The Crimes of Grindelwald include a serious lack of wokeness

Where is the wokeness? Where’s that same woke energy you bring to Twitter and changing the OG HP books JK Rowling? WHERE?

*Not spoiler free, but no massive twists revealed either

By now it’s likely you’ve heard at least a few of the lukewarm reviews of The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second instalment of the Harry Potter prequel series Fantastic Beasts.

I definitely fall in the category of reviewers who found this film lacking something much needed, but I don’t think the universe needs yet another review about that. I’ve also already done a podcast with What I Watched Tonight all about those feelings so if you’re interested in my opinion on that then you can listen here.

Instead, I’m interested in fleshing out the films lack of “wokeness” – for lack of a better word. Now, obviously I take issue with most films lack of wokeness, but this feels especially important for one main reason:

Since discovering her wokeness, and experiencing a tirade of displeasure from Twitter, JK Rowling has made it her mission to go back and retrospectively add representation into her books when it isn’t there.

I am someone who is a huge advocate for representation in media, however when JK Rowling does this, it feels an awful lot like a cop out. I personally understand that when she wrote the books she didn’t have the understanding about representation she does now, so I understand why it was lacking in the Harry Potter series. I personally feel that a better way for her to approach the situation would have been to say “Listen, I fucked up, but I’ll try better in future.”

But the many Crimes of Grindelwald are that she then goes back on that and we’re pretty much at original Harry Potter levels of representation once again.

#1. Where’s my gay Dumbledore?


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Probably the first and most noteworthy change, or “announcement” she made in her new wokeness, was that Dumbledore was gay the whole time and was in love with Grindelwald so…. Prove it? Where was that in this film? I love me some Jude Law but boy was he so very not the gay Dumbledore we all know and love. And on that note, why suddenly is the reason Dumbledore took so long to fight Grindelwald because of some random, unmentioned blood pact instead of GAY PINING LOVE??? Missed opportunityand massive cop out.

#2. Why were the two female leads from the first film sidelined, and the other female lead FRIDGED?

giphy.gifI believe I’ve expressed my feelings about fridging before, but if not, fridging is essentially where writers kill of female characters in order to give emotional gravitas to a male characters storyline and give them a “push”. You can read more about it here, but Leta Lestrange DESERVED BETTER.

Tina also deserved better. Like, bitch where was you this whole film? Gone AF pining over Newt. Queenie also deserved better. She is NOT as dumb as this film makes her out to be. She is a strong woman who loves fiercely but she is full of common sense and I don’t believe the Queenie in the first movie would do this shit.

#3. So somehow in the 6 months between the first and second films Newt Scamander became a lady killer?


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What’s up with every female needing to be in love with male leads? I hate that trope. If they start turning him into a know-it-all Sherlock type I’m walking out. I don’t know quite where I’m going with this point but fuck this.

Ok so that’s how I feel. Actually there are a whole lot more emotions but fuck it, this film has had enough of my attention. Basically, JK IF YOU’RE GONNA DO BETTER, ACTUALLY DO BETTER WITH THE SOURCE MATERIAL YOU ARE CREATING.

A few sidenotes:

Theseuss hot AF

Dumbledore big dick energy

Nifflers ftw

Leta deserved better

Bohemian Rhapsody: why millennials are pumped AF for this killer Queen biopic

Hello – it’s me.

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been honestly there’s no exciting excuse, I’ve just been lazy with writing about films. I’m back though! And I’m excited to (softly) re-launch my blog and include a whole lot more than just recent-release reviews, so get ready bitches.

Today, however, I thought I’d talk about the already much talked about ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Instead of contributing to the thousands of reviews out there, I thought I’d give my hot-take on why us millennials are so keen to watch a biopic about a singer who died before most of us could even say “Scaramouche”.

I would count myself as a huge Queen fan. Not to the point where I know a hell of a lot of trivia (like I would with, say, Fleetwood Mac), but enough to say I know all the lyrics to all their (many) top hits. And I would argue that a lot of my friends in my age group would also count themselves as huge fans.

But why? Well, the cynic in me would probably say that with Freddie Mercury’s sad passing in 1991, we were at the perfect age to absorb the “Queen renaissance” that occurred afterwards. And it’s true, for the years following his death, Queen’s greatest hits saw a return to radio, and featured in the soundtrack of many of our childhood movies.

There’s a lot to be said for nostalgia, even if our nostalgia sort of comes from… nostalgia itself. We were there, consuming media faster than lightning while our parents, radio hosts, teachers, and the rest were feeling nostalgic about losing one of the greatest performers of their time.

I can only speak for my own experience, but I remember going to my own sister’s dance competition when I was probably around 4 years old, and being blown away, not by the performances (sorry guys), but by the song ‘Another One Bites the Dust’. Shortly after that in 2000 the New Zealand team won the America’s Cup and I could be wrong, but I remember there being a hell of a lot of ‘We Are the Champion’s’ being played.

And then there was my own foray into dancing (embarrassing) in 2002, where I learned a dance to ‘We Will Rock You’, taught it to my classmates and then had to perform it a shameful amount of times in front of the entire school.

I’m sure as hell I wasn’t the only one who had my childhood constantly peppered with Queen’s greatest hits, and as we grew older and more interested in music, a lot of us started to expand our CD collections, Apple iPod playlists, and eventually Spotify playlists, to include the classics like ‘Bicycle Race’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Somebody to Love’, and all the other many, many great songs by the band.

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So while, no, we can’t claim to have “been there” for Live Aid, or anything else, we were there for the renaissance, and our childhoods would’ve sounded a lot different without it.

To me, it makes sense that millennials are rushing to theatres to see the beginnings of the soundtracks of our childhoods. It makes a lot of sense.

The tea: your taste in movies doesn’t make you better than anyone else ☕

Listen. If you think you’re better than me because you’re “above” superhero movies, then this blog goes out to you.

I didn’t realise I had to write this, I really didn’t.

But if I get another comment saying that “superhero movies are for children blah blah blah watch a real movie” I’m going to lose it.

And that’s saying a lot because I barely get comments.

I want to start this with a disclaimer: I think we’re all a little elitist. While I’m an adamant believer that if another person’s interests are not harming themselves or other people then you aren’t better than them, I still occasionally look at someone thinking Banksy is the pinnacle of political art and think I’m better than them.

BUT I would never say that to them! And whenever I find myself thinking this I actively mentally correct myself.

When you go out of your way to say someone is childish because they like superheroes, or basic because they think 2001: Space Odyssey is trash and Bring It On is a masterpiece (@ me), you’re simply showing that you’re small minded and not willing to grow.

I want to know why you think you’re more intellectual, or critical thinking, or “grown up” than me because you don’t like Black Panther? Tell me. Come for me in the comments.

I feel like it’s the dumbest people who often decide that something so subjective as film or art makes them better than others. It’s an asinine and childish practice in itself, and kind of the biggest turn off.

Also, as a sidenote, this isn’t just about films. If you think you’re better than me because you snort heavy metal or classic rock and I love to rock out to nearly anything with a beat, then you’re just as bad. Same goes for art, books, and almost anything else!

The only time I feel like it’s justified in looking down on someone for their interests is if they like something that is hurting themselves, or others, or if the artist themselves has contributed to negative things such as racism etc. But when I say “looking down” I still don’t actually mean “be a dick”. I mean “participate in constructive discourse with the person so they understand that you don’t think you’re ‘better than them’, but rather that they should re-evaluate what their interests contribute to”.

TL;DR – you’re no fucking better than anyone because you don’t like what they watch.

Also fuck you.

Ocean’s 8 proves why we should do all-female reboots of everything

We got that Harvey Specter, Han Solo, Danny Ocean feeling and we aren’t letting it go

*SPOILER FREE*

I’m a feminist.

I’m a cold-blooded feminist killjoy who loves to explain to men (and everybody) why representation is important in media.

Hell, I started a blog all about it.

(hi)

But something I always find difficult to articulate to (white) men, is why representation is important. Women and other minorities know all too well why it’s so important to see yourself reflected in diverse roles.

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But men who see themselves in every single possible role, often don’t understand why it’s hard to imagine a world where you can be an astronaut, a CEO, a mathematician, or anything else when you aren’t represented as being able to do those roles – even in fantasy worlds.

I’ve thought long and hard on how best to explain this to even just my partner, without going on a crazy rant yet again. But watching Ocean’s 8 made it so so so clear exactly why, and in terms that men can probably understand.

You know that feeling you get when you see Han Solo weave through meteors that no Empire pilot could navigate, and do it all with a smirk and a one liner?

You know that moment Harvey Specter lays down the evidence and wins a case that seemed unbeatable, adjusts his cuff links, and walks off to a badass song?

Or what about Raymond Reddington, finessing yet another whatever it is he does that white men love so much?

More to the point, it’s that moment when Danny Ocean pulls off the grandest heist in history with all his buddies by his side and in a fantastic suit and some amazing cars.

These men who we idolise, because they are witty, and smart, and do things we wish we could do, while dressing like we wish we dressed, and absolutely crushing every moment and never failing? We want to be them even though maybe they live lives we don’t actually want, but God they do it well and with so much style.

Except we don’t – because we’re women. As women, we see these men and we like them, but it’s just another white man in a position, role, or life we already knew white men could have. We don’t want to be them and hijack their jokes and style.

Where’s our Han? Our Harvey? Our Raymond? Our Danny? They’re starting to arrive, and it feels oh so good to see someone like you who is badass, witty, intelligent, and absolutely winning at whatever they do.

Ocean’s 8 was that – and a million times more. I wasn’t relating to these characters because I would never be these characters – but boy did I want to.

Our fast cars and alcohol references were switched with fashion and art, and it was glorious.

The stakes were high, the jokes were sly, and yes, it’s all just one big vapid heist movie. But it means so much on a larger scale and I absolutely love it.

The whole movie impressed so much the fact that females are each other’s strengths, and that men are wholly unnecessary to reach our goals. That women can come from all corners of life and absolutely slay a project to death.

It also featured a high level of female songs, largely focussed on the art about women in the MET, and showed that high fashion is just as sexy and ex

citing and suitable for heist movies as fast cars and cigars.

And fuck, it had Rihanna so ????

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On a final note, if you still aren’t convinced as to why representation matters, in the words of Debbie Ocean:

“Remember, you’re not doing this for me. You’re not doing this for you. Somewhere out there, there is an 8-year-old girl who dreams of one day being a criminal. You’re doing it for her.”

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5 predictions for Westworld season 2: AKA me making stuff up

*Semi-spoilers but no major plot points of events from the first episode are discussed, just certain themes that appeared as well as the opening credits

Firstly, let me just say, WHAT A FIRST EPISODE. I feel like they did a pretty good job of getting people back up to speed with what happened in season 1, as well as giving us the play by play of what happened after that massive first season ending – without making it seem like they were trying to cover too much in one go. I feel like season openings can often feel like cramming before a big test, with too many topics covered, and too many reminders of the previous season.

I really appreciated the jumping timeline, as well as the focus characters – truly our core-three at this point; Dolores, Maeve, and Bernard. I also really liked that the first episode set up the seasons pace. With so many shows these days ­– especially HBO and Netflix ones – it seems like there’s this competition to be bigger and better than your last season, which can be hard when the storylines are as complex as Westworld.

Last season raised a lot of questions and explored a lot of topics common in speculative fiction, and this second season allows the show to go even deeper than most sci-fi does, so I have a few predictions on what we’ll see this season!

They’re all undoubtedly going to be 100% wrong, because I’ve never been good at this shit in my life, but hey, I thought it’d be fun, and it’s been a hot minute since you guys heard from me!

#1. Fertility/babies/maternal affection is going to be a big undercurrent theme for the season

westworld maeveI’m mainly basing this off the new opening credits, where a mother and baby are recurring. It would make sense for a next step in a new society to be exploring fertility and procreation. Obviously, this is closely linked with Maeve’s storyline, so she’ll be the main catalyst for this I imagine, although Bernard has his own fake-son situation to deal with and Dolores is a woman so like… Male writers… you know the drill…

What constitutes a family? A maternal link? What makes a real mother? Can the hosts procreate? Is it in their future and the next step for their survival? Fertility is a deeply sci-fi conversation, and it would be an interesting spin on the conversation around what it means to be “human” and “real”.

#2. The start of a new civilisationWestworld-dolores

I know Dolores is focussed on destroying humans (you do you, boo), but I have a feeling there’s still going to be exploration into this new civilisation. This goes further than fertility, and stems into philosophy, politics, economics, and community. This community needs each other to survive, but they’re also fundamentally different to our civilisation, so I’m excited to see how differently they create their world and society!

#3. Consciousness vs. conscience

Now that these hosts have consciousness – or some do? Maybe? – they’re soon going to have to grapple with what comes next. A conscience. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m here for a human bloodbath 100%. But soon enough, Dolores is going to start questioning morality. What does she hope to achieve? Is it enough to have consciousness, or must a conscience soon follow? Does a lack of conscience make you superior, or is it a useful tool? Does being alive, mean also caring for others? Of course, cold blooded killers live amongst humans (obviously a major point made in the first season) but I don’t believe that’s who Dolores is. As she said, she’s been forced to play the lovely ranchers daughter, and the murderous Wyatt, but her greatest role yet is that of herself. I don’t believe she’s wholly evil, which means we’re definitely going to find out about the growing moral compass amongst conscious hosts.

#4. What is reality anyway?

Westworld-doloresLast season we truly delved into the age-old sci-fi question of “what is free will”, but this season I predict we’re going to look more into “what even is reality?”. Now that Dolores and Maeve have discovered free will, what it is, and how to harness it, the question now for the hosts (and humans) is – what is reality anyway? This was what I gained from the conversations between Dolores and Arnold, as well as Bernard’s experiences throughout episode one. Reality is confusing. Just because something is “real”, doesn’t mean it’s a “reality”. Are our dreams just as important as reality? How do we know what’s really happening? I think they’ll really play this one out through dream sequences and timeline jumps but again – I really don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.

#5. The true price of data

zuckerberg facebookObviously, user-data is a massive conversation right now with the whole Zucc/Facebook situation, and I think that puts Westworld in a fantastic position to explore this topic. Westworld is, of course, privy to far more data that Facebook ever could be, but it is a close analogy. People act in a way on the internet, far differently than they would in “public” or the “real world”, and Facebook does store that data. Delos is obviously doing the same thing – what are they using it for? Probably advertising lesbereal. What are the moral implications? The legal implications? What does this mean for the users? What is the true price and value of data in this day and age? It’s a topic close to my heart, what with my social media advertising business, so I’m really excited to see where they go with it!

So, those are my thematic predictions! Note how I never made actual predictions on specific events – I ain’t that bold.

What do you think will be discussed this season? What do you hope you’ll see? Let me know! Let’s talk Westworld (please) (I’m begging you) (someone talk to me about this damn show)

Jessica Jones season 2: classic case of season 2 fatigue, but what happened to the feminism?

Jessica Jones season 2 is finally here – so what does my feminist ass think about it?

It’s an undeniable fact that I loved season 1 of Jessica Jones – in fact, it was the first blog I wrote.


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So it was with a lot of jumping up and down, squealing, and Jim Beam pouring that I sat down to watch season 2 on Friday. I love film noir. I love superheroes. I love feminism. I love ladies kicking ass. I love Jessica Jones.

I was a bit nervous though – Kilgrave was a hard act to follow, and I was worried the show would suffer from the same season 2 fatigue that Daredevil did. In some ways I was right, and in some ways, I was wrong.

It was still much better than season 2 of Daredevil, but the narrative was a little bit all over the place. It kept changing pace and you felt a little bit exhausted by all the changes in direction. All the characters were heading off in different directions, and they never seemed to come back together again – and in fact they never did. Ending a season on a cliffhanger is by no means a bad thing (see: Westworld, Dirk Gently, every season of B99, you get the picture). But when I season ends with a feeling of dissatisfaction and a question of what did we even achieve here, it becomes very… meh.

It was still really interesting, but it wasn’t anything to write home about – or on my blog about.

What I found really interesting was this season’s approach to feminism. Or its many approaches. Or its lack of approaches.

The basis of season 1 feminism was easy:

  • Badass female kicking butt
  • An anti-rape narrative supporting victim experiences
  • Intersectional
  • Showing off the many ways women can be cool
  • Fuck you rapists

Pretty basic stuff, but all very good.

Season 2 didn’t seem to see things that way, and in fact already in the first episode things became difficult – it started with Jeri.

She’s just won her award and her co-workers continue to berate her because she’s only just won a case against her ex-assistant for sexual assault. Jeri argues back that her assistant was a consenting adult and it shouldn’t matter anyway because “you’ve seen the way she dressed.”Jessica Jones season 2

Um. Jeri. Sweetie, no.

Of course, victim blaming happens, and it can happen from women. I don’t mind that this interaction happened – I just wish it had been acknowledged and Jeri had been corrected.

The show acknowledged gross undertones when men said them, such as Pryce’s “I never take no for an answer” being shot down as “rapey”, so why not Jeri’s?

The show further fails to fully acknowledge or call out other sexist behaviours and tropes, by continuing to have Jeri use vulnerable women to her advantage. Yes, Jeri is a bad person, we all know this. But why doesn’t Jessica call her out on it? Or anyone else? The longstanding idea that showing bad behaviour is enough to help audiences understand that it is morally wrong – but any conversation with a dudebro whose favourite film is Fight Club could tell you it rarely works out that way.

One of the more disturbing parts of the shows sexist narratives that didn’t come to a satisfying end was that of Maximilian’s sexual abuse of Trish when she was 15. Yes, he does get thoroughly shaken up by Jessica, but nothing felt resolved. They got what they wanted out of him and that was it. Has Trish dealt with her pain? Will Maximilian be publicly shamed and removed from Hollywood despite them promising they would keep quiet if he helped them? Where’s the #MeToo movement solidarity here? Jessica didn’t even rip one of his limbs off so what the hell?!

Do these issues make the show overtly sexist? Absolutely not, in fact it’s still an inherently feminist show, but it sure does take something away from the message.

I come to Jessica Jones for retribution. For a violent, unforgiving takedown of the patriarchy – where was that? This season was muddy, unfocussed, and lacking direction at many points, and because of this, so many narrative points seem lost and unresolved.

It wasn’t horrible, but for season 3 I hope to God it involves the group coming back together again, fighting a single bad guy (who is a Sexist Dickbag (also no more bad guy switcheroos, I’m tired Netflix, I’m tired)), and for Maximilian to have his nuts chopped off and hung where the whole world can see.

I want blood.

Jessica Jones season 2

Black Panther: the worst part was Martin Freemans American accent

If you haven’t already seen Black Panther, then I’ma need you to close this tab and go watch it. Not because this blog post is riddled with spoilers (or is it? I haven’t written it yet so I can’t be sure), but because it’s just a no-brainer that you should GO AND WATCH BLACK PANTHER.

You might not be able to tell from my previous blogs, but I’ve been growing fairly tired of the superhero franchises of late. Mostly the DC tv shows… and the DC movies… and the Spiderman reboots… It’s all getting fairly repetitive, and the only time I get really excited is when something new happens. Black Panther undeniably ticked that box.

Black Panther is hilarious, it’s political, it has killer costume design, and an incredible soundtrack – and it only features like, 2 white people. One of those white people has an African accent, along with 90% of the rest of the cast. And not only was it ethnically diverse (in fact, most of the actors come from vastly different parts of the African continent), but it was gender-diverse. A large portion of the cast was female (no, not 50% unfortunately), but possibly more importantly, the female characters of Black Panther were on the same level as the men. In fact, the strongest warriors of Wakanda were women, and T’Challa’s sister Shuri was shown time and time again to be his equal, if not his intellectual superior. (definitely his superior in jokes and memes)

The movie was deeply political – like so many superhero movies are – but it came not from a place of replicating societal or political events, and not from a place of asking one question such as “should superheroes be ethically supported under a government” or “who was the bad guy in WWI”. Instead, Black Panther is nuanced, and asks as many questions as complex topics deserve.

Black Panther, for the most part, is a look at how colonisation affected parts of Africa, and how it still does – but it’s so much more than that. We are in a future where we are asking ourselves “how do we set things right?”, “is it more important to protect your own country, or is it your duty to share resources with those in need?”, “is it important for leaders to do what they believe is right, or to do what the majority of their people want?”, “is retrospective revenge a viable option, or should people in modern times be forgiven for their ancestors mistakes?”

All these questions and more were approached by Black Panther, as it attempts to show a country in anguish, split between protecting themselves from the outside world, and dishing out retribution upon colonists. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t condemn either argument, but shows that a hasty approach is not the answer, and nor is blindly following your ancestors footsteps.

Of course, as with any superhero film, it also features crazy tech, some incredible fighting scenes, as well as hilarious side-kicks. Oh, and Martin Freemans terrible, terrible American accent. It was so bad it pulled you straight out of the scene. Just let this man be British!!!

 

There are so many other stand outs of this film, not the least being the black excellence it exhibits, but there are so many more who are better, and more qualified to discuss this than me, so you can read those here:

Refinery29

Kulture Hub

Depaulia

Just listen, GO WATCH THIS FILM.

You’ll love it.

Unless you hate superheroes, are extremely, physically adverse to bad American accents by white men, or you’re a racist, then I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this film.

The Last Jedi: A review for which I can’t think of a good name for

The Last Jedi – something I needed to immediately review after going to a midnight screening. God I’m trash for this franchise.

Obviously this will be 100% packed with spoilers – you have been warned.

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SO.

FIRST OF ALL.

I just wanna say, WHY THE FUCK AM I NOW A REYLO SHIPPER????

I expected a lot of things to come from The Last Jedi, but a complete 180 on my extreme hate of Reylo these past 2 years was not one of them!

Bitch I’m mad. Mostly at myself.

Outwardly I vilify media that glorifies, romanticises, and sexualises the male psychopath/villain. It’s an overdone trope, and ultimately harmful to our conceptions of violent and abusive men/relationships.

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And yet inwardly, they give me this dark, brooding fellow who has a connection with Rey and stands so close to her and I’m like – “colour me a fuckin moron cus my hormones have done did it again!”.

I’m a heterosexual piece of shit. Reylo is trash and therefore so am I.

On the topic of relationships in this film – what’s up with the weak-but-present attempt at a love triangle between Rose-Finn-Rey? Not here for that. Not here for anybody’s love triangles.

And while I loved Finn and Rose, I’ll be a FinnxPoe for life.

OKAY. ENOUGH ABOUT ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS.

What did I actually think about The Last Jedi?

In an overarching and simplified run-on sentence, I would say: I really, thoroughly enjoyed the visuals of the film, as well as the new characters introduced, however I found the storyline to be somewhat lacking for the length of the film, and many of the new aliens to be a weird fit within the universe aesthetic.

If you were looking for a TL;DR then that was it, but as ever, I have more to say!

 

In terms of storyline, all I really have to say is that for 2 and a half hours, nothing very important seemed to happen? Of course, there were branch off storylines of significance, but the core of this entire film seemed to revolve around the Rebel ship running out of fuel and being unable to outrun the Star Destroyer. I mean, important, but not necessarily the plot accelerator I expect from the second film of a trio, nor the lengthiest instalment from the franchise.

And yes, when I reviewed The Force Awakens, I mentioned that it was essentially A New Hope, and we can see that once again in The Last Jedi as well.

Love triangles, Rebel bases on white, barren planets with AT-T upgrades, riding on tauntaun shaped creatures, a Lando-moment, and a face-off with the bad-guy and the good-guy – pretty similar to Empire Strikes Back, no?

BUT, it didn’t follow the script – albeit half to its demise, as at least a lot happens in The Empire Strikes Back – and half to its merit, if only for it not being a carbon copy like The Force Awakens was.

Visually, however, it was stunning. The camera work on this film was advanced, with a number of tracking shots and those wide-angle landscape shots I do love so much. The beauty of this film was a happy medium between classic Star Wars, and the visual success of Rogue One – even if the aliens and buildings sometimes verged on the prequels.

But what about representation? In my Force Awakens blog post, I stressed the importance of this, and how impressed I was by the inclusivity of the new series – however I knew there was a long way to go. It’s a sad, sad day when you can look at all the characters in a near-50 year franchise and say that all 4 of the female characters are white, brunette, and very, very similar looking.

And in this film, hazzuh! Rose arrived! She was fantastic, I loved her bold passion, her understanding of right or wrong and moral obligations. She was loud, brave, and not afraid to call people out – I loved it! Did I think they did her character justice? No, there are quite a few characters floating around this series now, that I almost felt they did no one justice in terms of arcs and storylines – but nonetheless she was an appreciated inclusion!

In fact, we had 4 whole female characters in ONE movie who played a significant part in the plot!! 5 or 6 if you include Billie Lourde’s character and Phasma (I don’t. Sorry, I love them, but in terms of plot they weren’t that important)!! Amazing – that’s a near smorgasboard of female representation!!!  *light sarcasm, as there were truly only 6 male characters who played a significant part in the plot *

I think in terms of plot, what they did really well was not take themselves too seriously. In fact, this film was hilarious! It knew that the force is a bit weird and magical, so that moment between Rey and Luke where he gets her to “reach out” and then tricks her – hilarious! The film was also heavily self-aware of how childish Kylo is, so when he was mocked for being an emo teenage boy I was in tears!

It also – thankfully – revealed Rey’s parentage, and I can’t express how happy I am that her parents are nobodies! Unlike the OG Reylo shippers, who were desperate for their ship not to be related (however foolish they are for shipping characters in the Star Wars universe before knowing parentage), I was desperate for someone in the fucking galaxy to not be related to the original characters. Praise – she’s nobody! Nobody from Jakku!

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A few final points that I’ll put in bullets because who the fuck is still reading:

  • Why did they make Luke such a Kenobi-esque-traditionalist? My boy wanted to recreate the new Jedi order to reflect both the dark and light within us, and acknowledge the Jedi’s emotional needs – so what the fuck was up with him doing a 180 on that with Rey?
  • There was a character who stutters! Albeit, he was a traitorous bad guy so not altogether “positive” representation, but I’m convinced he’ll have an arc in the next film
  • Leia using the force was fuckin dope. No more needed to say on that.
  • Going to midnight screenings is fucking great! Two people recreated the Vine from Force Awakens where a guy has his flash on filming the opening credits and someone goes “turn off the flash you fucking moron!”. Also when I needed to go pee halfway through I was running down the corridor and there was a guy running up it and we laughed at each other – it was great.
  • Ummmmm… that end scene? Fuckin sucked dude. Why did we end on that one kid looking into the stars with his Rebel ring? I get it, future generations, new hopes, yadda yadda yadda, but every time we hype up a young white boy to be a jedi well… Ain’t gone so great so far. Is he supposed to be an Anakin lookalike? I ain’t vibing with this.

OK I’M DONE! I regurgitated it all out, I can move on and patiently wait for the shit-show that will be the Han Solo standalone. Colour me terrified guys.

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Stranger Things have happened

So, did it shape up to last season? Am I going to go all feminist on this shit? Do I want to BE Winona Ryder? Stay tuned.

In all truthfulness, up until now all my blog posts have been filler posts.

My whole year has been a filler post as I anxiously awaited Stranger Things season 2 – it’s safe to say there have been points where I have neared the level of mania I had for shows back in 2010-2012. The Stranger Things obsession has been real my pals.

I’m not sure what it is I love about it so much. The 80’s nostalgia for a time I wasn’t even alive for? A little bit. The sci-fi soft-horror? Sure. The music? Yes, of course. The beautiful friendships of all kinds, but particularly of the younger characters? Fuck yes.

I have a massive soft spot for the portrayal of all kinds of relationships and bonds, and Stranger Things really excels with that. It also portrays a level of innocence and geekiness that has its own sort of nostalgia. The kind that isn’t tied to any generation – we can all sort of relate to that feeling of kinship, spare time, and feeling pretty out of place.

So anyway, season 2 – I was pumped. And if you’re reading this then you probably have at least some small level of interest in what I thought about it, so here it is.

I had a lot of expectations for this season. I knew that there would be new characters introduced to the narrative, and that there would be a widening of the universe which in season 1 was almost exclusively confined to Hawkins.

Season 1 was easy. There were good people, and there were bad people. Probably the only person that blurred the lines was Steve Harrington, but even when you hated him you still sort of rooted for him – and you didn’t hate him for long.

It had a small world and tight knit groups, and I knew that in season 2 this would need to be broadened. And yet I still expected it to be about the group having a close bond, and recognising that they’re stronger together.

After all – and the show acknowledges this – they each experienced a large amount of trauma which often brings people together.

I was so excited to see the team together, but we started where we pretty much started in season 1. Nancy and Mike fighting. Eleven on her own. The boys arguing over a girl. And a love triangle between Steve, Nancy, and Jonathan.

But… I kind of get it. It made sense to the narrative, and although it broke my heart to watch the boys keep secrets from each other and distrust each other, I got why it was happening.

Because it was still Stranger Things. The soundtrack was on point as always (although, and I know they did it in season 1, but I wished they would play Toto Africa again cus that is just such a Mood), as well as the cinematography and costume design.

All that aside, I felt that this season took us to a newer, darker place than the first season – and not in the way I expected.

I expected the monsters to get darker, the risks to get riskier, and the deaths to be gorier, but I didn’t expect what else we got.

Although it didn’t do so very overtly, this season did actually deal with themes of racism and sexism – and in fact, homophobia (very lightly). I’m not saying we should start lauding it as the most progressive show of our time, but something that was definitely lacking in the previous season was an acknowledgement that the 80’s weren’t just a fun, wacky dressed, nostalgic and pre-internet era for everyone. For some people it was tougher than that.

So yeah, this season gave it a shot. A really weak shot – and if we’re going to use the baseball metaphor Ted and Steve both use – Stranger Things is still pretty much sitting on the bench. But it gave it a shot.

Max’s brother (aka Evil Zac Efron™) had a level of prejudice against Lucas he didn’t have towards the other boys – this wasn’t overt racism, but I think we all got the drift.

We also see more of Ted being a shitty complacent husband to Mrs. Wheeler. As well as Max and Billy’s father showing an almost overt form of toxic masculinity, which not only affects his sons inward and outward emotions, but also forces his wife into submission.

It was like Social Commentary Lite™ – like if social commentary were a full fat yoghurt, but Stranger Things were on a diet. And while that’s some Bullshit, I really do have faith that next season will be even better. The actor who plays Mike (potentially our main male protagonist), has shown himself to be a lot more progressive and socially aware than many of his older peers, and that sort of attitude doesn’t go unnoticed.

Netflix is in the unique position where, unlike its network cousins, it doesn’t have to worry about as many stakeholders. Stakeholders, such as advertisers, are one of the main things that prevent network television from being able to be socially progressive. Netflix is a unique forum which doesn’t rely on any ads – greatly reducing the number of stakeholders.

It should be doing better.

If young actors like Finn Wolfhard continue to fight back, there may just be a change, and I have faith that it will happen before season 3 – or maybe I just hope.

But I digress. This season certainly had its failings – the entirety of episode 7 being the biggest one. Like, wow that episode was some trash, try harder next time.

But the other big issue was its major attempts at love triangles. There were only 3 women in this show (bar every mother except Will’s, all of which played a very minor part) that were main characters, and each of them were entangled in a version of a love triangle. And Max was in more than one for Christ’s sake.

Eleven – Mike – Max.

Dustin – Max – Lucas.

Steve – Nancy – Jonathan.

Hopper – Joyce – Bob.

Like, I get it. The Duffer Brothers couldn’t write enough women for the show, which meant that there weren’t enough women to fulfil the hetero-normative needs for each male in the show.

Totally.

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But what the fuck. Was this really necessary? I’ve said it before – love triangles are one of the weakest methods of emotional writing you can employ, and I despise them.

Love triangles only work to simplify the emotional responses of every character involved, and usually they just work to exemplify the males need to “own” a woman.

Like, where ma polyamorous relationships at? I would’ve loved if Steve – Nancy – Jonathan had ended in a polyamorous relationship – instead it just ended in me crying over Steve being lonely.

And then there’s Max. Man, I was so excited for Max. Another female character? Amazing. A girl who skates and calls the boys out on their shit? Inspired. Like, a whole other female character? Colour me pumped.

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But she wasn’t written like a real person???? She was either a prize to be won by Dustin or Lucas, or she was an inconvenience to the predetermined group, and plot. She deserved a lot better than this, and I hope that in season 3 she gets some actual characterisation and storylines.

But that brings me to the wins.

Firstly, all of episode 8 and 9. My tears were flowing like the Cancer trash I am.

The unity and solidarity was heart-wrenching – in a good way – and it showed the complexities of friendships that the other episodes failed to do.

My heart was ripped entirely in half watching Mike try to reach El on the walkie-talkie. That is romance my friends holy wow.

My dreams came true when we got to see the Snow Ball, and although they very heavily shoehorned Will having a girl to dance with (don’t get me wrong, he deserves love, but ??? it didn’t make sense), and it was heartbreaking to see Dustin turned down by everyone except Nancy who pity-danced with him, my heart truly soared when Mike and Eleven were dancing.

I waited so long to see this damn child romance at the Snow Ball, and my tears were both happy and sad at what the two had been through.

At the end of it all, all I can really say is, this is still my favourite show (despite the mess in episode 7), and these child actors still blow me away with their talent.

I’m once more anxiously waiting for the next season, where I hope to GOD the Duffer Brothers don’t think that splitting the team up or shoehorning love triangles is a good idea.

Also final note, I hope we still have Steve in the #squad, even if he’ll be at college and isn’t dating Nancy and is probably alone, heartbroken, and eating his feelings…

#justiceforSteve

Blade Runner 2049: Nothing is safe from reboots

A film that is being lauded as “the best sci-fi film of the decade” (painfully ignoring the genius, original, unsettling Ex Machina), is a 2 hour and 40 minute return to the Blade Runner universe of 1982. I have fairly strong feelings about the original, so it was only fair that I expected to have fairly strong feelings about its sequel – but, spoiler alert, I don’t? This film made me feel dead inside.

Don’t get me wrong. This film is stunningly shot, with juxtapositions, minimalism, and wide shots that always get me going. The music was incredible, bringing back the futuristic sci-fi noir jazz that the first used so successfully. And, of course, all of the acting was flawless. Absolutely flawless.

But visual and musical success doth not a film masterpiece make in mine eyes.

Despite its unfortunate levels of sexism, the original film had very clear cut concerns and criticisms with society. Themes of anti-capitalism and body autonomy are obvious. It doesn’t try too hard to deal with too many themes at once, and that is very much to its benefit.

2049, however, doesn’t seem to know exactly what its angle is, and therefore dances around its themes. It could easily be anti-capitalist like the first. 30 years on and we are only deeper into the rabbit hole of capitalism and classism. And yet, the films Sony affiliations have forced the narrative to only flirt with the idea of capitalisms faults – but it never goes to second base.

It could also easily follow the narrative of body autonomy. And yes, it’s difficult to have a robot/AI narrative without touching on issues of autonomy and individuality, and yet somehow the film still seems to fall short, never seeming to come to a conclusion on the issue.

It could very easily have shown themes of racism. Replicants are born to be slaves to humans in order to create more wealth. We even see Ryan Gosling’s character, K, called “skinner” and “skinhead”, and experience similar interactions to what ethnic minorities often do (and I don’t think I have to explain what “skinner” rhymes with). And yet, K’s played by a white guy, and there feature even fewer people of colour than the original. So that theme falls short. Way, way, way short.

There was even a moment when I wondered if it was a feminist film. It almost – for a second – seemed as though it was attempting to discuss the ways in which society works to bolster male egos at all costs, often at the expense of females. But with the extreme views of skyscraper sized naked women in sexual poses constantly framing the film, the gruesome and drawn out deaths of all but one female (very reminiscently of the first film), and the extremely archetypal role each female played (lover, whore, monster, mother, virgin, mentor) it became clear this wasn’t the case. If you have to wonder if a film is feminist or sexist… Well, you shouldn’t have to wonder.

So what does it discuss? I found this very hard to figure out, and I’m still not entirely sure. Whilst the first film very strongly utilizes lighting to emphasise themes, the second film seems to ignore this concept completely. I could find almost no correlation between lighting themes or patterns – except for Wallace industries copying the Tyrell corps extreme yellow lighting.

Mis-en-scene didn’t work to hard to emphasise any further ideas on capitalism that the previous film hadn’t already done. Costume design seemed to do very little in the way of indicating theme. Hell, even the one motif throughout the film – a horse – didn’t give me much in the way of knowing what the fuck this film was trying to say. Like, really say.

So in the end, all it seemed to come down to was “what does it mean to be human?” “what does it mean to be living?”. And yes, these are important questions that sci-fi often grapples with, but often so much more successfully. Using AI as a device to discuss humanity, autonomy, and what it takes to become human is far from new. We’ve been seeing this since the dawn of sci-fi (literally, the first sci-fi media was Frankenstein and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out those themes). It’s also not uncommon, we have Humans, Westworld, Ex Machina, and Her to name a recent few.

So what the fuck guys? If we’re going to give a sequel to Blade Runner 30 years later, we better make it fucking worth it. We better give it a profoundly deep thematic narrative. We better lay it on thick. And we better have something to fucking say about it.

So why don’t we? Why did I not walk away from this long ass film feeling as though I could analyse it for days?

But maybe I’m too far gone from film school to recognise it. And I bet there’s a film teacher out there RIGHT NOW writing their whole syllabus around this film. But to me, if the theme isn’t at least strong and meaningful for me in the first go, then it’s not worth it. There’s no point trying to say something profound unless some people can hear you. And if I can’t hear you then it’s not fucking worth the disrespectful shit women and people of colour go through with this franchise.

So, Hollywood. Any other sexist sci-fi’s you want to reboot? You know, I think Dune has been untouched so far? Go right fucking ahead honestly I’m just exhausted anyway.