Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Doctor Who: Universally Recognized as a Mature and Responsible Adult ~ A Lie Too Big (finally)

So, unfortunately, I succumbed to reading io9's review of the Christmas Special before writing my own, but I've avoided others. But you know, I do think they were right when they said that this was probably the most fairy tale of the Moffat's Who.

And that is it's biggest problems, I think.

All the plot holes are all very fairy tale-ish. The mysterious, clock-work illness where, for some impossible reason, she only has 8 days to live scream magic, not science. Abigail wasn't a character at all - mostly just a plot device on par with the psychic paper and the screw driver in order to get Stuff Done like changing Sardick into a Nice Guy and being the tool to save all those people.

It wouldn't have been so bad if she had come up with the idea or even volunteered for it - but no. The Doctor thought of it, Sardic unlocked her, and she just goes off and does whatever it is they want her to.

She actually reminded me of a combination of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty - Snow White because she's essentially in a coffin posing as a freezer, already DOA (remember that old movie, where the guy's poisoned with a deadly, lethal substance with no known cure and has to find his killer even though he's already, like, dead?) and Sleeping Beauty because she never wakes up on her own. Oh no, she's gotta have men wake her up.

Fairy tales can be cool - and I didn't mind the fairy tale elements of the fifth series at all - but they usually are wanting when it comes to the treatment of female characters, and this is no exception. Of course, their insistence in clothing her in white, her constant angelic appearance, was also aggravating.

Even the magnificent Amy Pond had next to nothing to do.

However, after reading the monstrous Bleak House, I do think that it captured something very Dickensonian: the exploitation of poor people (just for the record, Dickens - like many other Victorians - was also a fan of women being Angels in the House, so yeah, Moffat got that spot on too).

I really liked how Gamdon portrayed Sardic - it was nuanced and complex. Still, I think the latter half of his character development was contrived, much how a lot of the plot was, I suppose. Meh.

I was really excited when I saw

Because Rory is awesome and an official companion!

And then he didn't do anything. Disappointed!

Though, I did like all the nods to Gaiman:

This reminded me of the fishies in Mirror Mask, and one mustn't forget Delirium's penchant for the little buggers too.

And at one point, the Doctor says, "Better a broken heart than no heart at all" which is similar to a line from theStardust film (can't remember if it was in the book).

This just makes me even more excited for The Awesome that is Gaiman.

I have to say (going back to the problematic fairy tale essences), that I found some of the dialogue delightful and annoying at the same time. For example, then they were talking about what to do when girls are crying, how the Doctor suggested talking about girls (and how it wasn't something he normally did, aww), the dangerous times combined with being boys - it was funny, and part of me enjoyed it (because Matt Smith is unendingly adorkable), but at the dame time it was just very gender-divided and I like my gender bended.

I know it sounds like I didn't enjoy it - even though I did on some sort of level. The frame of the story itself was sheer genius - they way Moffat took a well beloved Christmas story and changed it, made it science fiction and fairy tale while playing with ideas of change and time was great - but there needed to be more follow through. I thought the Doctor was brilliant - I fell in love with him all over again, and there were so many great lines there was no way I could possibly keep up with them all - but, at the same time, I honestly, think I would have enjoyed it more if it had focused on the idea that the Doctor had literally screwed with someone else's life without asking permission, which Sardic was not really pleased about at first - but these issues were never really addressed.

I guess such topics wouldn't be all warm, gooey, sugar-plumish enough for Christmas. :(

Monday, December 27, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson: A Review

Will Grayson, Will Grayson turned me into a mushy pile of emotional goo. I know that aspects of the text are problematic and the end was totally Hallmark, but I guess its emotional sentimentality was tuned just right for me. Or maybe it's just the Holiday spirit. Either way, I found it, in part, a lovely, lazy Sunday afternoon feel-good read.

However, in traditional English-student-wanna-be-writer, my perceptions are split into one that is informal, another that is academic (with a cultural criticism sort of bent), and another that writer-centric.

Writer's Perspective

It was problematic for me. For me, there were expectations that were unfulfilled. For example, the title implicates that the Will Graysons will interact with each other way more than they actually do. I don't understand why it's titled the way it is, except maybe to set up the end with all the Will Graysons saying how much Tiny Cooper meant to them (even though they had never met before?).

Unfortunately, the ending felt particularly forced to me. We have an emotional resolution given by strangers essentially - this is just unsatisfying on all kinds of levels.

Cultural Crit

I think the text works strongest from a cultural perspective because it contests the way homosexuals are viewed and written by working as an emotional snapshot of two boys: one is straight, one is gay and their respective romance. In so doing, it deconstructs certain stereotypes about homosexuals: though Tiny is flamboyant, he's a football player and not really "effeminate" (in fact, one of the hilarious songs is poking fun about what a big deal society makes about homosexuality in general), but one of the Will Grayson is neither "flamboyant" or "gay" but simply himself - and in a world where the media still presents a one-dimensional view of homosexuality (even if it's positive and progressive), this sort of "normality" (for lack of a better word) is invaluable.

The text takes the labels of "straight" and "gay" and says, Look. There's more to these people than that. And I think that's wonderful. I also think it's great that, as a romance of varying levels, it acknowledges the fact that love is multi-dimensional - two people can love each other as friends without jumping their bones.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tangled: A Review

I am almost embarrassed to admit how much I liked - no loved - Tangled.

The sheer bender-gender-ness of it was fantastic - and so different from Disney's other Princess films where the female protagonists are little better than insipid, agent-less, love-sick cyphers.

Anyway, I really liked the way Disney decided to make the male character the peasant character instead of a prince as the original myth had it while Rapunzel gets to be a lost Princess. Yay! It was actually a pleasant re-write from an English perspective because the original tale had cast women in a negative light with Rapunzel's mother as an Eve Figure, the Witch herself, and Rapunzel as the typical agent-less, insipid male accessory.

So, Tangled seems to re-write a lot of those limiting gender roles that literature - especially fairy tales - generally seem to impose on women.

I also liked the gag with frying pan - it reminded me a lot of some of the themes in my Caribbean Lit class -- how women, described as kitchen-poets, who were confined in a domestic sphere without a literary tradition of their own could still contribute to their culture in a significant way with their own tradition which is validated and elevated instead of seen as just women's work or whatever. I really liked that Tangled sort of nodded to this re-appropriation of domesticity.

This was a small moment but I really liked it - towards the middle of the film, when they show the royal couple and the townspeople releasing the lanterns into the sky, the king sheds a tear and it's the wife who wipes it away, instead of the other way around.

I also liked how there was no agenda of Reform going on - I found both Eugene's and Rapunzel's character growth to be very authentic and coming from within their own selves, as opposed to being the result of someone else's agency or a desire to change for another person or whatever. That was refreshing. And for the first time, the princess seemed like a real person instead of someone with a dream ready to give it up at the first chance at true love - which is what happened with Belle. Or a girl who just wants to get married - like Ariel. And don't even get me started on Sleeping Beauty.

But with Rapunzel - there's real self conflict. Even though the presentation of it was very obvious (the cut scenes to sheer joy to abject depression when she first steps out of her tower), it still felt real to me. One of my big problems with the Rapunzel myth (which I've ranted about before, I think), is how she was willing to stay there in that tower, just waiting. Or whatever it was she did there -- and that's with a lot of other princesses too - they just seem to /wait/ an awful lot of the time. But here, the manipulation of the witch and Rapunzel's own conflicted feelings about the matter really three-dimensionalized the character for me and made it a real coming of age story.

Check out the Rapunzel character poster above to this collage of Disney princesses (which I think is an official thing instead of a fan made thing) - look at the difference in poses. The above are very passive whereas Rapunzel is -- not. I love that.

And, of course, the issue about the hair. It always bugged me that Rapunzel would just let people climb up her hair like she was their own personal stairway (though that does happen in the movie with the witch, it's obviously a Bad Thing as opposed to the prince getting away with it like it was his privilege or whatever).

I'm not really sure why Disney chose to advertise Tangled with images like this:

Because it doesn't happen, not till just the very end, and well, Rapunzel's all tied up and it's really the witch and of course Eugene is all adorably concerned for Rapunzel and I didn't really get a Using-Her-As-A-Stair-Case vibe so I'm okay with it.

I think I would have preferred Rapunzel cutting off her own hair, but truth of the matter is is that I'm Very Okay with how the film presented it. And by very okay I mean that I loved it because -- oh shit! I was not expecting them to have Eugene stabbed! Not in a Disney film! No way!

But yes way!

And I was totally on edge even though I knew, I /knew/, there was no way in hell that Disney would have a protagonist die at the end -- but still. It was pretty cool.

And she wants to save him and he wants to save her and it's all very, very sweet.

And perfect.

And did I say sweet? Because it totally was.

Wow. Look at the gushing. It's like I'm a puddle of goo or something.

But yeah. Rapunzel is definitely my favorite Princess movie no matter from which perspective I'm viewing it (either through an academic perspective or just an informal perspective).

It also helped a great deal that the animal companions didn't talk. Best move ever, Disney. Finally, they're funny instead of just painfully stupid.

Hehehe. Maximus and Flynn = hysterical. Hysterical.

So yeah. Everybody should go watch it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gay Pirates

Some weeks ago, I came across this wonderful music video via Stephen Fry's twitter.

This is why social networking is a wonderful thing. People get to share awesome creations that people make.

I think this is amazing because it's homosexual male pirates. That is just -- I would never have thought to have seen it. And their depiction is not stereotypically effeminate, which is a big thing for me.

I like Kurt on Glee and everything - but I find him a little stereotypical sometimes. And St. James suffered from it on Ugly Betty too. I know there are more shows that are depicting gay people (Modern Family for one, but, sadly, I haven't had time to watch and compare).

I also like that video acknowledges that pirates weren't all about Johnny Depp looking sexy as fuck in his beads and eye liner. Pirates were really...unpleasant. They've been romanticized a lot.

And I guess that's okay from certain points of view, but I like that they acknowledged that it wasn't like that.

It seems there are a lot of story lines regarding the bullying of the homosexual members of our community. I hope people will start to listen. I hope people will start changing their ways.