Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [Far From You]

30 Mar

This novel, by Tess Sharpe, is about a young bisexual girl, Sophie, and it actually says the b-word. This is the most remarkable thing about this book, honestly. The narrator says “I’m bisexual” and not just in her own internal monologue. Another thing I appreciated – and this is not to say that it’s not entirely valid when a bisexual character, in the present tense of a narrative, is attracted to both men and women, because it is legitimate – is that although the narrator is in fact bisexual her present tense attraction, the only attraction she says has ever meant anything, is toward a girl, her recently dead best friend Mina.

Because here’s the thing. It’s important to acknowledge that someone can in fact be bisexual, self-proclaimed and genuinely attracted to “both” (assuming the gender binary, which is false, but Sophie does say she’s attracted to both boys and girls, so in her case that’s the bisexual that applies), but can either prefer one or the other or have a more serious connection with one or the other. Sophie mentions past hookups with boys, but she says out loud that it’s always been Mina that she loves, and though Mina is dead by the time the book starts this doesn’t change. Her bisexuality doesn’t mean that she’s susceptible to the obvious male option for a counterpart. It’s not a way of saying “I loved a girl in the past, but now I’ll replace her with a guy because lol I’m bisexual and I want everyone.” She doesn’t want everyone. She merely acknowledges the possibility of wanting more than one gender of someone.

The end of the book leaves it open: she could eventually fall in love again, with a boy or a girl, but not with any of the boys or girls that have previously been presented. Her options are open, not filled in an easy way. I feel like that doesn’t always happen, and it was nice.

The actual content of the book, aside from the sexuality (not crisis, but conflict of sorts), deals mainly with two things: Sophie recounting the aftermath of a car accident she was in years before that not only permanently injured but set her up for an addiction to painkillers that she ultimately had to kick, and Sophie recounting the aftermath of Mina’s murder and her own involvement, how the former things affected the situation, and how she set out to solve the crime. Drift partner warned me that the twist ending of the book might be a little obvious, but it’s not so much about the mystery as it is about the journey to get there, I don’t think. (I was also oblivious to the clues that would make it obvious because there were a good three or four characters I kept forgetting about and then having to remember which one they were.)

Anyway. There’s sexuality stuff, there’s physical disability stuff which is always interesting to me because of my own long-past traumatic experiences (and also because the disability here was similar to Lily’s from last month’s read, As I Descended, though Lily took the exact opposite view of painkillers), there’s addiction stuff, there’s mystery stuff. It’s an interesting read, although not exactly standout in any particular way.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Whimsy Wednesday :: in which what. (And also kinkshaming.)

29 Mar

“You want the Earth? YOU’LL HAVE TO GO THROUGH ME!”

Now everyone is standing around befuddled, wondering where Usagi is, and Tuxedo Mask’s hands are glowing and he just went poof???

Inside the Crystal Palace, Neo Queen Serenity awakes and goes to the comatose body of her husband, kissing him and making his illusory self also vanish from the outside. “Someone’s… coming out,” Sailor Mars says. “It’s Neo Queen Serenity!” “Mommy!”

“It’s not your fault. You did make a few mistakes, however, you have learned from them and grown as a person.” At which point Neo Queen Serenity asks her daughter to join her as a guardian…

“My dear Pluto. From this day forward, you will rest in peace, forever enshrined in the Crystal Palace.” Um, this feels like it’s going to get severely in the way of later seasons.

“You and you alone are capable of finding Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask” way to put pressure on the child.

Now Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon are floating through space in a bubble

“This planet, my host body, will be your GRAVES!”

This is so fucking overdramatic Jesus

She’s going through an existential crisis holy shit

“I’ve never been able to use the crystal’s full power unless you were nearby!”

“We’re more than soulmates! You and I are one!” This is fucking dumb

“I may be small, but I can help.”

“She, Tuxedo Mask, and Small Lady combined their powers.’

“I shall now bestow on you new planet powers.”

This is just an excuse to show artsy-ass pictures of them and now they’re getting “warm” “overflowing” new powers… which, I’m guessing, are their s3 abilities. Which… is not how that works? I’m pretty sure it’s just a natural evolution of things??????????? What the fuck

“It is forbidden to meet one’s past self. Such an encounter could alter history.” What the fuck is this, Doctor Who?

“Sailor Moon the Guardian of Mystery” um. s that mean she’s the Guardian of Agatha Christie or

“My new brooch, how did I get this?” The queen, obviously.

“Pluto may be gone, but I’ll guide us back just like she showed me!” OR WE COULD RESURRECT FUCKING SAILOR PLUTO ALREADY

“I want to talk to her… even if it does change history!” And now they’re meeting, making these ridiculous hearteyes like what the fuck you’re staring at yourself stop being gay what are these soft-focus bubbles up in here

Everyone is seeing their future selves! Surprise: everyone else’s future selves look… exactly like they look now because the other Guardians never get outfit upgrades to that degree

“Was it all just a dream?” No, there’s Chibi-usa to go back to the future with a backpack full of stuff and now Usagi is all sad and it’s emotional and shit and

“I wish I could stay longer, it’s not like I don’t want to” but you have to come back next season

“I’m not crying, you’re crying” THAT LITERALLY JUST HAPPENED

“Be a good girl” NO MAMO NO

“Oh, I’d better hurry up! Mommy and Daddy are calling me!” NOOOOO

Chibi-usa just gave her a new moon rod to go with her new powers like jesus no that’s not how this works that’s not how any of this works I’m so holy shit

“Don’t cry, we’ll see her again!” ……when she pops out of Usagi’s vagina?

Why did it just show a montage of people hanging out? Rei and her ghostbuster friend, Mako and the rando boy, the cats, Motoki waving at Minako and Ami it literally makes no sense there is no joining thread between these images

Oh look Chibi-usa is back already announcing she’s here to train. That’s correct.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Music Monday :: on Eisley live (for the third time)

27 Mar

I feel like I should say oops about this, but I don’t mean that at all because Eisley concerts are one of my favorite places to go in the whole world and that’s official and true. It just is. I was – not worried, but curious about how the lineup change might affect the overall live vibe, but I had absolutely nothing to worry about, you guys. I miss Stacy and Chauntelle, I do, I love them both dearly, but everything is every bit as magical now as once it was.

Backwards Dancer did not open as their lead singer had lost hist voice, but Civilian played, and I got some more humorously misheard lyrics for you! (Nothing meanly meant. It’s just, hearing live music that you don’t know all the words to can be like this sometimes.)

Your hair is a sign of astringence, fallen place in the back of your ears.

Consequence of years inside the polyps of home.

Mama you raised a Californian, easy to say.

Exceeding every dream I ever had, Barb Sunday.

Some will sing a secret that I care, beauty times escaped to the balcony.

One by one we send it, sucks for you we’re trading it in.

Hair that is sparkle ’cause you did it all.

So I walked in the glen in pursuit of a lion that walked the grounds.

Please stand over the trap!

Girls are talking shit about the government.

Same @ the last lyric.

Anyway. By the time Eisley came on we managed to work ourselves to a place where, possibly, I might actually have made eye contact with Sherri a couple of times. Or not, it doesn’t really matter, but that’s where we were positioned, anyway. They started with “Louder Than a Lion” off the new album and it was here that I first observed: this music sounds a significant amount more rock and roll when it is played live. That song has a grunge techno undertone anyway, but the instruments and the lights (god the lights were so pretty, swirling and different colors and everything) and just the vibe is incredible.

Next, I believe, was “Smarter.” This was warm and familiar to me ( one track I’ve used on a mix album, the Caroline Farrell one) and I smiled and everything felt right. Was I mouthing lyrics the entire time like a big nerd? You bet. Was I ashamed of this? No.

But then came something I was not expecting, at all, and that something was “Millstone” ( two tracks I’ve used on a mix album, the Jemma one). On the album, “Millstone” was Chauntelle’s track, vocally, and as such I’d pretty much figured on never hearing it live, because Chauntelle didn’t solo much in live shows. I obviously love the song, though – so hearing it live was a big beautiful warm rush of joy. Or something sappy like that. Sherri’s voice is different than Chauntelle’s, more crystalline or what have you, and I couldn’t pick a favorite but it was lovely.

Sherri is adorable, by the way. Took various shouts from the audience very well (they were fond shouts, if sometimes odd) and quipped and occasionally swore and giggled. None of the others talked much, but they were into their playing and it was nice.

Anyway, I can’t remember the exact order of the rest of the set, but off I’m Only Dreaming they did, if I recall, “Defeatist” and “A Song for the Birds” and “You Are Mine,” so the big ones. And the rest of the set wandered through their discography very nicely varied.

“Memories” and “I Wasn’t Prepared” (Sherri invited everyone to sing along to this one, which I was thrilled about because I am the nerd who can sing all of the harmonies to every Eisley song and I felt very cool harmonizing, but also it was loud enough that nobody could probably hear me if I got pitchy) and “Lost At Sea” from Room Noises (one girl in the crowd kept asking for “Golly Sandra,” but that was not to be, and I’m fine with it because I’ve heard it before, but it is cute and I do think I know why the girl was asking).

“Many Funerals” ( three tracks I’ve used on a mix album, hipster Game of Thrones) and “Invasion” (✓ four tracks I’ve used on a mix album, the general Dollhouse one, though it occurred to me not only that this is an incredible rock song, like damn, but it could also work incredibly well for the current line of events in Agents of SHIELD) and “I Could Be There For You” ( five tracks I’ve used on a mix album, Mal/Inara, as well as being the origin for the title of my damn blog) and, I think, “If You’re Wondering” from Combinations (I still want to hear “Marsh King’s Daughter” live, for the same reason that the random was asking for “Golly Sandra,” but I’m not getting my hopes up.)

Also “Sad” and “Ambulance” ( six tracks I’ve used on a mix album, Bennett/Topher; they closed with this one and god I felt torn in half it was so beautiful) from The Valley.

And also “Drink the Water” (which is not on one of my mix albums but I still heavily associate with things, and also Sherri killed it I was so proud) and “The Night Comes” ( seven tracks I’ve used on a mix album, Jon/Ygritte, and guys, you guys, she said they were going to do it and I swear I melted, I wanted to hear it so bad last time but they played it this time and it was everything I’ve ever wanted) and “Shelter” from Currents.

Anyway, support these fairy princesses and princes they’re glorious.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Spoiler Alert Sunday :: her thoughts on Personal Shopper

27 Mar

(We both saw this one. Her feelings are just more coherent.)

I (drift partner) can’t objectively review this movie because Kristen Stewart is near and dear to my heart and I love her and I will watch her in literally anything, except that Woody Allen movie because fuck that guy. I have gotten into fights with good friends because they said Kristen’s acting sucks (don’t worry, we’re still friends). I have a shortlist of movies to shove at people who claim she never emotes in movies (Clouds of Sils Maria, The Runaways and American Ultra). I went to a midnight screening of Snow White and the Huntsman. I adore her and I have for years.

The thing is, she’s made a lot of movies with people who just don’t get her. She’s not a bad actress, but she is subtle, and that’s not always something that directors know how to work with. Snow White is actually a really good example here – that movie’s not great, and people have complained that she’s too stoic in it. I don’t think she is at all, but I do think that she’s excellent at microexpressions and that her performances are atypical for most Hollywood actresses. Olivier Assayas gets her. He directed her in Clouds of Sils Maria in 2014, a drama for which she won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress. And then they teamed up again for Personal Shopper, which is a psychological horror/drama. Personally, I think she should just keep making movies with this guy, sort of like Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell (except Russell and Lawrence aren’t as good a team as people seem to think they are, in my opinion). I’ll go see every single one of them.

Personal Shopper is not as coherent or as good as Clouds, but you can tell that it was made by the same person. Parts of it have a very similar almost dreamlike feel to them, and there are similar themes (death and what to do after a loved one dies, dissatisfaction with one’s life, risk-taking and fear of change). The film centers around Maureen (Kristen Stewart), who is reeling from the recent sudden death of her twin brother Lewis. She takes a job in Paris, where he lived, working as a personal shopper for a model and attempting to contact his spirit. He was a medium, and she is too, albeit slightly less naturally gifted than him. They swore that whichever of them died would send the other a sign from the afterlife, so she’s spent several months waiting for that sign.

I think the main problem with this movie is that the tone switches are pretty jarring. The quiet dramatic scenes where she talks with others about her brother and her life are intimate and well-acted, if sometimes a bit redundant. The scenes where she texts back and forth with a mysterious unknown number are the most unnerving parts of the movie, while the single scene with an onscreen ghost is more goofy than actually frightening. (The CGI ghost is really iffy, but I imagine the relatively small budget made it impossible to get it any better and I have seen worse.) I think the movie works a lot better when it’s not actively admitting to the existence of ghosts or spirits, and I would’ve preferred a more concrete answer about whether or not ghosts actually exist. About two-thirds of the way through there’s a grisly murder scene that’s potentially implied to have been caused by Maureen’s mysterious texting stalker, and though we are given an explanation for that murder, we aren’t quite told whether the murderer and the stalker are one and the same. There are two or three confusing scenes that have Maureen (and no one else) observing paranormal activity, but then out of left field comes a shot of nobody coming out of a hotel elevator, nobody opening the automatic lobby door, and nobody leaving the hotel and going outside. Immediately after those shots are identical shots with the murderer. I still have no idea if the film was meant to be implying that the ghosts were all in Maureen’s head, or if they were real and the ghost called the police to arrest the murderer, or what. It is the first time that we, the audience, see paranormal activity not linked to Maureen’s presence. I’m not sure what to make of that.

But also, as I said, it’s impossible for me to be objective about this movie because I love Kristen Stewart and French directing apparently really agrees with her acting skills. She’s incredible in this film: her microexpressions are on full display, and when she does need to show emotion she brings a rawness to it that I think surpasses any of the other performances of hers I’ve seen. The camera also loves her – there are long, lingering shots of her face and body, but which never feel exploitative. Actually, considering there are multiple topless shots and one scene where she masturbates, this movie is surprisingly free of the male gaze or of exploitation. These scenes, which in another movie could have felt egregious, are matter-of-fact and, in the case of the masturbation scene, defiant.

It’s a strange little movie, and I see why it’s not going over well with a lot of audiences. But the parts I liked outweigh the parts I have issues with, and I’m really glad I got the chance to see it in a theater.

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Spoiler Alert Saturday :: her thoughts on Power Rangers

25 Mar

I didn’t grow up with Power Rangers at all. My mom thought it was too violent for my brother to watch (I know), and I didn’t really care. But one of my best friends did, and she’s had me watch enough of both the original Mighty Morphin’ series and the various other incarnations that I get the idea. (The best/most hilarious is Jungle Fury.) I mostly came into this movie with the same ironic glee that I watched the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or GI Joe: Retaliation; I hoped it might be at least hilarious even it it was a bad movie and shat on somebody’s childhood. (Both of those movies are actually fine, though I watched them while drinking so it’s possible my judgment cannot be trusted.)

If you go in expecting a goofy teenage superhero flick, you’ll probably have a good time. My friend says they threw in a ton of references to the original series, though they have changed some things here and there (I’ll mention that in the spoiler section). My friend who grew up with the series was delighted with the references and didn’t mind the changes too much. I’m sure some of the hardcore fans will be displeased with them, but I think there’s enough there specifically for the fans to avoid Transformers syndrome. I think if you’re at all intrigued, it’s a fun popcorn flick. You should know, though, that the first car chase (after the cow scene) is shot in the weirdest way possible: there’s a few 360 camera rotation shots that made me and my friend dizzy and gave us mild motion sickness. This only lasts a minute or two, so if you don’t look at the screen it should be fine, but I imagine it’d be worse for someone who’s prone to motion sickness in the theater.

Also, they really pushed Trini/Yellow (Becky G) being a lesbian in the press, but the scene where they talk about it is weirdly vague? Like, I’ve worked with less but I wish that instead of dancing around it (one of them asks her “boyfriend troubles? …girlfriend troubles?” and she says something about not wanting to tell her parents “who I really am”) they would’ve just come out and said “lesbian.” Alas for studio pussyfooting, I guess. On a brighter note, Billy/Blue (RJ Cyler) is explicitly autistic, and they do work it into his character, and not in an overly stereotypical way. His special interest seems to be tinkering with and building things, as well as mapping and exploring the local mountain and quarries. He sets his colored pencils down in a particular order and corrects them if they are moved. He has trouble with sarcasm and is careful not to swear (except in one weird slip-up where he says “that was a weird-ass hologram”). He dislikes being touched and will politely ask people to stop if they touch him. He infodumps, but will stop and apologize if someone tells him to. I’m not 100% sure how to feel about a weird point where someone says he’s “pure of heart” but I do like that his autistic traits aren’t just brought up once and forgotten, but made part of his character. He’s also black, which I feel is an important detail to note because the overwhelming majority of autistic characters in the media are white boys and men. Autism is diagnosed most frequently in white boys, but autistic people can be any gender or race, and I really appreciated this movie’s choice to include a black autistic character. There could have been some other traits (I would’ve loved to have seen him stimming, for example), but this is still a really wonderful milestone.

Oh, and there’s an after-credits scene, though it won’t mean much to anybody who isn’t familiar with the original series. My friend lost her shit, though, she was so happy.

SPOILERS:

  • My friend got spoiled the night before, and she semi-spoiled me this morning before we went, but I’m actually glad that happened so I was prepared. What she heard was “one of the Rangers dies,” and I wasn’t actively thinking about it during the movie, but it hung around in the back of my mind. So what actually happens is that Rita (Elizabeth Banks) visits Trini about three-quarters through to try to convince her to tell her where the McGuffin is, and when Trini refuses, Rita tells her to tell the others to meet her at the docks the next day for a showdown. They do, and she pretty much immediately wipes them out because none of them have been able to morph into their suits yet. She ties them up and threatens the others if Billy doesn’t tell him where the McGuffin is hidden, and Billy panics and tells her so she won’t hurt his friends. Then she’s like “lol I better just kill one of you anyway” and throws him into the water, then electrocutes the wires binding him, because I guess this movie needed some horrifying implications on top of everything else. I sat there horrified for ten minutes until an earlier plot thread came back and magically resurrected Billy (look, honestly, if you’ve gotten this far into the movie and this is what bothers you, you probably shouldn’t be here, sorry). But, like, I was so afraid for about ten minutes that I was seriously going to have to hate this movie forever, because I would have if it had killed the black autistic character. But nope, he’s fine. False alarm!
  • I think probably this movie had about eight drafts where some of the plot threads were better resolved, and I kind of want to read those earlier drafts. Kimberly/Pink (Naomi Scott) has a weird ~secret~ that keeps being brought up and is the reason her old friends ostracized her, and I was so scared it was going to be sexual assault-y, but no, it wasn’t quite that, it was a weird revenge porn subplot that in my opinion served zero purpose and was pretty dumb. Zordon (Bryan Cranston) had a weird motivation: his consciousness had been uploaded into the ship’s matrix when he and his original Ranger team died millions of years before, and he wanted to be able to return to his body. He would only be able to do that when the morphing grid opened and all five Rangers had morphed. I thought this was going to lead into questions about whether Zordon was actually an antagonist, or at least have him lean into the self-centered mentor working for his own motivations thing – but that doesn’t really go anywhere and he ends up not using the morphing grid to bring himself back, instead revitalizing Billy. I feel like that emotional note was a little flat, all things considered. Jason/Red (Dacre Montgomery) sort of had an emotional arc about returning to his former glory and making his dad proud after fucking up royally at a football game, but they kept dropping that plot thread and then picking it up again and there wasn’t a ton of consistency to it. Anyway, I liked all the leads except Jason, who was boring, but I wish there had been a little more so some of their arcs.
  • I’ve been making fun of the new suits and how they have boob cups on them, and in the movie they’re actually kind of part of their bodies. They’re sort of like an exoskeleton and they just kind of grow over their skin when they morph. So, okay, fine. It’s stupid, but I’ll allow it.
  • Zack (Ludi Lin) is shown in multiple scenes to speak Mandarin with his ill mother, which I thought was very sweet. He also clearly loves her and is the only person around to take care of her, and I liked that that added some depth to his character, who is mostly just the goofy daredevil type.
  • I think Red/Pink is a foregone conclusion because Jason and Kimberly is such an iconic pairing in the original series, but I really really really think they should go Pink/Yellow. There’s a scene that’s thrown in there where Kim and Trini are at breakfast or something and they start play-fighting over a pastry, and it’s pretty adorable. Kim is also the one who always goes after Trini when she runs off, and they often ended up paired together in fight scenes. There’s as many significant Looks between them as Kim shares with Jason. Again, I’ve done more with less. Put your money where your mouth is and let them kiss in the next movie, Saban.
  • This movie did something I think was kinda cool where it made the legacy of the Rangers more explicit, by opening the movie with Zordon’s team dying alongside Rita millions of years before. Zordon was the original Red Ranger here, and Rita was once the Green Ranger, but was “corrupted” (how? Eh, they don’t say, but I kinda wanna watch that movie). This is sort of a cute little nod to the original show where Rita created the Green Ranger because, uh, reasons (this was explained to me but I don’t go here).
  • That reminds me, I couldn’t tell if it was just my lesbian goggles on but I think they wanted to imply that Rita was an Evil Lesbian? Like, I feel like maybe in another movie they would have had the lady villain trying to seduce one of the boys but directly after the scene where Trini mentions she’s a lesbian, Rita shows up in her bedroom at night and there’s a weirdly sexually charged scene where she threatens her over the McGuffin? I dunno. Elizabeth Banks is sure having a damn fine time though.
  • There’s a scene where she kills a homeless man (in silhouette but still) because of his gold fillings. Yes.
  • The McGuffin is located under a Krispy Kreme, which is honestly one of the best uses of product placement I’ve seen in awhile. IMO, if you’re gonna do it, just go whole hog and lose all subtlety. We also got a hilarious scene of Rita just chilling on a table in there, eating a donut while her monsters wreak havoc outside.
  • Also during one of the training montages they played “Hand Clap” by Fitz and the Tantrums, which is a nonsensical song anyway, and trying to make it make sense for this scene didn’t work at all and was very distracting.
  • Along with the aforementioned 360 shots, the director or cinematographer apparently thought they were making a fucking Oscar contender because every now and then there were weird experimental shots or ways that they set up the shot that left me either scratching my head or laughing. Like, man, don’t get too ambitious. You’re making fucking Power Rangers.
  • There were a random couple of masturbation jokes? Which I laughed at because I am 12. FOR KIDS!
  • OH ALSO THEY PLAY THE ORIGINAL THEME WHILE THEY’RE GOING TO MEET RITA IN THEIR ZORDS AND PEOPLE IN MY THEATER CLAPPED AND CHEERED IT WAS SO GREAT

I hope everybody who is into this movie gets to see it with an audience with happy fans in it like I did because they were just having the best time and cheering at all the goofy fanservice bits. My theater wasn’t super full, but it loved this movie.

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Fashion Friday :: beloved not-yet-hero of my heart.

24 Mar

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Well, not-yet-superhero. Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) is every bit a hero and sidenote: I am also enamored of comics!Hellcat, hence the inspiration for this outfit.

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It was sort of meant to be. Hepcat Soda Fountain A-Line Dress in Ginger, ModCloth.

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And replace that fabric belt with this for some extra punch. Bow, Baby! Belt in Black, ModCloth.

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These are the least practical shoes ever but just assume she has flats in her purse for when the going gets tough because they’re beautiful. Animated Attitude Velvet T-Strap Heel in Noir, ModCloth.

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And luckily, cat ear headbands are actually a thing right now, so you can find cute ones that don’t look like they came from the party store (necessarily). Cat ears headband, KittyMeStore at Etsy.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Television Tuesday :: on meliorism in comedy

21 Mar

In the last couple months, drift partner caught me up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and all of Parks and Recreation (rewatching the seasons I’d seen before, since it’s been a while, and taking the last couple on for the first time). We are now watching Arrested Development, which definitely does not fall in the “meliorism in comedy” category, and she has apologized a couple of times for it possibly being “jarring” after Parks. I’m not bothered, it’s generally pretty funny, but it’s a different kind of thing, and this is what I’ve realized.

I don’t need my comedy to be about perfect people. That’s impossible because technically perfection is a lie. But as a general rule, comedy sits better with me when it’s not at the expense of. A lot of sitcoms rely on the punchline being something that, if not outright mean-spirited to joke about, is something that the character can’t really help. Punching down instead of up, as it goes. That’s fine on something like Arrested Development, where it’s A) absurdist and B) the people getting laughed at are ridiculous and probably horrible. But on the majority of sitcoms it’s not really the case, and I usually find myself frowning.

The comedy I tend to enjoy, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks, takes the majority of its humor from things that are too absurd not to be sort of realistic. The protagonists are actually people that deserve to be protagonists – flawed and sometimes in very obvious ways but ultimately good-hearted people who try to do more or less the right thing – and the situations they encounter are funny because they’re ridiculous, but also there’s some truth to them. Every time something that happened on Parks seemed just a little crazy, I would remind myself of the time my mother, who works for city government, was asked at a city council meeting about regulations involving hoverboards. “You know, like in Back to the Future.” Ridiculous things do happen. It makes sense. But good people try to work around it, sometimes in also ridiculous ways.

And sometimes people are jerks, and this can go one of two ways. Either it’s a mostly good person who’s being a jerk, at which point they eventually learn from their mistakes and apologize (or the butt of their joke is someone who doesn’t mind it, a Jerry/etc. type) and all is well, or it’s a total jerk who’s being a jerk, and everyone acknowledges that they’re a jerk and deal with the situation accordingly. Either way, the being a jerk is never narratively construed as something that’s positive. You’re never made to feel like the person who asked someone to apologize for saying something offensive is the one who should feel bad, not the person who said the offensive thing. You aren’t supposed to side with jerks, and you can laugh at them being jerks because, hey, being a jerk? That’s a choice people make.

Shows like this actually have a positive outlook on life, in the general sense. They say “look, sometimes things are terrible, people are terrible, but you can prevail one way or another.” And especially when the world has gone to shit like it has lately, that’s reassuring. And the characters feel more realistic (who actively tries to be friends with jerks? Nobody I can think of, whereas everyone I know is friends with mostly good people who have some flaws and are not always perfect) and the stories don’t make you feel uncomfortable, and it’s just better.

–your fangirl heroine.

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