex.  I'm trying to imagine how they got that past the licensor.  "So yeah--in this awesomely cool update for TV, Archie is a hot teen who's sleeping with his music teacher.  One of his classmates is murdered over the summer, and Arch gets dragged into it because he was a sort-of witness, right?  Meanwhile, Betty is trying to please her perfectionist mom and Veronica gets into a queen bee bitch war with another girl at school.  And Moose is trying to get into Kevin's pants.  Whattaya think?"

At any rate, the show is "shut your brain off" interesting.  The overarcing plot is that last summer, one of the Riverdale teens died in suspicious circumstances, and lots of people have Dark Secrets about it--and other things.  Like any CW show, this one displays generous eye candy of both sexes.  A sweaty, abbed-up Archie takes his shirt off at least once per episode, and cheerleaders bounce about like lingerie-covered rubber balls.  Something for everyone!  It's kind of fun to watch the show, with a certain amount of self-awareness, wrestle cartoon characters into a semblance of reality, while at the same time it uses bright colors and garish sets to remind us that this =is= still an outlandish cartoon.  It's a soap opera in the mold of DALLAS and FALCON CREST, but set in a high school.

I do have trouble watching chunks of it.  Hollywood just can't bring itself to get high school right.  I know it's a TV show and reality sometimes must be glossed over for the sake of the story, but so many details DON'T need to be glossed over, and when they're wrong, they remind us we're watching a TV show and yank us out of the story.  For example:

--The cheerleading squad tryouts. Where was the cheerleading coach?  Cheryl (Miss Queen Bee) runs the entire thing and railroads our poor Betty and Veronica, but this simply isn't how it works.  Ever.  The coach runs the tryouts and decides who's on the team, not the cheerleaders.

--Queen Bee Cheryl wears too much makeup.  I know she's supposed to be a mega-bitch, and her mouth--the source of her power--is highlighted by four pounds of lipstick, but I'm gonna tell ya that any female who showed up to school wearing that much makeup would be ostracized by the very girls she's trying to control.

--This one shows up in every TV show and movie: bells.  THERE ARE NO BELLS IN SCHOOL.  Schools use computer tones to dismiss class.  That brrrrrrrinnnnggg bell hasn't been used in thirty years.  But Hollywood uses it in every single school setting ever.  I don't know why.

--PA mics.  Schools these days have long, long ago dispensed with the microphone on a stand in the principal's office to address the school.  The PA system is hooked through the phone system so that the secretaries and parapros can call for students, too.  Showing the principal making a PA announcement with a stand mic is like showing someone driving to school in a Model T.

--Blackboards and chalk.  These have vanished from all but the absolute destitute of schools.  They've been replaced with white boards and markers.  In many places, we have Smart Boards.  Chalk is as dead as carbeurators.  Does Hollywood figure chalk, PA mics, and bells are some kind of setting shortcut that tell us we're in school?  If so, they're failing at it--the generation these shows aim at have never seen a chalkboard, heard a bell, or listened to a PA mic in their lives.

--Cheerleader moves.  Cheerleaders don't bump and grind and move like pole dancers.  They also wear skirts long enough to cover their asses.  (At least the ones in RIVERDALE don't show cleavage, like some shows I could mention.)  Put a sixteen-year-old into a Hollywood cheerleader outfit and have her grind her hips or look like she's screwing her poms, and you'll have five dozen screaming parents on the phone within ten minutes.

When I can shut my brain off long enough to ignore the above, however, RIVERDALE is an interesting watch.

And hey!  We have a gay-couple-in-training.  More on them later...
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
This week I've written about the Gay Tragedy and the Gay Tease.

Finally, we also have the Gay Promise.  This is when the producers announce loudly and firmly that they're going to have a gay character on the show.  Real soon now!  Really!  Just watch and you'll see!  It'll be a major character, too.  We promise!

Sometimes the character shows up, but more often, the promise is quietly dropped because the producers chicken out.

SUPERGIRL actually came through on this one.  Kara's sister, a contract character, started to realize she was a lesbian and is currently exploring that with another woman.  (Though the eternally unsatisfied me must still point out that Hollywood seems more willing to show women kiss on screen than men.)

Just lately, the YOUNG JUSTICE animated show announced they would have a gay character on their recently-revived show.  As always, they haven't said who or under what circumstances.  I don't know why they don't just say who it'll be.  There'd be more publicity if they announce that Aqualad, or whoever they've chosen, is gay.

Hollywood, wake up!  You can write actual gay men and give them happy endings.  Let's get started.  Now.

Gay Tease

Jan. 11th, 2017 08:44 am
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
On Monday, I wrote about Gay Tragedy.  There's also the Gay Tease.

This is when a TV show or movie claims that a character is gay, but doesn't actually DO anything with it.  There are two versions of the Gay Tease.

1. The director, producer, or writer says, "Oh yeah--he's gay.  He's always been gay," but there's nothing on screen or on the page that definitively says so.  J.K. Rowling, for example, created waves when she "revealed" that Dumbledore is gay, except in the books there's no hint of it.  (A "deep friendship" with another male doesn't cut it.)  This happens all the time, and the only reason for it is to keep the slavering homphobes happy.  If a large group freaks out about the idea of Character X being gay, the producer can wimp out and claim, "What I mean when I said that was that you can IMAGINE the character as gay if you want."  It also allows them to have a gay character without having a gay character.  And it's complete bullshit.  You wouldn't do that with a straight character.  If you say there's no stigma about gay characters these days, then give us gay characters, please.

2. The show or movie has a secondary character who pops up and says, "I'm gay!  This is my husband!" and nothing else happens with it.  We never see the husband (or boyfriend, or fiance, or . . . )  We don't ever see the actual relationship develop (though there'll be a couple-three straight relationships on the show that get extensive attention).  We never see anyone dealing with the ramifications of a same-sex relationship.  Just the occasional, "Don't forget that I'm gay!" reference, and that's it.

THE FLASH has one of these.  Barry's police captain is married to a man.  We even saw the husband once.  But that's it.  We get the occasional "Don't forget I'm gay!" reference, but no actual stories.  And the character is so minor, he may as well not exist.  Certainly we haven't seen him in the current season.  The Pied Piper is another example.  He makes a couple of reference to being gay and (stereotypically) into leather when he shows up, but no actual development of it.

This allows the show to claim they have a gay character on it without actually having a gay character.  It's a castrated gay man, really, because he never does anything sexual or sexy or romantic.  He never gets his own storyline.  He never fights with his boyfriend and makes up.  Instead, he's the non-threatening gay character thrown in as a sop to the LGBT community who also is supposed to keep the right-wing nutjobs happy.  It's nothing but Gay Tease.  We know it for what it is, and we're tired of it.  Hollywood needs to change it now.

Gay Tragedy

Jan. 9th, 2017 08:40 am
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
This is 2017.  Marriage equality is legal.  And yet we still have a media filled with Gay Tragedy, Gay Tease, and Gay Promise.

The Gay Tragedy is when a same-sex couple, usually two men, fall in love and it ends badly.  Often one of the men dies.  At minimum, the two are separated and their relationship isn't allowed to end happily.  BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is the most famous example.  When I saw that movie in the theaters, I thought it was poorly done. The characters' relationship is neither believable nor explained--they love each other because the script says so--and in the end, one of them is murdered because he's gay, leaving the survivor, who has lost his entire family as well, to weep alone in his isolated trailer.  Because, you see, two men can't have a happy, loving relationship that ends well.

TORCHWOOD does the same thing with Jack and Ianto.  Just as their relationship is deepening, Ianto is killed.  The producers said it was deliberately for tragedy, to change Jack so he could do important things later.  Yeah, sure.  But on an SF show that brings people back from the dead, they sure didn't hurry to resurrect Ianto later.  In fact, they only twist the tragedy knife by having Ianto's ghost show up and make Jack feel even worse in a later episode and make it clear that Jack and Ianto won't be together even in the afterlife.  Because gay men can't ever be happy.

Now, apparently, we're getting more of it.  CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is a gay tragedy novel ("beautifully written," says one reviewer, which is code for "uses lots of flowery, incomprehensible language to camouflage the lack of actual story").  A seventeen-year-old Italian boy meets a twenty-something American visitor in Italy.  They have a mad, tempestuous relationship in secret, but in the end, the American has to go back home.  The seventeen-year-old is unable to forget or let go, and twenty-odd years later, he goes to Boston to find his long-lost love, only to find him married (to a woman) with children.  Their love goes forever unfulfilled.

The book was made into a movie that got a lot of buzz at the Sundance Film Festival and was just recently picked up by a major distributor for wide release.  Because, you know, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, right?

Fuck you, Hollywood.  And you, too, BBC.

Apparently, the only kind of gay relationship you can show is one that ends in tragedy.  I won't go see it.  I won't buy or rent the DVD.  I will happily trash it, though.

After a thousand years of Gay Tragedy, I refuse to have anything to do with the idea until we've had a long, long history of Gay Happily Ever After.  Straight people get the HEA as a matter of course, and the tragic ending is the exception rather than the rule.  Showing Gay Tragedy after Gay Tragedy says that you think there's something wrong with LGBT people, and we're sick of it.

LATER THIS WEEK: Gay Tease and Gay Promise
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
A point of order: I've never watched an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE all the way through.  The ZONE, of course, is before my time--I was born in 1967, four years after the show went off the air--whereas many of my fandom contemporaries grew up watching the show on reruns.  Channel 50 out of Detroit was a favorite.  However, I grew up in middle-of-nowhere, Michigan.  We didn't have a syndication station up there.  I spent my childhood in blissful ignorance of Rod Serling, STAR TREK, and just about every other rerun show.  We did get Godzilla movies on Channel 5 once a year, though.

Anyway, I somehow limped along.  You can't spend as much time in the SF crowd as I have without picking up ZONE stuff by osmosis, and I became slowly aware of the more popular episodes: the one with the guy who liked to read; the Talky Tina doll; the aliens who served man; Rod Serling's over-the-top narration.  But I still never watched an entire episode.

I recently learned THE TWILIGHT ZONE original episodes are available on Netflix for streaming.  Well!  I added them to my queue and started in.  I've gotten halfway through first season and now I'm highly qualified for some commentary.

This is absolutely a period piece.  It's quite charming to watch 1959 brought to life (though I usually think to myself, "Goodness, I wonder how many of these actors are dead") and see the furniture, hairstyles (the men ALL have exactly the same haircut--barbers must have been bored out of their minds), the cars, even the food choices (nothing but hunks of meat, mashed potatoes, and pie, with occasional cake).  And wow!  Everybody smokes!  It's a little jarring looking at this from an age when smoking is a factor in an R rating.  People smoke in restaurants, in cars with their kids, in hospital beds, in alleys, and on sidewalks.  Men offer to light each other's cigarettes and hold each other's wrists to steady the match without a hint of homoeroticism (well, perhaps a hint).

Most of the material hasn't aged well, though.  Rod Serling was making social commentary, and the concerns of 1959 are quite different from those of 2016.  Yes, we worry about the government, but not in the way Serling did.  The ZONE also chews over mass destruction (nuclear war), whereas we seem preoccupied with death by zombies.  The magical stranger is another fixture--an odd individual who only one character can see or who manages to disappear before anyone else arrives on the scene.  A variation of this theme is the magical peddlar or tinker.  The ZONE has multiple episodes with the odd little man who carries around a suitcase and sells strange things or offers you oddities you probably don't want.

Another recurring theme is, "It's us all along!"  Many episodes put humans into strange situations, and the twist at the end is that they've been in familiar surroundings all along and didn't know it, or they turn out to be aliens, and we viewers have been duped into thinking they were human.

The show is so far very bleak.  No one gets a happy ending.  Protagonists come to an awful end.  Only rarely do we get a happy ending, and even those lean toward the mixed blessing variety.  As an example of the latter, a family escapes nuclear holocaust in a recently-developed space ship and we find out at the last minute that they're planning to live on Earth (surprise! aliens in human form!), with the implicit message that they're carrying the seeds of humanity's eventual destruction.  Mixed blessing.

The casual sexism is often painful to watch.  So far, only two episodes have had female protagonists, and both of those women were dreadfully passive.  The first is an aging actress who hides in her home theater because she can't face the fact that she's getting old.  She never manages to leave.  The second is a woman who drives cross-country and keeps encountering the same hitch-hiker.  She never does anything except drive away from him and beg for help from strangers.  (A strange man makes you nervous, so you go into hysterics and beg for help from OTHER strange men.  Huh.  Logic.)  Many episodes have no women in them whatsoever.  Other episodes have women who poke their noses in long enough to show us a nurse's uniform or a waitress's apron or a mother's serving fork.  These women take orders from the menfolk and vanish again.  In one arresting moment of hijkinks, a wife bops a bad guy with her car door in defense of her husband, but that's all the action the women get.

We do have two female villains.  A ballbusting wife relentlessly abuses her milqetoast husband because he likes to read (and there's a hint she's a man-hating lesbian).  Another woman is a murderous vixen.  So the women in the show do get short shrift, and you have to remind yourself that it's 1959 and you can't expect better from such unenlightened people, so let's go watch a rerun of a recent tape in which our president-elect says he can grab women by the pussy because he's famous.

I'm sure that when the show first aired, the many plot twists were exciting and brand new, but at this point I garner much amusement by seeing how fast I can call out the ending.  "They're on Earth already!" I shout.  Or, "The robot's going to die!"  Or, "He'll be forced to make a sales pitch to Death!"  Two flaws in the show (so far) are that they have no comic relief in them whatever to break the relentless bleakness (maybe we'll get some later as the show matures), and there are never any subplots.  (Yes, the show is only half an hour long, but FRIENDS manages to work in three stories per episode, as a counterexample.)  Some of the episodes draaaaaaaagggggggg.  Many scenes could be shortened, and the extra time used for a subplot or two.  Is this a matter of modern taste?  TV shows made in a time when life was slower have slower pacing?  Maybe.  But I find I can often pop the stream forward a few minutes and miss nothing important.

One interesting recurring theme is nostalgia.  A number of episodes use time travel to fling someone back to the past, or they have someone yearn for past events, and the past is always shown as a golden time.  Since this is 1959, "the past" is nearly 100 years ago for us modern folk.  (I'm waving at all the people from 2036 who are reading this.  Is 2016 nostalgic for you?  It was a sucky year for us.)

I found this both interesting and ironic.  In 2016, we find the 50s a nostalgic era.  (Certainly the right wing does.)  We live during a period when both the government and society are highly polarized and no one can seem to work together, when the fragile economic recovery seems poised to tank again, when police and African-Americans are at war in our streets, when a horrifying president-elect is making world-shattering mistakes with other world powers.  So we see 1959 as a delight!  A time when men and women knew their places, and black people didn't know what civil rights were.  When cops smiled at you and beat black people up only when no one could see it.  When every street was well-paved and shady, and kids skipped home from school down perfect sidewalks to mothers who awaited them with milk and cookies.  But the people of 1959 looked back to the 20s for exactly the same thing.  Their own time was filled with McCarthyism, war, and nuclear escalation.  The 20s were the era of carefree children and happy homes.  The above-mentioned actress character mentions the 1930s as a time of glitter and style, and never mind 25% unemployment, Hoovervilles, and people starving in the streets.

Weird, huh?

It's always fun to watch the end credits and see if a familiar name pops up.  Was Burgess Meredeth EVER a young man?  And is that really Jack Klugman?  And it's also fun to Google unfamiliar names to see what happened to the others.  This one retired from acting in the 60s and still sells real estate.  That one died of cancer back in the 80s.  This other dropped out of sight and no one knows where he is.

The show is itself a form of time travel.  I'm actually glad I'm watching it for the first time as an adult.  It's more fun to look at it through the lens of an historian and media person than as an SF fan, to tell the truth.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Over the weekend, I dragged Darwin to see MOANA.  Aran was working, so he wasn't able to see it with us.  Our verdict?


Moana, who is being groomed to become chieftain of her people, leaves her island to find a cure for the darkness which is ravaging the crops and killing the fish.  She finds the snarky demi-god Maui and the two of them team up with the ocean itself to save the world.

Okay, first the movie wasn't perfect.  (We'll get that out of the way first.)  The score has been lauded quite a lot elsewhere, but I didn't find myself humming the songs or even vaguely remembering any of them after the movie ended.  They're serviceable and they accomplish what they need to within the story, but they don't stick with you.  The pacing at the beginning drags as well.  Too much time spent lingering over island life.

That said, once we cross the barrier reef into Act II, the story snaps right along.  The best part?  Moana is her own self.  She doesn't need anyone else to become complete.  She's not even thinking about romance, and one isn't even mentioned anywhere in the movie.  This is a pure buddy pic, no romance need apply.

The woimen have most of the agency in this movie.  There's Moana herself, of course.  Her decisions drive the plot forward.  But she's advised and urged on by her impish grandmother, and the main plot revolves around rescuing a goddess.  The problems of Maui the demi-god aren't an afterhtought, but they're definitely secondary, and they serve Moana's story, not Maui's.

The lush setting is another delight.  We don't need explanations of Pacific Island culture thrown at us (such as what hula dancing stands for or how sailing works) because they're shown to us with firm skill that also assumes we, the audience, have the intelligence to keep up.  Oh!  And brown skins everywhere.  And no skinny minnies among the women!  Darwin and I saw a showing with a hugely multi-racial audience, and the brown-skinned children in the audience were thrilled about this.

I won't spoil the twist ending except to say that it delighted me no end.  This was not only because it's so hard to be surprised by any plot these days, but also because I was just saying to myself, "You know, this part of the story seems strangely forced" when FOOP!  It all snapped into a "why didn't I see that coming?" kind of place that was so DIFFERENT and SENSIBLE from any other fantasy movie I've seen.  Wonderful!

Highly recommended.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Stores routinely charge more for products marketed to women than the same product marketed to men, especially if it's a bath or beauty product.  Shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash--if it's pink, the price goes up.

Check this out. The Kroger where I shop has its Health and Beauty Aids section dividied into FOR HIM and FOR HER with little signs, as in "HAIR CARE for him" and "HAIR CARE for her" or "SKIN CARE for him" and "SKIN CARE for her."  They also have separate "SHAVING for him" and "SHAVING for her" sections.  In it are a variety of razors, including Kroger store brand razors.  These were in the "for her" section:

And these were in the "for him" section:

A $2.00 difference.  They're the same product with a slightly different shape.  Apparently, a different shape requires a $2 markup.

The body wash marketed for men cost about 2/3 the price of the body wash for women.  Same brand, same ingredients, but a higher price because the bottle was a different shape and was a soft beige instead of battleship gray.  (I didn't take photos.)

Do people fall for this?  Do they refuse to look at the other side of the aisle and end up paying more for exactly the same product?  I'm guessing they must, otherwise the company and the store wouldn't do it.

My advice?  Stop it!  A razor is a razor.  Shampoo is shampoo.  Soap is soap.  Color is meaningless.  Pink, blue, gray, orange--who cares?  Comparison shop.  Don't let them rip you off.  And the stores need to stop dividing us by gender.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
I watched the first episode of LUKE CAGE.  I found it . . . intriguing.  But slow.  Very slow.

DAREDEVIL and JESSICA JONES hit the ground sprinting.  CAGE's first episode starts with a long, loooooong conversation in a barber shop, and another conversation in a club, and another conversation in a laundry room, and . . .

You get the idea.

I was about ready to dump it when things finally started heating up.  The heating up started with a new trope that's already worn thin: the scene of unimaginable violence set to inappropriately cheery music.  However, the story started to come together by this point and I kept watching to the end.

My thoughts:

There were no white faces in the first half of the show, and when we did see white faces later, they were background characters.  The entire cast is black, Hispanic, or Asian.  The show doesn't shy away from minority issues, either, like whether or not the N word is acceptable within the black community, and minority-on-minority violence.

We have some interesting music choices, from Harlem jazz to disco-esque to soft porn percussion, all of them influenced by black movie music of the 70s, when the Power Man (Nicholas Cage) comic book first came out.

The episode spends most of its time exploring Harlem and setting up character arcs.

Overall, it was slower than I would have liked, but I'm willing to watch a little more to see if it gets better.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
On Yahoo's news little sliding news scroll today, the top stories are about a movie star's "appallingly vulgar" dress, Brittany Spears's "impressive splits" moves, and a female teacher's "inappropriate dress" style. Only after reporting about these earth-shaking matters of sexism does it get around to reporting on an arrest in the Florida mosque fire case.


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