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

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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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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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.

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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“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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