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


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.


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!

Fanfiction Fridays: How to Do Satire Right

It’s no secret that I harbor a love for the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and I have read through the first two with glee—the third one is completely awful, and considering which series this is, that’s saying a lot. I love it for the grammar mistakes that somehow made it through editing. I love it for its characters that provide hours of sadistic critiquing pleasure for me and my friends. And I love it because I honestly think it represents the small beginnings of a shift, not only in general literature, but in the acceptance of our own sexuality. Yes, I may be my own fifty shades of snarky bitch, but I can give credit where credit is due.

I can feel the worry mounting in your mind, readers: this is Fanfiction Fridays and I’m here talking about Fifty Shades—something is wrong. No, something is so very right. Today’s fanfic is not that of a character study, nor one of exploring anything that the original story has to offer. It is, instead, a satire and a freaking hilarious one at that.

Author Bristol Fashion takes a poke at the titular characters, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, in their 51 Tints of Granite in just about the best way I could have asked for. It is insanely simple to make fun of this series, that much should be clear, but to exaggerate the story into such a parody of itself is truly a wonderful feat that had me almost in tears from laughing so hard. As someone who has read the series, I can say that Bristol’s re-writing sounds exactly like what was happening in the story as narrated by my inner thoughts.

As the story is told from Anastasia’s point of view in both the actual novel and the fanfic, the readers get some delicious truths from our eternally oblivious heroine. For instance, after an e-mail where Christian says he’s going to stalk her because he doesn’t trust her, this is her reply:

Wow. How do I interpret that?! He got mad, then apologized, then made a HILARIOUS joke. Ugh. He is so complicated. He makes my brain hurt like that time I tried a Sudoku puzzle. Even though I minored in math, that puzzle had me completely frazzled. I should just stick to the crossword puzzles from Highlights magazine from now on. Those are more befitting of my English major status.

The sad thing is that this kind of monologue isn’t even that far off from what E.L. James’s Anastasia does. In fact, it’s spookily accurate. That’s what I appreciate most in this fic: the characters are still in character. In fact, every exacerbation of the main text Bristol does, it’s so so very easy to find an exact companion to it in Fifty Shades.

It’s like I’m reading the story how it was meant to be read. (There is no way that Christian is not a creeper and bless Bristol for bringing that out in him.)

If you’ve ever been on the edge about reading Fifty Shades, but don’t want to sit through 300-some pages of Anastasia being in awe of the world around her, talking about her inner goddess, or Christian being an overprotective psychopath, read this fic. I can say from experience that literally everything in this fic happens in the novels and you won’t have that nagging sense of self-loathing after reading it.

Cabin in the Woods: A Spoilertastic Review

Very rarely do I walk out of a horror movie blown away by how hilarious it was.

(Well, very rarely do I walk out of a horror movie at all; I don’t usually have the stomach for them.)

I know this movie came out at the beginning of the summer and that this review is thus rather late. All my summer movie-viewing money went to that other little Joss Whedon movie you might have heard of, The Avengers? But one of my best friends highly recommended it, so when I saw that my campus was hosting a showing of it Thursday night, I jumped at the chance.

Here’s the premise of The Cabin in the Woods. Imagine every horror movie scenario ever: a jock, a nerd, an idiot, a sexy blonde, and a virgin brunette go to a mysterious location in the name of fun. While there, they accidentally wake a terrible evil and are gruesomely murdered by said evil (the virgin last, and her death is optional). Now imagine that every aspect of this scenario was carefully planned and calculated and orchestrated by technicians in a mysterious base with a mysterious purpose.

If you want more explanation, hit the jump. If you’d rather not be spoiled, just know that I loved this movie and you should see it.

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“Wait, Haruhi… are you a girl?” “Biologically, yeah.”

Ouran High School Host Club, folks.  On its outside, it’s a patently ridiculous show about the zany fish-out-of-water hijinks of six super-rich boys who befriend a poor scholarship student.  (And don’t get me wrong, I love it for all its ludicrousness.) But once you get the creamy filling, however, it’s a clever satire that deals with big exciting themes like being yourself and gender identity!

In the first episode of this show, we are introduced to the Host Club: the aforementioned six boys use their significant free time and resources to fulfill the romantic fantasies of their female classmates.  (Apparently in Japan this is a thing, or at least normal enough that you don’t have to define ‘host club’ to a Japanese.)  The club runs the gamut of attractive anime-guy stereotypes: the Prince type, the silent type, the loli-shota type, the twincest/forbidden love type, you name it.

I’ll take the twins.

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