It’s not often that a childhood favorite movie or book holds up to the test of time and remains as enjoyable when you’re twenty-eight as when you were eight. For today’s throwback, I want to talk about a movie which I loved as a child for several reasons and which I also love as an adult, although some of the reasons are different now. The movie is Matilda, based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl. As a little girl, I loved Matilda and her superpowers, and now I love Miss Honey and the themes of found family based on mutual love and support.
It’s rare that I admit this, but I was way wrong about Thor.
When it was first announced that the new Thor was to be a lady, my initial reaction was “of all the heroes to genderbend, why pick one that is ‘supposed to be’ a guy?” I worried that it was a publicity stunt and would be set up for failure, setting back future efforts. Then I noticed all the comments about it and how they were almost uniformly of the rabid anti-feminist troll variety. Any time I find myself expressing an opinion shared by the “red pill” types, I immediately reexamine that viewpoint, and I’m so glad I did!
When I started reading The Mighty Thor, I realized not only was I mistaken in my assumption that Thor was a poor choice for a high profile genderbend, but that Thor was in fact the perfect choice. I am glad I was so incredibly wrong because I am excited about the Thor quadrant of the Marvel universe for the first time since I was a kid. Judging by the fact that this run of Mighty Thor has been selling consistently well since its release, I am not alone in that opinion.
Very quickly, about two issues into the first arc, it became clear that not only was the choice to have Thor portrayed by a woman very deliberate, but it was a way to jump right into the midst of the pushback to inclusiveness and hit it squarely in the face with an all-powerful magic hammer. Not only does this series perfectly nail (see what I did there) the fallacy of these arguments against a more diverse base of main characters, it exposes their root: fear at the loss of “straight white male as default”.
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.
“He is standing in the stars and sitting on the floor.”
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.
A new Pixar offering is always going to get me in a theater seat, and Inside Out was no exception. I saw it a few days ago, and while it was definitely a good movie, I don’t know that I’d call it a great one. Mild spoilers below the jump.
I’ve been re-watching a lot of the early seasons of Charmed lately, specifically the first through fourth; to be honest, they’re the only ones I’ve watched before. Though I did make sure to keep abreast of everyone’s favorite Bay Area witches even after I stopped actively watching, for this post, I’ll focus on the the seasons I know best. As anyone who has ever watched this show (or any show that used to air on the WB) knows, relationship drama was often a big plot point. The sisters found themselves in a variety of dating scenarios, from the very casual to extremely serious, but said scenarios were almost always fraught with complications of some sort. How do the portrayals of some of these relationships engage with gender issues and tropes?
I’m a latecomer in the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom; I just finished watching the series a few weeks ago and I’m now making my way through The Legend of Korra. Even though I loved Avatar more than I’m enjoying Korra so far, both shows are great. But they’re not perfect. I can let a few things slide here and there, and they don’t diminish my enjoyment of the show. However, Book 2 of Korra contains one plotline that seriously bothers me: the relationship between Bolin and Eska.
Yes, Bolin, I’m very uncomfortable about this relationship as well.
Trigger warning for discussion of dominance/submission, physically and emotionally abusive relationships, and PTSD. Also, spoilers for Legend of Korra Book 2.
There are not many places to eat near where I work. There is a Subway, a Wendy’s, a Chinese restaurant, and a McDonald’s, and with the exception of the Chinese restaurant (which I can really only eat at when I have a few more dollars in my wallet), I usually eat at the McDonald’s. It’s an ideal lunchtime work place. The food is cheap, there is a wi-fi connection, and I get to leave the office for an hour, but every time I set foot into McDonald’s I’m confronted with the one thing feminists hate about McDonald’s—the Happy Meal toy display.
Recently I have been especially pissed off about the ridiculously gendered Spider-Man toys.