“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Why fangirl?

I posit that the obsessions of young girls with male relationships in fiction and celebrity culture has to do with (naturally) the relationship of the young girls to masculinity in general.
Going through puberty and growing up female is a minefield of expectations and dangers. Little girls quickly learn that they must cover up their innocent bodies or risk censure, harassment, and even bodily danger. They learn that they are not expected to be full humans, much of the time, but accessories or bit parts in the drama of the lives of men. Other people have remarked on the possibility that boy bands give girls a chance to experience romantic feelings without the pressures and dangers of real life relationships with real boys, but I would also put forward that the infamous ‘fangirl’ obsession with certain kinds of close male friendships and male relationships in general so idolised by young women stems from a similar root. In their fantasies, girls want to believe in the humanity of the male characters they love – and the humanity of boys and men in general. There is much justly and truly said about the objectification and dehumanisation of women in sexist pop culture and society in general – but, less remarked upon is the dehumanisation of the male. When girls are taught – for their own safety – to fear and mistrust the actions and motivations of the men and boys they encounter (“men only want one thing”, etc), an enormous, dehumanising distance is placed between girls and boys – not only from the position of patriarchal power, in which girls are dehumanised in the perspective of boys into objects for use and pleasure, but from the perspective of girls, in which boys are dehumanised into animalistic creatures without empathy, vulnerability or any inner life. Of course, both of these perspectives are harmfully absorbed by the targets also, in an endless feed-back loop of damage and suffering: girls see themselves as objects with only material value and boys deny and repress their own emotional and spiritual growth.
Girls fetishise and idolise male fictional characters because the medium of fiction gives a girl free, unrestrained access to the inner lives of masculine people – not because they wish to feel that the inner lives of men and boys are so mysterious, but because they are not: because girls need to feel that emotion and vulnerability are common to all people, something that patriarchal macho culture plays down and outright denies. In experiencing the inner life of a fictional male character, a girl is safe and free from all possibilities of deception, betrayal and abuse, from which she is so strenuously taught to shield herself and fear.
And girls like to vicariously experience these stories within male-male relationships, usually relationships that are written as straight friendships between characters who are not romantically involved. This cannot be too surprising if we look at the alternative – it is incredibly difficult to see oneself in and project oneself onto most of the female characters portrayed in popular culture, opposite the most compelling and interesting male characters. In Sherlock, for instance, it might be possible to sympathise with the ridiculously sexualised and emotionally paper-thin Irene Adler, who merely exists to provide endless displays of female flesh for the camera to linger over... but how much more easily we could instead project ourselves onto the loyal, brave, human John Watson, instead, who actually has a close, meaningful relationship with the title character! Irene Adler doesn’t have the time to really form an enviable emotional tie to Sherlock – and she’s not particularly designed to, either.

I won’t touch on ‘shipping’ culture (in which fans of a public figure or fictional character invest immense amounts of emotional energy into said person’s possible romantic relationship with another character/characters), because I personally don’t engage in this practice, but I would be very interested to hear a shipper’s perspective on this theory?

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

2015

Hello darlings


As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting much on this blog - most of my blog posts from this year have languished, unfinished in the drafts folder! Or, worse, remained simply voice memos on my phone! Sorry about that. I'll have to try harder in the future ;)
I thought I'd do a retrospective for this year, just a quick lil list of some things that defined the year for me... the nice, fun easy ones. These won't be things that are necessarily from this year, but things that I experienced this year; sorry if that's confusing!

Starting with stuff you can already see on my blog if you scroll down a little ways:

This year I watched a lot of cartoons



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon 2012 version)
Over the Garden Wall

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Legend of Korra


Gravity Falls

Mostly children's cartoons about groups of young people dealing with the fantastical, with lots of humour and soul-shattering drama thrown in.

Best books I read (for the first time - not rereads) this year: (I don't think any of these will be books from 2015, sorry!)

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (a beautifully crafted, heartbreaking thing)

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (the first time I've read Steinbeck and I almost feel like I don't need to read his other books now - this was good!)

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (every childhood delight rolled up in one)

Unspoken Sermons by George Macdonald (challenged me and filled me with joy)

After Dark and Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami (As with all Murakami's books, I'm not sure how to communicate how I liked these.)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (HEARTBREAKING but in the best way)


2015 was a great year for television
... because we finally got Netflix in Australia!

Personal highlights include

Daredevil


Jane the Virgin

Merlin


Arrested Development


and Ouran High School Host Club


... which lead to me reading the manga... which I have probably reread eight times by now.



My year in music:

Taylor Swift's Wildest Dreams really belongs with her Style video, lbr, not the #problematic as heck video it actually got.

This, of course, too.

V. much recommend you download The Oh Hellos new music while it's still on Noisetrade (Also, all of their music is great too - this is an excellent time to soak yourself in their soul-stirring versions of Christmas classics!)

One of the reasons this list will be short is because I spent a huge portion of the year just listening to Marina and the Diamonds' new album:







Another favourite release from this year: Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens:




Fourth of July broke my heart and changed my life

As did:

 


TWENTY ONE PILOTS!!!!









If we leave it there I've had a pretty angsty year in music, but if we keep going...

You guys, I got into Kpop.




I know. I KNOW.




Turns out that my lifelong disinterest in boybands melts away when the boys can DANCE, haha. Y'all know I can't resist good dancing. I kind of prefer the dance practice videos, mostly, because the music videos are so... full on, it's like sensory overload within the first twenty seconds, plus I'm honestly confused by the fashion choices a lot of the time. (NB: neither applies to the Just Right video!)





I've only just got into Kpop, so I'm still very, very new to the whole thing, but so far my favourite group has been GOT7. Because they're fricking adorable.


I'm going to stop now before I fangirl my way out of your respect.

And so, dear readers, this has been my year... pop-culturally speaking.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Since the American Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal within the USA, there has been much heated discussion in my facebook feed. Many, many well-meaning Christian folks sharing articles with a ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ theme, many rainbow-ified facebook profile pictures, and a whole lot of emotion on every side.
Unlike many Christians who find themselves on the road of inquiry about the church’s teaching on homosexuality, I have never been bombarded with doubts about my own sexual identity as a straight person. This has put me in the position of being possibly capable of never pursuing this train of inquiry – a luxury that Christian members of the LGBTQIA community are not afforded.

I wish I could link you to the articles and essays and personal testimonies that first stirred my mind and challenged me, but I can’t. I read them out of a need for intellectual honesty in myself and also plain old curiosity, but I was not keen to be convinced. I clicked out of a lot of things out of an ideological repugnance for the arguments that contradicted those I had lent credence to all my life. For a while I stopped reading articles, too emotionally exhausted by the stream of testimonies that I had to reject out of hand. Eventually I was forced to examine my own heart and I found within myself pride – an unwillingness to admit to an unfounded belief; fear – that I would be convinced by what I read and be required to reject the unified teaching of the church I attend; and the doubt that is allowed to assail all Christians at any time – that perhaps I would pick too many holes in the teaching of the church and thereby undermine my entire belief system and my entire world. I had to soften my heart with a healthy dose of humility to counter the pride. I had to lean into the presence of the Holy Spirit and reaffirm my trust in a loving God to assuage my doubt and my fear. My faith has rarely been stronger.
Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
I am not going to spend time discussing the specific theology, the testimonies, the emotional journey, and the logic that has led me to a place where I have changed my stance on the subject of Christians and the LGB community. It is not my story to tell. I am not a member of said community, I am not a theologian. Do not come to me to be won over – educate yourself, seek out the information – not just to seek to rebut it. Actually listen to the experiences and beliefs of gay Christians first hand, not filtered through the often patronising and flawed argument of rebuttal.
I may not be a member of the LGB community or a theologian: I am, however, a member of the church.
The church has fallen prey to, clung to, and eventually abandoned many wrongful teachings. Paul condemned the unnecessary and wrongful practice of circumcising Gentile converts, which Peter, the Rock on which Christ said He would build the church, participated in. The Catholic Church, which was the only church where many met God and formed lasting, earnest, life-changing faith for hundreds of years, was brought to task during the Reformation for clinging to misinterpretation and harmful teaching.  Martin Luther, beloved Reformer, supported the oppressive regime of the German princes and did not speak against the persecution and massacre of the peasantry. As some love to remind us, Galileo was forced by a mistaken church leadership to recant his true, scientific statement that the Earth revolves around the sun. My own ancestors, church people, arrived on the shores of Australia, contributed to the oppression and extermination of the Aboriginal peoples, and served by the side of the notorious Samuel Marsden, ‘the whipping parson’. Racism and misogyny have been a part of the church for two thousand years; efforts are being made now in some quarters to acknowledge and repent of that, but these are still woven in our history and still often tragically a part of church culture around the world.
It is not only right and logical for us to examine the practices and ingrained traditions, teachings and beliefs of the church, but it is our responsibility. Many preachers leaned upon Paul’s teaching about the current social practice of slavery to justify an ingrained belief concerning the morality of a society built on the backs of slaves. The Bible can be used to justify many practices which we now would regard as abhorrent, bizarre or just plain unnecessary. For myself, when in doubt, I turn to Jesus’ words: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength and love your neighbour as you love yourself; this sums up the whole law and the prophets.” Do we lend credence to Paul’s statement that it is ‘unnatural’ for a man to have long hair or for a woman to cut her hair? That teaching may have been consistent with a policy of loving God/loving others in that specific first century church, but is it still necessarily so? If we go by the current behaviour of the people of most of the churches in the world, no, it is not necessarily consistent with this one, pure and clear rule, handed to us by Christ himself.
I am not saying that all followers of Christ will reconsider the church’s traditional teaching on homosexuality – I am not saying that all those that do will necessarily change their stance on the issue, at least not within this living generation. I do think, however, that we must consider our history and be ready with open hearts and open minds for change. In the past, it has been an accepted doctrine in many churches that the hearts of all women were corrupted and perverted, that all women, following a precedent of Eve, who first ate the fruit, were a destructive force and inferior beings. I am sure that the members of those churches were not all fools or all wicked – they just followed the teaching they were used to hearing, with Biblical passages pulled out of context to support it. I do not think that theology on the topic of homosexuality should be as divisive as it is. I do think that, as with other discussions, such as different opinions about the end of days, predestination, infant baptism and suchlike, it should be something that we are willing to consider a non-salvation issue. I am saying that those who feel the need to study this topic, as with any topic under the sun, must not limit themselves to texts written by people they already agree with, particularly if the other side is the side with living experience of the issue at hand. There are disagreements even amongst gay Christians, some believing that all of their number are necessarily called to a life of celibacy, some who do not believe that this is so. But disagreement is not the same as division.
Alarmist preachers cry that the church is dying, that the faith is being torn down. The church cannot die. The faith must stand. It has stood, even through human wickedness, human weakness, human ignorance and human folly. The body of Christ remains, even when her trappings are ugly and the words that fall from her lips prove false. Christ has loved his church through years of brutal, murderous crusades, Christ has loved her through centuries of misogyny, Christ has loved her through mistaken doctrine, Christ loves her yet and he does not desert her. He yearns after the church, to see her washed clean of error and wrongdoing.
My point is that whether homosexuality is condemned or permitted, the church will yet stand. The important thing is to remain full of love of God and love of one another. I hope no one can convict me of not loving those of the church who do not agree with me on this point, but the fact remains that the church stands guilty of preaching love to the LGBTQIA community without actually practicing this love. How often do you think a member of that community feels welcome and cared for when visiting church? How do you think a Christian gay person might feel when their perspectives and testimonies are not sought or even considered by almost every person who preaches about gay marriage? How do you think a gay Christian would feel to know that their church community is not only unwilling to prayerfully and carefully consider the theology surrounding an anti-gay viewpoint, but actively working to deny them legal and social rights?

Of course, after all this, you will not be surprised to hear me say that I firmly acknowledge that it is possible I am entirely 100% wrong in my understanding. I hope that I may remain humble about my own human limitations regarding the mysteries of the universe I live in. I do, however, believe in a loving God who holds us in his hands. I do believe that I have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. And I do believe that my gay Christian friends are equally redeemed, and that all humans who have ever lived and who ever will live on Earth are the beloved children of the Most High God, who yearns to hold them in his arms.      

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

'Stead of Treated We Get Tricked

I watched the 2014 remake of Annie last nigh and boyyyyy. This film could have been good, but it's doomed by a strange cocktail of laziness and desperation. The original is a story about the antics of a little girl who brings sunshine into the lives of some stuffy adults, who in turn, lift her out of a life of suffering. Instead of that - which to be fair, is rather a tired trope - we have the incredible Quvenzhan√© Wallis giving a mostly calm, measured performance as all the adults around her ham and mug desperately at the camera. If the film rose and fell on Wallis's performance, it could have been powerful and moving; an updated take on Annie really drives home the tragedy of the story, which can get lost, Dickens style, in the 1930s period trappings.  Rose Byrne in particular is somehow terrifying as she overworks her enormous eyes whilst babbling like a crazy woman about how she really is happy and does have friends, hahaha, though it's probably impossible to eat more scenery than Cameron Diaz does without dying of indigestion.

The updated versions of the songs are hit-and-miss and the original songs are plain awful. The sanitising effect of lavishly applied auto-tune cannot save Rose Byrne's performance, or anyone else's, for that matter. I'm sorry for being so hard on Byrne, but I can't help it! Grace is a character who has always been overshadowed by the perky Annie, the deliciously vile Miss Hannigan and the slowly defrosting Daddy Warbucks, so it's a difficult role to work with for anyone. Watching Wallis and Diaz awkwardly frolicking around Daddy Warbucks (I'm sorry, 'Mr Stacks')'s technologically pimped out mansion in the 2014 version of 'I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here',  one cannot help but long for dancing servants. This is not even taking into account the blandly reconfigured tune itself.
The only song with decent choreography is 'It's The Hard Knock Life'. The lyrical update from 'no one cares for you a smidge when you're in an orphanage' to 'no one cares for you a bit when you're a foster kid' gave me nasty cold chills - I wonder how actual foster children feel when they watch this movie?
Anyone who has ever worked long-term with children can think of a brief moment in which they guiltily identified with the vitriolic pity party of 'Little Girls', but the decision to treat Miss Hannigan as a poor left-behind soul who has just temporarily lost her way on the path of life rather than a psycho child abuser is... problematic, to say the least. The 'Little Girls' song itself is given a new chorus, in the background of which can be heard the voices of the little girls echoing 'get her out get her out of here' not in a 'get our horrible guardian away from us' sentiment, but rather a 'get her out of her horrible life, poor woman' theme! Abused kids! Singing sympathetically in the chorus of the abuser's self pity song! Miss Hannigan, despite her ghastly new ballad, has still spent years of her life neglecting and emotionally abusing a houseful of children for the sole purpose of monetary gain, exploiting the foster system disgustingly. Having Miss Hannigan turn up to save Annie at the last minute doesn't just undermine the message of 'some adults are bad abusive people whom you don't have to listen to' which kids really do need to hear sometimes, it destroys the agency of the other orphans showing up to denounce the villains - and it completely removes Annie's swagtastic moment:

Miss Hannigan: Annie! Annie, tell these people how good I always been to ya, huh?
Annie: Miss Hannigan, I would - but the one thing you always taught me was 'never tell a lie'.

Just because Miss Hannigan really might be a pitiable human being doesn't mean she isn't also a terrible horrible woman who ought to be stopped. Taking up time in Annie's story to give Miss Hannigan a redemption arc is just a plain disrespectful thing to do. Also, are we supposed to laugh at Miss Hannigan's washed-up has-been sob story or are we meant to pity her for it?

I could talk about the new villain, Mr awful PR guy,  and I could poke about in the uncomfortable mess of implications that surrounds the whole 'bring home a random kid to raise your public approval ratings' thing, but the movie handles the whole issue so badly and messily, that it's hardly worth the effort of figuring out what the movie is trying to say. On the surface, looking at the movie side by side with the original musical, he is a replacement for 'Rooster' Hannigan, but look deeper and he's much much more insidious. Basically, awful PR guy somehow absorbs all the wickedness and culpability of everyone in the story - it is he, not Grace, who is responsible for the 'get a foster kid' thing, it is he not Miss Hannigan who is responsible for the 'con everyone into thinking Annie's parents are found (and somehow profit by doing so?) thing, and it is he who is responsible, ultimately, for everything that is wrong with Mr Stacks's behaviour in the public eye. No one else ever does anything else wrong ever, yay! This isn't even mentioning the film's handling of the Horatio Alger myth - is the system at fault or isn't it? Is the American dream real or isn't it? Huh, who knows? Other issues include: what is up with Mr Stacks exploiting Annie for publicity, much like Miss Hannigan exploited her for the income? Is this a problem for anyone? What point is made by the revelation that Annie cannot read? What is going on? I'm bored and confused and the lame musical numbers rife with overacting and auto-tune and rubbish choreography are just making me more bored and confused!
And I won't even mention the perpetual flinging in our face of 'this is modern! Look, twitter! Instagram! Hip and modern! Wheee! Random Jupiter Ascending parody! Wheee!'
Good things could have happened here, but alas, the over-sanitised, fevered mediocrity of this film cannot be redeemed by any half-way decent moment buried in the schlocky mess.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Hi guys,

So, apparently this is now a 'talking about Nickelodeon cartoons' blog. Sorry, not sorry!

Over the last couple of months I've really gotten into the two Avatar television series, and I want to talk a little bit about them today. I've seen all of The Last Airbender and I'm about halfway through Book 2 of Legend of Korra, so my observations have probably been better articulated and analysed by people who have actually seen the whole show. An unfortunate side-effect of first-time watching a show that has already been out there in the world for a while... and I can't look and find out, either, without subjecting myself to spoilers! So, here goes nothing.

The Last Airbender (ATLA) and Legend of Korra (LOK) are two very different, very wonderful shows, with different strengths and different weaknesses; however, I have noticed a few things in common - particularly a few weaknesses in common. (NB, I really do love these shows, ATLA changed my life a wee bit and I'm loving LOK so far, but I also love to analyse stuff a little too much...)

Starting at the very beginning (apparently a very good place to start), both shows take a while to find their feet. After watching two or three episodes of ATLA together my brother turned to me with shining eyes and said, "Isn't this the best show you've ever watched?"

I was forced to say no. It wasn't the best show I had ever watched. It was cute, I liked the premise, I liked the world, but the characters didn't grab me straight away. I found Aang's hyperactive childishness and Sokka's awkward wisecracking a bit annoying, and the earliest stories weren't especially interesting to me. Of course, after watching all three books of ATLA, I now have to declare it one of my favourite television shows ever, if not my most favourite, and the characters hold distinguished places in my pantheon of fictional darlings.

In comparison, I can't help but feel that LOK, as of Book 2, still hasn't really found its feet. The plot arcs, though interesting and well-conceived, aren't always paced very well - one less interesting plot point will be given far too much time and several very interesting plot points will be hastily jammed into a single episode! As for character arcs? I don't think they really exist in LOK at all in a real sense. Korra seems to pretty much learn the same thing in most episodes, since the plot of most episodes goes a bit like this tumblr meme:

Everyone: "Korra, don't do the thing!"

Korra: "I'm gonna do the thing!"

Korra: *Regrets doing the thing*

If you have the same lesson taught over and over again in different episodes, it sort of ruins the whole 'character growth arc' thing that is so terribly important to a good show.

And the other characters??? Um. Well.

Why did the Fire Ferrets disband? Really, why? I rely too heavily on the bro-y bros broing it up dynamic; separating Korra and Mako and Bolin for a good portion of season two just made me sorta dislike Mako and even Bolin a little. In stark contrast to ATLA, LOK doesn't give us much of the inner lives of the characters, except maybe for Korra and Tenzin (a bit). I appreciate what we do get - but just remembering Zuko's agonising journey of personal development - and Aang's - and Katara's (and Sokka's and Toph's, to a lesser extent)... why? Why don't we get to see much of the motivations and struggles and epiphanies of the characters of LOK?

(EDIT: the above was written when I was up to Chapter 8 of LOK. I greatly appreciated Bolin's acknowledgement of the breakdown of the brotherly relationship in a subsequent ep. Bolin had some nice moments over the last episodes of Book 2)

THAT SAID, LOK seems to have a way of making up for some less interesting/plain awful subplots *COUGH* LOVE TRIANGLE *COUGH* with really full on, no punches pulled, go big or go home finales. You should see me failing to stifle my cries of shock, fear and disbelief when watching the season finales. I'm super annoying.

I'll write more another time!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

It's The Lean Green Ninja Team

2014 was... not a good year for me. Or for anyone, by the sound of it.
But one of the slightly less soul-destroying parts was Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not the godforsaken mess that I'm certain Michael Bay's movie turned out to be (DEAR LORDE, THE NIGHTMARISH CHARACTER DESIGNS!), but the animated children's show.


I watch a lot of shows in the background at work. I've seen waaay too many episodes of Dinosaur Train and Octonauts. I would be perfectly fine if I never saw an episode of Dinosaur Train again (the show tries to be educational, with long monologues about different dinosaurs... but the dinosaurs have a train!). The first episode of TMNT I watched (out of the corner of my eye, whilst writing a lit lesson on Kipling's Rikki Tikki Tavi) was 'Of Rats and Men' from season 2. In retrospect, that was a weird beginning.


Sometimes when you stare into the void, ice cream kitty stares back at you.

When little boys get into a thing, they really get into it. So, for a few months, there was a lot of the ninja turtle vibe happening in my everyday life. I would get to work, help L get dressed in one of his turtle jumpsuits, dodging blows from miniature katanas and bo sticks, before getting out the textas for him to draw (beautifully rendered) tiny Donatello masks all over every drawing he did, then we would play with ninja turtle Lego whilst humming the ninja turtles theme song.

And... I... got into it. The show, I mean.

It's not a perfect tv show, by any means (season 3? What the Hell are you doing?), and it's definitely not on the level of the children's television taking the world by storm - not one of your Adventure Times or The Last Airbenders. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it.
I won't explain the show's basic conceit, because, really, the title says it all. They're mutated turtles who do ninjitsu. If you need more background info, Google is your friend. I won't comment too much on this incarnation of 2012 TMNT's relation to the previous versions, simply because I never watched them. I was too young for the 80s/90s version and too old for the 2003 version. And I don't think I will ever care enough to sit down with the DVDs... so. There. Not even interested. Partly because I'm sort of shallow.

This:




vs

This:


NOW WHATS GOING ON HERE?!?!?!?!?

... I'm going to go for the cuter, easier-to-differentiate-between-turtles version.

In terms of story, the quality and content varies greatly. Some episodes have a monster-of-the-week vibe going, which is OK, I guess; some episodes serve a greater plot arc, which I prefer... and some episodes are just batcrap insane. Season three, so far has consisted almost solely of the latter - and not even good, interesting examples of insanity, either. One episode was about Michelangelo befriending a horribly conceived frog version of Napoleon Dynamite: Napoleon Bonafrog, voiced by Jon Heder. It was ghastly. Worse still was an episode in which a female Big Foot and and a psycho redneck hunter (calling himself 'The Finger' and wearing the shrunken head of his mother around his neck) strode off into the sunset together.

I had always been mildly nonplussed by the whole 'MY BABIES, MY PRECIOUS INFANT CHILDREN' thing I see fangirls do... but TMNT has pretty much beaten that out of me. Now everyone is my own beloved son. (Though a real mother would have to be pretty messed up to get as much enjoyment out of their suffering as I do.)

Leonardo = my fave. Absolute fave. My precious bb.


From what I've heard about other versions, Leonardo has pretty much never been anyone's favourite before now, bc he's just too much of a 'boy scout', too noble and perfect. Well, apparently, just add some self-doubt and dorkiness to this flavourless stew and you get:


Awww.


OK, let's talk about the girl characters, because this is a thing that is interesting to me.


April's thing seems to be that she's really... cranky? A lot? Which isn't helping me love her as a character. Neither is the show's obsession with Donatello's crush on April, which became a love triangle of sorts with the introduction of Casey Jones. Can we just ban the love triangle as a narrative device? It's the worst. Back to April's personality: it's one thing to have a feisty kick-butt girl who won't lean on anybody and who insists on being involved in the field work of being a ninja, but when she's the only one in the team who doesn't have 15 years of intensive martial arts training, it just makes her look sort of dumb? And I resent that. Also, animators! Resist the fetishising of April O'Neil! She's 15 in this version! Don't be gross!

The April crush also is the horrible, ugly Achilles heel of Donatello's character. According to two out of three kids (uh, two of the three boys at work) Donatello's crush is the only thing preventing him from being their favourite character.





Not because they hate girls or think crushes are lame - it's just plain ol' painful to watch. It's creepy, possessive, (at times) objectifying and incredibly awkward.



Any romantic shipping on this show is instantly mired in unfortunate bestiality/incest implications... which I had the displeasure to encounter more than once whilst searching for these gifs. NO THANK YOU, FANARTISTS. YOUR PHOTOSHOP RIGHTS ARE HEREBY REVOKED.

Let's just say I was majorly ticked at the fates of Irma (*spontaneously combusts*) and Karai. A show with four male main characters (les tortues), 2 secondary male characters (Splinter and Casey Jones) and 1 secondary female character (though the extent to which April can be considered secondary as the show develops is debatable) cannot afford the Irma plot twist. Not even a little bit. Not to mention, if you intend on dropping that kind of insane plot twist, try to do a lil' foreshadowing? Unless you're an artist working with a specific intent, plot twists should not come out of nowhere.

I do love Karai though, even when she embodies about half-a-dozen overused tropes. Somehow... the cliches work? Her mad ninja skillz don't feel implausible or shoehorned in, because it's a show about teenage ninjas. Her Catwoman-style 'ooo, I'm a sexy badass from the enemy clan who pops up every now and then to flirt with you, humiliate you and possibly team up for the greater good' thing sort of works? Well, like I said, ships on this show... eesh. Do not want.



SO, all in all, why does a twenty-something-year-old grown woman watch a television show aimed at pre-teen boys? Particularly one that she acknowledges to be deeply flawed, even for what it is?

Lots of things.

The animation can be such fun.



The turtles' facial expressions sometimes go all anime for no reason whatsoever.





Love it.

I also really enjoy the fight scenes.




This might come as a surprise, but in my book, a well-choreographed fight scene is second only to a well-choreographed dance scene. It's difficult to find good gifs of any of these, seeing as the fandom is (somewhat predictably) ship-obsessed.

Bromance.





















Seriously, I eat that stuff right up, and there are almost Lord of the Rings levels of bromance going on here. Most of the stuff I resent about the decisions the showrunners make can be summed up by: 'stop getting in the way of the bromance'! Is Leonardo running off to chase Karai instead of seeing to his injured brother? Stop getting in the way of the bromance! Is Donatello bickering with Casey about April? Stop getting in the way of the bromance! Make something about loving, supportive relationships, particularly platonic relationships, and I will be all over it. Somebody commented on Splinter admonishing his turtle sons to "Seek victory, not fairness!" as being out of character and disappointing, considering Splinter's previous incarnations and their focus on honour and fairness - but in this version of the show, with Splinter portrayed as a widower and bereft father who has endured loss and who suffers nightmares about losing his 'unlikely' family - it makes a lot of sense. Splinter's priority is always the survival and well-being of his sons - and that's wonderful.


A perfect, flawless entity? No. But despite all the crap I'm still in to see what will happen next. Don't let me down, Nickelodeon!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Top Movie Dances/Musical Numbers



Make Your Move - it's like Romeo and Juliet... only, instead of everybody dying, everybody becomes best buddies again and all ends in happy dancing. I don't care if this movie wasn't objectively good - objectively good movies can go take a walk around the block. I want to watch people fall in love and dance well. (Also there's a dance scene that segues into a pre-sex scene... I mean, a couple literally dancing each other's clothes off... which is simultaneously ridiculous and kinda hot and awkward all at the same time) And the male protagonist, whilst being (we are informed) a bit of a delinquent and a cocky show-off, is just so... aware of his partner and the people around him that you have to forgive the cockiness, etc. THIS MOVIE IS SO SINCERE, I LOVE IT.

Kiss Me Kate: 'From This Moment On'. From the athletic enthusiasm of Tommy Rall and Ann Miller to the crazy beatnik stylings of Bob Fosse and Carol Haney, this sequence is a thorough delight. Just look at dem tights. For other awesome stuff from this movie, see Ann Miller's solo: 'Too Darn Hot', which lives up to its name - if Carol Haney's your favourite part of this delicious excerpt, go watch The Pajama Game.

Bride and Prejudice: BEST MOVIE EVAR. I was massively upset that the second half of the movie was all drama no dance. MUSICALS SHOULD BE MUSICAL THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH. YOU CAN HAVE DRAMATIC DANCE NUMBERS, HAVEN'T YOU EVER SEEN SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE? The humour and goofy fun of this musical number are, like, my favourite thing, guys.
 While we're in the neighbourhood, I find it incredibly difficult to find the bollywood scenes I'm looking for on youtube, mostly because they're in languages I don't speak, but you should definitely be treating yourself to some real proper bollywood because it is AWESOME stuff. Munna Bhai is super super fun, besides being the only one I own on DVD. (New Year's resolution: watch more bollywood)

  Silver Linings Playbook: the way the narrative builds to this climactic dance scene and the tension and EVERYTHING'S JUST PERFECT, OK. One of those scenes that doesn't really make too much sense out of context but is all the better for it. If you haven't seen the film, don't watch this, (if you haven't seen the film, what are you doing with your life?!) but if you have, feel free to click and relive the scene.

The King & I: MOST ICONIC SCENE. Deborah Kerr's hoop skirt apparently inflicted some big bad bruises on her legs during the filming of this, which makes a lot of sense, watching the scene over. "Come, we'll do it again": POLKA-ING INTENSIFIES.

If you want to see some startlingly adorable talent and skill, watch E. J. Peaker and Danny Lockin break it down in Hello Dolly, particularly in the 'Dancing' number. (Or the famous dancing waiters of the title number. Neither of these are on Youtube, alas, probably for copyright reasons. Go get your mitts on a DVD copy of Hello Dolly.) It's also probably my favourite part of the movie because of Michael Crawford's intense long-legged awkwardness while being taught to waltz by Barbara Streisand. In the words of director Gene Kelly, 'an attractive idiot' indeed.

Speaking of the late great Gene Kelly - if you haven't experienced the pure joy of Singin' in the Rain's title number, don't continue to deny yourself the pleasure! Or how about roller skate tap dancing? Anything's possible when you're Gene Kelly


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