Aesthetic Reinforcement: Rick & Morty

It’s been about a year since I looked at how the aesthetics of Steven Universe reinforce its deeper themes of togetherness and harmony, and on a personal note, I’ve been struggling with some existential crises and I could use a dose of “letting go” for a bit of time. While I was down, I saw some clips of Rick & Morty that made me feel a bit better, mostly. So today, I wanted to do another analysis of aesthetics in a show, this time focusing on Rick & Morty and themes of existential nihilism.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Orphan Black and Missing Religious Voices

Once upon a time, years before we came to the city that’s Not Officially Toronto But Come On, It’s Toronto, a woman had two children. As a fugitive from a dangerous secret organization, she had to give them up. One, she decided, to the church, and one to the state. This is the origin story for the two primary protagonists of Orphan Black. Sarah Manning went into foster care, while her sestra Helena went to an orphanage run by nuns in Ukraine.

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It’s not a buddy comedy, despite this picture.

Helena gets indoctrinated into the Proletheans, an ambiguously Christian sect that serves as one of the major antagonists in the series. The religious motifs around the Proletheans make them terrifying, both with Helena as their assassin and as their prisoner. However, the show misses an opportunity to really dig into the theology of the Proletheans and doesn’t truly engage with any number of religious objections to the biotechnology the show presents as being in our immediate future.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Oklahoma! A Sexist Classic!

I went on a musical binge recently and realized I clearly haven’t watched Oklahoma in a long time, because I didn’t realize how sexist the musical actually was until I watched it again as an adult. None of the women have any agency and the few that do are pretty well shamed for it. You could perhaps argue it’s a product of its time, but I hardly think that is an excuse. Just because some form of sexism was considered acceptable in its time doesn’t make it any less sexist.

Trigger warning for attempted rape after the jump.

Oklahoma!

Oklahoma!

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Stranger Things: A Better Story than I Had Expected

Sometime last week, I sat down to binge watch the first season of Stranger Things. I’d kept hearing conflicting reports about the show—some people thought it was very well done and feminist, and others, not so much—so I decided to give it a try myself.

Stranger Things promo picStranger Things is a science-fiction horror show that takes place in the 80s and features a monster that looks like it came out of a movie from the 80s. Like all stories, Stranger Things is by no means perfect, and some of the problems I had with it are hard to ignore, but on the whole, I loved this show.

Spoilers up ahead.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Bird in a Cage by etothepii

Some of you may remember Animorphs, a series which was all fun animal transformations on the surface and all war crimes and child soldiers when you got deeper. It’s been one of my favorite series my whole life, and so I periodically search AO3 and the trash fire that is FF.net for new fanfic, hoping that someone will someday write me the fix-it fic of my dreams. Though I haven’t yet found that, I have discovered that as our civil rights dialogue has advanced, particularly online, more and more fanfiction writers have been applying it to their fanfic. And Animorphs, which was about a multicultural and multiethnic group of kids working together to save humankind from alien invaders, is a particularly meaningful story to which to apply some of this social justice.

animorphs headerWhen Animorphs was written in the late 90s, Western society’s understanding of trans issues was fairly low (or nonexistent). Now, though, there are more trans people out in the public eye than ever, and subsequently, people are slowly starting to believe that there can and should be trans characters in fiction as well. It’s a long road to more actual canon representation, but in the meantime, no one can stop anyone from having all the trans headcanons they want. Though today’s fanfic is short, it’s a fantastic example of what I’m talking about.

Trigger warning for body dysmorphia and internalized transphobia after the jump.

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I Sure Did Watch the Pete’s Dragon Remake

Petes Dragon Remake PosterWell, this movie was… nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be, especially considering how bad the trailers were. Overall, the remake has gotten a lot of favorable reviews and ratings, and while I can see where those opinions come from, I wasn’t exactly blown away by the story. On the whole, I’d say that the remake is cute and harmless, and it’s most certainly not a carbon copy of the original. The plot isn’t half-bad either, but the story is just so derivative that you’d be better off spending your time watching something else, like Ghostbusters.

Spoilers up ahead.

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Throwback Thursdays: The Sword of Shannara

sword of shannara coverFantasy is big money now. Everyone is looking to the hefty fantasy tomes of the past for inspiration for the next Game of Thrones, with mixed success. The appearance of Terry Brooks’s world of Shannara on the small screen thanks to MTV is just one example of this.

When I first heard that the show was being made, I decided it was time to finally reread The Sword of Shannara, the 1977 book that introduced me to Brooks’s expansive world, and which I first read in my grade school’s library. Real life intervened, however; a season of the show has come and gone, and I only just sat down with my battered old copy of the book last week. Unfortunately, my reread left me mostly confused and concerned for the tastes of my elementary school self, as The Sword of Shannara is an odd mix of utter tedium and story beats lifted directly from its more celebrated contemporary, The Lord of the Rings.

Spoilers for the novel below.

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