Petition This!

I remember a time when a film was released, people watched them. And if they didn’t enjoy them or they didn’t like them, they might have gotten annoyed about it or they maybe complained to their friends about how shit it was. Now people seem to think that if they don’t enjoy a film or TV series, they have a right to petition the makers to go back and remake it to how they want it. I, for one, am sick of it.

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I Demand Satisfaction

OR: HOW I LEARNED MY ANGER IS JUSTIFIED.

We have written a few articles on this site about fandom, nerddom and the like, but I feel that we often spend the majority of the time condemning fans for wanting things they love to match their expectations- without ever really trying to think about things from their side.  

I’m going to do something out of character: I’m going to try to see how I’ve been wrong and dive into why the angry fanboy is right- even if what they do with their anger is wrong. No matter how much you hate any piece of media, you can trust that people (not all of them, sure) poured their blood sweat and tears into it and any personal attacks are not only a waste of time, but outright cruel.  To do this, I’m going to be looking at some recent films and TV shows and spoil the hell out of them, so be warned….

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Airwolf: 35 years on

A BRIEF RETROSPECTIVE OF A UNIQUE TELEVISION SERIES THAT BROKE THE MOLD OF THE ACTION-ADVENTURE GENRE.

The whirring of the engines, the whooshing of the rotors, and that iconic theme song. Airwolf was a TV series that broke the mould of the action-adventure genre of 1980s television. Looking back, the pilot episode doesn’t feel like a TV program at all; it feels more like a feature. From the opening shots of the desert and the close-ups of Airwolf to the intense aerial photography, the TV pilot has some serious production value behind it. The storyline of the pilot also includes some rather dark themes. The series would last for three seasons totalling 55 episodes before being cancelled in 1986.

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Are These They? Or: Why I love The Venture Bros

A LOOK AT WHAT MAKES THIS CARTOON SO COMPELLING FOR SO MANY PEOPLE.

Growing up as a 90’s kid retro cartoons were readily available thanks in large part to the Saturday morning ritual of too much sugary cereal (looking at you Fruity Pebbles and Trix!) being offered up to the God’s Hannah and Barbera. The old 60’s adventure cartoons always stuck with me so when Adult Swim first aired a show that spoofed Johnny Quest, the Hurculoids, and even the old Fantastic Four Cartoon (the one with H.E.R.B.I.E. and not the Human Torch because the executives were worried kids would pour gas on themselves and then light themselves on fire because kids are stupid,)  I was all for it.

The Venture Bros. combines that same self-indulgent 60’s campiness with something far more original. It takes the superhero and adventurer genre and turns it on its ear. Filled with pop culture references that never seem dated and science fiction tropes that never fail to entertain, Doc Hammer and Jackson Public, two men who I have spoken to personally, have created a timeless program filled with twists and turns that rival some of the best shows on prime time.

I don’t exactly remember when I got into the Venture Bros. It was just one of those things. It was streaming on Netflix and I was bored and through that boredom, I fell in love with some of the best characters created for television.

What appeals to me the most about this show is its fanbase. Maybe it’s just me but there doesn’t seem to be the same toxicity other fanbases suffer from. There are no rabid Venture Bros. fans lining up at McDonald’s to get their hands on special sauces and gatekeeping newer fans from joining in on the fun. I believe my wife said it best when she said that Doc would shut that shut it right down and never make another episode if he found out there was any sort of shenanigans like that going on.

No place is this welcoming fanbase better represented than at Dragon Con in Atlanta. Last year I cosplayed as the Blue Morpho and met up with some fellow VB Cosplayers at the fan booth in the Hilton. We all just sort of hung out together, laughing and having a great time getting our pictures taken. There is a great picture of me with a half-naked Traester wrapped in an American flag with a post-it note saying “Fix It!” I mingled with St. Cloud, a half dozen Henchmen, A Killinger and so many Monarchs and Dr. Mrs. The Monarchs.

The funny thing is, it’s such a low key and welcoming fanbase because Doc and Jackson created characters who are pretty welcoming when you think about it. Rusty is a damaged character and surrounds himself with equally damaged people who have, in a lot of ways, become a tight-knit family. His relationships with his sons, though strained, often lead to emotional gut punch moments like when Rusty asks “Brock, am I a bad person?” It so often comes out of nowhere that you are left slack-jawed because this show shouldn’t be that serious and heavy but it is and we’re grateful for it.

Our Last Best Hope for Peace: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Babylon 5

Television as a medium has become the place to tell long-running stories and translate novels into a visual medium, but it wasn’t always that way. For the majority of its life, television was the place for simple, self-contained episodes that were easy to jump into at any point without knowing what happened before. There were several shows that broke new ground in the way television works, but none so game-changing as Babylon 5, a creation from the mind of J. Michael Straczynski that would change in how audiences watched TV.

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A dimension of sound, sight and mind: The legacy of The Twilight Zone

A DEEP DIVE INTO THE SERIES THAT WOULD PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF TELEVISION AND INSPIRE COUNTLESS PEOPLE

You unlock this article with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sixty years of a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just started reading an article about The Twilight Zone.

OK, so I’m not Rod Serling, but this is an article all about The Twilight Zone. A television series that would not only push the boundaries of television, but would go on to inspire writers, directors, actors and many more for decades to come. It would also be parodied, remade, referenced and lauded for just as long and will continue to do so for many more years to come. Each episode was played out as a self-contained story, which allowed the writers a huge amount of freedom to tell whatever story they wanted to tell. Every week, viewers tuned in, not knowing if the show was going to be about aliens, monsters, witches, devils, ghosts or any number of supernatural and extra-terrestrial beings.

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Bosch: The Crime Drama You Should Be Watching

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A NEW SHOW TO WATCH IN 2019, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THIS EXCELLENT COP DRAMA.

In this age of binge watching and box set consumption people are forever looking for new shows to watch. The first show I recommend to everyone is Bosch. Based on the books by Michael Connelly, Bosch stars Titus Welliver as the titular character. A hard boiled, old school detective who constantly clashes with his superiors. It sounds like a cliché, and in some ways it is. But in others it is one of the most impressive crime series I’ve seen since The Wire.

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The Disappointing Mrs. Maisel

How a great show ended up in a divorce cliché.

In April of this year, after two years of constant turmoil, frustration, anger, sadness, stress, and poverty, I got divorced. It was one of the worst experiences of my life, but I don’t regret going through it because I’m much happier now that it’s over. It totally changed my perspective on marriage and relationships in general, and I’ve been noticing lately that my reaction to fictional relationships on my television has been forever altered as well.

Season two of THE MARVELOUS MRS MAISEL hit me in a way I wasn’t expecting.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina… and Satan

A look at the nightmarish monstrosity of Sabrina’s satan!

 

Movie depictions of Satan are generally pretty lame — he’s either portrayed as generically seductive (Devil’s Advocate, End of Days) or she’s portrayed as seductive (Bedazzled), or Mel Gibson makes it a woman with a snake in her nostril (Passion of the Chris). Black Phillip, morningstar of my favorite wish-fulfillment fantasy The Witch, never really showed his true self, and I’m still sore about it. Not so with Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Satan is the the goat-headed, cloven-hoofed, full-bodied patriarchal monster of my nightmares, and I love it.

 

Look, you can come at me with your Biblical knowledge that Satan is supposed to be tempting and attractive, the beautiful angel fallen from grace. I know. I definitely Sunday School’d better than you, trust. But at the end of day, the seductive nature of sin, the frailty of temptation, they have no place in the world of Sabrina (or, quite frankly in any of the non-Witch movies I listed above). In her world, the Father of Lies, the Dark Lord Himself, should be as scary as the evil he is meant to embody.

 

Sabrina’s quiet little town of Greendale is home to a Satanist coven. Although primarily populated by women, the men have most of the seats of power, handing down orders from the Dark Lord with supreme authority. This literal goat, like all mediocre men who’ve risen to power on their own arrogance, believes himself the metaphorical GOAT and pushes that fantasy like herpes by taking advantage of women who wanted a sense of safety. Typical. And not so different from it’s alleged opposite, the Christian church. It’s almost laughable in its transparency, in the same way that seeing a horned monster in an otherwise melodramatic show invokes that same tickling unease.

 

The show itself has struggled with tone in the first half of its first season, but Satan is a welcome constant. He reveals himself to his demon-wife at the end of episode one in all his animalistic glory. It’s what kept me watching. Even when he’s not on screen, his presence is felt in a big way — the same way patriarchy colors all of our communal social interactions whether we wish to acknowledge it or not. Rather than trying to make him all things Evil, the creators of Sabrina made the devil a clear metaphor for the biggest evil plaguing Sabrina and her friends — unchecked misogyny.

 

While I would never pledge my loyalty to this monster, I am excited to see where he takes Sabrina as more of her Chilling Adventures hit Netflix.

 

 

The Strange Beauty of Dr. Pimple Popper

A show that allows us to revel in our imperfections!

 

Two weeks ago, “Dr. Pimple Popper” made its debut on TLC. The show follows dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee as she treats patients with unusual skin conditions. She earned her name through her Youtube channel where she post “popping videos” in which she removes cysts and blackheads. Popping videos have their own unique subculture, but because hers are produced in a sterile environment with top of the line tools, she’s seen over 2 billion views.

 

Beyond the ick factor of watching graphic skin procedures, there’s a lot that gives pause about the show: TLC, as a network, does not have the best history when it comes to exploiting the real-life people on its shows; outside the surgery, this could come across as a freak show in which we marvel at people with strange lumps, like this is a PT Barnum joint in the 1920s; and there is something terribly perverse about living in a country where healthcare is so expensive that people will go on television in order for low- or no-cost necessary care. Needless to say, I went into these first two episodes with a fair amount of skepticism. Instead of gross medsploitation, however, Dr. Lee and her patients taught me both about my skin and the vital importance of being able to put our best face forward.

 

 

What really struck me in watching the two existing episodes is the constant refrain of people who put off treating their skin conditions because it’s deemed cosmetic by insurance companies or because they felt it was vain and there were better uses of their time. For as much as we take it for granted, our skin is an organ. If we had a benign lump on our heart or spleen or kidney, we would still have it removed, just in case. But because our skin is something we decorate and moisturize and treat more like our clothing than the vital body part it is, no one seems to take it as seriously.

 

Doctor Lee, however, takes skin very seriously. But she does so with a kindness and compassion for her patients that I find absolutely refreshing. Because she’s seen it all before, she talks to people who have felt shame and gives them a sense of hope. One woman in episode two suffered from a rare condition called hidradenitis suppurativa that caused severe, painful series of fistulas all over her torso. Since she was eight years old, no doctor had taken her seriously. Because sweating exacerbated her condition, she could not do much physical activity, which caused weight gain, which led to one physician dismissing her condition as weight-related. It was heartbreaking. But Dr. Lee did not shirk away from the problem. She treated this woman with respect and put her in touch with another woman who had the condition, making this woman feel less alone. It was a beautiful moment in which the audience got to see that health is not just being free of physical ailments, but also a matter of mental and emotional well-being.

 

 

Although most people would never mock or bully someone with a visible skin condition, “Dr. Pimple Popper” is a lighthearted reminder that what may seem gross or horrific at first glance is actually very human. She treats patients of all ages, ethnicities, sizes and shapes, and each lump and pustule is for Dr. Lee not something to be feared, but something to examine. Her curiosity is infectious. After removing the largest lipoma she had ever seen from a woman’s neck, she encourages the woman to look at what was inside her with the sort of glee I normally reserve for puppies. They weigh it together, and she explains that it’s just fatty tissue.

 

Our bodies are capable of the strangest, most bizarre phenomena. They are imperfect machines that sometimes scar or grow cysts or glitch in a way that can be visible and embarrassing. What “Dr. Pimple Popper” does is to remind us that our skin is not scary or foreign, that it doesn’t have to be perfect, but that we can embrace it for the fascinating organ that it is.