We live in strange times, my friends. Some people have dubbed this the “worst of all timelines,” and while that has yet to be proven (unless you’re a time traveler, I don’t know how it would be proven), it’s true that shit keeps piling on shit and it’s exhausting. However, this is the world we live in. One of these more recent offenses has brought people from all walks of internet life into a debate on free speech and if “political correctness” has gone too far. Spoilers: it hasn’t.
For those who don’t follow YouTube news or have managed to avoid all mentions of the popular YouTube gamer PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg), ripples went through the internet earlier this week when Kjellberg was dropped from his contract with Disney’s Maker Studios and subsequently had the second season of his YouTube Red series, Scare PewDiePie, cancelled by YouTube itself. Kjellberg, who has more than 50 million subscribers on YouTube, was dropped/cancelled due to comments on several on his past videos, most notably two that were released earlier this year. On January 11th, he released a video where he ventured onto the freelance site Fiverr trying to see just how ridiculous his requests could get before people would refuse doing them. This unfortunately ended in a group of Indian men dancing around with a sign that read “Death to all Jews”; later, the Indian men explained they had no idea what the sign even meant. Later on January 22nd, Kjellberg released a similar video in which he had someone dressed as Jesus say “Hitler did nothing wrong.”
The comedy scene on YouTube, perhaps especially the gaming comedy scene, is no stranger to attempts at humor in this vein, and presumablyDisney wasn’t ignorant to this when they hopped into the YouTube game, but these two offenses were the final straw when it came to Kjellberg. It’s really no surprise that other YouTubers began to jump to Kjellberg’s defense, claiming YouTube could do the same thing to them if they “spoke out of line”—having a smaller audience could mean financial death to some channels should this happen—and working themselves up about free speech being “under attack” by the mysterious, oversensitive “SJWs”. But honestly, the real worry here is: why do y’all wanna be racist/anti-Semitic/whatever so badly? Kjellberg being dropped was a necessary response, and an incredibly important one at that.
During the winter, not many anime could escape the vortex of Yuri!!! On Ice, and with good reason. Along with bringing figure skating to the forefronts of fans’ minds, there was this collective release of breath that for once a series didn’t destroy a healthy gay relationship by having one of them die, making it hideously tropey, or any other manner of eye-roll-inducing bullshit that non-straight audiences are unfortunately used to. While I’m definitely forever grateful for Yuri’s existence, I won’t lie: part of me was a little bitter that lesbian couples weren’t having their renaissance as well. However, I did manage to hear about two anime series that were being touted as having lesbian relationships front and center. Though continuously dubious about anime’s relationship with, well, any sort of relationships really, but especially lesbian relationships, I sat down and watched the first of the two series, Izetta: The Last Witch. Izetta’s dip into a magic-infused version of our world’s real-life past wasn’t exactly what I would call “fun”, but despite the numerous bad/questionable aspects of the show, I do believe that in the end Izetta is worth a watch.
I first heard about Makoto Shinkai’s hit film Your Name in whispers and gifsets on Tumblr. In fact, upon researching it a little further, I was surprised to find that, you know, it actually was a hit, given that I’d barely heard anything about it. The 2016 animated film has already been dubbed by Funimation and was shown off at Anime Expo back in July. Yet what got me to watch it wasn’t the beautiful animation I’d seen in the gifsets—it was one line I’d read in a brief summary: Mitsuha wishes to be a handsome boy in her next life. So, knowing nothing about this film or the story it was adapted from, I went into Your Name wondering if it was going to star a character going through the struggles of being trans in rural Japan. While this was not the case, Your Name is not necessarily devoid of queer moments. And while the movie was beautiful and entertaining (and I can understand the people who believe it got snubbed for an Oscars nod), I still don’t know if I actually enjoyed the experience.
I’ve finally taken the time to sit down and watch the Fire Emblem Direct that aired on the 18th. While I’m excited for the proposed game coming out for the Switch in 2018 (about which no details have been given yet), and I’ll probably enjoy Fire Emblem Warriors with the same undevoted, “it’s good for killing some time” mindset that I did Hyrule Warriors, I find myself conflicted on the other two titles that were brought up during the event. Both Fire Emblem: Echoes and Fire Emblem: Heroes are beautiful games that will probably be fun and enjoyable. However, with both of them, I fear that the series may be slipping back into some tropes that we really should be past in 2017.
After I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I admit that I was a bit confused. I didn’t understand how the future movies were supposed to include Newt when the main focus seemed to be shifting to the conflict between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. Was there just going to constantly be a side plot with Newt losing and trying to find his creatures again? Would the niffler steal something of Grindelwald’s and find the real Percival Graves hidden inside (please let this happen)? No matter what I could think of, nothing seemed to really fit, until I realized—oh shit—Newt might be the current master of the Elder Wand!
You guys, I really wanted Sing to be good. Like, really badly. Despite seeing ratings that were somewhere in the “meh” area, I remained hopeful—movies mostly about singing (in a non-musical format) aren’t for everyone, after all. Yet as the credits began to roll I found myself echoing a sentiment used by our very own Ace earlier this week: Sing sure was a movie. It wasn’t a travesty or entirely unenjoyable, but I left with the feeling that maybe the writers at Illumination Entertainment simply didn’t know what they wanted to do with the plot and were too attached to showing different animals singing and dancing to pare the story down into something more coherent.