Monthly Archives: June, 2012

First Reactions to: Girls

SONG WHICH IS THEMATICALLY RELEVANT TO THE FOLLOWING RANT

I was told by a few people to have a look at Girls, a HBO sitcom about a gang of twenty somethings who live in New York and have plots.  Most of the things I’ve heard about it have been mixed; One friend told me a lot of people watch it then flock to blogs to use it as a springboard for feminist discourse and another told me she found it entertaining but frustrating in parts.  Overall it was a ‘good but flawed’ sort of show, which is the kind I like.  To paraphrase Frasier Crane the best posh dinners have one tiny fatal flaw.  A perfect dinner would be fine but the flaw is something you can pick at for the rest of the night which is immensely satisfying. With this in mind I caved and sat down to watch the Pilot of Girls- Here are my reactions, as live messaged to my BFF over Facebook chat as I watched.

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I really dont get high heels

So, interesting quote at the end of that video- the lady goes ‘Well YOU try walking in those heels!’ to a male colleague laughing.  Now she was kidding, but… Seriously, why do women wear high heels?  They’re a fashion choice that I have never understood and can never partake in; because I love my feet and I cherish my ability to break into a run whenever I like.  So why do women actually do this?  ‘Beauty is pain’ my arse, I demand a better explanation than just that.

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Bit from Simon that references the very unpleasant trend towards shooter based action in video games.

Notes from a gig: The Red Hot Chili Peppers

I’ve wanted to see the Chili peppers for a while, seeing as they’re pretty much the background noise that coloured my childhood and adolesence.  They’ve been around and rocking for my entire life and so I do think my  generation has a particular fondness for them.  So I managed to snag a last minute ticket and went along, and I was pleasantly surprised to find them as amazing as ever- My experience of live Chilis is a DVD of their legendary 2003 Slane gig, so my expectations were high.  Boy they put on a good show…

It didn’t rain which also gives us many happy points

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First reaction to- The Avengers

So I saw the avengers tonight!  Boy I have a list of things to comment on- What would you know, you’re reading it!

SONG THAT IS THEMATICALLY RELEVANT (because it’s what I heard in my head when Chris Evans walked on screen)

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For those of you who came in late… Niamh reviews GAME OF THRONES

SONG THAT IS THEMATICALLY RELEVANT TO THIS POST (and also totally boss btw)

Oh yeah, Hot off the heels of my Legend of Korra post, here’s my thoughts, reactions and HNNNGGGHHHH about Game of Thrones

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IT BEGINS

I didn’t want to watch Game of Thrones.

Oh I’d heard about it, sure! The internet would stubbornly not shut the fuck up about it. But I did manage to remain generally ignorant of the phenomenon for the entirety of the first series. I was so ignorant I didn’t actually know that Sean Bean was in it- I thought that ‘the memes are coming’ shot what from Lord of the Rings- that’s how out of the nerd loop I was. So finally, last month I said fuck it. Let’s give this a shot.

So my first major reactions were as follows- Gratuitous, over the top, gratuitous, violent, nothing new. I thought it was going to be the most over hyped mess I’d ever watched. It felt very Tudors-ish- Hell, it even HAS Anne Boleyn in it now! I just didn’t see how a sexy, violent show would appeal to me- The Tudors and Rome and even Downton abbey certainly never did much.

But everybody loved this show, I couldn’t believe it! Game of Thrones is possibly the greatest force for nerd-dom I have ever seen, seriously. This show rakes in the Fantasy nerds, the gamer nerds, the literature nerds, the sci fi nerds, even political science nerds (Omg the politcal intrigue is just GNNNHHHH- See rant below for more)- This one HBO show managed to unite so many different fandoms it’s fucking staggering. It’s the only thing I’ve ever seen that appeals equally to 13 year old boys (BOOBIES N SWORDS N DRAGONS) and to 20 year old cardigan wearing student feminist like me (WHAT ARE THE SYMBOLIC IMPLICATIONS OF THOSE BOOBIES N WHERE DOES EVERYONE SWEAR LOYALTY WITH THEIR SWORDS N HNNNGGH THE DRAGONS REPRESENT NUCLEAR WEAPONS). It, like Legend of Aang actually, manages to maintain a massive fanbase dragged from all different corners of nerd-dom. So bowing to the pressures of fans everywhere, I forced myself to sit through episode one.

My Reaction

SHIT.

FUCK.

AAAAHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

How the fuck did I go a year without getting into this?! I mean, FUCK! I’m not even going to discuss the books today but MY GOD, this show. What can I really say? Okay, let me.. let me gather myself.

The political and social implications of NOODZ

As I said before Game of Thrones certainly errs on the side of gratuity, in terms of it’s sexual and violent content. It’s actually been criticized for how it portrays women- including a really annoying case of a woman with a Brazilian wax, who’d grown up in the wilderness and SHOULD NOT BE SHAVED DOWN THERE. But, considering that everyone in this show also has perfect white teeth and the Lannisters have perfectly poofy and shampooed hair. Heck, maybe the actress was Brazilian’d anyway and didn’t want to grow her hair out- Point being yes it would have been awesome to have a full happy bush on a lady on American TV but I’m going to let it slide, because really I don’t think it’s fair to really complain about something awesome they *didn’t* do. It’s lame but not game breakingly lame. And in fairness the only other girl we’ve seen a lot of Nakedness from is… Danaerys.

Danaerys

She is what the Northmen call a ‘babe incarnate’

Sexy things

Now Danaerys is a really interesting thing, in terms of the fanservice we get in the show. See there is an effort (in series 1 at least) to make the nudity relevant to the plot in the same way that the over the top violence. So you have scenes of Danny getting her freak on with Killy horsey man husband…

We’re going to pause for a moment so I can look and Jason Momoa. I too would fuck shit up if someone removed him from me.

… And like in the book, their relationship really grows and becomes genuine through their sex scenes. It’s kind of necessary considering they have a language barrier. The nudity here is used to develop their bond and while being obvious fan service, it’s relevant fan service.

Game of Thrones also COMPLETELY makes up for it’s fan service-y moments by having some of the most incredibly disturbing shit ever put on TV. Take for instance a scene with uber baster Prince Joffrey enjoying some hookers sent by his uncle. It contains two girls making out for his pleasure, but he proceeds to have one girl beat the ever-loving shit out of the other with a club. And the worst part of it is how utterly asexual he remains. It’s so graphic I actually couldn’t find that shit on youtube, but trust me- The worst part is seeing Joffrey’s face as the girl is beaten- it’s not a face of arousal or anything sexual- It’s just kind of happy? It’s made even worse because he’s not getting his rocks off to the violence- he’s only 16, he just likes having the power to make other people cause pain.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world to just toss some lesbians at us for kicks, but that scene is used to hammer home was a sick little fuck he is, without lazily making him some BDSM pervert- he’s just a twerp who likes violence. There are other deeply unsettling and unpleasant scenes of sex and nudity that totally offset any boobies thrown out to entertain the viewers.

And man I haven’t even gotten to the plot yet!

Your princess is in another castle!  Also she’s dead!

Game of Thrones is strange as far as a fantasy plot goes. I really think it’s a story of what happens ‘after’ the happily ever after of other fantasy stories. In the backstory of the series and the books, Robert and Ned teamed up as young heroes, battled the evil king, fought the good fight, avenged their foster fathers death- the LITERALLY WENT on a quest to save a princess (Well Lyanna was a lord’s daughter but fuck it, close enough) That had been kidnapped by a wicked prince. At the end Robert wins the crown and defeats the king, but sadly doesn’t save his princess- he still gets a super hot wife and everything ends on a somewhat bittersweet but still triumphant note, and Ned gets to go home happy and safe to his wife and his son, where his illegitimate son is safe with his nurse. The end!

Except in a Song of Ice and fire, that happens 17 years before the story starts! This series is amazing because it’s the fantasy equivalent of an ‘after the end’ setting- What does actually happen when you win? What do you do when you win the throne and have to change from being a badass warrior to being a statesman? How do you deal with the fact that you brutally murdered an entire family and exiled the rest? Are they any real heroes and Villains in this world?

When you play the game of thrones, you live or you di-OH SHIT ZOMBIES

There’s no single bad guy in this show, the politics of it are amazing. Even if you find yourself rooting for a particular family like the Starks or the Lannisters, you’re always going to find someone from the other side that you value and love and who would be fucked up if the others win. I find myself loving Danaerys and wanting her to succeed even though she’s basically going to fuck up the shit of EVERY OTHER CHARACTER in the series when she can- Including Tyrion, Sansa, the other Starks. It makes it really difficult to take a definitive side and sets it apart from other fantasy series in that there really isn’t a big bad. The closest you get really is Tywin Lannister, who’s generally just looking out for his own family rather than trying to take over the world. It’s also quite difficult to see Danaerys’ return (spoken of with dread by everyone) as being particularly bad for ordinary people- she’s a pretty nice kid, as long as you don’t fuck her up.

I’ve been expecting you, mister Stark..

Added to the squabbling is the very real threat of the mother fucking ice zombies- and the best, most genius part of the plot is that nobody gives two flying fucks about the impending doom! Any other book or show, everyone would be focused on the doom, and the big bad, and the holy shit we need to fight off the ICE ZOMBIES. But everyone’s too wrapped up in their political allegiances and wars to actually band together and save the world.

Guys, could we possibly… focus on the Ice breathing murderous necromancing monsters for a sec? They’re kind of… important?!

The cosmic deadline

So having a plot that isn’t automatically concerned with the fate of the world means you really need something to up the stakes with, and so Game of Thrones does that with WINTER.  Winter is mother fucking coming, and it’s gonna fucking suck for everything and fuck your shit up and NOBODY (except Dany with her mother fucking dragons perhaps) stands a chance of surviving.  And unlike other cosmic deadlines there is nothing anyone can do- You can’t defeat a season, you actually just have to bunker down and try not to die in the ten years it might take to pass.  The dread with which people speak about winter takes the place of a Sauron or a Voldermort in Game of Thrones.  And there’s no side stepping it or getting around it or defeating it with the power of love- And that is fucking scary.

Conclusion

The performances are subtle and complex, the costumes are gorgeous, the script is unreal, THIS SHOW GIVES ME SUCH GOOD FEELINGS. I don’t even know how to wrap this up, just…. Here, have some Jon Snow.

Broooooooooooooo

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Niamh ‘I pledge my banner to house TarMOTHERFUCKINGDRAGONS’ Keoghan

First reactions to: thoughts on The Legend of Korra

A wild ANIMATED ACTION MINI SERIES appeared!

NIAMH used REVIEW!

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Fuck, I loved The legend of Aang.

It was simply the best show Nickelodeon ever put out- It was incredible in it’s scale, it’s attention to detail, it’s gorgeous animation, it’s amazingly lovable, complicated and kick ass characters, it’s amazing sense of humor, it’s beautiful score- Oh man is there anything Legend of Aang didn’t do right?

The original series ran for three seasons of 22 episodes each and it really is a masterpiece.  It struck a rare balance in children’s TV- It took it’s myth arc seriously while at the same time keeping an incredible humour and most importantly it respected it’s audience.  I really cannot gush about Legend of Aang enough.  I’ve had to rewrite my first paragraph four times adding in shit they got RIGHT.  Awesome.

The basic plot, for any newbies, is that the avatar world is divided into 4 general races of people- The fire Nation (Based loosely in aesthetic on Imperial Japan), The Earth Kingdom (Based on a certain Dynasty of China that I can’t remember the name of), the Water Tribes at the North and South Poles (Based looesly on Inuits) and finally, the Air nomads (Based on Tibetan Monks).  Some members of each of these races have the power to manipulate their particular element- so you have fire, water earth and Air benders.  Once every Generation, the spirit of the planet is born as the only human with the ability to manipulate all four elements, and their job is to maintain balance. When the Avatar dies, they’re reborn in a different race to the one they just were, and the cycle starts again with them learning all the elements.

That’s the really basic plot, and oh man it gets so much deeper than that.

And so, after the epic finale of Legend of Aang, nerds everywhere orgasmed when a sequel miniseries was announced- The Legend of Korra was going to pick up a whole new cast of characters and the newxt avatar, Korra.  The basic Avatar formula was always ripe for sequel bait and Korra proved successful- it’s already been green lighted for a second series apparently and it does go in a radically different direction to the original series which is good.  Overall, here are some of my thoughts- Set out as pros and cons

Pros

I adored this series, let’s make that very clear.  Let’s also make it clear that I don’t think Korra was the masterpiece that Aang was.  It’s exceptional but perhaps understandably didn’t have the epic scale that made Aang so memorable.  In a way, I like that.  Korra manages to really deviate itself from the formula of it’s parent series and there was a conscious effort to make this series different.  Rather than the globe wandering original Korra is set entirely around a modern metropolis location that didn’t even exist as a city at the time of Aang’s series.  It’s colour palette is far darker and grimier and even the soundtrack is different- Like jazz with Asian instruments tossed in [Spoiler- it rocks so fuckin hard].  The setting is far more industrially developed than Aang- Set 70 years after Aang, the 2 series are seperated by a massive industrial revolution.  In Aang we saw a few early airships and mechanical weapons but in Korra we have a full on electrical, petrol driven steampunk playground- and that’s awesome.  It makes a great success of feeling like the same world, just a little further along in time.

Korra is also fucking boss because it’s proved something- A female lead can kick ass in a series and boys will watch it.  I won’t really go into how much this kicks ass, but suffice to say Korra is pretty goddamn progressive for a show marketed to kids- Execs were worried about Boys not liking a show with a female lead, but in test screenings most boys just thought she kicked ass.  And she, to quote The Nostalgia chick, doesn’t hold her ovaries in triumph as she kicks as- Korra just happens to be female and happens to be in this ridiculous situation.

I don’t get the impression that Korra was written consciously as a ‘strong female character’, she certainly doesn’t feel forced or awkward.  She’s a character, rather than a ‘female’ character.  You can say the same for the other women in this series and oh dear god they ALL KICK SO MUCH ASS YOU GUYS (even Pema.  Fuckin’ LOVE Pema)

One thing Korra avoided was the usual trap of sequels which is trying to re-capture the dynamic of the original work- and they did do it in places, but it’s rather hard to distinguish who is this series’ ‘Sokka,’ who’s the ‘Aang’ and who’s the ‘Zuko’, because all the characters are looking for different things.  You do have the joker, the broody one and the blithe spirit, but they aren’t carbon copies of the original cast, nor are their relationships.  Even direct relatives aren’t expies- Tenzin is very unlike Aang, and Lin Bei Fong isn’t a Toph clone despite being her mother.  There are nice homages, but the characters are all their own.  Unfortunately…

Cons

… The series had absolutely no time to develop this very promising cast.

My god, this felt so rushed.  It’s my one massive complaint with the whole series.  they set out to do and show so much and introduce so much new shit, that it just all flew past for me.  you had the new steampunk elements, fine.  And the metal bending police, then pro bending, then equalists, then FUCK race cars then AGH Air Acolytes and biplanes and cabbage corps- so much!  Now there is a comic book series bridging this series and Aang together, but the pacing of the show itself felt rushed.  It was difficult to really build up a connection to massive cast in 10 25 minute episodes, and an hour long finale.

The cast was awesome, just not utilized very well.  People are introduced and you never really get breathing time with them, there’s no warming period- General Iroh junior is a good example- I know he’s really a nod to fans, being voiced by a familiar actor and all that, but he only appears in THE FINALE? Seriously? It drove me nuts!  We get no arc with him, we don’t get a character, we just get badass General doing badass shit.  That’s fine, but I think what made Legend of Aang so compelling was the fact that EVERYONE had a point and an arc to their stories- Even Toph who by and large was comic relief badass who cracked wise in the original series was introduced with a motivation- run away from my smothering parents.  Sokka and Katara and everyone felt rounded and familiar.

Korra just didn’t have time to introduce and maintain such a massive cast- Lin Bei Fong is another offender- Awesome and badass, but we don’t really get under her skin much- we don’t get under anyone’s skin the way Aang did so expertly.  Even side characters in Aang like Jet and Haru had most character to them.  the Korra characters are… Disappointing in a way.  You always want more because they’re awesome, but there just isn’t enough time for everyone.  So in terms of pacing, I found Korra a bit too jam packed- they tried to do too much with too little time.  (General Bumi DIDN’T EVEN GET A LINE.  HE LOOKED AWESOME AND ALL HE GOT TO SAY WAS ‘WOOO!’)

Final verdict-

I really, really loved this show.  I’m so glad it exists.  I didn’t even get into all the awesome aspects of it, but it really is exceptional.  However, Korra seriously suffered from it’s short running time- Introducing a whole new setting and a massively changed world was very ambitious and not fully successful in the time that that had.  It’s a gorgeously animated and very clever little series (You’d actually get through he whole thing in one sitting) but it doesn’t have the majesty of the original.  Then again, it was never going to, and I don’t think the makers wanted it to be another Aang- it’s the differences from Aang that really make it something special.

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It was super effective!

Niamh ‘Avatar state Yip Yip!’ Keoghan

The existential crisis of being Twenty

Is certainly healed by the presence of this song