Chapter 64: Page 24

22 Sep 2017 12:00 am
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An assortment.
Hey! I'm going to be at Thought Bubble this coming Sept 23-24! I'll even have Coyote plushies for sale!

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21 Sep 2017 08:07 pm
theserpentwitch: (Salem - silly kitty)
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He doesn't bite, just all hiss.

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21 Sep 2017 07:27 pm
tongue_of_lime: (memories)
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We do this over and over.
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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

Actress Margot Robbie describes the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker as “romantic in a messed up way.” How about just plain messed up?

Harley and the Joker have a famously abusive relationship, and it’s unsettling to hear Robbie talk about them like this—especially since she’s seemed more than aware of their problematic nature in the past. As Moviepilot points out, during Suicide Squad promotion, Robbie expressed frustration over fan idolizing the Harley/Joker pairing: “Fans seem to really love that about her, that she has this complete devotion to a guy that treats her badly,” she said, and has termed their relationship “unhealthy, dysfunctional, destructive and toxic,” which is correct. But now, with the Harley and Joker movie in development, Robbie is talking about them like they’re Bonnie and Clyde:

I’m personally a sucker for a love story. In any iteration. I think people enjoy seeing two characters who, in Harley and Joker’s case, would die for one another. It’s kind of romantic in a messed up way.

Obviously we have a long way to go before we can predict what kind of movie this is going to turn out to be (Bad Santa’s Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are currently in talks to write and direct). But quotes like this and the involvement of Jared Leto make me want to just open a big ol’ can of NOPE on the whole thing. The only way this ends well is if Harley Quinn drives off into the sunset with her girlfriend Poison Ivy while the camera slowly zooms in on the Joker crying alone. (via Moviepilot, image: Warner Bros.)

  • Speaking of DC ladies, and on a happier note, LOOK AT THESE WONDERFUL DC BOMBSHELLS FUNKO. Gotta catch ’em all. (via
  • A series of Black Mirror novellas (edited by creator Charlie Brooker) was announced, with stories in the first volume by Cory Doctorow, Claire North, and Sylvain Neuvel. (via BoingBoing)
  • Could the delightful Robert Picardo, a.k.a. the Doctor on Voyager, be showing up on Star Trek: Discovery? (via Syfy)
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore awesome Chewbacca socks to several important events in New York, because Canada likes to taunt America with how much cooler their leader is. I don’t think Donald Trump knows who Chewbacca is. (via Vanity Fair

So what’d you see?

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Rick and Morty is, like perhaps too many works of fiction, about a genius who gets away with being a massive jerk, at least in part. As great as the show is (and as much deeper than that premise as it digs), that also attracts plenty of people who don’t seem to grasp that the message of the show is not that being a jerk is actually great and totally OK, even if they were anywhere near as smart as Rick Sanchez (they are not).

With the show’s writers’ room seeing brand new gender parity for its third season, some of those jerks have taken the opportunity to channel their jerk-energies into sexist harassment of the women writing for the show. Too predictably, they seem to see themselves as standing up to protect boys’ territory from women, the same (ridiculous) thing we hear about plenty of other properties that dare to incorporate more women, either on-screen or in the creative process, though Star Wars leaps to mind as a big recent example.

Rick and Morty Co-Creator Dan Harmon isn’t having it, though, and he wants to make that crystal clear to any fans who think their harassment and doxxing of the show’s female writers is somehow helpful to him or the show. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Harmon took these harassers to task, mocking them for “patting themselves on the back” for getting a reaction out of their targets. “I think it’s all disgusting,” he added, calling them out for “their need to be proud of something they have, which is often only their race or gender.”

But beyond all that, he also explained that singling out any one writer is ridiculous because of the collaborative writing process. So be on notice, sexist jerks who like cartoons: You may think you’ve gotten to know Dan Harmon through his work and that he’d be on your side, but you’d be very, very wrong. He does not like you, and frankly, it’s pretty clear that the show is not your territory at all—especially not more than it’s anyone else’s—since it’s very obviously going over your head if you think it fits well with your backwards worldview.

(image: Adult Swim)

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Posted by Vivian Kane

The trailer for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs dropped today. It’s an adorable looking stop-motion story of a boy searching for his missing dog. It’s also a whitewashing mess.

The movie is set in Japan, 20 years in the future. And to his credit, Anderson did cast a number of Japanese actors and musicians, including Ken Watanabe, Yoko Ono, Yôjirô Noda, Mari Natsuki. However, all of those cast members are billed (on IMDB at least, which is not the official billing, but commonly indicative of it) far below the film’s white actors.

Even worse–much worse–is that a number of those actors have been central figures in the current whitewashing conversation. Yes, apparently noted Asian actresses Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton didn’t learn any lessons from being at the center of the debate over Hollywood’s exclusion of people of color. That or they just don’t care, I suppose.

And let’s not forget Fisher Stevens, whose role as an Indian man in Short Circuit 2 was brought back to our collective attention thanks to Master of None.

After that episode aired, Fisher Stevens talked to Aziz Ansari about the effect his role had on Ansari as an Indian child. Stevens called it “eye-opening.

The entire cast feels like a big middle finger to the Asian American community and the subject of whitewashing, although I would guess that on Anderson’s part, casting three white actors who have been at the center of this issue in the last year was not deliberate. He doesn’t seem like he’s that tapped into the discourse, and he announced the full cast almost a year ago. While Hollywood’s whitewashing problem is an old one, the attention being paid to the conversation is relatively new. I would imagine Anderson wasn’t ahead of the curve. I don’t think he’s paying attention even now.

I’m sure Fisher Stevens, like Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton and probably much of this movie’s eventual audience, don’t see voiceing animated dogs as being the same level of offensive or damaging as Stevens’ brownface from 30 years ago. After all, they’re not playing Japanese people, right? They’re playing dogs who happen to live in Japan.

Except Wes Anderson is using Japanese aesthetics as pretty window dressing, and using Japanese people as background. By casting white actors in the lead roles over a Japanese backdrop, he’s reinforcing the pervasive white-as-default mindset at the center of so much whitewashing. Whimsy and anthropomorphization don’t change that. Just because they’re stop-motion dogs, that doesn’t give Anderson a pass to put whiteness at the center of a story set in Japan.

(image: screengrab)

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Posted by The Mary Sue Staff

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Posted by Reina Gattuso

Harvard’s been sucking this week, and this suckage provides an important reminder of why corporate higher education, for all its rhetoric about “innovation,” actually acts as a barrier to radical social change.

First order of suckage: Recently, despite the fact that the History Department had initially accepted her and that she is a prize-winning historian, Harvard administrators and some professors rejected an offer of admission the History Department had already approved to Michelle Jones.

Jones applied to the PhD program while serving a twenty-year sentence for killing her own child when Jones was a teenager. It should go without saying that the crime is deeply horrible; it should also go without saying that it’s not Harvard’s or anyone’s job to determine the punishment for someone a court of law has already punished. Jones’ rejection instead, argue faculty advocating her, flies in the face of any hope of transformative justice—an irony considering that her work is part of a recent push in the academy to take more seriously the history, politics, and material context of our carceral society.

Second order of suckage: Jones isn’t the only one who’s had an offer rescinded by Harvard recently. The university has also rescinded a fellowship they’d originally offered to Chelsea Manning, really rad lady, effectively deferring to the CIA. Meanwhile, they have offered the same fellowship to Sean Spicer, whose history of white supremacy the university clearly (and disturbingly) considers less troubling than Manning’s history of whistle blowing.

Third order of suckage: Harvard hasn’t only rejected people recently. It’s also continued its quest to reject graduate students’ efforts to unionize. In the most recent manifestation of Harvard’s resistance to this struggle, Harvard has moved to appeal to the Trump appointed (read: very right wing and anti-union) National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). That’s right, folks: The supposedly liberal bastion, which has been outspoken in its opposition to, for example, Trump’s stance on immigration and the repeal of DACA, is also a prime union buster.

So what gives? How is it that the most elite of colleges, characterized by the right as the quintessential arch enemy of their ideology, could make so many decisions that are so frankly regressive?

While Harvard and similar elite universities have admirably taken stands against the repeal of DACA—numerous Harvard professors were even arrested recently while protesting Trump’s proposed repeal—they have a notoriously bad line when it comes to issues affecting their bottom line.

Take the case of divestment. For the past several years, there has been a student movement across the country advocating for divestment from fossil fuels as a tool to stigmatize polluters and thus make headway against climate change. Despite coming out in support of other environmental efforts, Harvard University has staunchly refused to budge on this issue. The University President, Drew Faust, even released a nonsensical letter arguing that the endowment is not political and should not be politicized (ironically, for a historian, Faust seems to know very little about the history of the anti-apartheid divest movement).

Or take the issue of workers’ rights. During a recent strike of Harvard dining hall workers, the University administration dragged its feet; it took weeks of struggle by the dining hall workers to win a living wage for their labor. Not a good look for an institution which claims to be about encouraging educational access across class.

Viewed in this contexts, Harvard’s latest week of fuckery no longer appears so surprising. Rather, it continues a pattern of elite universities’ emphasis on their bottom line—and their reputation—above all else. Accepting the right of the graduate students to unionize will surely mean Harvard will have to pay them more. And accepting Manning and Jones may mean pissing off people with big pocket books.

And why shouldn’t this be the case? Harvard, like most elite universities in the United States, is a private entity with a corporate structure. It is a power broker, a place where the elite come to be consolidated—and where social mobility is possible, but often only along the terms of the system as is. It is a major feeder of employees to the government and an even larger feeder of financiers to Wall Street. Taking this into account, it becomes clearer to see how the liberalism claimed by elite institutions is mere veneer.

Ultimately, it comes down to the bottom line. Our higher education system has become overwhelmingly privatized and corporate, with tuitions which can soar above $200,000 for four year degrees, leading to student debt that can last a lifetime. As we know all too well, this has created debilitating systemic debt among students, many of whom are either left with debt and without job prospects, or who find themselves financially compelled to take higher-paying jobs in the corporate sector which they may not have wanted to take. 

The issue of student debt is also de-radicalizing, a disincentive for students to push for radical social change. If a student is expelled for protesting a university’s decision, for example, they may be very well left with an enormous financial burden and no degree. Finally, the specter of debt prevents many students from choosing lower-income paths, like activism, social work, or teaching.

At the same time, social media scrutiny and a corporate public relations model means that elite universities are intensely phobic of any perceived bad publicity. This fear can be leveraged by student movements for their own good: For example, in publicly shaming universities into becoming responsible for preventing and adequately addressing sexual violence.

Yet we can see in the cases of both Jones and Manning, a direct instance in which the appeal to reputation leads to deep conservatism. The New York Times writes, quoting one of the American Studies professors who raised objections to Jones’s admission:

“We didn’t have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle,” said John Stauffer, one of the two American studies professors. “But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c’mon.”

What we’re missing here, of course, is that education should not be about PR and the bottom line. Education should be dangerous. I don’t mean this in the way that “free speech” advocates mean it, when they complain about coddled liberal “snowflakes” who are intolerant toward conservative views. I mean that the university should be a space of challenge to the workings of a capitalist system, a space where students have the time, space, and (government-provided) funds to remove themselves from the immediate pressures of the market and to build a radically different world. The university should be a risky place, where politically risky things are said and done. Where we have the freedom—from racism, from sexual violence, from debt, from the immediate pressures of the job market—to challenge the status quo.

And this, of course, is a status quo challenged by all three of the people and bodies Harvard recently rejected. It is threatening to a system of racialized, class-based mass incarceration to believe that people who have been cordoned off as criminals can not only rejoin society but thrive. It is threatening to a system of paranoid government “security” rhetoric to laud Manning as a whistleblower, rather than imprison her as a threat. And it is threatening to universities’ profit to acknowledge collective bargaining power and to acknowledge graduate students as the workers they are.

In face of this, it falls on the students, workers, and professors of the university to bring political dissent back into a system which more often produces elite conformity than radical politics. We should not let the university corporation reign without a fight. Our protests should make administrators tremble. Our polemic should make the internet light up with fear. Our unions should send university officials sprinting toward their lawyers.

Harvard may have rejected Jones and Manning, but students are ultimately the ones with the power to collectively reject the deep conservatism of places like Harvard.

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

If you’ve seen Kingsman: The Golden Circle, you know exactly which scene I’m talking about. And it’s all director Matthew Vaughn’s fault.

Spoilers for Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

We expect a certain amount of envelope-pushing from the over-the-top Kingsman installments, and after the first film we sadly expect a certain amount of sexist nonsense and the use of women’s bodies as set pieces and plot devices. Even so, I was astonished at how far the new movie went with a totally unnecessary and gratuitous part that added nothing plot-wise and seems to exist to induce outrage and, I don’t know, show what a contrary “bad boy” director Matthew Vaughn is in his own mind.

In my review of The Golden Circle, I discuss The Scene that never should have been written, let alone filmed:

An interlude at a music festival creates a cringe-worthy extended set-up where Eggsy must perform sexual acts on another throwaway woman—who stands around in skimpy underwear—that is, once again, played for crude laughs. It will no doubt generate a lot of laughter in theaters, but I sat there thinking that Matthew Vaughn hadn’t learned any lesson from the Princess Tilde fiasco after all. If anything, this scene is even more exploitative. It’s disappointing, to say the least, that we’re here again. The movie could have avoided this whole part entirely and still more than succeeded, but it went there anyway.

I was hardly alone in how I felt about this scene—there’s been a lot of angry online chatter, and as our commenter The Vorpal Pen wrote, at their screening, the scene “had people literally groaning.” It turns out that lead actor Taron Egerton was also so uncomfortable with what his character Eggsy is made to do that he declined to even be the one on film for it. The hand that we see getting intimate with actress Poppy Delevingne actually belongs to her husband.

To further elaborate, Eggsy must plant a tracking device on the woman, Clara, who is dating one of the bad guys. In a world where people can survive point-blank shots to the face via magical advanced medical technology, this miraculous tracker can only be deployed on its target via mucous membranes. Sure, sure. Cool, cool, this totally isn’t the worst plotting in the history of ever.

So Eggsy has to seduce Clara—even though he wants to stay loyal to his girlfriend—and he fingers her to plant the tracker, then turns tail and flees as fast as possible. Vaughn even felt it was important to get a camera-eye view traveling up inside Clara’s genitalia so that we can be assured the tracker trick was a success. I hope this goes down as one of the most tasteless, crude, and offensively unnecessary scenes ever filmed. Clara’s body is invaded and used because Matthew Vaughn delights in imagining himself some kind of auteur of cheap, sexist moments created to shock and maybe because he delights in sneering at the anticipated reaction of those “bloody feminists.”

Screen Rant asked Egerton about the scene at a Golden Circle junket, and he responded as diplomatically as any actor at a press scrum can in discussing their director’s choices:

It’s what Matthew [Vaughn] does, it’s his signature thing. He likes to do something that shocks. In Kick-Ass it was Chloe Grace Moretz saying the C-word, in Kingsman 1 it was the bum shot of the Swedish princess, and in this one it’s the thing. And, you know, it’s not to everyone’s tastes, but it certainly gets people talking. All it is is explicitly showing what Bond alludes to and says in a double entendre kind of way.

There you go, folks: I hope that under Vaughn’s name in future film history books it reads, “Vaughn’s signature thing: lewd, tawdry scenes of dubious intent that trade on sexist tropes and exploit female bodies.”

But while Egerton is attempting to defend Vaughn’s choices in this instance, when The Golden Circle was filming, he was so uncomfortable with the level of intimacy required that the actress’ husband was brought in to substitute. (I’d love it if we could also hear from Poppy Delevingne and how she felt about the scene, which she had to film half-naked.) Egerton told Screen Rant:

It was a day that I was anxious about. The shot in the first film I was so anxious before we did it and Matthew didn’t tell me that I wouldn’t actually be in the shot. The way it was described in the script it was like ‘I’m going to do what?’ But it wasn’t me, it was a POV. In this one, I’m in the shot and I said to Matthew ‘I’m not comfortable doing this’. So it’s not my hand – it’s Poppy [Delevingne]’s husband’s hand. He saved the world.

Hey, Matthew Vaughn, just a thought: when your star is uneasy about filming something to the point of needing a stand-in from the actress’ husband, take that as a goddamned sign that the scene didn’t need to be filmed in the first place.

Let us not forget that Vaughn has been eyed as a possible director for a Man of Steel sequel. Can’t wait to see Lois Lane run around in her underwear and Clark Kent going undercover in a strip club or something. Can’t. Wait.

(via Screen Rant, Moviepilot, image: 20th Century Fox)

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Posted by Elaine Tamblyn-Watts

I need to start off by saying that the Dreamworks Dragons: Race to the Edge series is good. It’s really good, better than any movie spinoff aimed at kids has any right to be. It bridges into the initial two seasons of Dragons: Riders of Berk that first aired back in 2012, connecting things narrative-wise, but also totally blowing them out of the water in terms of plot, character, and visuals especially.

Not only that, but fans of the show are treated to not one but two ass-kicking female leads, who are members of the core Dragon Rider gang. There’s leading lady Astrid Hofferson, who drops villains with a single punch, does sick aerial dragon-back gymnastics, designs and builds a complex and deadly defense system for the Dragon Riders’ base, and single-handedly learns to train an especially dangerous dragon while temporarily blinded.

There’s also Ruffnut Thorston, who, while often functioning as one half of a comedic duo with twin brother Tuffnut, is also instrumental in saving the day in unexpected and generally wacky ways—and now and then she gets a chance to show she’s just as tough in the face of danger as any of the other Vikings.

We also get Heather, a bit-part character in Riders of Berk whose role is dramatically expanded (in both terrifying axe-wielding and emotional growth capacities), and Mala, the no-nonsense warrior queen of a Viking tribe that protects endangered dragons. We even get Berk elder and healer Gothi, who starts as a well of ancient knowledge and grows into an unexpected dragon-riding badass herself.

I could go on, but suffice to say that this is a good show for girls. It’s plagued by the same issue as so many others in pseudo-European fantasy settings, though: an inexplicable lack of people of color. Despite being set in a fictionalized Scandinavian Scottish archipelago, with all manner of pseudo-Viking tribes—not to mention all the, uh, dragons—they haven’t offered up a single non-white character yet. My expectations on that front were never high, I admit, so I put most of my focus into cheering the well-rounded female characters.

That’s why when this clip for the latest season came out, I was beyond psyched:

Were we finally getting an episode where all the girls hang out together on an all-women island? Incredible! Dragon Riders now landing in Bechdel Test City!

But when the episode finally dropped, my heart sank. When Snotlout awakes on the island, surrounded by the Wingmaidens, he thinks he’s being pranked by his friends, and says, “Very funny, guys. Take off that beautiful native woman costume, Fishlegs.”

He is, indeed, surrounded by beautiful women, some of whom are the standard Archipelago White, and some of whom are brown, which would’ve been extremely exciting if not for that one word: “Native.” The word is repeated by the other Dragon Riders too—mysterious “native” women, flying “native” women. “Native” women.

I, a member of Beausoleil First Nation, a card-carrying Ojibway “native woman,” watched in horror as my favorite show ambled casually into the Cannibal Tribe trope. The all-women tribe, one of several totally new and fictional pseudo-Viking tribes our heroes have encountered in their travels—and the only one to feature anybody who wasn’t white—was specifically singled out as “native,” and then implied to be cannibals.

Just to hammer home why this alarmed me, let me explain: Hiccup and the Dragon Riders have encountered new tribe after new tribe in their adventures. They themselves are part of the Hooligan tribe. They also either rub shoulders or clash swords with the Outcasts, Berserkers, Dragon Hunters, Defenders of the Wing, and the Tribe of the Whispering Trees, all of whom have their own respective cultures, but still fall under the same vague Norse pantheon as our friends from Berk.

When the gang meets the Defenders of the Wing for the first time, they’re a completely unfamiliar culture—they’ve got stun darts from blow-guns, leather ninja-reminiscent armour and an unexpected reverence for dragons—but nobody at any point calls them “natives.”

There’s no real reason for the Wingmaidens, then, to have gotten singled out, except to fulfill the expectations of this very old, very racist trope with a very particular vision of what a “native” is. I really don’t think the writers meant any harm, but I am saddened that nobody in the room put their foot down and said, “Hey, since we’re making a fantasy universe where we can do whatever we want, let’s not duplicate a racist category for this identifiable cultural group!”

Nobody put their foot down at this, either:

TVTropes identifies this as the Tribal Carry, a cinematic staple of classic cannibal movies where our unsuspecting hero is strung up like game on a pole by angry “natives.” Some other iconic appearances include the original Peter Pan film, when the Lost Boys are captured by, ah, the “Indians,” and more recently, Pirates of the Carribean.

A cursory Google image search of the phrase “cartoon cannibal stereotype” should give you a pretty clear vision of what’s so icky about this trope. The idea of the uncivilized, dangerous, hostile, and hungry dark-skinned tribe goes back a long, long way, and this definitely wasn’t a great place for the Dragons showrunners to introduce brown characters for the very first time.

To their credit, the writers do subvert the trope in the end. We find out that the Wingmaidens definitely don’t eat people at all, and in fact they were just messing with Snotlout to teach him a lesson about sexism. They riffed on his assumptions about their tribe by scaring the crap out of him, which I can get behind.

They also turn out to have a deep and ancient relationship with a particular breed of dragon, the Razorwhip, that the Dragon Riders know very little about, and it seems likely that the Wingmaidens might return in the sixth and final season of the show. Ultimately, they’re a very interesting group of characters, and the episode as a whole does a lot for the show’s worldbuilding and characters—but I could’ve gone fully without the part where the Dragon Riders inexplicably treat this tribe as totally separate from every other tribe they’ve stumbled across, tossing them into the Angry Natives box for no real reason.

It’s not as though Dragons can’t tell good stories about indigeneity, either, which is why this blunder stung so much for me. While they certainly didn’t slap the word “native” on it, season four’s episode “Gold Rush” featured Heather, an orphan adoptee separated from her birth family as a child, tentatively reconnecting with her roots.

She was raised away from the Berserker tribe, had to become fiercely independent to survive, and is now completely alienated from the practices she should have been brought up with. Not only that, but she’s caught between two worlds—the one that’s her ancestral home and birthright that she’s never so much as visited, and the one that raised her but eternally sees her as an outsider.

Heather also has to contend with a pretty heavy-duty legacy of lateral violence, as the recently-reformed Dagur the Deranged, her only living blood relative, is the one who killed her adoptive parents—but he’s also the last chance she has left at rebuilding her family.

These are all very common themes for Indigenous people in North America. Cultural separation and belonging are huge points of tension, especially for anyone whose family has been impacted by residential schools or the Sixties Scoop. My mother’s grandfather escaped from residential school in 1919 and didn’t return to his home territory until the end of his life; it wasn’t until last summer that my mother was finally able to bring me to visit the island he came from. Relearning our language and rebuilding ties with our community has been a long process for us, and it’s far from over.

Watching Heather struggle with her divided loyalties, her unfamiliarity, and her misconceptions about her own people was extremely powerful for me. There’s a scene in “Gold Rush” where Dagur gently explains to her sister that “everyone always thinks Berserker means crazy, but what it really means is going full-speed—all-out, all the time, total commitment to your Berserker brothers and sisters.”

He even teaches her to do a Berserker battle cry, saying, “It comes from deep within, understand?” and her look of confusion breaks my heart every time. “You’ll get it,” he reassures her—and later on in the episode, she does.

I couldn’t tell you whether or not the writers were working consciously with these parallels—probably not, honestly—but I’d be lying if I said the end of the episode didn’t leave my glasses a little misty. This is the kind of narrative grace they’re capable of, and it’s clear that a lot of care went into Heather’s story arc and her relationship with her people. I just wish we could’ve seen that same care put into considering how their “beautiful native women” would come off to actual native viewers.

All told, the Dragons franchise is still leaps and bounds ahead when it comes to making space for female characters, and the themes and values underpinning even its most minor character arcs tend to be pretty next-level stuff. I just hope that, in future, the writers don’t throw Indigenous people under the yak-cart, so to speak, for the sake of a short-lived Gilligan’s Island gag.

(images: Netflix)

Elaine Tamblyn-Watts is an Ottawa-based Anglo-Anishinaabe writer and editor. She was supposed to become a foreign correspondent, but she developed fibromyalgia and had to drop out of journalism school, so now she watches a lot of cartoons and gets a lot more work done. Elaine served as copy editor for The Charlatan for the 2016-17 year, put out a poetry chapbook called Fingernail Moon and is currently working on about nineteen other projects.

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21 Sep 2017 06:51 pm
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[Heading into the local library alone.]
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Posted by Vivian Kane

Few things in pop culture are more exciting than an announcement of a new Jordan Peele project. We throw a mini mental party every single time, and that means there’s a lot of celebrating going on because this man is busy as hell. Earlier this year, he revealed Get Out would be part of a series of thrillers about “social demons.” He’s also producing a number of projects, including Spike Lee’s Black Klansman, and he signed an overall television deal with Sonar Entertainment to develop new projects for TV and digital platforms under his Monkeypaw Productions banner. Peele is taking over Hollywood and no one here is complaining.

Now, he’s announced his first show in that TV deal. Titled The Hunt, the drama series tells the story of Nazi hunters in the 1970s. While there’s no network lined up yet, we will watch this literally anywhere. Peele will be executive producing alongside newcomer David Weil, who’s writing the script. Here are all the plot details we have so far (via The Hollywood Reporter):

“Inspired by true events, The Hunt follows a diverse band of Nazi hunters in 1970s America as they set out on a quest for revenge and justice — tracking and killing hundreds of Nazis who, with the unconscionable help of the U.S. government, escaped justice and embedded themselves in American society.”

We don’t know if the characters will be based on real people, or how closely they’ll be following those true events, but we all trust Peele to do justice to the history here. Following WWII, thousands of Nazi war criminals fled Germany to avoid prosecution, many to South America, some of whom were aided by the American government. In 1958, the West German government established the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes to track down and prosecute them.

It’s hard to ignore the depressing timeliness of a show about stopping Nazis. The Central Office is still in active operation, finding and prosecuting war criminals to this day, so it’s not like Naziism, antisemitism, and racism ever went away. But I’m guessing audiences’ interest in seeing a “diverse band of Nazi hunters” punch some Nazis is at a modern high.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Tinseltown/Shutterstock)

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

After savage reviews and poor word-of-mouth this wouldn’t be surprising, although the show has not even debuted yet.

As the sharp-eyed folks over at Renew/Cancel TV point out, the marketing for Inhumans has the copy that the “complete series” will begin airing September 29th. This is an odd choice of words if ABC intended to keep it running for another season or even keep the possibility alive. It should say “series debut,” but instead this wording suggests that the series is finite and, well, completed at this point.

Inhumans has been subject to bad reviews (really bad), testy moments between the press and creatives, and, most recently, an underwhelming haul when its first episodes were rolled out to IMAX theaters: the show took in $2.6 million worldwide, which was the amount generated in the same time period by a 40th anniversary release of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 

Considering all this, I’m not surprised if ABC pulled the plug on any chance at a second season for Inhumans, though it’s a little strange not to wait to see how the show does in ratings. If Inhumans has already been cancelled, I think that tells us everything we need to know about the quality of the first season that awaits us. At current, it has a cringe-inducing 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. What went wrong here? IndieWire’s review is succinct:

TV or film-wise, based on what’s being shown in IMAX right now, “Inhumans” is legitimately the worst Marvel adaptation of the year (yes, even beating out “Iron Fist”). In fact, as far as terrible Marvel adaptations go, you might have to go all the way back to Roger Corman’s unreleased 1994 “Fantastic Four” film to best it.

Medusa’s terrible wig, we hardly knew ye.

UPDATE: We heard from a Disney rep who clarifies that the poster copy is not new and is the same verbiage that has been used throughout the campaign. This makes sense as Inhumans is intended as an 8-episode miniseries, and we’ll have to wait and see what’s in store for the future of the project.

(via, image: ABC)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Victoria and Abdul tells a phenomenal story about Queen Victoria at the end of her life. In this clip of Victoria bringing Abdul Karim to a highland cottage, the same one she spent with her Scottish ghillie John Brown, we see a Queen far removed from the regal ceremonies and pageantry of the throne.

While historian Shrabani Basu says it’s unlikely they were ever lovers, the closeness between these two did raise some eyebrows and one character even refers to Karim as the “brown Mr. Brown.” However, in this clip, we see that what Karim did for Victoria was far more emotional as she struggled to find a reason to live on. Somehow, this man 40-or-so years younger, from a lower class and wildly different world, is able to connect with her in a way no one else could.

I wrote about how this dynamic struggles to capture the complexities of nation, but in this powerful scene that imagines the monarch’s private world, Judi Dench (who also played Victoria in Mrs. Brown) is absolutely incredible. She talks about the pain of aging and living on as those she loved, John Brown and Prince Albert, live only in her memory. She detests her children. Her body is failing her. She’s hated by millions of people. In lesser talent, this scene of “No one knows what it’s really like to be Queen” might not garner sympathy, but Dench gives this intimate moment the emotional weight it needs, especially contrasted with the bored Queen we see in the opening scenes, constantly surrounded by people.

Victoria and Abdul comes to theaters in New York and LA the 22nd.

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

After hearing Team Billie Jean and Team Bobby at the Battle of the Sexes press conference this weekend, I had the chance to sit down with one of the film’s stars, Natalie Morales, one-on-one.

You probably already know Morales from her work as Wendy Watson in the genre cult classic, The Middleman, or from her work on shows like The Grinder or Parks and Recreation. Now, you can see her in Fox Searchlight’s Battle of the Sexes as Rosie Casals, a Grand Slam tennis champion in her own right, as well as Billie Jean King’s friend, competitor, and doubles partner.

As one of the Original Nine players to leave the USLTA in protest of a gendered pay gap and strike out on their own to create their own tennis tour, Casals was instrumental in paving the way for a generation of female athletes. It’s a role that Morales couldn’t resist.

On what drew Morales to this project:

“The amazing thing about it was that I read the story, and I loved it, obviously. Being one of the only characters of color in the entire movie was important to me, and Rosie was really important to the entire story.”

On serendipity: 

“When I auditioned, I was working on The Grinder, and I wasn’t gonna be able to make the audition, and I was really, really bummed about it.

“I was like Can we please just see if we can make the audition as late as possible? Because I really want to do it, but I’m at work all day, and we’re on location, and we never go on location, and I don’t even know where this is! Finally, they were able to make the audition for 6pm, and I was like Perfect! And I told my work, If you’re able to get me out early, that would be so great. And they all worked really hard to get me out early. They got me out at 1pm, and it turned out to be in the same building that we were shooting in. We were in the lobby doing all the courtroom scenes, and the audition was upstairs. I was like, That’s weird and serendipitous!

On Casals, and how she sees herself in the former tennis pro: 

“[Casals] grew up pretty poor. She’s of El Salvadorean descent, and tennis is not a poor sport. If I’m not mistaken, someone in her family was her coach for her whole life, and she would go to the tennis courts and be in not-perfect whites, and she was brown, you know? She didn’t fit in, everybody was real white. And so, she fought really, really hard to be included. She had to work…I mean, if women have to work twice as hard then, as you know, women of color have to work even more, especially in a sport like that.

“I just thought, I come from a similar background. My family was really poor, and I have a single mom, and my mom worked really hard to get me any opportunity, so I sort of relate to being the poor kid, and having to struggle and try to fit into anything while not having the supplies or the advantage that a lot of other people do. Like, if you have better sneakers in tennis, it kinda makes a huge difference. You’re gonna be better if your feet don’t hurt, and if your racket is better, and Rosie didn’t have that. Rosie had to work real hard. So it was really amazing to get to play her.”

On what she hopes audiences take away from the film: 

“A fire lit under their ass, I think? At least, I do. Not only is Billie Jean’s story inspiring, but I was at a panel with her the other day, and she said something really amazing where she was like, There’s no such thing as an ‘influencer,’ someone who’s an ‘influencer.’ She was like, You’re all influencers. Every single person is an influencer. If you can talk to a person, you’re an influencer. You have the power to change things, no matter who you are.

“And I was like, that’s really true! I can talk to one person and change things for the better. And while it’s daunting that things haven’t changed much in forty-five years, and equality is still not…equal, it’s sort of inspiring as well, and it reinvigorates me and re-commits me to continuing to fight for those rights.”

Battle of the Sexes opens tomorrow. 

(image: Teresa Jusino)

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Two days ago, Jimmy Kimmel once again weighed in on health care, with Senate Republicans considering yet another horrible bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. Again, he faced accusations that he was just a celebrity getting in over his head, and the bill’s authors said he just didn’t understand it, while actual analysis of the bill indicates that he understands it better than they do—or they’re being deliberately disingenuous. There’s no third option.

So, last night, Kimmel returned to the topic to address his critics in even more blunt terms than he previously had, which takes a lot after explicitly notifying everyone that a senator lied to your face. As you’d expect from Kimmel, there are plenty of insults to go around, from saying Senator Bill Cassidy was caught with his “GOPenis out” to calling Brian Kimleade of Fox and Friends a “phony little creep,” but he also hit on something fundamental when he said the GOP senators are attempting to defend the indefensible.

That’s the basic problem at the root of every issue with Republican attempts to replace the ACA so far. Every single one of them has served, in some way, to reduce financial support for sick people to get health care. Their entire argument—centering around the only people they’re trying to help—is that the healthy shouldn’t subsidize the sick, so they don’t want individuals to have to pay for health insurance by law, and they want sicker people to pay higher premiums for plans that actually cover care, so that healthy people who do buy insurance can pay less money for plans that barely cover anything in return.

That’s why Republicans love to seize on it when Kimmel makes mention of the millions of people who will no longer have insurance if their plan becomes law. They see that as a feature, because they’re happy about the number of those people who will cancel their insurance for financial reasons, once there’s no longer a law that they must have insurance. The fundamental flaw in that logic—beyond the fact that some of those who may “choose” not to have insurance will be making that choice against their will, due to higher costs—is that letting those people drop out is not an improvement to the health care system. There’s no reason to be happy that health care in this country is unattainably expensive for millions of people, and so far, they haven’t proposed a single way to fix that. (No, allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines is not an answer.)

Crafting policy around the very problem that should be the focus of any fix is just a waste of time that does nothing but hurt the sick and vulnerable among us.

(image: ABC)

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20 Sep 2017 11:53 pm
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[personal profile] nofearofthedark posting in [community profile] sixwordstories
[She's found somewhere newer. Nicer. Kinder.]
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Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
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title: "Your Social Parabola" - originally published 9/20/2017

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