Channel Zero: Candle Cove: Blow Me Down! It’s Not A Total Shipwreck

With the second season of Syfy’s creepypasta inspired show, Channel Zero, well into its run, I figured it was finally time to sit down and watch its first season. You know. For science. Last year I showed off the trailer and addressed some of my worries surrounding this leg of the series, but I’ll give a quick recap. First of all, for those perhaps a little less internet-niche-y, “creepypasta” refers to short, scary (or attempting to be scary) stories that get passed around the internet until they become ingrained in that niche’s mind—or in the case of less serious creepypastas, they enter more mainstream meme status, such as the lines “who was phone” or “man door hand hook car door”.

Channel Zero’s first season, Candle Cove, was based off a well-beloved creeepypasta of the same name which, through forum posts, shows a short interaction between people remembering a children’s show from their past that may not have actually existed. As far as creepypasta-based media goes, Channel Zero is nowhere near the worst thing I’ve ever seen. However, it was disappointing to discover that most of my fears from my earlier post were well-founded, and that even though the creators had a clear love for the creepypasta itself, Channel Zero seemed to forget what made the story scary in the first place.

Spoilers below.

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Westworld, Sadism, and Humanity

HBO continues to set a high bar in its primetime drama, and the new sci-fi drama Westworld is a strong addition to their lineup this fall. With cinematic production values that match or exceed Game of Thrones, there’s no doubt that the network has made a real commitment to this reboot of a relatively obscure 1973 movie, starring, of all people, Yul Brynner.

shall-we-dance

Please tell me nobody’s going to reboot this, too.

Westworld isn’t a sweeping epic, like Game of Thrones, but rather, a more thoughtful, existential work more in the mode of The LeftoversIt shares some common DNA with Orphan Black and Dollhouse, pushing through the boundaries of humanity in a world where technology is showing them to be soft.

Orphan Black‘s clones challenge a basic sense of human autonomy: Sarah and her sestras were made in a lab, from their carefully-coded DNA on out. They are copyrighted and patented intellectual property, reproducible by their owner. Their rebellion over the course of the series is, in part, about taking back self-ownership. Dollhouse was the converse: its featured technology did not create new bodies, but customized the minds and personalities of the individuals in its clutches. While the clones seek to reclaim their engineered bodies for their individual minds, the dolls of Dollhouse seek to regain ownership of their engineered minds.

Westworld, essentially, does both: its robotic characters have artificial minds in artificial bodies, beyond the fractured humanity of its predecessors. What self can there be under such circumstances? And how can the viewers navigate these uncanny representations of humanity?

Westworld.jpgTrigger warnings for rape and rape culture below, as well as spoilers.

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Business with “Bismuth”

I don’t think anyone would disagree that this season of Steven Universe is tackling some very difficult, mature issues. From feelings of inadequacy, to the struggle with accepting grief and moving on, to ways of coping, approaching, and dealing with different forms of abuse, the crew behind the show seem genuinely invested in giving kids (and their older audience) outlets and role models for healthier ways of dealing with these very real problems. So when the newest episode “Bismuth” came up, many were interested in seeing what issues it would tackle. The crew had teased Bismuth’s existence by proof of her gem for a while, and designs of her humanoid form had been floating around way before the episode even aired: needless to say that there was a general consensus of excitement over having another Black-coded gem joining the cast, if only for a little while.Yet, after the episode, many fans were left confused and angry by Bismuth’s episode. Indeed, despite their best intent, the heads behind Steven Universe tackled an issue that they didn’t have time to account for, and in the end this lack of time hindered Bismuth as a character, the Crystal Gems, and the perception of the crew behind the show.

Steven Universe Bismuth Title CardMajor spoilers for “Bismuth” under the cut.

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Throwback Thursdays: Dragon Flyz

The 90’s was a weird time for animated children’s shows. Voice acting and animation standards were both painfully low, but because shoddy production didn’t cost much, it seems like if you could throw together a concept in under twenty seconds, network executives would give you a primetime spot. In 1995, Anthony and John Gentile, living as they did in this golden age of anything-goes production, presumably hit a massive blunt and then pitched something along the lines of “What if… Mad Max, except like throw in some Star Wars shit and like… there are dragons”. Out of this visionary dream came Dragon Flyz, a children’ show about a barren earth shattered by nuclear war, where a tiny group of survivors has built a floating city to escape the irradiated wreckage of what they call “Old Earth”. Also dragons exist now and you can ride them. How? Nuclear mutation. Don’t think about it too hard, okay, there are just dragons now and they understand English and it’s cool as hell. They eat lava.

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This is very 90’s-level cool.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Rick Sanchez, Unity, and Sexuality

I just started watching Rick and Morty, and I must say that I adore it. Rick and Morty is the story of an elderly, eccentric, alcoholic scientist who moves in with his daughter and her family after years of being apart from them. Rick spends most of his time with his grandson Morty, who helps Rick out as they travel through space, alternate universes, and other crazy adventures.

I was recently rewatching Season 2 of Rick and Morty—in particular, I was watching the episode “Auto Erotic Assimilation”, where we meet the Hivemind being Unity, a former lover of Rick’s. In the episode, Unity appears to Rick in a variety of genders and while Rick seems to be primarily interested in Unity’s female avatars, he doesn’t seem averse to the male ones, who are also incorporated into their lovemaking in various ways. Furthermore, though Unity appears in a variety of forms to Rick, they seem to primarily be identified in the show as female.

Auto Erotic AssimilationSo today we are going to talk about not only Rick Sanchez’s sexuality, but also what the sexuality and gender of a Hivemind would be like.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Triggering TV

Recently Saika and I started watching Sense8, the Wachowski siblings’ new Netflix offering. I’d been hearing great things about it in the news and on Tumblr—so far I’ve avoided spoilers about its more problematic parts, so please no spoilers—and I was pretty pumped to start it. Within the first few minutes of the first episode, though, I quickly figured out that, like Hannibal, this was not a show that I could go into blindly. I scoured the internet to see if anyone had put up lists of trigger warnings for Sense8, and I was thrilled when I found an entire Tumblr dedicated to helping out TV fans with triggers.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Supergirl

I admit that I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Supergirl. It’s probably because the first Supergirl comic I ever read featured Superman putting his poor cousin in an orphanage and Supergirl barely ever got to fight any real bad guys. But as DC rebooted the character, over time she was given much more to do and was stereotyped significantly less. She remembers more about Krypton than Superman does and is even more powerful than him. I mean, the girl can even kick Darkseid’s ass. She is a great character. It amazes me that it took this long to finally get a Supergirl TV show. And I have to say, the new trailer gives me a lot of confidence that the show is going to be awesome.

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