fridgepunk: A sign on garrus' back reading "Shoot a rocket into my ugly stupid face" (Default)
Stuff like this essay on The West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin's new telly-prog is largely why I have a soft spot for Warren Ellis:

But, as a middle-aged white man, I take issue with the notion that it takes a Great White Man to fix the culture, and that shitting on every woman in the room to do it is just quirky, grumpy collateral damage. I’m pretty sure that’s been tried, over here in the real world. And here we are.

Go read the whole thing as well as the interview with Sorkin by Sarah Nicole Prickett (Globe&Mail comments: abandon all hope etc...etc... but it's a great article beyond merely the Sorkin interview bit), where he spends the entire thing lurching wildly from being pre-emptively defensive about a project I think everyone kinda hoped would be good and openly patronising and talking down to the interviewer and her shockingly post-modern lack of testicles, which pretty effectively torpedoes any hope that America was about to produce a show that could step into the long emptied shoes of satirical news sitcom Drop the Dead Donkey.

Which to be fair was in and of itself a forlorn hope at the mention that it was going to go the alt history topical news route, as DtDD went with the afaik still unreplicated feat of building the "News" background of each episode around events that had happened during the week immediately prior to that particular episode aired – though that would have meant that the show couldn't cheat and that it had to have opinions, which US shows can't really do lest it cause Teh Outrages from conservative viewers (which thereby forbids pretty much anything that isn't rape for some reason, bearing in mind that Sesame Street was at one point during the 70s banned in The South because it upset the same conservatives by daring to have a black man in a position of authority over muppets).

Of course if it had been topical it also couldn't have EVERY episode be a didactic rant about how to properly cover $DEEPLY_SERIOUS_EVENT... because then it'd have to address the main reason why 24 news is so shockingly bad; i.e. that the quality of the newsroom behind the cameras and the people in front of them is largely due to the 24hours being forced by their format to hire people because they're very good at spinning a woman who dumped a cat in a recycling bin into something that can fill 24 hours a day worth of rolling news coverage with, because that is basically the bulk of their programming. And then these poor idiots who get hired behind the cameras have to try their best, given no one in the newsroom with the appropriate experience or knowledge set becuase they all were either fired becuase they wanted to be paid in money or left because the 24hours' work ethos sucks on toast, to find a way for these vapid news-douches to report about the occasional war that happens in a region that no one at the 24hours has heard of nor knows anything about, during the fleeting moments when actual news occurs.

Modern News is dull turds polished to a shine with the occasional golden nugget that was supposed to justify the whole thing but which poor reportage from the turd polishers renders more shitty than the actual turds.

That's before I point out that this whole Great Man myth is what Piers Morgan believes in as well, is in fact what he belives to be reality as performed by himself as the Great Man – really; when he was harassing celebrities or stalking grieving relatives or engaging in insider trading or trying to cash in on the coalition torture scandals or calling all the models too thin and all the actresses too fat, he thought that he was genuinely doing journalism properly, doing it the right way, the News of the World way, unlike those commies in the guardian or those sycophants at the Times. Sorkin's Newsroom is thus not merely an alternate history show, but is in fact a weird psychedelic trip into an alternate dimension that only Piers Morgan is normally able to contact, where all his delusions are true and he was always able to know ahead of time important facts about a story that allow him to tell it all the Right Way.

What if Piers Morgan is right?

What if Piers Morgan was American all along just like a real boy?

Only Sorkins is the Great Man capable of asking such hard hitting questions and then answering them within the context of a fictional world of his own creation.
fridgepunk: A sign on garrus' back reading "Shoot a rocket into my ugly stupid face" (.45 Factual Statement)
I can't see Assange facing a great deal of injustice in the Swedish courts, I can see him easily experiencing due process of law, and having all his human rights respected at all points of this affair. If he is found guilty, he will find himself in a prison where he will again have all his human rights respected by the institution he'll be incarcerated in, and he will not have to stay there particularly long once appeals are taken into account because he's only been charged with rape, not something with a particularly long sentence.

Whatever the hell he does for wikileaks will not actually be affected – one of the side effects of his constantly moving about is that whatever he does can still be done remotely from prison. The worst case scenario that can result from him being arrested isn't exactly bad.

So while the fact that Interpol considers Assange's arrest as big a deal as that of convicted child rapist Roman Polanski is undeniable bullshit, and while the attacks on Wikileaks are wrong, none of this is actually a genuine injustice.

There are far too many people in prison and who have suffered worse than prison as a result of genuine injustices, like having confessions either falsified or extracted under torture, or due to falsified evidence put up against them, or of racist police supported by racist judges and racist jurors obtaining convictions for such injustices.
fridgepunk: (Exoticising the otter)
The whole opening 1st minute of the show was like Said's concept of orientalism and Mulvey's concept of the male gaze were having sex and managed to achieve simultaneous orgasms.


This scene would turn out to be representative of the entire rest of the episode.

Massive spoilers and descriptions of FAIL below the cut... )
fridgepunk: A sign on garrus' back reading "Shoot a rocket into my ugly stupid face" (Contact With Fail)
Just saw Contact for the first time.

Int'resting fax wut I haz lern'd:

1, Jodie Foster is awesome (I'm putting her between Starbuck and Samantha Carter on my list of "best depictions of non-standard feminity in Sci-Fi"*).

2, Hollywood apparently CAN do a female character who is a scientist, smart, and who also is passionate, and can handle contractions AND who isn't a creepy frigid robot woman.

3, Hollywood can also apparently handle said female scientist character having a romantic interest who isn't there just to teach her the meaning of "kiss", take her glasses off, unfurl her Sexy!hairdo and generally teach her who to be normative!sexy and generally bland - indeed the relationship between Foster and Surfboard McPriest is primarily an intellectual one, even though it is also a physical one (and the physicality is consummated right at the start of the movie, so there's this brilliant bit where they meet up again later on and they basically have sex with their minds for the rest of the movie wtf!? This is totally against all the established cliches of the genre!!).

4, the precise phrase that escaped my lips when Foster was all like "yeah just hang around, sleep in, there's some food in the fridge and leave your number and I'll call you, 'k?" and then went off to work immediately after boinking Surfboard McPriest was: "holy shit, Jodie Foster is a stone cold pimp!" but as I am not generally one easily taken by slightly racist cliches, I'm assuming it was a totally fair and objective assessment of the situation.

5.1, It is apparently possible for hollywood to do an intelligent, Skiffy-as-all-get-out, yet also character driven, well plotted and awesome to watch sci-fi movie WITH DIALOGUE THAT ACTUALLY FURTHERS THE PLOT!!!


6, holy shit Kubrick, you and 2001 are officially fired. Contact is The Best Sci-fi Movie Evr.

7, It has one explosion in the entire movie, yet something about that one explosion is significantly better, explosion-wise, than all the myriad explosions seen in any given sci-fi blockbuster movie put together. Note that 2001 had no explosions at all.

8, So you know when people say "well they can't have characters like that because it doesn't sell/isn't intersting/whatever", where "that" is "a female character not constructed entirely out of cliches, sexism and heteronormativity", well that's wrong, in the sense that it is a factually incorrect statement. And Contact is the evidence that disproves it.

9, The black female adivisor to the president and Foster sort of converse a few times, about things other than men, but it's never... quite... a full blown conversation so it's borderline whether it genuinely passes Blechdel's test. No female characters are shown as close or friendly towards each other, so it certainly fails the spirit of the Blechdel test.

10, I love that the depiction of Clinton's advisors includes a sort of generic bible thumping southerner. Oh 90's, we had no idea what was in store for us...

11, the CGI doesn't date at all!! It's rarely used, but when it is it all sort of works and looks pretty. In fact the only thing that date the movie is Clinton, and that's artfully enough done as to justify itself.

12, The biggest problem is probably the blind character who is depicted as having what is in effect super-human ability at audio-signal-processing - because as we all know the only way someone with a disability could make their way up the ranks in the sciences is because they have some special talent above and beyond their intellect. A neat little meme that both furthers the whole thing where disabled characters have to have their existence justified by the plot (because they can't just exist as people they have to have a use), and acts to further the stigma attached to disabled people in the sciences by making out that the only way for a disabled person to get ahead at all is to be in some way better than an equivalent able bodied person, rather than just being a good scientist, as obviously they have to some how rise above their disability - which is realistic wrt the effect of ablism in the sciences to an extent, but the way every single movie tends to enter disabled people into the red queen's race as matter of course probably isn't healthy, and can't be having a positive effect on things. That deaf guy is, one hopes, going to date quite horribly in a few decades, like the random "blink and you'd miss it" implied homosexuality in the movie adaption of The Deep Sleep, or the depiction of any black character before Uhuru broke through the beige ceiling in Star Trek.

But on balance, after due consideration is given to all facts about this movie... IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE GO WATCH IT NOW. ZOG COMMANDS THIS OF YOU!!!

* Also: Thrace/Foster/Carter sandwhich mmm... though there'd be a race to see who would be out of that bed first after the act, as none of them seem particularly fond of snuggling in the afterglow. I imagine the post game conversation going pretty much;

Foster: Aliens! *hops out of bed and gets dressed*

Carter: Aliens! *hops out of bed and gets dressed*

Starbuck: Drink! *hops out of bed and gets beer*

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