Rambles

Raven’s Home with the Nostalgia and Modern Realities

Incoming: A rambling ramble about a show that plays off nostalgia. Be prepared.

So, I can’t lie – I heard That’s So Raven was getting a grown up reboot sequel thing and…forgot it was happening. So when YouTube started recommending bootlegs of the episodes I really couldn’t help but look at it. I just had to see it. Raven was my favorite Disney show (move out of the way Lizzie! Raven has magic powers).

I hadn’t watched the original show since I was in sixth grade at the point when I saw this. I was just going into middle school when Raven (the actress, not the character) was turning into a musical cheetah. Let’s just say adult me isn’t nearly as interested in That’s So Raven as kid me was. It certainly still has it’s charm, but the characters were pretty damn dumb. They haven’t gotten much smarter, which both works for and fails the show. There’s a line and they cross it now and then. When teen Raven caused shenanigans in school it was fairly amusing. When adult Raven causes shenanigans at her kids’ school it’s…mildly creepy. Thankfully that doesn’t happen much.

Shenanigans in general, though, are Raven staples. They have a vision of the future, try to avoid it, and by golly wouldn’t you know their crazy actions to stop the future are exactly what ensures that future comes to pass. Every time.

Oh Raven. How have you not realized this yet?

When they aren’t causing trouble the show is actually pretty charming. It’s basically about Raven and Chelsea, now a pair of single moms, trying to make the best life they can for their kids. Chelsea has one – a boy who has it together enough because she’s still just as much of a mess as always – and Raven has twins, fathered by her long-time crush from the original series. Which didn’t work out. I like that. They went with the old childhood sweethearts trope and played it about as straight as it can be played.

On the realism scale, financially it’s on par with pretty much every other show Disney does. Somehow on basically one income (since I’m pretty sure only Raven has a job, but Devon has to pay some kind of child support I’m sure) the two moms are raising their three kids in a three bedroom apartment in Chicago while I, with a fairly average salary, couldn’t even come close to affording a Chicago apartment even if I split it three ways with three full-time wage earning adults. Oh, and the bedrooms in their apartment are bigger than my living room in my current apartment in a much cheaper city than Chicago that I already do split with a roommate in order to be able to afford something better than a studio in a dilapidated neighborhood. Sounds legit. Legit enough for their theme song to say they’re struggling but they’re making it look good. Yep.

I’m totally not jealous. Nope. But I do kind of wish that for once Disney would take a spin at real average living. Not that whole Murphy bed thing Paris (from the Suite Life of Zach and Cody) had to sleep on that one time her dad lost all his money somehow for like a day. Actual real average-ness. I know, it would probably take away from the whimsy if they had a correctly sized living room for their salary, but I’m seriously tired of everyone – not just Disney – showing average America as though we’re super rich. That’s only creating more problems, and Disney really has enough sway that if they addressed this issue even a little they could create a ripple effect. But enough of my political ranting. That I shall save for another blog I’m working on creating – a real blog with intent of trying to make some more money so maybe I can move to an apartment where the laundry room is at least in the same building as me. Working title: “Socialization Media – A look as how society is shaped by media.” Instead of Social Media. Haha. So funny. Yep. Moving on.

Emotionally, this show is also standard Disney fare. Though in this regards I’m thinking of early to late 2000s Disney fare since Wizards of Waverly Place is the most recent live-action Disney show I’ve seen and even at that point I didn’t actually watch Disney live-action shows anymore. So without even knowing the names of current Disney programming, I can say that Raven’s Home is very similar to Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, and, yes, That’s So Raven. Only this time instead of solely focusing on the kids with some adult plot mixed in it’s more 50-50. Not to mention that for viewers who grew up with Raven there’s a long standing connection with the adults. Instead of getting to know them through the show, we already know their stories. Sure we’re missing a decade but Raven and Chelsea are like old friends. We can pick right up where we left off.

Despite my distaste for how ridiculous the shenanigans are and my inability to recreate the magic that is their current financial and living situations, I identify with these guys. Yes. Buying a new toilet brush can be very exciting when you’re a lame old adult. More than that though – having a typical Disney financial situation, they are dealing with a lot of adult things things realistically. Beyond cleaning the bathroom, Raven can be found repairing things with duct tape and struggling to manage her time. Episode seven even addressed something that always irritated me: the expectation for parents to be involved in school.

Tons of shows play with this trope where if a parent isn’t active enough they get shamed or whatever, but my high school was actually like that. I was so mad when they implied my mom wasn’t doing a good job because she couldn’t help out, financially or otherwise, with fundraisers. My single mom, raising two kids while working 60-80 hour weeks. Yeah, she’s totally not doing enough for her kids. Greedy stupid school. I know, the school was broke too and couldn’t afford to not have parents giving money at every turn, but it was expensive enough just being a part of clubs. I didn’t participate in sports because of the pay-to-play fees and I don’t hold that against my school. Without those fees, we wouldn’t have had sports teams. But we also couldn’t afford a couple hundred dollars a year on top of uniforms and everything else. Raven’s Home doesn’t address all that of course. Really, can we ever expect Disney to handle money issues realistically? What Raven’s Home does do is praise Raven for all that she does, even if all that she does means she doesn’t have time to volunteer on a regular basis. I really loved that. Moms really deserve better treatment since there’s no one right way to be a parent. Some people have to work long hours to make ends meet. Society needs to stop shaming them for that. Chelsea certainly knows where its at when she helps Raven feel better after the principal tries to imply she’s a bad mom for not baking literally hundreds of cookies by herself for a school dance. Seriously. Hundreds. By herself.

Speaking of Chelsea – I don’t think I ever shipped them before. Welp. Better late than never. Holy crap do I want them to just get married. Not even in a ‘come on Disney get some representation up in here’ kind of way but honestly their characters gel so well together that it would just work. They’re such great moms raising their three kids together, and they play off each other like a married couple.

I don’t go out of my way to watch the show but I also get excited when I do catch an episode. Maybe I should put more effort in. This show is definitely bringing the smiles and that in and of itself is worth it.

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Rambles · Uncategorized

Orville, aka McFarlane mcfarlanes all over space.

So there were definitely people buzzing that, despite the trailers, Orville wasn’t supposed to be a comedy. Someone should probably have told McFarlane that because the first episode was very heavy in things I’ve always thought were supposed to be jokes in his other productions. Specifically all the body humor, like the blue head ejaculation, and spelling out things that were supposed to be funny.

Hint: The dog would’ve been funnier if you hadn’t spelled it out.

What I didn’t know going in was that Seth McFarlane was starring in Orville. Hey, I didn’t know what he looked like. Sue me. I never felt the urge to look up the creator of dumb comedy. The main reason I wanted to see Orville was to see if a spoof would possibly be more in tune with old Trek than the alternate timeline weirdness we’ve been getting. Not that it isn’t…interesting. It’s just not my thing.

Ok ok, so let’s be upfront here: I’m not a fan of McFarlane’s character. He’s almost a spoof of the spoof of Kirk and it doesn’t work for me…maybe because he verges on Archer territory? His highlight is the banter he has with the rest of the cast but past that I seriously do not care about him and I hope the show focuses primarily on the other characters because holy crap do I love those guys. They are the spoof I wanted. So let’s break them down a bit:

We have the TNG bridge with a more Original Series floorplan, a well-crafted and notably recognizably similar to TNG score, Anti-Data, the redhead reminds me of some kind of cross between Scotty and Tom Paris, the ship doctor could easily fit in the line up of Trek doctors, the super strong alien girl gives me some Tasha Yar vibes, and of course we have a Worf who pees once a year. And apparently is going to lay an egg. With his man mate. Which is a little cheating in a way on the LGBT rep because it’s a planet of only  men, but I am very curious to see if the spoof does it better than Star Trek did it. Let’s just say their episodes that touched on gay or trans topics were……lackluster. They were better than the planet of African stereotypes in TNG though, so there is that?

Of course, I’m also worried because McFarlane’s history with these things is probably worse than Star Trek’s. And…sometimes better in weird ways? It’s complicated.

(Also I just realized…there’s probably going to be some serious mpreg fanfics to come out of this. I mean, I’ve never seen a fandom where that doesn’t crop up in droves, but this one has an excuse that’s almost better than the time Tripp got pregnant because this alien species is a main character we’re going to see more than once. Tripp wins though because their species could change the anatomy of other species to knock them up.)

When the show started rolling, the first five or so minutes had me groaning that this was going to suuuuuuck. Did we really need an ejaculation joke in the first 60 seconds? Did we? Well, it’s a Seth McFarlane production so yeah, I imagine he probably was completely unable to help himself with that one. The show would have been stronger if it hadn’t taken the time to remind me that it’s a live-action Family Guy cousin.

Now: The adventure of the episode.

So the rapid-aging aspect of this is a pretty classic tale on Star Trek, which was used more than once at that. They did do something different with it, I’ll give it that. Instead of ‘what if our main cast became O: old people!’ they had a very fun ‘what if we grew a tree!’ twist. I liked that. That was fun. Aside from that, the bad guys kind of remind me the most of Enterprise, of all things. Not sure how I feel about that. Also kind of Romulan-esque, since they were more on the cunning side. I loved the ragtag feel of their little ship taking on the big enemy battleship. That’s…about the end of my feelings there.

Oh. I liked the Arbor Day joke better. It was the superior one liner by far. The other one was, well, very Family Guy. (It probably sounds like I hate Family Guy…I actually don’t, I just don’t want to watch a whole show that’s basically Family Guy but in space.)

Final thoughts:

I hope they don’t dip into standard McFarlane comedy too much. There were so many people saying it’s not supposed to be a comedy so I sincerely hope they don’t try for that because I’m sorry McFarlane but your comedy belongs in the midnight timeslot on Adult Swim. It’s pretty crappy and it’s only really interesting when drunk or high. I want to actually enjoy this show. And there’s clearly some great comedy weaved in between the dog balls and forehead ejaculation. The banter between the exes was great and I just can’t wait to see more of the rest of the crew. They were the kind of real humans that Star Trek is supposed to be too moral to have. (I don’t want Star Trek to delve into those types of people either. I like Star Trek trying to be morally better than we are now – it gives me hope that the future might not be the never-ending KKK/Nazi rally that seems to be the present.) I hope they stick to that and cut out all of the Family Guy-esque stuff. If I want to watch Family Guy humor I’ll put Family Guy on. Or maybe American Dad if I want to see America-obsessed Americans get ripped a new one. We don’t need more of that though.

I think this show might have a shot at similar longevity to those shows though, with all the good and ill that comes with that longevity. Or it could crash and burn and be absolutely destroyed like the third one I always forget exists. It’s pretty ok, which is how I feel about all of his other work. It’s something that will entertain me but it’s not something I’ll hold as a favorite. No…wait. I lied. There is one place where it beyond excels.

God those effects are nice.

Rambles

The Bold Type: Starting on Episode Two

Over my last few posts and definitely on Twitter I’ve been hinting at how down I’ve been feeling lately. There’s a lot of things that play into this – dissatisfaction with my current job (not hate mind you, I’m just not feeling satisfied), post college loneliness, and, most recently, some problems have come up with my family that I’m struggling to keep from destroying me. I don’t like feeling down. So I’ve started trying to do things that I wouldn’t normally do. I started going to a game group on meetups on Friday nights (best decision I’ve made in a long time). I joined the local library, as I mentioned in my last post, and checked out some books that were recommendations on recommendations on Goodreads. And I’ve been spending more time with my roommate.

My roommate who loves TV. I’d more or less given up on TV for the most part a couple years ago. Sure, I keep up with Modern Family. Yes, I’ve been watching How to Get Away With Murder. Other than that nothing has really caught my attention. Well, live action shows. My love for cartoons shines through my blog I’m sure. Live action, though, has just been so boring to me. Most nights we just end up watching Friends, and we’ve been planning what we’ll watch next. Until today. He didn’t feel like watching Friends, so he put on this show he’s been needing to catch up on.

The Bold Type…Episode 2. We rewound to the pilot after, but I technically started with episode 2. If you don’t start on the pilot, at this point you’ll be fine. And I completely recommend checking out this show.

Three girls in New York. Already a standard, right? They look my age but have to be making 2-3 times what I make and have much better positions than I feel allowed to dream of right now. Long story short I expected to feel bad about this show. Especially because five years ago I wanted what they have. I still wouldn’t be opposed to their current jobs. Especially Jane’s.

Don’t get me wrong – these are pretty, young people (mostly) who have unrealistically amazing lives. But they work really hard for what they have and are deeply invested in their work. It’s actually great seeing people living their dreams. In the third episode Sutton goes all in to get a job she wants. Dangerously, of course. But you know they are always telling us about how we have to take risks to get our dreams. I’m finally coming around to my ‘chase your dreams’ self again and while I haven’t had any fortune so far, these guys definitely give me something to hope for.

Top things I love:

Frank, open discussion on lesbianism. And questioning sexuality…as an adult.And sexuality in general. It definitely has been doing a better job than Sex and the City did. There’s definitely a Sex and the City-esque vibe at times too, though I suppose that’s unavoidable when one third of your main cast is all about her writing and she’s writing at a magazine that’s essentially Cosmo.

More things I love –

  • Adena. I love Adena. I want someone like Adena in my life.
  • As someone who loves looking at beautiful things I love the fashion in this show. A lot of the time it’s fine art on moving bodies.
  • There’s a lot of powerful women in this show. Women who look out for each other and help each other succeed. Women who aren’t getting into cat fights over boys. Women who are dreaming, hoping, and succeeding. Women who have relationships with men but whose story isn’t written by the men.

Some general comments:

Jane is kind of incredibly lucky. Her boss wants her to do well and is willing to put in the effort to help her do well. Going back to the pilot just reinforced this – Jane is a new writer and is falling short, so boss lady pulls her for a meeting to get her to break out of her need to please. Or, well, to find out if she’s going to be a risk taker or a safe writer. And then keeps encouraging her through the following episodes. And her boss doesn’t care that she and her friends are hanging out in the fashion closet after work. Seriously. Jane. I want your job. Please. Please tell me your secrets. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my boss. She does root for us too, she just doesn’t have the leeway that Jacqueline does since she’s not top boss.)

Actually all of them have great-looking jobs right now. I know these are TV jobs but they have so much freedom to go after things they’re passionate about – like chasing after the photographer. During the day. I assume during work hours.

But I’ve gone on and on about their jobs. There’s so many topics they’ve addressed in the first three episodes of this show that are things we’ve needed to have addressed. Some things, yes, have been poked at periodically already (such as sexuality), but there’s others that we don’t have addressed as often and certainly aren’t talked about in such a realistic way. Things like harassment on Twitter. Something tons of people go through – something most of those people are brushed off for having an issue with. Hint: The characters take this seriously. When a character is doxxed the show doesn’t tell her she’s just being sensitive and they give solid advice for her to get through it (and the show also quietly gives advice that’s not outright spoken – like blocking the trolls and engaging with the people who are supporting you). It probably helps that she has her company behind her. Most people don’t have that. A lot of people are on their own once these things happen.

…I really want their boss. Actually, let me add that now as an amendment to the jobs discussion above: Bosses all over this country need to study and learn from Jacqueline on what it means to be a good boss. Taking care of your employees doesn’t mean you’re pandering or that the work quality is going to suffer. It’s actually probably going to significantly improve because those employees will know they can rely on you and trust in you.

Ok. I swear. No more about their jobs. Let’s switch gears to something completely different.

It may be too soon to make judgement calls on the relationships in this show. So far it’s been a great look at various types. One girl has a great thing going on with one of her seniors – it’s dangerous and could ruin her but they seem to really care for each other. He encourages her to follow her dreams and keeps an ear out on other positions in the company as to how they’re going. When she asks for actual dates he asks her out on a date. I know something is bound to go wrong at some point but so far they’re beautiful.

The other two are a bit more exploratory. One is just starting a relationship, specifically with someone she was sure she didn’t like previously, and the other is the one that’s questioning her sexuality since someone in the first episode threw her for a loop. I am rooting for her. Even if they don’t get together as a couple their dynamics are amazing and so real to me. Granted I was in sixth grade when I got thrown for that loop, but I suppressed it and avoided the topic until I was an adult. Seeing a strong adult character questioning herself really kind of makes the kid in me feel good. It heals some old emotional injuries.

There’s a lot of sex ingrained in the plot. It’s not usually explicitly talked about and when it is it tends to come up in natural ways. Not that someone who’s a sex article writer wouldn’t have natural excuses to write sex columns…Sorry. Sex and the City was just so forced for me that watching any show try to talk about sex becomes a bit uncomfortable. Until this show. Being Fictional Cosmo, Scarlet is going to have sex talk and of these three episodes, only one has focused on that aspect as one of it’s three plots. That being the plot for the writer being given an assignment to write something about orgasms. I loved her take on it too, but I will let you watch that for yourself. Her other assignments were pitches she made, one being about dealing with exs and the other being a focus on a politician she admires.

They vary her tale. Though relationships and sex are an ongoing undercurrent for her. She starts out dealing with her ex and then flows into a relationship which is just starting up so far. Not so much sex but they do stumble on each other because she’s concerned about sex and says something awkward in an elevator riiiight when the doors open. Cliche, but still fun.

This story is girl-centric. No surprise. All the major characters are female. There’s a couple of supporting men and I did mention that two of the girls are in relationships with men. I’ve already mentioned it twice but it’s about a magazine that’s based on Cosmo, so lots of fashion and girl talk. Now I know boys can’t be boxed up in a one size-fits-all type of show but I also know that a lot of boys avoid girl shows like they avoid chick flicks. But unlike your average chick flick this girl show has substance that I really hope men will notice and watch and not pigeonhole themselves right out of this show. And for everyone else who’s already ok with these shows – give this one a chance. Watch it. So far this show feels so good and does so well with handling great subjects and from the looks of things it’s only going to get better.

Rambles

Reading. Post-School.

Aside from my hopes of going to graduate school, I’m pretty much done with school now. That’s an uncomfortable feeling for me on its own since school is all I’ve ever known. Literally. We throw toddlers at school and they don’t emerge until their 20s these days. If then. I mean, anyone in my age group is already familiar with the ‘ten years of experience or masters degree’ for supposedly entry level jobs problem.

I really don’t want to get into that mess though. Instead I’ll focus on another sad fact I’ve realized this year: Reading as an adult is super hard. When I was a kid I could blow through five to seven books a week. I don’t mean little kid books either – I was reading chapter books younger than the teachers seemed to be pushing them. Alongside the easy little books, of course. I was killer during reading contests at school.

Then, like so many avid readers, I followed the path of reading less for pleasure and more and more for classes. In high school it wasn’t really an issue. About the only book I didn’t like or find easy to understand was Catcher in the Rye. Get all your hate out now, I still don’t like that book. I recognize it’s great and you are welcome to like it. I don’t. Anyway, when books are easy there’s room to wiggle around and check out other stuff. Plus there was always a lot of down time because I was that nerdy kid that finished tests early. In college there was a fair bit less time and a lot more books that weren’t particularly easy. Plus there wasn’t exactly spare money to buy books. I mean there was a library but I definitely always had an excuse not to go.

I guess I just never had to go out of my way to really seek out books. They had always just been there. When we went shopping there were the books, and I could grab one and take it home. The school library was nestled right between my English, History, and Math classes. I didn’t have to go off my usual path to find a book. As soon as I was presented with a challenge I crumpled. Don’t get me wrong – I did find a lot of books during college that I loved. I still have a bunch of them on my shelves now. But I became even lazier about books.

It’s almost like I’ve forgotten how to find the good ones. I know I’ve become pickier, and I know a lot of the stuff I used to like doesn’t even catch my eye anymore. I also know that there’s a personal level of struggle. A full time job I don’t really like, a social life I have to really work for if I want to have anyone to talk to at all let alone find anyone to potentially date, all those darn adult responsibilities like grocery shopping and waiting at the DMV. Technically I guess there’s time at the DMV. If I have a book to read.

I bought a whole bunch of books last year, then promptly didn’t read them. Most of them proved to be a bit heavier than I could handle (such as stories dealing with depression). I still want to read them. But now still is not a good time for those kinds of books. Actually those books are probably an even worse idea now than they were last year.

So now I’ve been a bit stuck in a new place – hunting around for books that spark my interest, even remotely, and hoping that I’ll find it in myself to read them. Part of my tactic has been joining Goodreads and going back through books I used to like and trying to branch from there and hoping something will re-ignite. While I do remember why I loved them and can still appreciate those feelings, I think I’ve changed too much now Though there are a few books that came up as recommended on those which look promising. They just aren’t available at my local library. So I went to the next level of recommendations to find a few that were. These ones weren’t quite as intriguing but pickiness is part of the problem.

Writers need to read. They need to know their genre and they need to learn from the pool of other writers. What worked, what didn’t. What sparks the imagination and makes the reader hope for more. Writers are readers who took it to the next level.

I have checked out four books from my library. It gives me both some free reading material and a deadline to read them by (August 8th at this moment). Right now I’m finding it intensely difficult. It’s been five days and I’ve read a third of the first book. Most of that reading happened in the last 24 hours. This is a start. In between that reading I’ve also managed to do my job, write a little, go to a local game night meet-up (which I super recommend – meetups are great for finding things that are going on so you don’t have to put in the effort of planning something out yourself, especially when you feel completely drained), and dealing regularly with all the emotional baggage I’m dealing with but am not going to be sharing with the public. Oh, plus the exhaustion. So much exhaustion. Great for those days when you know you need to sleep but there’s not enough hours to get everything done.

The point I want to get at, I suppose, is that we need to keep trying to read. Make a stop at the library, find something that seems interesting, give it a try. Please also don’t get mad at yourself for being a busy adult. I played that role for several months there and there’s certainly a lot of shame that goes around the internet for aspiring writers who don’t read, but have a bit of sympathy for yourself. We, at least in America, are set up on an 8-8-8 schedule. 8 hours for work, 8 hours for ‘play’ (which includes lunch breaks at work as well as time commuting to and from work), and 8 hours for sleep. Plus two days off on the weekend if we’re fortunate. In between all that we still have to take care of our basic needs as well as spend a bunch of time preparing food – if we’re trying to be healthy that is – and squeeze in that social time I mentioned above to help prevent total insanity. And, oh, we still have to be writing. Don’t forget writing, all you hopeful writers out there. Or hopeful editors, proofreaders, professionals of any sort. Writing can boost just about any career because it can put your name out there in great ways.

I don’t have the answer for how to squeeze in reading. Most of the time these last two years my main reading sources were short news articles or listicles or something that could easily be squeezed into 15 or fewer minutes a day. I’m hoping that these varying experiments of mine will yield some results. If they do, I will write a part 2 sharing them with you. But in the meantime you should try experimenting too. Read a chapter a day. Pick up an old classic you loved and re-read it. Pick up a new book you’ve been dying to try. Definitely spend some time going through Goodreads and making a list for yourself of everything that sounds interesting. Even if it’s a book written for a different age group. I personally really want to read the How to Train Your Dragon books one to see how truly different they are from the movies and two to see first hand if they’re something my nieces and nephews might enjoy.

Enjoy yourself. Reading is supposed to be a good thing for enjoyment, not a chore.

Rambles

So I saw Spiderman!

So everyone’s of course talking about the latest greatest Marvel movie. Ah so many great videos that I haven’t been able to watch because oh boy are there some interesting things that I could spoil you on if you haven’t already run into them. The obligatory twist in the third act even managed to surprise my roommate, and he’s watched so much TV and so many movies that he knows every cliche set up no matter how anyone tries to disguise it.

First, in case you missed it or want to see it again, here’s the trailer to hype you up:

I may talk in spoilers. Just…a warning. I’ll try very hard to omit anything vital but if you don’t want anything at all ruined for you then, well, you probably aren’t reading this because you’ve probably avoided the trailers (which are always fair game discussion in these sorts of things) because you already know trailers always betray most of the most important parts of the movie anyway.

Let’s just start here: Tom Holland is Spider-Man. He’s perfect. I don’t know what he’s like in real life since I’ve never hung out with the guy, but his performance was equal parts dorky, innocent, hopeful, excitable…He’s a regular teenager. There’s still the trademarks – he’s unpopular, smart, on the ‘outskirts’ of the social sphere. Outskirts less in the sense of the cliques as defined by Mean Girls and more in the actual social sense of it. He’s dorky, but only one cheerleader ever seemed to have a problem with that. There was a guy who picked on him but that guy wasn’t really not dorky himself. Then there’s the popular girl Peter had a crush on who is both super popular and dreaming of winning the Academic Decathlon. Which was a great juxtaposition to what was going on in Peter’s life – while her biggest goal and idea for what constituted a secure future was winning a competition in high school. For most people that’s completely accurate, but put up along side Peter’s problems it seems so stupidly small.

I don’t know what high school was like in the 90s, which Mean Girls and all the others that came after it were raised on, but I do know for sure what High School was like around 2010. This is much more accurate. People are multi-dimensional, have lots of interests, and the rich kids tend to be the ones that get the most attention, but they aren’t all assholes. Or being a jerk isn’t their only trait. So, yeah, teenagers being humans was refreshing.

I also liked Tony. I definitely saw reviews where people lamented the excessive use of Iron Man but I thought that was a pretty good way of working it in. Or maybe I just like seeing Tony Stark act like a dad. I do love a good dad-like character (Stoick’s relationship with Hiccup is half the reason I watch How to Train Your Dragon at least once a year). He’s such a great mentor and it really builds on his arc over the previous movies.

Could they have made better use of him? Yeahh, they could have. He was also fully responsible for the second act conflict. Not to spoil anything but if he had literally just revealed slightly more information then the problem would have been mostly solved. The bad guys might still have gotten desperate enough to go for what became the grand finale and if Peter had known more in the second act then he might not have been there for the final act, but just as a person to person thing I had to stop myself from scolding Mr. Stark in the theater.

Yeah, I talk to movies. I try not to do it in the theater but at home I see nothing wrong with yelling at a stupid character for doing something stupid. Or a smart character for doing something kinda dumb. But also I can forgive Tony because that’s who he is in all the other movies he pops up in. Still. Some common sense there buddy. You’re talking to an overzealous teenager. ‘No’ is only going to make him want it more.

(And want it more he totally did. But you can see what came of that just by watching the trailer.)

Other things I’ve seen people take umbrage with:

  • No spidey sense. Yeah, ok. Real spiders don’t have any super sense like that either. It’s a classic trait sure but it wasn’t really missed. Although your mileage on this one may vary depending on how make-or-break it that is for you. (And how much you like his high-tech Stark Industries spider suite.)
  • Young Aunt May. Like, hot young Aunt May. I do love my sweet grandma Aunt May but from what I can tell her age has actually usually varied. She does seem more of an older sister/friend for Peter than a guardian at times, but when she’s being a guardian she’s a great one.
  • A certain character’s skin color just because of her skin color. No, not the love interest. Those comments are just racist. Yes she’s usually white. So what. Plenty of not usually white characters were turned white for movies. The ‘strongest’ argument I’ve heard has been the ‘they just did it for the shock value’ and…that’s not a strong argument. That’s a stupid argument.
  • That same certain character’s personality/actress. Now this I can understand better. My roommate doesn’t like the actress’ acting. K. The personality – yeah I can get that bugging people too. I liked her because she reminded me of someone I knew in high school. Like, to a T. Yeah the character direction they went in is just as over done as the damsel in distress was before. But she played it in a way that wasn’t as forced as it usually is. Then there’s also how she’s nothing like the pre-established character in any way, and if you like that character then yeah, that’s a very valid reason not to be excited. For me, it’s not really important. A name is a name. I like this girl. I want to see what happens with her.
  • These movies are becoming like the comic books – you have to see all of them to get any of them individually. Seeing at least all the main Iron Man movies + Civil War will help you with Tony, but this isn’t Tony’s story. Everything that’s pertinent to Peter’s story gets recapped for you. Though I definitely think it was better for me because I’ve seen Civil War and all of Tony’s development throughout that. Oh, they do name drop the Avengers. Know who they are, I guess?
  • No Spider-Man origin story. Do we really need that again?
  • Peter loses a lot. Yeah. He’s fifteen. Fifteen year olds in general are at a disadvantage due to lack of life experience. He’s also new to super hero-ing. All the superheroes made mistakes when they first gave it a shot. And he’s just a kid.

A lot of reviews have been calling this the best Spider-Man movie yet. Yeah. I can agree with that. The writing is solid, the acting is solid, the casting is perfect, the character arcs were amazing. I already said this was the best Peter Parker we’ve had in movie form. The villains were deep and had multi-dimensions. They had a twist at the end that even managed to surprise my roommate. Nothing surprises my roommate. He almost always calls all twists or character arcs or what’s about to happen well in advance just because he’s so well versed in TV and movies. Of course, there are reasons he didn’t guess at the twist that are deeply rooted problems in American culture. But it still surprised him.

It wasn’t what I wanted though. I will say it was the best in all ways, I just…maybe it’s just me right now, and if I re-watch it at another time I’ll like it more. Through the first half of this movie, though, all I really wanted was to watch the super goofy 2002 movie again. I will not say that movie is better in any way, but right now that’s more the kind of movie I want to see. That does not mean this isn’t the greatest one. Just with everything going on in the world I kind of really want to see Spider-Man beat down on a stupid rich guy who’s only in it for the riches. This villain wasn’t in it just for the riches – he was in it because he felt beaten down by society and the government and like the superheroes weren’t actually out to save average people like him but also to take care of his family and give them a great life.

So maybe if I re-watch this movie at a different time I’ll be able to appreciate it more, but I can say I am kind of grateful we have the other ones too. Just in case we’re looking for a different kind of Spider-Man movie. Well, except for Spider-Man 3. That movie’s just total crap. Stupid emo Peter.

Actually I’m probably just going to watch How to Train Your Dragon now. Thanks a lot Tony Father-Figure Stark.

 

Oh, and I swear if there was one thing I took away from this movie it was that I would hate hate hate to buy car insurance there. They have got to have superhero damage insurance or something. So many cars were completely destroyed or otherwise lost to the ocean. Nooooo thank you. I can barely afford the part of a car I’m paying for now. Of course I have heard that owning a car in New York is a sign of richness? I always hear about how most people don’t have cars because it’s a complete waste of money. So maybe the average person that Peter accidentally screwed over is just normally rich enough for it to not be a big deal. Or maybe Tony had the cars salvaged and fixed, who knows.

Rambles

Finally! The MLP Movie Trailer is out!

So this dropped recently:

I admit, I, like many, have been feeling a bit less enthused about the amazing cartoon about toys that could lately. I’m still keeping an eye on it but I’m not as excited as I was, say, even just last year at this time. This season hasn’t been bad, necessarily, it just seems like it’s been 20% less interesting than it used to be. I don’t know if its me or them (ok I’m pretty sure it’s mostly them because I still really enjoy earlier seasons). And I know, I know, it’s a show for little girls. But I also saw someone point out that the little girls this show was first written for are driving cars now. Yeah, this show has been around that long at this point.

‘Bout time we got a movie!

An actual movie. Not Equestria Girls. Those are cute, but they’re you’re typical made-for-a-tv-show movie. No no no, this movie is different. It’s big. It’s flashy. They completely changed the animation from the show for it.

The characters are still recognizable, sure, but they’re definitely a lot rounder. Not in the ‘they put on some weight’ way but they just aren’t as angular as they can be in the tv show. Their motions are so much smoother and their expressions are so much bigger and yet also far more subtle at the same time. You can easily spot traditional animation rules as you watch the trailer, like the over-exaggerated head turn one pony does right before the bad guys pop in. I’m sure they do it in the show plenty, but it was just so obvious that I actually noticed it in the trailer. I’m horrible at noticing things guys. Absolutely terrible. Watching tv shows is always a surprise even when the plots are coming miles away. (Sorry, I might be a little bit jaded that my roommate kept calling Steven Universe twists episodes before they happened. Without having looked them up. There was only one he didn’t guess and that was just because he didn’t think the show would go there because it was a cartoon.)

If you go back to my first post, you’ll see that one of the things I love is beautiful animation. It’s moving, inspiring art for me. I don’t care if it’s ‘for little kids’ – I deeply appreciate a beautifully animated movie. This trailer made me realize something else though. I’ve been missing something in this new trend. It’s something that I’d forgotten I was missing too.

3D animation is amazing, sure, but it can’t offer the same things is gorgeous 2D animation. There’s something in 2D that just can’t be replicated, and it’s something that I’ve been missing in the immense dry spell we’ve had since The Princess and the Frog. Yes, the Let it Go animation sequence made me gasp at the beauty, Hiccup and Toothless’s first flight together almost gave me those roller-coaster butterflies from how lovely they were, and of course I have previously mentioned how Judy’s arrival in Zootopia is completely awe-inspiring every time I re-watch it (though I’d love to see it on a giant screen again because omg it just feels so huge on the big screen). I think Tangled, though, was the closest to capturing that 2D…thing. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but it’s something special. And this movie looks like it’s going to have it.

And I have conflicted feelings about that fact. I already mentioned that they don’t look the same. It’s not that they look bad, but they look different enough from their show counterparts that the first thought I had after the trailer was ‘oh, that was bizarre.’ It’s kind of like the new voice cast for the new Duck Tales show. Yeah, they’re great. It’s just jarring to see (or, in the case of Duck Tales, hear – those ‘boys’ sound like teenagers at least!). Basically, it’s not going to be a deal breaker. Like I said, what is shown in the trailer is simply beautiful. It’s just different. Which takes a moment to adjust to.

The story looks a bit standard – someone wants to take over their kingdom, its up to our scrappy heroes to stop them. It also just so happens that one of our heroes this time is one of the rulers of this land fighting to take back her country for her people (and the other three rulers are, as usual, not in the hero’s party which means they probably got captured…again…which doesn’t personally bother me but I foresee a fair few more jokes about Princess Celestia failing to be a goddess in our future if this is the case). Not sure how the merponies and the merpony-ification of the mane six are going to fit in, but they got Kristen Glinda-the-Super-Singer Chenowith to voice the underwater princess so I almost don’t care. Apparently there’s an important giant windmill. Oh, and lots of hugs. Hugs are important as they are the backbone of most friendships. (Disclaimer: If your friend is a hands off sort of friend then hugs might not be as important; actually, in that case the absence of hugs might be more important.)

I also just realized that we see both the merponies and some interaction with the pirate, but the kitty cat I’ve been most excited for only shows up in some background shots. The Sia pony (I know, she has a name, but I’m gonna struggle to remember that when she’s literally pony Sia) even got some interaction time. Still, they did cram a lot into this trailer, the more I rewatch it. Some things had to be cut both for time and secrecy. Who wants to see a movie that they’ve already seen via trailer?

Oh wait we totally do that all the time with our movies and show the final plot twist right in the trailers…Hopefully the final twist wasn’t in this trailer. If there is a final twist. Honestly I also rather miss straightforward stories that don’t necessarily have final plot twists. Everyone does twists these days, so it’d be more original not to twist it up.

Honestly, all in all it looks like it’s gonna be great. It might not be the best movie ever made, but it really looks like it’s most likely going to be a fun adventure that will stick with kids. For adults, I predict something similar to the show – it’s going to bring joy. I mean, that’s why I watch the show. So I can see something happy. Something bright and cheerful with a guaranteed happy ending. Goodness knows there’s enough darkness in the world right now we could all use some sunshine.

Rambles

Part 2 – Alternatives to killing a character when that character’s death is super problematic.

[Since I’m talking about character deaths here, there will be spoilers ahead.]

So, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t think about the flip side to my recent post about character death. It’s a rough topic to tackle when that character is some form of minority or typically oppressed person, even if they aren’t the only one of their ‘type’ (or one of the only pair, as is often the case in LGBT deaths these days). It’s also an emotional topic that will carry immense weight with the audience and the characters in the story, for good or for ill, no matter which character ends up filling this role. Well, I guess except red shirts. They still get remembered, but not usually because of their impact on the plot.

Yet even red shirts tend to come forth with the same goal – to shock everyone, to shift the story, and to prove that this is serious stuff. This isn’t some Disney war where only the badduns end up axed (actually, even Disney has killed a few main protagonists at this point). Now, of those three reasons, ‘shock value’ might often be the one that angers the most fans, but shock value does turn into numbers. The biggest one for me, though, is the second. A drastic shift in the story. There’s a reason the mentor almost always dies on the hero’s journey. Nothing is going to change ye younge chosen one more than losing the person who got them where they are, and now they have to strike out on their own. Or in bigger ensemble pieces, we have the loss of friends, comrades, and family to turn a once innocent child into a would-be mercenary.

But, haven’t we seen quite a lot of that lately?

Sure, death is a great motivator and a character’s death will most definitely draw attention (there is, after all, no such thing as bad press, which becomes more true every day it seems). Somehow, though, it seems like almost every show puts this into play. Even shows that don’t have to go there find some way to go out of their way to go there. Big names like Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire have set a bit of a standard for our dramas over the last several years. Even some comedies will go there if they want to be dramatic. Or sometimes they’ll go there even when they aren’t looking to be dramatic and it’ll create some of the most bizarre death episodes I’ve ever seen:

They put a laugh track over it. It’s just…so bizarre. Granted I don’t know much about Seinfeld since I never really liked it. (I also never particularly liked Friends – you may burn me at the stake later.) So maybe in the context of the whole overall show if you watch everything, maybe that scene isn’t as weird as I find it to be.

(Did you think I was going to talk about how she died? I mean, death by envelope licking is bizarre too, but knowing that it was probably the goal of the show to be as ridiculous as possible makes me care less about that than I do about how they addressed it. Besides, it is theoretically possible, even if it’s not probable.)

Those articles I linked up there talk about the whole thing much more eloquently than I’d be able to, being a barely semi-TV watcher at best, but it can all be summed up with a simple “Is death in general overdone?” Death is kind of losing it’s poignancy. A lot of people I talk to say they might not even bother with a show that’s just going to kill a ton of characters because why should they? Though there’s still many who are glued to Game of Thrones and others like it trying to pick who will die next like it’s some kind of game. So there’s that I suppose.

Of course I’m not talking about mass death in a story. I’m talking about one death – One very important character causing a very pivotal turn of events. Since it’s literature, there’s no issue of finding a way to fit or remove someone into or out of a ten year long show, there’s no fear of an actor leaving. There’s just me and the story.

Which leaves me with the biggest of all the burning questions: Is this story necessary?

I have a story with a character whom I love but who’s death would propel the story to all sorts of new levels that it will not be able to reach with her alive. Sure it could reach other levels, but are those levels that I want to explore? Are those levels strong enough? Are the plots where she dies strong and important enough? I asked why the writers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer had to go with the Tara’s-death-for-Dark-Willow plot, or why they had to do Dark Willow at all. I’ve seen a lot of people noting that in retrospect Dark Willow was one of the strongest arcs for everyone’s favorite lady-loving witch in their opinions but Tara’s death still stands out as a shot to the heart for many, many people. Myself included. That moment still bugs me to this day. And yet I find myself considering something that could be similarly painful for others in my own story.

So, given my own history and the history of an audience that I would love to garner the respect of, and given my feelings of ‘sure it might be great, but did that story have to be told?’ Is my plot absolutely necessary – isn’t there somewhere else I can go?

With that on my mind, I’ve been trying to make a list of alternatives. You know, actually trying to be creative. Try something different from what has become common place. And…well, I’ve felt that my efforts are really lackluster. Not all in part because the options seem all that bad to me but because when I look at my vast knowledge of various movies, shows, books, and so on, I remember how I feel about options similar to these and…well, they’re not amazing ways to handle things, unless they’re handled really well, and I have more faith that I could handle a death correctly than make one of these versions into a strong story.

Taking out the option of not removing any of the main cast from the story (I’m sorry, the story would just be too by-the-numbers if they stay an intact group the whole way through) there are some various contenders.

The weakest, to me, is the death-but-come-back arc. Every time I think of someone dying and coming back, I think of the Swan Princess III. Sure, it happened in the first Swan Princess movie, but that one was actually kind of sweet and slightly sensible (the bad guy who had cast a spell on her died, so she un-died). The third one, though, had her come back via the burning of papers. She literally came out of the smoke. Which, I suppose, kind of is a Greek God way to come back to life, but it was just so horrible that even child-me rolled my eyes. On another hand, I think of shows who did it a bit better, like Buffy and Steven Universe.

The key thing to those two is that it wasn’t the finale. The heroes didn’t save the day and get rewarded with someone coming back to life. The resurrections in both of those cases were the beginnings of brand new plots. In my case, I need someone out of the way until after the main plot ends. Maybe they could make it back just in time for the finale, but any sooner and it would bring me back to square one. I am Swan Princess territory on this one, so it’s just a no-go.

This also eliminates similar ideas, such as her ‘spirit being magically shattered across the vast multi-verse’ or being turned to stone. Though I’m still considering the stone one as a back up back up idea if I can come up with a way for it to not run into the frustrations mentioned above.

On the flip side of having the group and eliminating one of them, there’s the option to eliminate the relationship, but…that’s problematic in a different way. To avoid killing a lesbian character, I decided not to put her in any relationship at all? Yeah. That’s the other extreme and part of the comeback that tends to anger me the most when writer’s kill minority characters. (“Well if we can’t treat them like every other character, then we might not write them at all!” completely ignoring that certain types of characters tend to hold the immunity stick while these characters get axed.) From a purely story perspective, I just don’t like it. It’s not a plot that I as a writer want to pursue.

There is the option of having them all be together, then taking their happiness away from them. That keeps them all alive, has them together, and leaves the option for them to get back together. I’m keeping this one on the table, but…I will admit, it’s one of those ones that I don’t think I’ll do very well. I’ll either make the break up so good it won’t make sense for them to get back together or it will be so lame that everyone will hate it. I don’t have faith in myself. But lack of faith doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try, so that’s why it’s not eliminated from my list of options.

There’s a plethora of other no-kill options, like kidnapping and/or brain washing. It works well enough with Bucky (The Winter Soldier), but it can also fall flat very quickly. There’s also the option of possession, which is similar to brain washing but another entity has taken over and is forcing one to do their will. The story I’m writing is not without it’s possession stories either, so in theory she could fit right in. The problem with these choices, though, is that they aren’t strong enough for the story. Large chunks of the plot and character development would have to be completely erased because the protagonist would not hold as much of the blame in the eyes of the other characters and everyone would have a goal to work towards to get the lost character back. Hope and determination are powerful motivators.

There’s one more that I’ve been toying with. It both hurts and makes sense – kill someone else in the group. Leave the leading lady and her wifey-poo alone, and kill one of the other two. The other two are both siblings to the wife, so it keeps the emotional turmoil. While it strips some layers I really want to explore (either the sister or the brother and their entire plot, since, you know, one of them would be dead), it does shift the death to someone else that’s a bit less of a minority. It adds an entirely new layer where the protagonist bears the responsibility for leading her wife’s beloved sibling to their death, and the wife could also take on some of the original plot plans from the character that died. They’re not interchangeable by a long shot, but losing a family member you care deeply about is a big enough push to cause some character changes.

This is probably the most plausible option, but…I still don’t like it. What I have planned for the protagonist, the brother, and the sister are all plots that I’ve come to adore. If I can get them to paper the way I see them in my head, I’m fairly certain people wouldn’t feel that their stories weren’t worth it. Of course, then my thoughts always circle back to Tara. I bet her writers probably felt the same way. That their story had to be told, that it was best for the plot. That it made everything that came after it worth it. I know mine won’t be worth it to many people. It never could be. At this point, I really just want it to be worth it to me. Is what I would lose, with any of these scenarios, worth the gains?

I don’t have the answers right now. I’ve kind of been working at other projects while mulling this over, but I don’t have a definite choice yet. The first step, I suppose, is just actually doing something. Then we’ll see how things go from there.