How Women Defeat Themselves at the Movies

There has been much jaw flapping and anger as of late in regards to the treatment of women in films. Avenger’s director Joss Whedon left Twitter among the complaints about the film’s treatment of Black Widow. But are these arguments justified? Aren’t there other movies that are even more of a farce in regards to feminism? The answers are: No; Yes.

Let’s take a minute to look at The Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the sequel to the comic book based mega production, Tony Stark accidently creates Ultron, an AI that is intent on killing every human on the planet. The Avengers assemble to defeat this great evil. But along the way, much needed character development is introduced and our superheroes stop being one dimensional stereo-types. Thor shows real fear, Cap starts to adapt to his surrounding, and Black Widow and Hawkeye delve into the world of personal relationships. (Stop here if you’re avoiding spoilers).Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-Black-Widow-and-Hulk

It seems that Black Widow having a real conversation about not being able to have children is unfeminist and liking children as a women is unfeminist. I thought it was a great way to round out a character who is tough as nails: having a real conversation with her relationship partner about what may or may not be in her future. She is not whining or pining or acting like that is her only calling in life, she is having a logical conversation about events that have happened in her life. There are other examples against Black Widow, and the movie as a whole, but I would like to make another point.

I know that Black Widow is not a perfect character. Like so many comic women she is over sexualized (and really if she would wear less tight pants she could run faster). These are not faults of Whedon but with the way women are perceived in comic book and Hollywood culture. It’s especially infuriating when women perpetuate it.

I saw Hot Pursuit and came out steaming mad. The movie wasn’t very good but that wasn’t what angered me so much. It was the outright stereotyping of women that had been crying out about after Ultron, but no one was saying anything about it in this movie.

Hot PursuitHot Pursuit tries to flip the usually male-centered cop and detainee story by casting Reese Witherspoon and Sophia Vergara as the stars. Like so many of these stories, a cop is in charge of a member of witness protection but things go south and the two must go on the lam. Include bad cops, rednecks in trucks, and thousands of shots of Vergara’s butt and that is the entirety of the movie’s plot.

The movie is one giant cliché. Weatherspoon plays Cooper who is trying to make it in a man’s world and jokes fly about how girly she is not. There are jokes about her height, her hair and her fashion. Vegara’s character is nothing but the caricatured mamacita with no depth or realism. In the first fourth of the movie, Vergara wears a dress whose top looks just like one of my bras! The movie goes over the top with menstrual jokes and the awkward and creepy romantic relationship Cooper pursues. There was no way Cooper could stay single huh? That was the ultimate make-over for the character: dress in high heels and get a boyfriend.

I shouldn’t have to say that these flaws were at the very heart of the Ultron criticism expect that this movie was directed and produced by women. This was one of Witherspoon’s pet projects. She or director Anne Fletcher could have stood up at any point and say when things went over the line, or could have agreed not to do it at all. This is when feminism is defeated, when women defeat themselves.

So we ask ourselves do we want our females is low cut tops and kicking ass or in see-through dresses making out with each other? The answer: neither, but I will take the girl who is kick ass and rounded as character any day.

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How Season 4 of Game of Thrones Season 4 is Angering Book Fans

Game of Thrones brought TV viewers into a rich world book lover had known for ages. As most adaptations, the show changes things to entertain book and TV audiences.  In the case of GoT, the changes have been minimal. But the creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have consulted with author George R.R. Martin (the show will end way before the books ever will) and know what Martin plans to happen.  Evidence of that is popping up in Season 4 as the TV show is starting to give spoilers to book readers.

Taking some liberties with the material is good for the show and to keep book readers on the toes. This is valuable to a point. A Song of Ice and Fire is MASSIVE. There is so much going on those things often have to be cut out or condensed to tell and meaningful story. But it becomes a problem when you add material that did not happen in the books. For example, the story with the return to Craster’s keep. These events did not happen inGoT-S4E4 the books and the writers created a new villain as if there were not a plethora of villains in the text. While giving time to the wildlings as they terrorizes Mole Town can really give a more rounded look for these characters, it doesn’t help to draw out certain stories of over characters (here’s looking at you Bran).

The TV show is pooling things for book readers and this s angering fans of the books. It is known that the creators know where the general story is going and to hint at it, but to outright say “so and so killed Jon Aryan” is news to the reader, a reader who has read through thousands and thousands of pages and, in two seconds, the mystery is solved.  The television viewers are lucky; all is resolves for them and the book fans have become annoyed when their loyalty is not rewarded. Yes, the book and TV readers are somewhat of even footing when it comes to The Others, but should they be?

It also seems that the writers are inherently changing our characters. Jamie’s rape scene never happens. In fact, book readers are so angry at Cerci’s treatment of Jaime, that when he finally (spoiler) breaks away from her, fans cheered. I wish I knew the logic behind this change and why they decided that Jaime is suddenly a rapist (this up there with the logic behind everyone’s love of Stannis). There is a flip side to this. TV’s Margeary is much more innocent and isn’t conniving until her grandmother gets ahold her. In fact, in the show, she is completely innocent in Joffery’s murder helping some fans to appreciate her better.

Season 4 has deviated from the books the most. Previous ones just moved the plot along quicker or consolidated some characters for cast budgeting. But as they reach their end came, they veer further away from the story fans know and love. Will this pay off? The book fans may say no but the TV fans are saying yes.

I Demand A Recount!

How The Governor is Bringing The Walking Dead Back to Life

“Live Bait” is by far one of the best episodes in The Walking Dead’s history. Many fans complain because the episode does not contain a Rick/Daryl prison plot. But this episode returns to what made The Walking Dead so good when it began: it focused on drama and character development.

The Walking Dead has had tumultuous existence going through three show runners in four seasons. Sadly none of the following seasons have lived up the status quo set up from Season 1. Season 2 had pace issues. For as slow as the first half of the season was, the second half was just as fast and there was never a middle ground. Season 3 flipped flopped between stories and alienated many members of the cast from each other. As the viewer watches with omnipresence, not all the character knew what was going on. Season 4 attempts to go back to the character development of Season 1, but the writing has been subpar. Season 1 was the best because it focused on the drive and emotions on the people in it. It focused less on the zombies and more n how the zombie apocalypse changed them and those around them.

Season 4 finally found the right path with “Live Bait.” The episode centers on The Governor after his disappearance in Season 3. The plot follows him as he reacts to his own deeds. You’d think The Governor would be laughing and boasting. Instead, he’s a shell; he’s not the man he once was. We see him interact with someone new showing that he could care about people showing a more timid and meek governor that even before he became a villain deranged by grief. The juiciest part? The excitement of finding out if he will succumb to his evil side or if he can truly change?

In fact, it’s very the same kind of tale found in the pilot episode. Lone, bearded man meets a stranger and becomes emotional close to them. He moves on without them, killing poor suffering zombies on his way. Like Rick, this substitute family gives The Governor (now known as Brian) hope.  But unlike Rick, the family sees hope is in this broken man and follows him. The viewers feel that hope as well and ponder if the man can change. The episodes end the same as the pilot with the man facing certain death. Viewers eagerly await what happens next. What worked for Rick clearly works again for The Governor.

More attention to character development and less focus on zombie carnage (don’t worry there is some good, gross stuff) makes “Live Bait” one of the strongest episode by far. The Governor’s arc is setting this Season up as something that creator Frank Darabont would appreciate.

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Pretty Much Dead Already

I always have a lot to say about entertainment. I created this blog as an avenue to post reviews and few other fun tidbits. But I have some essays in mind that don’t really fit  the blog. I have set up a Blirt page for these essays (including my defense of Sons of Anarchy post). I’m not sure how I like Blirt but I am going to try it out. You never know, they may just end up living on this blog. So here’s my latest essay to ease you in. Now got to my Blirt page! LoL

Is The Walking Dead ready for its own spin off?

The Walking Dead is highly popular, besting ratings for a basic cable drama. TWD spans the age and gender gap brining in 12.4 million viewers for its Season 3 finale. The source material comes from a long running comic series by Robert Kirkman. Keeping some creative control, Kirkman has helped the show thrive. Now AMC wants to capture that same spirit again and create a spin off about a separate group of survivors with no link to the comic books.

As a fan of both the show and the comic, I think this is premature. Season 1 was a perfect example of using dramatic story telling themes and dressing them up with horror elements. While people complained Season 2 was slow, it stuck with the character developments and the theme that people are the most dangerous aspect of the apocalypse (a big theme from the comics). But Season 3 veers from this quite a bit. Adding more zombies and blood shed may have added more ratings, but it made the characters and story take the back burner thus decreasing the quality of the show. The other major issue with Season 3? The stories of the different groups became more and more segregated separating the prison from Woodbury and breaking up the character development flow and ease of storytelling.

Robert Kirkman
Robert Kirkman (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Besides, TWD has been rife with controversy and issues in its three seasons. Season 4 brings yet another shower runner, Scott Gimple whose past credits include being a staff writer. Frank Darabount was fired in the midst of Season 2 and Glenn Mazara took his place for the rest of the season as well as the next. The high rate of show runner turnover is bothersome and indicates that there is incredible tension between AMC and the cast and crew. Season 2 was haunted by rumors that actors wanted out of their contracts because of AMC’s actions. What will happen when current producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert take time to develop this new show? Will the staff be able to maintain a balance that does not injure either show?

Successful spin off have occurred while the current show is still on air. Buffy the Vampire Slayers did not suffer as Joss Wheadon and crew spent time on Angel. Both shows stayed true to the themes and thought provoking look at life Buffy viewers became accustomed to. While Buffy came of age at college, Angel headed down a darker path to redemption. This spin off allowed several of the Buffyverse characters to really expand and become utilized.  Wheadon worked with a trusted team and made the spin off a natural story line expansion for the world he set.

One the flip side, spin offs can go array and cause harm to the original show. One of the most current and notorious examples? Criminal Minds. CBS decided it was time to take Criminal Minds in the same direction of CSI and NCIS, creating another show focusing on another crew of profilers. In setting up the new show, the production company began looking at nonresistant issues and cost cutting efforts for the original show. They essentially fired the two female leads, and replaced them with a different, less costly actress.  Meanwhile, the amazing Kirsten Vangsness was playing double time, appearing in both shows. The story lines faltered as the writers tried to find reasonable ways to remove the current cast members and add the new girl in. These story lines were not in cannon (Seaver questioned Reid and played videogames with Rossi) and the crew purposely styled the new girl’s hair and clothing like that of one of the fired actresses. Fans revolted sending irate letters and refusing to tune in to the spin off. By Season 6’s end, the new girl was fire and the previously released women were brought back-with better pay. And the spin off died.

While The Walking Dead spin off could go either way, I believe the endeavor will take its toll on the original show. The show already suffers from mismanagement, and separating Kirkman, Hurt and Alpert, even for the short time, will quite possibly kill it. While I can’t even speculate on the quality of the spin off, I know it’s a screwdriver to the eye for TWD.