So Skyfall has just been released, coming in as the 25th James Bond movie and expecting to make, as is traditional, the official measurement of an ass-tonne of money. What’s your secret, people may ask the Bond directors as they look adoringly up at them, sitting on their Roman lounges fashioned entirely out of 100 dollar bills? The secret is the secret agent, who is in fact not so secretive, as his name doesn’t even need to be attached or emblazoned on any of the products for them to be devoured by the public.
People love a James Bond movie. Myself, I haven’t watched that many in their entirety: for me, 007 exists in prime time movies on commercial TV, glimpsed but never quite grabbing me. My parents, diligently overseeing my television experience and training me in the eloquent art of channel surfing and belittling department store ads, would always make note that it was a cultural phenomenon. I don’t remember much from these younger evenings, except a lot of swanky cars and pretty ladies, horror at the abject pointiness of 1960s swimsuits and bras, and a sense of unending confusion at how the lead character seemed to be played by a new man every time I looked.
The Bond movies have somehow struck the right chord in the hearts of the viewers to be able to get them to willingly suspend their disbelief far enough to accept that every few films James Bond gets a new face. The same logic as Doctor Who, though that makes much more sense in the context of the story. In any case, it’s worked magic on the series and is what has enabled it to go on for half a century. Continue reading
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Fashion Concious AND able to Hurt You!
There is a trend in characterisation known as THE DEMONISATION OF FEMINENITY which is a bunch of scary big words reeking of social justice and the topic of this week’s post.
We all remember the good old days right, where women were proper ladies who hid beneath their bonnets and occasionally got kidnapped and let the heroes do all the work? I mean what use is a woman in a fight or an adventure? All those graceful lily white hands are good for is needlework and tea sipping, and of course carrying around her sixteen children. The heroics are the man’s job, and his damsel shall stay on the sidelines being distressed.
Somewhere along the line, it was decided that this wasn’t as capital an idea as people thought, since there was this little thing called the Feminist Movement that politely kicked down the door to the great House of Stories and said “Excuse me, good sirs, but where the f*ck are all the badass ladies?”
So they were granted badass ladies and all was well. Now it was not just the menfolk who could save the day with their rippling abs but the women as well, no longer banished to the background and romance roles to swoon and weep and occasionally die of consumption.
But another problem arose in its place. With these new female heroes (“heroines”, like the drug, because they made everyone deliriously happy) came a new stigma which was the reverse of the old one, much as if when the feminists kicked down the door they had hit the stereotype and belted it inside out. In place of the idea that women should never act like men, there came a new trend, and it forbade women from acting like women. Continue reading
Vampires, werewolves, ghosts! You’ve seen it all a million and one times before. And Toby Whithouse knows this, and how to make it work.
Being Human offers virtually no explanation of the supernatural creatures it stars and deals with, because it knows that we’ve seen it all before. I was surprised, watching it, that the first episode introduces the characters and explains who is what in a very brief opening segment and then launches straight into the story. No explanation of how werewolves work, or vampire lore, or ghost physics, because it’s so ingrained in our popular culture that it’s assumed knowledge.
Now, what if we put them all together into one house in Bristol? It’s like a roommate dom-com but with one of the buds howling at the moon every month, one fighting his addiction to blood and one trying to figure out what her unfinished business is and making lots of tea that she can’t drink. Continue reading
Reality TV rustles my jimmies.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be entertaining, an interesting look into the workings of the world and the humans in it, but there comes a point where it begins to grate on my senses and my conscience.
Take Beauty and the Geek, for instance. The basic format is, we have sixteen individuals hand-picked to fit a perfectly polished mould of a stereotype—eight women, the ‘beauties’ (because who wants to watch a show about ugly women?) who are all bronzed and buffed and busty and notably lacking in the brains department, all with jobs like “Professional Bra Fitter” and “Casino Hostess”, each paired up with a ‘geek’, a man who has relied on his brains to get him where he is in life and not his looks or social skills, who have glasses and ill-fitting beards and “Fungal Scientist” and “Comic Collector” as their title cards.
Typecasting at its finest
Iron Man 3 – May 2013
Man of Steel – June 2013
Thor 2 – November 2013
Captain America 2 – 2014
The Avengers 2 – Speculated 2015
What a program! We sure are going to be remembered as the Golden Age of Superhero Movies.
No, really. In the last few years we’ve seen two different Spiderman incarnations, a revamped trilogy for Batman, a Superman movie, a trio and prequel for the X-Men, a film for both the Green Hornet and the Green Lantern, not to be confused, and an adventure each (and more!) for each of Marvel’s Avengers crew: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk (more than once); the first three with parades of sequels lining up behind the release of the blockbuster The Avengers, which featured the whole damn crew and tied together all the individual films.
Never to be outdone, their competitor DC Comics is setting up a parallel set of movies for the Justice League, starting with Man of Steel starring the big S-Man himself. But Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy defies the canon of the DC Universe with its tone and lack of supernatural/overtly sci-fi elements, so they won’t really fit into a combo set like The Avengers did… guess someone will just have to redo the Batman franchise then…
To utilise the official scientific measurement, that is a crapload of superhero movies. Continue reading
There’s just something infinitely interesting about evil.
Heroes are all well and good, but let’s face it, if they are merely heroes (and not anti-heroes existing in a story of skewed morality or reformed villains themselves) their one layer of goodie goodness can appear a bit flat. They may be the most lovable, honourable character to ever set foot upon a page, but that doesn’t make them intriguing. Also, the story will often be told either from their own perspective or centring around their workings. The bad guy looms on the edge as a menacing shadow. They’re a mystery.
And people love mysteries.
Like, why is this guy such an asshole? Was he/she made this way by some trauma of their childhood? Or is he/she merely inherently evil? What inspired them to want to take over the universe and/or cause the general unhappiness of other people? Or are they just an unthinking agent of chaos? Or perhaps an Eldritch Abomination?
Humans have a deep-set desire to watch people fall in love but a pathological upchuck reaction to watching couples. Thus, fictional love stories must traverse the middle ground for want of avoiding projectile fan-splurk and negative energy that could unbalance the universe, and this is where we find the ship tease.
For the uninitiated, “ship” is (supposedly) short for “relationship” and has become a verb of its own. To ship a pair of characters is to want to see them get together (the nature of this is not crucial; whether they are settling down to adorable domesticity or engaging in casual angry copulation is up to the individual).
In almost every piece of fiction you will find some semblance of a love story. There are whole genres for romance of course, be they comic or tragic, but it seeps into every genre and medium. Basically, we’re in love with love. I’m sure there are countless psychological papers laying out reasons for this. Maybe we want to instil hope in the world and receive warm fuzzies. Maybe we want to imagine that one half of the couple is us. Maybe we just like excuses to gush at our TV screens/books as we cry into our cats about how truly alone we are. Continue reading
It’s an experience we’ve all had: sitting down to enjoy a few hours of G-rated fun with friends or family, and then bam — you find yourself staring at the screen with your mouth agape, and this cry seeps from your slackened jaw:
“How is this in a kid’s movie?!”
Take DreamWorks’ Shark Tale: the plot kicks off when a car wash employee is left to die by mafia hitmen when he loses the money he owes them on a horse race. He then witnesses the accidental death of the mafia boss’ son and claims fame for it, leading us into a story of greed, fame, violence, revenge, kidnapping, a tense and emotional love triangle, and the internal struggle of a shark who wants to be a vegetarian. (minus the last bits, that sounds like the freaking intro to Chicago!)
The mafia, and gambling. In a children’s film. Granted, the mafia are sharks and the hitmen are jellyfish (and the racehorse was a seahorse, badum tss) but the point remains. Continue reading
Note: I would like to credit this comment from Tumblr user spastasmagoria as the inspiration for this ramble, state that I mean no disrespect to anyone who actually enjoys these shows and these character types, and apologise because by the end of this ‘quirky’ will no longer look like a real word.
Oh look, who’s that over there, looking adorably awkward with glasses on her nose and the out-there clothing? Oh, she’s a fictional heroine! One of those new, more approachable ones!
What a funny, peculiar girl! It’s so good that writers are straying away from the notion that love interests and heroines have to be shallow and perfect and normal! The Quirky Girl likes nerdy things, is imperfect in appearance, socially awkward, and not afraid to be a tomboy. How refreshing!
Except it isn’t. It’s the same tonic in a different, more colourful bottle. A problem with the Quirky Girl archetype (read: every Zooey Deschanel character ever) is that she is often written as a way of making a character approachable and likeable to the female audience, reassuring them that it’s okay to like non-mainstream things and be a bit eccentric and dress the way you want, and to ~be yourself~. In fact, doing all the things that would usually make you deemed weird will make you seem cute, and some boy out there is just dying for you to come along and liven up his life with your adorable weirdness!
And here we run into a problem. Continue reading
I found this really great fanfic… it’s like a modern AU of Sherlock Holmes? And it’s on TV. And it’s amazing.
As someone mystified by the Holmesian universe but never quite in possession of the mental energy it takes to chew through the stories, Sherlock seemed to be sent from Fiction Heaven itself (though the nature of its creators, Mark Gattiss and Steven Moffatt, also known for tormenting avid watchers of Doctor Who, would be argued by some fans to be less than angelic).
The richness of the original is there and the characters that so many people have known and loved over the century are as fascinating and delicious as they have always been, with the modern day setting only a light, satisfying tang over the top.