How the Most Popular Show on Television Preys on Ignorance: “The Big Bang Theory” and Me

I think it’s pretty indisputable that the language surrounding “nerds” has drastically changed in the last decade or so, at least in the United States. Looking back at dated nostalgia pieces, the rhetoric surrounding “geeks,” “dweebs,” and “nerds” gets pretty scary and antagonistic. As our country has matured (in some ways) we have seen a slight shift in this language, where scholastic achievement is being valued alongside physical and social. However, I know many people who have been repeatedly demeaned and shamed for their interests and intellectual tendencies. I am one of those stories, having had schoolmates, adults, and anonymous internet personas ridicule, tease and make me feel worse about myself because my interests didn’t align with theirs. This was confusing to me, as I thought that I was supposed to be supported for wanting to learn and grow. I felt like I needed some examples of how to be a nerd in the world, as I couldn’t find it in my own environment.

Continue reading “How the Most Popular Show on Television Preys on Ignorance: “The Big Bang Theory” and Me”

Advertisements

Using Animation to Imagine Terrifying, Glorious, and Queer Futures in ‘Love, Death, and Robots’

Let’s face it: we live in a terrifying world. Every piece of news seems to further illustrate our awful reality and it’s hard to feel like anything is ever going to get better. But, in times like this, a little imagination can work wonders in imagining what different versions of the future would look like, futures that contain wondrous machines, bloodthirsty monsters, and powerful figures that fight oppressive systems. Netflix’s animated series, Love, Death, and Robots works to harness the power of imagination in the creation of 18 different futures that are dark, terrifying, hopeful, and even queer. Sure, it is not perfect, but it is a beautiful example of how animation can provide us images of a previously unimaginable future, one that discusses queer representation, oppression, and bodily autonomy.

Controversy sprouted on Twitter when one user pointed out that the order in which the episodes were served up to viewers was potentially based on their sexuality, which is a terrifying prospect in itself. Even now sexuality is being used to judge what content to give us, even if Netflix so vehemently denies this is the case. This is only one small example of the terrifying digital future that is expanding exponentially by the minute, one that provides us with tools to educate, build community, spread hate, and harm. Even in the face of the irony of its distribution, Love, Death and Robots expands on these tools into previously unimaginable possibilities.

Continue reading “Using Animation to Imagine Terrifying, Glorious, and Queer Futures in ‘Love, Death, and Robots’”

‘Infinity War’, ‘Endgame’ and a Year Without Gamora

This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.

It’s been over a year since I’ve witnessed Gamora, one of the most strong-willed women of the Marvel universe, die by the hands of her own abuser.

I know that Avengers: Endgame is a three-hour film with an ungodly amount of baggage to sort through. I know that not only were directors Anthony and Joe Russo challenged with crafting a satisfying conclusion for our original six Avengers, but they were also tasked with forging a new direction for all other characters within the 22 movie franchise, post the aftermath of the cosmic-shattering events of Infinity War. Knowing all this to be true, and all that was at stake, I entered the theater aware that there was no possible way all of the Marvel fan community, with their own favorite characters and unique emotional investments, could realistically walk out of Endgame fully pleased with what they had watched; and yet, despite knowing all of this, even despite enjoying most of what I saw in Endgame, I’ve still had a festering, empty feeling in my heart over one character: Gamora. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 - Gamora vs Nebula - Fight Scene 1080p - YouTube
Zoe Saldana as Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I am aware that I will always carry a bias here. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies mean a lot to me. I love how over the top they are, from their nostalgic needle drops to their sometimes overbearing amounts of sentimentality. I love that they are two calculated, messy movies about scarred and lonely people full of regret, who realize that they are stronger together and that there is a greater meaning of life in the family connection they choose in each other. I’ll save you the specific details, but as someone with a messy relationship with my own blood family, and as someone who’s strongest emotional connections are amongst friends from all sorts of different places, these themes especially ring true. Gunn’s two Guardians films often pass boundaries (i.e. “green whore” line from Drax in Vol. 1, or the many jokes about severed limbs from Rocket) but despite all of that, they’re always being told from a place of sincerity and genuine growth that has struck a chord with me since seeing them on their opening weekends.

Continue reading “‘Infinity War’, ‘Endgame’ and a Year Without Gamora”

‘Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019’ Reminded Me Why Fandom Matters

Introduction – My Star Wars Story

On December 18th, 2015, Star Wars awakened once again; a pivotal moment for the last decade of mainstream entertainment. And what made The Force Awakens a graceful, triumphant return was the fact that it was both a nostalgic trip back home for all those who were already invested in the Star Wars franchise, and also a call to people closer to my age to partake in its broad cinematic legacy.

BeFunky-collage (1).jpg
My photos from before the opening night of The Force Awakens on December 15th, 2015

I remember skipping a whole day of high school with my friends so that we could head straight to Disneyland in the morning, and then to AMC so that we could get the best seat possible in that bustling theater. I already had a history with Star Wars because of my family’s expansive DVD collection, but I was particularly eager to finally have a new trilogy of these films to call my own. I was wearing a quickly thrown together Han Solo costume, I got seated in the middle row, with only my friend and a bag of m&ms at my side when the projector lit up. My eyes gleamed up at the opening crawl, for I was ready to be transported once again to that galaxy far, far away– content with knowing that people like me had a place amongst those stars.

And when I came home from the cinema and fired up the Tumblr log in screen so I could write my first post about how much I loved the new Star Wars, I wasn’t aware of how that love would, in retrospect, become my first steps into a larger world of fandom.

Continue reading “‘Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019’ Reminded Me Why Fandom Matters”

What ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ Teaches Us About Ethics and Faith

Content Warning: Mentions of trauma, bombings, violence, and death.

Marguerite Duras’ and Alain Renais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) has been most famously celebrated as one of the pioneering films of French New Wave. Two strangers meet wholly by chance, and spend the next twenty-four hours ruminating on the poetics of loss, suffering and memory. Of course, the title itself alludes to the bombing of Hiroshima, which immediately situates the film within the challenging politics of re-presentation. Can we ever do justice to the atrocities of war? Is it crude to talk about Hiroshima through a lover’s discourse? How to talk about Hiroshima? How can we not talk about Hiroshima?

Continue reading “What ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ Teaches Us About Ethics and Faith”

Female Director Spotlight: Elaine May, Renegade Improv Comedienne

A natural performer from the start, director Elaine May allegedly began her career in 1935 at the tender age of three, performing in her father’s Yiddish theater company (although she conceded in 2010 that this origin story isn’t “strictly accurate”). At age 16, she married a toy inventor, with whom she had a daughter, then divorced him a few years later. After holding a series of odd jobs, including as a private detective and a roofing salesman, she decided she’d like to enroll in college—the problem was, she lacked the high school diploma that California colleges required by law. With just $7 in her pocket, she hitchhiked to Chicago, where this rule didn’t exist, to pursue an education.

Here, she met future legendary director Mike Nichols through mutual friends. The pair bubbled with comedic chemistry, and in 1955, they joined the off-campus improv group, The Compass Players. Two years later, Nichols was asked to leave the team for being “too talented,” and May quit with him. Soon, they developed their own act, forming stand-up comedy duo, “Nichols and May.” Their undeniable talent eventually landed them their own Broadway show, and “An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May” became a bonafide hit, performing for full house shows and even winning a Grammy for Best Comedy Performance. Sadly, Nichols and May disbanded in 1964, citing difficulties with keeping their act consistently fresh. Over the next several years, Nichols would go on to begin a wildly successful film directing career with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and May would try her hand at playwriting. She also acted in various screen roles, including an uncredited cameo in Nichols’ The Graduate, until she gained the experience to direct her first feature.

Continue reading “Female Director Spotlight: Elaine May, Renegade Improv Comedienne”

The Triumph of Morally Ambiguous Women in ‘Line of Duty’

Why do we hate morally ambiguous women on television? 
The portrayal of morally ambiguous women in television and film has never been particularly well-received by critics and audiences alike. Often, such a portrayal of women evinces misogynistic criticism – without much thought for analysing characterisation, plot, or themes. However, you can bet that this thoughtful analysis will be reserved for the criticism of morally ambiguous male characters, who are afforded the luxury of being analysed as complex human beings. In contrast, the criticism of morally ambiguous women eschews analysing the technicalities of characterisation altogether. Continue reading “The Triumph of Morally Ambiguous Women in ‘Line of Duty’”