Monday, February 23, 2015

Oscars.

I just watched the Oscars, y'all. I have thoughts.

NPH did ok as host. Does anyone ever really do great at hosting these things? They always look so goddamned stressed. Emma Stone looked amazing and did you know she's in "Birdman"?! I guess I begrudgingly have to watch that now? Cate Blanchett also looked radiant as hell. That woman is a class ACT. Jared Leto was missing something from his '70s look: a ruffled shirt! What a missed opportunity!

Patricia Arquette won best supporting actress and talked about wage gap while fellow nominee Meryl Streep fist-pumped.

There were a couple of moving music performances: one highlighted how slow our progress has been in the civil rights movement (John Legend and Common) and the other was Lady GaGa singing a medley from "The Sound of Music". Should I see that movie too?

Graham Moore, writer of "The Imitation Game", wins Mixtress Rae's Oscars for most inspiring speech by encouraging weirdos to "stay weird". That was really super sweet and I can't wait to reblog endless gifs of that moment on Tumblr later tonight.

John Travolta presented an award with Idina Menzel and he touched her a lot and it creeped me out. John Travolta always creeps me out.

Everyone called Wes Anderson a genius, but I stopped watching "The Grand Budapest Hotel" after an hour in favor of a bath because it doesn't pass the Bechdel test and the main character compared women to meat (wow, how much more cliche can you get?). I want to like Wes Anderson because I like the dry deliveries of his actors and the set design in his movies, and because he looks like Beck, but the parade of white men in his movies is tired. Seriously Wes, if you have room for 27 white dudes in every movie, you can squeeze in a couple of dozen other races and genders, don't you think?

Now for the best picture nominees and my limited and oversimplified understanding of what each film is about:

WHIPLASH: an abusive conductor and his relationship with a student
AMERICAN SNIPER: something about how hard war is and PTSD and stuff
BIRDMAN: a film about how Michael Keaton thinks he'll never move past playing Batman
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: a Wes Anderson movie set in a hotel
THE IMITATION GAME: a movie about a very accomplished man that wasn't recognized for his genius because he was gay
SELMA: movie about civil rights in the '60s and Martin Luther King, Jr
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: a movie about Stephen Hawking
BOYHOOD: a movie filmed over the course of 12 years about a boy growing up

First of all, EVERY SINGLE ONE of these movies is about men. Men men men. At least four of these movies are about men that aren't straight (The Imitation Game) and white (Selma) and of able body (The Theory of Everything) and mind (American Sniper).

But guess which movie won fucking best picture?!?! The one about a straight white cisgender beautiful actor (Michael Keaton) whining about no one knowing him as anything but Batman. REALLY?!! Really? really?


The overwhelming struggle of how hard it has been for Michael Keaton to move beyond his role as a superhero in the hearts and minds of America. What a struggle.

Overall, I see that we are in a revolution for civil rights, gay rights, and feminism. Things are changing and the voice of weirdos (perceived and real) is getting louder. The white man is going to kick and scream on the way to being taken down to the level of everyone else. It's going to get really really ugly. But another victory for a type of person (white, male, cisgender, straight, actor, etc) that doesn't need any more victories right now is still a disappointment.

Unfortunately, the worst part is that I wasn't surprised.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dollhouse.

I'm rewatching "Dollhouse" right now and, as it always does, it's making me philosophize a whole bunch.

For the uninitiated, "Dollhouse" is a TV series that ran from 2009-2010 (only two seasons). Joss Whedon (creator of "Buffy" and "Firefly") was the showrunner. The show's premise was this: A person signs a contract for 5 years of their life to have their brains wiped in order to create a blank slate for other personas to be imprinted into their brains, for a price. A client can order any sort of person for any sort of job, then a "doll" is chosen to fulfill the client's order. When an Active (the doll) isn't on an "engagement" they are left in their brain-wiped state doing art, getting massages, doing yoga and generally kept in a calm and happy state. After their five year contract is up, the person's original personality is returned to them and they are left rich for life with no memory of what happened to them in that five years time. It's a pretty great show and yes it's on Netflix.

Now the questions start coming. Is this prostitution? Would you do this if all your financial burdens would be nonexistent afterwards? Would you be a bad person for ordering a doll? Would you order a doll but draw the line at having sex with them?

The show deals with all of these questions. It even gets into the complicated issues of the realness of the imprinted personalities. Sometimes an Active gets imprinted with a personality for a long-term engagement and doesn't want to give up the personality that feels real to them. Is that personality any more or less real than the one you were born with?

And then there's the societal questions. In the show someone figures out how to do a "remote wipe" wherein an Active can be returned to their blank doll state via a radio frequency. If someone can be wiped remotely like that, someone could create dolls en masse. Someone could create armies en masse. People would become nothing more than programmable computers.

The whole show is one big question: are human brains any different than computers?

Later on in the show, we're given a nightmare vision of a future where remote wipes are commonplace. Half of the population are wiped dolls. Another large percentage are trained to wipe the Actuals (anyone that still has their original personality). There's a group of vigilante dolls that carry imprints of different personalities they need to survive on flash drives they carry around their neck, ready to upload skills they need in any given moment they need it.

Another question is that of immortality. If you could back up your brain to be uploaded into another human being indefinitely, you could live forever. And would that be ok in a situation where someone has signed a contract to be a doll? You could just keep their body for the time of their contract and then move on to another. But people with money and power would exploit this.

Whatever good could be done with this kind of technology, it would ultimately go so VERY VERY wrong. People would be wiped without consent. People would be imprinted without consent.

One of the Actives in the show was forced to sign the contract to become a doll by a man she had rejected in life. He became one of her regular clients, imprinting her with the fantasy version of her original self so that he could have sex with her. That sounds like rape to me, yeah?

Is any sex with an Active rape? Presumably they signed up for this but they're not THERE, you know?

I don't know of any other television show that has made me have as many thoughts about morality and philosophy than this show. It's a shame it got canceled after two seasons. At times, the storyline is confusing and feels rushed.

The fact that the whole thing can also be seen as a metaphor for acting and how actors feel taking on personas for the entertainment of our society is not lost on me, either.

I feel like I'm poor enough that I would consider becoming a doll. But I would ultimately say no because I couldn't be assured that those in power would truly do everything in their power to keep me safe. In the show, the house is run by mostly good people truly looking out for their Actives, but in the real world you couldn't trust people in power. In real life, heroes probably just don't exist.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ready Player One: a rant about a thing I love (SPOILERS)

**SPOILERS ahead**

So, I'm about to bitch about a thing that I intensely love from beginning to end. This is a thing that us nerdly types do. We nitpick a thing that is 95% perfect for that 5% that fell short.

So, here's the 95% good of this book:

*The book includes rigorous details about '80s culture, of which I love.

*The book includes painstaking minutiae about video games and arcades and movies like "Real Genius". It makes references I get and mostly identify with, as a nerdly-type hewwwMAN.

*Of the four main characters in this book there are TWO people of color, one mayyyybe transgender/non-binary character, one gay individual, two overweight peeps, one possibly asexual character and TWO women. These other-than straight white male cisgender characters are treated, mostly, on equal footing with the straight white male cisgender character...other than the fact that the straight white male cisgender character is the one that is the main protagonist and won the contest at the end.

Here's the other 5% of the book that I take issue with:

*Most of the "other"ness character traits were thrown into ONE character. Aech is an overweight black gay woman that plays a man in the simulated online world of the book. She probably did this solely to gain respect and not because of gender identity, which I think is a great nod to feminist issues. Throwing almost all diversity into one character is a minor complaint. Art3mis is overweight and has that scar on her face and Shoto is Asian, but seriously. Ok, maybe I can let this one slide.

*The BIG problem I have with this book is the love story. I'm completely ok with Art3mis and Parzival having a love story. The problem I have is how Parzival handled it. One, when Art3mis told him to back off, he pulled a Lloyd Dobler and PUSHED the issue. Cline could have EASILY just kept the hounding-the-girl portion of the story out of his self-loathing after she cut things off.

Second, the LAST SCENE OF THE BOOK! I dislike MANY things about this last scene. Ok, so Parzival had to find Art3mis in a garden maze, for one, like she was the final prize in the video game of the entire plot. Ew. THEN, when he sees her in person for the first time he tells her she's beautiful and she's all like, "really?!?" and acts all timid like she'd NEVER been in any other part of their relationship. Because she has a birthmark on her face. There was a lot of buildup to her "disfigurement", how she cut herself off because she was so hideous when it was just a damn birthmark on part of her otherwise gorgeous face. Why not give her an actual disability? Why not NOT make the first thing Parzival fucking says to her about her beauty? Gross! So gross.

And THEN he tells her he wants to spend his life with her. Whoa. Hold up there, buddy. You are literally meeting in person for the first time. Yes, you know her really really well online and it's safe to THINK you want to spend your life with her but she has withheld a lot of affection from you. For all you know she just sort of wants to date you at this point. Don't tell her you love her and want to spend your life with her yet! Calm the fuck down! This whole time she's still being all timid and shy, in disbelief that he could possibly hold her in that esteem when she has proven herself to be, on multiple occasions, way more of a badass than he is. Ew. And then they hold hands for awhile. That part is sweet. It should have ended there, but then there's a kiss. Again, they JUST met. I could overlook that part if the "beautiful timid girl" shit hadn't happened, but I cannot. I just want to rip out the last five pages of the book.

Or rewrite it. If I rewrote it it would end with Art3mis taking her walk outside, but not hiding at the end of a maze. She's not a fucking conquest. Then, they'd meet and be all shy and awkward, because it's the first time they've met face to face IRL but Parzival would say nothing about her beauty. She wouldn't be more timid than the situation itself would warrant. She would be her usual badass take-no-prisoners self. They would absolutely take a walk and then maybe hold hands on a bench, but no kissing.

Overall, I reread one of my top five books of all time this week in the form of an audiobook read by Wil Wheaton and it was super lots and lots of fun. Last scene aside, I'm in total love with this dystopian Matrix-y gay romp in a video game world of a book. I'm sure I'll read it at least ten more times in my life. Yay for things that are awesome.

They are SO going to fuck it up with the movie, though. You KNOW they will.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ghostbusters 2016

So, if you don't know...

There's going to be a remake of Ghostbusters out next year made by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) with an all female cast. That makes me all kinds of happy and I've known about it for awhile now. The cast was just announced.

There were three things that I wanted when thinking about the cast of this movie. I wanted Kristen Wiig. I wanted some racial diversity. I wanted Melissa McCarthy.

Guess WHAT, you guys?!?!? EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of those demands (uttered by me only to my mom and husband) were met.

We get Kristen Wiig.
We get Melissa McCarthy.
We get Kate McKinnon, a talented lady from SNL's cast.
We get Leslie Jones, a new SNL cast member I haven't seen in action yet, but who happens to be a woman of color.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!

Do you know what this means, you guys? I am beginning to trust Paul Feig almost as much as I trust Joss Whedon to deliver ladies as human beings in movies and television. I am so happy. So SO SO SO happy, you guys!!

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