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.

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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.

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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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Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon): 2015 Edition

Usually everyone here at LGG&F gets along really well. We bond over our mutual love of justice and all things geek! But once in a while, chaos comes to our serene nerd community. When all of the good we try to do is abandoned and our writer’s room deteriorates into madness…

Actual depection of our writers room gif via imgarcade

Actual depiction of our writer’s room.
(gif via imgarcade)

I am, of course, speaking about Valentine’s Day, that heinous holiday that sends us all into a shipping frenzy as our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is now my duty as Empress of LGG&F to present to you this year’s bloodstained list. So put on your shipping goggles and prepare yourself for the 2015 Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom!

via gillianeberry

(gif via gillianeberry)

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How Meta is Too Meta?

On some level, we want our fictional universes to be real. We want our Hogwarts letters; we want the TARDIS to show up on our doorstep; we want to be chosen as the hero by a talking cat or to find faeries in our backyards. And creators have noticed. Many franchises have tried to play into our desire for our fantasy worlds to be real by adding a layer of meta into their creations, inextricably linking the real world and the fictional one. The key to this sort of real world tie-in is subtlety and a firm grasp on the message of the original work.

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Sexualized Saturdays: If the Bechdel Test Isn’t Feminist, What Is?

bechdel test original comicRecently a group of cinemas in Sweden decided to institute a ratings system based on the Bechdel test. As moviegoers enter one of these cinemas, they would see a rating by each advertised movie, telling them whether or not the movie had passed the test. Controversy ensued, with the Telegraph calling the test “damaging to the way we think about film” and the Guardian almost immediately rebutting by saying it was “a provocation that works”. Both sides of the argument have some merit to them, but it’s clear that the Bechdel test now has enough cultural clout to propel a more in-depth discussion on feminism and gender in the film industry. The test has long been held up as a measure of how feminist a movie is, but does it really fulfill this purpose? Or is it time for this test to make way for newer tests like Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Sexy Lamp test or the Mako Mori test?

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Sexualized Saturdays: The Double Standard of the Friend Zone

friend zoneThere’s this idea that if a guy is nice to a girl, he deserves something in return. A thank you? Sure. Some… other form of appreciation? Would be more appreciated. What if a guy was nice to a girl over a much longer period of time? Then they’re friends, right? Sure. But what if the guy wants to be more than friends, but for all his niceness, the girl still won’t go out with him?

Well, then the guy’s stuck in the dreaded “friend zone”. And what is the friend zone? It’s where girls relegate guys who are just nice enough to not make it into that erogenous zone where they actually get to have sex. Or, in other words, it’s a stupid social construct that implies both that a guy can’t be nice to a girl out of sheer altruism or friendship, and that if a guy is nice to a girl, she must reciprocate by sleeping with him. And whether or not it’s the girl doing the friendzoning, somehow, the pressure is always on the girl’s romantic interests.

Let’s take a look at some examples from pop culture so you can see what I mean. Slight spoilers for The Hunger Games and Les Misérables below.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Divergent

Look, they’re making a movie of another wildly popular YA series! Yes, following the path of successes like The Hunger Games and not-really-successes like The Mortal Instruments, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series is also hitting the big screen.

Slight spoilers for Divergent after the jump.

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Industry InJustice

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You know what was great? Teen Titans. While I don’t need to make a list of reasons why Teen Titans was great, I could throw a couple at you. Starfire wasn’t a walking sex toy. A skilled writing staff managed to write jokes that made me laugh without wanting to put my head into a desk. Cyborg was clearly Black, but not an Erkel or a thug. Then there was Terra, who presented complicated notions of heroism, loyalty, and betrayal for a young audience. There was also the Puffy Am—shut up!—Puffy Amiyumi theme song. All of these things and others made for a great show. But it went the way of the dinosaur. If you ask Wil Wheaton, that was because the season 6 pitch didn’t go over favorably with the execs.

That’s the way it is with television shows. Many great shows are here today, gone tomorrow. Despite the efforts of many a Kickstarter or online petition, it takes much more than a vocal and obsessive fanbase to convince a company to reverse the decision to terminate a show. See: Firefly (which, by the way, was a decade ago, so maybe we should just let that wound heal). So many different things go into the cancellation of a show because it takes the cooperation of actors, animators if a show is animated, the owners of the creative property, production companies, etc., and I recognize that these things happen, but the cancellation of Young Justice genuinely broke my heart. There aren’t that many DC properties that I’ve ever really been into, so it was sad to see a critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning, mature, and compelling show disappear. That’s all right; I will learn to love again.

But the other day I was listening to Kevin Smith’s Fat Man on Batman podcast, which is a goldmine, and he was interviewing Paul Dini. Dini is a writer with a long career and a longer resume, and he has written for a show you like, no question. Dini gave a rather troubling answer as to why Young Justice was cancelled, along with other shows like Tower PrepApparently, those shows are too mature. They appeal to audiences that prefer complexity, and apparently those audiences don’t buy toys. Now, I acknowledge that televisions often live and die on advertising and merchandising. But there’s something much more disturbing in his answer. There’s a transcript here, and if you read far enough down you’ll encounter this comment about studio executives: Continue reading