Category Archives: tv

A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix Review

On September 30th 1999 the first book in a tragic tale concerning the three Baudelaire orphans was published, five years later on a cool November morning a bored teenager unsure of what to read while waiting for the sixth Harry Potter book discovered them. In these books was a dark story filled with shout outs, a phrase which means to pay tribute to or to give reference to another piece of work, and dark, dark humor which although entertaining through the first reading of these books would lead to utter depression rereading said books knowing that yes, things got worse and worse. Oh and various descriptions of food and possibly some morals based from the Jewish faith and tradition.

The series that I speak of is A Series of Unfortunate Events by a man named Lemony Snicket and not at all associated with an individual named Daniel Handler. It is mere coincidence that along with my discovery of the series in the year 2004 there was a movie from the company known as Nickelodeon based on these books with what looked like a promising film series to rival the likes of J.K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and Harry Potter. There are various words that can be used to describe this film and somewhere on the internet there is a forum where a young fifteen year old fan used a variety of words and vulgarity, a word which here means inappropriate and unpleasant, to describe his distaste and lack of satisfaction with the film to put it lightly.

The boy in this blog post enjoyed the books released since the fateful day he discovered A Series of Unfortunate Events, reading through each book within a day learning many things from these books despite the target audience being significantly for absolutely no one ever. And during a year when this boy felt sad, reading the last book gave him hope. Since that day there had been silence from Lemony Snicket until 2012 where a prequel series known as All the Wrong Questions was announced and as of 2015 has concluded.

In the fall of 2015 though it was announced A Series of Unfortunate Events would be adapted to a television show on the internet streaming service known as Netflix. Fans were overjoyed that a more faithful, a word which here means sticks closer to the source material in terms of what happens in the books and the tone of said books as well. A former but successful child star known as Neil Patrick Harris would be replacing a washed up comedian, but talented painter as the villainous Count Olaf. And finally as of last January, Friday the thirteenth this series premiered on Netflix. This is the review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the tv show.

Spoilers, a term which here means a highly detailed synopsis of what takes place during the story, will be present after this bold text. As homage to Mr.Snicket I would rather you slam your computer shut, place your phone in airplane mode, and toss your tablet outside of a moving vehicle hoping it doesn’t kill a pelican, and find something better to do like donate money to MyASPCA, Puppies Behind Bars, The Trevor Project, or read a book by Cody Wagner, or read a book review by a very nice woman with three cute puppies. 

I must admit watching the televised adaption of the beloved books of my youth was very enjoyable. One of the benefits of adapting books to television is the opportunity to have the book accurately transformed into a form of viewing for the audience. However, like most things in life even when a book is adapted to television isn’t always enjoyable. With the participation of Daniel Handler (whom I’m not too sure why he is so heavily associated with Lemony Snicket), events and plots that were not present or known to the reader of the first four books in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

As mentioned in the above text, Neil Patrick Harris would be portraying the villainous Count Olaf, and was dark, fearsome, and even at times, funny. The cast of the series was diverse, a word which means to have different people represented, averting having a prominently Caucasian cast of actors in a television show thus giving a wider world view to the poor children brave enough to watch each tragic episode and telling producers and talent agents that you can hire any race or ethnicity to play a role.

The expansion of each book per episode was enjoyable, it gave the opportunity to explore the depths of side characters in each story beyond their original intended purpose and foreshadowing future travesties that would affect the Baudelaire orphans. Characters like Justice Strauss, Dr.Montgomery Montgomery, Josephine Anwhistle (who is not played by her dame Meryl Streep in this adaption) are now more fleshed out beyond a neighbor, a herpetologist, and a scary cat.

The tone of the television show followed the books closer than any film adaption ever could. However at times I couldn’t help but be reminded of a television show created by Bryan Fuller that premiered in the fall of 2007 and because of a writer’s strike was cancelled by the ABC network. The artistic direction of each set was wonderful and interesting to look at for both fans of the book series, fans of art, and people who need the internet and social media to dictate to them what to watch on Netflix rather than deciding for themselves what they should and shouldn’t watch. I’d rather they watch something with strong female characters overcoming challenges presented to them in their life, but then again this show also has that.

There are a few shocking twists and turns in the television adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events, even for those who have read A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Beautrice Letters, and All the Wrong Questions complete with a Red Herring, a phrase which here means something that appears to be of importance, but is a distraction from the main story, within this adaption.

I will give the Netflix Adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events one mansion on fire out of five, because I can’t fathom why people would want multiple mansions on fire.

The Green Aesop

In celebration of my degree in Environmental Science I figured I’d dedicate a whole blog post to The Green Aesop. The Green Aesop is a trope that has to do with the environment. Said tvshow, movie, book, or any form of entertainment will have a message concerning the environment and how it must be protected. Most of the time it doesn’t quite work out so well; while it is easy to point fingers and say “hey this is bad for our earth, let’s create a story with a lesson,” it’s hard to make it entertaining, likable, and not frak up the message (let alone be accurate in staying true to your message).

It would be too easy and too lengthy to say “these movies/books/tv shows that try to preach about being environmentally friendly suck and are awful for this reason,” so I’m going to list a few forms of media that do a decent job of keeping the environmentally friendly message. Here is a list of shitty movies/tv episodes/seasons that are just awful. Ferngully 1 and 2 (the later does educate children a little more about how circuses mistreat animals though), The Lorax (2012 film), The Day After Tomorrow, season five of The Winx Club, and Power Rangers Wild Force (kudos for being balsy enough to kill off a kid on screen though). I’d include Epic on this list, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t exactly pass judgment on it properly.

Captain Planet

Let’s get the biggest green cartoon out of the way; Captain Planet was created by Ted Turner from Turner broadcasting and featured five teenagers with the powers of Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Heart. These powers were given to them by Gaia the spirit of earth, and they were all different nationalities (with one of them from the Soviet Union of all places). I will admit it’s kind of hard to not want to mock the show for taking it’s save the earth message and shoving it down your throat, even as an adult.

The series was smarter and more thoughtful than viewers gave it credit for covering topics that had to do with the extinction of an entire species in a bad future, basic human rights and needs, nukes, and just about any environment message you can think of. They even have an episode concerning over population advising all the kids watching to limit themselves to having two children.

There were a few good episodes though; the extinct species as mentioned above had to deal with a future where all gorillas just died. I caught it by chance as a kid and it was fairly meaningful to me then and still is. The possibility of existing in a future where my child asks me “what happened to all the ____” is a pretty depressing thought. There’s also an episode where the subject of technology is addressed; Dr.Blight, one of the major villains, switches bodies with the physical god Gaia because she’s a mad scientist and why not. While Dr.Blight is causing all kinds of chaos through the form of natural disasters, Gaia spends the episode trying to figure out a way to convince the planateers that her body has been stolen. It is through this experience that Gaia learns that technology can be used to help reduce and clean up pollution.

In terms of characters, three fifth’s of the planateers are pretty dull and only seem to have personalities once in a blue moon. Wheeler (who the hell names their kid Wheeler?) and Mati have the most personality with the former being a total douchebag who needs to learn a lesson most of the time and the latter being the heart of the group and the key power to forming Captain Planet. Captain Planet himself is a half naked blue man with a green mullet who makes puns while doing the dirty work for the planateers when things get a little too tough for them to handle. Gaia is their mentor and is kind of dull. All their villains are kind of weird, but they seem to fall under “let’s pollute this shit for the evuls!” and “let’s save millions by polluting in this area!” and crazy ass Dr.Blight.

The show was pretty well animated though, action packed enough to keep kids fairly entertained. The story itself can range between too cheesy, too preachy, and actually entertaining.

Humans are Not so Bad

In alot of these shows there is some emphasis from the side of the animals/nature that humans are to blame for any environmental issue and don’t care to fix the problem. In the 1939 animated feature Peace on Earth, all humans are dead and cute woodland creatures have rebuilt society on their graves. The short functions more as a warning about what war can do to our species and how we can easily be the cause of our own demise with war obviously being the main source of pollution with just a sprinkle of propaganda for Christianity. This short was created between World War I and II and could be relevant today, but someone would be offended about that little sprinkle of Christianity in there (nothing against any other religion or atheism, but seriously this modern day society would literally cry over spilled milk, being offended by that statement is proof that I am correct).

However, there are some films that show humans not being such bad people. Once Upon a Forest is one of these movies that shows that although humans are responsible for a gas leak in a forest killing some of the population, including the parents from one of the protagonists (and they stay dead too), humans did put the effort into cleaning up the mess caused by the gas leak.

The Simpsons Movie (and probably some of the 600+ episodes), does feature the citizens of Springfield put an effort to clean up their pollution thanks to one of Lisa’s more successful warnings. Some episodes do involve animal rights and it’s a fifty/fifty chance at the outcome to what happens.

As mentioned above with Captain Planet the planateers do have their elemental powers, but rather than use violence to solve anything (the most violent they got was maybe melting a door down), they provided solutions to problems presented to them. It was their job to solve the actual problem rather than kick the ass of the villain of that particular week.

Corporations (Wall-E vs The Lorax)

It’s funny how two films on complete opposite sides of good and awful sort of have the same message. Before I go on, the book of The Lorax and the first cartoon are actually really good. The 2012 film should have everyone involved with writing banished from civilization.

What Wall-E and The Lorax have in common is that all the problems are caused by big business with Wall-E literally causing the end of the world and The Lorax just having a ecosystem just totally destroyed.

I think what makes Wall-E the better film is that the primary story is a love story between two robots. True there are heavy references to the Bible (Eva is the name of Eve in some countries and one of the few named humans is Mary). The fact Earth got messed up is background noise and when the humans return to earth, rather than regret coming back to the planet, they fix things up using science and technology (and are even successful at it too.)

The problem with the Lorax film is that it doesn’t give a flying fuck about the original message. If you want a more detailed reasoning for this belief, please click the link above to a woman who reviewed and compared the book and film of The Lorax, I swear it’s just coincidental that we share many of the same views on the topic of the film. Just to list a few issues, many of the important scenes of the book are glossed over during the How Bad can I Be musical number, the film cares more on developing the character of the Onceler, the film is constantly saying “big business bad!” and we’re supposed to believe it, Zac Efron having a crush on Taylor Swift, and the fact someone thought it was a good idea to turn forest creatures into clones of the god damned minions!

The book version of The Lorax is of course darker with the Onceler giving a warning to an unnamed boy about how he destroyed the land by not listening to The Lorax. When the topic of business is brought up, the Onceler does defend himself (admitting in a ‘I don’t care’ way) he tells the Lorax that if he were to close up shop, he’d have to lay off countless workers. The book also does not have a happy ending with Dr.Seuss choosing to end the book open ended.

We Dun Fraked Up

Similar to Peace on Earth there are some sources of media where things are too messed up to recover from, a bad example being The Day After Tomorrow insisting that all of this crazy weather will pop up out of nowhere (mass extinction and an ice age don’t work like that). A good example of this would be the series finale to the Jim Henson sitcom Dinosaurs.

What starts off as accidentally destroying a habitat for native bugs for semi big business, the lead character Earl accidentally causes the end of the world with nukes, volcanoes. It’s the darkest episode of the series where the last few moments feature the Dinosaur family slowly being trapped in their home by a combination of ash and snow with Baby asking what’s going to happen to everyone. Earl say’s he doesn’t know, but is hopeful they will survive this predicament. Sadly it is heavily hinted that things will not get better and that the family, friends, and many others will perish during the events of mass extinction.

Earth Maiden Arjuna and X/1999

This thirteen episode anime Earth Maiden Arjuna is sort of like Captain Planet meets Sailor Moon, minus the fun parts of Sailor Moon, and going to dark places Captain Planet was not willing to go. After dying a teenage girl named Juna is offered the chance to return to life after being given a future of current and future travesties to befall the earth. Juna becomes a magical guardian of Earth. Topics of climate change and humanity is brought up, and in the trailer for this anime it’s even mentioned that humans are just temporary parts of life on earth and will one day die with the earth living on without humanity.

X/1999 is the total opposite of Captain Planet with Earth being a living entity and having the Dragons of Earth act to destroy humanity for the sake of Earth living on because humans have caused so much pollution and waste. To counter this, the Dragons of Heaven counter attack the Dragons of Earth and argue that humanity can change it’s ways and that it is possible for earth and humanity to co-exist and recover. Instead of concentrating on “hey let’s recycle these coke bottles because it allows us to reuse them in a new way” X/1999 focuses more on the humanity part of the subject with the members of the dragons of heaven being from various faith backgrounds and life backgrounds giving reasons on why human life is worth saving to the dragons of earth.

Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli is an animation company out of Japan that makes amazing movies, sometimes with an environmental message subtle (like pulling a bike out of a polluted river in Spirited Away) to being the main theme of the story (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke). The studio may be successful in these endeavors because both the message and the story are taken into consideration and are properly prioritized without one overtaking the other.

Instead of repeating the same story over and over, different approaches are made to each story. Nausicaa has more to do with survival in a world where a toxic jungle is slowly spreading over the land and giant bugs run around. The movie is based off a manga and covers the first two volumes with interesting views. Princess Mononoke has more to do with the expansion industrialization causing the destruction of nature and finding a balance between humanity and nature.

Honorable Mentions

Before I finish this up, I’d like to have some honorable mentions on tv episodes and books that did a decent job with an environmental message; the Futurama movie Into the Wild Green Yonder, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe from Doctor Who, Extras by Scott Westerfeld, Zanzibar from Rocko’s Modern Life, and episode 23 of Animaniacs.

How do you write a good Green Aesop

I don’t know; it’s a topic where one has to intake many sides to a conflict humanity faces to fully understand, and then actually make it entertaining. I can say that keeping things fairly real and honest is a good approach. Sure songs about wanting a tree to live, cute critters running around, and using magic for the sake of sparing the feelings of a child sounds like a good idea, but it’s not a good thing to say. It is the responsibility of humanity to monitor the current situation we are in, educate ourselves on what other people on this planet are facing, find out WHY big business is considered a villain in all of this and how to reduce the waste we produce, how to to re-use as much as we can, and how to recycle things we don’t use. (oh gosh I have no idea if my professors would frown upon this or love it.)

My Problem With “Coming Out” Stories

I’ve said many times that I am not fond of coming out stories. They aren’t bad stories, and when I was younger I read a few of them and enjoyed them. I understand why lgbt youth would like these stories because it gives them something to relate to. Having a secret that must be kept out of fear of alienation from loved ones and peers is a big deal and can end with family and loved ones accepting you as you are, learning to love your difference, or downright throwing you out of the house.

Good Golly, This Shit Again?

It makes sense to me that whenever the main protagonist in mainstream media is gay that this is the primary conflict of the story since it allows readers/watchers who aren’t part of the lgbt community to get an idea of what it is like to be in the shoes of someone who isn’t straight.

However this brings the problem that I have mentioned and danced around in many blog posts/essays. It becomes a gimmick; while lgbt fiction and culture can still have a coming out part of a story, it wouldn’t take up the whole story or series. It would be one portion the protagonists life, then the protagonist will move on and do other things. In mainstream media outside of the lgbt category this is not the case.

An example I will use is the movie Gay Best Friend; I watched it on Netflix, thought it was hilarious, and I was pleased that the movie went deeper than what I expected out of a teen comedy. There was still the main conflict of coming out of the closet and how that action had waves of chain reactions because the main protagonist was accidentally and unwillingly outed as gay. Although the main protagonist does claim get over the fact his peers know he is gay, it is the primary source of conflict between him and those responsible for his outing towards the end of the second act and even after is only fully resolved at the end of the film.

The Proper Way to Handle a Coming out Story (your mileage may vary)

I feel this type of story works out better on tv rather than movies or books; my two main examples will be the shows Ugly Betty and Glee. On Ugly Betty there were quite a few lgbt characters on the show; Marc St.James, Justin Suarez, Alexis Mead (behold a trans character no one made a big deal about in the year 2006!), and a few more. At the time of it’s premier only Marc and his love interests could officially be slated as gay since it was still a taboo for someone as young as Justin’s character to be officially stated as gay so the topic of his sexuality was danced around, but never confirmed until season 4. My guess is since Justin was in highschool things became more fair game for the character.

At first Justin states he isn’t gay with Marc (he’s kind of his mentor and a close friend despite being much older than Justin) understanding Justin’s situation and being patient with Justin as he talked about his feelings towards both genders and his friendships with characters that are barely ever mentioned. When it was announced Ugly Betty was cancelled it was pretty obvious the writers decided to stop giving shits about people in the audience getting offended and had Justin make out with a boy. Bonus points for everyone in Justin’s family knowing the whole time and very excitedly willingly to throw him a coming out party (even Marc is happy to see the Suarez family is so loving of Justin and proud of him despite being pissed off with them more or less wanting Justin to confirm his sexuality).

With Glee, we had Kurt, goodness he is gayer than Christmas. He was sarcastic, wore clothes that ranged from cool to ‘wha’ regularly and had an easier time “coming out” on television thanks to Ugly Betty. While Glee did premier during the last season of Ugly Betty, the later show did lay some groundwork that would make things Glee did easier to do on tv (do you REALLY think Glee would/could have had Kurt and Blaine’s intense makeout session had Justin and Austin not had theirs one year before?)

I admit there were times I found Kurt very annoying primarily because at the start of the show he was more or less the gay stereotype that viewers are supposed to see and say “oh, they’re gay! I didn’t have to think about it.” His coming out to his dad in the first season was very touching though. With Kurt’s dad behaving very loving unconditionally towards his son from that point onward to the end of the series even sticking up for Kurt when Kurt was doing something inappropriate (not cool pushing yourself on Finn when he has politely stated he is not gay and not interested countless times, thank goodness that gets addressed too.)

Like in Gay Best Friend there are waves of side affects that result in Kurt coming out of the closet that lead to bullying, harassment, and other characters growing and developing complete with Kurt more or less ditching the gay stereotype he started out as by the end of the series.

There’s also the character Santana’s own coming out story that started out as a throwaway gag of her having sex with her best friend. Not much detail is given concerning how her parents react outside of “yeah, they’re cool with it,” but she was outed by accident and things more or less go ok for her outside of her grandmother having very strict religious beliefs that “girls belong with boys, not other girls”.

I’d like to make special mention to the ABC Family show Greek; I didn’t see much of it (I just didn’t care to watch it) but there was a gay character with no gay traits who did have a very well handled coming out arc and developed past coming out from that point on. Feel free to correct me on this internet.

Other Media

My reasoning for saying television is the best way to have a coming out story is because it allows the character to stay in main focus and have the coming out arc then move past said arc and grow as a character without said conflict being the whole purpose of the character.

While this is possible in books, I have read few mainstream books where the main protagonist is gay, comes out, and does something other than come out as gay. Movies are even harder because more than likely you only have ninety to a hundred and twenty minutes of story to go through and having the protagonist “come out” can take up more time than expected with the possibility that said action can become the main conflict of a movie.

I’ve reviewed the books The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren and Will Grayson Will Grayson and I was very happy with how it was handled. In Will Grayson Will Grayson ‘coming out’ as an arc is treated like taking off a bandaid, quick. It allowed Will to move beyond that conflict and for other conflicts to be explored concerning love and relationships in terms of romance, friendship, and agape.

As I said in my review of The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren after the main character is outed as gay and goes to sanctuary prep and neat shenanigans happen from that point on. Although I dreaded the coming out portion it was there as the main plot point to set the story in motion and yes echos are felt from the protagonist coming out as gay.

 

If You’re so Knowledgeable then Why Don’t YOU do a Coming Out Story?

I have said previously that the book I am working on right now will not have a coming out plot. In the process of writing this blog post I have realized that really is an asshole thing of me to say I won’t do a coming out story. No I won’t add a coming out part to the story I am working on, but that doesn’t mean I will never do a coming out story.

Maybe later on I will find a way for myself to write a story where coming out is just one event in a protagonist’s tale and move on past it with the character able to grow beyond that event.

Once again please look up and purchase The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, it is a great story, I have met the author and have had fun facebook conversations with him.

Fandoms, do we Know What we Want? What we Really, Really Want?

Before the iPhone the internet was a simpler time; we had MySpace teaching us html code, no one posted intense political rants every four years, you could upload, stream, and watch anime on YouTube without having to go through the trouble of torrenting new episodes, we all used AIM instead of skype, there sadly were the origins of cyber bullying, and yes there were also complete a**holes who spoiled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to fans who didn’t realize what they were getting themselves into.

We didn’t have tumblr to show us the fanart and crafts we didn’t know that we wanted to see, we didn’t have facebook to search for our favorite books, movies, and tv shows and follow them in a convenient way, and we definitely still had to buy dvds since Netflix wasn’t what it was today. Cosplay was harder to do, and I could continue to go on and on how in nearly ten years being in a fandom has changed significantly.

We Need Things That Make Sense

Today I’m going to talk about questioning what we want from what we are a fan of. My reasoning for this is the recent rumor of there being a possibility of a Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go being made based on the success of the later and fans losing their minds over it saying “yaaas, I need dis nao!” And although it does sound nice, the truth is no, we don’t really need it.

I agree maybe there does need to be a Harry Potter app for Pottermore since the website has been re-hauled completely making it hard to find specific information than in the previous version. But we don’t need a Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go works for the Pokemon franchise because the whole point of the video games, anime, and manga is to travel around catching, training, and battling with your pocket monsters while fighting whatever evil organization is trying to take over the world with little to no adult supervision, however please make sure your child has adult supervision if they are playing Pokemon Go and always play with w friend to avoid stranger danger. Harry Potter on the other hand is different from Pokemon with deeper themes concerning love, life and death, racism, and much more. It took Pokemon up to the sixth game to come up with a meaningful plot.

While it is possible to create a tie in with the spin off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them consisting of the magical creatures of the Harry Potter universe, it would probably be sloppy at best in comparison to the time dedicated and spent to developing Pokemon Go.

The same applies to cross overs of series; a good example was a proposed episode of Doctor Who where JK Rowling’s Harry Potter universe would have crossed over into the Doctor’s world and dark wizards would be running around. At the time David Tennant demanded the idea be shot down to Russel T. Davis because “it would be jumping the shark for both franchises,” I’m not saying crossovers are bad and can’t happen, but they need to be done very carefully.

Also please stop saying either Danielle Radcliffe or Rupert Grint should be the next Doctor with Emma Watson as the companion just because “it’s them” they need to be able to add more to their resume first to become the next Doctor (however I wouldn’t mind Emma Watson or Tom Felton as the Doctor one day ).

What Happens if we get What we Want?

Sometimes what we want is given to us; case in point, the Star Wars series. After Revenge of the Sith it looked like the Star Wars franchise was going to be dead with fans buying as much merchandise as possible to see how much it would be worth in the future. Big fans of the franchise had novels of the expanded universe to enjoy, some of them going beyond the events of Return of the Jedi.

Then fans were given, The Clone Wars tv series with a movie to kick it off. Fans hated it (initionally), I think it’s because the art style was a little weird and the fact many fans did not want a fourteen year old girl to be the padawan to Anakin Skywalker. Little did we know we’d all come to like her. Then came the purchasing of Star Wars by Disney with the promise of new movies and destroying the library of the old expanded universe. Fans who followed the expanded universe were rightfully pissed that their established universe was labeled as an alternate universe and all ongoing stories were cancelled as a result. Some enjoyed the recent Force Awakens movie, some didn’t. My point is that sometimes if we’re given what we want we probably won’t like it like we thought we would.

Same goes for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, some fans loved it, some fans despise its existence and condemn JK Rowling even though she just provided an outline. I intentionally feared what would become of the franchise with the announcement of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film trilogy since, let’s be honest with ourselves, it was turned into a spin off for the sake of continuing the franchise in the eyes of Warner Brothers. Seeing the work and effort JK Rowling has placed into setting up the world of FBaWtFT after stating she needed a ten year vacation from Harry Potter I’m confident to say this won’t (entirely) be a soulless attempt to continue to cash in on the franchise.

Also sometimes getting what we want is a good thing; let’s look at how Netflix and Hulu have saved some of our favorite tv shows like Longmire and The Mindy Project from being cancelled for good. Fans rejoiced and are happy at these turn of events. Now if only we knew how not to binge watch a whole season and realize we have nothing to watch for a whole year. Still waiting on the return of Firefly though…

How do we Know Anything Anymore?

I can’t tell anyone how to be a good fan, or what they want in a fandom, but I’ve been around long enough to know what’s a good idea or bad idea. It’s fine to cosplay, buy merchandise, write your self insert fanfiction, and create fanart. It’s fine to love everything that comes out of a franchise, and it’s fine to enjoy something and still critique what you love. “To be a fan is to have hope.”

 

I am not Obligated to like Game of Thrones (and neither are you)

In the summer of 2012 after a break up with my boyfriend and still remaining friends with him he gave me copies of books from the series A Song of Ice and Fire since his best friend liked them and wanted Game of Thrones to be a wonderful surprise to me. He also wanted to talk about something else besides Doctor Who and Big Brother.

So I read the first ten percent of the book and watched the first episode of Game of Thrones and I gave him my honest thought on the franchise. I was bored out of my mind. He was a little heart broken because he really hoped I would like it and out of guilt I continued to read the series.

I read up to the end of A Storm of Swords and stopped reading the series because a close friend of mine had passed away from lupus and I couldn’t bear to continue reading about so much violence and bloodshed at the time.

Spoilers concerning A Song of Ice and Fire and the first season of Game of Thrones from this point on. Sort of. Oh and lots of bitching.

I get why people like Game of Thrones because it’s HBO, surely they are the perfection of creating awesome television shows (and porn). Granted I am kind of biased against HBO since I’m not one for raunchy tv. But I do have to admit I liked that they were fairly accurate to the first book and because it airs on a cable network they can get away with more.

I tried to like the series, I really did. I even made an awesome friend because she was reading A Clash of Kings and I literally had no friends in that class during that semester. I DO NOT HATE THE SERIES, but if I had the option of choosing between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter, I’d go for Harry Potter.

I’d say my complaints from the subject is from friends of mine and the internet. The internet isn’t so bad since I follow my own advice that I give people when they don’t like something. If you don’t like or care for it, then leave it alone. However, it’s not the easiest thing to do with people and friends.

As mentioned above I actually met an awesome friend of mine through the series and we have fun exchanging and suggesting fandoms with each other. Our friendship started because of A Song of Ice and Fire and became solidified because of Doctor Who and mutual hatred of an English professor at our school. But I also have normal friends who have frequently suggested the series over, and over, and over again because, “you like Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and Kill Bill. You will love this!”And I will admit that since most of these friends don’t read books (those poor unfortunate souls…) I had fun teasing them with the knowledge of who will live and who will die and how long they had to wait for Joffrey to die (the joke was on all of us when book three was split into two seasons).

I won’t bash on the series and say it’s a steaming pile of crap, or as my mother would say “it’s just legal porn,” because it’s not a steaming pile of crap. It’s not the most amazing thing I’ve ever read or seen, but it’s not a steaming pile of crap (George RR Martin sure can write some kinky shit though).

One day I will finish the books (unless George RR Martin croaks), mainly because the plot of Lady Stone Heart interests me significantly. I probably won’t finish the tv show for one reason alone. They diverted from the books; yeah I’m an elitist book nazi who believes if a book is being adapted to a movie or tv show it should be done to every exact detail. I can understand the diversion from movies since you have three hours at best to cram a whole story in, but it’s a fucking tv show, you have plenty of time to get things into exact detail! There was the issue of running out of stuff from the source material at the end of season five, but that wouldn’t have happened if they had stuck closer tot he source material.

I could go on about the flaws I see in the show, but then that’s just bashing the show (which I technically already did), and I don’t want to be that person on the internet who bashes stuff he just doesn’t like. If you like Game of Thrones, that’s fine, If you haven’t read the books that’s not fine, you need to read them, don’t talk to me until you’ve read them.

Thoughts on Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Finale

Spoilers for the season 2 finale of Star Wars Rebels Starting right from the begging! 

The season two finale to Star Wars Rebels ended in stark contrast to the season one finale; this is not shocking since prior to the events of A New Hope the rebel alliance had been struggling so happy endings in this series wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be expected even if it is owned and produced by Disney. Don’t believe me? Go watch season one of Star Wars Rebels and tell me this is sunshine and rainbows after Rise of the Old Masters.

Things are different in this season two finale, unlike season one where the Ghost crew successfully rescued their leader Kanen from the empire and Ahsoka Tano is revealed to be alive and a head figure to fully unite the rebel cells into a Rebel alliance. Let’s stop and think about the word united and how important it is to the Star Wars world and Rebels.

Here are shots from the two season finales; in season one we have the Ghost crew smiling happily after the events of the season. In season two they are separate and recovering from the aftershocks of the events on Malachor. Here’s the biggest deal from the season finale that many people are overlooking. Ezra’s lightsaber has been destroyed by Vader.

Some people are thinking ‘big deal it looked like an ugly, clunky staple gun anyways,’ and yes it is a big deal in the show than more people realize. First the kyber crystal in that lightsaber was shown to Ezra by the Force on a Jedi temple on Lothal and let’s be honest with ourselves kyber crystals are hard to find in this universe at this time. Second Ezra’s lightsaber is more significant beyond Jedi weapon or toy for kids and fans to buy. Ezra’s lightsaber was made from something each of his friends gave him; from his mentor Kanen, the woman who opened his eyes to the good that the rebels do Hera, the Lesat who taught him the value of life Zeb, the pretty badass girl he had a crush on Sabine, and the selfish droid who gave up power cells for that lightsaber Chopper.

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It makes this final shot of Ezra holding a Sith holocron even more saddening. Ezra is alone separated from those important to him. Even more saddening is that Ezra activates this holocron showing that he is tapping deeper into the dark side of the force.

We will have to wait and see what will happen to the rebels after these events and how the Rebel Alliance will continue without the guidance of Ahsoka Tano and what will become of Ezra and Kanen to see if they will survive the series (if Disney is ok with them being killed off or worse.)

Let’s Talk About Ahsoka Tano

Let’s try something a little different, I’m going to talk about an animated character I’ve recently found to be pretty interesting, and yes it’s because an important matter that needed to be addressed concerning her existence will finally be addressed; I’m talking about the fate of Ahsoka Tano.

Spoilers from this point on concerning Star Wars Clone wars and Star Wars Rebels. 

Before I continue I will say I’m sorry to Star Wars fans, I’m going based off the new canon, yes I know you all still aren’t happy about your entire expanded universe being set on fire, I understand it’s not easy to overcome. Please don’t get pissy on this blog, there are other parts of the internet for you to express your anger and grief over with other fans with the same feelings.

When the world was first introduced to Ahsoka Tano, she didn’t have too many fans, it’s not hard to see why. She was introduced in a Star Wars movie that probably should have been a tv special than theatrical release and she was obviously the mandatory kid character for the kids watching The Clone Wars to relate to. Oh and she was Anakin Skywalker’s padawan.

When I first saw Ahsoka my thoughts were ‘when this series ends…it’s not going to be pleasant for her.’ There were many possibilities to her fate; she was killed offscreen during the events of Revenge of the Sith, or she died at some point late in the clone wars helping in the fall of Anakin Skywalker to the darkside.

By season five we were all pleasantly surprised by the character, yes she was the typical token kid and had typical token kid episodes, but she got better as the series went on. She did missions on her own, held her own in a fight, was reckless and sensable as a jedi and saved the day her fair share of times.

Then came the season five finale; Ahsoka was framed by her friend Barriss Offee for a terrorist attack and was being held on trial. It was then that Ahsoka truly grew up, through this trial she discovered she had more in common with the bounty hunter Asajj Ventress than she believed and through Bariss’ betrayal and confession questioned the jedi order and through many realizations left the order.

For three years no news came from the character, until March 2nd 2015 where Ahsoka’s importance to the Star Wars universe was revealed. Up until four years before the events of A New Hope the rebels had been functioning through multiple cells with only one member of each rebel cell being given need to know information so that incase one member of the crew was caught, no rebel secrets would be lost.

Until the Ghost crew performed a rescue mission for one of it’s members. It was then the mysterious Fulcrum made a decision to change rebel cell protocal and unite all the cells as a full rebellion and the identity of Fulcrim was revealed to be Ahsoka Tano. That’s right, the kid created to appeal to younger characters became the woman who had united the rebels against the Empire.

Throughout season 2 of Rebels Ahsoka has been keeping an eye on bigger events trying to piece things together and find the fate of Anakin. Things have been hard on her and many fans are convinced she will be killed in her fight against Darth Vader at the end of the season. Some new revelations have been presented though; what if Ahsoka hadn’t left the jedi order? Could she have reasoned with Anakin and the Jedi masters to not punish Anakin for his secret life with Padme? Could she have kept Anakin on the light side and prevented the horrors that would have happened at Revenge of the Sith?

It’s all so interesting to see how someone so minor became so important. I’m convinced she will not live past the events of Rebels season 2, but we’ll wait and see.

Thoughts on Fresh Off the Boat: Year of the Rat

I’m doing things a little different today, today I’m reviewing one single episode of a tv show, and a tv show I really like known as Fresh Off the Boat.

First happy Chinese New Year, yes I realize the irony of a Mexican saying that, but my sisterinlaw is Chinese and I’ve learned some things about the culture and enjoy the food she sends, so this is for you Diana.

It is Chinese New Year and the Huangs are getting ready to take off to DC to celebrate Chinese New Year with their family and everyone is excited including Grandma Huang, but due to a scheduling error by Luis the Huangs can’t make it over.

The family is a little put off for various reasons, but try to keep their chins up and make each other happy despite this set back. However after a bad experience with a local Asian group the family goes into a deep bout of depression.

This episode took a very different turn from the usual antics the family gets into and we see the Huang family authentically beaten down for the first time in the series and this time it’s not played for laughs. For the first time since moving to Florida they truly feel isolated, there are a few laughs in the episode but it takes a back seat to see how the family handles this predicament.

However there was a light at the end of the tunnel, the friends that the Huangs made in Florida since moving there put effort into a makeshift Chinese New Year celebration for them (even the women from the neighborhood Jessica hated on the first episode but are best friends with her youngest son). Some actually researched the traditions and dancing styles of the celebration. Keep in mind that this is 1996, ten years before YouTube would become a household name and the internet was still slow and your best bet to get accurate research would be from a library and the books they have to offer and vhs tapes of said dance routines and music if one is lucky.

There is also some educational facts about Chinese New Year that would normally be shoved into a PBS children’s show.

I’ll give the episode five out of five red envelopes.

Thoughts on Star Wars The Force Awakens

Last night I had the privilege of going to the midnight showing of Star Wars The Force Awakens. I’ll be honest and say that when it was announced there would be new movies for Star Wars the thoughts that came to my mind were ‘okay’, ‘there are going to be a lot of happy fans, there are going to be a lot of pissed off fans’ (like seriously they can’t be happy the Chewbacca is alive again?).

I generally ignored most of the hype for the new film intentionally because I had outgrown Star Wars a long time ago when my taste in story telling started to become more sophisticated and basic battles between good and evil just didn’t cut it anymore. I didn’t care for The Clone Wars cartoon show and the expanded universe had become too large for me (and my wallet) to handle.

A year ago though I met my friend Karla and she and her husband are huge fans. I was pleased to discover her son shared my name, and the bond started from there that slowly got me back into the Star Wars franchise.It wasn’t easy getting back into it because I still saw flaws in some of the story telling and as I’ve said before Doctor Who is my primary fandom. As the trailers for The Force Awakens continued to be released I saw something that I had wanted to see for a long time from Star Wars, but never got.

A female protagonist. In the original trilogy we had Leia as the token girl and one of the three main heroes who was revealed to be a force sensitive and nothing more came from it outside of the expanded universe. For the prequel trilogy we had Padme, a badass politician with no force powers. We were eventually given Ahsoka Tano who although is cool is also still primarily an expanded universe character that fans of the movies would have nearly no idea existed.

Spoilers from this point forward, if you do not wish to be spoiled please do not read past this. I’m sorry, I know the internet promised not to give any spoilers concerning Star Wars The Force Awakens, I am actually not posting any huge spoilers, but this particular topic of feminism and Star Wars requires one spoiler. PLEASE DO NOT KILL ME!

A few months ago I finally saw the trailer and saw the character Rey, it looked like she was the new token girl with the main focus being on the character Finn who went from being a Storm Trooper to badass jedi hero and Poe a cool ace pilot.

As trailers continued though more focus was pushed on Rey, and a theory started bubbling in my head; ‘what if Finn isn’t the new Luke, but rather it’s Rey?’ As more trailers and materials were released I was becoming more and more convinced that Star Wars would make the official leap from ‘only boys can save the day and girls help out’ to ‘anyone can save the day.’

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, what you are thinking is indeed true. Rey is our true protagonist, don’t get me wrong Finn, Poe, BB8, and our original trilogy heroes are still important, but our new primary hero is a heroin.

She was compassionate, she had hurt in her life, she longed for more. She knows her technology (she LIVES in the wreckage of a spaceship!) And she is far more important than what anyone is lead to believe.

To further cement the shift of a primarily boy cast we have Leia going from a princess to a general, we also have Maz Kanata who is ‘the Yoda’ of this new trilogy. She’s a good one hundred years older than Yoda, has no force powers, but more than enough wisdom to piece together what is happening with the galaxy.

The movie wasn’t an overly blatant “woo feminism!” experience that I’m making it out to be, but everything was subtle where a normal person wouldn’t even notice it since most people don’t know about the the bechdel test (which the movie does pass).

There is a focus on families, forgiveness, and living beyond what you were led to be. I give Star Wars the Force Awakens ten out of ten lightsabers.

#GleeGoodbye

Last night we said goodbye to the television show Glee, after six seasons, countless (okay it’s probably countable, I just don’t feel like looking it up) solos and covers the little awkward tv show about show choir has come to an end. It has been six years of sloppy character development, one season of mocking PSAs and the rest of the series being a giant PSA for everything from bullying and LGBT rights to suicide prevention and stopping discrimination against special needs.

No this blog is not solely about the finale, or the singing, or what happens to the characters. It’s about the show as a whole. It started out quirky which attracted most of it’s audience, alienated it’s audience with season two, and got weird with season three and four.

I watched the first three seasons before deciding ‘there’s better ways to spend my Tuesday nights’ and moving onto NCIS and Arrow as my entertainment. I started the series the summer after it’s first season with a ‘i honestly don’t care’ attitude and continued watching with that same attitude. Then season two came, it started off with the feeling that ‘yeah we’re big shots and we can’t be cancelled by FOX for atleast another two seasons’ but then I saw Grilled Cheesus (which is still my favorite episode) where the topic of religion and atheism was tackled in a shockingly mature way. Kurt the atheist was going through a hard time and didn’t approve of his friends who all happened to be believe in God. Kurt doesn’t convert to Christianity/worshiping the God of Abraham, but thanks his friends for giving him the support needed during his time of crisis and apologizes for the way he treated his friends. Kurt’s friends in return apologize for trying to force him to convert to a belief system and judging him for being an atheist.

The rest of season two can be summed up as “the Rachel show,” with everything focusing on Rachel and Kurt getting a love interest and Santana and Britney’s throw away gag about having sex with each other becoming a full blown relationship. And alot of Tina and Mercedes getting the short end of the stick of anything concerning plot.

Concerning the topics that the series tackled, I really don’t know if it did or did not do anything for the LGBT community. The show premiered when gay rights had become something already in the media, it’s first season took place during the end of the show Ugly Betty that had a gay kiss shared between two teenage boys under eighteen that I feel helped the world get ready for everything that would happen between Kurt and Blain. But did it really do anything for the LGBT community? I don’t know, one character from season six (Spencer) comments that gays became the norm because of Modern Family, not so much the actions of the Glee club. If it did get the world to be accepting of gays then great! If not, then I’m sure it helped someone out there concerning LGBT rights.

Did the show really need to tackle a topic like bullying the way it did in season two? At the time I would have said no since all the glee kids were picked on at some point during season one and treated as a form of comedy. Now being older, maybe those plots concerning bullying were necessary. It is a running theme in the series through all of the seasons, I think the more important thing to care about is how the characters dealt with.

At first the main conflict of bullying (Kurt being an openly gay student) had no choice but to flee his school in fear of his life and wanting safety for his friends. When he returns to McKinnly highschool he chooses to face his bullies, after discovering one of them is in love with him. The issue dies down, but the topic of bullying resurfaces frequently going beyond characters being picked on because they’re gay.Unique is pressured and bullied for being a transgender, Santana goes through her own pain because she’s a lesbian, Kurflousky having a horrible time after being outed in public by his peers and mother, Marley being picked on for having a plus sized mother and being poor, Ryder having a learning disability, Roderick because of his weight, Shannon/Sheldon Beist for not being lady like (she then suffers from spousal abuse), then also suffering from being discriminated against after changing her gender to a male by Vocal Adrenalin. All of these characters presented something for weekly viewers (most of them in their teens) a lesson about being bullied. Face the problem, have courage, don’t take a violent approach, but face the problem.

Inbetween the fourth and fifth season the death of Cory Monteith occurred. It was an event that brought me back to the series. It’s safe to say all fans were affected by his death, his character Finn was killed off with him. All of the aftershocks of this death affected the plot of the show for the remaining seasons. Even if it was tragic, it may have been something fans needed. If the fans needed Glee to handle being bullied, becoming comfortable with their sexuality then the topic of losing a loved one was needed.

The actor and character were different, but it was still tragic. The series ended on a positive note though. All characters got a “happily ever after” in a hopeful future, a future that the world of Glee had always hoped for.