People who read this may know that I periodically post episode reviews and essays about the Disney animated series Gargoyles on my other blog, Monsters of New York. Recently, though, I wrote an essay not for my blog, but for the fine feminist critique site Bitch Flicks. Like the title of this post says, it’s about how the show’s attempts to be tell a story about oppression are undermined by the creators’ privilege, and it goes something like this:
…Gargoyles is also a fantastic showcase of what can happen when creators possessing privilege write stories about the oppressed without their input. Weisman and his staff had good intentions, and yet that didn’t stop them from writing “Heritage,” a perennial contender for the award of Most Racist Story That Tried Not to Be Racist (Television). In the episode, Elisa essentially tells the chief of a failing First Nation village, whom she’s only just met, that he’s performing his identity wrong, and is proven correct by the narrative. While that episode is an outlier, it is not alone — despite the show’s attempts to be about oppression and about being the Other, it falls down in multiple and consistent ways featuring more than one episode where the message they wish to send is not the message they are actually sending.
Yay me! Once you’re done, the sit also has many other fine posts by awesome writers about various films and TV shows for you to read, so please give those a look. Thank you!
(Series-wide spoilers below)
There’s a certain amount of cognitive dissonance required in order to accept La Femme Nikita’s premise on its own terms. The series wants us to believe that clandestine intelligence agency / assassination bureau Section One is necessary in order to ensure the world’s safety, and that its work somehow justifies the monstrous way the group operates. At the same time, everything the series tells us about the Section suggests that such a claim isn’t factual. It obtains its “recruits” via kidnapping and dehumanization, which belies its alleged legitimacy—surely an above-board agency would be able to obtain agents some other, less illegal, way. It lies to and manipulates its people constantly, not because of a need to keep information properly classified, but to keep them compliant. Its oversight appears to include no one connected to any government entity anywhere, or anyone who is themselves subject to oversight. And yet, in order for the series to work, one has to choose to disregard all of this, and believe that the Section lies about everything but is completely honest about its agenda.
It’s hard to understate how significant this is to the series. If the Section isn’t working for the greater good—if that claim is just another one of its countless lies—then the story simply falls apart. There’s no reason to care about Nikita’s fate, or to consider her anything other than a great big fool, in addition to an accomplice to continued abuse. And while mitigating factors exist due to her status as a prisoner and victim, those become much less mitigating once she manages to escape, scot-free, and then decides to return. Similarly, there’s no reason to wish for any of the characters to succeed. And while this element of uncertainty was always baked into the premise’s cake—there is every reason to be just as skeptical of the agency in Luc Besson’s original film—that original version manages to get away with it because Anne Parillaud’s Nikita, by and large, doesn’t care about what she does except insofar as it affects her. It is only in the TV series, where the agency and its manipulation of Nikita (Peta Wilson) became central, that its role in the world becomes truly relevant. And yet, the show proves ambivalent at best on this point, seeming uninterested in providing evidence about the good the Section allegedly does. The largely episodic and insular storytelling makes it hard to get a bead on the long-term consequences of the Section’s actions, and the vague world-building—to the point where the Section doesn’t defend any one nation, but rather “the West”—makes it impossible to determine with precision whose interests the Section is supposed to be aligned with, leaving us only with the assertions of proven manipulators with no incentive to tell the truth. How can we trust then, that the people behind Section One aren’t simply using their people for their own personal gain? So important is this question, that J.J. Abrams, intentionally or not, based half the initial premise of Alias on it.
One of the things I very much like to do, even though I’ve never believed I’ve been very good at it, is dance. Once I get into groove and forget about being nervous–which for me requires copious amounts of drink, and or a specific choreography–it can be intensely pleasurable. It is also especially fun to see other people do it well, which is why shows like Glee can sometimes be very fun, in spite of any flaws or problematic elements they may have. Hence, one of those things I consistently find engaging is the montage dance video, in which pieces of various dances are set to music. Here are three of my favorites.
Is it Safe to Dance?
Song: “Safety Dance”, by Men Without Hats
Choreography: Shelby Warmbrodt
Song: Various, Arranged by Kleptones
Choreography: Crumbs Chief
Song: “Improper Dancing”, by Electric Six
Happy new year, y’all.
When I first began hearing news about the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon–this one produced by Nickelodeon–I wasn’t sure what to think. While I was skeptical of the idea that it would win my heart the way the previous TMNT series did, several of the ideas seemed intriguing, and the direction of the toon didn’t seem like a bad one to go with. Plus, with it being backed by Nickelodeon, there was no way it wasn’t going to have the best production values of any of the series to date.
The show’s two-part pilot “Rise of the Turtles” aired today, introducing the turtles, Splinter, April, and the two groups who appear to be the main antagonists for the immediate future, the Kraang and The Foot. Given that the franchise has historically had very good first episodes, this version had a lot to live up to, and while it doesn’t quite succeed in that regard, it has enough interesting bits to keep me watching, at least for a while.
If we were to measure the series on a scale from A to 10, where A is the original comic book and 10 is the original cartoon, this incarnation probably rates a nine. It takes a lot of liberties with the original material, some of them intriguing—Splinter was a father before he ever met the turtles (*), the Utroms are now The Kraang and have identical-looking human disguises and an amusingly stilted speech patterns—and some which I’m not at all sure work—April is now the turtles’ age. It’s also far more focused on being a funny show than it is in being an exciting or emotionally complex show, although shows like Adventure Time have taught me that initial impressions can be misleading. In any case, what it does it does reasonably well; all in all, it feels like a worthwhile incarnation of the series—moreso than the IDW comics, anyway.
One year in, IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has featured ninjas, brain-like aliens, corporate espionage, reincarnation, eyepatch-wearing mutant cats, and attractive women who are sensibly clad and plausibly posed. It is also incredibly boring.
To say that something feels like fan fiction is not, I feel, a particularly useful description. It´s generally used when somebody wants to criticize a work and wants to pretend that there is no such thing as awesome fan fiction. (*) Instead, I’ll say that Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman have taken elements from past incarnations of the property and redeployed them with what appears to be little concern of what made them work. It’s as if they believe that merely using them will be enough to satisfy the audiences, regardless of execution.
Thus, the series has taken characters and plotlines from what came before it, it has not replicated what made any of them appealing. It strives to replicate the original comic book’s tone, but feels too safe to successfully replicate its grit. It takes several of the characters and concepts created for the original cartoon, but strips their appeal in trying to make them viable as “serious” characters (*). It lacks the original movie’s affability and wit, or its sense of time and place. It feels less audacious than the Archie comics, and less ambitious than the second cartoon. There’s little in the way of notable moments or quotable lines—heck, even the notoriously inconsistent second Tales of the TMNT series was at least always interesting.
Entre los crímenes de la noticia Métele duro en la cada…puño, puño, publicada en la edición del lunes 26 de noviembre de 2007 se encuentra, de manera prominente, la esquizofrenia. En 19 párrafos, la periodista, Camile Roldán Soto busca hablar de dos fenómenos distintos, no desarrolla ninguno, y acaba con un artículo digno de…bueno, de El Nuevo Día.
Claro, solo por que los temas—violencia estudiantil y la publicidad dado a sucesos como este en lugares virtuales como Youtube.com—hallan sido mal tratados por el periódico más importante del país no quiere decir que los temas carecen de importancia—todo lo opuesto. Los temas, particularmente aquel del rol del Internet y la legión de proto-reporteros que ha incubado deberían ser discutidos.
En su libro ¿Sociedad virtual? tecnología, cybérbole, realidad, Steve Woolgar establece lo que llama sus cinco reglas de virtualidad. Estas són:
1. La aceptación y utilización de las nuevas tecnologías depende de forma crucial del contexto social local.
2. Los miedos y riesgos asociados con las nuevas tecnologías están distribuidos socialmente de forma desigual.
3. Las tecnologías virtuales son un complemento y no un sustituto de la actividad real.
4. Cuanto más virtual, más real.
5. Cuanto más global, más local.
No discutiré todas las reglas aquí; no tengo ni el interés ni el conocimiento necesario para hacerle justicia al tema. Sin embargo, quiero notar que el hecho de que el artículo del Día comprueba, por lo menos en parte, la validez de la regla numeró cuatro: “Cuanto más virtual, más real”.
La violencia estudiantil, según informa el artículo, no es un suceso exactamente raro: 1406 peleas se registraron el año pasado. Sin embargo, estas peleas ocurren en burbujas, separadas del resto de la humanidad, y por lo tanto usualmente no son un factor a aquellos no involucrados directamente.
Entra Youtube a la escena. De repente, sucesos locales obtienen distribución masiva, y la burbuja explota. El Nuevo Día lo cubre, en un artículo no muy bueno. Gracias a la iniciativa de proto-periodistas, todo el mundo puede ver por si mismo la violencia estudiantil. Lo real para pocos (las peleas), se hace virtual, (el video), se hace aún más real (el artículo), y Woolgar obtiene un poco más de evidencia para su teoría.