Saturday, March 17, 2012

So normally I don't post personal stuff here that's too distant from pop culture or the entertainment industry or film or movies or whatever, but this is an identity thing and as someone who identifies herself by her relationship to the arts more than probably anything else, I thought this wouldn't be too out of place. It's a letter/essay I wrote on the War Against Women happening right now in the dear ol' U.S. of A. and you can find it here on tumblr:

Enjoy, I hope. Critique or share if you like.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Long, Ultimate (But Not Really), Super Personalized Television Shows List

Hello my lovely readers... if there's anyone still out there.

I apologize profusely for my long absence. It has been a long several months in many ways - academically, personally, and in the entertainment and art world. I've seen many a movie and many many a television episode. I do not have much new to talk about or analyze. I could do quite a bit with We Need to Talk About Kevin, but I'd rather not because that would be digging too deep into my personal life and I really want to talk to my therapist about my relationship with that movie. I could talk about how things like We Need to Talk About Kevin and Breaking Bad, amongst many other things, remind me of my weirdly complicated relationship with my brother - which shouldn't be that complicated considering we've spoken very little with one another in about a decade. This is a subject matter I fully intend to explore through my film work. Expect lots of bizarre stories of young men and older brothers.

Right now, I feel more like discussing something more to my liking - making a list. I will delve into the personal realm (as I always do) as I plan to write in this post the master list of all the television shows I have ever watched (well, dedicated more than an episode or two to) and my experiences with them. Some I will brush over quickly, others I will talk about more extensively. This has little to do with whether I think a show is great or terrible. I will leave my thoughts as these shows as art and entertainment to another post another time, but here I do plan to explore my relationship with each of these shows. So, I hope this is enjoyed and I hope you don't mind that it's not as analytical or exciting as anything I'd like to write but this is what I want to write right now.

Note: I am skipping over a fair chunk of the television I watched as a kid. Things that have stuck with me, or that I've rewatched more recently, are more likely to be listed here. But things like Sesame Street, which, though great, I haven't watched since probably the mid-nineties isn't going to make it on this list.

Note Part 2: I will be including a lot of television I watched sporadically (as, pre-Heroes I didn't watch most television regularly). This will all be noted below.

Let us begin...

- 10 Things I Hate About You
Originally, I thought this show would be stupid. I loved the original movie it was loosely based off of and this was going on ABC Family. It also didn't get renewed. I also never finished this show. But it was actually kind of enjoyable and I liked being proven wrong for once. The sisters were good... the boys, especially the supposed-to-be-Joseph-Gordon-Levitt one weren't quite so solid. I haven't been able to bring myself to finish it because I know it won't be satisfying as it was canceled.

- 2 Broke Girls
Being as this is a more recent show, I've watched it from the very beginning. I'm thinking of quitting it now though. I love Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs as the leads, but the show doesn't seem to honor their talent and chemistry well enough. And I'm worried about messy mythology - which, for me, is essential in a good sitcom or any show really.

- 7th Heaven
I'm not (too) ashamed to admit I've seen every episode. I watched the first seven seasons in reruns and then started watching it from there. Not going to lie, I even embraced fan fiction for this one. I enjoyed the middle seasons where it started making fun of itself but wasn't as melodramatic as it started out and ended. I admit it's all pretty friggin ridiculous, but it was on after Gilmore Girls reruns on ABC Family afternoons so I ended up watching it too... and Smallville.

- 8 Simple Rules
I never got super into this one - I watched some reruns and caught a few new episodes. It was before I got into regularly watching television.

- All That
One of my childhood loves - I didn't get the Disney channel until I was about eleven or twelve (when it became part of our basic cable plan) so Nickelodeon was my place. It deserved to be too - shows like All That really were fun and kind of funny - especially to a kid who didn't get Saturday Night Live humour yet.

- The Amanda Show
Same as above. I watched both sometimes regularly, sometimes sporadically. I've probably seen most of the episodes of both, if not all of them at one point or another. With All That, though, I know they brought it back for years after I stopped watching with people whom I know nothing about so, at least for The Amanda Show, I probably watched it all.

- America's Funniest Home Videos
Some of them were really hilarious. Some weren't. Sometimes I watched. Frequently I didn't.

- American Idol
My relationship with American Idol is actually a fun story. I watched the season one finale, just the very end, where Kelly Clarkson won and sang "A Moment Like This." I was always into music and that's the moment I decided to be a pop star and eventually audition when I was old enough. I started watching around the Top 8 of season 2 and then watched regularly seasons 3 through 5. Then I was old enough to audition. At that age, 16, I wasn't sure I still wanted to do music, but I decided to go through with it anyway. As you can probably guess, I didn't make it. Didn't even make it to the proper auditions you see on screen. Not surprising to me (I was nervous as fuck all) and I didn't mind after a bit of childhood dream-crushing. See, American Idol started to literally put me to sleep in the 5th season. I would eat dinner, start my homework, half-watch TV, put on American Idol, pass out halfway through, sleep for a couple hours, finish my homework, then go to sleep proper. It was a regular thing. Nights when it wasn't on, it would be another show that would put me to sleep. Sophomore year must've been an exhausting year (oh 15/16-year-old self, I don't think a single year has been chill since). I watched a bit of the season 6 premiere to look for any sign of myself and then recently part of the NY auditions in the most recent season (where I recognized a girl I'd taken a PoliSci class with flirting with Steven Tyler... oi).

- Angry Beavers
Watched frequently as a kid, probably caught most of it. Seems funny to me now that I know other meanings of beavers.

- Animaniacs
This is how I learned e=mc2 amongst many other important things as a child. Watched a fair chunk, though not particularly regularly.

- Arrested Development
Currently progressing through (halfway through season 2). Everyone told me I should watch it. So far I'm really liking it. Like I've mentioned above, mythology is everything to me. It screams consistency and care in any television show. It doesn't have to be huge or central, just present.

- Batman
This live action Batman TV series was my show as a kid. It was my introduction to Batman, even before the animated show. Seeing the porno Batman XXX inspired by the show was wonderful too - the porn parts didn't matter to me but OH MY GOD was it hilariously pitch-perfect to the old TV show. I love this shit. Believe me, I love almost all of Batman, but this is my origin story.

- Batman: The Animated Series
A continuation of my love affair with Batman over my life, I've seen most, if not all, of this show. I started rewatching it a couple years ago (having downloaded the whole show) but got really lazy about it and stopped in the single digits.

- Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Well, if you know anything about my love for television, you know about my love for this show. One of my favorite television shows ever, I've seen every episode at least twice (though I admit to skipping over "Black Market" most of the times I've rewatched it), seen all the webisodes, and I own the entire series (TV movies included - well, not The Plan, but I've seen The Plan... it's kind of crap). 4.12 and 4.13 are probably my favorite episodes in the series, and Laura Roslin is likely my favorite character. She's one of the best female characters ever and that Mary McDonnell never got an Emmy nod is bollocks. Same about the show, but Jesus Christ especially her.

- The Big Bang Theory
Started watching this a couple years ago, caught up on the entire series, and have seen it all. It's got its moments and I do like it overall, although I understand discomfort with it - it can be pretty clear that the people behind it are painting a picture of nerds they know, not nerds they are.

- Bill Nye the Science Guy
Like any kid who took science in the '90s, this man is everything and his show was the highlight of science classes to me (until I took chemistry in high school and fucking loved it). We got a history teacher in 11th grade named Chip Nye and we had a kid in our class named Chip, which was in place of William - so we all hoped desperately that he was Bill Nye the Hist'ry Guy. Alas, that wasn't his first name, we had him for one class, he ended up in the hospital, and we never heard anything about him again.

- Boy Meets World
Boy Meets World was one of my favorite television shows growing up. I started watching it just as it ended its run at the end of the nineties/the early '00s and watched reruns constantly. I've seen it all and loved it all (even the more blah parts). "Chick Like Me" was one of my favorite episodes ever. Mr. Feeney was the best - one of the few folks I've ever splurged on a graphic tee for (I gave up on graphic tees generally when I was about 15 or so - now I buy them once in a blue moon for good reason - my Mr. Feeney T-shirt, my Nightwish T-shirt, my Hunger Games themed teefury T-shirt, my Leon Botstein T-shirt, and my Harry and the Potters T-shirt). I laughed, I cried, I admired Shawn's hair, and I to this day believe in the power of the contents of my purse to reveal everything about me.

- The Brady Bunch
My lesser of my two favorite shows in the Nick at Nite line-up, The Brady Bunch was good wholesome fun but also kind of dull at times. Still, I watched pretty much all of it. I still don't believe they never thanked Alice before that one episode though.

- Breaking Bad
This is my newest current project. After telling myself I'd watch it for years and being told to watch it by anyone whose site I read (and my brother most recently - though he was actually telling our parents but I'd been planning to eventually anyway), I finally dove last evening. I'm still on season one and slowly working my way into it. The scene with Jesse's family, so far... it makes me think this is who my brother might paint himself as. When I watch shows I know my brother loves (like this and The Wire), I see how he looks at them from what I know about him. He used to dress like Jesse. Still sort of does. Used to consider himself pretty "hood" but he had a nice wholesome home to come home to and a younger sibling, whom I can bet he imagined had conversations about whether to continue the piccolo or oboe. Just to let you know, Drew, we never had fucking conversations like that, considering I don't play any classical instruments and I had the decency to continue playing saxophone into college even though that drumset mom and dad bought for you went unused for years after you quit a year and a half into it. Ahem. Like I said, my personal life has been on a mind a lot lately. Excuse me.

- The Cape (2011)
Unlike Abed, I gave up on The Cape pretty quickly. I fell behind after the first four episodes and then it got canceled and I never bothered to catch up. I wanted to like it - I did like it - but it didn't work out between us.

- Caprica
Did you not read above how everything to do with Battlestar Galactica is my life? No? Well then, I've seen all of Caprica. I started from the beginning. I remember seeing advertisements when I visited my roommate in L.A. - I was so excited to see them. I was so excited for the show. Overall, I really did like it, although I liked 1.0 better than 1.5. Tamara's episode where she conquered the Matrix essentially... best. And Daniel threatening Zoebot with fire. Beautiful shit.

- CatDog
Watched this here and there as a kid. Never got very attached. As I had a cat and a dog, I found the premise pretty amusing though.

- Chuck
I started watching Chuck from the start because it aired with Heroes, which was my favorite show at the time. By the second season, Chuck was one of my favorite shows on the air. I even attended Chuckfest 2010 when I was in L.A. with my roommate (whom I had gotten into it) and watched the third season premiere there. I admit I've fallen behind on the latest season (the latest twist at the end of season four was not my favorite to say the least) but I intend to get back into it by the time my beloved series ends.

- Clarissa Explains It All
Oh Melissa Joan Hart - you were everywhere in the nineties. Including in my television when I watched the occasional rerun of this.

- Community
I started watching this from the start and have kept up with it lovingly. I own the first season on DVD as of a couple weeks ago. Community is one of my favorite shows ever and possibly my favorite sitcom ever. I love all the characters and admire Abed's dedication to pop culture I could never reach and, most of all, I relate most to the show as a whole and its feelings and opinions because very few shows have that sort of character of its own you can touch (that aren't simply the lead character) and feel connected to.

- Cowboy Bebop
Someone suggested I watch Cowboy Bebop when I was fifteen because the way we were Role-Playing Atton and Mira (from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords) reminded her a lot of Spike and Faye's relationship. I caught the second half of the third episode at about 2AM that night on my tiny TV in my room and was intrigued. I caught the entirety of the fifth episode a couple days later. I fell in love. I borrowed the first five episodes from a friend who was super into it, then bought the entire rest of the series myself. I've seen this show a number of times, and the movie, and it is one of my favorite shows ever, competing most frequently with Battlestar Galactica for that top spot. I named my cat Spike after Spike Spiegel. And more than the show itself, I absolutely love the music. Anybody who's seen the show would say the same. Being a saxophonist myself, the jazz music (and the many genres the music actually covers) was a revitalization of my love for music that had fallen away and assurance that being a saxophonist was super boss and a good thing to have chosen to identify as. I have never gotten sick of the music at large (though some songs, of course, have lost their touch). I've learned some of them on saxophone, including "Tank!" of course. I wrote my own song to the tune of "Goodnight Julia." That music, that show, made me love jazz. And I love jazz.

- Dexter
I'd started hearing a lot about Dexter after its fourth season, now that I had started listening to the winds of pop culture and the entertainment world. So I started watching. I worked through the first four seasons, assured I would love Lilah by an acquaintance and then hating her with a passion, realizing that season one was my favorite by a longshot and that I still liked the show overall. I've kept with the show, liking it and being disappointed in it in equal measure. Mos Def was the best part of season six and the big reveal came too late and in an otherwise blegh finale. But I won't quit it yet. I care too much about what happens next.

- Dexter's Laboratory
Who, my age, didn't watch this as a kid? Goddammit, Deedee, gtfo of his lab already! I've seen a fair chunk of this show though possibly not all.

- Doug
I really have no attachments to this show, though I watched it pretty regularly as a kid.

- Downton Abbey
Marathoned the first season early last semester after I'd started hearing about how good it was and loved it dearly. Then season two came and wasn't quite as brilliant, though still good, and thank god for that Christmas Special.

- Even Stevens
Shia LeBouf, I will always remember you as Louis Stevens and Stanley Yelnats, even if I questioned your casting as Stanley at the time (Stanley was supposed to be Caveman! He was supposed to be bulky!). I watched most of this show in reruns once we got Disney.

- Falling Skies
All the reminders to me of Battlestar Galactica have helped me really like this show more than I might have expected. It's not brilliant, but it's pretty good and I like most of the characters (even the teenage son - which is weird because teenagers on TV usually suck unless they're the main cast... when they still might suck but it's a bit more up in the air). Mostly though I love finding connections to one of my favorite sci-fi series.

- Firefly
Speaking of brilliant sci-fi, I finally watched through Firefly over the summer. I wasn't sure that I'd like it as much as I did because I'd been told for so long by so many people how great it was, and been told more underwhelming things by a few others. But whether it's a great show or not, I loved it. The movie too. Reavers are the most terrifying embodiment I've seen on TV in a long time. And man oh man was I all for Kaylee and Simon to live happily ever after. Spoiler alert, but someone told me the end of Serenity was like a bloodbath so I was expecting the worst. I was so glad I didn't have to watch everyone die like I expected.

- FlashForward
Well, Voldemort's younger brother Shakespeare was the lead and I find him mighty attractive and I was intrigued by the show and I stuck through it and watched it all and discussed it and liked it pretty well, but I wasn't so impressed that I was at all disappointed when it was canceled.

- The Flintstones
Watched this sporadically but quite a bit as a kid. This and The Jetsons were a big thing back then. My whole family were big fans.

- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Seen most of it via reruns. Oh Will Smith, I have adored you.

- Full House
I've seen the whole series, most of it multiple times, thanks to reruns. This is one show I regularly watched reruns for (and there were a lot of them) throughout my adolescence. I still watch reruns of it occasionally. It's got its moments. I liked the three dads routine. It also made my home feel pitifully small. Most TV I watched as a kid made me feel isolated. I did live on top of a hill at the end of a dead-end road in a rural town filled with lots of old people.

- Game of Thrones
Started watching this from the beginning and have seen it all. Nothing much to report, besides my love for how goddamn attractive Robb Stark is.

- Gilligan's Island
This was my favorite of the Nick at Nite crowd as a kid. Man oh man I loved this show. I loved that island. I loved the whole goddamn thing.

- Gilmore Girls
Like its other ABC Family rerun friends (7th Heaven and Smallville)), I started watching Gilmore Girls via reruns. I saw the first four seasons that way (the best seasons, in my opinion, culminating in that beautiful kiss between Lorelai and Luke and Kirk running naked out the front door). I watched the rest of the show as it aired regularly. Even though the secret Luke daughter drama and the Rory boyfriends drama (I was always, ALWAYS partial to Jess and think he should've been the one) got tired, Stars Hollow was always the best friggin place ever. It and Mystic Falls are my favorite fictional towns. Stars Hollow probably wins though because a lot less people die there. But they're both so adorable and tight-knit and event-y!

- Glee
I've seen it all (except the most recent episode) I'll admit. I loved it, I hated it, I have had extremely mixed but mostly annoyed opinions about it and I think it is one of the most ridiculous things ever. Even the covers, which were wonderful and fun at the start, have gotten terrible (for the most part). I mostly enjoy the show when it's just performances and no really dumb and inconsistent drama. This show is one example of how important continuity is to me. It's hardly existent here, thus I kind of hate Glee. I can't quit it though because it's such an interesting trainwreck to watch.

- The Good Wife
I caught the first two seasons over the summer, watching them through rapidly and realizing how much I was falling for this show and its brilliant cast despite its appearance as a procedural (I am generally not into procedurals). I can accept procedural format when the weekly-cases-of-whatever are actually interesting (like House in the first several seasons). Luckily, here they are, and here everything outside of the cases is even better and there's a lot of it, but it moves at perfect pacing. Not too quickly, not too slowly. Just right.

- Gossip Girl
I wasn't expecting to get into this. There was a really funny tumblr that featured pictures of outfits Chuck Bass wore and had cute snippy commentary for each. I realized how much I loved the fashion and began watching with that in mind. I really did enjoy the first two seasons very thoroughly, though. After that... I kept watching, liking certain parts and hating others, and enjoying overall the melodrama and still loving most of the fashion. I can accept Gossip Girl for being pretty terrible most of the time because it seems so self-aware most of the time... even if it does recycle plots and misuse guest stars pretty badly.

- Heroes
This was a big turning point in my television watching career. I wasn't regularly into television until Heroes. I didn't even watch it from the start - I got into it about halfway through season one. I started it, I caught up online, and I was addicted. I recommended it to everyone I knew. I obsessed. I loved the wiki for it with all the hilarious "fan theories" about Mr. Muggles. It made me want a Pomeranian. I even stuck with it lovingly through season two. I watched season three as well, enjoying moments more than the show overall, bonding with fellow college students as we watched it in a small group on Mondays after the Gossip Girl crowd (before I watched the latter). I even started watching season four. Then my parents' DVR ate the next few episodes and I was so disappointed in the show I had once loved that I gave up after the first two episodes of season four. Only once has someone defended the fourth season to me. I never went back.

- Hey Arnold
I hated how cool Arnold was. I hated how he could ride alone on a subway at age nine. I hated how isolated I was and that he had the freedom in a big city. I watched most of this, if not all, and hated it but not really - it was a good show, I was just so envious.

- Home Improvement
I watched this intermittently as reruns for the most part. This was Tim Allen's introduction to my life. And in Toy Story of course.

- Homeland
I heard this was good. It was fucking brilliant. My favorite new show of this season. Claire Danes has been a loved actress of mine for years even though there hasn't been much for me to celebrate about her (besides Temple Grandin last year, which was amazing). Now there is. So much to love, so much to think about, so much to look forward to.

- House
I started watching House in its fifth season. I concurrently watched the current fifth season while catching up on the prior four seasons on DVD. I even hid away a lot during our annual Thanksgiving trip to western New York to watch more of the back seasons on my laptop. I was rooting for House and Cuddy all along. Then they kissed. And then I stopped watching, because I got sick of how far the show had fallen and how bored I had gotten with it.

- How I Met Your Mother
A few summers ago, I decided to try HIMYM. I blazed through the first four seasons, while catching up on True Blood at the same time. Even though I'm not sure how much I love it anymore, the mythology has always been a strong point and the importance of callbacks and quirks has made me appreciate the effort and time put in. The characters have gotten a bit obnoxious the past couple years though. I still watch, but enjoy the drama more than the comedy these days.

- Human Target (2010)
I was super into this show, even though I never finished it once it was canceled (I made it a fair way through season two). It was greater than I think most people gave it credit for and one of my favorite things, as I've blogged about before, is its similarity to Cowboy Bebop. I also love action. I grew up on James Bond, loved MI4 recently, and dug the action in this.

- Invader Zim
I watched a bit here and there but, to be honest, I never liked this show or understood exactly why it caught on so popularly.

- The Jetsons
Like I said above with The Flintstones, this show was a great jam as a kid. I loved sci-fi in all forms, even dorky domestic ones.

- Johnny Bravo
I watched it here and there. The most I can remember is how much my mom loved this because she loved that Johnny treated his mother so well. I wonder if this was around the time my brother started treating her like crap. He grew out of it but there were several years (his teenage ones for the most part) where he was really dickish to her.

- Kenan & Kel
I watched a rerun of this a few weeks ago and it still feels fresh to me. I will defend Good Burger for all eternity because I love that shit... even if it is shit. And I loved both Kenan and especially Kel. I always wonder what happened to Kel. I watched most of this, if not all.

- Kim Possible
Ron Stoppable for some reason frequently reminds me of Ron Weasley. Kim was so badass - it was great. It was fun and I watched most, if not all, of this awesome set of missions.

- Life with Derek
I watched this show here and there and, have to admit, this was one of those times, since I was a bit older than a kid, where I was just focused on how much the two leads needed to hook the fuck up.

- Lizzie McGuire
Like any other girl my age, I've seen it all. I loved and hated Lizzie because she reminded me of myself so much. She was better and worse. But mostly better because she was a TV character and I was a real kid whose middle school years sucked massive balls enough to switch schools.

- Lost
I found it poetic that I started watching Lost on the day of its series finale. I watched it from the start, though, on hulu. I dove right in and marathoned through quite a bit. I made it to about halfway through season 5. I'd managed to spoil quite a bit for myself. I'd known from the start that Charlie died (I originally had thought I might watch it for Dominic Monaghan until I heard he died... and something about polar bears on a tropical island...) but I also found out about a handful of sixth season deaths. Then I joked to a friend that everyone died in the end and I knew. She, having seen the whole thing, lamented to me about everyone being dead. And then I was like "WTF I DIDN'T ACTUALLY KNOW THAT." I never finished it. One day I might.

- Mad Men
I started in the second season, marathoning the first on DVD. I've loved much about this show, but especially Peggy. Everything about her, everything she's done, how human she is. And "The Suitcase" is one of the finest episodes of television ever, in my humble opinion.

- Misfits
After the second series had actually ended, I thought I might as well try this show - I loved superpowers after all. I really enjoyed it all, even though I was skeptical about the third season and super pissed off during the second season Christmas Special. Simon had been my favorite for a while, and like anyone, I loved Simon and Alisha together. Tumblr spoiled that for me before I bothered to finish season three though. Alas.

- Modern Family
I'd heard it was good, so I watched it, and it was good and it still is, though not the best.

- New Girl
I was skeptical at first, but it's grown on me as I've kept at it. And mostly Schmidt. I'm one of those people that liked the douchejar.

- Nikita
The pilot didn't impress me much. But since then, being a sucker for action and great female characters (especially leads), I've fallen pretty in love with the show. And Owen. Because he's skilled and super hot.

- The O.C.
There was a time when I watched this! About halfway through the first season, I started in. I wasn't super into each episode, but there's always be an amazing tease for next week, so I'd have to tune in. This continued for about a year, until I missed an episode about halfway through season two. Then I realized that I didn't really feel the strong desire to keep watching anymore. I hadn't been teased with a promise that wouldn't be fulfilled, so I stopped.

- Once Upon a Time
I've watched the first few episodes with friends. We've had a brilliant time mocking and somewhat enjoying the ridiculous fairytale drama.

- Parks and Recreation
One of this past summer's discoveries. I marathoned quickly through the first three seasons. I completely understand everyone's love for all of the characters. They're amazing and wonderfully presented by the writers and the actors. I've kept up and fully intend to until the end, whenever that may be.

- Phil of the Future
Phil was adorable. I watched this sporadically, though quite a bit. Another show where I just wanted the guy and girl to friggin hook up. They were clearly meant to be.

- Pinky and the Brain
I watched this plenty on and off. Home of one of my favorite catchphrases ever. "What we do every night, Pinky... try to take over the world."

- Pokemon
Possibly the first show I ever watched regularly, I would arrive home after school in the fourth grade, drop my backpack, plop on the couch, and immediately watch Pokemon at 4PM every weekday. I've seen a fair chunk of the (very long) first season and a sporadic other episode here and there. Recently, my friend and I started rewatching the show. We've made it about halfway through the first season. I miss Charmander. He was the cutest fucking thing ever. Pikachu also is. And Mew in the Pokemon movie. So. Cute.

- The Powerpuff Girls
I watched this loads as a kid, seeing a fair amount of the show overall. Bubbles was my favorite. Probably because she was blonde and wore blue (my favorite color at the time).

- The Proud Family
Al Roker has never been the same to me after this show. I watched most, if not all, of this. It, along with Kim Possible, was one of the animated series that was in my adolescence with me and was worth the time I put in.

- Recess
I wish I had watched more of this as a kid. I watched quite a bit, but not all of it I am sure. It was witty and great and in retrospect it's one show I regret not having spent more time on.

- Revenge
I was curious about the good reviews it was getting, and have been with it from the start. If not for Homeland, this would be my favorite new show of the year. I really hope Daniel dies though. I'll be disappointed if they don't go through with that tease. Madeleine Stowe is amazing. And Nolan is everything I wanted him to be and more, so far.

- Rocket Power
I watched this pretty often and probably saw a good chunk of it. I hated it though. Like Hey Arnold, part of it was the independence these kids had. Part of it was the fact that our leading man was a dick, though. He was just kind of an awful kid.

- Rugrats
Having watched Rugrats very frequently as a kid, it was the first place I realized I really wasn't into potty humour. I liked everything else about the show and found it quite funny but I could not stand behind the potty humour, even after reading an essay about body humour in children's lit.

- Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
Melissa Joan Hart part II, since this actually aired when I was attentive enough as a kid, I probably saw more of it than her other show.

- Saturday Night Live
I've never been a regular watcher of SNL, but I've watched enough episodes that I wanted to include it here. There's a lot I've loved, and a lot I've found distinctly unfunny. I hate Seth Meyers' Weekend Update. I rarely find it funny and he's always almost laughing. He made the "Founding Fathers would shit themselves due to cars if they were here, not care about our politics" joke I thought was hilarious and thought I had come up with in the fourth grade. Come on.

- Saved by the Bell
I am not sure how much of this I actually watched, but it was the first drama I actually watched as a kid. I was pretty young when I saw most of it and got a lot of my impressions about teenagers and high school from it.

- Sex and the City
I've never watched it regularly, having been asked to watch it with friends and watching reruns here and there when it's on TV. Everyone always asks themselves which girl they are. Everyone wants to be a Carrie right? I'm probably more of a Charlotte though with a bit of Miranda thrown in there. I'm probably none of them really because I'm actually Sarah.

- Sherlock
Just marathoned this about a week ago, I am so glad I was convinced to watch this because it's fucking brilliant and I love it.

- Sister, Sister
I'm pretty sure I've seen it all. I found the boyfriends interesting and I loved the later years, weirdly enough. The appendicitis bit is etched into my brain forever. My appendix has never been removed so every once in a while when I'm paranoid it's ruptured, I think of the scene in this show.

- Smallville
I watched the reruns of the first four seasons of this on ABC Family. I was intrigued, as I've always been pretty into superheroes (thanks to my indoctrination into Batman as a young child). I was into them, especially the mythology because, say it with me I love mythology. I started watching the fifth season regularly when it started up. I got bored though and didn't feel like bothering anymore and gave up. I've seen an episode here and there since I gave it up and am glad I did.

- So You Think You Can Dance (US)
Summer before last, I realized I should watch this show. Why? Because I love watching people who can actually dance. So I started with season seven, while hunting down the previous seasons online. I started season one but got so bored with it that I stopped just after the performances began. Maybe it was the lack of Cat Deeley. Maybe it was so many people whose dancing was not being challenged or really shown off that much. But when I started season two, I was in love. I watched all of the back seasons while and after I watched the seventh season and found my favorite routines and dancers and wanted to talk about it always. I watched last season too and, while I enjoyed it thoroughly, I can say confidently that my favorite seasons are three through five.

- SpongeBob SquarePants
I'm pretty sure I watched the first episode ever when it aired. It was the perfect timing - I was nine and watched a lot of TV, especially everything on Nickelodeon. I watched it quite a lot for the first few years (though not regularly, frequently enough with enough reruns that I probably saw most of it at the start). Then I grew out of it and it continued anyway.

- Star Wars: Clone Wars
I almost forgot about this short lived series of short episodes. It was boss. I watched it all, bought the DVDs, and watched it with a bunch of friends at school in the senior lounge senior year of high school during free periods. At one point, there were like six or seven of us watching, these two girls came in, Lexi and Shaina, and gave the TV and us this look (Mace Windu was being super badass, as per usual) and asked us what we were watching, why we were watching it, and if they could watch something else. Considering how much we were enjoying it and how much we outnumbered them, we turned them down and they, disgusted, left. Whatever.

- The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
I've hardly watched the spin-off, but I watched most of the original. Since I got Disney a bit later, as I was hitting adolescence, I watched a lot of Disney TV at an age when I might have been getting a little old for it. Just a little. I stand by the PRNDL over stickshift. I loved Brenda Song here. Like, legit - she was perfect.

- That's So Raven
Oh psychic Raven... you were so cool. I watched most, if not all, of this.

- Tom and Jerry
God knows how much Tom and Jerry there is and how much I've actually watched, but whenever I want something chill to watch and there's a Tom and Jerry rerun on, you know that's my channel.

- True Blood
As I mentioned above, I was marathoning True Blood's first season and the start of its second as I was marathoning How I Met Your Mother. I had started the former thinking about the gay rights metaphors I'd been told about. I also just really enjoyed Eric's existence and was pretty into Sookie/Bill. I hadn't decided whether I actually liked the show or not. I don't think I ever have, even though I've watched it all now. I don't think I like it much anymore, although I might have used to. I might quit it next season. I can only handle so much ridiculous camp.

- The Vampire Diaries
I was surprised when I heard this was actually good. I figured I didn't like vampires much. I couldn't get through Dracula when I tried to read it and Twilight was obviously dumb. I had been watching True Blood but wasn't sure I liked the vampire part of it. I'm still not sure I like vampires but after actually giving The Vampire Diaries a shot, I realized how awesome it was. I realized, and explained to friends I recommended the show to, that the diaries in question weren't really the angsty journals kept by the leads but, to me, were the old journals kept by folks like Johnathan Gilbert during the Civil War era about the vampires plaguing the town. The mythology of the show is great and never has a group of teenagers been so appealing to me (mostly because I like the adult characters too and they actually do things besides act like grown up teenagers, like the adults on shows like, say, Gossip Girl do). One of my favorite shows on the air, surprisingly. Or not so much - the pacing is also brilliant. So much happens but it never feels like too much.

- V (2009)
Alien invasion! Rebellion resistance! Shouldn't this be more exciting? I tried, and I did get into this show, really liking Hobbes in particular, more than it probably deserved (and began my love affair with Morena Baccarin). I watched it all, and was so glad at the death of Tyler, even though the show was canceled after that point.

- The Walking Dead
I was hesitant to start, but decided to try it over Thanksgiving break anyway. I wasn't sure I'd like a zombie show. The pilot was fucking brilliant, in my opinion. That poor goddamn horse, was all I thought. It hasn't been as good since, though I love crazy Shane and usually like Rick. Lori needs to act. Carl needs to gtfo. They need to get off that farm. But the mid-season finale was strong and I did get a fun zombie-related nightmare after my first night of watching. So it's progressing for me.

- The Weakest Link
Who didn't love Anne Robinson, the wonderfully snippy host of this? I loved her. I watched this pretty frequently when she was on. I was disappointed when there was a new host, but when she was around? My scene, man.

- Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Thank god for ABC Family reruns. This show introduced me to all things improv - my best friend later started an improv club in high school, which I was involved in. I loved it so much and this show made me laugh out loud more than most anything else. And they were all having so much fun, which was the best part. I've seen most, but probably not all, of this show.

- The Wild Thornberrys
Like most of my childhood shows, I saw quite a bit, but I'm not sure how much, of this show. I find Nigel's recent return to relevance hilarious. Tim Curry is my birthday buddy and I love him. It was a weird but fun show.

- The Wire
Ah, The Wire. The brilliant fucking Wire. Once day I will finish you. Until then, I will be stuck at the beginning of season three where Littlefinger appears. Where I am so sad Frank Sobotka could be so dumb. Where I am so depressed that everything always goes wrong. And so pleased that Omar Little exists.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Problem With Jennifer's Body

Please wake me up in about two years, so that The Hunger Games movie has come out and the fandom has had enough time to make their way through all the usual complaints a fandom undergoes when their beloved source material is changed on its way to the screen and I can talk with people again about the actual content of the story as opposed to whether or not every single person cast looks right for the role. And by looks right, not, I don't mean is made to look right via training and make-up and costume. I mean bitching about how a young actress actually has meat on her bones and is thus an inappropriate choice despite what the author and director say.

Despite being a bit above the target age range for Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy, about a month and a half ago I decided to give it a spur of the moment read and I admit I was instantly addicted. It's an engrossing story with what I think are generally interesting characters and pretty decent writing. I will happily discuss whether the love triangle is annoyingly overplayed in Catching Fire, whether Katniss' behaviour in Mockingjay is either due to proper characterization or author laziness, and whether the ending is sufficient or not.

What I cannot stand, however, are the same debates I participated in, intensely, mind you, once upon a time when I was a thirteen-year-old crazed and newly indoctrinated Harry Potter fan. Was I pissed that Daniel Radcliffe had blue eyes and not green and found it silly he wasn't wearing contacts to fix that? You bet. When I was older and I realized that a) such an obsession was stupid, b) that it really didn't matter that much, and c) that Daniel Radcliffe was unable to wear the contacts because of irritation, I got over it. I think most fans did eventually because we realized what a stupid little debate it was. Harry's blazing green eyes, like his mother's, are a huge deal in the books. In the movies, they're less so. They're still a deal - Lupin remarks on them particularly in the third film and I imagine they'll play their related role in the final film - but the films adjust for the problems faced.

These sorts of issues, as The Hunger Games movie inches slowly towards filming and, eventually, completion, are floating around the fandom in abundance. People are bitching about everything, and while Willow Shields' unibrow was a big hot topic, the biggest hot topic of all is the casting of Jennifer Lawrence as the beloved lead character of Katniss Everdeen. Now, I think Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress and I can completely see her personifying what I think is a strong female protagonist in Katniss. She probably doesn't look anything like I originally imagined Katniss to look like, but I can see it in her, just like I started to see Peeta in Josh Hutcherson, who also looks differently than one might have imagined Peeta (and don't get me started on the fans who are still obsessed with picking naturally blonde actors who are rather stringy in my opinion). Some people, however, are far too obsessed with the appearance, particularly parts of Jennifer Lawrence's appearance that are harder to fix than her hair color - and I'm not talking about the debate raging over Katniss' skin color, I'm talking about her weight.

The objections to Jennifer Lawrence's curves, to put it bluntly, piss me the fuck off. It rings in my ears of all the horrendous standards that we hold women up to and the ways in which women are still objectified so much in film as having to be whatever image we deem correct and if it doesn't fit with our mold, then it is wrong. I know that when most people comment on Jennifer Lawrence's curves, they don't mean that actresses can't be curvy. Of course not, we have Queen Latifah, known for her bodacious body. But this is really not the norm. We have such bizarre and unrealistic and every-changing standards for women and we never seem to be able to do it right. As Jennifer Hudson has lost weight, many of her fans have been rather shocked and disappointed that she felt the need to lose weight, while simultaneously people are constantly wondering if Gabourey Sidibe should lose some weight because she might be dangerously unhealthy. Don't get me wrong, I do think obesity is a problem in this country and not one we should glorify. But neither should we glorify appearances that are unattainable or at the very least extremely difficult for normal women to attain. While we encourage girls to embrace their curves, we continue to bash women whose weight changes regularly, like Kelly Clarkson. When Lady Gaga puts on a few pounds, suddenly her stomach becomes a huge national problem - Why isn't she as skinny as she was in the Telephone music video!?!?!? we wonder, because it's wrong for these women who are supposed to be visually perfect to ruin our images of them by being human. Weight fluctuation is hardly unheard of amongst the normal folk and beneath the personal trainers and strict diets, celebrities are normal folk too.

That said, then, shouldn't we choose actors who can physically embody the very specific framework we have in mind for a character? Dumb, dumb, dumb. I get it, Katniss' character is very specifically one who has suffered from malnourishment her entire life. But even if we get a sickly stick of an actress who could potentially perform the role of Katniss brilliantly, there's still a difference between a healthy, skinny body and a malnourished, skinny body. And let's face it, we're not going to cast someone that is literally malnourished - that is, unless Christian Bale was in the role and he would just make that choice on his own probably and the fans would hail him for it, but would it be right? Everyone also worries when Christian Bale does such a thing, and we'd worry for whatever actress that played Katniss that would do it too. But, BUT, beneath that worry, don't even lie to yourself, you'd be proud of that actor for taking such a dramatic step. You'd be impressed and pleased that the actor would be willing to take such a risk for the sake of art. I'm not going to lie, I'd probably be impressed too. But while being impressed, I'd also be disgusted.

There is a poster that hangs in the health services office in my college. It shows two pictures of legs. One is a starving child. One is a runway model. Their legs, despite one pair being cleaner than the other, are indistinguishably similar in shape. That horrifies me, which is the point of the poster. If you are naturally skinny, there's nothing you can help about that. Same with if you're curvy. But there is still, always, a difference between what is natural and healthy and what is unnatural and unhealthy. You can suffer from either no matter what shape or size you are.

We need to stop boxing women into categories based on their size though. Daniel Radcliffe has grown up to be a lot stockier than I imagined Harry in the books to be - Harry always seemed so stretched and, at times, lanky. Daniel Radcliffe is of more average height and weight in appearance. But he has also grown into becoming a better actor and a better Harry over the years. Movie!Harry and Book!Harry are different in their appearance and y'know what? That's okay, because Daniel Radcliffe still manages to capture the general essence of what the character of Harry Potter is, at least in the movies. A smaller debate has raged in the Potter fandom community over the looks of its female characters. In the books, Ginny is supposed to be very popular and supposedly pretty good-looking, but Bonnie Wright's beauty doesn't seem to be particularly played up in the movies making her a bit more plain. Alternatively, in the books, Hermione is generally pretty average looking from the perspective and her hair frizzy, but by the third movie, Emma Watson was clearly turning into a pretty young woman and her hair was no longer made to look quite so frizzy. I have long contended, particularly in Hermione's case, that these are just examples of how different the book and movie versions of the characters are. And THAT'S OKAY.

Why is that okay? First of all, when it comes to movie adaptations of books, I tend to believe that the best adaptations are more interpretations. Good adaptations should be done by fans of the original source material, but intelligent fans who have enough distance from the source material to be able to know what the story is about without obsessing too much on details that may be less important. My favorite example of an adaptation is Lord of the Rings. I love the books and the movies, but though they capture a similar plotline and a similar essence, they are truly different stories, but they are both grand and know what story they want to tell. My main problem with, say, the Harry Potter movie adaptations is that they're a bit scatter-brained, not just because of the different directors, but also because most of the earlier films didn't give strong enough hints of what this story was supposed to be about. I have no expectation that The Hunger Games movie will be just like the book, and I really hope it isn't. I want to watch something that takes the plot and the morals and the characters and shape them ever so slightly different to fit the very different medium that film is from novels. I want the actors to be good and the script to be strong and the effects to be well-done and all the elements of filmmaking to be well-executed, and if it isn't the same as the book, so long as it's well-made, I am totally okay with that.

Secondly, reality is not so easy to manipulate as the written world of a book and whatever live-action movies are, they are capturing something that was physically there, in reality, at some point (not counting CGI). Reality can be manipulated, but in a different way, for different reasons.

Finally, I want to break out of the boxes we have created for women. Katniss can still be Katniss even if her ribs aren't frighteningly protruding. I cannot accept the fact that women have to be defined by their appearance, that Katniss can only be a skinny girl, for instance. Stanley Tucci is a pretty fit individual, small and seemingly average in his weight and yet isn't Caesar Flickerman supposed to be rather rotund? I have not heard a single person complain that his stomach isn't the right size for the role. You may argue that that isn't the same, it doesn't define Caesar like it does Katniss, but Katniss is defined by much, MUCH more than her weight. If all Katniss was was a malnourished girl, she wouldn't be the strong character I believe her to be. Women's appearances are a part of who we are, certainly, but there is so much more that goes into defining ourselves, just like men, that I really wish we could stop placing more value on a woman's appearance than her other features. "The Girl Next Door" is more of a look than a personality type. "The Blonde Bombshell." "The Femme Fatale." These types and the many others women exemplify are so defined by appearance in our minds rather than attitude, and most of the categories really are about the attitude.

So, in conclusion, either the entire world needs to change or I really need to learn how to bite my tongue. Well, I've already got a scar from biting through my tongue a lot as a kid, I might as well keep up the hard work.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

On Film Criticism and the Ways I Watch Films

When I see a movie, there's a part of me of course that dissects the movie, that criticizes it. But I could never be a film critic because those criticisms are for me, so that I can become a better filmmaker hopefully by understanding what worked and didn't work for other filmmakers. I don't see the point of publishing my criticisms, particularly when the chances of the filmmaker seeing them is zero to none. Why should I criticize if not to be constructive?

When I see a movie, there's a part of me of course that has a gut reaction, that likes or dislikes the films for a variety of reasons that likely aren't technical. They can turn technical quickly, though. Liking the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice because it is so pretty ends up a compliment to the art direction and the fluid cinematography. Finding Twilight hilarious when it isn't supposed to be derides a bad story, bad acting, and so on and so forth.

When I see a movie, I want to enjoy it for whatever reasons. I never go into a movie wanting to hate it. Sometimes I'll go in expecting to not find it a good movie, but that doesn't matter because I still want to be entertained, which is why I've seen all three Twilight films despite holding no love for the franchise - they entertain me even if I don't think they're good.

It does matter to me if I think a movie is good or bad, but it matters equally if I think a movie is entertaining or not. As a movie-goer, I am an expert in neither, but in constant practice of deducing both.

Which one is more important to me? Well, that depends who I am watching that movie. If I am Sarah the Aspiring Filmmaker, it probably matters more to me if the movie is well-made or not. If I am Sarah the Amateur Movie-Lover, I don't really care about any faults of Tron: Legacy because I'm enjoying the ride so much. So I'll miss them, I won't discuss them, and I won't care.

These two sides overlap, of course. There's no helping letting them get in the way of one another, but that's good, because my favorite movies - maybe not the best movies ever made, but my favorite movies - fulfill both sides.

And I will criticize movies that people will roll their eyes about and tell me that it's not a "thinking" movie or that it doesn't deserve analysis or that I should shut up and just enjoy the ride, though honestly I don't do that to the extent several people I know do. To that I say it doesn't matter what the intention of the film was, it's what I take away that matters. If I take away from Tron: Legacy that lightcycles are badass, that's fine. If I take away from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse that Bella faces a common, old choice in fantasy fiction of choosing between the fantasy and the normal world in having to choose between her suitors, that's fine too. It's a selfish cause for me, to criticize films, because it gives me more to understand, helps me become better at my craft.

So what's the point of me rampantly denouncing the Twilight series as atrocious all over the internet? Sure, I do think they are bad movies, but who the hell is it going to help for me to criticize? Sure, some people have to do it as their careers and I don't deride them for that because they tend to be higher-profile, people listen to them (I amongst them) and listen to their advice based on their criticisms of films. That's great, because that can keep me from having a movie-going experience I might have regretted. Or, perhaps, it might keep me from having a movie-going experience that I would've enjoyed just the same, though it's likely hardly a life-ending dilemma if I miss out on Sucker Punch since the reviews came back bad.

It's the role of some to do that. It's not my job. Nobody's paying me, and even if they did, I don't want to. I don't like tearing down people's work for an invisible audience.

It always comes back to Ratatouille for me any time I breach these topics. Anton Ego knows where it's at. Even "bad" art takes effort, takes time, takes skill. Somebody wanted to do this and, likely, someone wanted it to be good. I'm sure there are the cases where it's ALL marketing, but honestly, there is something to this superhero trend - superheroes are interesting, fascinating, and sure, marketable - more than just some fat cat producer-type thinking it'll be a cash cow. That's part of it, but considering the things we see that work in these big budget flicks, even they have parts that stand up and shout "I WANT THIS TO BE GOOD." Everyone's definition of good might be a little different though. Put your cynicism aside, I'm not talking about one of those definitions being "it made money" - the definition I think would be most similar to that is "those explosions were so well-done the audience loved them." And sure, it takes some work to make good explosions, let's not pretend otherwise.

Whether it's a "bad" Hollywood blockbuster or a "bad" independent production, someone wanted to do something they thought would be good/entertaining. And why should we begrudge them that? We don't have to buy the tickets to see the movie if we don't want to, and if your cynicism is right, and in this case I imagine it is, not buying movie tickets will hurt all of these productions more than some scathing reviews. Saying "this is shit" will only go so far. Word-of-mouth is still powerful. For instance, I saw a rather terrible musical production on my college campus recently. What was I going to do to make sure none of my friends suffered the unfortunate fate of wasting their time seeing it? Not writing a nasty review in the school paper - I just told them it wasn't worth their time. Obviously, they'd make up their minds in the end if they were determined to see it, but it was one of those cases where it was so truly bad, I had to tell people it wasn't worth it. But my defense wasn't "well, the art direction was bad and the sound levels were rough and the script was jumbled" even though it was all true. My defense was "it's bad. It's boring. It's not worth it." Simple and still true.

Anyway, I'm going off on about fifteen tangents right now, so I will leave it at this. I think film criticism is, at a professional level, a generally good idea. However, as an aspiring filmmaker, criticism to me is important but a subject that must be handled well. When it comes to criticism, that's where we get into the specifics, complimenting and deriding different aspects. But if you criticize my film and you don't offer any suggestions, why should I listen to you? If you could make it better, then tell me how and I'll take your advice to heart. And if you have a gut reaction, an emotional reaction, a reaction that doesn't fit nicely into a proper critique, that's probably more important to me. I don't care as much if these small factors are good - if you liked my piece, or it made you feel something, that's important to me.

One of my classmates recently said that the best thing she ever heard from our professor was that her piece was doing what she had been trying to get her piece to do.

That's a pretty awesome feeling to know you're doing it right.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dither, Dather, Teen Lit, Blah, Blah...

on top of being a sucker for dystopian/utopian/post-apocalyptic fiction of all varieties, I think there are several good reasons why I got so addicted to The Hunger Games, I finished all three books in the past two days.


Oh hey there, Battlestar Galactica, that's right, you're all about a mythological thirteenth tribe too. The way the thirteenth tribes are handled is very different, but the set-up is similar. Twelve colonies/districts formed out of the shambles of the past. I guess maybe the First Cylon War might equate the Dark Days? But BSG's history is sort of wonky on me, I can never figure at what exact point the twelve colonies officially band together. Then, shit happens to both the colonies and the districts, which leads me to...


Maybe why I can't like Gale very much is that he reminds me of the role of Marius in some versions of Les Miserables. Funny thing is, I kinda like Marius. But Gale, not quite so much. He's okay. I just feel as if the Peeta/Katniss/Gale love triangle is too contrived. It feels so obvious to me that Katniss and Peeta are perfect for each other and the only thing ruining Katniss realizing this is President Snow being all "CONVINCE ME" and nonsense. But regardless, I love a good rebellion story. Maybe that's why I love Star Wars so much. Beneath the typical story and the well-worn science fiction turf, it IS about a rebellion. Particularly Empire Strikes Back, which I think we can all agree is the bestest.


I can get criticism over Gale, and maybe even over Peeta, though I think both are clear in their characterizations even if I think Gale's just kinda meh in general, but Katniss is obviously a well-crafted and interesting character. In many ways, it's hard not to compare her to Bella Swan, because she is, in many ways, if Bella Swan were a more fully-formed character ... and had a plot independent of romance. And was awesome. Katniss is flawed, fabulous, and interesting. She reminds me more of Harry Potter's best moments, particularly once we're on to the rebellion phases, where she's learning and planning and becoming this leader she didn't know she was, not unlike Harry turning into a leader he didn't know he was with the DA and further.


Well, maybe not Gale. But whereas the only time I can take the Edward/Bella/Jacob love triangle even slightly seriously is when I break it down into ideas, ideas that also apply to the Peeta/Katniss/Gale love triangle, but more effectively probably because everyone in the Hunger Games is more likable. Although, shockingly, depending on my mood, I could argue Jacob's more interesting to me than Gale. God, I'm sorry Gale, I feel like I'm hating on you so hard. But the idea that centers around both is the female protagonist's choices - who she could be, and who she is. Had Katniss not competed in the Hunger Games, she says it herself, she and Gale would've been right. But I knew as soon as Peeta was the only one who could help her nightmares in Catching Fire that Katniss and Gale could never work because she's not that girl anymore. However, in Twilight, it's just literal and dumb and Bella has both worlds and godihatethatseriesitsdumb. Phew. What I mean to say is that ideas or not, the characters in The Hunger Games actually interest me. The major "love triangle" characters as well as pretty much all of the minor characters. Cinna. Rue. Finnick. The way even passing characters become beloved. Darius. Boggs. I have such mixed emotions about most of the characters, but the positive ones tend to win out. And I'm glad they're mixed - instantly loving certain characters makes me wary as to why I love them. Instantly hating characters bores me.


When I asked my friend who'd finished the books recently if I'd be satisfied, she was hesitant. Because as amazing as everything is in and logical as the ending is for His Dark Materials, I can never finish those books with satisfaction. It just rips my goddamn heart, even if it's a fairly happy ending. And I think we can all agree that the ending of the Harry Potter series hardly ties up the loose ends satisfactorily enough. Let's not even get into that Epilogue. Book series frequently leave me with something to be desired in their ends. The Giver trilogy's third book was incredibly weak, IMO. Don't even get me started on how much I can't take The Last Battle (though I'm hardly a Narnia fan at large). The only one I've read that works is Lord of the Rings for obvious reasons, like, Tolkien would never write an unsatisfying ending. I'd rate Mockingjay somewhere between HDM and HP. It's more satisfying than either, but HDM is still generally better IMO. Sorry, Peeta, I may be a little in love with you, but Will Parry is my wallpaper. And I'd rather be Lyra than Katniss, even though I like them both plenty. Anyway, my point is, the books end in a place that works for me, that doesn't rub me the wrong way, though I feel as though surely there could've been more; obviously the last few chapters are a bit rushed. But it's okay.

I could've sworn I had more points relating elements of The Hunger Games to other popular culture things that have fascinated me, but I'm blanking beyond the Harry/Katniss talk and the Thirteen/Twelve Districts/Colonies. Bah, well, I'll just have to make a second installment when it comes back.

so the end point is that I really enjoyed these books.

They were all interesting, all good, fit together well, worked well enough separate (as is not uncommon in trilogies, I find, the first book works better on its own than any of the others), provided me with moments that made me sad, made me laugh, made me roll my eyes (though mostly delightedly... mostly). God now watch the movie be a hot mess. Although, not gonna lie, Josh Hutcherson seems visually perfect for Peeta. Even if I'm like "WTH Miley Cyrus' ex-boyfriend for Gale? Are you trying to make me like him LESS?"

Last note: how on hell is the movie going to get away with a PG13 rating without sacrificing the brutality that makes the books so engrossing?

okay, lengthy ramble over.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Putting on The Red Shoes

Recently, I watched The Red Shoes for the first time. Not because it was recently released, not because anybody told me I had to see it, and not for a class. I watched it in part as a responsibility as a screener for Bard Film Committee but mostly because I was intrigued. I had first heard about The Red Shoes from A Chorus Line, where the girls sing about what inspired their love for ballet. Of course, everyone had seen The Red Shoes.

But I hadn't. And I haven't seen a lot of movies, a constant reminder I need to hash out at people when they assume that, being a film major, I've seen everything, from Raging Bull to Casablanca to The Room (which I also recently finally watched) to whatever random movie you can dream up. I can guarantee, I haven't seen a lot of movies. Just browse People there have seen way more movies than I have.

Back to The Red Shoes. It is a beautiful movie, a movie I would watch again, a movie that is both inherently similar and extremely dissimilar to Black Swan, another ballet movie only the one this generation will think of more often than a 1948 masterpiece like The Red Shoes. You can tell it is older. There are no gross-out moments, the psychology present inspired by the ballet The Red Shoes for our female protagonist is very different from the psychology inspired by the ballet Swan Lake for our female protagonist in Black Swan. The people in their lives are very different.

But I didn't write this blog post to compare and contrast two very different movies that both happen to follow a similar idea of a ballet affecting a ballerina's personal and professional life so strongly.

There is a moment in The Red Shoes that I kept wanting to bring up in my Aesthetics of Gaming class yesterday that stuck with me but I could never find the right moment, particularly because we were discussing something that the medium of film just wouldn't have fit in comfortably with. We were talking about narrative and games, the debate over whether games are narrative or if they merely share elements of narrative because games are so inherently different. We have spoken in the past about game logic and we spoke today about gameplay and about what are the characteristics of games, a question we have been approaching all semester.

In any medium's logic, there are things we would take for granted or that we do not question because of the medium. There are plenty of moments like that in every film. Film is interesting, not unlike most mediums in this way though, because people do expect different things of film logic. Sometimes we expect films to make sense linearly. Sometimes we expect films to test our suspension of disbelief. It doesn't matter whether it makes sense because it is in the film and that is how the film goes along.

The moment in The Red Shoes that stuck with me is not one of those more grand special effects moments come into play, like when the waves crash onto the stage or when the newspaper turns into a person and back into a newspaper again. The moment I am thinking of is when Vicky jumps, literally, into the red shoes on the stage. It is a moment of editing that has been used for a long time and a technique to signal a sudden appearance or disappearance. It is not new, it is not revolutionary, and yet I couldn't help but think "if this were not a film, if this were a real ballet, how would she get the shoes on? Would she sit down, pull off her normal ballet shoes, and put the red ones on? Would she go into the shoemaker's shop and emerge wearing them?" It too a while before it hit me - this isn't a ballet, it has no reason to be a ballet, and the logic that would fit into a ballet or some other form of live theater does not apply to film. This is a problem when people compare film and theater too literally, because the logic is so different. We don't need to see what we see in theater - we can see something much different. Both will make sense in their homes, but if we were to see theater logic in a film or vice versa, what we would see instead would be even odder, I think. If we had seen Vicky sit down and put on the red shoes, I would have thought "oh, well, she's performing a ballet in the film so of course they need to show the ballet logic she would actually be performing." But that would not fit in with the rest of the special effects we see throughout Vicky's performance of The Red Shoes. The film chose to use film logic in a way that we would understand that this is not how a ballet would go, but this is how the film goes.

This made me think, amidst our class discussion yesterday, about the way in which different mediums interact with each other and whether viewers or players are aware of those differences, if we just accept them, or alternatively, if using one medium's logic in another medium's would not be bothersome or noticeable at all. Many elements can cross between different mediums, as our discussion of elements of narrative fitting in with games proves, but there are techniques, there are greater pictures that are specific in their way to their medium, I believe. And it is odd to think about them, and jarring to imagine them cross-pollinating.

In the end, my main point is that I would encourage further observation for moments like that. That, and I think everyone should go see The Red Shoes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bard Video Project - "I Have Sex"

While I'm really sorry I've been so super busy this semester, which has made it hard for me to find the time to write and post awesome blog posts, I have a project I wanted to share that I did during my free time since Wednesday before last. It's a very important project in my opinion and I've already posted about it a bajillion other places, but I thought here wouldn't hurt either, plus I can keep anybody who does read this updated that I am still around even if I'm extremely inattentive to this blog.

The explanation of the video can be found at the source, but here's the video as is: