canbemagic happenings (september-december)

6 Jan

your fave is… (cameron howe)

As has been repeatedly mentioned, drift partner has been in a Mackenzie Davis spiral since Dark Fate came out. This meant that she basically devoured Halt and Catch Fire, the AMC drama that Davis starred in, and that shortly thereafter she got me to watch it, too. She primed me for Cameron, Davis’ character, being super autistic, but no amount of her saying so could have prepared me for how autistic.

That’s right. Your fave Cameron Howe is autistic.

updates from the periphery of fire country

If I’ve never made it clear, I’m a permanent West Coaster. (Yes, I take this label from That Thing You Do! What of it?) Specifically, a Pacific Northwesterner. I’ve lived my whole conscious life in Oregon and Washington, including growing up in Salem, Oregon’s capitol, and now living in a suburb of Seattle. I have connections to people in a lot of the major cities in both states, and let me tell you this.

It is really fucking scary right now.

queer conspiracy theories (terminator: dark fate)

Now, it was drift partner’s birthday this week, so at her request we watched Dark Fate again, because it’s a great movie and she loves it aggressively. I couldn’t help but look at the whole movie specifically through the lens of that conspiracy, that the scene where Grace (Mackenzie Davis) tells Dani (Natalia Reyes) that in the future “You saved me and you raised me and you taught me to hope” was a late addition designed to tamp down the potential gay vibes, and I have decided to collect the evidence in a post.

the framework sure sounds terrifying

Today I’d like to consider what life might have been like in the Framework presented in Agents of SHIELD. Generally, Framework software was designed to create an immersive, realistic world for the viewer, but specifically, the Framework refers to the dystopian world that the characters found themselves stuck in in the second half of season four. This world’s design was predicated on the idea of removing a great regret from each user’s real life – May (Ming-Na Wen) regretted killing Katya Belyakov (Ava Acres) in Bahrain, Mack (Henry Simmons) regretted the death of his daughter Hope (Jordan Rivera), Coulson (Clark Gregg) regretted not living a normal life, Mace (Jason O’Mara) regretted lying about having Inhuman abilities, Radcliffe (John Hannah) regretted splitting up with Agnes (Mallory Jansen), Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) regretted his father (David O’Hara) abandoning him in childhood – and from there, it apparently spun out into a horrific “if this, then this.”

tumblr holidays

Internet culture is kind of like weird secular paganism sometimes. (No shade on paganism as a specific religion. That’s not what I am, I’m not really anything, but it seems cool. I’m using the term’s general meaning.) Tumblr is my corner of internet, for better or worse, so I’m going to be talking about the holidays celebrated there, but for all I know Twitter and other platforms have their own traditions. Our traditions are memes that we will always remember and/or reblog (I’m thinking “no its becky,” “handmaiden and feudal lord,” “Harold they’re lesbians,” “I like your shoelaces,” “spiders Georg“) and pictures or phrases we all understand without them needing to be explained (“then perish,” “do you love the color of the sky,” “tumbeasts,” “Mishapocalypse,” “you tried,” “elf practice“) and the topic of this post, our designated holidays.

unlicensed costume patterns (pay royalties to michele clapton edition)

Yes, Game of Thrones is a deeply flawed television show that broke my heart and insulted its fans. However, Michele Clapton’s costumes are an element of the show that I will still go to bat for. My mom still cosplays from this canon and she’s helped my friends and I do in the past, so I’m intimately familiar with a lot of the costumes and the details of them. We used to do my Daenerys costumes immediately after the season they’d appeared in, before anyone had made an unlicensed duplicate pattern in Butterick or McCall’s or Simplicity, and I’m really passionate about doing things the right way. A lot of the unlicensed patterns (that’s how I’m describing patterns clearly inspired by costumes from film or TV but not with the canon’s logo on the pattern or in the description) aren’t bad, but the more of them appear the funnier they are.

Especially considering the fact that, you know, Game of Thrones ended in disgrace.

So I want to look at some of these patterns today, comparing them to the actual costumes in question and also just discussing them.

unlicensed costume patterns (miscellaneous fantasy edition)

Today we’re going to be, as I just said, looking at more patterns in the fantasy category. That does include a couple of Game of Thrones patterns that escaped my notice last week, as well as some of the patterns that were combined with Game of Thrones ones. I’m generally less familiar with how these costumes are made, so there will probably be less addressing of technical details.

unlicensed costume patterns (miscellaneous edition)

This time, I’m going to be looking at a weird range of unlicensed patterns. These range from television shows to stage plays to comic books to blockbuster films, and there’s not much holding them together, but I just have to talk about them. I’ll also go on record saying that Simplicity and McCall’s do put out some licensed patterns. There are some pretty decent DC ones, including DC Bombshells (although I’m not quite sure why it’s Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Stargirl, and Black Canary, since those six characters don’t actually have, like, arcs or prominence in common), some licensed and classic Wizard of Oz ones, some Outlander ones (I don’t watch this show, but I guess the costumes are cool?), some Disney ones, etcetera. I have nothing against the licensed patterns, though I know I inherited my mother’s hipster pattern-choosing tendencies and would probably never use even a licensed pattern to make the thing it was of without heavy modification. I just think the unlicensed ones are absolutely hilarious.

your fave is… (sookie stackhouse)

So I finally watched True Blood with drift partner. All five seasons of it! (If I haven’t made it explicitly clear, in this house we do not consider seasons six and seven of True Blood to be canon. They are disastrous dumpster fires of misguided plot decisions, misogynistic crap, boring costumes, and way too much time spent wanking off Bill Compton.) I’m fully capable of acknowledging where you could find fault with this show, but damn, it does fill me with joy. I like most of the characters, even some of the guys. (This is a shoutout to Terry Bellefleur [Todd Lowe], who I admittedly totally overlooked when I started watching the show because my friends/the fandom was so intent on figuring out which man you found bangable that I zoned out on the ones I didn’t want to bang; Terry Bellefleur, I may not want to bang you but I love you and your big tender PTSD teddy bear heart!) I adore the whole aesthetic, because as I get older I realize Southern Gothic is honestly one of my favorite things. It’s remarkably well-constructed for something that most people write off as a supernatural soap opera (that’s its own essay, honestly).

And honestly? Your fave Sookie (Anna Paquin), the show’s protagonist, is autistic.

queerbaiting, or: the ol’ will gay or won’t gay

Settle in, kiddos. It’s time to talk about queerbaiting.

Wiktionary defines queerbaiting as “the practice of creating homoerotic tension between two characters in a narrative work (particularly a television series) without the intention of ever developing it into an actual same-sex relationship or explicitly addressing the question of either character’s sexuality.” It’s basically, as I said above, “will gay or won’t gay.” YouTuber Sarah Z has a video on the topic of queerbaiting and another, more recent one on Sherlock, its fandom, and everything surrounding the queerbaiting therein, and in that spirit, I’ll use Sherlock as an example for those of you who still need a little clarification.

the archetypical nancy drew

What do Sookie Stackhouse, Shilo Wallace, Edith Cushing, and Dana Polk have in common? Narrative role, vague genre, archetypes.

The point, or one of the points, of Cabin in the Woods is that archetypes are very stupid. But they’re also all too common in stories, especially those in more fantastical genres, and for the purposes of this discussion I am going to refer back to Dana’s designated archetype: the Virgin. In Cabin, the five central characters are assigned archetypes in order to fill the roles that the evil organization needs them to fill to satisfy basic horror story plots. True Blood, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Crimson Peak, and The Cabin in the Woods are all adjacent to the horror genre in one way or another, so it’s reasonable that their characters might all vaguely fit into horror genre archetypes.

how not to end your series

Thursday night, as drift partner and I were watching the fallout from the Supernatural series finale on Twitter and Tumblr, we kept pausing to discuss other television (and film series) finales that are in whole or part atrocious. As I said, we’re not attached to Supernatural in the slightest. I saw half of an episode in a hotel once, didn’t give a shit, then watched the first Charlie (Felicia Day) episode because I like Felicia Day, especially when she’s playing a lesbian, and didn’t watch any of her subsequent episodes because the first one had only barely been worth it and she ultimately died, which was something I didn’t need to see. But both of us have a general opinion of Supernatural based on what we know about it, i.e. that it’s lazy and misogynistic and homophobic and too focused on boys that you go uwu about. It was mostly in this spirit that we were watching the finale fallout – sue us, but there’s a certain schadenfreude when bad shows tank. (See also, The 100.)

happiest season and the complexities of coming out

Drift partner had been extremely psyched for Happiest Season. Mackenzie Davis and Kristen Stewart are two of her faves, and it’s directed by lesbian icon Clea DuVall. She’d been following it eagerly, so I sort of ended up following it by extension. It also really hit home for her and us because, as I’ve said before, she wasn’t out to her family. We’ve been married almost four years now, but her family is very conservative and she was worried about their reaction and if this news would mean they cut her out of their lives. I literally went to their house for Christmas one year (just for a morning/afternoon) and we sat side-by-side on the couch, smiling and nodding and waiting until no one was looking to quickly squeeze each other’s hands.

revisionist outlining (baby x-men: the movie)

So drift partner and I have been watching X-Men: The Animated Series. We did X-Men: Evolution a couple years ago, too. Prior to drift partner, my knowledge of the X-Men was pretty much just what I knew from the movies and random details I’d gleaned through Quizilla quizzes when I was twelve and really loved X2 (mostly because I loved Rogue [Anna Paquin], like to the degree where it was basically a personality trait of mine at the time – yet nobody suspected I was either queer or autistic????), but drift partner is a legitimate X-Men aficionado. Every time we watch anything X-Men-related, it ends up spinning out into discussions of either how the movies could have improved themselves or how we’d do it ourselves, usually influenced by elements of the cartoons (which are superior).

the fictional preteens behind the real netflix christmas universe

Like many of us, drift partner and I spent the week indulging in Netflix’s truly choice Christmas offerings. I’m talking their best, most royal Christmas film series: the A Christmas Prince trilogy, The Princess Switch and it’s truly incredible sequel, and The Knight Before Christmas. As I explained at my writing job, these movies all share a cinematic universe, so the best way to watch them is in the release order: CP1, CP2, PS1, KB, CP3, PS2. This also means you have a linear ascension of complete cinematic insanity.

We also came up with a truly bananas theory to explain why these movies are the way they are: they were actually written by a trio of eleven-year-olds.

disjointed musings on queer content and fandom

I know I keep bringing up Supernatural, but other people keep bringing it up first, and there’s something about their unwillingness to just write some fanfic and let it go that, I don’t know, it’s still on my mind. This is not a knock on the people still feeling things, because I obviously still feel a lot of things about things, but it’s different.

the pre-disaster twenty-twenty

Before I do my big year-end roundup next week, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the stuff that happened this year before… well, the above. For a hard line, I’m going to say everything that happened before March 23, the earliest date lockdowns were initiated in the US. Everything that happened between January 1 and March 23 feels like it happened in a completely separate year, and I’m pretty sure everyone would agree with me on that front. That, and everything that happened last technical year feels like it happened a decade ago. Time is fake and also homophobic.

twenty-twenty in incomplete, optimistic review

We all know this was a garbage year. I don’t really want to talk about that right now. I want to talk about things that made this garbage year not totally suck, and mostly media things because that’s just what I do.

canbemagic happenings (may-august)

1 Sep

die, vampire, die (on creation, motivation, and desperation)

Each anxiety is a vampire, you see. It drains you and harms you and you have to figure out how to kill it, i.e. cope.

So that’s what I’m starting with. Metaphorical vampires. (As opposed to the literal fictional kind, which I’m often fond of or at least interested in.) I’ve been, well, under attack by these assholes on and off for weeks and I’ve had enough.

your fave is… (gert yorkes)

This one is going to be a little different, because I want to talk about a character who actually (gasp) canonically has a mental illness. So: your fave (Gert Yorkes, played by Ariela Barer) has clinical anxiety.

the phenomenal, optimistic queerness of she-ra

This is obviously going to be full of spoilers. Just a heads-up.

So the Noelle Stevenson reboot of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power finished up recently, and like the big queer nerd I am, I have some things to say about it.

don’t fuck cats

We did not expect to like this movie.

We did far more than not like this movie.

Here is a slightly-sober synthesis of our drunk reactions to this movie.

the pulse anniversary, our president the immortan, and human rights

I’m not going to say that this move of the Immortan’s was the “last straw,” because it’s not. He’s been piling up last straws since he came into office. But it took me back to four years ago, and I feel like I need to talk about it. Not to put my voice over anyone else’s, but because it was a significant moment in history.

high school musical 3 and the relative merits of disney trilogies

Last weekend we saw High School Musical 3 on Disney+ and said “what the hell.” She’d only seen it once, a long time ago, and didn’t remember it; I’d never seen it and figured I might as well. We expected the experience to be middling, ultimately forgettable, but not insulting.

It took us like three hours to watch this one hour/twenty-two minute movie because we kept pausing to rant, which is why we’re writing this. It’s kind of about High School Musical 3 but it’s also kind of about the relative merits of Disney franchises and how the hell you make sequels to things, especially musicals.

teen beach movie and implicit queerness

There’s also the metatextual read that while the characters in Wet Side Story may be queer, they themselves may not realize it because they’re from a time that stereotypes and problematizes queer people. It’s only after interacting with the modern real world (via Mack [Maia Mitchell] and Brady [Ross Lynch]) that Lela (Grace Phipps, now known professionally as Gracie Gillam) unlocks her true (queer) potential. This is what I want to analyze for you.

dc bombshells and queer revisionist history

The entire point of Bombshells (other than telling a fairly cohesive story based on novelty art) is imagining a better world. Not a perfect world, but one where different voices are heard and different people take power and as a result, different things happen.

insert punny covid title here

I don’t know, guys.

This is not going to be a particularly clever or original post, I’m sure. This is just me sorting through some things that are bothering me lately, because every time I try to think of what to write this week my brain just yells “THE WORLD IS FALLING APART.”

in loving defense of repo! the genetic opera

I’m just going to come out and say it. At this point in my life I can honestly say that Repo! The Genetic Opera is one of my favorite movies. Not one of my favorite weird movies, or favorite bad movies, just one of my favorite movies.

the baby-sitters club and socially aware nostalgia

The 2020 Netflix adaptation wholeheartedly embraces this (although I have to admit that I was hoping they’d canonize at least one of the girls as some kind of queer; maybe if/when there’s a season 2) and they do it in a way that’s just so damn organic and lovely. There are just queer people in Stoneybrook and it’s no big deal. There are brown people in Stoneybrook and it’s no big deal. There are all kinds of people in Stoneybrook and it’s no big deal.

if you like folklore, then…

Upon first hearing Folklore, I immediately started getting into “this reminds me of _” thoughts. That’s one of the ways I relate to music, just in general, but I wanted to actually write a piece about it for this album because I kind of doubt that a lot of the things it reminds me of are going to be the things that other people who’ve written similar articles are reminded of. That’s really just a guess, because some of the stuff on here isn’t exactly obscure, but I don’t know if everyone would draw the same connections that I did.

what if the princess bride but lesbians*

Recently a project was released on Quibi where celebrities acted out scenes from The Princess Bride at their homes. We did not watch this because we don’t have Quibi (or any plans to acquire Quibi) and because drift partner has repeatedly stated that it would embarrass her. She’s a big, longtime Princess Bride fan. I don’t have the same nostalgic associations, so I had fewer opinions about this project, but I didn’t need to watch it either. Completely unrelated to this, we rewatched the actual Princess Bride last night. We just felt like it. Drift partner brought up the hypothetical lesbian* remake of this story she would produce, so we obviously spent the entire movie actually casting it. Here are the results!

on biracial representation (daisy johnson)

(Note: this essay is written entirely by my wife and drift partner.)

I tuned into SHIELD’s pilot partially out of an interest in the Whedon brand (2013 was a different time) and partially because this was the heyday of Marvel content and I wanted to experience it all. I thought it was pretty fun and I felt an instant connection to Skye, the snarky hacker/audience surrogate. At the time, many of my Tumblr friends also watched at least the first few episodes and were posting about them. I vividly remember the moment that I found out Chloe Bennet is biracial Chinese – one friend posted something about how the show had “two WOC” on it, and I googled Chloe and literally started screaming. From that moment onward, Skye/Daisy has been my girl. 

on misguided heteronormativity (jemma simmons)

When SHIELD‘s first episode introduced Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), I knew any chance I had of staying emotionally reserved enough not to get my heart broken was gone. British? Check. Absolutely the brains? Check. Big-hearted? Check. Funny, but in that awkward referential sometimes-accidental (autistic) way? Check. Absolutely adorable and easily shippable with Skye (Chloe Bennet), another awesome female character (that drift partner happened to have latched onto)? Well, that was just a bonus.

a ranking of agents of shield story arcs

As you know, we are diehard fans of Agents of SHIELD. (This is a coauthored post.) It has had a lot of highs and lows as a show, and frankly no one was expecting it to last seven seasons. But it did, and it has managed to do some really interesting things with its characters and plotlines that couldn’t have been accomplished in the main MCU. Now that it’s done, we wanted to take a look at the show’s plot arcs and rank them, both looking at criteria such as writing quality, character arcs, and overall importance to the show, as well as our own subjective enjoyment of them. It’s harder to rank this show by seasons because it’s often had multiple arcs per season (much like comic book storylines), so we have opted to go with arcs in the interest of a more nuanced ranking.

canbemagic happenings (january-april)

8 May

hello, twenty-twenty

Now I’m giving myself a different challenge: roughly once-a-week posts, themes not necessary, that I’m actually proud of and not just doing to meet a self-imposed quota.

twenty-nineteen in incomplete, optimistic review

A lot of things stunk and made me sad/mad last year, as I’m sure was also true for you. I don’t really feel like going over those things, so instead, here are some of the things that make me genuinely happy to reflect on, in no order.

points of interest

Last week I kept interrupting myself to give personal bits of backstory and mission, and while that worked alright it’s occurred to me that before I go much farther into this adventure I should make a post that’s just full of those. This way I can refer back and everyone knows where I’m coming from.

thanks, summer glau (a love story, part one)

Specifically, the story of my wife and I. In this installment: the useless lesbian* pining and lead-up.

four for you, clare kramer (a love story, part two)

So (remember how I said I’m Jemma and drift partner is Skye-Daisy?) I proposed a little experiment. (My only strong sciences, I have to say, are social.) I just wouldn’t say that we were dating and would let them draw their own conclusions. When they asked me about it, I wouldn’t lie, but I didn’t plan to bring it up.

that’s right, chloe bennet (a love story, part three)

We’d get married eventually, but we weren’t planning to do anything huge and weren’t on a schedule.

Then the 2016 election reared its ugly head.

music by sara bareilles (a love story, part four)

When we got there, a guard asked us where we were going. “We’re here to get married,” we said. “Oh! Where’s the groom?” she asked. Drift partner laughed and pointed to herself.

in honor of carrie fisher (a love story, part five)

At least, I thought, this would be the last time I sat alone on a train pulling out of Seattle, crying as quietly as possible so as not to draw attention. At least this was the last time we’d have to stay in a mediocre hotel five minutes away from her parents’ house because they didn’t know we were together. At least we’d be properly together soon.

revisionist outlining (jessica jones seasons 2&3)

So instead of critiquing every single thing that I hated about the second and third seasons of Jessica Jones, I’m going to take you through an outline of what I personally would have done instead.

dark fate, charlie’s angels, birds of prey, and the sapphic fantasy film

I’m talking about movies where ladies kick ass and (subtly or no) make eyes at each other. I’m talking about movies where men are narrative devices, harmless friends, or villains to defeat. I’m talking about movies where promotional stills are released and men whine about how the women in them aren’t sexy but (queer) women scream “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? THIS IS TWENTY KINDS OF HOT.”

a timely deconstruction (“4,722 hours”)

A refresher: SHIELD currently possesses a monolith that, for reasons never fully explained although eventually implied, Inhumans fear. While studying it slash trying to hit on Jemma, Fitz accidentally leaves its case unlocked. Once she’s alone with it, it liquefies and swallows her whole, then spits her out on an alien world. She has to figure out how to survive. Then there’s a man, for some reason.

pointedly rewritten lyrics (rude)

I decided to rewrite the lyrics to that song so it would be about something else that pissed me off! Namely, the disappointing lack of worker’s rights and proactive social policies in the United States, specifically while this situation is being dealt with.

album review (the light)

I haven’t yet had a chance to let loose with it in my car yet, because I haven’t gone anywhere in a week, because society is kind of crumbling and all, but I’m sure that when I do I’ll transcend.

your fave is… (the dag)

It’s April! It’s National Autism Awareness Month. Let’s do it.

So: your fave (The Dag, played by Abbey Lee) is… autistic. And queer.

your fave is… (bobbi morse)

Specifically, your fave (Bobbi Morse, aka Agent 19, aka Mockingbird, played by Adrianne Palicki on Agents of SHIELD and appearing in a variety of comics) is autistic.

your fave is… (mizuno ami)

Your fave (Mizuno Ami, aka Sailor Mercury) is autistic.

your fave is… (missandei of naath)

Your fave (Missandei of Naath) is autistic.

parks and rec and archetypes, quarantine edition

We were doing a rewatch of Parks and Recreation before the announcement that the cast was reuniting for a special coronavirus fundraiser for Feeding America, and admittedly we’re doing a rewatch of Parks and Recreation at least a couple of times a year because it’s easy and wonderful, but it still seemed fortuitous.


1 Jan

I have a new blog-home. Here it is and here’s why:

See you there.

Marvel Monday :: optimizing the space for a Marvel area at California Adventures

12 Nov

Hey, friends. Remember how I get kind of nerdy about Disneyland? And remember how they’re doing a Marvel expansion at California Adventures? Well, I improved upon it.

Now, my map leaves something to be desired, I know. It’s probably overly crowded, but I come from Roller Coaster Tycoon, where you put in as much shit as you can fit. The actual park design would probably get somewhat trimmed down from this, or they would just admit that they’re turning that lot they bought across the street into employee parking and expand into the parking lot behind California Adventures for more park space. I already did a little cutting and trimming to make all my ideas fit (sorry, Disney Junior stage, last I heard your show was defunct anyway; sorry, Carthay restaurant, I literally didn’t even remember you were there so we can go ahead and replace you with a different more fun restaurant).

But here’s a breakdown of some ideas.


Up by the Guardians ride (the former Tower of Terror – I will never ride this, both because I don’t like drop rides and because I’m not comfortable with how they have female ride attendants dressed as Krylorian slaves) we put a more child-friendly Guardians attraction: Groot’s Treehouse. This is the same as Tarzan’s Treehouse, basically, but the tree is Groot. Kids like Groot. There’s a bioluminescent glowy ball that the kids can sit in. There are biodegradable paper flowers they can pick. And in the courtyard surrounding/below, Guardians characters sometimes do meet and greets. Plus, there are benches you can sit on (waiting, perhaps, for the people in your party using the bathrooms that are in the Asgardian palace across the way. I didn’t mark off bathrooms or benches, but rest assured, there are plenty of both).

Across the way, as mentioned, is the Asgardian palace. Or a section of it, anyway. This houses a ride that uses the same system as the Indiana Jones ride, which is to say more than a dark ride but less than a coaster. Walking the line is an attraction in and of itself. It’s probably a tour through mystical artifacts (cool but fairly stationary animatronics) and maybe at some point Frost Giants chase you or something. The ride attendants are dressed in very functional versions of Asgardian attire and are encouraged to do weird braid-y things with their hair.

On the other side of the long street from Groot’s Treehouse is a space-related traditional arcade. Most of the games are themed around Captain Marvel or the Guardians or other space-related parts of the Marvel universe. There are benches (for tired parents, I assume) and a neat prize system for game winners. It’s basically a miniature Marvel Chuck E. Cheez.

On the backside of Hollywood Land are a couple of attractions connected to specifically 1940s-era Captain America. There’s a diner that completely resembles the one in Agent Carter, with cute little tables and a counter and all of the waitstaff in seafoam green and peach outfits. 1940s posters about Cap and the Stark Expo and other related things line the walls. The music is a mix of standards and period-appropriate Disney songs.

Then there’s a Captain America ride. It’s literally just the Dumbo ride except the vehicles are flying cars (like Coulson’s Lola, which in turn is from the 1940s Stark Expo). There are graphics related to Captain America everywhere, and maybe even some of Steve’s drawings printed big on the walls. The story for this ride is that at a post-WWII Expo, Howard teamed up with Peggy to make a fun little carnival ride that would pay tribute to Steve while also showing off cool Stark tech.

On the other side of that is a Spider-Man attraction. It’s literally just a giant rock-climbing, bungee-jumping bounce house. It’s super safe and there are attendants dressed like modern Queens hipsters there to make sure everyone stays in place, but you can climb up a wall like Spider-Man and jump off of it like Spider-Man. And there are a couple of places for people to sit while other members of their group do this.

Across from that is the Wakandan Embassy, a two-story building. The first floor houses the Vibranium Train, a concise dark ride where videos of Shuri talk you through rooms of cool and periodically-updated vibranium-related technical inventions. Letitia Wright actually records all these videos. This exits into a gift shop. Floor two has Wakandan art and cultural information, a little food area that serves African fusion cuisine, and an area for meet and greets with Black Panther characters. Objectively, these cast members get the neatest costumes.

We have the “omg food is the wrong size” restaurant like they’re planning. We do not mention Hank Pym’s name anywhere. This exits into a garden where all the plants are too big, which then leads to a ride that’s essentially Gadget’s Go-Coaster but with trains that are ants. It’s the Ant-Man ride, which moves through large replicas of normally small items. It’s not as fast as the Go-Coaster, either, but it’s a similar vibe.

And in the middle you have the Avengers Compound, which has several components and multiple floors. The side of the building closest to the Asgardian palace houses a jet ride, and by jet ride I mean it’s Star Tours but in the story of the ride you’re on a Quinjet flying off to help various Avengers-adjacent characters in various canonical locales. This leaves room for tie-ins with every film, as well as the television shows, and video messages from relevant characters (I’m talking Maria Hill, I’m talking Carol Danvers, I’m talking Melinda May because why the hell not) are [part of the storylines. In the skinny middle part of the building there’s a shop on the first floor and meet-and-greets on the second. On the other side, the first floor is devoted to what I’m affectionately calling “it’s tough to be a science,” after the old Bug’s Life movie experience. This is a vaguely interactive 3D movie where you hang out with Helen Cho (played by Claudia Kim, still) while she does various wacky science experiments. The second floor is half devoted to Spy School, which I’m imagining basically like the Jedi classes they have but where cast members dressed as SHIELD agents teach little kids how to be sneaky, and half to a rotating gallery of art from upcoming and recently-released Marvel properties.

And there are lots of benches. And bathrooms. And paths. And calm areas.

Thanks to Jenny Nicholson for reminding me about the importance of said benches, and also of trains.

–your fangirl heroine.

Sarcastic Saturday :: on spoiler culture and twist culture

9 Nov

I read an article online where Emilia Clarke talked about spoiler culture, specifically that she was frustrated by it but also understands that it’s a way that people can try to have control over a part of this world that’s “literally on fire.” I understand where she, an artist, is coming from. It would be annoying to have something you’d worked on spoiled, and therefore potentially judged and/or devalued unfairly.

I’m really only proprietary over a couple of “twists,” namely Next to Normal and Jasper in Deadland, but I get it. I’ve lowkey been working on a mystery novel for years and I would hope that if it ever gets published people wouldn’t splash its dramatic climax across headlines.

But anyway. I appreciate Emilia’s big-picture analysis of why this happens, and I don’t disagree with it. But I’m also considering the both/and of it, and about how spoilers and twists are all knotted up together to complicate the whole process of partaking of media.

Drift partner and I do, after all, sometimes seek spoilers out, usually when we’re worried about things. (Or rather she seeks them out and filters them for me.) This is especially relevant to the discussion Emilia Clarke was having, because despite my understanding her point, both drift partner and I have intentionally profited from the specific spoilers she’s talking about. Drift partner needed to know the general plot of Last Christmas in order to decide if she wanted to see it (she doesn’t, and therefore we won’t) and I needed to know what the final trainwreck of a season of Game of Thrones was doing with Daenerys because I (correctly) suspected that it might actually wreck me.

But we both could have just as easily gotten the spoilers we needed by waiting to watch until a trusted source could privately or semi-privately vet the pieces of media for us. After all, that’s how drift partner handled Endgame, how I learned not to watch season three of Jessica Jones, how we had our wariness confirmed about Joker. Etcetera. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t discuss (or write, or vlog, or tweet, or whatever) about content that contains spoilers. Then we couldn’t discuss content. And there’s such a thing, I think, as a statute of limitations on spoilers. It’s not a secret that Snape kills Dumbledore in the year of our lord 2019. We know that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. But I do think there could and should be more respect paid to creators insofar as not just broadcasting every detail of everything to anyone who’ll listen. I think that especially prior to the release of content, discussion of spoilers should be handled carefully (spoiler warnings, cut text, etcetera) and kept strictly opt-in. Quite frankly, I think that it’s deeply rude to leak scripts or episodes or what have you, too. This should be treated less like a “lol oops guess that’s out” and more like the theft it is.

(Again. I’m glad someone online told me that B&W were Scary Sueing my girl so I could avoid watching that. But I don’t think the gory blow-by-blow of every single aspect of the godsforsaken last episodes needed to be shared and going out of the way to share it is kind of shady.)

Think about it like this: sometimes you poke or shake your presents to get a hint about what they are, but it would suck if someone else opened them and showed them to you without your permission. That’s not cool. But if you got a present and you shook it and it could be, say, a bunch of diamond necklaces or it could be a giant mean snake that would bite you, you’d kind of need to know which it was for your own safety, and you’d probably want to ask the gift giver for at least a hint.

Why would someone give you a giant mean snake as a present, though? Well, imagine a world where it’s a social faux pas to give obvious gifts. If there are nice comfy slippers in the shoebox you unwrap, the gift giver would be written off as a hack. But if there’s, let’s say, a jug of cyanide, they’d be the talk of the party and the friendgroup/etc. The jug of cyanide would still be kind of cool if it was asked for, but it’s especially artistic gift giving if you didn’t have any reasonable expectation of receiving it.

And sure, you don’t really want cyanide. It’ll hurt you if you do anything with it, and it’s kind of a waste of a gift. But it sure did surprise you!

Sure, sometimes you don’t get cyanide or a giant mean snake. Sometimes it is diamond necklaces or nice comfy slippers or free healthcare or something. But it usually isn’t. And gods forbid you say how tired you are of cyanide and giant mean snakes, that they’re harmful and old-fashioned and boring, because then the gift giver is just going to give you Donald Trump instead, out of spite.

This sounds bonkers, right?

Welcome to twist culture.

Not all twists are bad. The aforementioned musicals are genuinely great. I still think the Hydra reveal was done pretty damn well. I’m still surprised by how well I think Dollhouse dealt with being essentially a string of twist after twist. But there’s this weird thing now where some creators think that stories will only be good if they shock the audience, that if their audience wants or expects something to happen it absolutely cannot happen. (This is partly so they aren’t accused of doing fanservice, but it’s pretty obvious that they are in other ways, so I don’t know why they even bother.) They think that by dashing fans’ hopes, subverting their expectations, being dark and edgy they’re creating the greatest art. They act like surprises that make people unhappy are better than “predictable” things that make sense. And god forbid someone guess an ending.

They really want to act like cyanide is a better gift than nice comfy slippers.

The combination of twist and spoiler culture also has a huge effect on overall canons. Big franchise films come with cutesy “don’t spoil this!” hashtags in the marketing. Franchises like Marvel that have so many creators and performers have done things like not clue in every branch of the universe in on big plot twists (see also: how the TV shows only occasionally tie into the world events of the movies) or not let actors read script pages that they’re not in. They’ve filmed scenes without giving the actors any context. Actors have forgotten which films they’re even in because they shoot things with such little explanation. This kind of thing creates inconsistencies that detract from the overall quality of the franchise a lot more than, say, Tom Holland dropping an anecdotal spoiler in an interview. Spoilers, again, have a statute of limitations, but it’s generally considered desirable for your media to withstand the test of time.

And yeah, sometimes people just want to know things first or share things first. Sometimes people do this for genuine reasons, which, okay, just don’t force it on others. Sometimes they do it callously, to ruin others’ fun or just to prove that they can, and that’s not cool.

But here’s some rules.

It’s not fun when someone tells you what your present is, but it’s also not fun when they give you a present you don’t want.

If you happen to guess what your present is, it would be unreasonable for the giver to go out an exchange it for something else just on principle.

People aren’t bad gift givers just because you guess what your gift might be.

People who make presents should all know what presents they’re making.

It’s rude for gift givers to all but tell you that you’re going to get a new car and keep saying it for ages and then when you open your present it’s just a cranky donkey that kicks you in the face and then runs away.

And giving someone nice comfy slippers when they ask for nice comfy slippers isn’t a bad thing.

–your fangirl heroine.


Music Monday :: on Delta Rae live (again)

29 Oct

A couple of weeks ago, drift partner and I once again had the pleasure of attending a Delta Rae show, and may I say, I leave more floored every damn time.

For those of y’all who don’t know, Delta Rae recently finished a massive Kickstarter campaign. The point was to fund a pair of albums (The Light and The Dark) so they could be independent from their label. Thanks to the tenacity of Diehards, as I’ve found out we’re called, and also a little bit to the surprise support of Taylor Swift fans (Swift has also had label Issues, though admittedly I don’t know many details, and as such that bunch got on board with helping our bunch), they far exceeded their goal. Like, making it and then some in a day and by the end of the campaign pledging over $450,000. Part of this was because of the many extras the band rolled out after the initial announcement: in addition to the usual perks (downloads of songs or albums) they promised a multitude of music videos and, if they hit a certain amount of money and/or backers, the creation and eventual staging of a Southern Gothic musical.

Now I pledged immediately, of course I did, but it was the Southern Gothic musical that really got me spreading the word and getting others to pledge. Not only are Delta Rae some of my favorite musical storytellers, ever, a Southern Gothic musical sounds like exactly my brand. (I actually, prior to this goal being proposed, once tweeted at Brittany Holljes that they could do a Southern Gothic musical of A Song of Ice and Fire. She’d tweeted about should she play musical Daenerys, you see, so it was relevant, and that was just too ideal for me not to tweet back, plus I got to throw shade on the television show a little. Not that she or the band responded, but I just wanted to tell the story.) They described it as “‘Bottom of the River’ meets Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” and, guys, I had to see this come to life, not just on an album but in person.

So they met their goals and set off on the tour, and the crowd was charged, in my opinion, with “we did that!” energy. The band certainly was.

Frances Cone was the opener this time ’round, and I must say, I really liked them. (I met the singer after the show, to buy a CD, and complimented her on her voice doing the flippy thing I like. I was a little more articulate about it, but I know I’ve mentioned that before, that thing that female vocalists do with vowels sometimes. She did it really well.) They were pretty contained, but there was a really beautiful plaintive quality to the music; the song I’m specifically remembering is called “Easy Love” and it’s sad and lovely.

Anyway. The show began. The lights were all over the place. We were up in the balcony area because that’s less crowded and better from a sensory standpoint, but while drift partner sat down for a good chunk of it I was up against the railing, leaning forward so hard that my elbows hurt for a few days after, mouthing along and bouncing and unironically stimming like Wanda Maximoff. All of drift partner’s favorites (“Run,” “Outlaws,” “Chasing Twisters”) came pretty early in the set, which worked out nicely; me, I’m a simple girl, and I’m here for all of it.

Although, of course, I’m the most thrilled for “I Will Never Die.” I can’t help it. That song just chills me all the way through. I wasn’t sure they’d do it, since they didn’t last time, but they did this time and I swear I started vibrating with excitement. And then! They did an interlude in the middle of it of “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac. (We all know they’re Fleetwood Mac stans, and it’s largely thanks to them that I’ve tiptoed near being one myself.) Reader, I nearly lost my damn mind.

We got lots of songs that aren’t on albums yet, of course. “All Good People,” which is about the Charleston shooting and is heart-wrenching but also a complete rock and roll masterpiece, and “Hitch a Ride,” the murder ballad they did last time , and “Hands Dirty,” which they wrote/recorded/perform in response to #MeToo and, you know, just general advocacy for equality. A few others I’m not recalling off the top of my head. (I admit, I love all of their songs but I personally go hardest for the ones that are loud and/or morbid and/or stories.)

They closed out with “Bottom of the River” and then “Dance in the Graveyards” (combined with “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”) and I’m pretty sure that, like it always does, my soul transcended my body for a minute. It’s just the most exhilarating experience to be in a crowd full of people who are so into amazing music with you, and for whatever reason this is always hundredfold at Delta Rae shows.

Anyway, then after the show we were getting ready for bed and I said, somewhat sleepily in review, “it was fun be gay.” (Look, I’m/we’re only human. Brittany Holljes and Elizabeth Hopkins are beautiful and talented and passionate and that’s attractive. The best thing about being a woman who likes women [and sometimes men] who’s married to a woman who likes women is that instead of getting jealous of the famous people that we’re attracted to that are the opposite gender like some of my heterosexual friends do with their partners, we can just sigh and find women hot together..) Drift partner tweeted this at them, attributing it to me. And then, no big deal, the band liked our tweet and retweeted it with the comment “Favorite tweet award” and a rainbow of hearts.

Admittedly, still riding pretty high on that one.

–your fangirl heroine.

Television Tuesday :: the 2019 Emmys

24 Sep

Okay. I’m just going to say it because I feel like I keep spinning myself in circles apologizing every time I post. For the foreseeable future, this blog is going to update whenever I feel like, not every single day. I don’t have the spoons to post every day these days, and maybe that’s because I’m married and maybe that’s because I have a full-time job and maybe that’s because, honestly, trying to come up with something to write about every damn day is really hard after a while, you guys. And I’d rather write rarely but sincerely than force things out because I feel obligated.

But. Sincerely, I’ve been mulling over the 2019 Emmys, and the Emmys in general, for a couple of days now, and I have some things to say.

The first of which is: I think I turned into an award show atheist. I used to genuinely believe in awards shows. I didn’t always agree with them, but I though that generally they had merit and I found them interesting and I used them (less so the Emmys, but definitely the Oscars) to show me potential media to consume. Then some time went by and I decided that, look, they’re kind of nonsense sometimes, but there still must be a point to them, right? I disagree with a lot of it, but there’s still something to this structure we all hold to so devotedly, right?

These days I look at awards shows like this: sometimes they do something really good and uplifting (this year the wins for Billy Porter and to a less historically significant extent Jodie Comer would fall into this category, though I haven’t seen Pose or Killing Eve in the slightest) but a lot of the time they just seem arbitrary, contradictory, troubling, out of touch, whatever. I love the idea of recognizing people who do excellent work in their field, but something about the system that award shows use to do this seems rigged.

I bring it up this year because of Game of Thrones‘ best drama win. When Game of Thrones was young and I was a wide-eyed, naive young girl (porcelain, if you will) I got really excited when it was nominated for serious awards. That doesn’t happen with genre shows hardly ever! And so much of what I engage with is genre. Maybe it would pave the way for other genre programs!

Then the show wore on, and I matured as well (to ivory, if you will), and I started seeing the flaws in this. For one, a lot of the excellent work I saw in genre television was still going aggressively unnoticed, so never mind that paving theory. For two, the quality of parts of the show (the storyline, the writing, the giving a shit about characters, the not just brutalizing everyone) was either going downhill or I was getting less starry-eyed. For three, the nominations were kind of repetitive. I will go to my grave defending the performances of the cast, but there were a lot of people in the damn cast and the same few were getting recognized and others were getting jilted and, let’s be honest, some of the ones getting nominated were nominated for seasons that did not really showcase their talents very well.

Now the show is over, and my naievete too is over (I am steel, if you will), and I am legitimaitely angry that its final – and objectively worst – season took the prize. It was six episodes of character assassinations, lazy writing, edgy twists, and grimdark nonsense, and the only people I can think of that don’t have a bitter taste from it in their mouths are my mom and some of her internet friends, because they are such ASOIAF diehards that they can still look on the bright side of this garbage storm somehow, and my dad, who just doesn’t care that deeply about any piece of fiction. Did I have a specific horse in the race that I’m bitter for? No, because I didn’t see any of the other nominees. (I might suggest that Pose seems a viable contender, but that’s, as mentioned, secondhand.) But this was not a good season of television. It was not a good season of this show. It was just not… a good thing to happen, and though I have yet to see anyone from the cast actually outright say so, most of them have been hilariously select about how they explain their reactions to the final season. (Peter Dinklage: “you people are… in for it.”)

The only reason this could have happened was that it was the last season and they felt like they had to. (This also, I remember, happened with Breaking Bad, and having seen all of that show rather against my will I can genuinely say that its final season was kind of a clusterfuck too, but not at all in the same way.) That, or they felt like they should. Or, worst of all, the people casting these votes just genuinely don’t understand that it was a bad season for some reason. They’re out of touch with the viewing public and also just generally reality and art.

Again. I’m not saying awards shows are complete garbage all the time. I’m genuinely thrilled for Billy Porter, and I liked the speech Michelle Williams gave, and I still love looking at pictures of all the outfits, and generally I think the idea of awards is a really good one. But it’s like, in high school only certain nominees get through to prom court and a lot of people vote for the people you think you’re supposed to vote for, or something. Either it’s a popularity contest or a nonevent, and for the vast majority of students you’re just doing what you can with a limited group of people you probably don’t care that much about. The popular kids get nominated, the popular kids win. Occasionally a dark horse sneaks in, and that’s really cool, but you can’t say the whole system is awesome because of that. I’m not bitter about high school. I don’t even remember who my prom court was. I didn’t give a single crap. But what I’m saying is, if they actually went out of the way to nominate people from all walks of social life, maybe some of my friends would have been involved and I would have cared/remembered/whatever. Maybe it would have been something that actually mattered and not just something you shrug about because, well, that was expected.

What I’m saying is nominate more than the same 10 shows every year. And nominate genre stuff. I’m not saying that superhero television is a pinnacle of greatness, but I’ve seen some devastatingly good performances on superhero television shows that I’m pretty sure would be worthy of nominations if they were on more reputable shows. Chloe Bennet in Agents of SHIELD (all of the girls are wonderful, but Chloe is the star; they don’t always give her enough to do but she is a freaking goddess and I will hear no arguments), Jessica Henwick in The Defenders (Iron Fist is just such garbage that didn’t know what to do with her most of the time, but I still think about that scene in Defenders where she talked about how being raised by a cult destroyed her sometiems and get shivers), Deborah Ann Woll in especially season three of Daredevil (and honestly Charlie Cox and Elden Henson are fabulously good too), Hayley Atwell and honestly also Bridget Regan in especially season one of Agent Carter, Alfre Woodard in especially season one of Luke Cage. I have so many good things to say about the kids on Runaways and Cloak and Dagger. And that’s just Marvel! I’m behind on the DC shows, but they have overall strong casts too (I’d say Black Lightning‘s bunch is probably the most nominateable, but there are options).

And even outside of genre, diversify your selections! It’s like the Emmys have never heard of Harlots. I’m actually mortally offended on the Deadwood movie’s behalf that it didn’t get recognized. Guys, there are people other than Betty Gilpin on GLOW (she’s great, don’t get me wrong, but Alison Brie does just as much if not more heavy lifting, and the more secondary girls, particularly Ellen Wong, Gayle Rankin, and Britney Young, can stand out just as well). Etcetera. The Emmys, and other awards shows, do a great disservice to the art of media production by letting themselves be so limited. There’s more media than ever. Why don’t awards shows reflect that?

–your fangirl heroine.

Spoiler Alert Sunday :: our thoughts on a lot of movies.

11 Aug

So it’s been a crazy summer. It’s been a crazy year. Etcetera. We’ve seen a fair amount of movies that we haven’t yet reviewed, and part of it is that we keep just forgetting to write reviews because we get back late or we have other things to do or we’re just tired all the time or when we think about it it’ when we don’t have time to do it or who the hell knows. But also, I realized that part of it is that we’ve genuinely enjoyed most of the movies we haven’t posted reviews of but we aren’t overflowing with insightful comments about them. So… here. We’re just going to go through each movie and say some stuff. Sorry, guys.

The Favourite

So this is a movie about horrible people treating each other horribly. It’s about women who are queer, but they’re horrible people, and the other people around them are also horrible. It’s a period piece where nothing is pretty and in fact a lot of things are kind of yucky or grotesque. Olivia Coleman completely and 100% deserved her Oscar, but she’s not a likable character in the slightest. No one is. But then again, it’s sort of refreshing watching a movie where everyone, women and men alike, are just aggressively bad people, and they all face some consequences for that in one way or another.


Jordan Peele should be allowed to keep making whatever media he wants to make, and I’m not usually one for horror but I love his horror. Us is an odd movie, and one that demands at least a couple of rewatches because you’ll definitely miss some of the clues the first time around. It does a lot with a very simple concept: what would you do if the people invading your home weren’t after your stuff, but they were after you? How do you escape if the intruders know exactly how you think and look exactly like you? It leaves some questions unanswered at the end of the movie, which I think makes it more powerful, but this will no doubt frustrate some viewers. Still, even if the ending is too much for you, it’s a visually interesting movie with some incredible performances (Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke definitely deserve awards for this movie).

Mary Queen of Scots

We rented this movie, admittedly, and it was alright. This was probably the least flattering portrayal of Elizabeth I I’ve ever seen. Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan give good performances. Also there was an internet kerfuffle when Gemma Chan was cast as Bess of Hardwick and racists got really mad about HISTORICAL ACCURACY!!11!!!!1!!! (She is in the movie for about ten minutes total and does nothing but stand by Elizabeth I and give her sad longing looks, so you do feel pretty bad for the poor little lesbian.) But this movie is mostly worth mentioning because of the scene where David Tennant, playing a Scottish Protestant clergyman, shouts “WHUUUUUUUUURES” in reference to female monarchs. (He means “whores,” which isn’t funny, but his accent makes it hilarious.)


This movie is so good! It’s earnest and sweet and despite the inevitable “best friends engage in dramatic social activity, come to conflict with each other, seem to have a falling out, and reconcile” plot it doesn’t induce the usual cringe that that does (at least for me). Also, Kaitlyn Dever’s (remember, Kaitlyn Dever, who I adore from Justified and Short Term 12 and and and) character is a little lesbian who actually successfully engages in positive lesbian activity, and Beanie Feldstein (who was in Lady Bird, among other things) is a lesbian in real life, so this is a very gay-positive movie. Billie Lourd is absolutely incredible in this movie, playing the protagonists’ indecipherably weird classmate (at one point she even makes an Almost Famous reference, which sent me over the moon, let me tell you). There is a significant issue with the movie, though: there’s a subplot with a young-ish “cool” teacher, who’s supposed to be maybe in her late 20s-early 30s, who helps out our two lead characters in their quest to get to a party…and then hangs around said party and ends up sleeping with one of her students. The student is stated to be older than 18, because he’s been held back, and it kind of feels like the movie is excusing it because of that. But nope! It is still gross, weird, and inappropriate for this teacher to be sleeping with one of her students! That’s the biggest problem with the script and it honestly feels like that subplot was accidentally left in there from an earlier draft. Other than that, though, it’s a really delightful comedy, and Olivia Wilde is clearly better at making directing choices than acting choices.

Always Be My Maybe

This movie was hyped up a lot on Twitter, as it’s an Asian American romcom and we don’t see a lot of those in the US. Ali Wong and Randall Park star as childhood friends who boned once, had a falling out, and then didn’t see anything of each other for twenty years until Wong returns to her hometown to begin setting up her new restaurant. From there, it’s pretty standard romcom fare, but created by Asian Americans, which really does make a difference to this story. I liked Crazy Rich Asians a lot, but this romance feels more real to me. I’d definitely recommend it even if you’re not usually a romcom fan, I think there’s enough here that most people will be charmed. (Also, Keanu Reeves is in it and he’s incredible as usual.)

Men In Black International

This movie is serviceable. It’s exactly what you expect from a Men in Black movie. It’s fine. The real reasons to see this movie are Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth, who are flipping delightful together and apart per usual. Thompson’s character M is pretty much the reason for the plot to happen, which is pretty cool. She’s written in a way that reads pretty clearly as neurodivergent and queer for anyone who recognizes that: she’s obsessed with aliens, she’s wary about letting people in but she is good at forming bonds with people once she trusts them, and she makes connections and notices things that most people wouldn’t notice. Also, part of the conflict is resolved because she’s good at making friends when she wants to. M and Hemsworth’s character, H, have a great vibe that could or could not be romantic, and at the end of the movie they’re implied to still be working together but you can read it as totally platonic if you want to.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

This movie is fun! It’s less fun if you think about it for a minute, because it’s about a bunch of teenagers being put into very dangerous situations, and also nostalgia for a billionaire capitalist who was an asshole, but still. Tom Holland is great as both Spider-Man and Peter Parker, which has never happened before in a live action movie, and Zendaya is the best MJ. (Zendaya’s MJ is also pretty aggressively coded as neurodivergent. It’s been a good time for that.) This movie also did a fun thing with its villain Mysterio/Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), and by fun I mean “pointedly topical.” He says in no uncertain terms that the goal of his villain team is to (well, to get back at Tony Stark, which is a pretty solid mood, and) engineer events to suit his agenda. To change the narrative. To create fake situations that will make people need help that specifically he can provide so he can be a hero. To unite people in fear so he can more easily take advantage of them and make them lift him up. Uh, that sounding familiar yet?

Little Woods

This was the debut film of Nia DaCosta, whose career I will be really interested to follow based on this movie. It’s a quiet movie, more atmospheric than anything, and the story is mainly about two sisters doing their best to get by when everything is going wrong. Ollie (Tessa Thompson) is trying to escape her hometown, after having been on probation for illegally crossing the Canadian border while transporting drugs. Her probation is almost up, and she’s hoping to move now that her adopted mother has passed away, but her sister Deb (Lily James) is making that difficult. Deb finds out she’s unexpectedly pregnant, days after the bank announces that their childhood home is being foreclosed on, and Ollie has to find a way to help her get to Canada for an abortion and get the money to save their house. The movie is mostly just characters interacting with each other, and that might sound boring, but it’s the kind of slow, quiet storytelling I really like.

Fast Color

I wanted to get to the theater for this, but it was only able to get to about 10 theaters in total. Still, I think this is my favorite movie of 2019. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a woman named Ruth, who is living in a future dystopia where it hasn’t rained in years and water has to be carefully rationed. The viewer is slowly shown what’s going on with her: all we know at the beginning is that she’s on the run and sometimes she has seizures, during which bad things happen. The story is about three generations of black women with superpowers, but it’s also about survival, resilience, and the ways in which we learn to protect ourselves and the people we love when we know we could cause them harm. I really wish this had been wider release, because I think it’s so important and honestly one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen.

Hobbs & Shaw

Was this our most anticipated movie of 2019? Maybe. Have we been clapping our hands like giddy children every time we so much as see a poster for it? Maybe. Are we aware that this is a complete nonsense movie full of nonsense? Yes, which is the answer for why we answer affirmatively to the first two questions. After The Fate of the Furious, we pretty much signed our hearts over to this franchise and any of its related presentations, and this movie lived up to our (technically low) expectations and then some. Hobbs & Shaw follows the adventures of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as they try to stop a crazy cybernetically-enhanced criminal named… Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). He’s like a ton of bricks, get it? They’re also joined by, and in fact their adventure is necessitated by, Deckard’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). Anyway, it’s what you want and expect. A lot of vehicular mayhem ensues, a lot of other action mayhem ensues, there are explosions and a lot of far-fetched weaponry is used, Helen Mirren reappears as the Shaw matriarch and Eiza Gonzalez cameos as the leader of a criminal girl gang (and where’s that movie?) and Ryan Reynolds cameos as a CIA agent who thinks he’s bros with Hobbs and also wants to tell you his Game of Thrones opinions (I’m not even kidding about this). The final showdown takes place in Samoa and Hobbs’ family of Samoan car designers offers a beatdown with their collection of ancestral weapons and also their swank cars. It’s a perfect storm of nonsense and beauty.

–your fangirl heroines.


Fictional Friday :: an objective look at Disney villains’ criminal activity

9 Aug

Inspired by none other than the Descendants franchise, which drift partner and I enjoy, mostly unironically, and which we will be watching the finale to tomorrow.

For those of you not in the know, the concept of these movies is that every character from an animated work in the Disney canon lives in one giant kingdom called Auradon. Auradon is ruled by the (human) Beast and his wife Belle, though by D2 their son Ben has taken the throne. How they decided which of the various royal figures was superior to the others and why characters from vastly different locations (France, America, England, and China to name a few) all coexist are never explained. All of the heroes and their offspring live in Auradon, but all of the villains and their offspring were banished and magically quarantined to the Isle of the Lost, which, I’m just gonna be frank, it’s the Disney ghetto. The villains are sent there for their crimes, forever, and their children have to live there, and eventually their children’s children, and etcetera, but Ben decides he wants to invite some kids from the Isle to come to school in Auradon and give them a chance. You know, like a reasonable person would. The protagonists are some of these kids, led by Maleficent’s daughter Mal (the inimitable Dove Cameron, whose brilliant cameo in Agents of SHIELD inspired us to watch these movies because she’s just so damn good and funny and sometimes crazy).

(The hot Twitter takes that inspired this post and the discussion it came from were somewhat about the fact that, uh, this is kind of uncomfortable if you think about it. There’s literally a magical wall keeping the villains and VKs – that stands for Villain Kids, and they actually say it in the canon with a straight face – out of Auradon. Prior to the intervention of this teenage boy, if you were born the child of a villain you were just screwed. Etcetera.)

Anyway. The other night the mock trial nerd in me started to wonder: is there any Disney villain who has committed a crime so atrocious as to warrant this life sentence? Obviously none of them are so heinous their children and grandchildren and etc. also deserve life sentences, because that’s not a thing that any sane person believes anyone deserves, but sometimes sane people put criminals away for life. Is it warranted?

So here goes. Let’s start with the parents of the featured VKs and go from there. Oh, and these analyses of crimes are based strictly in animated canon, because that’s how Descendants seems to do things, too. And we’re just presuming that anything magical will be dealt with in the most mundane way possible.

Maleficent: child endangerment, poisoning, treason, assault and battery. There’s a reason Maleficent’s kid is the main character and it’s because Maleficent is actually guilty of a lot of crimes, objectively. Pretty bad ones. Treason is most likely to earn her a life sentence in jail, but poisoning could also do that (2 years at least); child endangerment could earn her between 1-10 years in jail and assault and battery at least 1. It’s pretty safe to say that Maleficent is going to be in jail for a while, if not life.

Snow White’s Evil Queen: attempted murder (also by poisoning). She’s probably looking at a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of a life sentence. You also have to take into account that if these crimes are committed against royalty, which they often are, the sentence is probably going to be more severe. The Hunstman’s testimony will be key to her conviction, as he can say (and likely show proof) that he was hired to kill Snow White; Snow White’s own testimony to the Queen’s character (and their past interactions when she was a child) will also be vital.

Jafar: treason, impersonation, blackmail. Again, that treason charge is going to be the way to get him put away for life, while the other lesser charges are more likely to color a jury’s opinion of the overall crime and how much he deserves to serve time. Another thing that’s likely to come up in trial is his untoward advances toward the princess, although as Jasmine is technically an adult and (to our knowledge) these advances were never acted upon these are going to be character evidence.

Cruella de Vil: animal abuse and kidnapping, petty theft. Now, we can all agree this is pretty bad, but I’ve got some worse news for you. Each of Cruella’s crimes individually is probably only going to earn her a year or two in jail, and that might overlap. The absolute highest sentence I’ve seen for animal cruelty is 25 years. That’s not great, but it does mean that a life sentence for her and the rest of her bloodline is pretty improbable. Her accomplices (whose kids do live on the island, as canonized by tie-in novels) would probably have lesser sentences than hers, and they might even just have to pay a fine, but they aren’t likely to get off completely scot-free.

Ursula: impersonation, fraud, treason, contracting with a minor. Again, there’s that pesky treason charge. She was objectively looking to mess with the kingdom and its royal family, and was going to go to dangerous lengths to do so. That will probably net (ha-ha) her a pretty high sentence. The closest thing to her whole vocal impersonation scheme that you could find in the justice system is identity theft, which would get up to 15 years, but probably isn’t the strongest argument to lead with. Contracting with a minor is technically legal, but it’s doubtful that the contract was legally enforceable; this is a civil matter and would likely be character evidence more than anything else.

Captain Hook: attempted murder, kidnapping minors, piracy. Yeah, Hook’s kind of a buffoon, but he definitely has done some real crimes. Again, attempted murder would probably earn 10-15 years in prison, while kidnapping minors could add 5-20 years to the sentence. Finally, there’s piracy, which is technically a crime and could have earned a life sentence in fairytale times, at least. Smee and the other pirates might get lesser sentences, but they’re all going away for a while.

Gaston: wrongful involuntary commitment, inciting a riot, attempted murder. Gaston is actually a lot less criminal than most of your big Disney villains. Sure, he does attempt to kill the Beast, and that could be 10-15 years, but his lawyers would probably argue it down. Wrongful involuntary commitment would have to be a civil case that Maurice took against him, and the relative shortness of Maurice’s involuntary commitment probably wouldn’t bode well for the lawsuit. Inciting a riot would earn anything from a fine to five years of jail time, so in Gaston’s case a fine. Gaston is paying a fine and doing maybe three years in jail. I don’t like that, but it’s the way of things.

Hades: attempted murder, treason. Again, we’re looking anywhere from 10 years to life, although a lot of this is on a technicality. (On one hand it seems like gods shouldn’t be held accountable for crimes because isn’t it kind of just their job in the universe? But on the other hand, a lot of gods are dicks and definitely should go to jail. Sidenote: I want to send Zeus to jail. That doesn’t have anything to do with this but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.)

Cinderella’s Stepmother and Stepsisters (Anastasia and Drizella): child abuse and… well. The Stepmother is objectively guilty of so much child abuse, although her sentence kind of depends on the jury, witnesses, and evidence since presumably she doesn’t have any priors. She’s a terrible person. I’d send her to jail for a good long time, and a life sentence is possible, but it’s not likely. Anastasia and Drizella, however… weren’t actually guilty of particular crimes? Especially considering the fact that for most of the story they were minors, their greatest “crime” is being dickish bullies, and that’s not punishable by jail time like, at all. Cinderella could sue them and probably win, but they’re just dicks. The worst thing they did was not stop their mom from being abusive, and again, as minors at the time they wouldn’t be legally held responsible for that.

Dr. Facilier: con artistry, fraud, reckless endangerment. Making a deal with the devil or demons is not illegal, and it’s probably not even admissible as anything more than character evidence, if that. Fraud can get you up to 10 or so years in jail, and cons and reckless endangerment usually earn about a year. I really don’t think buddy is getting higher than 10-15 years in jail total, although there are obviously also politics potentially at play in this situation.

About a third of these characters might end up with life sentences. But you know who doesn’t get a life sentence even if a criminal does? Their kids!!!

Other Disney villains’ crimes include:

  • hunting or dogcatching, which aren’t actually crimes (or weren’t at the time the films were released), are in the latter case just someone doing their (mean) job, and not deserving of any jail time
  • being bullies, which is not a crime (and in ome case is committed by Siamese cats, who could not be held accountable for crimes – although the tie-in novels do state that all of the animal villains’ progeny do also live on the Isle, so what the fuck)
  • petty theft and other minor crimes, which would earn a year or less in most cases
  • more animal abuse, child abuse, and also elder abuse (see above)
  • more poisoning, attempted murder, reckless endangerment, etc. (see above)
  • so much more fraud, treason, attempted coups, etc. (see above)
  • child trafficking, which would be a maximum of 20 years provided none of the little boys that Stromboli kidnapped/etc. died, at which point he could get life in jail
  • being a demon, which isn’t a crime
  • plagiarism, which is usually just punishable by a fine (and academic disgrace)
  • more kidnapping, attempted murder, etc. (see above)
  • arson, which earns between 5-20 years in jail
  • manslaughter, which earns no more than 30 years in jail
  • actual murder, which would earn anywhere from 20 years to life (and in Scar’s case, definitely life considering he was also, y’know, a treasonous Nazi)
  • genocide (yes, you heard me, remember Hunchback of Notre Dame?), which would definitely earn a life sentence in jail (especially with arson on top of it)
  • war crimes (looking at you, Shan Yu), which would also almost certainly end in a life sentence

But hey, none of those crimes mean your kids should also be in jail forever! At the very least, though, the Descendants films do imagine an alternate Disney canon where the death penalty has been abolished, and that’s a small mercy.

–your fangirl heroine.