Chapter 64: Page 24

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

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?

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

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)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

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)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by The Mary Sue Staff

When software has over five million users and gets praise like “possibly the most beautiful and effective video software we have seen in a long time“ (CNET), you know they’re doing something right. Case in point: Filmora, the video editing software trusted by pros. Save 50% on a lifetime license for Mac or Windows—it’s going for just $49 at the Mary Sue Shop.

Discover your inner cinematographer—Filmora lets you transform your videos with filters and graphic overlaps, add royalty-free music from, layer multiple videos, combine videos and images, change your background, and fine-tune by removing background noise, flipping clips backwards, accelerating clips, and more. You can even import photos and video clips straight from social media sites.

Save 50% on a Filmora lifetime license for Mac or Windows at the Mary Sue Shop.

[syndicated profile] feministing_feed

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.

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

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)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

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.

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

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)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

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)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

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.

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

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)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

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)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] phd_comics_feed
Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Your Social Parabola" - originally published 9/20/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

[syndicated profile] 538_feed

Posted by Anna Maria Barry-Jester

Senate Republicans championing a final effort to pass a bill to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act are selling it as a way to offer more flexibility to states. But while it would provide new possibilities for states that have largely rejected the ACA, the states that have embraced the law would be stuck designing a new health system with far less money.

The law would upend the way the federal government currently helps pay for health insurance — covering some of the cost of commercial insurance for some groups and funding Medicaid for others — and give states more open-ended dollars. To get the funds, governors would be forced to take on the political third rail of drafting, passing and enacting health insurance legislation that would change coverage for millions of people. And they would have just two years to do it.

The latest GOP legislation, known as Graham-Cassidy for Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, is expected to be brought up for a vote in the Senate next week. It includes several provisions found in previous bills that failed to make it through the Senate this year: It would end many of the rules and regulations of the Affordable Care Act that are very unpopular, including the mandate that most individuals have insurance or pay a fine, as well as the requirement that most businesses offer insurance to their employees. It would also allow states to waive the rules requiring insurers to sell comprehensive coverage and requiring them to provide the same coverage to people with pre-existing conditions as people with fewer health problems. This gives states that have been unhappy with the Affordable Care Act’s regulations more leeway in structuring health insurance coverage.

But the Graham-Cassidy bill would also end the expansion of Medicaid, the health insurance program for people with low incomes, essentially reverting eligibility limits back to what they were before the ACA. The bill would also cap federal spending on those parts of the program that existed before the Affordable Care Act. It would additionally get rid of the subsidies that help low-income people who don’t get insurance from an employer buy coverage and prevent federal money from going to Planned Parenthood for a year. States that want to keep helping the people these programs cover would have to come up with new ways to do so.

That’s largely because the bill departs from previous Republican legislation on the ACA by providing a new block grant, or lump sum, of federal money to states with far fewer strings attached. Governors wouldn’t have to use it to help cover the same people, but they’d have to create new programs if they wanted to spend it.

In essence, the Graham-Cassidy bill would work like this:

The Affordable Care Act made three main pots of money available to states.1 One expanded Medicaid,2 opening up federal dollars for states to cover more people (everyone earning below 138 percent of the federal poverty line, about $16,600 in 2017). Another pot brings down the cost of insurance premiums for people earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line who don’t get insurance from their employer. The third brings down the cost of things like copays and deductibles for a subset of those people.3

All of those funds target low-income people, who have historically been much less likely to have health insurance coverage.

Graham-Cassidy would take those pots of money, pool them together and then redistribute some reduced amount of the total to states as a lump sum. The formula for how much money states would get is complicated, but by 2026, it would largely be based on what share of the lowest-income people in the country live in a given state, with some additional adjustments. But unlike with the ACA, the money wouldn’t have to go to those with the lowest incomes.

In many cases, states that did not expand Medicaid would end up with more money than they currently get, and states that did expand the program would get less. Since states’ decisions to expand Medicaid largely fell along party lines, that means more money for many Republican-leaning states and less money for many Democrat-leaning states.

But in some cases, it also means less money for some of the states with the most successful Obamacare marketplaces, where many people who don’t get insurance from an employer can buy subsidized health insurance, regardless of whether they expanded Medicaid. Florida is perhaps the most extreme example — although state politicians chose not to expand Medicaid and the governor has been vehemently opposed to the law since it passed, the state’s insurance marketplaces have thrived. Florida has had among the highest rates of enrollment among eligible individuals of any state and experienced smaller rate increases than many other states. Yet the state would likely lose federal funding under Graham-Cassidy, according to an analysis from the left-leaning think tank the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (others, including conservative-leaning health policy consultant Robert Laszewski, have said they believe these are good ballpark figures).

And it’s impossible to say how states would use the funding they do get. The law has few requirements on how the funds would be spent at the same time that it effectively ends Medicaid expansion and the insurance marketplaces, which require the subsidies and regulations to run as designed. The Congressional Budget Office, which provides analyses of bills for Congress, has said that it will provide some preliminary estimates of the bill’s overall costs next week but that the analysis it normally does on how many people will have insurance coverage and how much that coverage will cost won’t be available “for at least several weeks.”

What might those state-run systems look like? At least one Republican has suggested that the bill could lead to some states employing a single-payer system, under which the state would essentially be in charge of paying for all health care (though not delivering it). But that’s unlikely. The ACA already allows states to establish single-payer systems, but none has applied to do so. Part of the reason is cost; they’re expensive to run, as Vermont found out when it attempted to enact one. The states that have floated single-payer bills in the past, such as Hawaii, New York and California, would be among those most likely to see cuts in their federal funding under the Graham-Cassidy bill. (Sen. John Kennedy of Lousiana has also reportedly proposed an amendment to the bill to forbid using the money for a single-payer system.)

Similarly, with fewer funds, states would be hard-pressed to continue with the structure created by the Affordable Care Act — particularly the ones that might be the most inclined to do so.

Take California, for example. The state has touted its success under the ACA, noting that just 3.6 percent of the population is currently uninsured (if undocumented immigrants, who don’t qualify for most of the provisions of the ACA, are excluded). But in 2026, the state would receive $27.8 billion less than it would under current law, according to the CBPP analysis. California would have to not only make up for that funding shortfall but also design and set up a new program to cover those who currently qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, under the expansion. And California, which is one of 12 states that runs its own health insurance marketplace and therefore already has its own infrastructure in place, has a leg up on many other states that would have to build out that platform in order to keep it going.

Additionally, Congress would have to renew the funding in Graham-Cassidy for it to continue past 2026. The possibility that money for new programs could disappear so quickly could makes states wary of creating them.

But to get the funding, states would have to come up with some sort of system to distribute it by the time the block grants go into effect in 2020. That puts legislators in all 50 states debating the contours of a state insurance program in the run-up to the next presidential election, likely making it an even more difficult task. The Graham-Cassidy bill might free some states and people of unpopular Obamacare regulations, but it would also saddle them with the complicated task of dealing with health insurance legislation for years to come.

[syndicated profile] 538_feed

Posted by Neil Paine

The 2017 American League playoff field may be the most hellacious in history. It will include the already historic Cleveland Indians, who were incapable of losing a single game for nearly a month; the Houston Astros, whose high-powered offense ranks among the greatest ever; and both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, those eternally big-spending AL East rivals.

Oh, and there will also be a fifth playoff team, one that will presumably serve as cannon fodder.

But although it won’t be a surprise if that second wild-card team is in over its head come October, it is surprising who that team will most likely be: the Minnesota Twins. According to FiveThirtyEight’s playoff odds, Minnesota, with its 78-73 record, is a pretty solid favorite to land that final spot. The Twins’ 1.5-game cushion over the Los Angeles Angels in the wild-card race gives them a 66 percent chance of earning the franchise its first playoff appearance since 2010.

Most teams would be frustrated if their first playoff bid in seven years put them on the most difficult path ever. But then again, the Twins weren’t even supposed to be here. In spring training, the consensus was that a successful Minnesota season would see the club make some incremental improvements based off of its young talent base. Our preseason projections called for the Twins to win about 74 games — which is not many, but it would have been a big upgrade over 2016, when the team had just 59 wins.

The Twins’ best returning veterans were a 29-year-old second baseman coming off an out-of-nowhere 42-home-run season (Brian Dozier), a 34-year-old starter on his fourth team in six years (Ervin Santana) and a 33-year-old catcher-turned-first-baseman struggling to maintain some semblance of his early-career form (Joe Mauer). So it was pretty clear that Minnesota’s kids would need to make some strides simply to offset regression by their elders, much less sustain a real playoff bid. And those young players had a lot of work left to do: Of Minnesota’s 10 regulars aged 25 or under in 2016,4 none cracked 2.0 wins above replacement,5 which is the general benchmark for an acceptable major-league starter. Six of the 10 had a measly 0.6 WAR or fewer, and three were below the replacement level outright.

But more than simply assisting the vets in keeping the team afloat, Minnesota’s young core has come into its own in 2017. Of those 10 young regulars from a year ago, all but one (Danny Santana, who was traded to Atlanta in May) have been mainstays for this year’s squad, and seven of the nine have improved their WAR — in some cases, dramatically so.

The Twins’ young core blew up in 2017

Wins above replacement for players age 25 or younger and had either 200 plate appearances or 50 innings pitched for the 2016 Minnesota Twins

Jose Berrios P 23 -1.0 2.3 +3.3
Byron Buxton CF 23 1.8 4.6 +2.8
Miguel Sano 3B 24 1.1 2.7 +1.6
Jorge Polanco SS 23 0.2 1.6 +1.3
Eddie Rosario LF 25 1.0 2.1 +1.1
Tyler Duffey P 26 -0.2 0.3 +0.6
Taylor Rogers P 26 0.6 0.8 +0.2
Kennys Vargas 1B 26 0.6 0.6 -0.0
Max Kepler RF 24 1.7 1.6 -0.1

WAR for 2017 is pro-rated to 162 team games. LF Danny Santana isn’t included because he is no longer with the club.

Sources:, FanGraphs

Twenty-three-year-old righty Jose Berrios, who was the eighth-worst pitcher in baseball last season by WAR, has made incredible strides this year. He has sliced his rate of home runs allowed per nine innings nearly in half, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is more than double what it was a season ago. Few starters in the game have a better fastball-curve combo than Berrios, whose nasty breaking pitches have helped him become the eighth-most improved pitcher in baseball this season according to WAR.

He’s not the Twins’ only big breakout of the year. Outfielder Eddie Rosario’s on-base plus slugging is up 129 points this season thanks to improved plate discipline and a steeper power stroke. Third baseman Miguel Sano — who, sadly, appears to be out of commission for the playoffs because of a leg injury suffered in August — has been a fixture atop the exit-velocity leaderboards, the result of mammoth moon shots like this one from July. Shortstop Jorge Polanco has been steady, improving Minnesota’s production at the position from among the worst in baseball to roughly average.

And last but not least, there’s 23-year-old center fielder Byron Buxton, who has officially made The Leap to stardom this season. Buxton, who was the No. 1 prospect in baseball a few years ago, was always ridiculously fast and a slick fielder, but this season, he has taken his outfield exploits to new heights.

According to an average of Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating,6 Buxton has been baseball’s best outfielder this year (edging out Boston’s Mookie Betts and Toronto’s Kevin Pillar) and its second-best fielder, period, behind Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons. He also leads MLB in a fancy new Statcast metric called Outs Above Average, which is derived by comparing an outfielder’s actual plays made to the number we’d expect an average fielder to make using the catch probability of every ball hit in his direction. Buxton, for instance, has gotten the out 133 times in 135 chances (99 percent) on balls where the average fielder had at least a 26 percent of recording an out. (He has also snagged 2 outs in 31 chances where the odds of a catch were 25 percent or less.) For Buxton, all but the most improbable of catches are basically a sure thing.

And Buxton’s hitting, a dreadful weakness in his first two MLB seasons, has improved to nearly reach the league-average mark. Buxton still strikes out too much. But his approach at the plate is getting more refined, and he’s a big threat on the basepaths. If he keeps progressing as a hitter, Buxton’s career path might be less Corey Patterson — another fast, “toolsy” prospect who never quite put it all together — and more Andre Dawson (or at least, say, Reggie Smith or Tommie Agee).

All of these long-awaited developments have helped put Minnesota on a path back to the postseason. Of course, it also helped that the Twins were never as bad in 2016 as their 59-win record suggested. Statistically, they looked more like a 71-win team that suffered some of the worst luck in baseball. (That luck has repaid itself a bit this season, with Minnesota currently running three games better than the record we’d expect from its underlying stats.) The Twins have also been fortunate that the AL’s pecking order by talent drops off significantly after the league’s fourth-best team — that fifth playoff spot has to be filled by somebody, and Minnesota has played the best out of a group of probably equivalent teams that also includes the Angels, Rangers, Mariners and Rays.

Making the playoffs by default, then facing possibly the toughest bracket ever, doesn’t exactly sound like an enviable accomplishment. But given where the Twins were a season ago — and where they appear to be headed — this season has been nothing less than a rousing success in Minnesota. And despite the daunting path, the bookmakers are giving the Twins a 33-to-1 shot at winning the World Series. As always in a sport like baseball, stranger things have happened.

Check out our latest MLB predictions.

[syndicated profile] 538_feed

Posted by Harry Enten

Polarization on illegal immigration is a two-way street. The GOP gets most of the attention, and indeed a hardline immigration stance has become a defining issue for Republicans. But Democratic voters have become far more liberal on a slew of measurements regarding illegal immigration over the past decade.

It was only 11 years ago that a majority of Senate Democrats voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which called for 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. It was just 10 years ago that Sen. Bernie Sanders voted against comprehensive immigration reform.

It’s hard to imagine either of those things happening now. And that polarization could come into play if the White House and congressional Democrats reach a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Long before Trump made building a wall along the southern border one of his main campaign issues, some Democrats were open to the idea of fencing along the border. In a May 2006 Gallup survey, before Congress voted on the Secure Fence Act, nearly 40 percent of Democratic voters were in favor in favor of “building a wall along the border with Mexico.” And support for a wall generally held through the first part of this decade.

In the lead-up to the 2010 midterms, when John McCain aired an ad in which he said “complete the dang fence,” 46 percent of Democrats were for “building a wall or security fence along the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration,” according to a Fox News poll.

More recently, however, Democratic support for a border wall has plummeted. Support dropped to just 29 percent for “building a wall along the entire border with Mexico” in a Pew Research Center survey in September 2015. And by February of this year, just 8 percent of Democrats were for it in Pew’s polling, while 89 percent were opposed.

Of course, some of the growing Democratic opposition can be chalked up to Trump’s embrace of the issue. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of polling about a wall after 2011 but before Trump declared for the presidency in June 2015, so we don’t know how much of this trend is merely Democrats reacting negatively to anything Trump supports. (We do know that Democrats were growing more liberal on immigration pre-Trump, however. More on this in a moment.)

Democratic voters have also become far more in favor of granting citizenship to immigrants in the country illegally. To be clear, Democrats have always been in favor of a path to citizenship. In a January 2006 Time/SRBI poll, 72 percent of Democrats favored “allowing illegal immigrants now in this country to earn U.S. citizenship if they learn to speak English, have a job and pay taxes.” But that still left a sizable minority of Democrats, 24 percent, opposed to such a proposal. In fact, Republicans were actually slightly more likely than Democrats to say they were in favor, at 77 percent.

But today there is no room for dissension within the Democratic Party. It’s difficult to compare pathway to citizenship questions over time because pollsters haven’t kept question wording consistent, but in March 2017, Marist asked a similar question to the one above and found that 90 percent of Democrats were in favor. Only 8 percent were opposed. And 86 percent of Democrats in an August Quinnipiac University poll said that “illegal immigrants who are currently living in the United States” should be “allowed to stay in the United States and to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.”

Democrats may have become less stringent on illegal immigration because they don’t view immigration as an economic threat as much as they used to.

The idea that illegal immigration could hurt employment and lower wages was a big reason Sanders came out against a bill for comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. The American National Election Studies don’t ask about illegal immigration specifically, but since 2004 they have asked voters, “How likely is it that recent immigration levels will take jobs away from people already here?” In that year, nearly half (48 percent) of Democrats said it was extremely or very likely that immigration levels would take jobs away from people already in the country.

In 2016, only about a quarter (26 percent) of Democrats said it was extremely or very likely. The trend downward was occurring even before Trump decided to run for president, suggesting polarization on immigration isn’t solely because of Trump.

Similarly, the Pew Research Center has found that Democrats were becoming much bigger believers in the idea that immigrants strengthen the country rather than being a burden on it long before Trump came on the scene.

Whatever the cause of the Democrats’ move to the left on illegal immigration, it’s clearly happening. And as the congressional debate unfolds over DACA, this polarization could play a key role in whether Democrats and Republicans can reach a deal. If a straight up-or-down vote occurs in Congress (not a guarantee), DACA will probably need only a few Republican votes to pass because Democrats are in near unison in how they now view immigration, and illegal immigration in particular. But Republicans and the Trump administration can likely ask only so much in exchange for codifying DACA — Democrats are far less willing to compromise on immigration than they used to be.

[syndicated profile] 538_feed

Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. The New York Giants’ season is off to a disappointing 0-2 start, and quarterback Eli Manning is getting much of the blame. On this week’s episode (Sept. 19, 2017), we take a deeper look at Manning’s stats, discuss whether he’s a Hall of Famer and ponder where the Giants go from here. Next, after a second week of blowouts in the NFL, some are complaining that the quality of play has decreased significantly. We discuss a piece by our ESPN colleague Bill Barnwell that pushes back against that idea. Plus, a significant digit on baseball.

If you have suggestions for what we should call our new NBA podcast, please drop us a note at!

Here are links to what we discussed this week:


bythecalmsea: Jelly (Default)

July 2015

1213 1415161718

Most Popular Tags

Page Summary

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated 22 Sep 2017 07:50 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios