Thursday, February 15, 2018

MIXED BAG BLOG #15: FEMALE VERSIONS OF EVERYTHING?, THE ANTI-SPORTS BIAS IN NERD CULTURE, and a STATE OF THE BLOG UPDATE!

Every once in a while, when there's nothing going on in the entertainment world that seems important or relevant enough to garner a complete or full review,we do a little Mixed Bag Blog, where we take a couple quick looks at a few different subjects or events going on in the entertainment world, and we're gonna do one of those today. We're gonna talk a little bit about the apparent trend of taking some famous characters in pop culture and recasting them as different sexes or races, some thoughts as the anti-sports bias in nerd culture and we'll do something a little unusual, a state of the blog report. Hope you enjoy it Thank you.


FEMALE/RACIAL VERSIONS OF EVERYTHING? 



So, I really enjoyed "Wonder Woman". Despite everything else that's fucked about the DCU, up to and including that part about stupid shit like cinematic universes existing and being something I apparently have to pay attention and give a shit about, "Wonder Woman" by far is the best film in this franchise so far. And, let's face it's about time. Yeah, I'm not a superhero guy, but even I think it's ridiculous that they couldn't figure out a way to get a Wonder Woman movie done 'til now. That is sort of a side-issue that I've always had with comic books, especially superheroes, for the most part, they're very masculine-leaning, and ones that are female often tend to not get treated well, but half the time it's the conception of the characters as well. Wonder Woman is an original character, most of the other major female superheroes I can think of, (and I'm sure you can all list a bunch in the comment section that I'm missing, and go right ahead) they tend to be derivatives of male superheroes. Supergirl, Batgirl, Spider-Girl, even that one Elisabeth Olsen played in "The Avengers" came with a male twin partner. I think Captain Marvel is being played by Brie Larson in an upcoming film. Oh-kay. Apparently she's not Miss Marvel, she's just Captain Marvel, which-, fine whatever.  Hell, another casting choice, just this week, was that Hannah Simone is gonna to be the lead in an ABC reboot of "The Greatest American Hero", which,- you know, all the complaining about TV reboots I've made, you know what, that's actually not a horrible idea for one. (And that was a decent show to begin with. To begin with, it got stupid...., but eh, if Stephen J. Cannell was involved with it, decent odds, it might at least be worth a revisit.) "Elektra" came with "Daredevil", Catwoman in most cases should be a villain, but she's paired with a male hero,  hell, even Wonder Woman, first debuted on the big screen, not in her own movie, but in a movie, that had two male superheroes in the title, as the mains.

Also, we've had several hypothetical about having a female James Bond of a different-race James Bond, and-, you know, it's not that I'm anti-women in these roles, I mean, there's nothing necessarily wrong with that kind of casting, and I guess I'm happy about it considering the tide of the country and the trends in Hollywood towards more involvement of women in every aspect of the industry, but it just seems too simple. I mean, why do keep thinking that in order to make something equal, we have to take a male character, and then create a female version? Why a female James Bond, why not just have a great female action hero spy? I mean, I know why we think this way, and it's so systemic in our culture, that most people aren't even aware of it. And there's dozens of better, smarter, more astute, more has-a-vagina people who can probably pontificate on this idea better than I can, I know Lindsay Ellis has a good piece on what she calls "The Smurfette Principle" and yeah, this- this isn't new, but I can't help but get-, what's-the-word, disappointed when I hear these ideas sometimes. Is that the best we can come up with, female versions of male characters, that's equality between the sexes in pop culture? It's not that it's bad, it's just the wrong approach to me, or maybe not wrong, but a simplistic approach, perhaps a lazy approach even.

I guess it's stage one of this integration of the fairer sex into the culture, (aka we should've happened since the beginning of time itself) and it's gonna take a while. We need more female stars and parts, we need more women creating them and directing them, and just, most women in general behind-the-scenes coming up with original, unique and great characters. Not just switching the gender on things we already have, ("We," as in society, not we as in males) and the same for every disenfranchised group in society, btw, that goes without saying, but it needs to be said, of course. And it won't happen immediately or overnight, and even if/when it ever statistically does happen, we're gonna have issues of sexism and whatnot. Hell, it's integrated in most of our languages; English isn't too bad, but much of English is derived from French, and I don't remember too much from the four year of classes I failed in it, but it's a very sexist language. Nearly every noun has a gender association with it, and male is usually the default. Think about having to overcome that, the words we speak and write in everyday life, have a natural gender bias, no wonder when we think of good female roles, we think of traditional males ones and struggle to turn them female, instead of just coming up with better roles.

Maybe I wouldn't be so uncomfortable with these feminizing of parts, if only once, I ever once, saw it go the other way. And that's not even a good thing either, just by me saying that, I'm doing what I just railed against, identifying our popular culture and delineating parts of it between things that are male and things that are female, but since, advertising, if not everything else, insists on doing that, then why hasn't there been an original primarily female-based franchise that someone's tried to turn masculine? Our culture's so male-centric, I'm not even sure what that would be. Turn "The First Wives Club" into "The First Husbands Club"-, oh god, that would be horrible, forget I suggested that.

That's the problem however, our culture so male-dominant there's nothing that's, again, for-lack-of-a-better-term, feminine, that we immediately want to turn masculine.

But you see, what I mean? Males get to create the great characters and females, get, I don't know, the Minnie Mouse version. (Sighs, shrugs) I guess this is just my way of saying, let's do better than a female James Bond, or any female version of male character.


WHY ARE (Sigh, I hate using this word) "NERDS",  SO ANTI-SPORTS? 

I think I'm done complaining about NBC's Olympic coverage. I mean, it's not improved necessarily and there's still plenty to complain about, but I watch much of the Pyeongchang Olympics this year, and I think I've just grown to accept most of their deficiencies. Yeah, it's too figure skating-heavy, sure it's mostly tape-delayed even when it's purportedly live, okay, they put way too much programming on their subsidiary channels instead of putting more on NBC, but you know what, I like the figure skating, even though I can't tell whether I hate Tara Lipinsky & Johnny Weir 'cause they're so perfectly annoying together or I absolutely love them 'cause they're just so annoying perfect together. I like the idea of tape delayed program in Primetime that's just an extended highlight show of the day's events. I miss Bob Costas, but he's been doing the Olympics forever and I really like Mike Tirico a lot and he's doing a great job. I can't even complain about the lack of focus on hockey this year, 'cause the NHL decided not to participate this year, so yeah, I guess put it on the back-burner. I don't know what they're excuse is for putting the Women's Hockey on the back-burner.... And maybe there's the decent possibility that I'm on Super Bowl hangover mode, and am still just in shock that my Eagles won the Super Bowl. (I swear, after the last play, after yelling and screaming for three hours, I went almost catatonic for a few minutes. It was so weird. I-, don't- I don't know where that road sign came from.)

That said, it does bother me that I do see so many people being very dismissive of sports in the Facebook groups I'm around. I know, they're not sports group, their film groups, and I'm not, by any means saying that you need to like sports, but there an undercurrent of vileness towards them, that I frankly don't understand, and during this Olympic season when sports are at the forefront, I think I want to call bullshit on it. I mean, it makes no sense, we claim to love good movies, unpredictable storytelling, intense drama, sports are ready-made for all those things. Hell, that's why sports movies are generally so good. And you know, it's exception skill and talent, I can't do a triple axle and land without complete annihilating my ankle and knee, can you? That's impressive. A lot of it is also mental; you want to memorize an NFL playbook? Just memorizing a play is hard.

When I ask people about this, some of them have reasons, a lot of them talk about how in high school they were picked on by jocks, there's that classic nerd-jock dynamic; you know what, I've never really bought that, most athletes I know seem to like movies and "Star Wars" and comic books and everything else nerds supposedly endorse and promote as their own just as much. And you know what, in this post-"Moneyball", pro-Analytics era of statistical analysis in sports having taken over in recent years, sports has, for lack-of-a-better-term has become nerdier than ever.

Look, I don't think it's essential that people get so involved in sports that  it replaces any or all other obsessions, in fact sports-obsession at it's worst is just as bad as any other fan obsession, but comics gets released all the time, new movies get released once a week, new TV happen whenever the hell Netflix feels like it. The Super Bowl is once a year. World Series, once a year, Olympics every couple years, four years for individual sports. Hell, I don't even think soccer's a real sport but I'll watch the World Cup every four years, just because. (Sorry soccer/futbol fans, I know you're trying to convince us it's this great game, we've played it, you're not fooling us, you're just kicking a ball around and calling it a sport.)

Cultural appreciation goes a long way to me, and when I see it, outright rejected during times like these, I think it just really annoys me. Even things I don't like, I seek out to try to understand and learn, before dismissing them completely.



I like this Youtube video above. It's a Scottish guy who's recording his reaction to watching his first ever Super Bowl, which he's watching in a movie theater in Brazil. He posted an earlier video I like where he went to his first ever NFL game when he was in New York. I like stuff like this a lot, where you get to see people experiencing aspects of a culture that are unfamiliar to them and American sports is quite perfect for this. Sports in general, really, are quite a good entrance into other cultures. I feel sorry for the poor guy experiencing his first Super Bowl surrounded by Pats and Eagles fans, Philly sports fans especially are outliers, and maybe not the best underdogs to get behind, but I like things like this, where you see a clash of cultures. To me, I think that's what entertainment is about more than anything, getting a glimpse into a world that we don't know and are unfamiliar with, but finding little aspects and details that we can appreciate and understand and admire. It's weird, I get criticized cause I find superheroes battling each other boring, 'cause, well, they're no stakes involved in this "Captain America" film or whatever, but two real people skating around the ice who worked their whole lives to be at that moment, to figure out which of the two is the fastest at what they do, that's not interesting?


STATE OF THE BLOG UPDATE

I don't normally do State of the Blog posts like these, but-, eh, I've had some things on my mind recently. Most of this, admittedly comes from a Facebook group that I post in, that I'm not gonna bother naming. It's not the troll I had a couple years ago, and it's not even "Film Club" and that cancer of a Facebook group. Still, they-, they've been critical of me, and I've found their practices strange as well, and there's some people in the group that I think are trying to genuine their give their advice and opinion, and when I hear it I try to take it, but that said, I really think most of their complaints are bullshit. Mostly, the way their particular complaints come off, especially when I check out others' opinions outside of that group, mostly what this barrage of "criticism" sounds like to me, is just the same I always got growing up because I-, I don't know how many of you may have noticed this over the year but, I have a tendency to be "different", than everybody else. Just, ask anybody who ever grew up with me, I'm distinctly unique in general, and often I'm unique in my approach to things, not just this blog, but several other aspects of life in general, and instead of trying to understand where I'm coming from, they're just making fun of the fact that I'm different; that's what it feels like to me and frankly, I've lived through that bullshit enough already.

That said, despite that, they may have a point or two, in that, I do need a few of the things I've been doing and how I've been doing them. Some of the changes are minor, some people don't seem to like that, when I promote my blog on Facebook that I often ALL CAPS to exemplify certain words. There's a few reasons I do that, mostly 'cause it stands out when scrolling, partially because I don't have too many other great options to stand out on Facebook, a lot of it is also for emphasis, trying to promote certain words, mostly though I do it because it's reminiscent of my main career as an unemployed screenwriter. When you write a screenplay, lots of stuff is capitalized, characters names especially for dialogue, sluglines, onomatopoeia occasionally... a few other things depending on the writer, and I like that style and I, like everyone incorporates others styles into my writing in an effort to help accentuate an original voice. Personally, I think I'm starting to sound too much like Todd Nathanson, lately, but....

Anyway, maybe I should change that approach. I'm reluctant to make changes, 'cause every other time I've ever made changes that, might not be natural for me, it usually backfires. Once, after several complaints that my use of white lettering on a black background was too disorienting, I changed to a more traditional and clean white background with black lettering and immediately, I got hounded for it. Like, I couldn't barely finish posting until I got twice as many complaints about the new look than I ever had heard from those complained. I switched it back almost immediately the backlash was so steep, although it was nice finding out and hearing from people who liked my work. (Sigh)

Still, I've been doing this seven years, and enough is enough, and it's time for some changes. This is isn't the blog I started doing back then anymore and this site should reflect that somehow. Everything's different from what I post about, to how I post about it, to how often. I haven't been able to talk about some of this, but one of the reasons I so post so infrequently compared to say three-to-four years ago is that I've been getting more writing gigs on the side. A lot of it's some ghostwriting, most of it's been screenplay work, but not all of it, in fact, I've been doing more short stories lately, and that's about all I can disclose at the moment other than to say that it's been challenging and I've been quite proud of my work, but yeah, I'm writing a lot outside of this blog, and that's meant putting a lot of this work on the back-burner, and it seems likely that that will continue in the future in some form or another.

Still though, I'll be re-branding soon, the blog will have a new look. I don't know what it'll be, it might not even be on Blogger, I might switch to Wordpress or something, which will be a lot more work, but I'm considering it, especially since I contribute to Age of the Nerd a lot at the moment as well. I might consider something some other site as well. Either way, the biggest change is gonna be the name of the blog.

I was gonna do a small sketch making fun of the name, but...- the blog will have some form of the name "The Not-A-Fan"! Yes, it's inspired by this old article of mine.

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2015/05/i-am-not-fan-there-i-said-it-and-im-not.html

I don't think it's entirely representative of the tone I want to use, cause normally I don't want to be so negative, but it does representative a lot of my approach and thought-process towards the entertainment world. About the one conclusion I've ever really come to for sure is that fans suck and they shouldn't have power over anything. More than that, i just like the idea of seeing an entertainment blog that's as passionate, thoughtful, and intellectual about entertainment, especially film and television as everyone else is, but still be very specific about not being centered around the fan perspective, which, I don't have anyway! (Despite what several previous comments about being an Eagles fan might indicate, because sports is different than film and TV.) So, I'm gonna set a deadline to get this done, and I'm aiming for, the end of March, beginning of April at the latest, 'cause Oscar season's gonna get in the way a little bit, but still I'm doing this, so fair warning.

I don't know if it's gonna be good or great, or even if falls completely flat, but this is where at now, and overall, I'm excited about the rebranding and the changes that are to come. I hope you are or will be too.

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