Sleepy Hollow: “Mama” Review

sleepy hollow season 2 bannerMan. After a long string of sub-par, at times downright terrible episodes, Sleepy Hollow finally came back strong with last night’s episode. Er, well, I say strong, but I really just mean “stronger than the last episodes”—not that that would take much. “Mama” illustrated both the show’s strengths and its weaknesses, and gives us some idea as to where the show is headed as it barrels towards its mid-season finale.

Sleepy Hollow has been praised, and rightly so, for its inclusion of women and people of color, yet for a show that’s seemingly open to viewers whom other media often overlook, I’m surprised that this particular episode did not come with a trigger warning at the beginning. If even Teen Wolf can do it, Sleepy Hollow has no excuse. And this episode certainly needed some trigger warnings, so let me provide them for you here: trigger warnings for mental illnesses, psychiatric wards, solitary confinement, impersonation of trusted authority figures, suicidal ideation, and explicit depictions of suicide after the jump.

Also, spoilers!

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Trailer Tuesdays: Jupiter Ascending

I’ve been seeing tidbits about this movie here and there for months, but I only just took the time to check out the trailer. To my surprise, it actually looks like promising sci-fi fare—although I guess since it’s coming from the Wachowski sibs, I shouldn’t be surprised.

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The Chilling Familiarity of Gamergate

(Trigger warnings for the Holocaust and sexual violence)

I don’t usually get recruited to join hate groups.

Being a Jewish guy, I’m out of consideration for the most of them. And on the other side, my secularism and interfaith marriage means that the extremist elements within Judaism don’t want anything to do with me.

So I’ve got a special kind of agita from Gamergate today. Because these guys don’t care about my bar mitzvah, but they could have looked at the geeky thirteen-year-old boy reading from the Torah and seen a potential recruit.

On some broad, unsettling level, these are guys like me. They’re men. They’re straight. They’re white. They’re about my age. They’re middle-class, educated, Americans. They like fantasy novels, comics, sci-fi, and Game of Thrones. They claim to speak for me. The hatred, rage, and violence espoused by Gamergate emerged out of my same world. Why is it them and not me?

This is going to sound like hyperbole, but to really answer that question, you have to walk back through the history of the Third Reich. I’ve heard of Godwin’s law—Internet arguments may all turn to Nazis eventually, but it doesn’t mean that it’s never warranted.

I don’t intend the comparison to be literal. You don’t have to tell me that Gamergate has yet to commit any genocides. But there’s a lot more to Nazi Germany than just our shorthand characterization of “the worst people ever”. They were, yes. But they had to get that way—a sophisticated, modern nation collapsed into Hell in just a decade. It happened for thoroughly human reasons, and there has never been a guarantee that it would never happen again. Much of the same psychology that turned Germans into Nazis turned geeks to Gamergate.

Gamergate is now a part of geek culture, and of our cultural legacy. We need to know that it is not unique, that it is working through a playbook that’s been handed down many times before. When we can follow those plays, we can keep ourselves—and our friends—from being sucked in.

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Magical Mondays: A Song of Ice and Fire, Magic, and Science

A Song of Ice and Fire is slowly but surely replacing The Inheritance Cycle as my favorite series ever, and now that I am finally almost done with the last book and about to start a reread, I’ve also been spending my days on forums and gobbling up numerous fan theories to be my own personal canon. I find this series interesting and compelling for a number of reasons—good characterization and awesome worldbuilding, to name a few—but I also like what it does with the fantasy genre as a whole. Though, like many fantasy stories before it, A Song of Ice and Fire takes place in a medieval setting, has dragons, and is probably going to end with an epic battle between the forces of good against the forces of evil, it is not a typical fantasy story. One of the reasons for that is its use of magic.

The_Wall_from_the_southA Song of Ice and Fire doesn’t expose its readers to that many magical elements. There are dragons and skinchangers, but what else? The vast majority of the books have no magic in them whatsoever, so some of the more fantastical parts of the books—such as the Wall—can easily make a reader wonder whether or not it can be explained by magic or science.

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Imagination Forced to Life: My Experience of the Welcome To Night Vale Live Show

welcome-to-nightvale-podcastWelcome To Night Vale can surely be classified as a worldwide phenomenon. For a few weeks in October and November, Cecil and the crew have been touring Europe with a live performance of “The Librarian.” A couple of weeks ago, I was one of the lucky ones who got to see the show in Copenhagen. Seeing Cecil and others in the flesh was amazing, but also weird. I don’t know what I expected, but seeing the actors on the black empty stage made it difficult to see Night Vale the way I usually do while listening to the podcast, and I left the theater feeling slightly underwhelmed.

I tried to keep this focused on the general experience so as to avoid plot spoilers, but a few vague points sneaked through. Also, trigger warning for unreality. Continue reading

Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Avatar, Eywa, and Faith

Avatar is one of those movies it’s easy to have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it’s visually stunning. A lot of effort went into its making, and that shows. Avatar takes us to another world that seems nothing short of magical compared to our own. Hell, it’s even got dragons and floating mountains. On the other hand, though, the story sucks. The characters are underdeveloped, the overall message is both racist and ableist, and despite giving us an expansive world with its own peoples and cultures, the movie never adequately explores its own characters.

avatar_pandora_background_seedAll too often, Avatar got caught up in its own message—environmentalism, which is not a bad message to have—but the movie never found a good balance between telling a story and preaching a lesson. None of that is more apparent than its take on religion.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Gendered Powers in the X-Men

I’ll be up-front: I love superpowers. Sometimes I peruse this article just for funsies. There’s a few shows out there I watched that didn’t have any element of the supernatural or paranormal (Dawson’s Creek always comes to mind), but my very favorites tend to revolve around the superly powered, from Buffy and Charmed to today’s Teen Wolf. I trace my love of these types to early exposure to the world of The X-Men, the original superpowered team, who continue to hold a special place in my heart. Follow me after the jump as I look at some of the intersections of gender and superpowers in the comics of the X-Folk.

Mini dresses, a must-have for any superheroine in the 1960s.

Mini dresses, a must-have for any superheroine in the 1960s.

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