Black Sails Sets Both High and Low Bars for Gay Pirates

Back when it premiered in 2014, I settled down excitedly to watch Starz Network’s early-1700s pirate drama Black Sails. I had a notion going in that it was being marketed as Starz’s answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones, and would be trying hard to fold in a comparable amount of sex, depravity, and violence. I wasn’t wrong, but the first episode of Black Sails introduced a lesbian relationship that felt so painfully tailored to the male gaze that I actually lost interest and stopped watching, certain that the rest of the show would be cringeworthy. I only gave the show another shot as of a few months ago, when my partner kept asking if we could watch it together. Had it not been for them, I would have done the same thing over again, because the lesbian scenes were as bad as I had remembered. But we slogged through episode one, and as the show went on, I was surprised to find that things turned around in the best possible way.

Spoilers for the entirety of Black Sails below.

Episode10battle black sails

I still feel like I’m hearing the Game of Thrones theme in my head (via vignette1)

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Manifest Destiny: I Love You but I Know You’re Not Trying

There is a point early on in any promising relationship when your significant other gives you a gift that lets you know they really get you. In the case of my current relationship, that gift was the Volume 1 trade paperback of a comic series called Manifest Destiny. I’m a sucker for anything that falls under the weirdly specific category of “fantasy organic science”: stuff that delves into plausible-sounding pseudo-scientific minutiae as it pertains to biology that doesn’t actually exist. I’m pestered by questions like “If contact with iron burns faeries, what’s the oxidizing agent in faerie blood?” and “If drow live underground they must be obligate carnivores, so how can they digest vegetables?” Manifest Destiny is not only great fuel for my fantasy biology obsession, it’s an original, beautifully-illustrated and creatively written piece of historical fiction. The story follows Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their famous exploratory journey across the Louisiana Purchase, except in this version, mapping and documentation are just a cover for what they’re really doing: clearing the new territory of strange and terrible beasties to make it safe for human habitation.

While the concept and aesthetics are a delight, the writing does fail in some more-or-less predictably disappointing sexist and racist ways, which is especially frustrating since the series came out in 2014. Sacajawea, in spite of being well known and almost mythologized in popular culture, is woefully underdeveloped and more than a little caricatured. Although historically Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery encountered and had good rapport with many Native American communities, (establishing trade was, in fact, part of the mission) Sacajawea is the only Native American to appear in the first six issues of Manifest Destiny, and although she becomes directly involved in the narrative in issue three, she doesn’t even speak until issue six. It’s an irritating distraction from a series that has a lot going for it creatively.


Was this not your first clue?

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Trailer Tuesdays: The Legend of Hercules

Okay, I’m not going to lie: after the failure that was the Percy Jackson movies, when I first saw that The Legend of Hercules was a thing, I got a little excited. My hopes of getting a movie about Greek mythology that doesn’t suck, however, seem to have been premature, because any optimism I had for the film died upon viewing the trailer.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Representation and Historical Sexuality

Originally I wanted to write this post about asexual characters, as this upcoming week is Asexuality Awareness Week. However, besides Tremor, a character from The Movement, I couldn’t think of a single explicitly, canonically asexual character in, well, anything. I did a little digging—that is to say, a Google search—and turned up this list on AVEN’s Asexuality wiki.

Human_Yuki_NagatoThe list includes characters from works as diverse as The Hobbit, Inception, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but in the end, reading it just made me sad. It’s a very brief list, you see, and a large percentage of the characters included fall more under ‘supposed asexual’ than ‘confirmed asexual’. Furthermore, characters like the Doctor and Haruhi Suzumiya‘s Yuki Nagato are aliens, which presents a twofold problem: one, it implies that asexual behavior is non-human, and two, without representatives from the rest of their species, it’s unclear whether their asexuality is personal or societal. One particular thing that stuck with me, though, is this: is it fair to apply modern labels to characters set in the past because they display behaviors consistent with those modern labels?

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Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal

rurounikenshinova114rn0fn5Lady Bacula has already talked about Rurouni Kenshin before here and we have a couple other posts on the subject as well. We really love us some Rurouni Kenshin on this blog. However, we seem to have neglected its prequel, Samurai X. I personally have never gotten very far in the original manga, and so Samurai X pretty much consists of all my Rurouni Kenshin knowledge. Watching the prequel before moving onto the actual series is what put me off to the original story. I had trouble reading Rurouni Kenshin and following along with all its quirky humor, because I was so used to Samurai X, which is completely joyless. The prequel is entertaining and really well made, but it is not a fun film. It is exceedingly serious, but that’s probably a good thing considering its subject matter.

Spoilers after the jump, in case there’s actually someone out there not familiar with the story.

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Book Review: Out of the Easy

coverThere is just something special about New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s a chaotic mix of French, Voodoo, the old South, and African influences. It’s almost magical. However, it is also historically known as a hotbed of crime, “loose morals,” and discovering the true definition of family. At least that’s how it appears in Ruta Sepetys’s Out of the Easy.

In the French Quarter in 1950, our main character, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine, is the daughter of a prostitute. When she isn’t working at her beloved book store, Josie works the same brothel as her mother as a cleaner. Unsatisfied with the options offered to her, Josie uses both her book and street smarts to plan her way out of the Big Easy. However a peculiar death in the Quarter pulls Josie into the investigation. Josie is put through many trials and is caught between her Smith College dreams and her dark underworld reality. Continue reading

The Three Musketeers Review

I’mma say it right out: Logan Lerman is pretty enough that he looks like a girl in that wig.

I only recently sat down and watched the 2011 movie, The Three Musketeers, starring (among others) Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, and Orlando Bloom. I had wanted to see it in theaters, but obviously I missed that boat.

It’s been a while since I’ve read The Three Musketeers, (over a decade, and wow does that make me feel old) so I hit up the Wikipedia page to see how the movie measured up to the original story. Turns out it made some pretty significant plot changes, and those don’t even include the added steampunk airships (or ‘shimps’, as my friends and I called them, combining ship and blimp).

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