The 1997 movie Batman & Robin is quite possibly one of the strangest movies I have ever watched. The last time I watched it, I noticed that the story liked to switch back and forth between two different things—being completely awful and being completely awful. It does literally nothing else. At any given time Batman & Robin is so awful it’s boring, and during all the other times, it’s so awful it’s baffling. Nevertheless, it’s a movie that has stuck with me over time—not because I particularly want to remember it, but because my traitorous mind won’t let me forget it in the slightest.
I really enjoy the Kickstarter platform, and I have a lot of faith in crowdfunding as a concept. Despite there being disappointing results from time to time, I don’t think that is a fault of the service. I’ve backed a few projects that have gone well, and I’ve seen even more projects succeed and please customers. Alternative funding methods help more interesting stories and concepts come to life. One such concept is this week’s Web Crush: Ikenfell, a role-playing game about witches, wizards, their school, and their adventures.
Though I’ve traveled through many different anime genres, I tend to stay away from yaoi/BL (boy’s love) series. I don’t have anything against the concept itself, but these series tend to attract a fanbase that not only is misogynistic, claiming every terrible thing that could be said about a woman is inevitably true, but also one that fetishizes relationships between men to the point where even gay men are uncomfortable. Furthermore, in the series that I have been exposed to, it seems like parts of these issues are incorporated into the stories themselves, and really, I don’t want to wade through looking for the one series that isn’t going to piss me off. However, pictures have been floating around on Tumblr about this one film that seems to be everything I could want in a love story that also happens to fall in the BL genre: something slice of life-y with relatable characters, a lack of sexual harassment, no bashing on women, and a banging soundtrack (if you like soft, acoustic music).
I honestly did not plan to come back to this series; I figured that I capped it off by jumping from Westeros to an Avenger. But damn if Game of Thrones didn’t imagine Sansa with the sovereign powers of Winterfell this year, at least briefly before Jon Snow was declared King in the North. And so, it’s time again to look at another member of House Stark take on the affairs of law and justice.
Unlike her predecessors, Sansa has no experience in statecraft; her parents spent their entire adult lives in powerful positions, and Tony’s been around for the entire Cinematic Universe. Not only does she lack experience, but she was not educated to become a ruler. Instead, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the fairy tales of her people, and five grueling seasons of torture at the hands of, well, everyone.
She acts harshly, and many writers have seen this as evidence that she has given into the latter, and that the gentle Northern girl has been corrupted. But Sansa is still living out a fairy tale, and her severity comes from those tales as much as her naivete once did.
Since we’re talking Game of Thrones, beware of spoilers (through Season 6) and triggers (torture and sexual violence below the line).
One of the things that is fairly common in many religions is some sort of erotic relationship between gods and mortals. Especially in various pagan pantheons, gods often have sex with mortals, often resulting in the creation of some sort of superhuman child. This is where we usually get the heroes of many of these myths. These heroes are able to stand up to gods and monsters of all kinds, but not all of the children created from these unions are good. In fact, some end up being vicious monsters or even just powerful humans using their godly abilities for evil. Either way, the union between gods and mortals ends up creating a powerful elite class of beings. With that being said, is it ethical for gods to ever have a erotic relationship with a human if the union can create such powerful and dangerous beings? Furthermore, when there are powerful and immortal people sleeping with changeable mortals, this creates a whole other set of issues involving the large power imbalance between the two people involved.
If you have not yet seen the short film Sunspring, you’re missing something fascinating, bizarre, and potentially historic. It is a sci-fi short script written entirely by an AI named Benjamin. Specifically, Benjamin is a type of neural net called “long short-term memory” that is most often used for high end speech, handwriting, and text recognition. In the case of Sunspring, it was fed a few dozen classic sci-fi scripts (full list shown in the movie’s titles) and told to write its own short, which the human creative team then attempted to faithfully produce.
The results are… interesting, to say the least. While the stream-of-consciousness style of the language has drawn comparisons to the “cut ups” of William Burroughs or even some of the works of James Joyce, there is also a fair amount of straight up gibberish as well. In fact, what makes the film so interesting is that the majority of the meaning cannot be attributed to the “intent” of the AI author but rather the creative interpretation of the actors and directors. Sunspring is a type of collaboration between performers, viewers, and an AI all trying to pull together a coherent narrative by “reading the tea leaves” of the patterns common to sci-fi stories.
In many cases, these patterns are essentially tropes. The fact that an AI recognized this and incorporated it into a script is worth examining, as this seems to speak volumes about the genre itself. For the purpose of this article, I am choosing to focus on the gender narrative and what it says about sci-fi culture and the role of gender in the geek zeitgeist.
If you’re a Xena: Warrior Princess fan like myself, then you have probably heard that a reboot is in the works. Sadly, it is a reboot and not a continuation, which means Lucy Lawless and Renée O’Connor will not be reprising their roles as Xena and Gabrielle. That’s a little sad, but I guess I get the direction the Powers That Be are pursuing.
That being said, if this is going to be a reboot, I have a couple of suggestions and requests for how to make a Xena reboot successful today while still being true to the spirit of the show.