Blade Runner: First we discuss the original

If you’ve ever mentioned 80’s sci-fi to me – even in passing – there is a 100% possibility that I then brought up Blade Runner – and not in a good way. The original Blade Runner is the kind of film I hate to love, and love to hate.

It’s beautifully shot, it’s packed meaning into every interaction, every lighting detail, and the entirety of the mis-en-scene. That’s that shit I love in sci-fi. It’s anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, and contemplative of body autonomy and what it means to be human.

But it also does that shit sci-fi so often does. You know the thing.

Sexism.

The original film is so deeply sexist, but like – totally accidentally. Which is almost the worst kind of sexist. A sub-conscious sexism that says “this is the way things are and it’s totally normal”.

The most basic, and unsurprising of its sexism, is the way it represents women. Firstly, there are no human women (bar the Asian lady who speaks to Deckard from her shop for like, 0.5 seconds). All women worthy of interaction and screentime are, in Blade Runners eyes, obviously Replicants. And this is problematic in and of itself.

The idea that women have less body autonomy and unique thought than men is not exactly new. It’s an idea that pervades the majority of our media. And yet a film that so very much wants to explore what it means to be autonomous, barely brushes on the fact that this is very much a minority and female experience.

But OK, whatever. This concept could simply be a lame attempt at discussing womens roles in society, and comparing the Replicants to the female experience. So we’ll brush past it.

But then there’s what role it gives its females within the narrative. There are but 3 women Pris, Zhora, and Rachel.

Pris and Zhora are part of the rebel group who have returned to Earth to extend their lifespans. Pris, is a “pleasure” model Replicant, therefore it is almost no surprise to us that she is barely dressed in a single scene.

Zhora however, is a military model Replicant – highly skilled and trained in combat – so tell me why the fuck when she returned to Earth, her first move was to join a strip club where she “takes the pleasure from the snake”? This is disturbing, disrespectful, and just honestly, fucking gross.

But, this is still just the tip of the iceberg. Death is where things get really sticky. You see, this film also dabbles in discussions of what it is to die, and what it is to live. So tell me why the male Replicants die quickly, with minimal blood, but Pris and Zhora both flail on the ground for about a minute each, covered in blood and almost ZERO clothing? We afford respectable, and almost noble deaths for men, but the women die in gruesome, drawn out, and sexualised ways. No bueno boyz.

And yet – these are still not the most sexist aspects of the film. The one scene which absolutely, one hundred percent is unforgivable in my eyes, is the rape scene.

Wait, what rape scene? There is no rape scene?

That’s what everyone tells me – at least until I get them to rewatch the Deckard and Rachel sex scene without their sexy jazz music rose tinted glasses on.

It doesn’t look like a sex scene to most, because I firmly believe Ridley Scott did not intend it to be one. Why else would he overlay it with the sexy jazz music?

And yet it is a rape scene.

Rachel, only a day into finding out she is not body autonomous, and is in fact a Replicant, is crying and trying to escape Deckard’s apartment. As she goes to the door to leave he slams it shut and she gets thrown back. She’s cowering and crying. He makes advances on her to kiss her and she very clearly pulls back.

And then Deckard feeds her lines.

“Say ‘kiss me’”

Rachel hesitates – “kiss me”

And so ensues our sexy jazz music.

Except – this isn’t sexy, this isn’t romantic, and this sure as heck isn’t consensual.

This is terrifying.

Rachel is very much displaying the distress of someone fighting for their individuality and freedom, and here is another man feeding her lines and emotions. What’s a robot gal to do?

The fact that this is rape is not the most disturbing thing to me. What is most disturbing is that this is intended NOT to read like rape. This is intended to be romantic.

Which is why Rachel and Deckard are supposedly such a beautiful couple.

I think not.

And yet, I can’t help enjoying this film – and I hate myself for it.

The film is shot stunningly, and it grapples with the Reagan era it was created in, as well as capitalism, multi-nationalism, and classism.

It does this in both obvious and subtle ways, but its strongest motif is very much lighting.

In Blade Runner’s world, light is a sign of wealth and a show of power. Unless you have money in this film, your apartment is completely devoid of light. The only time Deckard or his peers get light within their homes, is when surveillance spotlights are searching through their blinds, or when giant screen billboards flash a new purchase opportunity.

This is a stark difference to Tyrell’s quarters, which are bathed in artificial and warm light. A bright gold – like money.

Ridley might be absolutely tone deaf when it comes to women, but the man sure as hell understands that wealth and power often have a lot more benefits than just nice clothes or homes. Wealth and power is as undeniable as being able to turn on a switch.

So, how does the new film compare? That’s a loaded question – which is why I split this into two blogs! Soz if you thought I was done, BR pt2 coming soon…

It, 2017: a film that appropriately ignores the entirety of the original book

I sincerely hope you never ever EVER read the original book – but by all means watch the new film if you want.

This blog is going to be NOT spoiler-free, but honestly even if you haven’t read the book, watched the old film, or the new, does it really matter? Does it???? DOES IT?

 

I honestly don’t know if you’ve ever read ‘It’ by Stephen King, but if you haven’t I sincerely hope you never do. I had no intentions of ever reading it until this year when I got it in my head that I’d be able to write a more well-rounded blog about the new figiphy.giflm if I had read the book. And that’s where my life started going downhill.

It’, the 1986 novel (or, brick) by Stephen King is, objectively, the worst book ever written.

I’m sorry. I know we all love Stephen King – hell, I love Stephen King. He’s a white man renegade for the downtrodden, the ignored, and the under-privileged. I’ll even throw him a bone and say he does this as well with ‘It’.

At the forefront it’s a horror novel where there is a killer uh, “clown”, that every so often wakes from its slumber to feast upon kids. After a while however, it also becomes a quite effective discussion about racism, sexism, and even homophobia – topics which I wouldn’t have expected to be discussed in a book from the ‘80s.

So yes, there are some absolutely wonderful things about the book, but I can’t get past the fact that it’s absolutely the worst in almost every single other way.

Now, I know we’re all actually here to read about the new film, so I’ll try and keep this snappy while still giving you context, but here are the main points as to why I think ‘It’ is the worst book ever written.

  • It’s 1,300 pages long and you could cut 70% of those out and still have the exact same novel. Like, the exact same.
  • It takes over 30% of the book for all of the main characters, AKA the Losers Club to actually all even meet
  • There are a large number of strong motifs and concepts that are either never explained or almost done in a throw-away line that doesn’t feel like it justifies the frequency of that motif/concept being mentioned
  • Stephen King clearly doesn’t understand how to write women. At all. An eleven-year-old girl whose father beats her and who is being haunted by a murderous clown doesn’t think about her boobs the instance she wakes up – Sorry to tell ya Stephen.
  • She also doesn’t feel her nipples harden when she is afraid when all of the boys just feel goosebumps
  • She’s eleven for Christ sake stop talking about her boobs!!!
  • The clown isn’t even a clown it’s a spider which is also ~The Universe~ and there is also a turtle which is also ~The Universe~ except it dies by puking out a galaxy and choking on it – are you still following? I’m not
  • Oh, also it’s almost not at all explained why the spider regularly takes the form of a clown who is called Pennywise but also sometimes Bob Gray but only very occasionally.
  • There is legitimately a child orgy that is a 100% serious aspect of the book that is described in detail for an entire chapter
  • And it’s the worst thing I’ve ever read.

Yeah it’s that last part that really threw me off the edge.

I’m sorry, but in what world should I have to read about the genitals and sexual acts and the body fluids of eleven year olds IN A SEWER.

It literally doesn’t make sense narratively either. It doesn’t.

I’d like to say, “yeah, so I had to read a really horrible, uncomfortable sex scene between 6 kids, but at least it made sense in terms of the plot development” BUT IT FUCKING DOESN’T. It’s some shoehorned attempt by Beverly (a fictional character) to bring her and her friends back together so they can stay strong and get out of the sewers blah blah blah something minor about friendship in the face of adversary.

To bring the whole group together she must have sex with each individual boy. Even if sex does somehow bring eleven year olds together (why would it), shouldn’t all of the kids have sex with each other, not just Beverly? I know this is horrible, and obviously I much rather advocate for NO CHILD SEX SCENES AT ALL, but shouldn’t the connection be between all of them not just Beverly? I mean, despite her being the only female, there’s really nothing else that makes her important enough to be the vessel through which they all ~become closer~. Unless vaginas + 5 different boys semen = cauldron and potions and some kind of sorcery.

Whatever. It’s fucked up and I wanna know how we’ve all just ignored this for the past 30 years. Why have I never heard anyone mention the child orgy before? The clown almost seems secondary to me.

What pisses me off most about this book is that it could be really good. It could be fucking fantastic. If Stephen King hadn’t messed around with so much other shit.

So anyway, I’ve just spent 700 words on how shit the book is – but what about the new movie? God I hate that I go on these tangents.

Anyway.

This movie is fantastic because it utterly ignores all of the above. ALL of the above. In fact, I’m pretty firmly in the belief that the people who made it never read the book. Oh you sweet summer children I’m so glad you didn’t.

The movie also understands one fundamental thing that Stephen King never has – nor probably ever will.

The reason ‘It’ has become a cult classic is not because it’s written well, or because it has strong motifs, or the characters are so amazing, or anything.

The reason ‘It’ has become a best seller, and garnered not one but two film adaptions within 30 years is this: a clown in the sewers of small towns who eats children is fucking terrifying.

Stephen King doesn’t realise this. Which is why he makes his clown also a spider but also a giant conceptual beast from the macro-verse.

The reason ‘It’ still brings excitement, hype, and cultish interest is because it’s a fucking cool concept – as long as we all ignore all of the other shit that makes it disturbing in a way you don’t actually want horrors to be disturbing.

Yes, the film definitely wasn’t perfect. It had some pretty bad editing at times, some of the kid actors weren’t great (I won’t hold it against the kids, but the actor who played Ben wasn’t quite up for the role, and REALLY not up for the role of stealing the Historian storyline from the one black character). There’s also the fact that it wanted to dwell on kids in underwear, failed to acknowledge the storylines around racism and sexism, and basically glossed over all of the characterisations and relationships between the kids (good and bad).

So yeah, it was your average horror film – but there were some good bits too!

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Richie Tozier is a standout for me. Finn Wolfhard proves himself again and again to be leagues ahead of other child actors right now, and his dialogue was written flawlessly. Truly flawlessly.

The clown was fucking terrifying. Bill Skarsgard does a fantastic job, and the fast, manic running forwards and the gruesome eyerolls were a fantastic addition that really could not have been played off as successfully in written form.

The explanation of the ‘floating’ motif was fantastic if only because that is hardly EVER explained or justified in the book, and is at least attempted in the film.

Oh, and there was no fucking child orgy so props for that tbh.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far then you deserve a fucking red balloon because I’ve rambled too long. So tell me your thoughts. What did you think of the film? Have you read the book? Did you like either? Do you think child orgies are A-OK to have to read for 10 pages in extreme detail?

I’d love to know.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 – A Storm of Shortcuts

Game of Thrones season 7 was shorter than other seasons but…. Why? I’m literally asking, someone answer me.

I would really, really like to take this time to use the final characters of the Game of Thrones TV series to create allegories with politics, such as neo-liberalism, post-structuralism, environmentalism, constructivism – basically all of the –isms – but Vox actually already did THAT (and like, way better than I ever could have) so if my politics degree must go to waste, I might as well continue utilising my film one.

In the grand scheme of things, the one thing that everyone walks away from high school English or Media class with is the mantra “show don’t tell” – and I think this is a key point that might’ve been forgotten this season. Another key point was to pace things accordingly.

Yes, we are getting to the end of the show (thank the Gods), and so things are going to start coming to a head. Characters are going to finally meet, and people are going to finally die, the white walkers are finally going to descend on Westeros and blah blah blah blah all the rest of it. We all knew these things would happen – but I can’t help feeling like without the books to follow as a play by play to slow down the script, D&D are just taking all of the shortcuts they can to get to the end game.

There are a lot of examples of this I could pull from *cough* Night King gets a Dragon *cough* but the one I want to focus on is the Jon Snow/Daenerys Targaryen relationship. I’m being purely selfish but it’s because it was SUCH A BIG STORYLINE. We’d all been predicting that he was Aegon Targaryen from the start, and of course the name of the books are ‘A Song of ICE and FIRE’ (no subtlety here re: the Dany/Jon ba-doinka-doink) – but the reveals felt shoehorned and absolutely not as satisfying as I’d hoped.

For starters – the initial “reveal” (in quotations because we all bloody knew it by then) was overshadowed by mansplaining/manterruption. Gilly is learning to read and furthermore, reading one of the biggest game changers in Westeros – but D&D decided what that scene needed was Sam to interrupt her about some meaningless shit. You could argue that they were being coy, but I could then argue that it’s still a shit plot device. We’re getting to the nitty gritty of these storylines and I want maximum satisfaction with minimum mansplaining thank you very much.

My main issue? Jon having sex with Dany after what was (I can only assume) the course of like a week (because, another issue being, D&D are VERY unclear on timelines or how long anything can take e.g Gendry running back to the Wall and also how long the trips between the South and North are etc etc).

Jon’s whole thing is his honour, right? It pained him and took him FOREVER to get it on with Ygritte – and it ate him alive. Yes, he is no longer in the Nights Watch, so I guess technically he can have sexual intercourse with whoever he wants – but I firmly believe he would still not do it so quickly. There would be some painful conversations with himself about how they aren’t married, and how he would be tarnishing her honour, and what would this mean for his position and her political plans, and how would the enemy take it, and how would this look to the people of Westeros and – how they’re not married. He wouldn’t want to bring another bastard into this world.

But like with Sansa, and the Night King, and Sam, and Arya, and Little Finger, and Bran, and whoever else I’m forgetting – Jon’s character is secondary to shock value and cheap thrills. But what’s new there right? It’s what D&D do best.

So yeah, if we can all agree that D&D sped things up for no good reason – can we start asking why?

It’s not as though they don’t have the budget for it. Many shows speed up plotlines that might otherwise have naturally run their course because of budget issues, but I think we can all recognise what a behemoth Game of Thrones is at this point enough to agree that budget has nothing to do with it.

It’s also not as though they don’t have the time – this season was only 7 episodes long, almost half the length that the other seasons were. Those extra few episodes could’ve made a world of difference in these plotlines, and given the characters the development and pacing they deserve.

So why? I’m literally asking, because apparently HBO wanted 10+ seasons, so the only thing I can think of is that D&D are unable to manage running a show that doesn’t have comprehensive books to follow and are too lazy to give a damn.

But seriously – I hate this show and wish they would pretty much put me out of my misery (or release ‘Winds of Winter’), but at this point I still wish they wouldn’t cut corners. So if anyone knows why they are taking so many shortcuts PLEASE tell me I’m so confused.

“Dunkirk aged me by about 11 years”

That’s what my friend Imojen posted on Facebook and boy has she really hit the nail on the head.

This film is tense from the moment it begins to the moment it ends, and I wouldn’t so much call it an emotional ride as I would call it a 106 minute attack on the adrenal glands. You don’t jump from one emotion to another, you pretty much stay at peak stress levels the entire film with really no down period.

In fact – spoiler alert – Dunkirk happened relatively early in the war, so even when the film ends you don’t feel a sense of triumph, or relief, but rather a draining awareness that this barely touched the surface on the horrors to come.

In all honesty I would say this is the first film where the only character I can really relate to is Cillian Murphy – the only one who seemed to truly mirror my emotions every time the sound of a bomb rang through the speakers for the umpteenth time.

But in a world where Hollywood (a term here used in a broad sense) seems to be determined to pump out more war movies than all 6 British actors can keep up with, this one truly stands out.

Dunkirk stands out because it doesn’t look like a war drama. It doesn’t feel like a war drama. Shit, it definitely sounds like a war drama, but that’s because – as we all know – Hans Zimmer has approximately zero chill. But other than the terrifyingly anxiety-inducing score it is set against, and the obvious war storyline – this is nothing short of a visual and emotional masterpiece.

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Set against the stunning French coastline, where the colours are muted, cold, and misty – with rough waves that show emotional turmoil and danger, rushing against the flat, emotionless beach. There’s a lot to be felt with just this, but the rolling shots from the airplanes, and the ocean-everywhere-you-look shots from the civilian boat; this is the kind of visual backdrop often suited to romantic dramas – but this no romantic drama.

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The writing, however – now this is where Dunkirk really sets itself apart from its many, many war drama cousins.

Dunkirk works hard to create a compelling, unique storyline employing the use of merging timelines. At times, the different time settings were confusing (for me), and NPR seems to think it’s “convoluted” and an attempt to overcomplicate the plot, but to me this isn’t what it was.

There is no point in trying to hide the fact that Dunkirk really happened. That we all know how it ended, and we all know who wins in the end. The point of merging timelines is to overcomplicate the plot. To help viewers see past the modern, emotionally detached historical understanding of the war. The easily constructed “Hurrah! We won! The bad guys are dead!” that seems to be flooding our screens.

The war wasn’t just about big wins, and massive losses. Dunkirk recognises that it can’t just be about who won or lost the war. It has to be about who we lost and how we lost them, and the overcomplicating timelines helps you to see multiple perspectives, and relive the trauma of a lot of scenes – much like soldiers would have.

But yes, this film did all it could to irreversibly damage my adrenal glands, and it worked very hard to make sure my heart was beating at no less than 1000bpm, but I suppose that’s what a war film should be.

There shouldn’t really be a happy moment. There shouldn’t be a release from tension, a moment to gather your thoughts. It should hit you hard, and not end until it’s over.

The tension, however, was made 9x stronger by Hans Zimmer refusing to back the fuck down.

The scene where Kenneth Branagh sees the civilian vessels had the most heart pounding, climax building music behind it, I honestly thought he was about to see a bomb come down. It was emotionally jarring, and it threw me off completely.

Other than the maybe-too-intense soundtrack, one other issue I had with the film was the lack of context. For the most part this made sense. Soldiers can be anyone – their backstory doesn’t matter; we all deserve to survive.

However, when it came to the civilian boat we followed, I needed context. The father and sons’ relationship with George was too confusing to understand.

Forgive me if they are well-known historical figures whose background I should know, if that’s the case I plead ignorance.

But if not, then why did they treat him like a child? I understand 17 is young, but the way they talked to him, as if they were worried about him constantly (even before anything happened), and treated him almost as if he was perhaps disabled?

It wasn’t that he acted in a way that showed him to have a disability, or anything about him to constitute being treated with more concern than the other boy, but that is how they treated him and I wanted to know why. There is much to be said about the positivity that comes when including disabled characters – but this should be explicit, rather than implicit if it is the case. And anyway, he didn’t get a fair deal, so I’d be cautious to call it “positive”.

At the end of the day however, this film tore me to absolute shreds, and emotionally I don’t think I’ll ever quite recover.

I started this blog with an Imojen quote and I’m damn well going to end it with one, because she wasn’t fucking wrong when she said to me:

“Incredible movie I hope I never see it again”.

Too fucking right tbh.

Wonder Woman; and why it doesn’t matter if it’s any good (but don’t worry, it is)

Wonder Woman has singlehandedly saved the DC Cinematic Universe – but what has she done for feminism?

Praise be to whichever stars aligned above to grace us with the first female-led superhero film since the God awful ‘Elektra’ in 2005.

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Before I watched the film, I, and plenty of other people, were very worried that it would be terrible.

 

Not only does it come from the DC Cinematic franchise which is…. Let’s be real here: shit. But female superhero films tend to be made as an afterthought, with none of the same effort or money put into them as with their male counterparts.

 

And for many women, there seemed to be a lot riding on ‘Wonder Woman’ being good – in the broad sense of the word – and it’s not really surprising why.

 

There’s something called a “stereotype threat” which is a situation where a minority (or even, I suppose, a majority) feels that if they fail at something then they are confirming a common stereotype about their community.

 

This could be, an Asian woman who worries that her bad driving will be perceived as a confirmation of the stereotype of all Asian women.

 

Or a gay man, who enjoys skin care and fashion, who is afraid it will be perceived as a confirmation that all gay men are feminine.

 

There are plenty of examples we could use here, but the fear amongst many women who are so desperate for the ‘Wonder Woman’ film to be a success, is that they’re afraid that if it isn’t, it will act to confirm the stereotype that female led superhero females just can’t make bank.

 

And this is entirely understandable. Truly, a lot rides on ‘Wonder Woman’s success unfortunately. If the film doesn’t rank well, it will only serve as ammunition for male-led board members to argue that female-led movies are a waste of time – something that they’re arguing about anyway but who cares, right?

 

And if they don’t make any more of these films well… It’s a bleak future let me tell you.

 

But in my title I clearly state that it doesn’t matter if ‘Wonder Woman’ sucks – and why’s that?

 

Well, in actual fact, that’s sort of clickbait, because as I’ve stated above, it kind of does matter for so many people.

 

What I should really put in the title is that it shouldn’t matter.

 

And to be an even more shit blogger, I’m going to roughly quote someone whose name I can’t remember (but if you know who I’m talking about please feel free to correct me so I can cite them).

 

But earlier last week I watched a video of a woman who explained that she’s looking forward to the time when it won’t matter whether a female superhero film is terrible, because we’ll just keep pumping them out one after the other regardless.

 

She wants us to get to the same point we are with male-led superhero films, and she cited ‘Batman vs. Superman’ to explain.

 

Because as we all know, nobody walked out of that shit-show of a movie and said “oh well, I guess we’re done making ____man movies”. And it has to do with the fact that for every terrible male led superhero movie, there’s another great one!

 

And it has nothing to do with gender, or even the actor (just compare ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘Deadpool’) – and it has everything to do with the budget, writers, and the general production understanding of the original text.

 

So I’m here to propose that we no longer give a shit whether ‘Wonder Woman’ is good – let’s just give a shit about pumping out as many terrible female-led movies as we do male-led.

 

But hey? Didn’t I say the film was good?

 

Fuck yes it was!!!

 

In all honesty, I feel like ‘Wonder Woman’ just single-handedly saved the DC Cinematic Universe which had been making some terrible decisions since… Forever.

 

It was fast-paced, funny, emotional, and absolutely empowering!

 

It was honestly something else to watch so many women kick ass, and to see Wonder Woman in action and doing her most for humanity.

 

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Objectively it was well-made, well-written, and well-paced – even if this wasn’t such a huge step for feminism, I would still highly recommend the film to everyone, because it’s just a bloody good time!

 

But why is it such a huge step for feminism?

 

Well, for me it’s because it does a lot of subverting, and a lot of work to de-stigmatize often stereotyped “women’s roles”.

 

So what does it subvert?

First and foremost, it subverts the fridging trope. If you don’t know what fridging is, I highly recommend this Feminist Frequency video.

 

But maybe wait until you watch the film or it might spoil some stuff for you.

 

It also subverts a lot of “sexy” tropes, such as the ‘born sexy yesterday’ trope.

 

As stated by tumblr user blueincandecence:

 

“The born sexy yesterday trope is predicated on the idea that a woman falls in love with the first schlub she sees and worships him. That emphatically does not happen. In fact, it’s a running gag that Steve is trying to convince Diana that he’s above average. Only when he proves it to her – through his kindness and his bravery – does she fall for him.”

 

The film also works hard to prove that things such as ‘emotional labour’ that are typically assigned to women, aren’t bad things, and certainly don’t weaken women.

 

While the conversation around emotional labour is big, it’s difficult, and it’s not one I want to touch on heavily here – it plays a big role in all of our lives, and Diana’s is no different.

 

When she steps into the ‘real world’ she finds it cruel, untrusting, and often barren of empathy. She sees Steve struggle with empathising with war slaves, and the death of children, as he insists that the quicker they finish their mission, the quicker they can save the women and children.

 

But Diana knows. You can be logical, and you can be emotional, and neither are less useful in a state of war.

 

And because of this, Diana ignores Steve’s “orders”, and uses her emotions and empathy to go where no man has gone before – ‘No-Mans Land’ in the war trenches of course 😉 – and saves the day for so many who are suffering.

 

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It’s only through her ability to empathise, and prioritise safety in the here and

now, as well as in the

long-term, that makes her such a

formidable opponent as she smashes her way through the darkest, bleakest, and most fearsome front of the war.

 

Wonder Woman’ does have its flaws, and I would never call it the most feminist movie around – but rather than spend this review dwelling on these issues, I’d rather celebrate all it does to empower women all around the world, and also show men that masculinity can come in many forms – and hopefully Steve Trevor can be a positive catalyst for change and empowerment for men all around the world too.

 

So thank you to the stars above, or perhaps Patty Jenkins for making this masterpiece happen – and long may Diana Prince reign.

Girl Boss: Poor timing, straw feminism, but please stop being sexist when you’re reviewing it – you’re not fucking help­ing

Girl Boss – it didn’t blow my mind, but it occasionally boiled my blood

 

Alright.

 

I’m doing it.

 

I’m reviewing Girl Boss.

 

A show with so much hatred spewing at it, but half of the time it’s for the wrong reasons.

 

The next time I have to read an article where half the vitriol is based on the fact that Sophia acts like a girl, or wears things that are too short, or talks annoyingly, I’m going to fucking die.

 

Because there are plenty of things wrong with Girl Boss.

 

Shit tonnes in fact.

 

But as soon as you start using sexist, stereotyped terms to describe the main character, your review becomes as bad as the show itself.

 

Maybe worse but with a lot less exposure.girl boss netflix review sophia marlowe on her laptop

 

I get it. Sophia is such a millennial, but guess what?

 

That’s not her fucking issue.

 

Selfies, a love for money, and a hatred of the 40 hour working week are not Sophia’s issue.

 

Feistiness, low cut pants, and an obsession with The O.C. are not Sophia’s issue.

 

Hell, Sophia’s complete lack of social tact and empathy aren’t Sophia’s issue.

 

Sophia’s real issue is her apparent attempts to be an icon of feminism and girl power, while continuously pushing down real feminism and making a mockery of truly important power structures and harmful cultural thought.

 

And no, it’s not because she’s a bitch.

 

Her unlikeability is irksome, and makes her a questionable character who you almost never want to root for (at least for the first 10 episodes) – but that doesn’t make her anti-feminist.

 

A-la Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, we are seeing more and more feminist narratives that are working to break down the stereotypes that women are inherently good, and the ideas that they can’t do horrible things such as murder – or in Sophia’s case, petty theft, emotional detachment, and self-absorption. While these are often difficult pieces to consume, and many, many people argue that they aren’t feminist, I believe that we are at the point in feminist discourse where we can insert conversations about female monsters into our mainstream literature.

 

Do I truly believe that’s what Sophia’s characterisation does, or intends to do?

 

Not entirely.

 

But I will argue until the end of the Earth that that isn’t what makes this show anti-feminist.

 

If you’ve heard of Straw Feminism you’ll know where I’m going with this.

 

The Wikipedia version is this:

 

Straw feminism is a straw man argument whereby exaggerated or fabricated elements of feminism are used in an attempt to refute and / or derail feminist arguments. A Straw Feminist then is a fabricated character used by those arguing against feminism to devalue and derail feminist arguments.

 

But if you want a real description, with some fantastic examples, I 100% recommend you watch the Feminist Frequency video on this.

 

In fact I recommend you watch all of their Tropes vs Women series.

 

The long and short is that Straw Feminism is often used as a tool to make the main character look like the real fighter for equality. It makes feminism look crazy, deranged, and completely illogical, and the main character look sensible, essentially ignoring what real feminism looks like.

 

This became most obvious to me as a trope in Girl Boss when they pulled out the character ‘Crusty’ – affectionately named by Sophia’s not-boyfriend.

 

Crusty – because I have no other name for her – embodies Straw Feminism. She yells pointless, unprovoked hatred at Shane, calling him the problem, for seemingly nothing and everything.girl boss netflix crusty straw feminism

 

And might I add, she only stops when Sophia shoves a burrito in her mouth.

 

Now, ignoring the fact that Crusty clearly sounds homeless (she talks about bankruptcy, abandonment, isolation in ways that describe an unfortunate financial situation), I’ve seen too many memes describing woman as only angry when they’re hungry.

 

Y’know. Your girlfriend doesn’t have any real, substantial issues with your behaviour. She just needs a fucking burrito.

 

It’s like, guys know they can’t say “are you on your period?” anymore, so they’ve just replaced it with “are you hungry?”

 

It’s not the biggest improvement.

 

This Straw Feminism continues throughout the show in much less insidious and obvious ways, but the theme remains.

 

Sophia is a logical, realistic, and non-crazy feminist form of consumable girl power.

 

She’s feisty, bitchy, and literally the worst – but hey, at least she’s not a feminist!

 

And usually, while this is harmful thinking, I often don’t write entire thinkpieces on it.

 

But this show is titled ‘Girl Boss’.

 

It’s essentially hijacking the feminist movement, while simultaneously belittling it.

 

It is, of course, also the whitest show I’ve seen in a while.

 

Sophia often partakes in petty theft, as well as obscene public behaviour, occasionally causing her to brush with the law.

 

But does this stop her? Of course not! Most of it is just fun, laughable hijinks to be enjoyed for years to come.

 

These scenes consistently ignore the realities of what the results would be if someone who wasn’t a pretty white girl did what Sophia does. While I feel this doesn’t do as direct harm as the Straw Feminism does in this show, it’s still an aspect which not only unsettles me, but also places Girl Boss in the seeming continuous rise in white feminism.

 

But don’t worry! Feminism is bad kids! Don’t be like Crusty!

 

From there, while the narrative wore thin, the humour fell short, and there wasn’t nearly as much thrifting and outfit montages as I’d hoped, the only real other issue with Girl Boss was its timing.

 

Everything else aside, it’s great to celebrate stories of womens business successes – particularly in fashion retail, an industry dominated by men but aimed at consumption for women.

 

Yes, Sophia is problematic as hell, but seeing the stories where a woman fights tooth and nail for business ownership can nonetheless pave the way for better stories to come.

 

But the timing of Girl Boss can’t be ignored.

 

Under a near swamp of legal fights around pregnant women being fired, poor working conditions and pay, and of course – Nasty Gal filing for bankruptcy – it’s difficult to watch Girl Boss for what it’s intended to be; the gritty, unglamorous-but-still-glamorous rise of a female boss who builds an impressive empire.

 

One can only wonder what might feature in the next season should it be renewed.

 

I for one, hope that they approach these topics of the failings – the show needs a little realism and grounding injected into it.

 

So after 1000 words, you probably think I hate this show.

 

I highkey do. But lowkey, I’m a sucker for pop music, throwbacks, amazing outfits, and thrifting.

 

And, if you’re wondering, the final 3 episodes are actually pretty damn decent.

 

So no, it’s not my favourite show, but I’d still watch the second season.

 

Just please, give me some makeover montages, and some more amazing red flared pants.

 

Please.

 

Oh, and less fucking fake feminist agendas of the white variety please.

 

 

Xoxo, Bossy Girl

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Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 – Basically just a re-hash of vol 1

So, not to be harsh, but who wrote this plot? Because it was exactly the same as the first film – but hey, we had some laughs.

Yeah that’s right.

 

I said it.

 

So you remember the first Guardians of the Galaxy right? It was hilarious.

 

It played on the teams’ dynamic – or lack thereof.

 

It focussed on reluctantly saving the galaxy, which a villain was dead set on blowing up.

 

It also had filial themes – Gamora and Nebula’s precarious (I’m being generous here) sisterhood, and their insane daddy issues.

 

It had people hunting the entire team down (although most notably, Peter).

 

And lastly, it relied on Groot to pick up where the plot – or dialogue – fell down.

 

 

And that, my friends, essentially sums up the second film too.guardians-of-the-galaxy-angry-groot

 

There are minor changes. For instance, it’s Peters turn to have Daddy Issues™, and it’s a new villain setting out to blow up the universe (or like, drown it in a vaguely explained mysterious blue goo), and um… that’s it. Those are basically the changes.

 

Like I said. It’s essentially a re-hash. In fact, it does so little in the way of new plot, that you could remove it entirely from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and you’ll find very little has changed – if anything.

 

You want some pepper with that salt guys?

 

The soundtrack lowkey sucked as well.

 

Although, if I’m being honest, it might be really good to Americans. But as a Kiwi, I was hard pressed to find songs that I actually recognise besides the one Fleetwood Mac and one Cat Stevens song.

 

Or am I just really not as into country music as I thought I was? Maybe it’s time to name and shame me.

 

 

So, after all my bitching and whining, I’d just like to come out and say:

 

I really enjoyed this film.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol.-2-confused-groot

Yes, it’s pretty much exactly the same as the first one.

 

Yes, the soundtrack kinda sucked.

 

But you know what? It was still fucking funny.

 

The lack of team dynamic is still cool to watch.

 

Finding out about Peters heritage was cool – even if it ended badly.

 

And yeah, it’s basically great to see all the stupid, crazy, dumb superhero stuff they get up to.

 

But why did I really like it?

 

Easy.

 

Baby Groot!

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Listen, it’s not always the best idea, but in this case it was.

 

GIVE. THE. PEOPLE. WHAT. THEY. WANT.

 

What was the biggest craze that came from the first film? People went absolutely bananas for Baby Groot. Because he is the tiniest, cutest, most comedically timed tiny plant anyone has ever seen.

 

And honestly, an entire film of him as the main character would be a dream come true for me.

 

But I will settle for him as a side (or even minor) character as he was in this film.

 

What really saved this film was that even though it was a rehash, was that it was still a bloody good time. I can’t fault lazy writing – it’s what I’ve come to expect from the comedy genre (except for you Brooklyn 99 – you’ll always stay true in my heart). All I can hope for is some good laughs, and for it please, please, please not to be racist.

 

It pretty much ticked those two menial boxes, so I’d still recommend it. Just don’t expect it to completely blow your socks off, or even add much to the expanding MCU.

 

Oh, and pro tip: It has 5 end credit scenes. Yes, FIVE.

 

Stay strong peeps.

 

One more Baby Groot just because I love him

guardians-of-the-galaxy-amazed-baby-groot

The LEGO Batman Movie – arguably the only canonical Batman in the DC Cinematic Universe

Finally a Batman movie that actually shows him for who he really is – and is actually a really fun time.

The LEGO Batman Movie – Actually a really fucking good time

I was honestly going to try write a blog post this month that wasn’t related to comic books/superheroes.

I swear, I really was.

But listen.
I’m not fucking around here.

I genuinely do not care for any of the other Batmen who have existed within the DC Cinematic Universe. In fact, I don’t think I ever have. Not even as a kid when the only 2 superheroes that exist in your mind are Batman and Superman.

And then I took a paper in university called ‘Comics and Narratives’ and that pretty much solidified my distaste for Batman.

This Batman though? He was everything the Batman in the comics is, and because of that, everything just comes across as a piss-take. He’s hilariously rude, unforgiving, emotionally dense, and extremely show-offy with his costumes and toys.

So basically Batman to a T (or B), only with immensely self-aware writers.

In fact, I was really impressed at how much these writers were clued up on the Cinematic Universe canon, as well as much of the comic book canon. They were referencing obscure parts of the TV shows, movies, and comic books that really showed they’d done their homework.

Although, they really tried lauding Catwoman as one of Gotham City’s biggest villains, and a big time crony of the Jokers. Now, criminal? Yes. Biggest villain? In cahoots with The Joker? I don’t know which obscure, questionably canonical comics they’re referring to, but that’s not really what Selina Kyle is.

Whatever.

Beyond that, the canon was pretty spot on, and the references were insanely hilarious to watch.

It even had a few film-geek references, like calling the plane at the beginning “MacGuffin Airlines”. Any Alfred Hitchcock fan worth their shower scenes would know what a MacGuffin is.

And right from that moment, the film was a hilarious spiral of obscurity, hilarity, and absolute shredding of the Batman Cinematic Universe.

But I have to say, what really sold me on this film as being my favourite Batman of all time? The tearing apart of Suicide Squad near-constantly.

Because fuck that movie.

#shortestblogpostever #justwantedtogivethisfilmashoutout #gonnajustcallmyblogSuperheroMediaReviews

Iron Fist? More like Iron Missed amirite? Come get the Iron Gist guys

Was that a brutal title? I’m not sorry and I’ll never try to pretend I am.

 

Obviously, as always, this is NOT SPOILER FREE.

 

Not that you should care – I don’t want you to watch this anyway.

 

In fact, YOU shouldn’t want you to watch this either. Please, save yourself.

 

Alright, alright Morgan, stop being coy – tell us why you hated it enough to warrant expending extra energy to name and shame this Pretender Defender!

 

Iron FistOk well firstly, I think it’s obvious enough to say that I wasn’t going to enjoy this straight off the bat, based on the fact that although this isn’t technically a whitewashing of a character, it’s certainly still a narrative that appropriates culture in the highest degree

 

Let me paint you a picture here:

 

High flying family gets killed over the Himalayas, the son survives and is raised by monks and trained in kung fu to become the protector of their sacred and spiritual town. This kid is a natural at Chinese martial arts, and harnesses his chi to capture the powers and title of the “Iron Fist”, a kung fu superhero.

Iron Fist

But of course! Duh! This kid is also white, blonde haired, blue eyed – oh, and did I forget to mention the heir of a multi-billion-dollar company in New York?

 

Yeah, not exactly the whitest storyline there until you get to that end bit.

 

But is my issue with Danny Gland himself? No. My issue actually is the fact that Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage etc are not part of the Defenders in the comic books. They were largely given this position in the MNU (is Marvel Netflix Universe a thing? It’s a thing now) because they were UNDERDOGS. And not in the sense that they’ve had their multi-billion dollar business usurped from them while they were training with monks in a magical land (aw, so tuff for Danny L ), but because they were marginalised. Their start in society was tough, and it built them to understand the struggles of the every day New Yorker, to the point where they know who needs help and in what way. They’re our 21st century Defenders, here to understand socio-political issues.

 

So why the fuck did they choose Danny Bland as their next Defender?

 

Let me make this clear. I am not taking issue with the fact that they chose a white male superhero as their next in the line-up.

 

I understand Hollywood. They know who they want to pander to and that’s fine.

 

But why not pick a DIFFERENT white male superhero? One that isn’t appropriating Chinese culture, and being an ignorant, annoying billionaire with questionable shoe choices? It’s not like there’s any shortage.

 

OR alternatively – if you want Chinese culture, why not cast a Chinese superhero? Or even subvert the Iron B-list narrative and cast a Chinese Danny Flan? I mean if we can pull a million reasons out of our ass to cast white people in POC roles, then why can’t it work the other way?

 

I’m kidding. I know why.

 

OK so I hated Danny Ampersand/Iron Cyst from the get go – but Morgan? Why can’t you just look past that and into the eyes of a well-made, well-written, visual masterpiece?

 

WRONG!

 

Ham-handed cultural appropriation aside, this show actually, objectively, fucking sucked.

 

It was painfully slow paced, with things only actually happening in like, episode 7.

There was a shoehorned, forced love story which was, ultimately, completely unnecessary to the storyline.Iron Fist

It seemed to paint a picture of women as cardboard sex or affirmation-bots with little to no personal storylines. In fact, every character was pretty much a cardboard cut out.

Nothing seemed to really happen – ever.

The show couldn’t decide what it was actually about, clunkily moving from dull corporate squabbling, to forced fighting with nameless Chinese villains that was still, somehow, constantly interrupted by people demanding Danny return to the corporate squabbling.

 

But worst of all? This show had no idea who its own bad guy was.

 

First it’s Ward. Then it’s Gao! No wait – it’s definitely Ward. Oops, sorry, it’s actually Harold! Kidding! It’s this sudden newcomer, who only lasts a couple of episodes, Bakuto! SIKE! It’s still Gao! KIDDING AGAIN! It’s actually Davos and Joy! Bitch you thought!!!

 

This show had no solid narrative, and was constantly fighting with itself to decide what it actually was about.

 

The narratives always seemed to last an episode and a half before Danny had moved on to a different one, to the point where there failed to be any over-arching plot other than how hard it was for Danny to be both a woefully underqualified billionaire, and an even less qualified superhero (who never seemed to really ever save anyone?)

 

I mean, in the final two episodes Danny is actually just fighting the fucking DEA???????

 

Listen, this show was a mess. It was a nightmare. And it was damn slow doing it.

 

I swear the only interesting character was Claire Temple – and she was well-established and written many Defenders ago, so I KNOW Rosario Dawson wasn’t about to
let anyone screw with that. Oh, and Jeri was great too, but again, she was already established in her awesomeness by far more proficient writers.Iron Fist

 

So yeah, I guess you could say I hated this show.

 

I know this blog post wasn’t quite an analysis so much as it was just a hateful rant, but again, I’m not gonna pretend I’m sorry.

 

Maybe I can be the consistent adversary Danny Disneyland so desperately needs.

 

Believe me, it’d be my pleasure.

Reviewing Logan; yo when did X-men stop being a catalyst for change? And why do I have so many questions?

Reviewing Logan; yo when did X-men stop being a catalyst for change? And why do I have so many questions?

So being the comic book/superhero trash that I am, I am, of course, writing a Logan review.

I just want to disclaim a couple of things right now however: I’m not an expert on the X-men universe (unless you count Deadpool comics but I Do Not), I WILL be touching on issues of representation in this film as well as attempting (key word) to analyse some of the socio-political issues it touches on, and also, for the record, this is NOT SPOILER FREE.

First and foremost, I’d just like to say that I really, really enjoyed this film. More so than most X-men films, and in fact, a lot of the MCU films in general. I feel like I need to point this out immediately, because when I tend to analyse things either from a point of representation, or in fact any other perspective, it can sound a little like I don’t like it.

The film degree in me is making me critique too much. Or maybe if every movie wasn’t so shit at representation we wouldn’t have this problem. You decide.

So what did I like about it? Well, when considering the X-men cinematic universe (Deadpool aside), in comparison Logan is a gritty, no holds barred, big finale, which isn’t packing its punches when it comes to talking about the inevitability of mortality (even for the immortal), as well as showing the violent, harrowing, and often swearing kind of person Wolverine often is in the comics, but can’t be in the films on account of ratings.reviewing logan

We see the full power of his claws as he slashes through body after body, and even though Old Man Logan may no longer be in his prime, his power is still a sight to behold.

But what I really enjoyed about this film is that it successfully adds dimension, humanity, and conversations of loneliness in a way the previous X-men films never managed to do. Wolverine is a character with a lot of depth, but I have cared for none of his relationships until this movie, when I saw him with both Laura and Xavier. To see him struggle with the opportunity for family (albeit a mish mash of one) was hard to watch, if only because I think we are all aware it just simply wasn’t going to work out. This being Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s last hurrah pretty much means that death is on the horizon, and an extended, slightly less sad family road trip is not on the cards for our dear Wolverine.

reviewing logan
Look at me fucking sobbing over this screencap. My heart is broken!

I also thoroughly enjreviewing loganoyed Laura’s character in general. Mind you, she didn’t say much, and when she did I had no idea what she was saying, but boy that girl is a fucking badass. People keep telling her what to do and her face just settles into this fucking incredible look of “I think the fuck not”, and then she goes all kid Wolverine on them just fucking cage fighting without the cage. And the foot claws? That fucked me up. This kid is too damn cool, and she did it without a single line of dialogue in the first three quarters of the movie.

So yeah, I enjoyed the film. But, I still walked out with a million more questions than I walked in.

The obvious ones being, so the mutants have been dying off? But the reason behind this is only mentioned in passing, as a sort of throwaway line! No! This should’ve been a bigger plot point! I get they wanted the film to focus on the trio, but having the utterly unmemorable villain (whose name I’ve already forgotten even though I saw the film yesterday) simply say “I killed them off by putting a cure in the food, and now mutants have gone the way of polio” is just not good enough! And how did Xavier, Wolverine, and Caliban survive? How do we know no others have survived? I want to know what’s happened to the rest of them! I need flashbacks!!!

And what on EARTH is the socio-political structure during this time period? It occasionally comes across as post-apocalyptic, but perhaps that’s just the warpreviewing loganed perspective of what I expect out of these films at this point. But with so much conversation around border crossing (both Southern and Northern), as well as body-autonomy and reproductive issues, why in the hell is this film seemingly taking no stand what so ever on these issues? In this political climate it’s almost laughable that this film has made these points both extremely vital to the storyline, and also somehow completely irrelevant.

And water? Water seemed to be such an incredibly important motif, or at least like it was initially going to be. If taken at face value, water could simply be seen as the final opportunity of rest for Xavier and Wolverine, who were hoping to die peacefully at sea without hurting anyone. Instead were buried next to small lakes after taking on that one final task where they both hurt many people, as well as saved a few as well. It’s sad, but it’s also a fairly common motif for redemption. Water washes away your sins etc.

It could easily be just that, but I can’t shake the scene where Logan/James helps Will Munson turn his water back on after it was sabotaged by a group of white, domestic terrorist hill billies. Just as with the previous issues, it almost seemed like the film was going to say something. And it easily could have. Water is such a point of contention in the US right now, with the Flint water crisis, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and big businesses taking water from the perpetually in-draught California, it wouldn’t have been hard to make a point here, any point, but again, it fell short.

Maybe I’m just reaching here, maybe water isn’t a motif, but boy it could’ve been.

And then of course, there is the issue of representation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that this is a film that is supposed to be completely centred around the reviewing loganmain trio. And yet, I can’t get over the fact that in the ENTIRE film, including exceptionally minor characters, there were only NINETEEN women. And only a handful of those had any dialogue at all. That’s 19 women out of 97 complete cast members, and I would say in all honesty only 4 or 5 of them had any dialogue included in the film, and only 2 of them played any real part in the film at all, that being Laura, and her initial (but eventually dead) caregiver Gabriella.

That’s pretty fucked up.

I would also say, in terms of cultural or ethnic representation, that was pretty fucked up too. While the amount of white men was overwhelming, it still did better in terms of showing diversity. But diversity isn’t enough. There was so much stereotyping it was ridiculous.

Considering that the majority of this film is set in Mexico, and the outskirts of Mexico, beyond Laura and Gabriella, the inclusion of Mexicans was painfully small, and extremely lazy. The only memorable scene that included Mexican men was a gang of “cholos” trying to steal Logan/James’ hubcaps. Of course, they eventually met their maker after acting as violent, ethnic gang members are supposed to when starring in a white man’s narrative.

I mean, in all honesty, how the FUCK are you going to set your film in and around Mexico and do this? It’s insane.

reviewing logan

And I get it, I get it. Although it may not sound it, I get that this film isn’t out there to be making huge sweeping social commentary, and challenge the lack of diversity in Hollywood, but why shouldn’t it?

X-men was created to give a voice to the minorities. It was created as an analogy for a number of those often perceived as social pariah’s. The original comics were a catalyst for discourse and change – so why is the cinematic universe so goddamn hesitant to continue in the comics’ footsteps? And with the utter shit going on in the X-men comic universe, I think it’s about bloody time film makers step up and say “well we’re going to do better”. Someone needs to.

It’s a crying shame, and while this was a highly enjoyable film – even during the (many) parts in which I cried – I can’t help feeling like it stopped giving a shit about plot, dialogue, and casting realistic characters beyond the main trio.

reviewing logan

* #KnifeDad pictures in feature image sourced from