Feminism and Flatland

(image via imdb)

Recently I have been obsessed with Gravity Falls, and that led me to watching a very strange but intriguing movie based on a now-famous science fiction novel called Flatland. When Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch went on Reddit answering questions as Bill Cipher, one commenter asked what Bill’s home dimension was like. Hirsch as Bill (and in entirely in capslock) responded, “EDWIN ABBOTT ABBOTT HAD A GOOD IDEA.” I looked up Edwin Abbott Abbott and discovered he is the author of Flatland, a satirical science fiction book about a flat world inhabited by geometric shapes. Initially, I worried that Abbott would use math and science jargon and that much of the story would be lost on me because of it. I love math and science, and I am fascinated by it, but I don’t have much of a head for it.

However, one day I discovered the 2007 film Flatland: The Film, and decided to watch a little of it, thinking it would be interesting but that it wouldn’t hold my attention long. I was wrong. I was so fascinated with the story that I immediately immersed myself in learning more about the world of Flatland as well as the somewhat feminist views of the story.

Trigger warning for mention of suicide below.

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Afterworlds: YA about YA, Girls Falling in Love, and Growing Up

afterworldsI picked up Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld after finding it on a list of books with lesbian/bisexual/queer female protagonists. The descriptions of the book also promised an eighteen-year-old girl learning to navigate adult responsibilities, self-aware YA, and satire poking fun at paranormal teen romance novel. And Afterworlds largely delivers—although without knowing to look for satire, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it, and while the protagonist is a girl who likes girls, it’s unclear if she’s bi or lesbian. However, the main strengths of this book are actually the variety of female characters and all the different relationships between them: it’s populated with girls and women of different ages, including queer women and women of color, who are friends, lovers, siblings, mentors… But I’m getting carried away, so let’s backtrack and proceed in an orderly fashion, shall we?

Spoilers for the book below, obviously.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: @ProBirdRights

We’ve done some very important things in this space, calling your attention to exciting creators, great games, and sharp analysis. Heck, you might even learn something.

This week, you’re getting a bird.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared

web crush wednesdaysThe horror genre is a tricky one. It’s very hard to get the impact you’d like from your audience, or to get people invested enough to see your story through to the end. I’ll admit that I’m personally very picky when it comes to horror stories that I enjoy. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared was something I never would have considered watching if it didn’t continuously pop up in my related videos on YouTube—it must be interesting since millions of people loved it, right? The video starts out with a bunch of puppets learning to be “creative” and express their emotions, but by the end of the video they’re cutting into a raw meat cake. It wasn’t what I expected, but I loved the video anyway. It wasn’t because of the shock value, or just how outlandish it was; I liked it for the deeper meaning.

The puppets act like they’re hosts of a children’s television show (like Sesame Street), and make fun of the way children are being told exactly how to act and think. It’s the kind of satire that’s not done very often, especially in the horror genre, and I’d love to see more of it! For a while I thought it was meant to be a one shot bit, possibly a student project and nothing more. Luckily the creators produced a second video, and a Kickstarter for more videos of the same nature was funded in 2014. Two more videos have come out within the past year, and they’re still as dedicated, satirical and creepy as their predecessor.

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Vampire Academy: The Movie’s Vain, but the Protagonists Aren’t…

Vampire Academy movie poster

I don’t know about you, but this movie poster is rather off-putting.

Vampire Academy came out in February this year, and even though the film was directed by Mark Waters (who also directed Mean Girls), I hoped the fact that vampires were involved meant that it’d be a little thrilling. After recently watching the film with friends, though, I sadly can’t say that it was scary in the slightest. The moment the opening song started with “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well…” I knew this wasn’t going to be a horror movie. By the time it ended, I was pleasantly surprised. While the story did follow typical high school problems (with vampires and romance of course), the two main characters were generally treated with respect. These leading ladies could fend for themselves and weren’t afraid to do it. Though the story wasn’t my cup of tea, I can appreciate what the movie did right: how they handled having two female protagonists.

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What the Puff: Pipes in Pop Culture

I smoke tobacco pipes. I’ve enjoyed them since I turned 18 and even make them. So, I am pleased when I see television or movies including characters smoking their pipes. You’ll never know where pipe smokers are going to turn up in these things, from Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds to Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean. Even the First and Fourth Doctors in Doctor Who were seen smoking pipes. However, I’m almost always infuriated when I see how they smoke them. This is because many times the characters smoke their pipes wrong. Typically, these characters seem to be most interested in making as much smoke as possible. This isn’t wrong because of arbitrary etiquette, but rather is wrong because it ruins the taste of the tobacco, burns the mouth, and can ruin a pipe over time.

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Theatre Thursdays: The Book of Mormon

The-Book-of-Mormon-poster-2

God Loves Mormons and He Wants Some More

The Book of Mormon is a nine Tony and one Grammy Award-winning musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who are well known for being the creators of the controversial show South Park, and Robert Lopez of Avenue Q who co-wrote and co-composed. The story is about two young Mormon missionaries off to their first mission ever. The first is Elder Kevin Price. Handsome and ambitious, he is positive he can be the best gosh darn missionary they’ve ever seen! While his partner Elder Arnold Cunningham, a not so handsome compulsive liar who has never actually read the book of Mormon, has lesser ambitions, he just wants a friend.

After completing their training the unusual pair are sent to a small village in Uganda. There, a brutal warlord is bullying the population, including mutilating women. Finally they meet their fellow Mormon missionaries who teach them an important lesson about suppressing feelings.Refreshed, the two naive and optimistic missionaries go off to get more Mormons for Jesus. However, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham ave a lot of trouble both connecting and converting the locals. Not only have the villagers heard it all before from other religions missionaries, they are far more worried about AIDS, famine, poverty, and war than what God thinks of them.

turn it off

When you start to get confused because of thoughts in your head. Don’t feel those feelings! Hold them in instead!

When I first heard of this musical I was a bit apprehensive. Religious satire is a tricky thing to pull off without outright offending people. It is especially tricky when the creators of said satire are not of the religion. However, The Book of Mormon not only lampoons the Mormon religion, but organized religion itself. For satire, it treats Mormonism with some respect, telling the truth about the church teachings. They show the people in this religion tend to be nice and clean cut people, but perhaps a bit too naïve and trusting.

However, this is the South Park and Avenue Q crew, so the musical has its share of naughty language—mostly shouted by the Ugandan people due to their crappy lot in life. I found the show very funny, what surprised me was how candid they were about the problems Uganda and many of the other countries in Africa have. This is especially shown in the song “Hasa Diga Eebowai.” I won’t tell you what it means because it’s far more fun to find out yourself, just be careful where you sing it.

NSFW

This was a very good musical, it was clever, very funny, and the music was great. However, if you are easily offended, especially by swear words, you may not enjoy it. Those of you who really like South Park and Team America: World Police will especially enjoy this musical. Go and see it before it says goodbye!