Tag Archive | movies

Hugh and I: A love story.

I was 11 years old. In the clutches of puberty. Boys were starting to look like more than worthy playmates. Everything hurt.  Then, I discovered a book by chance in the library.

It was an encyclopedia about x-men.

I was enamored. I became obsessed with x-men. I bought comics for the first time ever. I went to the store with my little allowance and bought both movies.

I was watching them, innocently enjoying the fight scenes and the social comment, and then I saw him.

The most beautiful man I had ever seen.

Hugh.

Jackman.

My little mind was blown open as hormones I didn’t understand flooded my brain. I was hopelessly naïve then, and hadn’t the first clue about reproduction, but I wanted to kiss that man senseless. I watched the x-men movies over and over, and devoured the behind the scenes features. The more I watched Hugh Jackman, the more my feelings grew from a simple pre-lust to full on love. Or whatever the twelve year old equivalent of that is.

He was funny, he was Australian, and he was so kind. He could dance (this was very important to me) He was articulate and beautiful and very, very married.

Shit.

And it was then that I knew heartache for the first time.

However, the fact that he was married and the fact that he was old enough to be my father did not deter me. I was head over heels in love with Hugh Jackman, and I still am.

#

Some fun facts about Hugh: he owns a tea shop. He had a one man Broadway show. He visits hospitals in cities he’s filming in. his eye colour is hazel, and he was born in 1968. He’s 6’1. He’s a Libra. He apologised to his fans on twitter and Facebook for not posting much, and proceeded to post more after that.

I don’t actually know Hugh, but I feel like I do. I’ve seen enough pictures of him in various stages of undress, after all. Not intentionally. Most of the time.

I’ve even had boyfriends get jealous of my love for Hugh.

Hugh and I are very alike. We both love little dogs. We both share the same sign. We both enjoy volunteering in hospitals. Our parents are accountants. We both have hazel eyes (his are almost as beautiful as mine). I like tea.

When it was announced that Hugh had skin cancer, my heart broke into a million pieces. It came on the heels of my grandfather dying of cancer. I was devastated. I realised after his death that one can’t keep their feelings inside forever. One must learn to share their feelings now, before it’s too late. Hugh has long since recovered, of course, but the idea of writing him a fan  letter turned over and over in my head.

So I wound up writing a letter to Hugh, but I decided that I had to share my love! Everyone must know of the greatness of this man (and my insanity).

If Hugh Jackman is reading this, I have this to say to you; Hugh, marry me. I’m good with being a 2nd wife and cleaning the house.

For everyone else: please don’t call the cops. I swear I’m not a stalker. A bit deluded, maybe. One day this will probably fade, but for now? I’m sharing my first experience with love, lust and tea shops.

Fandom Friday: When Villains aren’t Victims

I love villains. I love villains so much I often call myself a “villain whore”. Maybe it’s because I always felt vilified for being different. I think it’s because the villains are often more complicated (because no one ever is evil just because, but people are good just because). Maybe it’s because the villains are the hidden id. Maybe it’s because the villain always gets the funniest lines. Who knows.

However… I often hate other villain fans with the same level of passion my dark idols reserve for their respective nemesis.

 My expertise (if I can call it that: I’m basically a dork with a laptop) is in the realm of comic books and comic book movies. I’ve noticed superhero movies build and build in popularity before crescendoing with the Nolan Batman films and Marvel’s The Avengers. This had led to a “mainstreamification” of some of my favourite characters—notably, the villains. The examples I’m going to use in this post, mostly because of their popularity, are Magneto (X-men) and Loki (Thor, The Avengers). If you look at social media *coughtumblrcough* these two are the among the most popular.

These are villains that do things that everyone who isn’t an evil human being has a problem with, namely, genocide. They have complicated motivations and lives. Magneto is a holocaust survivor who was experimented on in the camps, and Loki was raised in a world he doesn’t belong to and was made to feel inferior to his older brother, Thor. Both turn to evil out of a desire to do the right thing, to the point where it blinds them to the people around them who care about them.

However, fans tend to reduce them to “woobies”.

Woobies, according to TV Tropes, are “…any type of character who makes you feel extremely sorry for them. Basically, the first thing you think to say when you see the woobie is: “Aw, poor baby!” Woobification of a character is a curious, audience-driven phenomenon, sometimes divorced from the character’s canonical morality…An important aspect of the Woobie is that their suffering must be caused by external sources. A character who suffers as the result of their own actions is a Tragic Hero and does not qualify.” The page goes on to list subtypes of woobies, but that isn’t important right now.

I don’t know if it’s because the characters are portrayed by attractive actors, or because the struggles with family (Loki) or inequality (Magneto) are things that resonate with the audience. But it happens, and these complicated villains are reduced to one-note woobies.

How can you tell that a character has been “woobified”, you may ask? If you hear fans defending the characters genocidal actions because they “believe they’re doing the right thing” or if you hear fans saying the character is “misunderstood”. For example, I recently saw a picture set of villains on Tumblr with the words “A villain is just a victim whose story hasn’t been told” featuring Magneto, Loki, Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader), Gollum, and Khan, among others (http://ericscissorhands.tumblr.com/post/88703071937/a-villain-is-just-a-victim-whose-story-hasnt

You guys do know that Magneto was purposely written to have similar ideals to Hitler, right? And he admits to this in X-men: First Class.

As a writer, this annoys me. Real work went into writing these characters, creating them to be complicated and interesting. And these “fans” just ignore all of that! It would be like, for the non-writers among you, if you spent all day making a delicious cake and all anyone could talk about was how sad it was that the little icing flowers you added to the corner were wilting.

Why is this frustrating? Referring back to the post I mentioned, subsequent rebloggers have said it’s putting the abusers feelings above the abused, and implying that any victim is going to turn into an abuser. As an abused person, this pisses me right off. This is a problematic message: if you have a tragic backstory, you can do whatever you want. My abuser has a pretty tragic backstory. That does not make what he did to me okay.

You know who else has a tragic backstory? Hitler, and Stalin.

There are examples of woobies in the same universe as Loki and Magneto who have had similar and often worse (not the holocaust, though, I don’t imagine it can get much worse) things happen to them.

 In the same universe, What about Spiderman, or Batman, or Wolverine? They have tragic backstories, but they realised that they have a choice: let the sadness consume them and let the rage and hatred become them, or make a difference

And that’s the choice that all of us have.

So stop doing a disservice to the writers. Or I will become a supervillain. See how many people think I’m misunderstood then.

On Fandom: My thoughts on the Regina Fan Expo (and “cons” in general)

bitter bitch

A fan expo was held in my home city, Regina, over the past weekend.

A fan expo, for those of you who don’t know, is basically a geek culture smorgasborge. There’s merchandise and guests from anime, comic books, movies, video games, television and occasionally the odder sects of the population.

They are also barrel-of-monkeys category of fun.

Most of the time.

I could go into all of the different things I did there, but that’s not what I want to talk about here. If you want to hear about that, go find my Tumblr or my Facebook. I’m here to talk about the academic, snobby stuff.

I love what the fan expo represents in the broader cultural sphere. I have been a geek for my entire life, which has only been 20 years long. I have seen geek culture become more main-stream throughout my life. I know that conventions have been going on since the days of the original Star Trek, but those were almost universally lauded.  Now, everyone is talking about the fan expo.

Much of geek culture is constructed around the monomyth, Joseph Campbell’s hero with a thousand faces. This is a universal story type common to all cultures. People love these stories. We all connect with them. I’m just surprised it took so long for geek culture to be accepted amongst the common folk, given this.

This is a beautiful thing. And yet, I am outside.

Part of it, of course, is my inner snobbishness and the sneering contempt I hold for others deep within myself. This contempt comes out here, on this blog, and admittedly, nowhere else. I glare with barely concealed rage that all these people dare think they’re better than me, that they’re above talking to me, when we’re all in the same boat, grasping at the crumbs that this world has afforded us. Crumbs that brought us here.

Oh yes, I am a bit bitter that the sycophantic, stuck-up girls who made my elementary and high school experiences a symphony of misery have suddenly embraced the culture I used as my escape from them because it is now “cool”. They nauseate me. And yet, these are among the many who act as though I am below them. Imagine that. If anything, they should be avoiding my eyes out of embarrassment, because people like me made these things “cool” and they were too shallow to see it before now.

Part of it is because I cannot stand the hypocrisy. All day I get to hear them crooning about how accepting geek culture is because a few trans people were brave enough to show their true colours and because the men’s bathroom lineup is the same size as the women’s and because there are more furries in one place than I knew existed.  Then I look at the scantily dressed women in comic books. The women parading their bodies around to hawk products to horny man children. I remember that if I see another bisexual person in a comic book they will promiscuous, and you won’t see a trans person in a mainstream comic at all. I can practically hear them roll their eyes when a guest mentions that they are a feminist.

I want to tell them where they can shove their acceptance.

Maybe it is my 20-something disillusionment. I don’t understand the world I live in anymore. I don’t understand geek culture. I am not the 12 year old who fell in love with the x-men, who read Isaac Asimov when everyone else was reading Twilight and who liked vampires and zombies back when that made you a freak. I am an angry young woman who is sick of love triangles, sick of the same old stories.

Tell me some new ones.

 

-God bless,

Kelsey J.

On Purple: Yin, Yang and Magneto

Professor Charles Xavier: You know, I believe that true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity.”

***

Within the greater discipline of psychology, there is a branch known as humanistic psychology. Humanistic psychology is special, as it deals with more than the physical world. Humanistic psychology is a discipline that borrows ideas from all over the world and incorporates them into a greater understanding of the human experience.

One of the ideas borrowed is an idea that is familiar, though barely understood, to Western culture: the yin yang symbol. Most people associate the yin yang symbol with the new age movement (hippy stuff, as my dad would call it). In humanistic psychology, the symbol is used as a tool to understand dialectical thinking. Dialectical thinking is about blending and change, but change that takes place through conflict and opposition. So how does this relate to the yin-yang symbol, which is often used as a symbol of peace?

There are three main ideas behind the yin yang symbol as it relates to humanistic psychology:

1)      The interdependence of opposites: There is no light without darkness

2)      The interpenetration of opposites: There are bits of light within darkness, and vice versa

3)      The unity of opposites: we cannot understand darkness without light, and vice versa

The writers among you will recognise that these principles also relate to storytelling. I believe that every story should be utilizing these principles, for both plot and character.  A story without darkness is boring, but a story without light is just as devoid of life. No light should be pure, and no darkness should be absolute.  You should always be able to see the darkness of the hero reflected in the villain, and vice versa.

***

Magneto might be my favourite character of all time.

Magneto

 

 

He is one of the single most complex characters of any medium, a holocaust survivor devoting his life to the protection of his people by any means necessary.

I used a quote from the film X-men: First Class to begin my post. This is because Magneto represents the culmination between the two opposites, rage and serenity, illustrating the nature of dialectical thinking.

How can you tell? He wears purple.

Bear with me.

Just like white and black, red and blue, the colours that make up purple, are opposites. I won’t bore you with the grade school explanations of the colour wheel. In the human consciousness, red and blue represent two opposites as well. Red is associated with rage and fire, whereas blue is associated with calm and water.  When mixed together, purple is created.

A place between rage and serenity.

Magneto himself is a mix between these two things. On one hand, he’s a classy villain, who has definite air of the Shakespearean about him: he soliloquizes, uses proper nouns, doesn’t curse and has full control over his power. On the other hand, he’s prone to fits of rage against the human race, and occasionally his foes. In his determination to keep mutantkind safe, he ruthlessly kills regular humans.

A lot of fans, myself included, have to wonder if he’s right on some level. The members of the X-men frequently wonder this too, and often find themselves working with Magneto towards a common goal.

How does this relate to the above?

Magneto and the X-men are opposites of each other at first glance, but they need each other. There are shared philosophies between the groups. Their motivations are understood by their status as opposites.

This is a prime example of using the yin-yang idea in writing.

And it makes stories better.

 

 

Agree or disagree? Comment below! Like this post? Click the like button!

On another note, for more of Magneto check out the trailer for X-men: Days of Future Past:

 

God bless,

Kelsey J.

Christmas Special: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Heroism

I was a sheltered child.

My parents never let me play video games, or watch violent movies. Unlike other comic book fans my age, I didn’t grow up watching Batman and Spiderman. Batman and Spiderman were most kids first introduction to true altruism.

Mine was Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

Yes, a red-nosed stop-motion reindeer was my first example of a true hero.

Who knew heroism could be so cute?

***

I watch the Rankin-Bass special every year. As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed the deeper messages in the narrative. Rudolph’s nose reveal reminds me of a coming out, and the things that Rudolph’s parents and Santa (if you haven’t seen this movie, Santa is a bit of a dick) say to Rudolph are things that were said to me as a mentally ill person and a bisexual person. Some examples of this are:

 

Rudolph: It’s not very comfortable!

Donner: There are more important things than comfort: self respect! Santa can’t object to you now.

 

Santa Claus: Great bouncing icebergs.

Donner: Ah, I’m sure it’ll stop as soon as he grows up, Santa.

Santa Claus: Well, let’s hope so, if he wants to make the sleigh team someday.

 

Head Elf: Why weren’t you at elf practice?
Hermey: Just fixing these dolls’ teeth.
Head Elf: Just fixing…? Now listen: we have dolls that cry, talk, walk, blink and run a temperature. We don’t need any chewing dolls!
Hermey: But I just thought I’d find a way to – to fit in.
Head Elf: You’ll never fit in! Now you come to elf practice, learn how to wiggle your ears, chuckle warmly, go “Hee-Hee” and “Ho-Ho”, and important stuff like that. A dentist! Good grief!

 

And of course, the misfit song:

 

We may be different from the rest

Who decides the test

Of what is really best?

We’re a couple of misfits

We’re a couple of misfits

What’s the matter with misfits?

That’s where we fit in!

 

Clearly, Rudolph doesn’t have an easy life. He has to hide who he is every day because who he is makes other people uncomfortable. He deals with the verbal abuse from Santa and the other reindeer, and the shame of his father.

But Rudolph never takes revenge. He never contemplates revenge on the other reindeer or his family. He goes out and finds his own life, and his own friends.  With current media so saturated with the revenge narrative, this stands out as powerful, though not necessarily heroic.

Where Rudolph’s heroism really shows is when he is called upon to help by the very people who hurt him. His parents get captured by the Abominable Snowman and Rudolph doesn’t hesitate to risk his own life when he sees them in peril. Then, when a storm hits and Santa can’t fly his sleigh, he asks Rudolph to help him guide the sleigh. Santa arguably treated Rudolph the cruelest for the longest, and once again, Rudolph doesn’t hesitate to help him.

Rudolph is a hero not only for the Christmas season, but for all year round. He doesn’t use violence to solve his problems—he uses kindness. When he’s angry, he runs away instead of fighting. He forgives everyone who did him wrong, and goes the extra mile to actually help those people. Wow.

The Christians in the audience will notice that the last bit especially sounds pretty familiar. And I think that’s the right kind of thing to show young kids who aren’t old enough to really understand why most conventional heroes use violence. It’s also a message that needs to be absorbed by adults. I’ve talked before about how revenge doesn’t do a lot of good, but the media hasn’t gotten the memo yet. This little reindeer does something so easily that we all have trouble with. He forgives.

He’s not the hero we need, but he’s the hero that we deserve.

I’m sorry, I had to do it.

 

NA NA NA NA NA NA BATDEER!

NA NA NA NA NA NA BATDEER!

 

God bless you all,

Kelsey J.

Mirror, Mirror: An examination of human representation in speculative fiction (Introduction)

The world of science fiction, fantasy and horror, collectively known as speculative fiction, is a world packed with fantastic beings. This is great, I guess. But all the stories are still about one thing.

Humans.

Every speculative fiction story, if you really boil it down, is about humans. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, necessarily. Humans are writing the stories­–and all writers are told to write what we know.

Herein lies the problem. We humans don’t always like ourselves, and it shows in any fiction involving non-humans, even if humans don’t appear at all. Either that, or we humans believe in ourselves. A lot.

Like nature and nurture in psychology, there is a debate that has been argued since War of the Worlds to Dracula to The Walking Dead to Star Trek. That debate is pro-human versus anti-human.

Over the next three months, my sweetly snobbish self will be exploring the realms of fiction to discuss the world as seen through monster’s eyes, examining the whys the hows and the whos, and going where no man has gone before.

Gear up, friends! We’re going on a journey. This month, every Friday, I’ll be examining zombie fiction in anticipation of the Zombvenger. But, if anyone has any suggestions of works that they want me to look at, comment! I feed off of comments.

Kidding.

Not really.

Coming up next Friday: A rare example of pro-humanism in zombie fiction: Warm Bodies.

 

God bless, and happy Canadian Thanksgiving,

Kelsey J.

Flashback: Little Silver Linings

Sometimes, life just punches you in the gut, gives you some Prozac and expects you to feel better.

I went to see Silver Linings Playbook with one of my friends. I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s very rare to see a movie about mental illness that gets it right.

I’ve been mentally ill for a very long time, and was finally diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 14. Since then I’ve also been diagnosed with an anxiety and panic disorder. I’ve been taking medication for five years and I can’t see myself getting off of the medication in the foreseeable future. I’ve tried and tried but I need my medication.

One of the biggest challenges of being mentally ill is that people often see you as this odd little creature that is only a side-effect of their illness. These people (usually) have the best interests of the mentally ill person at heart, but they see their friend or family member as mentally ill and forget the person part.

That’s why I say Silver Linings Playbook finally got it right. The main characters, Pat and Tiffany, are mentally ill. But they are fully realised humans. Their mental illnesses are only part of who they are, and the story focuses more on the journey of Pat and Tiffany as people instead of their illness. And it’s a truly entertaining and realistic journey.

One of my favourite scenes is when Pat and Tiffany talk about the medications they’ve been on at the dinner table. I’ve heard of all of them and have been prescribed a couple. I was thinking: “Yep. Seroquel is a bitch.” It really amused me because when I talk to other mentally ill people and our illness comes up, medication horror stories are shared immediately.

Is it a perfect movie? It’s one of my favourites so far, but it does have its flaws (namely, the story getting a little, as my friend Jesse would put it, “schmaltzy and emotional”, and the dropping of a major theme halfway through). I highly recommend it to everyone, though. The “schmaltzy” bits still manage to suck you in and you already care about the characters at that point enough to forgive a bit of cliché.

It’s also nice to (FINALLY) see a mentally ill character in mainstream media who is not a serial killer. This is very much progress.

 

**

Thanks, Hollywood. Thank you for finally showing the mentally ill as people and not stereotypes or as shells filled with issues.

Just work on your portrayal of pretty much every other group and we’ll be golden.