Saturday, January 30, 2016

How To Be A Pro Business Selfish Socialist

Here is a secret I got to tell those of you who do not believe in social security, free college tuition, unemployment benefits, and the minimum wage: being a socialist does not have to be about being selfish and giving back to the community. No, these programs are, in fact, beautifully shrewd and pragmatic. I love ‘em. Do I do so because I like some bad apples coasting on benefits or because I want to join them? Do I do so because I enjoy a tax money subsidized affordable university education? Maybe. But here is why I think everyone should approve of these welfare programs: because they are so inherently, beautifully selfish. But first a history lesson before everyone thinks I’ve been replaced by a lizard person from the 5th dimension.  

The one step program of creating a welfare state: be selfish. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Knight In Tarnished Armor: Why this Coulson fangirl wishes he'd never gotten his own show

I literally added this so there would be a relevant picture in the link preview. This blog is so professional.

          Spoilers for the final season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (mild) and the first season and a quarter of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (extensive), if anyone cares.

Alternate title: Reason #282 why I hate Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

          So by now I’m sure you’ve all seen the Honest Trailer’s hilarious take on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you haven’t, watch it immediately. I laughed hysterically throughout, and they seem to have hit every complaint I could make about the show except one, which I’ll get into here. I rage quit the show halfway through the sixth episode of season two, so some of this may have been addressed since then but 1. I doubt it 2. Frankly, I don’t care. The first person to comment “Oh but it’s getting better now, you should watch it again,” had better hope I don’t develop Scanner powers. Look, when I watched the show and complained about it, you yelled at me for that. Now that I’ve quit, all I hear is that I should watch it again. Your options are I watch it and complain or I don’t watch it and only complain about the part I sat through when someone else like Honest Trailers brings it up, those are your options.

Friday, January 22, 2016

No Country for Old Men

So some of you may have seen the kerfuffle over the fact that time exists following the release of the Force Awakens last month. There was so much criticism of Carrie Fischer and how she’d aged that the amazing actress finally had to comment and tell the fanbabies to stuff it. People rightfully applauded. There were commemorative memes. It was a great time. But there was something about the discussion in terms of gender that really struck me the wrong way that I couldn’t put my finger on.

This weekend, instead of doing housework I watched every review Mistress Diamanda Hagan has done of a Jeffrey Combs movie, because it was really exciting to find someone who has as much of an actor crush on him as I do (all though hers is more platonic than mine due to, you know, not being into guys and all). Also because screw house work, it’s not like the Queen’s coming over. One thing that ground my gears, though, was her reaction to Combs’ role as a detective in the movie Faust: Love of the Damned. Some of it seemed to be a really strong aversion to seeing Combs cast against type, which is a topic for an essay of its own, but there was something more to it than that. It’s not as though he’s never played a badass before. Usually not that straightforward, sure, but he actually kind of specializes in characters that, rather than having some kind of Napoleonic complex, just seem to have never noticed they’re physically unintimidating. He can project a great force of personality, and it’s something I’ve always appreciated. It’s not as though his performance in the movie in question was unconvincing, at least in the clips used in the review. So why did this particular role just seem so jarring?

Oh, probably because the character looked like this.

I so wish he was on a motorcycle so that I could caption this "The mid-life crisis starter pack."
Yeeeeeah. Combs is a good-looking guy (in my humble opinion) but everything about this says, “Trying too hard."  At the time, Combs was forty-six-damn-years old and already at the point of telling (adorable) “you kids these days …” stories at Star Trek cons. This is based on a comic with which I’m not familiar, so I tried to find pictures of the character from the comics, thinking that this had to be one of those things where they chose faithfulness to the source material over common sense. Wouldn’t you know it? An image search for the character’s name only turns up pictures of Combs from the movie and a web search only brings up discussions of the movies, so I’m thinking his character was either a composite of several comics characters (since there seems to be about five people living in the city in the movie) or invented whole cloth to keep the narrative moving. Which means they chose to dress him like a character played by someone twenty years younger. (Watch some fan of the comic show up to tell me I’m wrong.) Combs did apparently choose this role from all the characters in the film since his friends produced it, so it’s entirely possible this was his idea. Especially given that that hair and the sideburns looks distinctively seventies, when Combs would actually have been young enough to wear that. And for all I know he was riding up to the studio every day on a motorcycle his wife yelled at him for buying. But somebody should have damn well told him no. I’ve been told it’s sexist to tell women they’re dressing too young. Now, I’m usually not one for “turnabout is fairplay” – I’m just as disgusted by Marvel Studios selling me Chris Hemsworth and Bret Dalton’s bodies instead of an actual product I want to watch as I am by the objectification of women that is still widespread throughout media – but if it’s sexist to tell Grandma to take off the yoga pants with “Sexy” emblazoned across the ass, maybe we should have balanced it out years ago by telling Combs to take off the jacket, shave the sideburns, and wash the hairspray out of his hair. Put the same guy in a proper detectives’ coat and give him a decent haircut and it would have been way less jarring. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I Am Not a Monster: Why That One Scene Will Always Cheese Me Off

           Oh hey, I finally wrote an essay for the blog! What did I choose to write about? Some cool science thing? Some show I'm really excited about? Nope, I decided that the first thing I should write, right out of the gate, was an essay about why the "You're not the only monster," scene in Avengers 2 disturbed me so much. Batten down the hatches and put on your flame-proof clothing, because I'm really sure I won't regret this choice.
            For those of you who somehow managed not to hear about this particular brouhaha, let me summarize what happens. (Full disclaimer, I haven’t actually seen the movie, just had this scene described several times. Some would say that means I shouldn’t comment on it at all. Perhaps I shouldn’t. Perhaps the scenes before and after are filled with context that somehow makes this one scene better. I doubt it but maybe. So take my analysis with a grain of salt.) While trying to relate to the Hulk, Black Widow decides to unleash some weapons-grade exposition and gives some insight into her backstory, which involves being trained by the Black Widow program, killing people, and being sterilized. After relating this last bit of information, she tells him, “You’re not the only monster.” People got upset. And by got upset, I mean they threatened Joss Whedon with death and inundated his Twitter with so many mean Tweets he eventually took his Twitter ball and went home (though he said it was for different reasons, the timing was just a bit too convenient to believe that). Obviously, threatening anybody with death over anything short of actually committing a serious crime is wrong, and even then you should probably leave it to the authorities, keyboard warriors. However, I understood exactly why people were upset … because I was mad as hell. I don’t plan to ever see this movie, not only because I’m so over Marvel, but because I would know this scene was coming and be unable to give the rest of the movie a decent chance because I’d be sitting there with butt and teeth clenched waiting for it to be over with.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Was Joss Whedon Ever Revolutionary?

When it comes to science fiction television series blended with western and cowboy motifs following an ensemble cast of snarky badasses who go from job to job, throughout a star system on their awesome spaceship with a spin-section, Firefly is my second to most favorite next to Cowboy Bebop. But all joking aside, when Firefly aired in 2003 in the US and when I finally got my hands on the DVD set around the time the movie hit, it was a series that friends of mine got tired of me talking about until I had infected them with the Firefly virus as well. 

I loved the stories, the universe it set up, the characters, their motivations, the wonderful soundtrack, it was great. I wondered who the genius was who had created this wonderful show that I had come to adore so much and that was the way I learned about Joss Whedon. Oh, Joss Whedon, what can you say about the man that the internet hasn’t dragged up yet? Well, nothing much. From Buffy to Angel, from Dollhouse to Agents of SHIELD, from Serenity to The Avengers, numerous comic book runs and entire tropes of the likes of “Buffy Speak”, the man certainly has left a mark on pop culture over the last little while. And yet there was always this slight nagging in the back of my mind whenever fans and pop-culture critics praised the man for being the innovator that he was.