Magical Mondays: Romanticizing Danger in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

the_coldest_girl_in_coldtown_coverI’ve been slowly working my way through the backlog of Speculate! episodes, and in one older episode the hosts were discussing The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. It wasn’t until recently that I got to read it for myself and experience Black’s fascinating take on vampires. When I first started the novel, I thought that maybe it was a dig at Twilight and its sparkly, essentially non-threatening vampires, but as I read on, it didn’t seem to be specifically targeting Twilight — which is nice, because despite Twilight‘s many faults, I think there’s enough room in the world for both Twilight‘s sparkly vampires and the more traditional Dracula-esque vampires. What Coldtown‘s vampires seem to be critiquing is the idea of romanticizing danger. As Holly Black said in an interview with Parade,

For me, I think one of the key things I wanted to explore in the book is the idea of our love of danger—and what we do in the face of it on such a staggering scale. That’s where the reality TV aspect of it came. We like watching people get hurt—on TV, on YouTube. There’s that vicarious thrill. I wanted to take that to an extreme and see what happened. What would it really be like if we had a world with vampires in it, given our iPhone, camera-obsessed culture? We like the idea that we could get close to danger and survive. And also the idea that someone else could get close to danger and not survive.

The book does have some potentially meatier themes about being a human vs. being a monster, but unfortunately, much of it wasn’t followed through in a way I found satisfying. What I did find satisfying was the ways in which Black uses her vampires to examine the horrifying consequences of the media sensationalism that we have to deal with in the real world.

Spoilers for almost the whole story below the jump.

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Post-Modern He-Man: Son of Zorn

Premiering tonight on Fox is Son of Zorn, a thoroughly silly semi-animated sitcom starring Jason Sudeikis, Cheryl Hines, and Tim Meadows, with Johnny Pemberton as the titular Son. There’s a preview episode available online, with 13 total episodes to come this fall.

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Son of Zorn has a high-concept premise to be sure: Zorn (voiced by Sudeikis), a clear homage to the 1980s animated version of He-Man, returns from the land of Zephyria to get involved in the life of his son, Alangulon — or “Alan” to his friends. Because Zorn’s baby momma isn’t She-Ra or any other sort of Amazonian heroine: she’s Edie (Hines), a perfectly mundane woman living an ordinary life with her new fiancé, psychology professor Craig (Meadows).

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Faith and the Romantic Child in The Little Prince

I had just recently read the original book version of The Little Prince when I watched the Netflix movie adaptation of it. The movie was gorgeous, and I think it did right by its source material. It managed to include a great deal from the book in beautiful stop-motion animation sequences that looked like folded, textured paper, while adding an additional plot that stayed true to the message of the original. But it drove home (perhaps too heavy-handedly) a few points that I had not fully grasped while reading the book: faith in the improbable and death and childhood innocence as two sides of the divine-encounter coin. This latter idea first became popular during the Romantic period (which peaked somewhere between 1800 and 1850), and has been with us in Western society ever since. Unlike some Romantic poems, though, and even arguably the book itself, the movie manages to convey these messages in a hopeful, uplifting manner.

Major spoilers for both the book and movie versions of The Little Prince below!

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Stardust and the Women Who Don’t Do Anything

stardust

I really love the movie Stardust. I’ll watch it any time it comes on. But while rewatching it recently, I realized how often the women in the movie were not active participants in the story. Victoria, Yvaine, and Una don’t get to do much of anything — they don’t fight battles, go on any great quests, discover any great secrets, or attempt to gain the family throne. The only female participants who are very active at all are the evil witches, particularly Lamia, their leader. This sends a particularly bad message, especially since of all of the good female characters I mentioned, only one wasn’t someone’s prisoner. Una is kidnapped by another witch, Yvaine is kidnapped for a time by Tristan, and Victoria, though never kidnapped, is barely in the movie and is portrayed as rather vain and selfish. Basically, the women of Stardust not only do very little, but also are severely lacking in any sort of empowerment.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Spotlight On Bisexual Characters

In honor of Bisexual Awareness Week and Bi Visibility Day, today I would like to talk about my favorite canon bi characters. Unfortunately, bi characters are so difficult to find, and even when you do, most of them fall under the same harmful stereotypes, not to mention that the word bisexual isn’t even used in the vast majority of cases, making it harder for people find and identify or identify with the characters. So, with that in mind, I also want to share some of my dreams for better bi representation.

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Tips for Having a Good Convention Experience

As summer winds down into the cool months of autumn, convention season is also slowing down. There are still some big events left to be sure, but the winter months are often considered a rest period. People will use this time to save some money, focus on school or work, and prepare for the next season of conventions; early year events typically have an outpouring of well-made and creative costumes. However, in this storm of preparing, we must remember that we’re attending these events with other human beings and their desire to have a good time is equally as valid as ours. In the meantime, here are some general tips that will help make sure that you, your friends, and strangers will have the best time possible.

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Fanfiction Fridays: The Chuck Writes Story by lettered

I’m not really into Supernatural any more, and I don’t think I will be again, despite the fact that the series seems like it will go on forever. But when I stumbled upon today’s fanfic rec, I thought the idea seemed just ridiculous enough to give it a chance. I’m glad I did, because The Chuck Writes Story ended up being the type of meta fanfic that is both funny and thought-provoking. (Truly showing that Supernatural’s glory days are behind it, as this fic was written when Season 7 had just come out.)

Chuck SupernaturalRemember Chuck Shurley way back in Season 4, when all we knew about him was that he was a so-called author who was writing and publishing the (entirely true) story of the Winchester brothers? In this series, after his book series is canceled, Chuck keeps writing because he’s compelled to as a prophet. However, he doesn’t just let the new stories languish—in a desperate bid for attention, he decides to publish them on the internet as “fanfiction” of his own series. As more people start reading and/or complaining about his new “additions” to canon, Chuck attempts to make friends in fandom, but his lack of understanding of fandom culture only succeeds in alienating the few people who do talk to him.

Trawling through [livejournal.com profile] spnkink_meme forced Chuck to acknowledge that by entering fandom, he was taking the characters and—maybe not writing gay incest porn—but certainly he was taking the characters and subverting someone’s intent. Certainly he was subverting the intent of these people on, what was it, [livejournal.com profile] samdean_otp, some of whom seemed to believe Sam and Dean were meant for each other. In the sexual sense.

He certainly hadn’t meant them for each other sexually, and he had created them. Was his intent, then, more important than theirs? What about their Supernatural—and there was that question again: was their Supernatural different than his Supernatural?

What was SPN?

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