Thursday, 5 March 2015

So-Fetch Friday: Increased Frustrations and Tedious Screenings

Right now I'm a bit disoriented and lost. I've got papers I need to get started on but my schedule is all jumbled up because all the teaching assistants went on a strike that was almost averted only to end up happening due to the agreement they reached being rejected several hours past the deadline. I won't pretend to understand the details beyond that they were upset with their wages (which I've been told are below the official poverty level). In that sense, I support them, but at the same time I'm still struggling to make sense of everything. I hope this all gets worked out soon. I've also got papers I needed to get a start on, but the TA strike has interfered with one, possibly another, and I've got another I'm having trouble getting started with. On top of that, I'll also have to start worrying about exams soon. Putting it simply, I've got a rough week at the moment. I guess I've got my birthday in a few weeks, so that's something to look forward to.

This week, we saw Phantom of Paradise, a strange rock and roll-themed version of The Phantom of the Opera, though not really one I enjoyed. My professor spent some time talking about the strike, and when I noticed he had a still from Tout Va Bien I asked if he was a Jean-Luc Godard fan. He seemed to appreciate it when I promised I'd try not to strangle him if he said anything good about that guy's work. For the same class, I also had a reading in which I very nearly snapped because the author wouldn't stop praising Godard. It seems even the classes in which I'm not forced to watch his work I still can't escape his wrath. I also know it's only three more weeks until I get forced to watch the obligatory Godard movie for this year (this will be the third year and the fourth class, both in a row, in which I have been forced to watch something of his).

We also learned about the end of the Studio System, looking at the movie How to Marry a Millionaire. Am I the only one who found this movie to be boring and tedious? Most of the rest of the class seemed to enjoy it, I was hearing them bursting into laughter every other moment, but to me it ended up being extremely grating and infuriating. I'm not even entirely sure why. I guess I could see what was being discussed to an extent, since we were looking at how movie studios of the post-war era were trying to find new ways to attract audiences to theaters. In this case, the movie was using the then-radical technologies of Cinemascope, which was designed to create a more immersive experience for the viewer. Maybe it was just an issue of personal taste in some form.

Adding to that is the continued bombardment from IMDB users with angry comments in response to my criticisms of the unnecessary lack of female characters in Black Sea and Alien Outpost. The fact that one user by the name of JoeHud even started a thread making fun of me doesn't help much. A few people have posted extensive rants on those boards, getting mad at me and accusing me of being some kind of "Feminazi" (because as we all know from the history the Nazis were extremely supportive of feminism... oh wait, no they weren't), an idiot, or something else in general that is just wrong. Normally I'd provide some quotes, but a lot of the things people have said recently are extremely inappropriate for me to be displaying here. There is, however, one post I can share from the Black Sea board, posted by a user named who identifies himself as thebogofeternalstench:

Well there was actually, obviously you are blind.

Go and watch a film with women in it if this film bothers you so much. There are plenty of them.

Is that your only gripe with this film? You're incredibly small minded aren't you?

This is why John Carpenters The Thing worked so well, there wasn't some annoying slag in it ruining it with feminine/love *beep* No wonder the remake sucked balls.

"Waaaaaaaa I didnt like this film because there were no women in it". Lol. Pathetic.

How comments like these make me feel.

Pathetic? Oh, I'm sorry. How dare I encourage better images of women! I don't hate films simply for not having women in them. Some of my all-time favorite movies are ones with an all-male cast or at the very least not much in the way of female characters (including 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I have repeatedly cited as my favorite film). As a feminist and a film blogger, I'm trying to encourage better representations of women in film, and one of my ways of doing that is pointing out movies that have no reason to lack a strong female lead. The Thing is a movie that worked great because of its all-male cast, but one should stop and think about why that made it work there. After all, technically you could swap out some of the guys with women without changing the story. You probably wouldn't even need to change the dialogue much outside of a few pronouns.

The reason why the all-male cast works here is because its Carpenter's way of subverting his own formula. After unwittingly establishing the slasher formula with Halloween, there were several conventions that made women in horror films more predictable, based mainly on whether they had sex. By taking the female characters (and by extension, the archetypes they represent) out of the equation, Carpenter creates a new element of suspense. Also this is keeping true to the original book the film was based on (which was first published in 1938, at a time when women were generally not known to participate in Antarctic expeditions).

A lot of other great all-male movies generally have a reason for making that decision, even it it's as simple as looking at the cultural context of the time it was made. There is no reason I have found why it was not possible for Black Sea or Alien Outpost to have a female lead. A lot of the commenters also seem to think writing any of the many different male characters in either film as a woman would be "forcing" in a romance, because it's impossible to have a female character in your movie without trying to include a romance... oh wait, NO IT'S NOT! I'm a writer and I know from experience that you can in fact have a strong female lead without trying to force in an unnecessary love story.

I've had some people accusing me of interfering with an artist's vision and making a big deal about nothing, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's true that I probably can't get these particular films to be entirely re-written and re-shot with a female lead (and if I did, the filmmakers would probably handle it poorly anyway). What I can do is make an example of these films, as ones that had no reason to be lacking a strong female lead, in order to encourage future movies to include more strong female characters. Others are telling me to go make my own movie, which is precisely what I am doing with my screenplays, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't encourage other filmmakers to find better ways of depicting women.

On a slightly more optimistic note, I have been able to keep up with a few of my fandoms. I've started to catch up on The Walking Dead and its certainly got me curious about a few things. In their latest adventure our heroes have stumbled across a mystery character named Aaron, who wants to invite them into his "community". He seems like a nice guy, though he understands why the main characters are so paranoid, and half of me really wants to believe there's some truth to it. The other half quickly realizes that what he is describing seems to call to mind similar attempts with Woodbury (which might have been fine if it weren't being run by a murderous psychopath) and Terminus (which was supposed to be a sanctuary but ended up turning into a farm whose residents harvested anyone who showed up as food). Aaron does seem like an okay guy, but there could still be something they're not telling us. The one thing that does seem like a positive touch is that Aaron is officially the second gay character to be added to the show's cast (after Tara), so points to the creators for sexual diversity.

I've also reached the end of Agent Carter, and what a finale? Sousa defeated that psycho therapist by using his own tricks against him and Carter took care of Dottie, though there are some concerns to be raised about the fact that she seems to have survived falling three stories onto the wing of an airplane. On the other hand, there was a lot of blood, so she was obviously wounded and could have died of her injuries after leaving the hanger. On the bright side, Carter is back in action and the SSR finally recognizes how talented she is despite her gender, but on the other hand the media ends up giving credit to Jack Thompson (though Carter doesn't seem to mind).

Now after my last few entries, I imagine you're all really sick of me talking about Banshee excited to hear about what's going on in Banshee County. Well, this week, there's been some interesting developments. Proctor almost got convicted for his criminal activity but he seems to have some kind of plan to outwit the legal system. Meanwhile A biker gang caused a lot of trouble and could only be stopped by Lucas's vigilante tactics, while Siobhan is struggling with some psychological issues. I love Siobhan on this show, she's got to be one of my favorite characters. Really, it was finding out she was in it that won me over and convinced me to keep watching. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to her next. Also, we got a glimpse into what happened to Lucas in prison, where he became the personal property of a psychotic inmate who was subsequently killed by him in a... rather unpleasant way.

As for Hannibal, well he is starting to get a little bit creepy. I think I might be finding Mads Mikkelsen's Hannibal Lector a lot scarier than I ever found Anthony Hopkins' version. That's not to say there was anything particularly wrong with Anthony Hopkins, I just never really found The Silence of the Lambs to be as frightening as many critics often make it out to be. Meanwhile, on The X-Files, Mulder has gotten himself into trouble once again, this time by getting stuck on a train that may or may not have a bomb on board, while Scully is trying to figure out what was up with that thing that got planted in her neck. Also, Mysterious Mr. X is still mysterious, but he saved Mulder from an exploding train so I guess he's okay.

So that's pretty much my week. I haven't been able to see a whole lot outside of my classes right now, and I'm still out looking for material, but hopefully I'll find something. Having these and the Thursday Movie Picks Meme as stuff to keep me going in between articles does seem to have helped a little bit. At least it allows me a venue of some sort to keep discussing film-related subjects when I'm stuck. On the other hand, I've at least been able to get the odd review out and I've taken care of this month's Blindspot so I guess I'm doing okay. Now I've got to decide what next month's film is going to be.

I have had a few off-handed ideas for possible topics I might consider writing about at some point. One idea I've been wondering about is maybe doing something on what makes a good protagonist, or perhaps I could write a detailed essay on what necessitates and all-male cast in response to that annoying IMDB comment. Both of these might be good things for you to think about, and if you want to share your thoughts on those subjects feel free to leave them in the comments. I guess I'm open to suggestions as well right now. I can't promise I'll take anyone's advice but who knows, maybe you'll give me some useful ideas.

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  1. I'm sorry those guys are giving you such a hard time. People online can be such assholes. I heard about some schools striking; it totally sucks that you can't get started on your papers. For my spring break. I'll be studying so much too. I'm not really feeling the whole benefits of spring break like I should be. haha

    Thanks for participating again in So Fetch Friday! :)

  2. IMDB sucks. I hate the comment sections there and really, the only time I ever go there is when I'm writing a review and want to get all the correct spellings of character names. Other than that, I'm never on that board.

    Sorry about the harassment. It's disgusting what people think they can get away with on the internet.

    PS. I want to be in your class for all the reasons you wish to NOT be in your class ;-)

    1. Holy s***, I just looked at that mock page and, did JoeHud really just say that it was hard to find women who can act well? He is what is wrong with the average movie-goer. Just disgusting!

    2. I know, it's ridiculous. If it was perhaps a super-low budget film made by people with no contacts and there was an extremely limited pool of actors maybe I could sort of understand the choice, but that's not what this was. The filmmakers managed to get Jude Law in their movie, I think they can afford to find some talented actresses.

      Also, as if that wasn't irritating enough, there is yet ANOTHER mock thread on the board now, one that is even more ridiculous. As annoying as that first guy's was, he at least referred to some serious issues of racial inequality. This guy apparently thinks discrimination against people with Swedish heritage is a contemporary social issue:

  3. You see...I like being 50 and a bit out of touch with all the web mania. When I read what you are dealing with and what Drew just mentioned above, it tells me how closed minded many people are and bullying. In open "places" such as these, I would never write my thoughts due to the nature of these sad human beings. I also never even thought to have done that:) The strike must be affecting many students and that doesn't help at this time of year. You know you will be seeing "Weekend" so good luck with Godard

  4. Wow, I was just reading through your discussion on IMBD.. people are so crazy. Especially on the mock discussion and someone was saying that females aren't as good actors as men? That they're a dime a dozen? What ignorant rock do these people live under? Going places like this just causes so much hassle, trouble and frustration, especially when it comes to equality. Like, who thinks they can get away with some of the things they say?

    Sucks about school striking. I'm guessing you're from Toronto area, then! Strikes are great for a few days, but just suck in general (sucks for people who get paid too little, sucks that everyone gets mad that their schedules are interrupted).

    1. I know, these people who keep posting all these angry comments are really infuriating. Over on the Outpost 37 board I keep getting bombarded by angry comments from people constantly trying to tell me that women are naturally weaker than men and incapable of military service. I've also had people on YouTube essentially arguing precisely the same thing against women in the fire service.

      I am from Toronto, and there's actually a few universities that have been going through this. To make matters even more frustrating I have two professors who may end up having to go on strike depending on how things play out. Hopefully this all works out soon.