Sundry Sunday :: The Phantom Goofus and Gallant

7 Feb

In the workplace!

1.
Goofus assumes that anyone in his workplace who is lower on the totem pole than him or newer to the company than him knows nothing and goes out of his way to “educate” them.
Gallant makes himself available to anyone who needs his help but does not force the issue.

2.
Goofus teases his coworkers who have different organizational habits than him.
Gallant doesn’t worry about what other people are doing as long as they’re getting their work done.

3.
Goofus likes to strike up conversations with coworkers and customers alike about topics that are inappropriate for the workplace.
Gallant keeps his conversation topics to innocuous things like the weather, popular movies and TV shows, and weekend plans.

4.
Goofus will say passive-aggressive things about coworkers both to their faces and behind their backs, to other coworkers.
Gallant is polite to all of his coworkers, even the ones he dislikes, and if he has a problem with one of them he will keep it to himself and only vent to people outside his workplace.

5.
Goofus is quick to call coworkers out on behavior that he dislikes, but refuses to listen when called out himself.
Gallant is polite in asking coworkers to change behaviors he doesn’t like, and will be accepting if they don’t want to change them. He also tries to change or minimize any of his own behaviors that upset his coworkers.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Sarcastic Saturday :: the Carol Paradigm

6 Feb

Many critics, and heterosexual audience members, have had an interesting reaction to Carol. For them, though they can acknowledge it as beautifully shot and made, the love story has failed to connect on an emotional level. They write things like “Carol” is a perfect example of audiovisual beauty with emotional atrophy,” “it fails to stir the heart,” “I was expecting a much more powerful love story.” Meanwhile, queer women (and other people who understand what the film was going for) are hailing this as possibly the greatest lesbian film of all time, due to its quality of filmmaking as well as the chemistry between leads Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. David Sims wrote a piece entitled “Why Carol is Misunderstood,” which attempts to explain why it has fallen so flat with mainstream audiences. We’d like to expand on those ideas, and incorporate some analysis of fandom and media tropes as well as societal expectations that feed into this.

This, simply put and as per the title, is the Carol Paradigm.

I will bring you back to the greatest thing that B&W invented (which is part of what makes that they ruined it especially horrid) and that is my ever-adored Dany/Doreah scene.  Because when we started thinking about the Carol Paradigm, I kept thinking “love comes in at the eyes, love comes in at the eyes.”  I thought it watching the movie at least twenty times.  And it occurred to me how breathtakingly true it is and how breathtakingly relevant it is to the (queer) female gaze. In the scene, Doreah (Roxanne McKee) is teaching Dany (Emilia Clarke) about the pleasures of the flesh and the heart, and it is neither a coincidence that she says this in regards to Dany’s relationship with… a guy who is not at the beginning good to her and also is not particularly demonstrative nor that she says this with the deep implication of a bond between the two of them as women and also proverbial gal pals.  And it is not a coincidence that it’s Doreah who says this, Doreah who has been trained in the art of “love,” who has endured much but had to find her happiness how and when she can, if she can.

“Love comes in at the eyes,” she tells Dany, meaning that as women perhaps it is expected of them to be able to divine great romantic meaning where there cannot be words.  And in its truest form, this is the Carol Paradigm: an exchange of love shared between women, a secret language of love, that is primarily composed of meaningful glances loaded with intention…

…but that often backfires.  In Dany’s case, she did eventually find love with Drogo (Jason Momoa), but it was hard-earned and the potentially coercive nature of it has been debated here there and everywhere.  Perhaps it could be argued that in the case of Carol the lesbian characters had tried to intuit love from the men in their lives, who presented what looked like love to them, but found it more truly with each other.

 

And perhaps a great deal of heterosexual relationships, both real and fictional, result from this attempt to intuit love from unsuitable people.  Consider also the fact that, tied to Doreah’s training in a sense, women are conditioned to think this way while men are not, at least to the same degree.  This secret language works from woman to woman because women are trained to think this way, but it’s often just like a language: a woman may try to use it with a man, assuming that they too are a human adept in recognizing facial cues, but it’s no more effective than someone attempting to speak Chinese to someone who only speaks Japanese, assuming that they will understand because kanji are shared between the languages.  At the very least, this seems to be responsible for many of the romanticized heterosexual relationships in popular fiction.

 

This conditioning also feeds into the ways that many people perceive fictional romantic relationships, whether they are canon or non-canon. Especially in fandom, there is a pervasive tendency to ship pairings that share several common traits: they are non-canon (or the canon shows them to be bad relationships); they are between a male character and a female character who are on opposing sides of the main conflict, nearly always with the male being an antagonist; and they involve either some kind of power differential or the male character being otherwise “stronger than” the female. Examples include Zuko/Katara in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Grant Ward/Skye in Agents of SHIELD, Jessica/Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and Kylo Ren/Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Some of these are more or less inherently horrifying and abusive than others (Zutara, while being impossible to avoid and having some of the most entitled fans I have ever seen in my time in fandom, at least involves characters who do become close friends), but they all contain what could be called “Phantom of the Opera syndrome.” This is the tendency for fandom to be convinced that a tragic male antagonist could be redeemed if only the female protagonist would fix him with her love.

Of course, this doesn’t come out of nowhere – Phantom is possibly the most obvious example of the trope, but it’s an old romantic storyline, where a Bad Boy is changed through the love of a Good Woman. Literally hundreds of stories reinforce this idea, and the girls and women who tend toward being attracted to Bad Boys adopt this fantasy as well. Therefore, many shippers also find this idea romantic and gravitate towards the pairings that reflect that – which is how we get things like Zutara, Skyeward and Reylo. (Obligatory disclaimer that of course not all shippers of these ships do so for these reasons, but it’s a trend for a reason.)

The Carol Paradigm and love coming in at the eyes also manifests in fictional relationships in other ways.  Fandom and canon will bend over backwards to justify a heterosexual relationship that to some people, often women who understand love in the eyes, does not seem viable but neglect a queer relationship between women that is much more subtly loaded with, well, said love, even when the latter is canon.

A particularly egregious recent example is with Jurassic World, a flawed movie that I personally enjoyed certain elements of very much. One of the elements I did not enjoy was the romance between Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s characters, which took up way too much of the narrative and only makes sense if you go by Hollywood Relationship Logic. We are told they went on one date, and didn’t pursue the relationship further because of a personality conflict. Fine. But then the film proceeds to mistake constant arguing and arrogance for sexual tension (another problem with the way heterosexual romance is portrayed) and about halfway through, they kiss. The film ends with Pratt suggesting, “Maybe we should stick together,” and it’s supposed to be a happy ending because…now they’re together? Too bad they’re almost definitely going to break up in the next five years because they are fundamentally incompatible as people.

Honestly, a lot of the problems I have with the movie would be eliminated if they just left out the romance. Romance is great when it’s well-written, but all too often it’s not and it’s a distraction from the story. (I submit The Avengers and Kingsman: The Secret Service as top-tier action movies that have no romantic subplot besides established relationships.) It’s frustrating, because I can hear the execs saying “There has to be romance! Ladies, they like romance! And people expect if a man and a woman are working together they’ll fall in love!” But people won’t care if a film doesn’t have romance, and a badly-written romance can drag down a perfectly good film. Rachel Dawes from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight is one example of this – Batman doesn’t need a romantic subplot, but Nolan put one in there anyway, and I think it makes those movies significantly weaker (to say nothing of the fridging). Franchises also have a bad habit of holding onto previously established relationships in new films, even when showcasing that relationship would make no sense. In Pitch Perfect 2, Jesse (Skylar Astin) appears for about fifteen minutes just to remind the audience that Beca (Anna Kendrick) and Chloe (Brittany Snow) are definitely not going to kiss each other, even though that would make far more sense emotionally. But heterosexuality must be present.

The first Pitch Perfect has a perfectly serviceable heterosexual love story, although some people criticize it because Jesse’s persistence can be offputting and similar to a Nice Guy. But fandom at large is composed of people who see a far more compelling story in Beca and Chloe’s relationship – which is, point for point, also similar to a love story. Chloe takes Beca under her wing, pushes her into the Bellas, roots for her to the point of standing up to her best friend whose every order she used to follow, and generally acts like she wants nothing more than to push Beca up against a wall and make out with her. This behavior continues in the sequel, and is perhaps more exaggerated. And yet…if I were to point this out to people like my mother, they would be confused and maybe horrified at the implication. They can’t see it, because they’re not programmed to the way they’re programmed to see heterosexuality at every turn.

On television, a recent example of the Carol Paradigm comes to mind: Korra and Asami from The Legend of Korra. The series began with a standard heterosexual romantic subplot between Korra and a male character, Mako, but when Asami was introduced in episode four, a small group in the fandom jumped on board the good ship Korrasami. People mocked Korrasami shippers as delusional, since, they said, Nickelodeon would never allow a queer relationship in one of their shows. I watched the show in its first season, abandoned it somewhere around season 2, and didn’t expect to ever finish, abandoning my hopes for Korrasami as a pipe dream. Until, that is, the series finale of Korra, in which Korra and Asami walk off into the Spirit World for a vacation, gazing into each others’ eyes, in a scene that the creators insist would have included a kiss, if the network hadn’t vetoed it. Immediately, fandom exploded: celebratory fanart was created, reaction videos were uploaded to the internet (at least half of which involve joyful tears and screaming), and the people who shipped Makorra or other heterosexual pairings were left stunned and upset by the “sudden” turn in the story. Except if you’d been watching carefully, it hadn’t been sudden at all. The development is there; it’s subtle, sure, but there are quiet conversations and compliments, there’s mention of letters written while apart. Korra and Asami don’t have a lot of scenes together, but the ones they do have are full of affection and an underlying tension that leads to the aforementioned walking off into the metaphorical sunset together. Co-creator Bryan Konietzko says it best in this post: “If it seems out of the blue to you, I think a second viewing of the last two seasons would show that perhaps you were looking at it only through a hetero lens.”

All of this comes back to the Paradigm itself.  The notion that what some (mostly other queer women) view as very obvious clues (see also: Margaery giving Sansa the “friendship into love” rose, a lot of incidents of behavior between some combination of Daisy and Jemma and Bobbi, Bennett’s behavior toward Caroline, everything we’re always on about in Sailor Moon, everything we’re always on about ever at all) that suggest or could at least possibly lend themselves to a queer relationship between women is nigh invisible to many people who view, quoting the above, with “a hetero lens.”  That heteronormative thinking requires a relationship to be based in tropes and standardized behavior as well as in the fact that men and women clearly must have the sex but does not account for many of the nuances that queer people, in this case women, are accustomed to noticing and being fluent in.  And, although this is sometimes a good thing for safety reasons, this inability to read queer love in the eyes lady language sometimes even manifests itself in real life.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Fashion Friday :: we are not things but we are still fabulous (pt. 1)

5 Feb

pay-rosie-huntington-whiteley

This is important and they are important and here is punk debutante Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).

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I mean, obviously.  Center of Splendor Dress in Ivory, ModCloth.

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It’s kind of a vintage girl gang vibe she’s going for, really.  Back Seam Pantyhose, Nordstrom.

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She’s quite dainty and earth-conscious, too.  Faux Leather Jacket, Free People.

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Also I want and need these and they are everything.  Dance it Up Heel in Black and Ivory, ModCloth.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Theatre Thursday :: on the Fox production of Grease

4 Feb

As I think I’ve mentioned before, actually, almost know with a certainty, I… really do not like Grease.  I saw the movie a bunch of times when I was younger and it was always like “oh okay fun a movie this is stupid and goofy can we watch Rocky Horror now” but when I first saw the stage show on tour I realized I… just really don’t like the material.  (And Taylor Hicks as the “Teen” Angel didn’t help matters.)

I will fully admit Grease is awful because it really is. I’ve never seen the stage show, but my mom showed me the movie in high school because of course she did (to be fair, my mom and I like cheesy musicals almost as much as actual good ones) and she ended up getting the soundtrack through some weird circumstances (I feel like it was some school program? for my private Christian high school?). So we play it on road trips sometimes, and the movie makes me laugh, mostly because it’s so bad. I don’t think I would feel so fondly towards it if my mom didn’t enjoy it mostly unironically.

So that’s where we were both coming in to the Fox production of Grease.  Combined with assuming that, in the style of the NBC productions of The Sound of Music and Peter Pan (because I’m a terrible person and didn’t remember to record The Wiz and have had a hard time finding it legally but I hear it’s great and good for you everyone!), it would be terrible.  Hilarious, alcohol-y terrible.

It… kind of wasn’t, though?  For Grease.  The fact that they actually cast the T-Birds and Pink Ladies with not just white kids helped (although honestly, they really should have used Doody’s name from the film instead of calling him Doody, given that he was a brown kid).  Also Aaron Tveit is gold and Vanessa Hudgens was excellent.

Alright, cards on the table, I was super into High School Musical from about age 14-16. (In case you’re wondering what aggressively sheltering Christian kids does, this is what it does. It ensures they’re still watching Disney Channel in middle school.) And one of my favorite things about it was Vanessa Hudgens (back then she was using her middle name too). Now, of course, I see that was my tiny queer self fixating on the pretty dark-haired girl because that’s what I’ve done pretty much all my life, but back then I just thought I related to Gabriella because she was shy and nerdy. HAH! But anyway, I listened to that album about 2000 times and also ripped a bunch of tracks off of Vanessa’s debut album and listened to those a lot too, and somewhere along the line I just sort of forgot about her, as you do. She also did a bunch of shit I had absolutely no interest in, and I had honestly not thought about her in years when the announcement came that she would play Rizzo in this new production. Huh, I thought, good for her, now I have a reason to watch and probably enjoy parts of it. She looks like this and lemme tell you, if my fourteen-year-old self had seen that, I might’ve figured out some stuff about myself a lot sooner. Also she was easily the most interesting female performer, and her rendition of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was perfect. Twitter told me during the broadcast that her father had just died the day before, and especially considering that, she kicked ass. I’m weirdly proud of her, considering I haven’t thought of her in a long time.

And, actually, I’m gonna talk about Aaron Tveit a little more.  He’s how I roped my parents into watching this, because we’ve seen Aaron a few times live and we adore him, and he didn’t disappoint.  He managed to play Danny Zuko in this way like he was playing him completely sincerely but also with complete awareness of the inherent disgustingness of him.  Because Danny Zuko is  big old jerk and that’s just a fact.  But normally he’s a big old jerk that I don’t find funny, and I found Aaron funny, and also he was easily the sharpest dancer (“Greased Lightning” was almost hilarious to me just because of that).

As for the rest of the cast: Carly Rae Jepsen was adorable, although that song they wrote for her was…well, boring is the kindest word. A friend of mine is a pretty big fan of hers, and gave me one of her older albums, and I think she has a lot of really fun energy and joy and there wasn’t any of that in that scene, which was odd. She and Sandy should probably have gotten together at the end, though. Keke Palmer was adorable also and I would like to see her in something where she actually got to do more than sing one nonsensical song about having a sugar daddy and throw shade on Mario Lopez.  Kether Donahue who played Jan was… exactly what Jan should always be, which is to say dorky and kind of fun.  The other boys were essentially only distinguishable by a single identifier (owns the car, plays the guitar) or which girl they were talking to, but they’re never really more than that.

And then there’s the matter of Julianne Hough. I admit I was coming into this apprehensive about her, and having seen one of my friends tweet about how Taylor Swift would’ve been amazing didn’t really help. The thing is, I don’t have any concrete criticism of Hough – I just don’t have a lot of positive things to say either. She was kind of just aggressively beige, and not in the way that Sandy is supposed to be. My mom said, when she came out in the sexy outfit at the end, “Nope. I don’t believe this.” I have to agree. Her voice is fine, her dancing is pretty good, but she just didn’t do much for me, especially in comparison to Aaron Tveit who was hamming it up pretty well. The meta jokes were funny at first but after a while… less so, also.  And the nonsensical “Sandy shows Patty Simcox up at cheerleading tryouts” bit served virtually no purpose.

It’s weird saying that I’m actually the tiniest bit disappointed that it was a technically solid production.  I don’t go to the actual theatre thinking like that.  But it’s a little bit true.  I didn’t laugh uproariously or anything, and I think that just means that I had to adjust my expectations.  It was definitely not a trainwreck, though!  It was solid, though not flawless, and everyone kept up.  So maybe the pattern is just going to be that some of these are hilarious and some of them are good and you just have to wait and find out which is which.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Whimsy Wednesday :: in which an escapee princess learns how to human and you should never trust boys.

3 Feb

You guys I just need to share with you that two of the original dub voice actresses are going to be at Emerald City and one of them was Sailor Jupiter and one of them was sometimes Sailor Moon but also Emily Ice Tits.  I haven’t been able to freak out about this with anyone but drift partner so I’m freaking out about it with all y’all!

Another princess from a random jewel kingdom.

Oh my god Diana how adorable.  Saying that in the future Mamoru and Usagi fake sick when otherwise they’d have to be at formal affairs.  That’s precious, also because she doesn’t understand why it’s embarrassing.

“Fighting is unbecoming of two cute young ladies!”

Maybe the random men wouldn’t have been so reticent if you didn’t touch their faces, princess.

“SHE’S A BIT OLD FOR ME”

Chibi-Usa and Usagi are rightly confused about why this Rubina person is following them and being so nice.  She’s having wistful thoughts about random Real Person things at the festival though.  And making all the male attendants blush.

Rubina also has really serious eyebrows.

Why is it playing the sexy Sailor Uranus and Neptune music as this balloon floats into the sky though.

Also, this reminds me of nothing so much as that scene in Aladdin where Princess Jasmine is wandering the marketplace.

“I am free… like those balloons.”  Much drama.

I also like Chibi-Usa’s single Hello Kitty bow.

And Mamoru just appeared out of nowhere to give an inspirational speech??

Oh, Rubina doesn’t trust the guy who just snatched her out of the air.  Good call.

“On a beautiful night of fireworks!” “Only an evil man would do harm!”

Another freaky ball monster person!  With a personal grudge against them for fucking with her monster cousins.

Oh no…she…rolls around…THE HORROR

SHE ROLLED OVER TUXEDO MASK’S ROSE THOUGH SHE ROLLS SERIOUSLY!

I’M WHEEZING

NOW SHE’S SEXY???????

“I’ll never forget the memories of today.”

Zirconia is having none of this shit.

Tiger’s Eye attempting to woo every target at once.  That’s totally going to work.  No flaw in that plan at all.

FURRIES

‘The dance party in the gym.” “Our college dance party.”  Is apparently a marriage market so all the girls are dressed up.

“Our fateful encounters” sounds so sinister.

Also, who is letting middle schoolers and CHILDREN into college dance parties?

AMI ASKING MAKO TO DANCE SO SHE ISN’T SAD AND ALONE (because she is so tall boys won’t dance with her she is 5’6” you’re lying)

AMI IS SO QUEER

“After the bait, the fish come swarming” Tiger’s Eye you are so grossssss

“I don’t have time to spend with a girl who’s not in the photo list”

Mako, sweetheart, nooooooooo

“When it comes to feelings, time doesn’t matter” UM BUT IT KIND OF DOES

Mako is a little hopeless when she’s got a crush.

But everyone’s going to wait with her and hang out, because friends.  Or something.

FURRIES

Good thing Chibi-Usa and Usagi are spying on this TOTALLY LEGITIMATE conversation.

Rei looks so skeptical.

Ooh, Fish’s Eye snaked the mirror… grab.

Omg the ~tragic~ music

“It’s your fault for trusting me so much after one dance” said Tiger’s Eye, the literal embodiment of rape culture

“You people again!”  WELL WHAT DID YOU EXPECT

“Shufflefuruo” is that a what oh my god the fuck

The Sorrowful…Car…Master???

Also since when are card tricks a circus act.

Jupiter’s Super transformation!!

maybe the real dancing was the friends we made along the way

–your fangirl heroines.

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Television Tuesday :: on DC TV programs

3 Feb

By drift partner, as I myself am only aware of these by osmosis.

I’m not entirely proud of the fact that I’ve seen at least parts of every show in the current DC television canon (except Gotham, because I have to draw the line somewhere), but here we are. I’ve seen two full seasons of Arrow and up to the current episodes of The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. I’d like to talk a bit about why, in my opinion, Flash and Supergirl succeed as compelling narratives while Arrow is – to be frank – complete garbage as a story. Legends of Tomorrow is…honestly, also garbage, but at least it’s entertaining garbage so far, while I would argue Arrow is really not. For now, I’m going to put Legends to the side, and discuss how Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl parallel each other while taking different approaches to similar stories.

A disclaimer: I am inherently biased against Arrow, because I find Oliver Queen despicable as a character. I didn’t see much in the first two seasons to argue that he is anything but a spoiled brat who plays hero because it makes him feel better about himself and who will make everyone else’s troubles all about him, but I will do my best to look at the series objectively.

On the surface, the three shows have similar plots. Our Hero/ine has special power(s) or skills, due to unique circumstances, that they feel are necessary to use in order to protect the people of their city. They have a team of friends and allies surrounding them, who are willing to do anything to help Our Hero/ine, but who are often put in danger because of that loyalty. And there is at least one Love Interest, who Our Hero/ine has significant feelings for, but who cannot date Our Hero/ine for reasons (usually because they are dating other people). The latter is because these are all CW shows – Supergirl is technically CBS, but it’s a CW show at its core – and CW thrives on romantic drama and conflict.

But here is where the shows differ. Oliver Queen became the Arrow, a precise marksman/assassin, out of a sense of personal responsibility for problems in his city that he and his family have caused, both directly and indirectly. This, admittedly, is noble. What is less noble is that multiple times Oliver’s Team Arrow has had to pull him back because, as the Arrow, he has no conscience, no personal guilt for his actions. He puts the mask on in order to exact the vengeance that he as Oliver Queen cannot. Arrow is a dark show, thematically, and it’s more than that; it’s unpleasant. Oliver doesn’t just do what he does because he wants to keep his city safe: he does it because he’s angry, deep down, and he needs a way to release that anger. On the people he decides deserve it? Why not!

(But wait, you say. Daredevil is similar! Matt Murdock is also deeply angry at the world and takes out his anger as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen! Yes, I say, but we are also given legitimate reasons for his anger and shown the pain and anguish he feels about his inner demons. In a lot of cases the narrative doesn’t necessarily condone what he’s doing either. Arrow has a terrible habit of asking us to sympathize with Oliver and condone when he does shitty things, because he’s Our Hero. Also, honestly, Oliver is just a less interesting character than Matt. He doesn’t have the Catholic guilt or the rough childhood, he has a rich playboy upbringing.)

On the other hand, Barry and Kara become The Flash and Supergirl because, at their core, they want to keep people safe with no real ulterior motives. Later on, they do end up specifically going after villains that they have been the cause of (in Barry’s case, after he opens the parallel dimension in the end of season 1, and in Kara’s, after she opens the Negative Zone and brings forth a legion of metahumans). Do they make bad choices and lose control sometimes? Of course, because they’re not perfect. In fact, a lot of the time they’re idiots. But they’re likeable and they try to be good people and they’re able to stop themselves even when they want to completely give in to their rage.

Granted, all three do have some things in common. They all have a tendency to take responsibility when terrible things happen in relation to their foes. I would argue that the way the shows handle that makes the difference, at least for me. In the most recent episodes of Arrow, Felicity Smoak (resident hacker of Team Arrow and also Oliver’s girlfriend, which is a point we’ll come back to) is shot in the back and ultimately ends up in a wheelchair. Oliver proceeds to make Felicity’s current state all about him and how bad he feels because someone went after his girlfriend and I almost threw up in my mouth when I heard about it. The narrative, I hear, hasn’t given Felicity anywhere hear the screentime to process and accept her disability, and instead Oliver is entirely focused on finding a way for her to walk again. The problem with this is that it is all about Oliver’s pain, and the narrative reinforces this.

By contrast, Flash, while having somewhat uneven writing, has given both Cisco and Iris emotional arcs regarding things that happen to them as a direct result of being close to Barry. Cisco develops visions of the future (the show calls them “vibes” which will stop being funny to me approximately never) and, at first, keeps them a secret from his friends. Eventually it turns out that these “vibes” are actually visions from a parallel universe, and Team Flash finds out and is supportive and gentle with him. He has a vision of himself being killed by Harrison Wells (which happened in the season finale, and Barry erased by opening the parallel dimension portal), and is shaken to his core. The show is careful to treat his trauma with respect and give him time to process it. Similarly, Supergirl’s Hank Henshaw/J’onn J’onzz recently had a showcase episode which explained his backstory and pitted him against the monster of the week. Honestly, his backstory should have pissed me off: it involves manpain and survivor’s guilt from being the last surviving Green Martian and being unable to save his wife and daughters. I think, however, that because his manpain was the center of the episode but was not tolerated by the story as an excuse for acting rashly, it was fine. Kara tells him again and again that if he lets his rage win, he will have lost everything. But he is allowed to be angry, and he is allowed to be hurt.

I will say, though, that a constant frustration I have with all three series is in regards to the Love Interests. Never more so than in Arrow, because naturally I am more inclined to give a pass to shows I actually like. But nevertheless the writers of each show seem to have misguided ideas about how to write romance. Arrow is the most egregious offender, having originally slated Oliver’s True Love to be Laurel Lance…until, that is, fandom decided they didn’t like the cut of her jib, so to speak, and proceeded to crucify her in favor of their darling Felicity. The writers caved because they are bad at their jobs and quickly changed the course of the story (with a detour into “Sara Lance is your new sexy ladyfriend” territory and then forcing him into a marriage with Nyssa al-Ghul, because all women find Oliver Queen’s dick irresistible for some godforsaken reason) so that Felicity was and always had been his True Love. Unfortunately, they are terrible together. Oliver is constantly undercutting her and making her feel like she’s less important than…well, everything else, and then trying to make it up to her with scraps of affection. I think he might think he loves her, but he’s an inherently selfish person and so he cannot process the idea of her as an individual apart from himself.

Flash is…well, the show is trying. Sometimes. Barry has been in love with his best friend-slash-housemate Iris since they were kids, to the point that the show has said something along the lines of “you learned what love felt like because of Iris.” From the beginning, the show has built it up as an Epic Romance for the Ages – which is why the constant refrain that they can’t! be! together! because! reasons! is so frustrating. I am ride or die Westallen, because I believe that when they’re communicating and working together, Barry and Iris’ relationship is the beating heart of this show. But the show likes to take romantic detours, not unlike Arrow, wherein Iris begins dating Eddie Thawne soon after Barry gets hit by lightning in the pilot (spoiler, Eddie dies), or Barry dates Linda Park or Patty Spivot to try to forget about Iris (spoiler, he fails). This, all while constantly dancing around each other pretending they don’t want to passionately make out about 80% of the time they’re together. Barry also has a bad habit of not telling Iris important things, like that he’s the Flash, or like that he’s in love with her. It’s not a death sentence, but he is going to have to get better at communication and quick. Westallen is going to happen, but it’s exasperating to have to deal with CW bullshit until we get there.

And finally, Supergirl. This show has some of the same problems as Flash – bad communication between two people who really want to bone – but it complicates it further by giving her not one, but two potential love interests right off the bat. Winn and James both work alongside her at CatCo, and she develops a close friendship with both of them, but the difference between the two relationships as they stand in as of now is vast. She meets James in the pilot, and she immediately gets giggly and blushy around him because, well, look at him. I would blush if he looked at me like that! She and James have an easy rapport that’s undercut with a not-insignificant amount of romantic/sexual tension, but more than that, he likes and respects her as a person. He finds her interesting in her own right, not just because she’s Supergirl. The only problem is he’s currently dating Lucy Lane, and I do not dig infidelity plots. Winn, on the other hand, is a classic Nice Guy, but he’s not entirely beyond saving. Anyone with eyes can see that he has a crush on Kara, but at first he’s kind of chill about it. Then, in a recent episode revolving around his convict father, it all goes off the rails and he kisses Kara in a moment of emotional vulnerability. Then he runs away and she proceeds to freak out about how this will change their relationship. The rest of the episode is a parade of Nice Guy bullshit mixed with some nice emotional guilt-tripping, topped off with a dollop of daddy issues. Last night he got a little better and started talking to her again, but I’m waiting for the next blowup. Honestly, I admit that I was already biased against him because he struck me as not a terribly interesting character, but lately I just cannot deal with his disgusting sense of entitlement towards Kara. There was also a scene last night where Kara instructed him to search the missing persons records for any people that looked vaguely like her, “same height, same weight,” and he interrupted with “oh, I know those.” DUDE. STOP. You are being creepy as fuck! Like I said, there’s still a way to turn him around (it probably involves some other girl, any other girl), but as of now, I’m wary at best.

Overall, are any of these shows perfect? God no, and I could honestly write a long list of problems I have with Flash and Supergirl. But the reason I feel that they succeed where Arrow fails is, simply, because they’re enjoyable shows to watch. Arrow is often maudlin and angsty, and while the other two sometimes delve into that territory, there’s almost always an inherent sense of joy and wonder that Arrow has never had. When Barry runs and Kara flies, I smile. I get the sense they actually enjoy using their powers to help people. I root for them to win, because I believe in what they’re fighting for. Oliver just shoots people and growls at them. That’s not my idea of a hero.

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Music Monday :: my thoughts on Promise

1 Feb

Hi, another person I like from Spotify!

“Los Angeles.”  She’s one of those melancholic moody rain musicians.  It makes sense that this is released in the winter.  She is not a summer singer.  She is the kind of singer that sounds a lot like a bunch of other singers but only in flashes.  Some of her vowels sound like Lorde, there are hints of all my Scandinavian girls.  Also there’s violin and that’s hot, as is the fact that this song is over seven minutes long.

“You Dream of China.”  Such vibe.  I feel a little like I’m getting high listening to this, which is weird because I don’t actually… like drugs.  But like, in a good vibey way, like metaphorically getting high.

“Don’t Use Me Up.”  “We went down to the water to be better” or something goooosh the (Southern) Gothic gosh.

“Pack of Nobodies.”  Urban orchestra sounds oh my godddd I am dead.

“Take it Easy.”  This is so heavily aesthetic though.  It’s like grunge urban Gothic with a side of art school.  I’m enjoying myself so much.

“Come to Me.”  Enjoying is kind of a weird way to phrase it because this isn’t particularly… cheerful, I guess, and my thoughts are drifting in a way that reflects the above melancholic moody rain, but I find this music very interesting and feelings are probably good things to indulge in sometimes.

“Fallin in On It.”  I can imagine someone choreographing really interesting modern dance to this stuff.  It’s the right kind of vibe for that.

“Antidote.”  There are such interesting layers of instruments here.  And this song is over six minutes long and god I’m so into that.  I’m sorry, this is woefully inarticulate, but I’m having an interesting time.

“Adagio.”  This is weirdly meditative, in its way.  I think I’m going to focus on that.

“Richard.”  I wonder what it is about songs and the name “Richard.”  I was listening to First Aid Kit earlier, is why.  That was a strange out of body experience.

“Light is Drainin’.”  Oh oh we’re back to the Gothic Americana oh.  I would like to wallow in this please.  This is beautiful.  Kind of Bat for Lashes-y.  I’m also meditating on this.

–your fangirl heroine.

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