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Leia Princess of Alderaan Review

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        No I am not talking about The Princess Diarist (that will be read and reviewed before the end of the year, don’t worry). I am talking about Leia Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray. I had picked up the book because it was interesting to get a princess Leia story set before the events of A New Hope and because I enjoyed listening to Bloodline also by Claudia Gray.

        The book follows Leia as she goes through trials to earn her status as royalty to the Alderaan royal family and her early adventures as she enters the world of the rebellion against the empire.

Spoilers from this point onward, I’m not a jedi so I can’t mind trick them out of you. Also there will be fanboy tendencies and observations and other nonsense.

        Leia is destined to become ruler of Alderaan, a planet of peace and charity. To earn the title of royalty Leia must master the challenges of mind, body, and heart. At the same time Leia is participating in the Junior Senate prepping to take over the political world of Alderaan when the time comes. Through the story Leia begins to discover her parents involvement with the rebellion against the empire feeling conflicting feelings of joy that people are going to stand against Emperor Palpatine and anger that her parents kept such a secret from her and would betray the way of her people who had been pacifists for centuries.

        Leia’s discovery of the rebellion is actually the end result of her performing an act of charity through the challenge of heart. While “hiring” refugees on Wobani in order to grant them a happier life, she unintentionally screws up negotiations her father Bail Organa had been working on for years to allow citizens from Wobani to immigrate to Alderaan.

        Through her challenge of the Mind Leia notices interesting activity in some sectors and decides to look into it thus discovering a wider rebellion. Her parents aren’t entirely thrilled at the discovery that Leia knows about the rebellion due to her innocence and lack of knowledge about the rebellion being the only thing to protect Leia should the Empire catch onto what the Organa family is up to. An interesting event happens with Leia’s challenge of the body also occurs where in a life and death situation Leia uses the force without realizing it!

        Despite the efforts of her parents Leia becomes more active in the rebellion both intentionally and by sheer accident gaining the attention of Wilhuff Tarkin who slowly becomes Leia’s arch enemy in not only the book, but in the future as well (until Luke blows him up anyways).

        Fans of Star Wars will also see more of Leia’s personal life with Bail Organa and her mother Breha Organa and how they balance their life. Bail is the senator of Alderaan representing the planet in the galactic senate while Breha is the queen and ruler of the planet taking care of things on the planet. It was very interesting to see Bail function out of the public eye as father to Leia with him actually losing his temper at times when Leia got too close to participating in the rebellion. Breha for the first time is very active in Star Wars content with very little of her ever seen even in Legends material. There is actually a very funny scene involving Tarkin and Mon Mothma where an argument is staged to throw off Tarkin to what is really happening in the rebellion.

        There are many shout outs and foreshadowing in the book, one particular event happening on the planet of Naboo that I’m not going to spoil in this review and I encourage readers to look for. There are cameos of C3PO and R2D2 (I kind of feel like it’s mandatory to have them around these days), foreshadowing for Bloodline (guess who that lock of hair belongs to). Other things include the introduction of the character Amylin Holdo who will be featured in Star Wars the Last Jedi this December. In the story Holdo is more or less the Luna Lovegood of the Star Wars universe choosing to constantly wear exciting and detailed clothing compared to the humble simplistic clothing of her people of Gatalenta. Her character arc (besides becoming a close trusted ally of Leia) is finding a balance to be independent of her people without resorting to some stranger fashion choices.

        My only complaint about the book was some possible timeline issues with the television show Star Wars Rebels in relation to what age Leia is when she meets Ezra and the crew of the Ghost.

        I give Leia Princess of Alderaan four Porgs out of five (yes I can rate a book with porgs even if there aren’t any porgs in it!)

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Saban’s Power Rangers Review

        Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a big part of not only my childhood, but the childhood of many kids who grew up in the 90s. It may or may not be the source of me being gay (I love you David Yost, if you’re reading this please consider me for a husband.) Despite what I may have claimed amongst my peers growing up I continued to watch every season of power rangers up until Power Rangers RPM wishing I could afford to cosplay as any of the blue rangers (and a few green rangers).

        When it was announced that a big budget Power Ranger movie would be released (again) I kind of wanted to audition for the role of Billy, but then realized I had very little chance of getting the role and that more than likely the casting director didn’t want to cast some scrawny twenty something year old who looks like a teenager when they can cast some younger guy in great physical shape as a teenager. Plus I was working on a degree.

        Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the film in theatres, I recently purchased the movie via Google Play.

Spoilers and personal observations from this point on, you won’t be able to wake up in your bed the next day wondering how the hell you’re alive.

        One of the reasons I didn’t see the movie in theatres is because I was very hesitant about seeing the movie. Based on leaked images from the movie’s production and official artwork for the villains (oh Goldar, what did they do to you?) I was turned off. I was scared this would turn into a Transformers scenario where this film was made because of lack of creativity and money to be made off nostalgia.

        I did enjoy the movie though; it had it’s flaws and at times I felt like the actors were told “just channel The Breakfast Club and work with that” because at times it felt like it was a semi modernized Breakfast Club. Minus pot smoking (that we know of), dancing, and unnecessary makeovers.

Characters

        Quite a bit was changed for this cinematic Power Rangers reboot, the main thing being that all the rangers besides Billy and Kimberly actually have personalities. Starting with Billy he is still a genius, but has been given a small dosage of Sheldon Cooper. He is kind of a mama’s boy and has a deceased father, he may or may not have a disability since he mentions the inability to fully understand humor and sarcasm at times (which is funny because the casting called for someone who can be witty and sarcastic).

        Jason in the original 90’s tv series was a focused and disciplined martial artist and a determined leader. Here he’s a jock with no martial arts training (none of the characters have any of their martial arts or gymnastic abilities of the actors from the 90’s television series, but they sure do have muscles). Jason is also known to put the need of helping others before his own personal needs and with a little bit of pep talk from Zordon and Alpha 5 takes on the role of the heroic leader of the team.

        Zach’s character was completely rehauled from the Zach of the series. No more is he a fun loving martial artist trying to create a hip hop based form of martial arts, nor is he black. I’m guessing to avoid controversy the casting agency made damn sure not to accidentally cast a black guy as the black ranger and an asian woman as the yellow ranger before filming. Now Zach is still fun loving, a bit of a trickster, and is caring for his sick mother with insecurities associated with it. Also he’s the hottest male in the cast.

        Trini is interesting since she is played by a hispanic actress Becky G. Despite not being of asian ancestry and being in a hispanic family, Trini is still named Trini Kwan (I guess her grandfather is asian?) Trini was hyped as being “the first lgbt superhero in film” (IceMan and Constantine disagree), but this really isn’t made a big deal in the film itself outside of her family desiring a normal life and considering her sexuality not normal. She is a loner and does yoga while listening to metal. I like her.

        I want to say Kimberly is the closest to her 90’s counterpart. She’s perky, spoiled sweet, and your typical teenage girl. There were moments where I was convinced Naomi Scott and Amy Jo Johnson pulled a freaky friday on all of us to the point where even some of her vocal gestures reminded me alot of Amy Jo Johnson. There are layers to this new Kimberly, she has regrets and isn’t as sweet as honey like she was in the 90s. Also there were times where I noticed chemistry between her and Trini.

        Alpha 5 definitely got an upgrade. He is far more competent as a assistant to Zordon, can actually fight if he is needed, Zordon is kind of a dick and only wanted the power rangers to morph so he could resurrect himself because he considers the new team incompetent. I didn’t like Rita, Rita is just boring she wasn’t even scorned by Zordon, she was just power hungry. Oh and Goldar is literally just molten gold. That’s not even scary, gold is one of the softest elements on the periodic table, the rangers could have beaten Goldar with one of Billy’s homemade bombs!

The Story Itself

        The story itself is admittingly generic; five teenages with nothing in commong get chosen to become super heroes and defend the earth/Angel Grove from the evil that attack it. Along the way these protagonists become besties with a training/friendship montage. This formula has actually been used in a few seasons of Power Rangers and I have nothing against it. What I do have a problem with is that a good three fourths of the film is devoted to this bonding time. I do understand that time has to be devoted to developing these characters and their relationship with each other and that this bond/friendship is the key to them defeating evil, but they could have discovered that friendship=morphing a little sooner.

        WIth the backstory I was…disappointed. I do appreciate mentioning of the Zeo Crystal being the main macguffin though. I think it’s because as a teenager I had discovered the Super Sentai television series that each season of Power Rangers is based on and particularly liked Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger (the season that started off Power Rangers). In Zyuranger the witch Bandora (Rita) cursed the dinosaurs after her son is slain by a TRex (her son started the fight) by selling her soul to Daisatan (Lokar). In what little backstory we have of the Power Rangers adaption Zordon and Rita agreed to three out of five coin toss over earth. Zordon cheated, Rita was trapped in a dumpster while in return Rita trapped Zordon in a time…thing.

        However the lack of backstory is actually a good thing for the film despite my complaints about it since it allowed the film to devote more time to the growing friendship between the rangers. I didn’t particularly like how Rita was defeated as it felt very anticlimactic to an already boring character.

The Good Things

        Despite feeling too much of the film revolved over the bonding friendship of the rangers it is one of the better parts of the film and it is relevant to the plot. The shout outs to other parts of Power Ranger seasons were also very nice. Amy Jo Johnson and Jason David Frank cameo’s were nice (why wasn’t David Yost invited to cameo?) All of the rangers having actual personalities is also a good thing and it is impressive that it was accomplished since even with two hours it can be hard to flesh out protagonists in a film.

        CGI in the film was weird at worst (Goldar…), but it was great to see the Zords and Megazord look so good. Also having the Power Rangers theme from the 1995 movie while the zords are piloted was perfect.

I give Saban’s Power Rangers three Nice Stereos out of five.

Many Waters Review

        As many of you know the new movie adaption of A Wrinkle in Time is set up to be released next year, so out of excitement I decided to reread Madeleine L’Engle’s books because I am a big fan. I then realized I hadn’t ever gotten around to read Many Waters for some reason and was a little shocked I never did so since the story revolves around Sandy and Dennys Murry.

        As mentioned above the story revolves around Sandy and Dennys Murry, the two self proclaimed normal of the Murry children in comparison of the prodigies of Meg and Charles Wallace. When they return home one winter afternoon and go into their parent’s personal lab both Sandy and Dennys are transported to the time of Noah and the ark. Reading this book actually reminded me a lot of the Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis which was a science fiction series from a Christian perspective that all other creatures in the universe were aware of the existence of God and the universe beyond them.

Spoilers from this point on, I’m running out of witty things to type in the bold text.

        Unlike the adventures of their siblings Sandy and Dennys are not as adventure ready as readers would believe. For one thing when exposed to the desert climate both Sandy and Dennys suffer from a heat stroke and spend the first half of the book recovering from severe sunburns. At the same time it separates both twins from each other allowing both of them to realize their own personal individual traits that they had never realized about themselves due to always being with each other.

        Along with their own self discovery that both twins aren’t completely like each other Sandy and Dennys begin to realize there is more to them besides being the ‘normal ones’ that they had always called themselves. Dennys has a very strong understanding of the experiments that both his parents perform and the science that Mr and Mrs Murry research and experiment with. In comparison to the adventures of Meg and Charles Wallace, Sandy and Dennys spend significantly more time on their adventure while Meg and Charles Wallace on technicality devoted a few hours to their own adventures (time travel kind of makes it hard to determine who spent the most time on their adventure).

        As mentioned earlier the book takes place during the time of Noah before the days of the great flood. The great flood itself plays a minor role in the story for the first three quarters of the book with major focus being on Sandy, Dennys, Noah’s family and the works of the Seraphim and Nephilim. There is also another tribe of not so nice people who are envious to Noah’s tribe, one of these characters is named Tiglah.

        I want to talk about Tiglah in this review mainly to compare the style of YA writing from when this book was published and how Tiglah would be viewed now. Many Waters was published in 1986 where it was more or less it was frowned upon to be sexually active and open about it as a teenager in the media. In this book Tiglah is in love with one of the Nephilim (fallen Seraphim) and does his bidding for him at one point trying to seduce Sandy and Dennys because the Nephilim are wary of them.

        Throughout the book I felt very sorry for Tiglah and constantly hoped that she would be redeemed; it wasn’t her fault that she ended up this way and clearly she didn’t think that her sexual nature was a bad thing. She admits to genuinely caring about both Sandy and Dennys and hoping that things go well for them as the great flood begins and it is heavily implied that she drowns in the great flood for her ways.

        I think if Tiglah were a character in a modern YA book she would have had more depth to her explored; she may have even been given her own character development and realize that the Nephilim don’t care for her and at least leave her wicked family and ask Noah and his family to give her refuge and teach her to be good.

        Tiglah is also called a slut by Sandy when she tries to convince him to give her his virginity, something that wouldn’t sit well with modern readers (okay more than likely the christian audience would be okay with that.)

        To contrast Tiglah there is Yalith, one of the daughters of Noah; Yalith is essentially a Pure Mary Sue. She is good and kind to all she meets, she nurses Dennys back to health, rejects a Nephilim who claims to be in love with her, convinces the Seraphim to love her (platonically) and is stuck in a love triangle with Sandy and Dennys eventually admitting that she is in love with both of them and it is the mutual love between herself and Sandy that Sandy decides not to have sex with Tiglah. When the issue comes around that Noah can only take his sons and their wives onto the arc and Yalith must be left behind, it is discovered that Yalith is so pure, she can be given a free pass into heaven body and soul because she’s that pure.

        I don’t hate the character of Yalith, but it just annoyed me at times at how she’s presented as the most pure thing in the world and everyone must love her unconditionally. Okay that’s enough ranting about Tiglah and Yalith.

        Concerning the story itself it was very interesting at how ideas and themes presented in the book are actually a very big deal for some people today. One issue frequently brought up is Sandy’s agnostic views and how he needs to “see it to believe it.” At first he treats the story of Noah and the Ark as the equivalent of Norse and Greek mythology, stories told to people that aren’t true, of course with L’Engle being a religious woman, Sandy does believe in unicorns (there is no way I can cover the topic of the importance of unicorns in this book and keep the review brief), but this belief is a result of seeing a unicorn and then believing they are real.

        Sandy also points out in annoyance how many of the women he met on this journey are adapted out of the Bible because the Bible was written by men who viewed the male presence as more important than the female presence.

        Along with this Sandy has comparisons with the unkind people who aren’t part of Noah’s family and terrorists who hijack planes, which in today’s world is a very scary reality that has happened more and more regularly with new forms of shock and horror.

        I’ll end this review by saying that parts of it did hit close to home, particularly since during my time reading this my dad was in the hospital (he is fine and recovering) and one of the biggest plot threads in the book is Noah and his relationship with his dying father Lamech.

I give Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle three out of five cute mini mammoths.

Also small announcement and explanation for things; I will participate in Write a Novel in November this year, so this blog post was partially for me to see if I can write 1667 words in a day. It is something I’ve considered participating in and I hope I can pull it off. This review was 1293 words long meaning I clearly have some improving to do, but book reviews and amount of words written in a day are two very different things. Wish me luck, my theme for this novel will be…mermaids.

Happy Esther Day

Happy Esther day, seven years ago was Esther Earl’s sixteenth and final birthday before passing away. She wasn’t the world’s biggest youtuber and if we’re going to be honest with ourselves she’s only famous because she knew John Green and he wrote The Fault in Our Stars in her memory. So what makes her birthday so special?

Well for one thing she wanted to encourage familial love and friendship love and love of pets. She wasn’t a graceful young woman and a fountain of knowledge and wisdom like Malala Yousafzai (it’s pretty hard to top her in that area), but she did have her own form of wisdom. She was also a normal girl cancer aside. She loved Harry Potter and was an active vlogger on YouTube.

Her nice, short, cute, and nerdy life had an unexpected aftershock. The Fault in our Stars went beyond fans of John Green and his brother  who labeled their group as Nerdfighters and went into the public. It flooded Barnes and Noble and Target with it’s innocent but simple Blue, Black, and White cover and gave teenagers and readers of Young Adult fiction something beautiful, funny, and tragic to read. It resulted in a book based on Esther Earl This Star Won’t Go Out and essentially putting more love into the world.

I don’t have many words to say about the holiday beyond that, except that I spent the day with my family and my pup.

Boys and Male Role Models

Two Sundays ago it was announced who the thirteenth Doctor would be. I was happy to see that it was a woman, but I couldn’t exactly leap for joy since I found out the news literally because I was about to set foot into church. I knew many things would happen with this news; there would be happy fans, and there would be pissed off fans.

I will admit I was a little disappointed because based on photos on the set of the 2017 Christmas special fans had been under the impression that Kris Marshall would be the next Doctor (my dad and I are very fond of the show Death in Paradise). But I was happy with the news based off the actress’ work on Broadchurch (makes sense for the writers of Broadchurch to bring in an actor they were familiar with and knew what her capabilities were).

I spent a good three hours celebrating, talking with friends about it, joking around about shoes, and wondering if I’m actually being serious if I will cosplay as the Thirteenth Doctor (I probably will). As expected there was backlash from fans that weren’t happy about the gender switch and even a magazine service (I don’t know what The Sun actually does since I don’t live in England) publishing nude photos of Jodie Whittaker from her previous work.

I ignored most of this because I knew that some people wouldn’t be happy, then previous Doctor Peter Davidson said something that caught me attention. “Now that the Doctor is a woman, boys no longer have a good male role model,” (okay I paraphrased that), I scoffed at it at first, but then reading a few facebook comments did make me realize, he is partially right.

The Doctor is a unique role model; he rarely resorts to violence and killing as a solution to his problem, he is never getting into brawls and throwing fists at opponents, he isn’t off chasing after ladies or grabbing ass (he IS very guilty of being able to impress a girl though), his spaceship, the T.A.R.D.I.S., has no offensive capabilities (unless she’s particularly pissed at you) and is in the shape of a Police Call Box and she will drag the Doctor to any place where he is needed to aid people in need.

I’m still gathering thoughts on this, but I do agree there aren’t many male role models who are like the Doctor. You have the choice of being an action hero, or the main protagonist who whines and has a form of angst (either wizard angst of man angst), sometimes you get both (looking at you Barry Allen and Oliver Queen).

Right now the two male role models that do come to mind that are similar to the Doctor are Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek the Next Generation and Newt Scamander of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Picard would resort to diplomacy most of the time (I’m still watching Star Trek the Next Generation) unless the Borg was involved (and even then his first solution was diplomacy). Newt is quiet, not the most social person in a crowd, but when he does make a friend he is very deeply attached and in compromise for his meek ways Newt has a deep love for magical creatures and shines brightly when sharing his knowledge of them.

The obvious solution to the problem to some people would be to just have a male companion; makes sense since initially there were male companions who filled the heroic role in the show since the Doctor wasn’t always a heroic character (thank you fifty years of character development!) Time till tell if this is the needed solution, or if a female companion with a female Doctor will continue.

In my opinion it shouldn’t really matter, but time will tell.

Wishful Drinking Review

I liked Carrie Fisher, I’ve met her by accident and didn’t realize who she was (and her little dog too). Hearing the news of her passing this past December was hard and having a Disney Infinity figure of princess Leia and a Funko Pop figure of General Leia just made me feel sad knowing I’ll never accidentally meet her again seeing as she’s now in a beautiful Prozac pill in the sky.

However this didn’t mean I couldn’t celebrate her life beyond Star Wars and that weird hairdo, so I bought some of her books and just finished reading the hilariously wonderful, Wishful Drinking.

It’s kind of hard to spoil real life.

I loved this book, at first I was scared I was going to be depressed and shocked at the possibility of the darker parts of Carrie Fisher’s life since no one has the perfect life and we all have our own demons to face. And she did have her own demons to face, and she faced them, and as of the publishing of Wishful Drinking (I still need to read The Princess Diarist) she called up her inner demons and they had something to drink and what not every other week.

Hearing about her life as the daughter of two celebrities, knowing how “celebrity life” was like back during the time of her adolescence and teenage years during that time era was interesting. Reading some of Carrie’s experiences in life was interesting and funny. Normally I would go into detail of certain events in a book or movie, but I really don’t want to with Wishful Drinking because I feel they really do have to be read to believe.

The book felt more like sitting down and listening to an older friend (lets say one friend being a baby boomer and yourself being a millennial)  tell you a story. Carrie does talk about drug usage and takes a few loving jabs at Star Wars. I will never know Carrie Fisher beyond our very brief meeting that she probably wouldn’t recall anyways. But reading this book felt like I got to know her a little better and makes me hope that if I must become old, I can be similar to Carrie where I can laugh at the sad and scary parts of my life and joke about drug usage (I haven’t ever used drugs) and depression/anxiety (oh boy those two…).

Finally the main thing I have taken from Wishful Drinking is this; as long as you can laugh at/about your hardships later in life, you’re going to be just fine. There will be alot of bumps and scary parts (look at what happened in London within less than a month as of June 2017!) But anything short of sudden mass extinction via nuclear blasts and having communism take over your country is only temporary.

I will end this review with a beautiful quote that I found in this book at the end.

One of the things that baffles me (and there are a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of duty in Afganistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. 

 

Second Blog

So I’ve realized that my little blog that was originally supposed to be book reviews has evolved quite a bit. This was just a hobby and no I’ve gotten no monitary benefits or even offers to read books ahead of time like a friend of mine who got into blogging last year (YAY SAM!). But I have realized that I do like doing essays, reviewing movies and television as much as I enjoy reading books and reviewing them.

No they’re not stopping, but I’ve decided to create a second blog for my more science fiction and fantasy related interests. Which is a little ironic because I purposely picked the term Smizmar to be in the title as a reference to science fiction.

I will still review books of the science fiction and fantasy genre on this site, however on this other site I will go into more detail concerning franchises like Doctor Who, Star Wars, and my love for the two genres. This blog is called Smizzing, Fantasy, and Science. Here I’ll talk about some of my favorite characters from science fiction and fantasy, make theories, and actually review episodes if they have a particular impact on me.

I will also talk about experiences with cosplay and conventions and how I’m doing with making costumes and my goals for them.

My first post will be over the coverage of this past weekend’s Star Wars Celebration, particularly Star Wars Rebels and my theories for the last season of the series. I really hope that you will follow and enjoy this blog because I’m kind of excited to start it.

Princesses and Femenism

After watching Beauty and the Beast last week, rewatching the animated Beauty and the Beast from my childhood, and looking up actual signs of Stockholm syndrome (apparently it needs to be studied more), I decided to write a bit on feminism and princesses. Not real life princesses, but the animated ones kids and adults of today’s society grew up with. I talk from my own personal viewing experience and talk as much as I can about feminism as I’m allowed to with my Y chromosome (I think I’m allowed to go a little further because I’m gay).

Disney Princesses

I know there are alot of arguments concerning the Disney princesses and how they can and can’t be feminist role models because it took literally ten(ish) princesses for one to NOT get a boyfriend/handsome prince in the end.

I like to think of the Disney princess movies as slowly progressive feminism with Snow White being the worst damsel in distress and Elsa and Moana being able to save their own damn selves.

From Snow White we have Cinderella who takes alot of crap from her evil stepmother and stepsisters and just goes with it because she’s a good girl who feels she will be rewarded for her goodness and kindness one day. She didn’t want to go to the ball to meet Prince Charming and live happily ever after; she wanted to go to the ball to have a good time and to have a night off from her life as a servant to her family. Prince Charming falling for her was just an added bonus. In her live action adaption (which is pretty much a rated G version of Everafter), she’s made an intellect and the ultimate Christian good girl having the ability to forgive the people who wronged her and even let them off with their own happily ever after. Also she has one of the few decent Disney sequels with Cinderella 3.

Aurora from Sleeping Beauty is still a damsel and she longed for someone to marry, but she wanted to date the individual first and get to know him before marrying any old guy. Plus the movie is just the good fairies and Maleficent going back and fourth at each other.

Between the first three princesses and the Disney Renascence we had Princess Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron. She was being held captive along with the protagonist and had some pretty crappy magical abilities at best. She didn’t want a relationship, she just didn’t want to be held captive by the Horned King. At most she kisses the protagonist, but since Disney views The Black Cauldron as a box office bomb Eilonwy, Taran, Gurgi, and Hen Wen and ignored by Disney with DVD releases of The Black Cauldron popping up once every twenty(ish) years. I have a copy.

In the eighties and nineties our princesses started being more proactive. Ariel of The Little Mermaid gets alot of flack because she sold her voice/soul for legs (and a vagina), for the sake of romancing a guy who’s life she had saved. In her defense she could be a “fangirl of humans” and after saving a human, she wanted to experience more human things. As an adult though, Ariel’s efforts to get the attention of a man to make him fall in love with her is an awful message for little girls (and some boys). Fortunately her animated tv show made up for this (I think, it’s been two decades since I’ve seen it).

From there we have Belle, who was the first Disney princess who didn’t want a man in her life. She was literate, and longed for more outside of the jackass illiterate folks in her town who sang shit behind her back. Contrary to what many believe (I was one of them) Belle is not a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. For more on that, look at this neat video essay by Lindsay Ellis.

From there we have Jasmine who didn’t want an arranged marriage, she wanted to actually get to know and love a guy and experience life as a normal person. Like Ariel, Aladdin The Animated Series helps her out alot. There’s also Pocahontas, there’s so many things wrong with that movie, but at the very least part of her goal was to prevent a war between Native Americans and English settlers.

Mulan technically isn’t a princess since she never actually married royalty. She got hugged by the Emperor of China though. I feel like Disney watered down her badassness from her original story; in her original story she asked her dad if she could join the army, he said no, she dueled him, won, joined the army, won a shit load of battles. I like her movie too, she isn’t interested in a man and technically doesn’t even get a boyfriend by the end of her movie.

After Mulan Disney took a break from princesses, then for the sake of tokenism we got The Princess and the Frog; it’s a good movie, there’s also alot of stereotyping. Tiana has a goal and that goal is to have her own restaurant. She is hellbent on it damnit! My only issue with this movie is that everyone and Tiana’s mom keeps on telling her “you gotta get a man in your life! COMPLETE YOURSELF TIANA!” At the same time we also have Charlotte who wants to become an authentic princess and is spoiled…spoiled sweet. Instead of getting mad at Tiana for unintentionally making a mess at her party, Charlotte helps her clean up and lends Tiana one of her many princess costumes without a second thought. When presented with the opportunity to break the spell on Prince Naveen via “princess kissing a frog to get a prince,” Charlotte jumps at it because she’d rather see Tiana’s dreams come true than have her own come true.  Seriously why isn’t Charlotte included in the princess line with Tiana? She’s the closest we’ll ever have to a Disney adaption to Emma!

After The Princess and the Frog failed to meet Disney’s box office standards, Disney thought they would do a few more princess movies then just stop altogether. Tangled was made with Rapunzel as the first CGI princess, she intentionally didn’t want a man, she just wanted to explore her life beyond her tower. Yeah she got Eugene. She has an animated series now that seems to be following in the footsteps of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.

Then we had Merida, she was a Pixar Princess. She burped, hated fancy dresses, occasionally enjoyed eye candy, and is a badass archer. She also refuses to sing in her episode of Sophia the First. While trailers and marketing wanted to present Merida as a badass who did cool stuff and took names, she technically didn’t do that. Brave focused more on the relationship between Merida and her mother queen Elinor and how both of them needed a better understanding of each other’s worlds with Merida learning to handle a violent situation with pacifism (she ended a civil war in her house with the skills Elinor had been trying to teach her), while Elinor (in bear form) has to resort to action to protect her family from Mor’du and aid in his defeat. Merida is included in some of the box sets for princesses, but she’s usually not in pretty frilly dresses. Her doll at the Disney Store doesn’t even have crowns and jewels, it has an arrow and an ax!

Then came Frozen. Yes I am talking about Frozen, yes I’m aware everyone is sick of hearing Frozen and parents everywhere are TIRED of hearing their children singing Let it Go, but I’m going to talk about it. Briefly. I love Frozen, I saw it the day after a very shitty day (like crying the whole night shitty) with my best friend. The events of the night of my brother trying to calm me down from what drove me to a point of despair and the bond between Anna and Elsa means alot to me and the fact that for the first time in forever an act of true love was sacrifice rather than a kiss. Also Elsa is not a princess, she’s a queen.

Now we have Moana, for some reason I haven’t seen this movie, but I’ve heard very good things. It’s on my to watch list, don’t worry.

Many (myself included), have complained that there is no Mexican princess. Recently though we got princess Elena of Avalor on Disney jr. Some might see it as a slap on the face that the first Hispanic princess is on tv instead of getting her own movie. My thoughts are this; you bitches have to settle for one movie while Elena has a WHOLE SERIES! Haha, SUCKERS!

Princesses who Aren’t From Disney

Not all princesses are from Disney, a few other people have tried to cash in on it though. In some cases even parody the idea of Disney Princesses.

The Swan Princess is a series of movies about a princess who gets turned into a Swan; I haven’t seen it in a while, but from what I recall the princess is a tomboy most of her life. She had acne as a tween/early teen, and hated the prince her parents wanted to set her up with. Then when she was older, beautiful she was forced into a room with said prince and they noticed they became hot. From there she gets turned into a swan, becomes human, and in the span of six sequels becomes a swan again. I presume Princess Odette is as proactive in this movies as her nineties Disney princess counterparts (possibly more).

Anastasia is constantly mistaken for Disney, she’s from a Don Bleuth/Twentieth Century Fox production though (you will never find her merchandise at the Disney Store. Ever. STOP ASKING!) She was sarcastic, didn’t want a man, was going to con her aunt, and is dead in real life from the execution of the whole Romanov family. In the cartoon though her aunt found a way to save her life because she was her favorite niece (that’s kind of a bitch of her). Anastasia’s story has action and explosions though, and our princess killing her foe in cold blood (Tiana had to “kill” her antagonist indirectly and did it with a smile on her face).

Now there’s Fiona from Shrek. I have mixed feelings about the Shrek franchise because I liked the first two movies, then I discovered they want to make more when ending it on the second movie would have been just fine. Fiona was neat though, she and her father and fairy godmother had “planned” her life to follow a very Disney Princess life. Then Shrek comes along and they both just bond over being different from what is expected. Fiona is action oriented choosing to fight after getting frustrated with being a damsel in care of Shrek. In the third movie she stages her own damn rescue mission with the help of the other princesses encouraging them to fight back against Rapunzel and Prince Charming. In the fourth movie’s weird timeline where Shrek never rescued Fiona she decides to save her own damn self and embrace the life as a warrior princess ogre.

Finally we have the princess who didn’t have a frilly dress and would have killed for a damn bra in space. Princess Leia, okay technically she is owned by Disney now and sadly her actress Carrie Fisher passed away last year. But prior to being purchased by Disney, Leia was sarcastic, she knew how to use a blaster, she killed giant slugs with chains. She even ditched the princess status and became a general and we will see more (and probably the last) of her this December.

Nintendo’s Princesses

Princess Peach and Princess Zelda are known to many video gamers as videogame royalty. They’re also saved by Mario and Link. Alot. It has been described that the stories and adventures in the Super Mario game series as “actors in a movie” to help explain why Bowser is friends with everyone in Mario Kart and that he isn’t really evil. He’s just an actor while Peach is an actress and sole monarch to the Mushroom Kingdom.

In 2005/2006 Peach got her own game called Super Princess Peach. In a strange turn of events it’s now up to HER to save Mario and Luigi from Bowser. To save the day Peach uses her emotions and a weapon called the Vibe Scepter/Rodd. Although I admit it’s interesting to see how Peach’s emotions can solve problems, I can’t help but feel that in a way it’s a step back in comparison to Peach the in the Super Smash Brothers series who is kicking ass in all her finery. Princess Daisy and Rosalina also join the royalty of the Super Mario World (no pun intended), Daisy has been described as a tomboy compared to Peach where while Peach would do something like bake a cake, Daisy would like to do an activity like boxing. Rosalina is older and a more tragic character in comparison. She left her family to take care of the Luma for countless years and realized one day her family had passed on.

In comparison to Princess Peach, Princess Zelda of The Legend of Zelda series has always been more proactive, even in her first game. In her first game, rather than let Ganon get his hands on the triforce of wisdom, Zelda shatters it into pieces to postpone Ganon’s growth in power. From then on Zelda has acted more as a chessplayer against Ganon trying to prevent Ganon and other evil forces from destroying Hyrule. A good chunk of the time things do go south, but Zelda and Link still beat Ganon or whatever malevolent force is before them.

There have even been times where Zelda got her hands dirty; Orcarina of Time had her aiding Link in the shadows disguised as Sheik. After being freed from Ganon, Zelda uses her magic to help free Link from the castle falling around them, then create three split timelines and confuse many, many fans and Nintendo employees when it comes to the timeline.

Twilight Princess had Zelda also be more proactive in the defense of her kingdom. Granted she probably should have been more careful when picking a competent militia for defending Hyrule. But she joins Link in the final battle against Ganon because she honestly wasn’t in the game that much. In Twilight Princess we also have Midna, the ACTUAL Twilight Princess who got her hands dirty with Link, had character development, and caused what is known as the most bittersweet ending in any of the Zelda games.

Prior to Twilight Princess The Wind Waker also had Zelda joining Link in the final battle against Ganon firing light arrows while Link fought Ganon with the master sword. Before the final battle Zelda was known as Tetra, a sassy pirate who didn’t know what the big deal was about her lineage. For some reason she becomes nicer after discovering she’s a princess and also somehow changes her skin color too.

Zelda’s damsel in distress status is actually mocked a little in Spirit Tracks where Zelda’s spirit and body are separated and Zelda loaths the fact that she has fallen victim to the same fate as all her ancestors before her. She does step up from there by being Link’s companion for the story and even possessing armor to fight with in the game.

In the most recent Zelda game Breath of Wild, Zelda has become a scholar and could care less about being a princess. She wants to be Belle and put herself to usage beyond “oh I’m a sacred princess with holy powers,” because she can’t access these holy powers. It’s not until that she’s pushed to her limit and her feelings towards Link and wanting to protect him (and probably believing in herself and embracing her scholar tendencies) that this incarnation of Zelda is able to harness the powers of the goddess Hylia that flows through her blood and spends one hundred years fending off Ganon alone and NOT being a damsel. So I’d say Zelda has definitely more proactive than Peach as both a capable monarch and ruler of her kingdom. Plus it seems she always gets better dresses.

Are Princesses Bad?

I suppose they’re not, but we don’t exist in a fantasy world where there’s an abundance of princesses. There isn’t much monarchy left to marry into as well, but there’s also nothing wrong with reality. People (I guess in this case the target audience of little girls) don’t necessarily need to be badass princesses like Zelda fighting off the ultimate evil by themselves, and they can’t constantly have the image of Prince Charming coming to sweep them off their feet (sweeping is a woman’s job 😉 ).

I don’t think princesses are dying any time soon, not with the fact Disney makes an easy 50$ per princess dress and God knows how much more with merchandising. I think things can evolve and with many parents being aware that there’s more to life besides being a princess they can encourage their children to be more independent from what is presented to them in the media. Unless your child wants to be Hermione, always encourage your child to be Hermione.

Toonami Twenty Years

Like some kids who grew up in the 1990’s I watched Toonami. It wasn’t my introduction to anime (that was Sailor Moon), but it had a major influence on my life. It exposed me to anime and the unique form of story telling that it brings.

As I’ve mentioned before I learned to draw and became an armature artist because of anime, so I have Toonami to thank for gaining these skills and abilities. Anime was unique to me; before anime the only cartoons I had were either comedy based which wasn’t artistically appealing at times to me (hey look at that, I was a kid who couldn’t draw for shit critiquing the artistic abilities of others!) or they were Disney. Alot of the times unless the animation was a movie, there was no closure to a story. In the 90’s you were lucky if you got a season 2 to your animated show. Anime and Toonami changed that for me, the first anime that I saw in completion within twenty six episodes was Outlaw Star.

It was intense to me because characters fought pretty violent fights and when someone died, they died for good. There was alot of attention to detail in the animation too. I stayed a loyal fan to Toonami because I slowly began to like anime more and more and all of the variety provided to me through Toonami exposed me to genres like Mecha, Magical Girl, Harem, etc. I also indirectly discovered my favorite anime and manga CardCaptor Sakura through Toonami.

When Toonami was cancelled I was a little shocked, but not terribly surprised since all they showed Naruto (I don’t care for Naruto). I was a little annoyed that I missed the final airing, but i accepted that it was time to move on with life since I was going to start college at the end of the month anyways.

THen on April 1st 2012, Toonami came back bitches. I remember the night that I just had the tv on in the background as I listened to what was happening. At the time and even now alot of my tv watching is me listening to what’s happening while reading an article or chatting with a friend unless I particularly like something. Then I heard Steve Blum’s voice. And that Voice saying “bitches”. It was kind of like hearing one of your parents swear for the first time. I stayed up the whole night watching anime and loving it.

You’re all probably thinking that this strange adult in his late twenties now spends his saturday nights watching Toonami. Sadly no because I now have a social life, okay not as much of a social life as I once had in the past few years, but I don’t watch Toonami anymore. But I’m happy it’s on.

These days I’m probably asleep Saturday night because old people just fall asleep the second they’re in a comfortable position in bed. And sleep is awesome, I try to get as much as I can (this might explain how I can function without coffee at my age). I’m happy Toonami is twenty years old and I hope it stays on for a few more years.

The Subject of Race and Ethnicity

Today I read a blogpost called You can’t do that! Stories have to be about white people and it reminded me of a subject I had been wanting to write about for a while that isn’t about the representation of gays in the media (btw yes I will review When We Rise when I see it in it’s entirety), Christianity, or essays on genres. Today we are talking about race and how the default protagonist is still white. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but it’s something that still happens. and as Darren Chetty mentioned in his blog post if you want to write about someone who is black or of another race, you have to make your story about the fact they are black/their race (as in your black character has to struggle with racism, they can’t just be black), because if your protagonist isn’t white, it doesn’t sell books as well.

What do you mean you have to make the story about a person’s race if they’re not white?

One of the things I loathed hearing about in middleschool, highschool and my first few years of college was people assuming I would write about my Mexican heritage. Like THAT was the only thing ticking in my mind. It’s not a bad thing, but every time we read stories about Mexicans in school it was always about struggle and how life was shitty for the main protagonist.

Granted I acknowledge that these authors were writing about their own life experiences and respect their stories and life struggles, but my life wasn’t their story and isn’t that story to tell. I had my own struggles, they were nothing like the struggles seen in Hispanic literature. In comparison my life would be seen as a piece of cake by those authors and my struggles would be labeled as a first world problem (which sadly they are).

As I mentioned above Chetty did mention that if I ever write a story with a Mexican protagonist, I gotta write about Mexican heritage or problems or my book (allegedly) isn’t selling squat! For publishers to even consider publishing my book, my protagonist has to either have Mexican problems or have his whole plot centered around coming out as gay (yes I snuck that in too).

What about the TV?

Television has been interesting about race; let’s start with Star Trek the original series. It had Nichelle Nichols playing Nyota Uhura and George Takei playing Hikaru Sulu. A “black woman on the tv who wasn’t a maid” (as described by Whoopi Goldberg) and a Japanese man (who would later come out as a proud homosexual) portraying characters on a science fiction show treated as equal to their colleagues despite their ethnicity.

It took a while for both movies and tv to move past have characters of different races be portrayed as characters beyond just being token minority (it’s debatable if Uhura or Sulu were token minorities). As a kid in the 90’s I saw tokenism at it’s extreme in afterschool specials, and educational television. I remember this one show shown to us at school called The Human Race Club where all the races and ethnicities were represented…and led by a blond haired blue eyed kid with glasses (it had a smart Asian girl, a black kid who liked basketball, a tom boy ginger, and a fat kid).

There was also Power Rangers; three fifth’s of the main five rangers were white (Jason, Kimberly, Billy) with Zack and Trini as the token black and asian without the producers ever realizing that they assigned Zack and Trini as the black and yellow ranger to match their races until it was too late. There was also Tommy who was later revealed to be of Native American decent, not sure if it counts though since it took four seasons to reveal that. This was fixed later when Austin St. John, Walter Emanuel Jones, and Thuy Trang left the show with Rocky (Steve Cardenas), Aisha (Karen Ashley), and Adam (Johnny Yong Bosch) as the new red, yellow, and black rangers respectively of Hispanic, black, and Asian/Jewish ethnicities included.

After the first season, Power Rangers has actually been pretty good about representation of all the races and even had a few ranger teams where the girl or a black person IS the leader (Alien Rangers, Turbo, Time Force, SPD, RPM, Dino Charge). Still no female red ranger though…

Captain Planet also had a minorateam, with the only white American usually being the whiner who had to learn a lesson in the episode. If any of the other members had a plot devoted to them, they were not the whiner. Trust me.

On the CW DC television something interesting happened; races of characters were changed from white to whatever the creators wanted. The whole West family? Black. Jimmy Olson is no longer a adorkable ginger, but is now a hunky black guy with dreamy eyes for Kara and the audience to oogle at (don’t worry, Kara has an adorkable tech friend for fans who are into that sort of thing to oogle at too). There is the issue too some that even though diversity has been added to the cast of these shows, the leads are still white people. With the addition of Legends of Tomorrow (with no MAIN character, but rather having a team lead) and Vixen (female African american (she actually is from Africa)) things are nice and diverse in the live action DC universe.

Because I can’t cover ALL media, here are some honorable mentions. Codename Kids Next Door (it’s like The Human Race Club, except bigger budget and isn’t corny), Star Wars The Clone Wars/Rebels (they have aliens, it counts), W.I.T.C.H. (multiraced badass magical girls), Steven Universe, and Drawn Together (look that show was hilarious regardless of what today’s politically correct millenials will post on Tumblr)

TV comedies (Ugly Betty, The Mindy Project, and Fresh Off the Boat)

It seems races and ethnicities get an easier time at representing different races. In some cases, rather than playing their race for the sake of drama and story telling, they play them for comedy. In the case of Ugly Betty, being of Mexican decent wasn’t a big deal too often. While the show did fall victim to relying on problems faced by immigrants today (for the first and second season Betty’s father was illegally in the US), Betty’s heritage is played for laughs except for one episode (Mark said Betty only got a job to fill a token Mexican spot).

The Mindy Project is awesome; Mindy’s Indian heritage is a joke most of the time and has only been the subject of drama once when Mindy was scared that her son would only know of his Indian half based on a Indian food menu on Mindy’s fridge. Bonus points for Mindy being the subject to large amounts of slapstick humor during the show despite being a woman.

Fresh Off the Boat is a touchy subject; despite being based on the memoirs of Eddy Huang, Huang hates the show feeling they turned his emotional outlet of rap and hiphop and life struggles into one dumb asian joke for the other races to laugh at. Eddy Huang if you ever read this I am sorry, but it is a hilarious show, I have read your book and I understand your anger concerning the show. If it makes you feel better, it has given more exposure to asian actors and actresses.

A Wrinkle in Time movie adaption (this time it won’t be awful)

As many have heard Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is getting a film adaption with an open cast. Meg Murry being played by Storm Reid and the rest of the Murry family (minus Chris Pine’s character) now black. To add to this Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which will be portrayed by Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey respectively (gotta read that book again and imagine Mrs. Who shrilling like Kaling now).

What can one do to add diversity to books and entertainment?

I’m not sure actually, but you can start by reading The Lunar Chronicles since it does have a racially diverse cast. And tell your favorite authors “hey, I would like some diversity in the fiction you are producing.” Support authors who do write about characters of different backgrounds. Write your own stories about these things fight to get them to be published, I know I am with my books.