Throwback Thursday: Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

We’re going a little deeper into the archives of science fiction this week, to pull out the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The black-and-white visuals and Cold War imagery give the movie a dated effect, but I’m realizing how distressingly relevant the underlying message still is.

nofightinginthewarroom

At the top level, the movie is a satire of mutually assured destruction and nuclear war. A rogue American general named Jack D. Ripper, consumed with paranoia, orders an unprovoked nuclear strike against the Soviet Union, and a fleet of bombers take to the air.

When news of the strike reaches President Merkin Muffley, he descends to the underground War Room, joined by the maniacal General Buck Turgidson, the Soviet ambassador Alexei de Sadeski, and the title character, a nuclear scientist from Nazi Germany now serving the United States. De Sadeski reveals the existence of a Soviet Doomsday Device, which will automatically destroy all life on Earth with a cloud of radioactive gas if an atomic strike on the USSR is detected. The Americans and the Russians work together to recall the bombers, but one, piloted by Major T.J. “King” Kong, has been damaged and cannot receive the radio signal, and prepares to deliver its payload.

Earth’s last hope is the failure of Kong’s bomb, spray-painted with the name “Hi There!”—which jams in the bay. But the dedicated pilot climbs on top of it, and jumps up and down on it until it deploys. Kong rides the bomb to the end of the world, gleefully whooping and waving a cowboy hat in the film’s most famous scene.

ridethebomb

Anonymous submission to MakeAGIF.com

The Americans pause for a moment of silence, before planning to resume the Cold War after the apocalypse when they emerge from their bunkers. The credits roll with a montage of mushroom clouds set to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Redemption or Lack Thereof

black widowRedemption seems to be a key element in most religions. Many religions believe that if someone does something wrong then they need to be forgiven and become a better person; in other words, they need to do good so that they can redeem themselves of all their wrongdoing. While redemption is prominent in Buddhism and Abrahamic religions, it is especially important in both Islam and Christianity. For this reason, it is surprising to me that a lot of Western film, which is heavily influenced by Christianity, may discuss religion, but very rarely truly explores redemption in an interesting or profound way.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Childbearing and Womanhood

Baby-having. It’s traditionally one of the societal markers of womanhood—women are supposed to have uteruses, and men aren’t, and if you’re a woman and fail to successfully grow a baby, for whatever reason, that makes you a failure at your gender.

I’m a cis woman, and society has told me from the get-go that one day I’ll be giving birth to the next generation. I spent the first eighteen or so years of my life plotting out elaborate (and often fandom-based) names for my future kids, and now today, when I tell people I don’t really know that I want children after all, I have to qualify it with a reassurance that I might change my mind—before they assure me that I will.

What this boils down to is gender essentialism. This method of thinking boils women down to what thousands of years of society says is woman’s defining trait, and sets that above everything else. Women who can’t have children are referred to as “barren”, a negatively connotated word which calls up desolate fields in which nothing living grows. (There’s no equally negatively connotated word for men—“sterile” just suggests cleanliness.)

Steven Moffat is so, so guilty of this.

Steven Moffat is so, so guilty of this.

It also moralizes the existence of women without uteruses or without the ability to bear children, making sterility into an issue of good and bad rather than just an apolitical medical condition. Trans women exist; they can’t bear children. Cis women who have had hysterectomies for personal or health reasons, or who are infertile for other reasons, can’t bear children. They are not any less worthwhile, or any less women, for this. Unfortunately, pop culture seems to disagree.

Spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Orphan Black, and Series 7 of Doctor Who below the jump.

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Was Avengers: Age of Ultron as Good as Its Predecessor?

avengers_age_of_ultron_2015So, you all knew it was coming sooner or later: my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron. I have already seen the movie twice, but unlike its predecessor, I probably won’t hit the thirteen-showings mark with Avengers 2. Even though I enjoyed parts of it, it was weaker than the original Avengers on almost every level.

Hella spoilers after the jump.

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Magical Mondays: Magical Characters in a Science-Minded World

doctor strangeWhen people ask me “If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have?”, I have always answered that I would have magical powers. Usually after this response people claim I’ve cheated, but there are tons of magical superheroes, from Zatanna to Dr. Strange. Not only do these characters have an array of powers that make them extremely formidable, but they are also something of a mystery to their more science-minded brethren. The recent plethora of comic book movies have attempted to mostly eliminate the more magical elements of various comic books universes—I suppose to keep things more realistic. However, magic has always added an element of mystery to the comic book universe.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Avengers: Age of Ultron

It’s been nearly three weeks since the Age of Ultron trailer was leaked to the public. I was on vacation at the time, so, while I did get to watch first the grainy leak footage (and then the HD damage-control release from Marvel) in my condo while jumping up and down with excitement, I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet. I’m here to remedy that right now.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: MediAvengers

Web Crush WednesdaysOver the weekend I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy, and despite glowingly positive reviews across most of the interwebs, I didn’t particularly like it. I’ve been a little iffy about Marvel’s Phase 2 movies—I especially hated Iron Man 3—so it made me a little nostalgic for the earlier Phase 1 movies, which I had generally liked.

Enter today’s web crush: MediAvengers.

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