Zombie stories have all but saturated pop culture. They’re everywhere—28 Days Later, The Last of Us, Warm Bodies, just to name a few—and thankfully for those of us who love zombies, they’re not going away any time soon. However, since there’s so many of these stories, they face a huge challenge: being both unique and interesting to audiences that have already consumed dozens upon dozens of zombie narratives. Some of them, such as The Walking Dead and The Last of Us, succeed. Others, like the Resident Evil movies, do not.
Of course, there don’t seem to be too many places to take these narratives, and that adds to the challenge. Often, they will follow a group of people attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Warm Bodies switched this up a bit by creating a cure for the zombies. In The Flesh goes a similar route; it follows Kieren Walker, a zombie who’s been cured of his feeding urges, as he struggles to fit back in with society—but whereas Warm Bodies was a comedic love story, In The Flesh has a much darker narrative to follow. It’s also a giant allegory for LGBTQ+ discrimination.
Right now I’ve only watched the first season of In The Flesh, which is only three episodes long. I also have no idea how I’d never heard of this show until last week, because its first season is quite possibly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
Magic that fucks around with identity is, frankly, terrifying. Whether it’s something as simple as a Polyjuice Potion, which allows you to take on another person’s appearance, or something as dramatic as traveling to an alternate universe where your life is markedly different, identity magic is, at its core, an affront to autonomy. In essence, someone is using your face to effect changes in your life without your consent.
The creepy eyes are a dead giveaway, dude.
The easiest example of the evil identity thief that I could think of is, of course, from Supernatural. The series offers two different examples of magical creatures who can steal your appearance: shapeshifters and Leviathans. Both of these creatures are shown appearing as Sam and Dean while getting up to nasty business; indeed, it’s thanks to a shapeshifter that Dean was being hunted by the FBI throughout Season 3. The show also deals in body-switching and AU scenarios in various episodes, allowing the characters to run the gamut of uncomfortable situations you can experience when you’re displaced from the body and environment you’re supposed to be in. Welcome to Night Vale, not to be outdone, gave us a plethora of identity magic issues all in one episode.
So first things first: following Nickelodeon’s buttload of production and publicity gaffes with this season of Korra, Nick has made the decision to air the rest of this season solely through digital. (If you haven’t been keeping up, the show’s been getting terrible ratings on TV due to its rushed release and utter lack of publicity build-up, but it’s still doing very well digitally.) Also, the remaining five episodes will be airing over the next four weeks instead of the next two, with the two-part finale coming out on August 22nd. Finally, despite all the hoopla, the series will still be getting its fourth season. This has been your post-SDCC Korra Panel news update.
Now that that’s behind us, let’s move onto the episode review.
I typically start watching a show years after it debuts, and then catch up in binge-watching bursts. True Blood is no different, so while Season 5 is new and fresh for me, it actually aired two years ago. As someone who enjoys thinking critically about religion, this season really stood out for me because a main plotline was the role of religion in the vampire community. The show posits a sort of vampire ethnic religion, complete with scriptures and its very own divinity, Lilith. The name “Lilith” has been given to approximately three bajillion various characters in genre media, but Lilith on True Blood was pretty specifically delineated. She is an ancient being who blurs the lines between messiah and deity, worshipped by a segment of the vampire population who call themselves Sanguinistas. After the jump, I’ll get more in detail about the rich religious parallels this season offered. Major spoilers for Seasons 5 and 6 of True Blood.
This post comes from a thought-storm that’s been brewing since I re-watched The Princess and the Frog a few months ago. Such a fun film! After re-watching it, I found some commentaries and criticisms that stuck out to me, namely this one — a quote from a British critic: “Disney may wish to reach out to people of colour – but the colour green wasn’t what we had in mind.” The fact that Tiana spends more time in frog form than human form is a little unsettling if compared to other Disney Princesses who, well, get to retain their natural skin color for the duration of their films. The next catalyst for this post was the casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/the Human Torch in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, a character who, no matter his racial background, will frequently appear shrouded completely in flames, a state which renders his human features practically negligible. Why does it seem so difficult to find genre media creators/producers willing to create media with Black characters who get to show they are Black?
Some of the highest profile Black characters in pop culture media?
Just a few days ago, GLAAD released their 2014 Studio Responsibility Index, an annual survey inaugurated last year to grade major Hollywood studios on their representation of LGBTQ+ characters. Sadly, the results aren’t pretty:
Out of the 102 releases GLAAD counted from the major studios in 2013, 17 of them (16.7%) contained characters or impressions identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In most cases, these characters received only minutes – or even seconds – of screen time, and were often offensive portrayals.
Ouch! Those are some low numbers. And the surveyors weren’t content with stopping there—they asked film professionals why this might be happening, but got differing answers from each side of the problem. As their introduction says: “From Hollywood executives, we repeatedly heard ‘We’re not getting scripts with LGBT characters,’ while screenwriters told us, ‘The studios don’t want to make films with LGBT characters.'” Some blame can probably be assigned to both parties, but while Hollywood is entrenched in its struggle over whether or not it’s profitable to produce stories with well-written queer characters, television is far outstripping its silver screen cousin.