What the Hell Is Brigsby Bear?

28 Jul 2017 12:25 pm
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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

I was on The Onion when I saw an ad for the film Brigsby Bear, and it looked so surreally bizarre that I was sure it was a fake Onion ad for a made-up movie. Mark Hamill and Claire Danes in a film with a guy in a bear suit and a grimacing sun overhead? Sure, guy. But it turns out that Brigsby Bear is real, and according to The New York Times, it’s “a largely sweet, often very funny fairy tale about the perils and the sustaining pleasures of obsessive fandom.” O RLY?

Any mention of obsessive fandom immediately gets my attention—and I was so fascinated by the film’s WTF-is-this marketing campaign that I had to know more. Take a moment to watch Brigsby‘s intriguing trailer, and then rejoin me in the wider world below.

From all of the reviews that I’ve been reading, Brigsby is the unlikely story of James (SNL’s Kyle Mooney), who was raised in extraordinary circumstances with his only media the children’s television show “Brigsby Bear Adventures.” As The Times‘ Manohla Dargis explains:

He doesn’t merely love the plucky, heroic bear — as well as Brigsby’s adorable helpers, the Smiles Sisters, and his villainous foe, the Sun Snatcher; James has absorbed the show, its stories and ethos into his being. His walls are lined with images from it; his shelves are crammed with recordings of each episode and related paraphernalia. He can mouth old dialogue verbatim. He even sleeps on “Brigsby” sheets, as if tucking into his own fanboy nest.

While James’ situation where Brigsby is concerned is extreme, we’re meant to see it as a sort of parable of our world, which is more dominated by pop culture obsessions and dedicated fan communities than ever. As I write this, I have shelves lined with various superhero paraphernalia, I own pajama pants covered in Cap’s shield, and many of my friendships were forged in fandoms. I already identify with James—all that’s lacking is having been raised in a place where there was only one form of media to fixate upon. I’d be a total Brigsby Bear stan, too.

Over at Vulture, Emily Yoshida writes:

Even before we realize the scope of James’s circumstances, we understand that the show comprises the vast majority of his life experience: How to speak, how to interpret events, and even his first and only crush, are all informed by what he watches on his TV every day. It would feel outlandish if it weren’t a mere exaggeration of how almost all us have grown up in front of the screen.

Yoshida also notes the meta-mind-bending choice to cast the legendary Mark Hamill in the role of the man who raised James. Hamill, of course, is “a figure who has been burned into the psyche of generations of children,” and his casting is a genius move. While Yoshida thinks that Brigsby will ultimately be marketed as an “oh-so-random stoner cult movie,” she says it’s more about how the stories we tell go on to affect and change us in innumerable ways. And there’s an excellent pop culture ouroboros in that Brigsby Bear, centered around its characters’ cult-like obsession with media, might end up with a cult following of its own.

Dargis concludes that the film is “a sweet and sometimes delightful melancholic story of a lonely man saved by imagination and love,” and that while it “flirts with tragedy,” Brigsby Bear “opts for joy.” Reviews I’ve read have been enthusiastic, calling the result strange but warm and kind. It’s good to see that James’ fixation, misunderstood by those around him, is not mocked in the end but celebrated. Fandom and its devoted fanpeople can be reduced to a mere punchline or simply derided in broader cultural examinations of the phenomenon, but they appear to be the beating heart of Brigsby.

I’m excited to see the movie now, and Brigsby Bear, I’m sorry for not believing that you were real. I’ll gladly wear your image on a t-shirt.

(via The New York Times, Vulture, images: Sony Pictures Classics)

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Chapter 64: Get Lost

28 Jul 2017 12:00 am
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What we do here is go back.
Just a little reminder that I've been posting small journal comics over at my Patreon. It's been pretty regular so far, and I intend to keep doing it!
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Posted by Vivian Kane

Star Trek: Discovery has given us a lot to keep an eye on. Despite an overly explode-y latest trailer (and seeing Bryan Fuller walk was a major blow), it feels like there’s a lot to look forward to, not the least of which is the show’s commitment to inclusive representation. In addition to a racially diverse cast and a female captain, we knew the show would also feature Anthony Rapp playing the first openly gay character in TV Star Trek history. (Sulu was retroactively revealed to be gay in Star Trek Beyond.)

But then to take things a step further, at Comic-Con this weekend, Rapp revealed that he won’t be the show’s only openly gay character. He’ll be joined by Wilson Cruz, playing his love interest, medical officer Dr. Hugh Culber.

That means there will be (at least) two gay characters, both played by gay actors, which SHOULD NOT BE A RARE THING. But we all know it very much is.

Rapp told the Comic-Con crowd, “Wilson Cruz will be playing my love interest, my partner. My man love―and we’re both officers on the ship.”

He gave EW more details on the relationship, which he says will be fully fleshed out and portrayed in a “complex and human and non-stereotypical” way. Rapp makes it clear that their sexuality will not be the only thing that defines them, as we see so often with LGBTQ+ characters. Instead, Rapp says we’ll “get to see his [character’s] relationship. There was a little glimpse in Sulu in Beyond, and it was a nice nod. But in this case, we actually get to see me with my partner in conversation, in our living quarters, you get to see our relationship over time, treated as any other relationship would be treated.”

The showrunners, Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg, said they “wanted to roll out that character’s sexuality the way people would roll out their sexuality in life.”

In addition to this being a huge, historic milestone for representation, can we also take a moment to appreciate the amazing 90s nostalgia happening here?

We have Mark from Rent

And My So-Called Life’s Ricky–

Who was also in Rent on Broadway!

This diverse, feminist, queer, musical theatre reunion 90s space party comes to CBS All Access on September 24th.

(via EW, image: screengrab, CBS)

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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

There’s nothing quite like a Muppet-ized Sesame Street mashup of 80s music, am I right? Right? Yeah, I’m right. I know I am. (via Laughing Squid)

  • You know that “He’s a friend from work!” line that Thor says in the Thor: Ragnarok trailer? Aside from being a brilliant line, there’s actually a super sweet story about how it ended up in the film! (via Comicbook.com)

Bo Yeon Kim, writer for Star Trek: Discovery, revealed just what happens when you play disco music on set: adorableness. Adorableness happens.

Estelle recently performed “Stronger Than You” for a lucky crowd of Steven Universe fans. You can check out her performance in the video above. It’s fantastic.

  • Wait, THERE’S A Sweet Valley High MOVIE COMING OUT?! (via Deadline)
  • Writing about that It trailer earlier today spawned a long conversation about scary things and horror movies. Mostly we wondered about the whys and wherefores of people who enjoy being scared. If you’re one of those people, though, you should go ahead and think about purchasing this replica of the house from Halloween. (via Inside The Magic)

What’d you see today, pals?

(featured image: screengrab)

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Posted by Juliana Britto Schwartz

For the first time in decades, El Salvador’s cruel blanket ban on abortion is under threat. The country has become a symbol in the global fight for reproductive justice, very publicly denying young women life-saving abortions and incarcerating people who experience miscarriages. The El Salvador government has gone so far as to stop chemotherapy for pregnant women with cancer, and delay care to women with diagnosed ectopic pregnancies until their fallopian tubes burst. Last month, a teenager who became pregnant after repeated sexual assaults was sentenced to 30 years in prison for delivering a stillborn baby.

Now, after years of feminist organizing, El Salvador’s parliament is considering a bill that would legalize abortion in cases of rape, threat to the pregnant person’s life or when the fetus is unviable. After a series of public hearings and debates, the bill has notable support, but is still facing significant opposition from an organization called Sí a la Vida – which is funded by U.S. anti-abortion advocates.

The Guardian reports that Virginia-based non-profit Human Life International has been financing Sí a la Vida since 2000, just a few years after they successfully pushed for the full criminalization of abortion in El Salvador. Human Life International’s mission is to “provide training and tools needed to combat the Culture of Death and build a Culture of Life” – aka spreading the horrific criminalization of pregnant people. In a 2001 article titled “How to Export Pro-Life Activism” the real life inspiration for the Handmaid’s Tale then-president of Human Life International talks about the pharmaceutical industry’s supposed attack on fertility, why contraception is the same as abortion, and details HLI’s work to get El Salvador’s ban on abortion written into the country’s constitution.

This is misogyny and imperialism wrapped up into one organization. In case you’re feeling as mad as I am, here is a link you can use to tweet at them and here is the phone number HLI provides on its website: 800-549-5433. I wonder what would happen if hundreds of Feministing readers gave them a call and demanded that they immediately stop funding a movement which is denying women access to life-saving healthcare?

Header image via Al Jazeera

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Posted by Casey Cipriani

(Possible spoilers for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets follows.)

For every elaborate world visited in a Luc Besson film, there’s usually a typical “strong female character” present whose physical abilities, intellectual prowess, and emotional growth demand the audience’s attention. There’s the titular “La Femme Nikita,” criminal turned assassin whose status as a sexy, teenage killer launched a thousand fantasies of (straight) boys who loved her and girls who wanted to be her.  Natalie Portman got her start in Leon: The Professional as another would be girl killer. With the help of a wonder drug, Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy evolves beyond physical human understanding into a form of pure instinct, intelligence, and power, kicking ass and punching a few bad dudes along the way. And in Besson’s previous trip into far outer space, the 1997 cult hit The Fifth Element, Milla Jovovich was Leeloo, a supreme being, literally perfect, who saves the universe by simply existing. Some annoying tropes abound; aside from Portman’s Mathilda, nearly all of them are presented as sexy.

But they’re all also smart, funny, and enjoyable to watch, which is why it’s so curious that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Besson’s latest foray into an eye-dazzling future of space stations, alien encounters, and intergalactic espionage traffics in the practical erasure of its female characters.

First, there’s the supposed lead woman Laureline, played here by model-turned-actor Cara Delevingne. Despite the fact that Valerian is based on a French comic series from the 1960s titled Valerian and Laureline, Laureline herself doesn’t get title bidding here in this big budget American adaptation. Valerian himself is made out as the ultimate hero here. A cocky, supposed-to-be-charming but really just a tool, kind of ladies man-turned-romantic lead savior whose mistakes as a soldier are repeatedly fixed by his savvier female counterpart, Laureline. It’s curious why, with Besson’s track record for lifting up women in sci-fi worlds, he chose instead to take a comic with an equally competent duo and focus this film’s title on the male half of the team, stamping him with the definite status of hero. But even Laureline’s status as a smarter, more empathetic, and more competent soldier doesn’t free her from sexism as she remarks that a dangerous mission ruined her dress or exclaims her intense desire for shopping.

But nearly forgetting about Laureline isn’t Valerian‘s only issue with supposedly 50% of the population of the universe; the whole film suffers from a significant lack of female representation. The opening sequence, the film’s most lovely moments, begins in 1975 with American and Soviet astro/cosmonauts meeting and shaking hands for the first time in space. Through a montage set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” varying nations of Earth meet and work together in orbit, until one day, another species appears on the other side of the door. One by one, decade by decade, more species interact with humans. Yet every time a hand is extended from the human representative of Earth, it’s always attached to the male of our species.  This is supposed to be the 28th century, yet we’re supposed to believe that no woman was given the role of alien ambassador once in hundreds of years.

This lack of ladies continues throughout “Valerian’s” universe and throughout space station Alpha wherein all of the action takes place. Again, despite being the 28th century, seemingly 90% of military and government personnel are male. There’s a scene in which delegates from every species gather to address the major issue facing the station. All human representatives are male, and when it comes to the aliens, well who can tell what’s what? The Boulin Bathor who kidnap Laureline to dress her up in a wedding gown and feed her brains to the king—are any of them the women of the species? Come to think of it, is that king really a queen? Hard to say! Who knows! But ambiguity does not equal representation.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets could have used a serious examination by the so-called “Geena Davis Test.” Similar to the Bechdel Test in its purpose, Geena Davis’ simple instruction for making a film less sexist goes as follows: “When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, ‘A crowd gathers, which is half female.'” That would have significantly altered the makeup of the human characters of the film alone. Furthermore, Davis’ instruction to “Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names” would have yielded a more realistic future. How easy would it have been to make Clive Owen’s gruff villain a woman, or Sam Spruell’s second-in-command? I don’t know about Besson, but come the 28th century, I expect this problem to be solved.

(image: STX Entertainment Motion Pictures)

Casey Cipriani is a New York-based arts and entertainment journalist with a passion for watching sci-fi and fairy tales and addressing women’s issues in the industry. She has written for Indiewire, Vulture, Slate, Refinery29, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Women and Hollywood, and Bustle. She earned her Master’s Degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism where she concentrated in arts and culture reporting and criticism.  

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Posted by Charline Jao

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator or DDADDS for short, has absolutely taken the internet by storm. The dating sim has captured the hearts of its users as they try and navigate a diverse dad-dating scene while also making sure to take care of their daughter. Whether you’re frantically making red-string wall collages to try to figure out how to get Christian-Youth-Group Dad’s ending or just scrolling through Tumblr, you’ve probably heard about the popularity of Dream Daddy and the huge fanbase it’s built since the game’s release last week.

I spoke with Amanda Brennan, Senior Content Insights Manager at Tumblr, who gave me a breakdown of the surge of engagement and content around Dream Daddy. From the day the Game Grumps dropped the trailer, a huge wave of fan-art and buzz immediately started pouring out. The total number of engagements for #dream daddy in the past month was 4.88 million, the total number of searches for #dream daddy in the past month 1.55 million, and it’s been the most searched item on Tumblr this month. Dream Daddy itself has a Tumblr account, Brennan points out, which actively engages with its fan base, re-blogging content and even offering bits of info on the characters.

Dream Daddy feels like a game that’s perfect for Tumblr, Brennan says, “[Dream Daddy] speaks Tumblr’s language.” Like many dating sims, she notes, “Each Dad has his thing” and the passion that each has for their “thing” whether it be sports, music, Victorian clothing, or knives mirrors the way that Tumblr users are distinctly passionate about their “thing.” Whether it’s a TV show, a dating game, or literally anything else, “Tumblr is where you go” for finding people that share your interest.

We also talked briefly about the Dream Daddy discourse, where fans have taken issue with certain elements of representation, such as a secret cult ending. The creator have stepped in to talk about the importance of these conversations and asked that people stay civil, but most internet fandoms recognize discussions can also sometimes be overwhelming. They are somewhat inevitable, but Brennan believes that Tumblr functions productively as a host to these moments. She emphasizes that the format is one that allows the conversation to evolve, rather than “a comment left somewhere.” She adds that being able to see similar posts involving fan art and fan creation means you can choose for yourself whether to avoid the discourse, or to enjoy both the fandom and the critical conversation. There’s little doubt that your daughter Amanda is on Tumblr closely following these conversations, while you’re still trying to figure what being left “on read” means.

There are few things more pure than the passionate earnestness of Dream Daddy. Characters share their feelings or grief with vulnerability, your interactions with your daughter are wholesome and touching, and no one’s treated as lesser for engaging with what they love. Amanda’s conversations with her dad are adorable and heartfelt, and her teenage troubles at school are treated as both valid and important. Brennan says the thoughtful language, along with the way “the caring you see in your chosen family is present throughout this game” makes this a perfect game for the Tumblr community. The occasionally frustrating but adorable side games, she adds, also make it “more in-depth than a visual novel.”

She also points to Damien, the Goth Dad character you first encounter in a store called Dead, Goth, & Beyond. As a former Hot Topic retail employee, Brennan is a fan of him (though Hugo eventually won her over with his cheese plates) and points out that he’s a canonically trans character though “being trans is another piece of his puzzle” rather than a whole gigantic storyline. She also points out that the game has binder options in the beginning for those who want to play as trans and another option that allows you to decide whether your daughter was adopted or brought home from the hospital. You get to choose the gender of your former spouse, pushing past the heteronormative, nuclear family that dominates media.

There’s a definitely tendency within female fandoms to fetishize relationships between men, and another troubling pattern within society to find them inherently funny or ridiculous somehow. While I can’t speak for an entire fandom, Dream Daddy, which had a number of queer people on their team, treats all these relationships with emotional depth whether it’s about grief, fear, or balancing priorities between self-care and family obligations.

While shipping and handsome dads are fun for the whole family, the emotional core of Dream Daddy (yes, this is a very emotional game), really does shine and resonate with Tumblr’s community. Brennan cites the interesting sense of humor (dad puns for days) and the awkwardness of the Dadsona as very Tumblr-like, “but they’re brave and get on that Dad-Book.” (Dad-book is a social networking site for dads where you can set up dates and learn about the dads.) That combination of persevering, emotional honesty, and earnest adoration clearly hit a note with the Tumblr community and it doesn’t look like the outpour of memes and fan-art are going to slow down anytime soon.

Tumblr is hosting Answer Time with game creators Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray this Friday! Check out the info here. And if you haven’t yet embarked on your Dad Journey, you can find the game on Steam.

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Posted by Holly Christine Brown

The idealist in me has long wanted to believe that labels don’t matter, but if you address me in the wrong way too many times? It becomes clear to me that labels are important. Labels help define us and our role in the world. This helps us connect to others—it gives us a sense of purpose and belonging. But labels aren’t static. How we identify changes over time. Children become adults; students become teachers; daughters become mothers; etc. But does that change who we are?

In many ways, we are ever evolving. While we only have a single lifetime, the events of our lives sometimes make portions seem wholly separate. That often leaves us feeling like the Doctor from Doctor Who. Where we would say something seemed like it happened a lifetime ago, that may be true for the Doctor. The Doctor’s longevity and ability to regenerate has given them the chance to live many lifetimes. Each time, they are a different person and live a different life than the one before, carrying with them all the memories and many of the attributes of their previous incarnations.

“But wait…” you must be thinking, “they? Isn’t the Doctor a ‘he?’”

On Sunday, July 16th, 2017, the BBC announced that the Doctor’s next regeneration will be female. Jodie Whittaker, best known for her role as Beth Latimer in Broadchurch, will take up the role and regenerate into the Doctor when Peter Capaldi departs the show in the upcoming Christmas special, Twice Upon a Time. This will be the first time in the show’s 54-year history that the Doctor will be a woman.

We’ve seen the Doctor speak as a woman in the past. In “New Earth,” the first episode of series two, the Lady Cassandra jumped into the Doctor’s body. However, that didn’t make her the Doctor. She was simply a woman trapped in a man’s body. So what does it mean now that the Doctor will be played by a woman? Does this change her?

In today’s society, we recognize that the labels that have been assigned to us are not always correct. Thankfully, increasing awareness of this has more and more people asking each other how to they prefer to be addressed and how they identify. Now as we move from a male to a female Doctor, we must consider the implications of what it means to be a Time Lord. Or a Time Lady. Is there a difference? Which is correct?

I was recently a guest on BBC’s Newshour, discussing the Doctor being played by a woman. At the end of the segment, I was asked if the Doctor, as played by Jodie Whittaker, will be a Time Lord or a Time Lady. I didn’t think twice—I said that Time Lord is a race, and thus she would still be a Time Lord.

Well, in reviewing references from both the Classic Who and New Who, the results are mixed. Time Lord and Time Lady have both been used to refer to women. Romana was called a Time Lady in “City of Death” from the 17th season of the classic series, and Missy specially requests to be referred to as a Time Lady in Dark Water in the 8th season of the new series. However, the Academy on Gallifrey is referred to as the Time Lord Academy in several instances, and Rassilon addresses the Senate (men and women) as “Time Lords of Gallifrey” in The Day of the Doctor in New Who. There does not appear to be a clear answer.

We’ve already run into a language issue. Is Time Lord a race? A species? A title in a caste system? In my incorrect estimation, I had previously considered being a Time Lord vs. being a Gallifreyan like whether you would call yourself a human or a Terran. Humans are a Terran humanoid species. However, not all Gallifreyans become Time Lords. Gallifreyans who become Time Lords are from ruling houses called The Chapters of Gallifrey. This sort of caste system determines who rules by bloodline, but being a Time Lord is more than who you’re related to.

Ten seems to reference this in “The Doctor’s Doctor” in series four. In this episode, the Doctor is cloned. The clone, Jenny, is a young woman, and Donna asks, “Does that mean she’s a … what do you call a female Time Lord?” Jenny asks what a Time Lord is and if she is one. The Doctor responds, “You’re an echo, that’s all. A Time Lord is so much more. A sum of knowledge, a code, shared history, shared suffering.” While the Doctor was likely speaking out over his hurt about the past, his point is made. There is a sum of knowledge gained through the Academy.

How important is the Academy? Children were taken from their families at the age of eight to look into the Untempered Schism of Time, according to the Doctor in “The Sound of Drums.” This did not always end well. Neither does it seem to be a strict necessity, as humans were admitted to the academy for some time. It is unclear if they would ever finish, though. According to the comics, individuals spent centuries at the Academy. Does this mean looking into the Untempered Schism makes this possible? Does it change your genes?

We know there is a genetic component. In Doctor Who Confidential, it’s stated that Jenny, who was cloned from the Doctor, is “another member of that race, or something closely akin to it.” We also look to River Song. In series six, River’s genetics is explained in “A Good Man Goes to War.” Being conceived in the time vortex gifted River with Time Lord DNA in addition to her human DNA. There are few that would not consider River a female Time Lord, given her ability to regenerate.

So as a species or a race, being a Time Lord is like being a Trill from Star Trek. The Trill are a joined species–a host and a symbiont. While Trill have the potential to join with a symbiont, not all do, and you must take part in extensive training. Much like the Trill and joining, it is only after going to the academy that one becomes a Time Lord. There are both genetic and learned components of each group.

Each Doctor is a new person, carrying on bits of their former selves much like the symbiont carrying the memories of the past to the new Trill they join with. We cannot simply say that the way they thought of and referred themselves previously is the same way they will in the future. Even in people, we understand that we grow and change. Our labels change.

Jodie Whittaker comes to the role of the Doctor at a disadvantage not applicable previously. She is fighting against the notion that the Doctor is necessarily a man. Even actors who previously played the Doctor have stated they are unsure of a woman playing the role. “If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for boys, who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for. So, I feel a bit sad about that, but I understand the argument that you need to open it up,” Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor, told The Guardian.

Not everyone agrees. Colin Baker, otherwise known as the sixth Doctor, stated on Twitter, “Change my dears and not a moment too soon–she IS the Doctor, whether you like it or not!” And as Merriam Webster so kindly reminded us, the word ‘doctor’ has no gender in English. There is nothing inherent in the character or even in the name the Doctor chose for themself. That’s a big part of where the Doctor differs from the Missy/the Master. Missy has been a female and a male. Missy changed her name and requested that she be referred to as a Time Lady.

Frankly, the phrase Time Lady makes my skin crawl. Perhaps it’s the association with Missy that does it, or maybe it’s the history Doctor Who has with female characters. It comes across being demeaning and diminutive, as if the Doctor will be subservient to men. The character should in no way be diminished or appear subservient because they will now be a woman.

I informally polled my friends through Facebook and Twitter; it seems I’m not alone in preferring Time Lord continue to be used (we ran about 80/20, Time Lord to Time Lady). While more gender-neutral options where suggested, including Time Being and Time Folk, most preferred to use Time Lord as a gender-neutral option. Some even argued that “lord” is a gender-neutral word. Rather than using the definition that a lord is “a man of rank or high position–a feudal tenant whose right or title comes directly from the king,” they argued that a lord is “one who has power and authority over others, and is a ruler by hereditary right or preeminence to whom service and obedience are due.”

There is a difference in usage in how we use lord and lady in regular conversation. While you think of a lord as someone powerful, a lady can merely be the polite way to refer to any woman. Lady can also bring up less savory feelings. It can be used to indicate a particular code of conduct—acting ladylike, which again brings up the idea of being subservient to men. It also brings up thoughts Jerry Lewis shouting, “Hey lady,” or any trilby-wearing bro calling you, “milady,” their voice dripping with condescension.

In the end, how we refer to the Doctor should be the Doctor’s choice. There is power in claiming an identity. There is power in her name. There is power in her history as a Time Lord. Let’s hope the writers recognize that and craft a scene where the Doctor is definitive in embracing her identity and remembering that she is who she has always been—a Time Lord.

(image: BBC)

Holly Christine is a geek girl with a sick love of Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, and all things sci-fi. She helps head up @NerdVice and @CirclePlus_ where you can listen to her on the podcast, “Late Night with Bisexuals.” Listen to her gush about her nerdy pursuits, adventure games, and everything cute on Twitter @gookygox.

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

This is the best idea in the history of time.

Over on Moviepilot, Tom Chapman makes a compelling case that the Russo brothers may add Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter to the ever-expanding Infinity War lineup. For those of you just joining us, Peggy was the badass, take-no-prisoners, feminist trailblazing WWII agent and one-time sweetheart of Steve Rogers’ Captain America who went on to co-found S.H.I.E.L.D. The elderly Peggy passed away in Captain America: Civil War, with a tearful Steve serving as pallbearer.

Shut up, I’m not still crying about it.


Chapman has several theories on how Peggy’s return could come about, grounded most convincingly in a moment from the Infinity Wars footage shown at Comic Con:

…an interesting detail from the leaked Infinity War footage could point to Peggy’s presence in the third #Avengers movie. The clip goes through the various Infinity Stones that Thanos has been collecting for his golden gauntlet, but it is the Time Stone segment that alludes to Peggy. As the voiceover proclaims, “Time can fix anything,” we then cut to the elderly Atwell lying on her deathbed in The Winter Soldier. It may just be some inconspicuous editing, or it could herald Carter’s return.

I still haven’t seen all of the SDCC footage (DAMN YOU MARVEL), but this seems like a pretty significant moment to include in a limited amount of time if it wasn’t meant to hint at Peggy playing a part in the Avengers‘ two-parter. Why would they?

Over at Uproxx, Donna Dickens has even more info:

During the montage, the voiceover says “Time can fix anything,” while the camera lingers on the Time Stone. The scene then cuts to Captain America taking to old Peggy on her deathbed before she morphs back into young Peggy Carter from the first Captain America movie. None of it is new footage, but the implications are pretty clear. Someone is going to phutz with time to bring Peggy Carter back. Or at least attempt to.


I freaking adore Atwell’s Peggy Carter and her vivacious presence is much missed in the MCU. The short-lived Agent Carter TV show was excellent and was never given enough space to grow or the promotion it deserved, but it cemented Peggy as a fan favorite and vastly expanded awareness of her character.

So it’s easy to believe that there may be a role for her in Infinity War, considering that Thanos’ gauntlet (with all six Infinity gems in place) gives him control over Time, Space, Mind, Soul, Reality, and Power. Even if a de-aged Peggy isn’t brought to the modern day, it’s a snap of the fingers for Thanos to make Steve—or anyone—think that he’s seeing and interacting with her.

Even just the Time Gem alone would provide endless opportunities for Peggy’s return. Per the Marvel wikia:

The time gem allows the user total control over the past, present and future. Its most basic ability grants its user visions of possible futures. It allows time travel, control over the age of beings and also be used as a weapon by trapping enemies or entire worlds in unending loops of time. At its peak, when used with the other gems, it allows its user to exist at all points in time simultaneously.

We last saw the Time Gem (held inside the Eye of Agamotto) in the possession of Dr. Stephen Strange. Who knows what events could unfurl that might necessitate Peggy’s appearance even prior to Thanos assembling the gauntlet? Not to mention, it seems as though the lines between life and death are going to be thin indeed in Infinity War, and that might mean any (or all) characters who have passed in the Marvel universe may be fair game for a resurrection or reappearance.

Of course, a truly tragic part of any Peggy come-back is that we’re likely going to witness Chris Evans’ last bow as Steve Rogers. He was already tortured with unattainable visions of Peggy in Age of Ultron, and we could see something similar play out here—Peggy-as-hurtful-hallucination. Or she could be brought into the present day somehow, only to be once again separated from Steve.

Or maybe they get to fly off into the sunset together and finally get that dance. Yeah, I’m really expecting Infinity War to end on a cheery happy note. I’m not going to be curled up in a fetal position in the theater at all!


In all seriousness, it would make a lot of sense for Atwell’s popular Peggy to join the modern-day MCU restored to youth. She’d fare better in the present without the pernicious ’40s-era sexism she faced on Agent Carter, and with Hydra running amock throughout S.H.I.E.L.D., who better than S.H.I.E.L.D.’s co-founder to help set things straight? My fingers are crossed.

There’s a potential complication in the form of Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter, who is Peggy’s niece and was last seen smooching Steve in Civil War. The Captain America movies have been trying to position Sharon as a potential love interest since Winter Soldier (in the comics, she and Steve are together), and it seems unfair—not to mention awkward—to abandon the Sharon-as-romantic-interest ploy in favor of Sharon’s aunt. (Leave Steve alone, he just really loves women called Agent Carter. And men named James Buchanan Barnes.)

So if Peggy really does make a return, it’s likely it will be in a transitory or temporary form, to hurt Steve—or help him. Of course, Peggy went on to have a long and eventful life and other relationships after Steve’s disappearance—but a Peggy brought from the past or as manifested in his mind would still have feelings for Steve. Maybe she’ll be there for him, at the end of everything.

While I know this would destroy my capacity to handle emotions, I am really hoping we’ll have Atwell and Peggy back. One of the best things about comic book movies is their ability to bend reality, and considering we’re getting two whole movies starring a supervillain whose entire deal is messing with reality, anything seems possible. I think Infinity War is going to be such a relentlessly trippy experience that it’s impossible to predict what direction it’s going to go, but please, dear Russo brothers, please let us cross paths with Peggy Carter once more.

(via Moviepilot, images: Marvel Studios)

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Modern 3D movies are pretty impressive, with the equipment moving beyond tinted lenses to technology that made it a more seamless experience—including completely glasses-free tech like Nintendo’s 3DS—but it’s still struggled to find a purpose in the movie industry beyond a neat gimmick. Now that the novelty has worn off, it seems like moviegoers are fine with plain old 3D, and IMAX is following suit.

Screenings of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, an epic war movie that you might expect to be able to find in 3D, were available in two formats (IMAX and 70mm), but IMAX wasn’t offering any in 3D. /Film reports that IMAX CEO Greg Foster said, “It’s worth noting Dunkirk was showing exclusively in 2-D, which consumers have shown a strong preference for… The demand for 2D films is starting to exceed 3D in North America.”

That lines up with changes outside just the theater industry, as TV manufacturers have noticed the same trend in consumer preference and adjusted things accordingly. Even in gaming, where the technology is arguably more functional in giving players a better sense of space, things are moving more away from 3D than towards it, outside of virtual reality.

Even the aforementioned 3DS eventually got a “2DS” version without the original’s touted 3D capabilities. Although that edition of Nintendo’s portable gaming hardware was originally intended to target children—for reasons including 3D not being good for their eyes—there’s now a “2DS XL” that mimics the 3D-ready hardware in all ways except for dropping the 3D gimmick in favor of a lower price. That price vs. benefit calculation is likely what’s driving the decisions of consumers, and in turn driving the movie and TV industries.

It was fun for a while to see 3D technology that didn’t distort colors with red and blue lenses, but now that everyone’s seen it—perhaps many times by now—and it hasn’t done much to improve actual viewing experiences, people are opting for the lower cost option. Virtual reality might be able to convince more people to part with some extra money, although it hasn’t really taken off yet the way 3D did after James Cameron’s Avatar made it a big feature.

Right now, it looks unlikely that people want their movies in anything more than 2 dimensions. Although it remains to be seen whether VR can create its own, unique form of entertainment rather than go the way 3D is going now and becoming another passing fad tacked onto something that doesn’t need it.

(via /Film, image: BBC)

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Posted by Charline Jao

While we don’t know for sure how Steve Trevor might possibly return to the DCEU, it’s exciting to hear that director Patty Jenkins and Chris Pine will work together on One Day She’ll Darken, a new six-episode limited drama for TNT. We won’t be seeing Wonder Woman 2 until December of 2019, but it sounds like the TNT series will be a riveting mystery closer to her previous film, Monster. Sign me up.

Here’s the synopsis:

“One Day She’ll Darken tells the story of Fauna Hodel, who was given away by her teenage birth mother to a black restroom attendant in a Nevada casino in 1949. As Fauna begins to investigate the secrets to her past, she follows a sinister trail that swirls ever closer to an infamous Hollywood gynecologist, Dr. George Hodel, a man involved in the darkest Hollywood debauchery and a suspect in the infamous “Black Dahlia” murder of Elizabeth Short in Los Angeles in 1947.

Pine will play Jay Singletary, a former Marine-turned-hack reporter/paparazzo. Jay was disgraced over his story about Hodel years ago, but now he sees a glimmer of redemption. This might be the opportunity Jay’s been hopelessly waiting for, but inside this riddle lies a moral quandary he never expected: a labyrinth into the evil in men’s hearts that will shake the unsteady Jay to his foundations.”

Her husband, Sam Sheridan writes the series, which was inspired by Hodel’s autobiography. I’m already getting Zodiac or Prisoners vibes from the synopsis and Pine’s reporter character, which will no doubt make for a great thriller.

Sarah Aubrey, EVP Original Programming for TNT calls the story a “mind-boggling true mystery” and says, “Patty Jenkins is a phenomenally talented director who has always delivered powerful characters, from the unforgettable true-life serial killer in Monster to the game-changing superhero warrior in Wonder Woman.

Are you looking forward to One Day She’ll Darken?

(via Deadline, image: Warner Bros)

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Posted by The Mary Sue Staff

Think you’ve got the next hit game in your head? Get it out of your head and onto a screen — this training will show you how. Get the 2017 Zero to Hero Game Developer Bundle for $49 at the Mary Sue Shop.

You’ll get lifetime access to 83 hours of training in everything you need to know to become a pro game developer. Learn Unity C and C#, master the ins and outs of game engine Unreal, and get hands-on practice with Wife 3 and iOS 10. You’ll build first-person shooters, create Minecraft-style 3D assets, create multiplayer games, understand game physics, create multiple levels, and more. Whether you want to make games as a side hustle or are ready for new, lucrative career, this training will help make it happen.

Get the 2017 Zero to Hero Game Developer Bundle for $49 at the Mary Sue Shop.

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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

Listen: I’m a terrible chickenshit.

I don’t particularly like being afraid of things, and I usually go out of my own damn way to avoid having to scroll past Netflix’s Horror offerings. Like, my overactive imagination just clings to that stuff like instantly.

So offered to you here without further comment are my various reactions while watching this new trailer for the remake of Stephen King’s It.

Why does nearly every scary movie take place in a small town? Like, do people not trust nature and that idyllic-ass setting right there? That’s gorgeous.

Yeah, I like Paper Girls, too.

Okay, kids cliff diving like they’re getting ready for their Cancun vacation? Sure, okay. They’re already braver than I am.

Is this It or Stand By Me? I can’t tell.

Sorry, but every time I see Finn Wolfhard, I’m just going to think I’m watching Stranger Things. Like, I know I’m not, but—wait what is up with everyone just looking so menacingly at kids, is that what happens in small towns?

Dude. Kid. I know you liked that boat, but it’s gone. Don’t … NO



hey wait why are the storm drains so hecking tall in this town





You know he’s dead.

See, it makes sense that this thing is set in the 80s because you just know kids of today would be like “fuck this, I’m out” but not before trying to capture Pennywise on Snapchat.

Note to self: pitch “How Millennials Are Ruining Horror Movies” later today.

“My grandfather thinks this town is cursed.” LISTEN TO YOUR ELDERS, KID

The sad thing is that run down OBVIOUSLY HAUNTED house would totally go for $3.4 million where I live. Like yeah, you’d have to deal with demons and occasional wall-bleeding, but central air and heat don’t come cheap, you know?

So wait, is Pennywise like some kind of immortal clown? Like, I don’t know, Keanu Reeves or something? Is that where they’re going with this?

I didn’t think it was possible for a trailer to instill a fear of red balloons into me, but here we hecking are, I guess.

Someone tracked mud all over the floor and the real horror here is that Rug Doctors are a total pain in the ass to use.

You know how trailers always go silent whenever something scary is about to happen? Yeah, no, forget it. I’m noping real hard right now. REAL HARD.



You know when you were a kid and you were afraid to go to the kitchen to get a drink of water in the middle of the night BECAUSE OF THIS EXACT SCENARIO? YEAH. THAT’S IT. RIGHT THERE.


I don’t know but that is a real fear I have now. I can’t walk past playgrounds anymore. It’s too much.

Wait, no, I take it back, the real horror are all those LEGO pieces on that hardwood floor now. You’re going to be running from that clown and guess what? You’re gonna step on a LEGO piece and it’s curtains. Curtains.




Oh, okay, the basement’s flooded, and my little brother who I thought was dead is just standing in the corner, let’s not tell anyone and let me go ahead and handle this myself.



That’s a pretty rad lineup of kids, though. They’ve got some Breakfast Club vibes coming all off of them everywhere. Like for real, Sophia Lillis is totally a dead ringer (haaaaa) for Molly Ringwald right here.





“Are you just going to pretend it isn’t happening like everyone else happening in this town?” No, I’m going to move the hell away and seriously what no stop.


If you’re wandering through a haunted hecking house, you do not (I repeat, do not) ever walk into the CHAPEL-LIKE room full of creepy clown dolls good lord I know you just saved your best pal from the Upside Down but man that does not make you invincibl—


I’m not going to sleep tonight. That’s for damn sure. I hope you’re happy.

It floats into theaters on September 8th.

(via io9)

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Posted by Vivian Kane

J.K. Rowling, like the rest of us, has no patience for the hateful Trump-supporting right-wing bigots trolling Twitter, spewing hate through misinformation and empty bumper-sticker platitudes. Like, for instance, the insufferable Tomi Lahren, who once described her specialty on Fox News as “melting snowflakes.”

Lahren took to Twitter yesterday to support Trump’s tweets banning transgender individuals from serving in the military. In between some total bullshit about how hormone treatments have any correlation at all to “veterans dying on VA waiting lists” and that “Political correctness=intellectual dishonesty,” she also went with that old standby line about Obama’s legacy involving “putting men in women’s restrooms.”

If you’ve spent any time at all scrolling through pro-Trump Twitter (please don’t do that to yourselves!), you’ve seen it. “JFK wanted to put a man on the moon, Obama wanted to put men in women’s bathrooms.” “Trump wants to defeat ISIS, Obama wants to blah blah blah.” It’s ridiculous, it doesn’t make any sense, and JK Rowling is here to let you know it you look like a fool.

Yes, thank you Tomi Lahren for regurgitating a meme, despite its total lack of basis in anything resembling reality. What a hero you are.

While we’re looking at Rowling’s Twitter timeline, let’s not ignore that she also pointed out what is clearly Trump’s Patronus.

While most of Rowling’s fans are fully into her takedowns of the orange amphibian, there are apparently some who want her to leave us to wallow privately. Yeah, that’s not how this works though.

J.K. Rowling is a true Twitter inspiration and we are lucky to have her.

(image: Shutterstock)

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Posted by Charline Jao

“I think it’s given me a lot of perspective in life.”

“It took everything from me.”

“It made me understand that I’m ok with being opinionated.”

These are a few of the responses from the jurors who told their stories on The Jury Speaks, an Oxygen special that aired last weekend about the juries behind famous trials. With a wide array of criminal cases and jurors from different walks of life, the impact of these high-profile cases was different for each person, yet they all fit together to form a more complete image of our justice system. Last week, I had the opportunity to talk to producer Nancy Glass about why this perspective is valuable. Talking to the jurors, they expressed similar sentiments about the double-edged sword that is the media and what they hope people will take away from their stories.

Robbie Nelson, who stands by her decision on The People vs. Robert Durst, says she trusted Oxygen because “all the other news outlets that had ever asked us to do interviews we’ve always had to be on the defensive, we’re always having to defend what we said. So when they came in and said, ‘We really want to tell the jury’s side of everything’ I think that’s really what changed it. I was really hesitant at first to do it—but then I decided, no it’s time. Let’s get our side out.”

Pauline Coccoz of The People vs. Michael Jackson, who is a mother of three children echoes this, opening up about the paranoia she and the other jurors felt after deliberations. “Throughout the years I’ve turned down a lot of interviews because intuition has become a great thing for me. There’s certain times, certain people say certain questions and instantly you’re defense mechanism goes up…you choose your words very very carefully and when it came to Glass Entertainment I point blank asked them, ‘Are you wanting to hear what I have to say or is this your story?’ It was clearly said to me that they wanted to hear what I had to say. So I took a chance, I went with my gut instinct. I felt that they really wanted to hear what I have to say.”

Maddy Rivera, of The People vs. George Zimmerman, had perhaps the most reason to be cautious. After the case, Rivera lost her job, home family, and friends. When people found out where she lived, she was threatened and feared for herself and her children who were 8, 13, 16, and 17 at the time. Rivera’s case feels like the most raw, an open wound that became symbolic of a greater problem within the United States. She felt safe telling her story to Oxygen because she had seen how detailed their other shows were, explaining:

“I grew a bond with the production and the person that spoke to me. As long as I’ve been here, they haven’t twisted my words. That’s my fear, I’ll say something and they’ll switch it up and it’ll say something else. But I trust them a lot and with this opportunity allowing me to be me, not having to lie and say, ‘this is what really happened, this is not what happened’ and they gave me the platform for it. How would I not trust a person who’s actually trying to listen to me, not what everybody else is saying?”

The caution of choosing words carefully is evident during our conversations. Rivera is quick to correct herself at a few points, and it echoes the producer’s statement that this perspective is one that’s often filtered, judged, or completely absent.

As I wrote about in my interview with Glass, the power of The Jury Speaks is that it moves away from individualistic blame and instead focuses on the format of the justice system as a whole. Nelson says she hopes people understand “there’s a tiny line that you’re given. Instructions on what you’re supposed to judge them on and how you’re supposed to judge them and you have to look at that because you want to stay within the law.” She elaborates, “If some of that law wasn’t there then there’s a lot of things that would change on all kinds of verdicts, not just ours.” These high profile cases might be milestones, catalysts for movements, and gripping, but they also gesture to the countless cases that may have just as much crime with none of the media attention or retrospective scrutiny. Not everyone get a highly acclaimed documentary series like The Jinx to deliver accountability.

“I really think it is the justice system because finding someone guilty or innocent really doesn’t mean that they aren’t guilty or that they were innocent. It’s based on the facts of what the prosecution tells you and what the defense presents. So, you have to still hear both sides of that story and like everyone says, there’s always three sides of every story.

Soon as we got done with the trial, friend and family were like, ‘How did you not convict him? He was guilty! He dismembered the body, how are you not finding him guilty?’ And then I had to tell them, we were specifically told that we can not use that part of the case. ‘But why?’ I don’t know why! That’s what we were given. I think every trial, there’s so much information given that then there’s only a little part of it that you actually have to listen to. So that’s the hard part.” Nelson was told that the dismemberment would be taken care of at a different point, though it never went to trial.

Coccoz speaks most positively about her case. As an analytical person who prides herself on being able to look at both sides and identify facts, she says, “I kind of felt that maybe this was my mission in life, was to be there and to hear all the facts and make an educated decision. And somebody’s life was in my hands….I do feel that it changed my life because it made me understand that I’m ok with being opinionated as a woman. As we get older it seems we become more and more opinionated but it’s ok, because we are confident and it makes us feel like our voice matters.”

She found herself “deeply saddened” by Jackson’s death. Coccoz adds, “I hope to never have to be in that jury position again, but I guess maybe that was something I had to go through.

Rivera calls her case “delicate,” and says she wasn’t expecting the case to have the impact it did.” After that situation, it brought Black Lives Matters and as African-Americans they felt like no one was listening to them and people were just able to shoot anybody and just do what they wanted to do,” she says. Rivera wasn’t permitted to look at the 911 call or when Zimmerman followed Martin. She laments about the prosecution, “Trayvon Martin never had a chance.”

“We didn’t make the decision, the decision was made so you follow what the law says and I did my job. And no one knew that after I did my job that it was going to come out to be more of an impact, more hurt…It was 5, 6 women and we followed what the law said. The law stated we couldn’t look at certain parts, there was a lot of evidence put to the side so we had to follow that.”

She confesses, “a lot of times I felt like I was manipulated because I didn’t know the law. I hate to say it didn’t happen—it might have happened, but because I am here now, I’m trying to make a difference.”

“The system fails in communication. They’ll tell you what a manslaughter is, they’ll tell you what murder is, but a person like myself who doesn’t read the law books and don’t know anything about that, it’s hard for you to have to make that choice.” On what she hopes people take away from her story, she says, “I would want someone else, whoever else is involved in jury duty, to speak up when they want to say something. I didn’t speak up. I was one of those that really let everyone else speak for me.” The mother of eight is currently preparing to become and teacher and working on outreach programs for youths.

You can watch episodes of They Jury Speaks on Oxygen here.

(image: Heidi Gutman/Oxygen Media)

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Yes, we’ve all noticed—and rolled our eyes at—people online warning us about what Trump and co. are “distracting” us with while they try to accomplish whatever the messenger believes is more important. Even Stephen Colbert said as much about Trump’s statements on transgender troops in the military yesterday, but that ignores something very critical: It’s all important.

Does Trump try to manipulate the media, and the public, by creating a smokescreen? Absolutely, but just because he sees issues that affect people’s lives as no more than political ammo doesn’t mean the rest of us should sink to that understanding. No matter how he intends them, his words and actions have real consequences for real people, and it’s often the most vulnerable among us who he tries to use for his political gain, or who he’s actively trying to hurt—or both, depending on the situation. He sees them as a distraction because he doesn’t care who he hurts, and that’s not something the rest of us should be trying to emulate. If we stop holding him accountable, things will only get worse, not better.

Donald Trump won the election in 2016. Even while he was a candidate, everything he did had real-world consequences as he emboldened the worst among us, and he’s only grown more dangerous now that he has actual power in our government. Ignoring him is not an option. The Pentagon spent several minutes yesterday worrying that he was about to start a nuclear war on Twitter. As easy as it is to scoff at that, it’s still a very real possibility that we have to deal with, whether we like it or not, and it drives home the fact that we can’t just write off what Trump says.

He won the election as much on “identity politics” as anything else, no matter how much his supporters claim to hate that. (They only hate it when it’s someone else’s identity.) These things that we’re so often told are “distractions”—usually marginalized people’s rights—are also rallying cries for the worst of his supporters and are much too easily ignored by those who are ambivalent towards him or politics in general. If anything, the way we ended up with Trump was that too many people either didn’t care or were actively enthusiastic about the harm he would do to groups less privileged than themselves.

It’s no surprise that general economic policy and healthcare are treated as the “real issues,” while the rights of marginalized people are “distractions.” That’s the very perception that we need to fix, and it was illustrated again yesterday, as Trump tweeted about banning transgender people from the military while the Senate debated over health care. Whether or not Trump’s cynical intent was to use trans issues to distract from health care—or to play on voters’ bigotry to gain support, as a quid pro quo for other bigots to get his ridiculous wall built, or just because he’s a bigot himself—we can’t ignore either of them. Honestly, believing otherwise reveals more about the person pushing that view than it does about what Trump is up to.

I have no doubt his intent, or at least a fringe benefit, was to create too many fires to put out, as usual—the joint chiefs have said that they’re making no modifications to policy based on Trump’s words, and I hope it stays that way—but the solution isn’t to let his hateful words go unchallenged. If Trump’s opponents won’t stand up to his attacks, those attacks will succeed whether he’s really invested in them or not. We can’t let him burn down the kitchen while we put out the garage. We need to have what it takes to save both, or we won’t wind up with anything left worth saving at the end, because he’s not going to stop.

(image: Hayk_Shalunts / Shutterstock.com)

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

 “Soon I will bench press a tank”

Whatever you might be working on, we’ve discovered the finest possible motivation out there.

When I saw this comic on Tumblr my first reaction was “awww!” and my second was “YES” and my third was “wow, also, same.” I found Wonder Woman to be hugely inspirational—and not simply in that it made me want to get stronger and be able to leap vast distances. Whenever there’s something that seems hard to accomplish now or a particular injustice to address, I like to think: “What Would Wonder Woman Do?” (WWWWD)

I also love that this comic subverts the usual societal expectations that anyone—especially women—would be working hard in order to impress  “a certain someone,” rather than for themselves. That we get to see the motivating factor here and it’s Diana Prince makes this all the more glorious. Diana Prince has a long history of subverting societal expectations where women are concerned.

Credit belongs to Tumblr user artandmartini, a 20-year-old artist who graciously gave me permission to post her work. You can find her on Tumblr, Twitter, and commission her to draw something for you. This comic definitely struck a chord across Tumblr—it has 88,000+ likes and reblogs and shows no sign of slowing down. As for me, I’m considering printing it out and taping it to the wall near my desk.

No matter what you’re working on, consider doing it for Diana. It’s wonderfully effective.

(via Tumblr, image: artandmartini, DC Comics)


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