Imagine my surprise when I went to the cinema to see the trailer for an all new adaption of THE GREATEST. LOVE STORY. OF ALL TIME.
Romeo and Juliet is one of those works that most people get quite a young exposure to. Unlike the other Shakespeare play that people are likely to study for their Junior Cert (The Merchant of Venice) Romeo and Juliet is part of our cultural shorthand. It’s been misinterpreted and analysed over and over for nearly 400 years and for the last century has been the most popular of Shakespeare’s plays on stage and screen. Everybody knows the plot by heart even before they go in. Two kids from warring families hook up, get married then kill themselves. It’s kind of the Star Wars or Sixth Sense of Elizabethan drama, in that the twist in Romeo and Juliet is so well known that it isn’t even a twist anymore. Starting in the first act as a comedy, the sudden shocking murder that leads into the later acts was a bit of a swerve back in the day. Turning from jolly and light to dark and brooding, it’s not really a love story as much as it’s a story about how shit feuds are. The lovers in this story are the pawns in the quarrels of their parents.
Judging by the flat, airy trailer this adaption is going to take itself quite seriously and play the subject matter very straight. It won’t have the intense longing and tension of Zeffirelli’s film or the riotous over the top 90s excess of Baz Lurhmans 1996 effort. Each version has always said something about the era in which it was made. Particularly Baz Lurhman, whose best skill is portraying opulence and excess, as seen recently in the great Gatsby. Romeo + Juliet also started that explosion of late 1990s classic literature adaptions set in high school- you had O (othello) Ten things I hate about you (the Taming of the Shrew) Clueless (Emma) and cruel Intentions (dangerous liaisons) among others. A lot of these versions woefully missed the point of their source material and being loose adaptions with the original dialogue and characters changed distances them from their source material particularly with the Shakespeare adaptions. Still, hard to believe about 15 years ago the hot trend was for adapting dusty classics into teen movies.
Overall, will this be an iconic bench mark for a generation? It’s obviously following in the footsteps of Julian Fellowes beloved Abbey, but also weirdly enough in the footsteps of Taylor Swift’s hilarious fan fic version of the Romeo and Juliet tale told via her video for ‘Love Story.’ It’s a bit uncanny. The irony there being that the respective soundtracks for the 1968 and 1996 versions have gone on to become as well remembered as the films themselves
whether it was the contemporary pop of 1996 or the big, sweeping score of 1968. That was the key with those versions, I think. 1968 felt big and dangerous in it’s own way- hell, Olivia Hussey who played Juliet wasn’t even allowed into the premiere, because of the rating- a rating that was high because of her own brief topless nude scene shot when she was 14. It was edgy, man. It still it today. 1996 felt… opulent. It played up the hysteria of the feud and the tensions between gangland families and subtly, to the long standing antipathy between the Irish and Italian communities in the US and the tension between old and new moneyed families. What I’m saying is both iconic adaptions did something striking. This new one just looks.. brown. Even the freaking poster is brown.
It remains to be seen what 2013 will look, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. If the flat delivery and lifeless pretty faces of the trailer are anything to go by, this won’t be anything special.
Niamh ‘Sorry I’ve been away for so long’ Keoghan
This column originally appeared in the Student Standard volume 1, issue 1 on the 12th February 2013. The Student Standard is NUI Maynooth’s independent new source and can be read online here
published here with kind permission of Keith Broni, editor of the Standard.
Bank Holiday Tuesday 12th February 2013
Another year, another Superbowl Sunday passed with me in bed early, not willing to stay up until 5AM watching the most excruciatingly boring sport known to man (Worse than Cricket, Curling and Lawn Bowls put together because AT LEAST those sports don’t stop for a little rest every every. single. Play) only for the faint promise of nine minutes of Beyonce that I could catch on YouTube the next day. No, I experienced the superbowl the way I also experienced the Late Late show’s debate on marriage equality last week- tucked up in bed with a hot chocolate, following the proceedings via twitter.
Twitter is a great medium for experiencing telly, a crowdsourced annotated commentary of whatever happens to be on. It’s basically watching highlights that are tailored to your own personal tastes- so in my case, the Superbowl coverage I saw was mostly ‘When’s Beyonce on?’ Then hysterical tweets when she actually did come on (SHE’S SO GOOD AT WALKING!) all about the dancing, the costume, the choice of song (‘Baby Boy?’ Really? That song was lame back in 2004. Come on Bey, do Bootilicious, come on-OH MY GOD THEY’RE DOING BOOTILICIOUS) and of course, the fact that Destiny’s child had ‘reunited.’ When really, all that happened was that Bey got her moderately famous backing singers back. I always liked Kelly Rowland. She reached a minor solo peak around 2003 when I first got into pop music. Sadface. Oh wait, now they’re doing single ladies- I have to do Single ladies on this deadly silent train now, excuse me.
The Bey halftime show was a bit of an experience for me, watching it on my phone on the train to Maynooth Monday Morning. It was when I finally sort of ‘got’ Beyonce. We’ve long had a complicated relationship because she just doesn’t really have a lot of songs I can groove to. Bootilicious and Single Ladies are aggressively good and that is Beyonce at her best. Telephone is an over produced masterpiece of pop excess. If I were a boy and her other break up jams always felt a bit flat to me. It never really captures the actual pain of a break-up- they’re more like revenge dreams. I’d theorise that ‘If I were a boy’ is really a dissing of the sort of casual misogyny that’s common in most hip hop and rap.
Beyonce isn’t particularly titillating. She’s too fucking scary to be titillating. Compare some of her earlier videos- writhing on a beach because Sean Paul is just too hot to comprehend (note- it was 2004 after all) in baby boy, to the aggressive dominance of the Single Ladies dance. Single Ladies is an aggressive, iconic song. It’s not sensual- it’s a war cry. She’s strong and she will fucking TRASH YOU in a song if you wrong her. She’s not pandering to sexism so much as sticking a sharp heel through it. Men do fancy her (note-I fancy her. everyone fancies her. don’t lie.) but she’s not for a moment subservient to any man. She consistently out-earns her husband. All you need do to set off any woman born between 1980 and 1993 is to go up to her and ask earnestly ‘Kelly, can you handle this?’. You will be treated to every woman in the vicinity shrieking the lyrics to ‘Bootilicious’ at the tops of their voices.
Which brings me to the title of her new tour- Mrs Carter. Using her husbands name on her solo tour has been a bit… confusing to people who have always seen Beyonce as a strong independent figure. Personally, I had actually forgotten Beyonce had a surname at all. ‘Knowles’ sort of became redundant after Sasha Fierce came out- She’s reached Cher levels of ‘first name only’ recognition. I had also forgotten Jay-Z had a surname either, in fact I just assumed they were monarchs and didn’t have a need for one, you know? Privately, Bey and Jay apparently both hyphenate their names, going as the ‘Knowles- Carter’ family. Bey has said publically that when she’s stressed, she likes to go make love to her husband to chill out. She is one of the most athletic and accomplished dancers of our generation- I’d argue her choreography will define the dance of our generation in the same way Michael Jackson defined the 80s. In the promo for this tour she’s dressed in a Louis the XIV style leotard and a fur cape. She’s Beyonce. LADS. She is Beyonce. Beyonce is allowed name her tour whatever she wants.
Niamh ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this Jelly’ Keoghan
The Hobbit:An unexpected Journey and Peter Jackson’s attempt to stretch out a 300 page book over 3 films. The film is a hoot, but it’s frustrating- the pacing is just terrible. It’s unforgivable. Last night a party a friend of mine said the beauty of the Hobbit is that it’s Peter Jackson celebrating the previous trilogy, and doing that again.
Let me say to this, BITCH PLEASE. Peter Jackson, you are allowed celebrate JACK SHIT about your masterpieces. That’s like me writing fan fic of my own novel. That’s bullshit. The Hobbit is a very different story to the Lord of the Rings- Essentially, it’s a heist movie written as a jaunty quest. The parts of the Hobbit that work best are the moments where it’s lighter, funnier and softer than the Lord of the Rings. This isn’t supposed to be three movies long. This isn’t supposed to be epic and about the fate of the world. It’s supposed to be one guy on an adventure with some dudes, with HINTS towards a larger world and story behind it.
This is a terrible trend I have noticed. Ladies and Gentlenerds, we have become a spoiled race. There is money in our fare, and the industry, hereafter referred to as ‘the man’ know this. They know we will shell out 15 euros a pop to see our beloved stories played out in iSense 3D with an advanced 48 framerate, from a premier seat. The Man knows we’re going to buy the overpriced box set with seven hours of special features and surround sound. They also know that we’re likely to illegally download the fucker for free once good DVD rips become available. They even know we’ll buy the special edition director’s cut DVD.
Since Harry Potter Deathly Hallows was split in two, studios have been slicing films willy nilly, in the knowledge that they will bump up their harvest crop. There is a concentrated effort to get bums back into seats again after six months to cream a little bit out of you, considering the rise in illegal downloads. This is, to me, really problematic. It feels like I’m complaining about a good thing. How can I not like getting MORE HOBBIT? Surely having 2 movies to finish Deathly Hallows was better than rushing it? What’s my problem?
The problem is that some stories need 3 movies, and some need 1. Some stories can be told in one book, while others need seven doorstoppers to get them done. All of these are valid, and they’re all good- The Sally Lockhart Quartet is a brilliant 3 books (and one pretty good book…), while Neverwhere is one cracker. V for Vendetta is a classic collected in one single edition now, while Sandman needed 13 volumes. The problem is that The Hobbit is one book. It only needed 2 films, and that was if you put in EVERYTHING. If you threw the kitchen sink and a massive dance party scene in, you’d still only have two movies. Jackson’s included bits from the apendices in this film, but it feels hollow. He did the same in the Lord of the Rings with the Arwen/Aragorn subplot, but there it worked because it was contextual. Most of the story runs along the same timeline as the main plot, and concerns one of the lead characters. It doesn’t feel clunky or too out of place- it’s a quest after all, and Aragorn’s subplot of wanting to get with Liv Tyler informs his later determination to take back his crown. It totally works there.
In the Hobbit however, it’s just there for padding. There was clearly no critical eye or care given to what mattered and what didn’t. It was just all thrown in. It’s an attempt to create a trilogy on the scale of the original films with the same aesthetic and vision but in trying so hard to be The Lord of the Rings, it scuttles so much of what could have made it a new beast. I don’t want to see the Lord of the Rings- I have a 12 hour long, 6 DVD boxset of the entire extended cuts, with 5 different commentaries. I don’t want Peter Jackson to pay tribute to his masterpiece- I want him to make the goddamn Hobbit!
Even bringing back the old guard- Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee and Cate Blanchett- for such substantial roles kills off any hope of attaching to the new cast. They seem to be trying to make James Nesbitt ‘happen’ as a wacky sidekick, but then he’s sidelined off so Hugo Weaving can rush in. the attempt to put The Hobbit on the scale of the original trilogy makes it fucking impossible to try and see it as anything new, which is a problem. Thoren Oakenshield is painfully boring and brooding. When it was Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn doing the same schtick it was compelling, but here it left me cold. Martin Freeman is fantastic, as is Andy Serkis. their Riddles in the Dark scene is fantastic.
One of the reasons Lord of the Rings films were so important is because they were huge. In 2001, people were blown away it. The scale, the ambition, the fact that it seemed to have a real talent and artistry behind it. It pretty much defined the 2000s in film for me. They were something utterly new and jaw dropping. I first watched the trilogy in 2008 on a shitty portable DVD player while lying in bed, and the Balrog blew me away. Helms deep was stunning. Shelob, Moria, the entire creation of Gollum who was the first ever completely integrated motion capture performed character in a live action film. The forced perspective that makes me believe that Elijah Wood actually is only 3’9 and therefore shocks me when I see he’s actually a fully grown man. It just blows me away. It’s a beautiful, frightening, ambitious fantastic trilogy that changed the world of film.
In my fan fix Lady Sybil teams up with Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, Lady Gregory Countess Markevich and Maude Gonne and they form a roller derby team and Yeats writes a rad poem about them and she gets the vote and Tom drives a flying car over Dublin bay and Sybz pronounces it ‘Dahblin’ and Ethel gets her baby back and then all the Ladies of Irish republicanism team up to break Bates out of prison with Eamon DeValera and Anna is like a trained ninja and Edith drives the getaway car and Cora out- sasses all of them with her sassy American ways and then Sybil is made the FIRST LADY PRESIDENT OF IRELAND and nobody ever dies ever and they all live happily ever after the end
Niamh I just need a minute to ease my sobbing Keoghan
This article was originally published shortly after the London 2012 games on the Student Standard. I’m putting it up here and now because I am so swamped in economics and slacking off from economics by watching game of thrones that I can’t think of anything to write.
The first I heard of the Olympics going to London was actually the first time I was ever there: I was on my first ever school trip outside of Ireland back in 2005. Back in the day tubes, buses and park benches were covered in a simple slogan ‘BACK THE BID’. All the promotion I saw around London is probably my strongest memory of the city. From that cold March day in 2005 before the bid was even confirmed to actually witnessing these long awaited games flit by in two weeks, it really left an impression on me, the most unfit and un-sporty of all people. Even the most cynical of us seemed at least partially interested in what’s probably going to be the closest Olympiad to Ireland in the foreseeable future.
The pre-talk was mixed certainly. From the hideous “Lisa Simpson blowjob” logo to the rampant and alarming fervour with which phrases like ‘Summer games’ and ‘London 2012’ were copyrighted and defended was largely criticised. Indeed in the very opening days of the games the masses of empty seats reserved for corporate ticket holders sparked anger. Truly the real triumph of the London games has come from a marriage of a well-funded public sector backed by investment and propped up at the bottom by the staggeringly massive efforts of 70,000 volunteers.
The BBC coverage of these games was immense, every single event was covered. Waking up each day to trampoline gymnastics, diving, cycling, swimming, judo – these were just the ones I managed to catch as they zoomed past at a tireless pace. It became a topic of conversation in the house: ‘Did you see your one who did well in the sailing interviewed?’ ‘Ah no I was watching it on BBC, they had their fellas on.’ RTÉ valiantly covered every Irish moment of the games, whether cringe worthy flops in track and field or the domination Ireland showed in the boxing ring and on the sea at Weymouth. Our clueless host provided unintentional comedy one day by repeating referring to a medallist from the Czech Republic as ‘the Czechoslovakian girl’ repeatedly and Kenneth Egan’s wardrobe watch proved as entertaining as anything else.
It was worth watching most of all for the surprises, such as the stunning win by Chad Le Clos of South Africa over the swimmer they said would sweep the medals, Michael Phelps. Watching the gymnastics and feeling infinitely inadequate listening to the commentary say how the girl who just back flipped five times across the floor and vaulted six feet into the air will probably score low due to being a bit crap. ‘Bolting’ at people when they enter the room became my standard mode of greeting, as well as arguing over who was using drugs or not. ‘Oh she’s well on the roids, look at her, COME ON.’
The Olympics managed to get even the biggest of cynics and sport phobic hooked – I will never forget where I was when I watched Katie Taylor in her first Olympic bout against Natasha Jonas. I was in the bar of my gym, along with my mother who decided along with me to finally bite the bullet and get fit again. Along one side of the bar is a glass window providing a viewing area to the swimming pool below, where gathered on the poolside an anxious gaggle of dads in swimming trunks craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the fight on the telly, while people mimed the scores down to them by holding up their fingers.
This has not only been an immediate games for Ireland for its proximity to us but for the success the team has had, in a performance equalling our medal haul of 1956: a stunning gold from Katie that I need not elaborate on (everyone else is), three bronze (Cian O’Connor clinches his redemption after the bitter disappointment of his 2004 gold being stripped) and a silver. Agonising near misses at bronze and gold for Rob Heffernan and Ananlise Murphy must also be noted along with a fabulous showing from Natalya Coyle finishing ninth in the Women’s modern pentathlon and the spirit of Joanne Cuhudy pulling us up from 8th to 5th in the women’s relay.
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt’s antics were golden, from his classic BOLT pose, to his nonchalant appearance as he breaks world records he’s a riot. Highlights include doing push ups after breaking the world record for Men’s 100m relay and making the life of one young volunteer by giving him a fist bump before he swaggered off to race. Bolt is a classy, classy man.
It’s been the one fortnight in four years that most sports see the light of day beyond Eurosport, and long may it be remembered. The endless drudge of English professional football, golf, occasional Rugby and some GAA eventually desensitizes a person to how thrilling sport can be. Flicking on the TV for the last two weeks has been a lucky dip- what country is kicking ass at what excellent thing next?
London 2012 will hopefully prove the gate way drug for those previously uninterested to take more interest in sport. While before perhaps looking inanely at the Sunday footie and going ‘this is the same every damn week’ hopefully more people will stand up and go ‘Hey… I think Imma go run a marathon/Jump on a trampoline/…dive into a body of water in tiny speedos from a great height.
London 2012 was described on RTÉ as the Italia ’90 of this generation, and this writer is inclined to think that for once RTÉ got something right.
Niamh ‘Still remembers Atlanta ’96’ Keoghan
Oh London 2012. You have yet to officially begin and already you provide me with this splendor. I’m still going to be very disappointed if David Tennant dressed as the tenth doctor doesn’t light the Olympic flame.
Woke up at about 12 noon, as summer holidaying students are wont to do
Checked twitter on phone, only to find this lovely article surmising how Republican Party Presidential candidate is getting on with his campaign’s trip to London. Supposedly manufactured to showcase the candidate’s diplomatic relation skillz, all it’s been so far is an utter and complete shambles. A HILARIOUS shambles. Imagine if you will a guest coming into your home and very loudly proclaiming your dinner is a badly planned disaster and they’re unsure how dessert is going to turn out. That’s pretty much how Romney’s been conducting himself. I don’t think it’s very wise to sass your hosts about their big huge international sporting event the day before it starts, as if anyone gives a shit what you think about it…
‘There are a few things that were disconcerting… The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging.’
My immediate reaction to this was ‘what a cunt.’ This sort of bullshit goes beyond any of my personal beef with Romney’s policies- He just sounds like an ignorant, self important arsehole. Doing the rounds today is an extract from his 2010 book (Mitt Romney has a book, Katie Price has a book… I feel so sub par) Where Romney basically says England isn’t really very important and nobody likes it much. Oh and it only escaped the Nazis because it’s an Island. Sneaking fucking England, riding on the glory of being an island…
At this point (Around 12:07 PM) I’m still lying in bed with a massive grin on my face. It’s the sort of grin you get when somebody is being self important and nobody is buying it. I cheered in triumph when I heard David Cameron’s back-Sass to Romney
We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.
Take THAT, Salt Lake City!
I never thought I’d be rooting for Cameron in anything but compared to Romney he’s a socialist icon. When you are more elitist and arsey than David fucking Cameron, you need to stop at once and reassess your goals. Romney seems to have staggered into the UK on a great wave of self important arrogance, one that he has no real power to back up with. Say what you want about George W Bush and his many gaffes, at least he was an actual head of state with nukes and an army and some reason for people to listen to him. Romney’s just a rich idiot running for election- it’s like Dana popping over on a state visit to the Olympics OH GOD I want to see Dana on a state visit right now.
When you seem more pompous and silly than Borris Johnson you REALLY have to reassess your goals, and even the fluffy haired mayor of London got his tuppence ha’penny in against Romney slagging off London. But really I have to ask, what on earth was Rom nom thinking? He was a key organising force behind the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City Utah, but are the two things comparable? Beyond the two events being major international sporting events under the olympic banner, I can’t see them having much in common logistically- At least not enough to justify Romney getting on his high horse about it. Extra points for getting Londoners riled up about the Olympics at last.
My favourite thing about this isn’t actually the reveal that he met with the head of MI6 (something he’s not supposed to say), but his clumsy naming of EVERY SINGLE CONFLICT ZONE around the world. That must have been a very long chat, to have discussed the problems and challenges faced by each of those regions- To even begin explaining about most of them in the most scant details would take a while. I know he’s sound biting but it’s just so false and smarmy.
I don’t know why, I just like seeing arrogant idiots flapping in and making tits of themselves. There’s a sort of Schadenfreude at work here. I don’t think it’ll be particularly damaging to Rom Nom’s presidential aspirations- Casually brushing off the gaffes one of his advisers basically told they don’t give a crap what the UK thinks, they only care about voters back in America so THERE, we’re taking our ball and going HOME. At every turn Romney seems to make a faux paus- Forgetting Ed Milliband’s name and calling him ‘Mister Leader’ as if he’s the despotic head of some backwater communist dictatorship, or revealing he met with the head of MI6, a meeting that was supposed to be kept secret. He’s like a small child bumbling through an adults carefully planned dinner party.
My new fave quote is from another of Rom Nom’s advisers, speaking of US-British ties-
‘We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special. The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.’
All I can say is that by half past noon, I was a very entertained girl indeed.
Niamh ‘I’m trying to make Rom Nom happen’ Keoghan
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERZZZZZZZZZZ
Seriously, I’m not taking responsibility for this if you get spoiled. Snape Kills Dumbledore.
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
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.
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.
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…
… 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.
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.
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.
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.
Niamh ‘I pledge my banner to house TarMOTHERFUCKINGDRAGONS’ Keoghan
A wild ANIMATED ACTION MINI SERIES appeared!
NIAMH used REVIEW!
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
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…
… 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!’)
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.
It was super effective!
Niamh ‘Avatar state Yip Yip!’ Keoghan