The Vicious Cycle of Minority Representation

This might not be my longest, most drawn out entry, but I came to a realization today when I was out talking with a woman. The whole crux of what I’m saying rests on an understanding of what the movie “Get Out” means to me, but not necessarily the specific plot points of the movie.

What made the movie such a huge deal for me was the way that it seemed so different from other movies, namely in that it chronicled experiences that I felt were things that only I had felt. It got into a personal space for me and put those things up on the screen for audiences of millions of people who might not have the same life experience.

And people loved it.

That’s the problem with Hollywood character representation. We have your “Get Outs” and your “Atlantas” and these things show a side of minority life that we don’t often see. A lot of film execs say things to the affect of “white audiences just don’t like to see minority characters” and that puts unfair blame on white audiences at large.

The real issue is that a lot of minority characters are stock types and they don’t seem genuine. Sure, there are going to be some bigots who don’t accept characters like them, but the writers are writing them and using other media they’ve been exposed to as a template and since there’s always been poor minority representation in movies it comes off as a parody of a parody of a parody. The real person there gets distilled down to a set of tropes that people are tired of seeing. White audiences are tired of it and so are audiences of color.

But the problem isn’t the white audiences don’t know how to accept those unlike them, the problem is that writers aren’t writing characters that should be accepted.

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Belonging 

I went out to see Doctor Strange on Thursday night. It was supposed to be the highlight of my day. I’ve been counting down the days over the last month. There’s a tiny theater connected to my neighborhood. It also happens to be in the same building as my favorite comic book store. I’m in the place about once a week and people know me and I know the area. 

The movie had been moved to a new auditorium and was starting late, but by the time I stopped bullshitting with the guys in the comic book store I was coming into the theater after most people had taken their seats. A woman pointed to the area where my seat was and I walked down the front part of he aisle (our theater has wide aisles in front of the seats for waiters to pass along without disturbing the viewers). The seat numbering seemed off and the seats in the area where the employee had pointed me to were filled. I was in seat 13 of the row I was on and I saw a seat marked 513 and assumed it was that one. 

Suddenly a bearded man around my age or a little younger stands up from a seat a little to my right and asks “Are you sure you’re in the right theater?” He doesn’t come toward me or really move except to point. “They’re playing the Madea movie in another one.”

Oh, I get it now. That’s very clever. Black people, as we know, would only come to the theater to see the latest Madea movie or tales of triumph set during slave times. I wasn’t sure if he was going to tell me how brace I was next. It was raining, after all, and we know the blacks can’t swim. 

He laughed after that and sat back down. I figured out my error a few seconds after ignoring him. There was a second set of white painted numbers on the bottom of the upturned seats. I found my chair near the middle of the row buffeted by a man playing on his phone and a man who would continually talk to himself and push down on the empty seat between us hitting me in the leg. 

The movie was really good and I was thrilled to see it. Did the small interaction at the start ruin it for me? No. I’ve had worse said about me, although I really hate Tyler Perry movies, so this is an insult on two levels. There’s not a moral to this story unless it’s this: these kinds of things happen. I went into public to enjoy a movie and a stranger made a racist joke. I’m minding my own business and it doesn’t matter. People feel the need  to comment on my race. I’m sure if asked this guy would be one of the ones who “has black friends” and “doesn’t see race”. 

Yeah, sure. 

Fan Fiction Elite

Writing has been very slow going, mostly because I can’t decide what I want this story to be in terms of the villain. Am I writing about a concrete person or creature that the characters are up against or more of a general sense of dread and darkness that comes from a more abstract source? While I’ve been going back and forth on this I decided that I might need to work on another piece.

My relationship with fan fiction has been a love/hate kind of thing. I don’t think it’s lowly or anything of that sort—it’s just that for a medium that could be so filled with interesting ideas about things introduced in the source material fan fiction spends a lot of it’s time just being love stories with no plot other than X and X hook up.

Still, when I thought of something else to write I turned to that stuff. Fan fiction is where I started; it’s something that I feel comfortable doing and it has an audience right there waiting to read it. I set out to find a site that was a little more low key and designed around the writers to post something on. It was a Doctor Who story that I had started some time ago. There was some polishing up to be done, but it was mostly alright. Ideas raised by the show come into play and there’s something morally bad that came from a choice made by the Doctor and Amy in an earlier adventure.

I submitted it and I got a rejection letter back…from a fan fiction site. The gist of the letter was how it didn’t fit their editing standards. The things they sent me back that were the problems were the kind of things that are usually considered author choices in the world of writing though. For instance: I’ve seen many books break the rules of writing sentences in and around quotations, mostly because those rules don’t follow a logical pattern and the average reader wouldn’t notice them. Another thing they cited me for was capitalizing “sonic screwdriver” which I usually do in writing because it seems like the kind of thing that you could choose to do or not. I like it better that way.

There’s nothing said of the actual writing. At this point I tend to be able to weave a decent story together with most of these things, but it just bothers me to see a community that’s been so badly treated by the mainstream trying to act like their a literature department from some university. You’re mostly dealing in smut stories about the Doctor and Rose—let’s not act all high and fucking mighty over here. I’m not going to re-submit the story. If I do it will be down the line. The whole thing put me off of fan fiction for a while and I decided to go back to what I should be doing. 

Death In Heaven: Doctor Who Season Eight Finale

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Spoilers ahoy!

Here we are at the raggedy end and I have to say that this was the most tense, seat gripping hour of Doctor Who I’ve seen in years. It might even surpass the fiftieth as one of my favorite episodes. It also solidifies season eight as my second favorite season of the show (I don’t really talk about old Doctor Who as I never watched it).

I’m still floored and I think this episode will need more examining in the days to come, I might have to rewatch it even, which will be a first for this season, but I can say with a certainty that this is one of the best finales the show has had since the reboot. Only outdone by series five’s.

Clara did some amazing acting and I think it’s been impressive the kind of range we’re getting out her this season. There’s more for her to work with and there’s been more ups and downs for her character and the relationship with the Doctor. I know she wasn’t planned to be with this Doctor originally, but I think that forcing them together has kind of pulled something out of her that she didn’t really get the draw on with Matt Smith (and I loved her with Smith, so that says something).

It seems that a lot of people hate her, but really a lot of people hated Amy and Donna and I think they’re probably two of the best written companions. I don’t think people actually know what they want and a lot of fan base is mad that Tennant’s not there.

An Aside: people still gracing message boards and comment sections of articles with comments about bring back Tennant and the like. Get over yourself. He’s gone, he’s not coming back and the show has always been about change. If you’re eager to revisit him there are books and fan fiction. Leave the rest of the fans alone.

Capaldi has been incredible this season and he’s finally starting to really solidify his place as an amazing Doctor. His acting opposite the Mistress has been very refreshing. When they were choosing the new Doctor I can’t say he’s the direction I wanted or expected, but he’s what we needed.

For the episode itself I think there’s something to be said about the tone and the overall darkness of what we saw taking place here. The Mistress really poured it on and she planned and plotted very well. Her plot kind of hit back on the things Danny said earlier this season and the things we learned about the Doctor over the course of the show. His past as a soldier and his past with Unit and all of that really come into play and it just made for a good thematic end.

The themes of love and of what the Cybermen are kind of remind me of Asylum of the Dalek and the Cybermen two parter for season two—the only difference is that this seemed more native and grounded in the show because we’ve built up to it well. Framing this episode in Clara telling Danny she loved him and ending with the reveal that despite emotions being gone love wasn’t felt more realistic than cybermen exploding when they get emotions or even exploding because a dad loves his son.

It’s funny, but in some way every Cyberman episode except Nightmare in Silver took a hit when this completed.

Though this episode wasn’t about the Cybermen or the Master—it was another episode about the Doctor, who he is and what he is and this season was framed with the question “Am I a good man?”.

I would say this is the thesis statement of the series itself, the Doctor has struggled over the years to be good and to do the right thing and we’ve seen pieces of his defeated self after the Time War and him recovering as Ten and then him going on to become the inflated ego that was the idea of the Time Lord Victorious as Eleven.

Now we’ve come to this. The Doctor is neither good nor bad. He’s ultimately a little more like the average person. He just is. The Mistress revealed himself to himself and gave him what she thought he wanted and he knew well enough to resist the power. He’s grown over the years, the hundreds of years the series takes place over and I think it’s safe to say it’s for the better.

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There is one thing I would like to say. The preview-review done on this episode spoke of something the Master does that will shake the fan base to the core. I’m guessing it was the killing of Osgood. I really, really liked Osgood and I kind of suspected that she might be our next Companion, so it was sad to see her die so early in.

But I feel like death needs to be a part of Doctor Who and it needs to hit us harder than it typically does. Moffat used to be mister “Everybody Lives” and I think it’s nice to see him stepping back from that and trying something a little less popular, but necessary.

I have to say that when I promised to write these reviews this whole season I didn’t think I would make it. But I’m glad I did. Until Christmas!

Doctor Who Dark Water

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I went into this previous week’s episode of Doctor Who with some apprehension. It’s been a pretty amazing season with little to no hiccups, it would be a shame to have a bad finale. Actually it would be worse than a shame, because a bad finale seems to taint everything that came before it.

My worry and apprehension abated the moment that we discovered Danny Pink had been run over while crossing the street (oddly, I thought of the season opener to the League and how the exact same thing happened to a character over there). We whipped away by Clara on this mission to manipulate the Doctor to make him help her that ends in probably one of the best exchanges of all of New Doctor Who.

Clara: So what now? What do we do now. You and me, what happens now? (long pause while the Doctor messes with the TARDIS) Doctor?
The Doctor: Go to Hell.
Clara: Fair enough. Absolutely fair enough. (goes to leave)
The Doctor: (looking at her puzzelingly) Clara? You asked me what we’re going to do. I told you. We’re going to Hell…or wherever it is people go when they die if there is anywhere. Whatever it is we’re going to go there and we’re going to find Danny. And if it is in anyway possible we’re going to bring him home. Almost every culture in the universe has some concept of an afterlife. I always meant to have a look around see if I could find one.
Clara: You’re going to help me?
The Doctor: Why wouldn’t I help you?
Clara: Because of what I just did, I just…
The Doctor: You betrayed me. You betrayed our trust, you betrayed our friendship, you betrayed everything that I’ve ever stood for. You let me down!
Clara: Then why are you helping me?
The Doctor: Why? Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?

This is the moment that I think I’ve been waiting for. There’s that defining moment of a Doctor’s tenure. With Ten and Eleven it came so early on and I think that’s what endeared people to them. We got the sword fight above London in Ten’s first episode and we got the speech in the Eleventh Hour by Eleven. Those things got us pumped for the new Doctor and let us know what kind of person we were dealing with. It let us know that underneath it all he’s the same and somehow different.

But Capaldi has been much more subtle in his characterization and I think this moment is the thing a lot of us were looking to see. I loved him before, but this solidifies him. I think that this and the very end are perhaps the most important parts of the episode. Clara throwing the keys into the lava seemed really damning and like it was something that would certainly end the Doctor’s ability to easily use his TARDIS, but the reveal of what he was really doing was far more interesting than being locked out of his ship again.

And on to the other important thing. I won’t even mention the plot until we know how that’s resolved and the Cybermen we knew were going to be around. The reveal of the Master being a female called the Mistress was something of a shock. When she said she was a Time Lady I suspected Romana or Susan for a split second. Both of which the Doctor left behind. But I would have hated to see evil Susan or evil Romana and the latter would have ruined continuity with the expanded universe. I’m glad it was the Master and I am glad Moffat is slapping people in the face with this idea that women and men can shift sex as Time Lords. It’s not something that will happen all of the time, but it’s something that we’ve been seeing get more mention and it reinforces the idea that we could get a female Doctor someday.

Michelle Gomez has been a fantastic actress and I believed her bit about being a droid earlier in the episode even though it didn’t fit with the stuff stated before this. I kind of thought it was a big fuck you to the people who let their whole existence hinge on these reveals and forget that some of these stories are more fun in the building.

What Clara has done could be grounds for her getting thrown out and what she’s going through could be grounds for her to leave. I think this is the end of her, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s all up in the air and she might even be the first new Doctor Who companion to die for good. I know she gets a lot of shit and just let me say, even if I might be the only one saying it, I’ve loved Jenna’s time on the TARDIS and I’ve loved the way her character’s developed. When I first saw her in Asylum of the Dalek it was comforting to know she was taking the place of my favorite companion and I don’t feel like there’s been any real issues with her yet.

All that being said she might not even be going anywhere. I can’t wait till next Saturday now.

Dual Who Review: Flatline and Forest

Finally.

Flatline

This season has been all about regime change. Direction change. A change in Doctors and the attitude that was permeating the show in the previous three seasons. I think Flatline is kind of what this season is all about. It was dark and creepy and somewhat different in a way where I couldn’t have pictured it taking place with any other Doctor or in any other season.

It takes something we know well (the TARDIS) and know the limitations to and puts it in an unexpected kind of peril. It also used some real science there for a minute. It’s entirely possible that there’s things in the second dimension that can’t interact with us properly and that when you touch their dimensional plane all they see is the flat part of your molecules interacting with their world. To them everything is two-dee and they can only view the world in two-dee. So what happens when they start to try and learn about our universe?

The episode never really seemed to answer that. Kind of like the episode “Listen” we never really get the concrete reason behind what the things are doing and we don’t need to. It’s not important to the episode. In the case of Listen it didn’t matter because the episode didn’t need it. In this case it was just scary to not know and have the assumption be made that since they were hurting people they must be meaning to do it.

There’s a part near the middle of the episode where the humans are speculating about what the aliens are doing by calling out the numbers of people they’ve taken and it has that sort of “Midnight” fear mentality to it. The Doctor is on the phone trying to calm them down, telling them not to make assumptions, but they’re gripped by fear and rightfully so.

The two dimensional beings are sucking people into their dimension and killing them in the process and the Doctor is trapped within his TARDIS leaving Clara to run things. It seems that one of the staples of this season is Clara being left to her own devices or to follow the Doctor’s orders and handle a problem in his absence. We’ve seen a lot of the two of them separated and her with other humans and just interacting. She’s placed in danger often and it seems to be different for her than other companions because she’s not got the safety net. I get the feeling the Doctor is trying to distance himself more and more from her.

A bit of the drama that started in Kill the Moon seems to be going strong and I’m glad they didn’t just abandon the plot thread and act like it never happened.

And I just have to comment on the effects for the creatures in this episode. If there’s one thing that keeps getting better on the show it’s the look of the aliens and monsters. Where as in season five we had moments of horrible CGI with Prisoner Zero, we’ve got really solid effects here with these strange looking shifter creatures. I’ve heard some people claim that rubber suits add charm to the show and the bad effects were a staple. That’s bullshit and you’re simply wrong. Realistic just looks better, sorry we don’t grade things by hipster standards.

In the Forest of the Night

Another big part of this season seems to be the Doctor having to do “nothing” to fix the issue of the episode. It seems like there is a lot more moments of helplessness and a lot less ass pulling. I kind of saw the twist ending coming, but I enjoyed this for the children and their sparse use of the different kids for little beats.

I really enjoyed the Doctor interacting with the kids.

Probably my biggest issue with this season has been that we’re getting much more of the Earth episodes than in the past three seasons. I think that one of the strengths of the show is the ability to go anywhere and do anything and I think we’re better off avoiding Earth as often as possible.

That having been said this was a pretty interesting episode and it didn’t just end up being another romp of “let’s watch Cardiff pretend to be London”. The forest was generally scary, the fairytales thing was well placed with the references to Little Red Ridding Hood and Hansel and Gretel and I think that we’re seeing a good kind of deconstruction of myths associated with things or at least a special way Doctor Who has of dealing with the things that we accept as truth or that we have ingrained in our culture. We saw that earlier this season with the nightmares about someone grabbing our foot and the myth of Robin Hood. We have seen these themes a lot in Moffat episodes with enemies like the Silence, the Vashta Nerada, the Angels and moving statues and other things like that.

I really don’t mind these cultural parallels. It allows the show to use the familiar to be scary without there needing to be blood and gore. 

Sorry about the long wait, I will be back sooner with a review of the next episode.

A Very Late Doctor Who Review

mummy_on_the_orient_expressIt’s been a busy few days for me. I haven’t been feeling super well and my mood has been crap to say the least. But I’m coping and I’ve learned to do this without having to bring others around me down.

This isn’t to do with the Doctor Who episode from last Saturday. That was fantastic. That might be setting season eight up to be one of the best seasons of New-Who. The mummy angle was brilliant and offered a real mystery, but the drama with the Doctor and Clara was the real meat and potatoes of the episode. I think her reaction is the first time in the new show we’ve seen someone really react realistically to the Doctor changing. Before we had Rose who really only cared for a single episode and when we were introduced to Eleven he was meeting a new companion and Amy didn’t have a reason to react.

A man you’ve just been traveling with for months has suddenly turned into an entirely different person with different moods and a changed temperament. Clara isn’t handling that well and nor should she be expected to, but we’re getting to see that the Doctor cares about her underneath it all and that really is what she needed to know. This seems like an honest mistake (I mean the tickets were free. Free!).

I don’t really have much to say about this episode and my head is cluttered right now. But it was solid and I think this bodes well for this season and this Doctor. Capaldi is shaping up to be my second favorite and he’s bringing fans back to the show.

I suspect that some of the people who didn’t like the show with Matt Smith really just didn’t like Smith, which I don’t get. Then again I have a less than favorable opinion of Tennant, so to each their own I guess.

Let’s Kill the Moon–Doctor Who Review

drwho1I would like to start off by saying this as bluntly as possible. If you’re not enjoying a show and you feel the need to bitch about it all of the time online and to friends then get out. Seriously, there’s nothing enjoyable about listening to someone whine about a show week after week in a bitter way because what they want isn’t happening. The Doctor still isn’t David Tennant and the storylines actually take some thinking and involve (gasp) time travel instead of being parts of Cardiff made to look like London.

Now then, spoiler alert.

That having been said, I enjoyed this episode if only for the ending. The rest of it was kind of meh and it didn’t really hold the sense of wonder for me that it should have. Maybe I’m brain dead from listening to an audio book of an old right wing lunatic’s rape fantasy (I’m listening to John Ringo’s Paladin of Shadows for you people) or maybe it would have been a really weak episode without Clara going nuclear.

This season really is Clara’s season, we have the new Doctor and we’re figuring him out and all, but it seems like with these last few episodes we’re seeing what happened to Amy in season five happen to Clara now that the writing isn’t distracted with the whole Impossible Girl thing. And we’re seeing something play out from last season (remember there was the mini-clue of the woman in the flower shop giving Clara the number to the TARDIS, that happened last season and it wasn’t just a throwaway fact). I have always liked Clara, but I felt like before her arc depended too much on things outside of her control and the Doctor’s perception of her.

Now we’re seeing her act under different stressors and butt heads with the Doctor and kind of butt heads with him in a way that no one really has before.

I thought this was going to be a throw away episode, but the ending took all that away.

And before I wrap this up, I would like to say one more thing in a plea to fans who might be reading this. Please, for the love of God stop hanging onto old Doctors and companions. Maybe you liked whoever it might be, but if you never are going to give a chance to the new people who fill the roles, just walk away from the show. David Tennant isn’t coming back. Tom Baker isn’t coming back. The show has always had that element of change going back to the time when the first Doctor turned into the second and accepting that change and giving the new actor a chance is part of liking the show.

Moffat kind of wrote a bit into the first episode of this season to poke at the fans who called Capaldi too old and criticized being unable to lust after the Doctor and thus not having the ability to watch the show anymore. I think that’s something people need to get over with companions too. Not finding Clara attractive isn’t a valid critique of the show. Not being mad she’s not Amy or Donna or fucking Rose isn’t a valid critique of the show (and in the case of Rose her actual tenure ended in like 2006, can we please move the fuck on?)

It’s getting tiring to having to wade through the same comments over and over about the years gone past that have nothing to do with what’s happening right now. I’m sure that I’m not the only fan that feels that way.

The Caretaker and the Doctor

3a7b59c4c7eaf45746d30e0f2ce748d1Just another in the long line of names that the Doctor has given himself or been given by himself (as is the case with the Dreamlord in Amy’s Choice). The funny thing is there was a little bit of Amy’s Choice in this episode in the way that the Doctor and Danny Pink were vying for the attention of Clara and she was forced to choose one or the other.

Sure it wasn’t a choice between two romantic interests, but it was a choice and there was the Doctor masquerading as someone else—so I thought back to that event.

The end result was the big difference here. The male lead did something aggressive, attacked a dangerous alien head on to by them time, to prove himself. Whereas Rory kind of died in a dream to help prove his. I really like season five, but I hated season five Rory. I think, given how he turned out, it’s okay. But watching it back then I wanted nothing to do with him in any of the stories.

I feel the opposite about Danny Pink. I’ve been waiting for the moment when the real Danny Pink would step into the TARDIS and fly off with the Doctor and Clara. I had kind of hoped it would just happen as it did before, two teachers from Coal Hill School flying off into the Time and Space with the Doctor. That’s how the show first began in 1963, it seems to be a fitting way for it to continue fifty one years later.

The monster in the episode was kind of an afterthought. For a split moment at the beginning I thought I was seeing the eye stalk of a Dalek and I got upset. Glad that wasn’t the case. There seems to be a lot more of the episodes where the monster doesn’t matter as much as what we learned about the people in and around the TARDIS and I like that trend. The show can still be dark without having the feature larger than life aliens every week.

There’s not a whole lot to say about this episode. I liked it and I think the season, so far is showing promise.

One thing I would like to point out for those who watched The Thick of It, the show that Peter Capaldi was previously on. Chris Addison who looked like this last Saturday night:

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Previously looked like this getting dressed down by Malcolm Tucker:

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Something inside me wants to believe that they will make reference to this. Even if it’s just the smallest thing when the two characters meet on screen. “For some reason, you’re face just makes me want to yell at you.”

Going on a Time Heist

57258Now I don’t want you to think that I forgot about reviewing this episode of Doctor Who, but I do want to keep it very short. I didn’t love this episode and it seems like mostly a filler, but at the same time I didn’t hate it either. The mystery was generally neat and like I keep saying, they’re using time to effectively tell stories now that don’t just include a trip back to the past or forward.

Time is more than a means to move characters to interesting places. It’s integral to the plot.

That’s what the episode did right. It didn’t really do much wrong, but it didn’t really do anything amazing. It did actually make me jump once when the monster was around the corner and she turned to see it. But jump-scares are a dime a dozen.

There’s something to be said about Moffat and his love of the best or biggest thing in the universe. Karabraxos is the biggest most secure prison. The Library is the biggest, best library that has every book in existence. There’s probably more examples of this peppered throughout his writing tenure on the show. Some might mind this, but I really don’t. Show me the biggest and best and for the love of all that’s holy don’t confine the show to Earth.

Probably the most interesting person this go round was Miss Delphox who was played by Keeley Hawes. She was part Dolores Umbridge, part sexy business woman and they played her controlling demeanor off of the Doctor’s in kind of a twist ending when you find out that the Doctor was the person who set the heist up all along and she was the person who owned the bank all along.

Though they kind of need to let up on this stuff where the Doctor plays tricks on himself. That is getting a little old.