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

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

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


Jessica Jones season 2

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

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

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

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

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

The basis of season 1 feminism was easy:

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

Pretty basic stuff, but all very good.

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

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

Um. Jeri. Sweetie, no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want blood.

Jessica Jones season 2

Black Panther: the worst part was Martin Freemans American accent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Refinery29

Kulture Hub

Depaulia

Just listen, GO WATCH THIS FILM.

You’ll love it.

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

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.

 

tenor

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.

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!

guardians-of-the-galaxy-excited-groot

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

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My top 5 TV picks from 2016 – Not everything sucked last year, but almost

Top 5 TV shows of 2016 might sound like a difficult list to make, from a year that really just, well, sucked, but these 5 shows made me think all hope was not lost!

In a year that sucked, there were at least 5 shows that didn’t suck – my top 5 TV picks from 2016

 

 

There’s no denying it – 2016 was the pits.

 

And when I say this I don’t mean:

 

a) Every single individual on this planet had a bad year

 

Nor do I mean

 

b) Absolutely nothing good happened in 2016

 

I’m just being realistic about the fact that both I, and many other people, seemed to have a less than great year in comparison to previous ones. And on top of that, many great and cherished celebrities, scientists, and influencers of note didn’t make it to 2017, something that definitely isn’t a highlight.

 

Regardless, in a year that seemed to really just suck, I found some light in these 5 TV shows I’m going to talk about in this post. The fact that there weren’t more though… Well I’ve had years where I’d have had more than 5 shows to talk about, let’s just say that!

 

For possibly the first time, I can say this blog post is SPOILER FREE!

 

5) Humans

top 5 TV shows of 2016

Ok we’re going to start with number 5, but even if it’s at the bottom (top) of the list, Humans is still a big mention! This scifi season 2 has a charming nature that sits good-naturedly on top of it’s absolutely unsettling content. Humans has this fantastic way of touching on the complexities of AI gaining consciousness, and their integration (or segregation) within human society, without overcomplicating themes or messages. Its messages are accessible, but important, and use the AI characters as allegories to discuss previous and current human societal issues, such as classism, as well as body autonomy for, in particular, women. The cast are all superb actors, and well-suited to their roles, as well as diverse and well-rounded – from well-known actors, to the bright eyed newbies. It’s a delightfully unnerving show and I’m excited to see where it will continue to go!

 

4) Luke Cage

top 5 TV shows of 2016

Honestly, did you think I was going to manage a list of favourite TV shows without mentioning a superhero one? While DC has been dominating the superhero realm of television, Marvel continues to creep in there, especially with its Netflix series. I watch Agents of SHIELD mind you, but I don’t think it’s going to be making any top 5’s of mine any time soon. Luke Cage however, brought me as much joy and exhilaration as Jessica Jones did last year, and I continue to be floored by the ways the creators of these Marvel/Netflix shows use colour, angles, and motifs to carry the individual shows beyond the simple techniques other superhero shows use, as well as tie the 3 Netflix series together. The use of yellow lighting, the 90’s hip-hop-esque music, and the 70’s-reminiscent fashion all brought together a sense of the community, atmosphere, and tensions this show touches on. A standout superhero show (that could even be argued as not a superhero show at all), that I hope doesn’t go the same downwards route that I found Daredevil going in its second season.

 

3) Stranger Things

top 5 TV shows of 2016

By now you’ve probably realised, I’m no indie-viewer, no standout obscurest, so I was no more immune to the Stranger Things charm than anyone else. I love horrors, I love scifi, I love 80’s music, and I love obnoxious film and nostalgia references. Strangers Things hit all the right spots and there really isn’t anything I need to say about it that hasn’t already been said. It was paced well, it had the perfect amount of sweet childhood friendship to counteract the dark themes, and it pulled at all the right heartstrings. But I think, for me, what really put it here, at number 3 of all the too-many shows I watched this year, is the group of child-actors who not only brought the show to life, but also pulled off one of the best, most engaging press tours I have seen in many years. They were enchanting, exciting, hilarious, and unbeatably talented, and I’m watching Stranger Things as much to enjoy the show and see what happens next, as I am to see where these amazingly talented young actors will go.

 

2) Brooklyn 99

top 5 TV shows of 2016

Never once in my life have I ever said anything remotely close to “my favourite genre is comedy”, or “my favourite movie/tv show this year was a comedy”. Not because I hate fun, or I have no sense of humour (I hope), but because I have an unbelievably low tolerance for second-hand embarrassment, and an even lower tolerance for humour that relies on mocking another person for their race, culture, sexuality, gender, mental or physical health, or basically any humour relying on the incredibly lazy technique of mocking other people for things they can’t help about themselves. Oh, and I’m not fond of slapstick either. I’ve found it pretty damn hard over the years to find a show or movie in the comedy genre that doesn’t rely on one or more of these comedy techniques, but then, down from the heavens above, an angel came forth to me. One, with the makings of being your very-average, no-different, cop comedy, but was put together by the most diverse cast I think I’ve ever seen in a sitcom, and that uses humour that 100% matches mine. Jake Peralta, you have saved my soul, and I will die by your feminist, understanding if slightly misguided at times, very much hilarious side, should that day ever come. At only roughly 20 minutes an episode there’s really no reason not to give this show a try, so like, go do that.

 

1) Westworld

top 5 TV shows of 2016

For hours and days, I have scratched my head, not only over how to write a blog on this show, but also on this show in general. I’ve watched it twice, since I started in November, and I can honestly say I still… Don’t get it. Where Humans is easily digestible, light, and approachable (while still disturbing), Westworld is just, absolutely a maze in itself (perhaps the maze wasn’t meant for me and my small mind). The film major in me so badly wants to be able to discuss in depth the themes, plot twists, and characters, but when it comes down to talking about the show, I just simply can’t seem to wrap my head around it. And yet, in all my confusion, I can say without a doubt, that with only 1 season under its belt, Westworld is not only my favourite show of the year, but possibly of my adult life! (Shows like Friends don’t count because that’s a nostalgic thing. Sshhhh). This show has you sitting on edge, deeply unnerved, 100% unsure of how you stand on the consciousness of AI, while simultaneously delivering some of the best acting and writing I have ever seen from a TV show. It has you sitting there debating with yourself about your own sense of morality and ethics, as well as any prior knowledge you might have about previous AI fiction. Let me tell you, Isaac Asimov would’ve been able to provide you with a lengthy, meaty, and substantial blog post to flesh out this show, but I sure as shit cannot. All I can tell you is to give this show a try, because it’s damn bloody good. I’m just not smart enough to tell you why!

 

And with that confusing, useless, utterly insubstantial piece on the greatest visual masterpiece of 2016, I conclude my top 5 list of shows from last year!!

 

Honourable mentions go to:

 

  • Cisco Ramon/Carlos Valdes’s performance in Flash (as well as extended CW/DC universes)
  • Elektra and The Punisher in the otherwise dull second season of Daredevil
  • The Christmas/Holiday special of Sense8
  • Sansa Starks performance in the ever-deviating TV adaption of Game of Thrones

 

And with that, this pretty much wraps up all of what brought me joy in 2016! I’m excited for what media I’ll get to consume this year, although I truly have not held my breath over anything yet.