Sunday, December 23, 2012


I believe given the last three impromptu posts, this one is long overdue.  Actually, it's even more overdue because I've dodged around discussing the topic of fanboys for a multitude of reasons.
1) I myself do not identify as a man, cannot speak for men, and know a relatively low number of fanboys. It's sort of unfortunate (the not knowing a number of fanboys part. The rest are just facts of life and don't bother me what so ever).

2) I tend to focus on feminism. Clearly. And so, I spend more of my time thinking about how fangirls are represented instead of men. A definite oversight, yes, but girls have been greatly misrepresented in fandoms. If you know anything about this "fake geek girl" and "fake fangirl" crap that's been going around, then you you what I'm talking about. (On that note, the comedy site did a post on this phenomenon which is interesting, clever, and mentions Thor and Loki. "If you think the greatest Thor fan in the world is male, wow, you've been using a different internet than me." Great stuff.)

3) I once read this book called American Nerd, back when I was in high school. It was sort of disappointing, mostly because I didn't know anything about Dungeons and Dragons at the time, I wasn't the same sort of reader I am now, and I remember it being mostly about men, and thus had a hard time making it relevant, especially as it seemed to more reaffirm stereotypes rather than break through them. And so, anything I could have gleaned about male fans was lost on me because I wasn't sure how to connect to and read the book. I should probably give it another go, really.

Stereotypes, stereotypes, stereotypes... (
So this is my pitiful explanation for why discussing fanboys has come so late in the game. But I've been thinking about this post for several days and still find it a challenge. Why? I'll turn to my trusty friend in fan studies Henry Jenkins to give us some insight: "Female Readers entered directly into the fictional world, focusing less on the extratextual process of its writing than on the relationships and events. Male reading acknowledged and respected the author's authority, while women saw themselves as engaged in a 'conversation' within which they could participate as active contributors" (Jenkins 108).  

Good old Henry Jenkins. In this discussing in how male and female fans read texts differently, some distinguishing features can be noted. Female readers tend to delve more into the texts themselves, interacting and conversing with them while males are more likely to see ideas of original authorship and react differently. Perhaps this is why more women write fanfiction and more men play Dungeons and Dragons; one revolves around changing a text while the other involves interacting with an already created one. I personally lost interest in Dungeons and Dragons when I found out that inter-species relationships couldn't exist and you were pretty limited in what you could do. However, I still have a huge fascination for video games (hoping to learn more about them over winter break, actually) and that's a very similar thing. Also, this doesn't account at all for the people (a great deal of them men) who hack into video games and create their own additions/changes. And this is the point where things get muddled.

Something I learned from psychology this year is that often there are more in-group difference than between-group differences. For example, if you look at one racial group compared to another in terms of health, there will actually be greater health disparities in the same racial group than compared to differing ones. I'm thinking that maybe that's how different fans react; that there's really greater difference in genders than between genders when it comes to fannish behavior. Yes, occasionally the type of texts differ (men tend to be sports fans while women tend to be movie fans, men tend to be more focused on plots and action while women seem to be more interested in characterization and actors; this of course is not a clear-cut solid fact, this is just a tendency and more reinforced by society than actual mental difference). From seeing fans interact and react online, there is a TON of difference between female fans, which is what makes fandom so interesting.
The interesting thing I've gleaned from this is how little there actually is about fanboys out there. If I Google "Fanboys" I get loads of stuff about a movie with the same name. If I Google "fanboy" I get a ton of stuff about a character from "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius." But if I Google fangirl or fangirls, I get all kinds photos about their behavior and of course about the countless stereotypes. I can't decide if this is because fangirls are more accepted than fanboys and thus more exists about them (and, in tern, more stereotypes) or if this is just the opposite (that fangirls are actually less excepted and thus there are more outlandish photos and posts critiquing them). Maybe it's neither. Maybe I just get lots of photos about the film (which I haven't seen) simply because it's a film. Maybe neither group of fans are really accepted, which would seem to be the case, as both groups are criticized for their behavior. It's curious that fans of media are so ostracized for their interactions while sports fans are pretty well accepted into mainstream culture (I say as I hear ESPN announcing today's football games from my parents' basement). I'd really appreciate it if fanboys and fangirls could put aside our differences (however large or minimal they may be) and just be fans or fansquees or whatnot.

I realize that once again I have skirted around what exactly fanboys are. And I think that's because I don't really understand how they differ from fangirls, except for what the Jenkins quotes points out, for some fans, not all. However, there is a distinct difference in how culture views each sort of fan based on their gender. Which sucks. (Case and point, check out how the female fanboy is represented on the Fanboys poster amongst the others shown.) So... I've really got no good answer. Again. So this has been a very wayward post but a beneficial one... sometimes meandering around and not figuring out stuff is good.

On that note, I'm going to wrap it up here and wish you all Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas! Well-wishes to you and yours in this chilly time of year (well, chilly in my part; I suspect that Minnesota actually become Jotenheim in the winter (I'm actually not complaining, I like the snow)) and I hope you all have a splendid holiday season.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Re: All My Rage, Part 1
So I hesitate to return to this topic because, as some of you know, I have the tendency to dwell and brood and mull over something and let it eat me up inside. I would like to assure you all that, in both the incident All My Rage, Part 1 describes and the reactions that accompany them in the comments, that I am not brooding, dwelling, or any other such pejorative way of thinking. I am thinking about it, though, and I'd like to clarify some things, not for my sake but more for the sake of people trying to do something about their world and about internet discussion in general. So, with your indulgence...

Am I a hypocrite? Actually, yeah, probably. I actually sort of worry about that in the things I study. We come up with all these problems in the world but the ways of fixing them are vague at best. And so, I'm left to figure out how to do it myself - which, you know, is kind of how education seems to work overall. Of course, then it leads to the problem of me seeing sexism in society and, because of how I address it, I sound like a hypocrite. I didn't think fast enough, didn't react fast enough, didn't feel comfortable addressing the situation to a friend's boyfriend who's name I didn't even know. I failed. So I wrote a blog post instead, hoping at least to bring light to comments that are often overlooked in society. But, because it was a personal story and because I had a personal reaction, it has been read that I criticizing the man's character. I would actually like to explain this again, maybe in different words and out of Blogger's comment box (why in the world is their comment box so tacky? Really, Google? You own Youtube and yet the comment box puts everything is in typewriter font? I'm confused by this).

The associations I drew from the comment were not an implication of the man's character, not that he actually thought those things, or even realized that the comment might make those associations. Those weren't even my initial thoughts at all. My initial thoughts were, "What did he just say? What the fu - that's not right." It was only later, when trying to understand better why this comment offended me that I made the connections. You may not agree with this way of thinking - I understand. But I did not mean to criticize his character. I was not criticizing him as a person. I was highlighting how a statement can have insinuations of sexism without us realizing it. You don't have to agree with my interpretation. I admit that I might have gone too far. But other comments implying far worse things are said everyday and are not stopped and thought about. My case is so minimal that I'm actually kicking myself for writing it (read: white privilege, another white middle-class feminist getting upset with the patriarchy) and compared to other sexist events that have occurred to me and others, the fact that I actually sat down to write about it seems kind of dumb now. It doesn't help that feminism does have a history of hypocrisy (any non-white feminist, non-heterosexual feminist, or non-female feminist will tell you that). I feel really petty, especially because I didn't react in the moment, and am sorry for that. I fucked up. But it's not a huge deal; I just want to say that I realize this and move on. I don't want this response to make it seem like I'm upset by anything that happened (because, usually, when things are written on the internet it's because someone is upset and then it gets all dramatic and there's rage and tears). I just want to emphasize a few things:
1) There are no hard feelings. Really. I mean it. I don't want people to feel like they can't comment in fears of starting an argument. START AN ARGUMENT. PLEASE. It's a free country, you have the right to say what you think - so say it. But carefully, please. There's a total contrast between the discussion that took place in the comments of the blog post (intellectual, resolution) and what happened last fall when I made some stupid mistakes (hard feelings, no resolution). Which brings me to...

2) I make stupid mistakes. A lot of them. Just because I sound like a coherent writer and may have a few clever things to say does not mean I am the best representation of feminism, fandom, writing, or thousands of other things. This blog and myself are continually works in progress. I will fuck up. I'd like to think I will know when I fuck up but I don't always. So feel free to point it out. I'm far better at taking criticism than I used to be (once someone on the internet who's much more popular and influential than you chastises you and your blog, you learn to roll with the punches). It doesn't mean I will always be completely receptive - I will probably argue with you and make excuses and try to defend my character (I'm human, it's what we do) but I hope that I will never be rude about it. There's a fine line between critique and criticism/condemnation and I know that I walk a fine line between the two. I will do my best to keep myself in check, but I'm only human. I will make mistakes. That's how it goes.

3) The internet is really weird and awesome and I don't get it: Just think about this. You could be reading this anytime, day or night, anywhere in the world. Or even in outer space, if for some reason you've got wifi (I wonder if Asgard has wifi...). Point is, my words work beyond the moment I write them and sometimes I overlook this. My audience is actually pretty diverse (look, I'm still stuck at the point where I have an audience. Bear with me) and many of you are reading this from other countries (which is beautiful and awesome and makes we wish I could multiply myself like Loki and go visit you all). I am aware of that, but maybe I'm not always so great at getting that across in my writing. My utmost apologies. I'm afraid "Internet Writing: 101" was not a part of my English classes.

Basically, I just want to thank you all for your patience and that you're still reading this weird old thing. I know you probably came for the hedgehogs and Martin Freeman but I thank you for sticking around. I wasn't really sure it would go anywhere past the first few posts. But here I am - writing this thing during finals week instead of studying for psychology. You can see how my priorities are sorted out. :P

Anyway, that's it. Cheers, all! I'll be back sometime later this week with another post (hopefully the one on fanboys - that's well overdue) and a some Christmas-y related stuff.

And look! A Hobbit-related pic I haven't used yet! (Glad to see this is still going strong.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

All My Rage: Part 2

Due to the stuff discussed in part 1, I've been thinking about escapism a lot today. After seeing The Hobbit and dreading leaving the theater at its end, I've been appreciating the power a text can have to carry me of into another world. At the same time, I'm realizing how necessary it is at times. Before I logged off Twitter, I was fighting the urge to either curl up in a little ball of sadness or bolt off to the movie theater to escape the worsening news that was coming for a little while. I didn't do either, but, in the midst of mulling over my anger at current events and last night's mishap, I was trying to find a quote about fandoms for a paper I was writing, hopefully from a cast member of The Avengers (as The Avengers is an example used in the paper). Instead, I found this:

Honestly... I just about cried when I read this. Really, Mr. Hiddleston, you're beginning to scare me a little bit. Not because he as a person is fear-inducing but because... well, it sometimes feels as if people like Mr. Hiddleston doesn't exist. Society on one half exudes that everyone has their perfect match, their soul mate, out there who will be perfect and charming, and then simultaneously promotes sexist behavior - utterly un-charming, to say the least. Perfection is touted as absolutely essential and yet people are viewed (especially by advertisers) as full of imperfections that need remedied. We're supposed to find someone perfect and yet we're all told that no one is perfect. And then, if you have interactions like I had on the drive to see The Hobbit, you start to feel pretty doubtful about people in general. So when things like this about Mr. Hiddleston comes across the internet, it's pretty shocking to find that wow, guess what, "perfect people" exist.

Note the scare quotes. "Perfect people" are not people who are, by hegemonic and dictionary definitions, perfect. Rather, they are people who have flaws (because people have flaws; well, maybe people really just have differences but sometimes we don't like those differences and so we call them flaws) but they are aware they have flaws and manage to act like super awesome human being in spite of it all. It's not really surprising that people like exist; I personally think all my friends fit this criteria (you go guys). However, it's a bit different when applying it to potential romantic partners. Suddenly "perfect people" to date seem a lot harder to come by. Why? You know the drill... I have no idea. I've got thoughts, but no answers.

I was discussing with my friend Kevin on the phone how it seems like cooperation in relationships for our generation is kind of... not happening. Not to say everyone between the ages of 18-25 or whatever are in crap relationships. That's not true. It's just that the majority of my friends are single and/or have had bad dating experiences. Part of my musing went like this: much like the lack of cooperation going in Congress with Reps and Dems reaching across party lines and putting important issues before their party politics, there's just a lot of arguing and miscommunication and mishaps in relationships because there's no give and take. Many want to take but not give something in return. People are looking for perfection, hegemonically, not... whatever the heck you want to call my redefinition of it...hedgehog-imonic, let's say (still going on 4 1/2 hours sleep here; let my silliness slide for now) and may be unwilling to put up with other people's faults, or change our own behavior to make a relationship work.
This is, of course, only one possibility. There are many other possibility, one of which is tied to this ridiculous picture to the left. You see that? That was the first Google Image search result for "dating." So that's what dating looks like? Hmm... I know I don't have much experience in that department, but that seems like... no. Just no.

I would like to bring back the awesomeness of Susan Bordo to highlight the issue of how media represents love and relationships from her book Twilight Zones. She discusses how not paying attention to the effects of media representation and the messages they portray can be dangerous, and I find this immensely relevant. Cue Bordo: "The consequence of remaining in the dark, intoxicated by the illusions cast on the wall, are beginning to become apparent:...the inability to sustain love relationships (we expect them to be like the movies, where 'love' is visually coded by playful romps on the beach, photogenic sex, dinners in chic restaurants, and where all human beings have great clothes and live in terrific apartments)" (Bordo 15).

I readily admit that at least half of my daydreams about relationships come from movies or TV shows. But I also think that there is a sort of resistance on many people's parts to revamp dating and relationships and make it less... staged is the only word that comes to mind. You know, do things based on what the relationship allows instead of "well, dating norms say we must go to an Italian restaurant and eat ravioli and talk about our feelings" - basically the first date in Twilight, by the way, which at the age of sixteen I found super romantic and now see as probably a terrible idea because if you've ever seen me try to eat pasta without getting sauce everywhere, you would never recommend going to an Italian restaurant for a first date.

Anyway, aside from the media screwing with our interpretations of relationships, there's also the general issues of worldsuck and sexism and things of that nature causing people to be less than pleasant at times. These are all general reasons why dating seems to be having some issues.

What's interesting is my inclination to log onto Tumblr and scroll through images of my favorite celebs when confronted with these less than present issues in my own life. Worldsuck occurs and fansquees find refuge online. I'm going to try and steer away from trying to explain why this happens any further because, really, I'd be trying to explain and rationalize a form of love which would be an utter and spectacular fail. Love is beautiful and unexplainable. Moving on. What the focus is more of how it works. I will continue to use the ridiculously convenient example of Mr. Hiddleston because somehow my Tumblr dashboard became at least 50% Hiddleston and I don't even know how that happened because I didn't start following a ton of Hiddleston blogs. I think it just kind of happened and Tumblr's fandoms really love Hiddleston, for completely understandable reasons. I came across this post a week or so ago and was floored by how sweetly articulated this was:
Literally every post about, quote from, tweet on Twitter I see in regards to Mr. Hiddleston makes him seem like the sweetest man on earth. From bringing thermoses of soup to people on the red carpet to participating in charity events to the way he treats his fans, it finally makes sense why people joke that enchanted woodland creatures help him out in daily activities. He is becoming one of the most kindhearted, inspiring people I'm aware exists in the world. And it's really impossible not to love someone like that. For the love of Pete, even seeing an image or gif of him brightens my mood. Am I really supposed to feel this way about people I've never met?

(Trigger warning: this next gif may prove dangerous to Hiddlestoners. Just an FYI.)
(Fun fact: Tom Hiddleston is capable of breaking the fourth wall, setting it on fire, and staring right into the very depths of your soul.)

The fact that kindhearted people like Mr. Hiddleston and Mr. Cumberbatch and others exist is vastly reassuring to someone like me who is surrounded by a lot of cynicism at home, in class, in the media, in my own brain at times. It's difficult to stay positive and upbeat and it's encouraging to see others who do it so successfully. It seems to go beyond just romanticism and believing that a Mr. Darcy-esque person exists out there, but that good, kindhearted people exist in general. Especially if, at the moment, we aren't surrounded by anyone like that.

Of course, this would be the opportune time to add in a dash of cynicism to this, because why not break a massive hole in my post here. Namely, it's back to that whole business of perfection. While we fans know that actors have faults, we don't personally know them and thus, it's easy to blur the idea of "flawless perfection" and "flawed perfection" together. Perhaps it kind of works like this John Green quote states: "We all romanticize the people we adore." It's we're back to that struggle of seeing celebrities as real people and pushing back against hegemony and... yeah, all of that.

And to crack another hole in all of this, this post I came across after people on Tumblr started posting about the Connecticut shooting comes to mind:

I can understand this and I respect this. But I also know that this can become too much. When 9/11 occurred I spent far too much time in front of the TV dwelling on what happened and made things worse for me rather than better. There is a point where escape can be beneficial and almost necessary. I don't see escape as a way of denying that something happened but perhaps a temporary reprieve or rest. We live in a society where terrible things happen and we can't always explain why. If I need a book or a film or even just the image of a celebrity to boost my spirits and restore hope, I don't think that's a bad thing at all.

Sometimes, keeping up hope is really hard. But I agree with Hank Green on this:

Some days it is harder to believe than others, but I do believe this. And whenever I doubt, I think about the wonderful people I know, the wonderful work I see being done by celebrities, the hope and positivity that some people are capable of exuding.

This is going to get journal-like again for a moment, so bear with me. I never used to be much of an optimist - I'm still not entirely. I like to keep in mind the worst so that if it happens, I won't utterly fall apart. But I never used to think that good things could happen to me. I never felt that people really liked me or that I liked people at all. Part of this was due to the company I was keeping. But a lot of it had to do with my mental state as well, how I perceived and appraised things in my life. I don't exactly know when things exactly began to change or how or why. But they did. Suddenly it was easier to see the good in people rather than the bad, easier to empathize, easier to be patient. And I've realized I love people. Some of them suck, at times, and some of them drive me crazy. But in general, I really like people.

I don't know what exactly changed. But I can admit that I wasn't this way a year ago. Both the changes in my personal life and my interaction with people online, due to Tumblr, has really changed my perception of the world. For the better, I think. It had a great deal to do with finding like-minded people and seeing people react with genuine pleasure and empathy and consideration. And perhaps that's really what it comes down to in the appeal and amazement that people like Misters Cumberbatch and Hiddleston exist. Because they really honestly care. And sometimes, caring is hard.

More thoughts where this all came from, I'm sure, but this post could stretch on for the rest of forever. So I'll leave you all with a very charismatic, kindly-looking hedgehog.

All citations from:

Twilight Zones: The Hidden Life of Cultural Images from Plato to O.J. by Susan Bordo. University of California Press, 1997.

All My Rage: Part 1

So, I'm rapidly shifting gears here, from happy hobbit feels to tragedy. The news today has put me in a rather disheartened mood and while I may seem to be a rather upbeat person, I've got a rather large reservoir for rage (that's my secret, I'm the Hulk. I'm always angry). Since I've got nothing constructive to say about the tragic events about the school shooting in Connecticut that are spilling across my Twitter page, my rage has refocused itself to other things. I feel like Anderson Cooper summed it up best in this tweet: "All our words seem so small, so meaningless in the face of such horror." I could go on about how this sort of thing terrifies me for an assortment of reasons - the tragedy of the event in general for all families affected, how the news is handling it, what's being said about people and minds and humanity in general, how people become portrayed as monsters and ideas of violence and mental illness and issues in society get all conflated and yet picked apart. The issues surrounding this incident need to be discussed, but not from me. I'm not up to the challenge of tackling the issues that are involved in this story, which we don't even know what exactly they are (other than the blatantly obvious topic of gun control) as this story is still unfolding, considering it just hit the internet around noon today. This event has nothing to do with me. Yes, I'm affected by it, I find it saddening, but I'm not a family who lost a child or saw their brother become a killer. I am caught between wanting to voice my thoughts and show support for those affected and keeping silent out of respect to those died.
However, I'm still angry, but mostly because I'm also angry about other things and this is just building into it. I was discussing dating issues with my dear friend Kevin last night before I left for the premiere and trying work through why the dating sphere is a mess, why bullying happens, why worldsuck exists. That sort of thing. And then an unpleasant incident occurred on the drive to The Hobbit midnight showing and, with recent events and all, my reservoir of rage is starting to brim over. So, with your indulgence, I'm going to outline The Hobbit movie event as it's the only one I can talk through since the other things that angered me didn't personally happen to me and aren't my tale to tell. If we're going all George Friedrick Hegel about how history and the news is made, I'm at least going to stick to historicizing what I saw, even if they are minor unimportant tales in the "grand narrative" of the world, rather than interpreting events I am secondary source, at best, for.

Anyway, here's the gist: I went to the midnight showing with a friend, his boyfriend, and the friend's former roommate, and also met up with other people my friend knew at the theater. It was kind of awkward because my friend didn't introduce me to anyone (I know his former roommate, had never met his boyfriend, and didn't know anyone else who was going with us) and wasn't really able to talk to anyone other than the roommate because they were all rushed trying to get everyone's tickets and drinks and things before we went into the theater. I was also fangirling hardcore and was feeling rather social, but an event on the way to the theater put me off.

I never caught my friend's boyfriend's name - he was never actually introduced to me and if my friend hadn't told me I'd be meeting his boyfriend that night, I'd have no idea that's who he was. This was a sort of precursor to bad karma to follow. On the drive to the theater, I told my friend that I had a check for the theater tickets, which he'd bought in advance, and this conversation more or less ensued:
Roommate: Kind of a small check, isn't it?
Me: Yeah, it is, but I didn't have enough cash. I had to buy a thank you gift for the professor I did my directed study with.
Roommate: You had to buy him a present?
My friend (something along the lines of): Who buys gifts for their professors? Trying to get a better grade?
The boyfriend (more or less these words): You could have just slept with him.
Me (responding to the Roommate): Well, no, I just wanted to. Figured I should after he put up with my fangirling all semester. 
Never before had I ever been more aware of my gender than sitting in a car full of men and having this said to me. All because I wrote a fucking check and didn't just say I didn't have time to go to the ATM. Needless to say, I didn't develop a very favorable impression of my friend's boyfriend.

There are many things that piss me off about this interaction and I'm going to try to outline them in the hopes of making myself feel a bit better and do some feminist thinking and evaluating and to maybe try to avoid ending up hating a person I hardly even met (coming from someone who used to be hardcore about instant judgement, this is a bit tough). So, here we go.
1) "Scoring" (innuendo purposefully implied): Forget the fact that maybe I worked really hard this semester and I actually care about the work I did, not the grade. This comment seems to imply that I need the extra grade boost and that I would do anything to get it. A bit of an insult to my intelligence, I think, and assuming that the gift was not out of gratitude but brown-nosing. This is why we can't have nice things...

2) The implication that women use sex to get what they want, especially in academia: This is not the first time I have heard comments of this kind; it's just the first time I can recall them being directed at me. I'm sure the boyfriend said this to be funny, because for some reason this concept is considered to be comedic, but I'm not laughing. After taking women and gender psychology where we discussed quid pro quo sexual coercion at length (situations where women (generally speaking) are rewarded (with promotions, better reviews/grades, etc) for sexual favors. I find this sort of sexual harassment perhaps the most disgusting, especially because women are already have certain disadvantages in workplace and academic settings. It's also a betrayal of trust and a massive amount of manipulation, all things that are a bit not good. The fact that anyone would imply that women would happily go along with this makes me pretty sick. Not to mention the level of awkward it creates when someone who hardly knows me would imply that I would do this.

3) Everything between men and women is simplified down to one common denominator: As a student who really likes queering up relationships and exploring all the nuanced identities out there, I find it really limiting when people reduce everything in the world to sex. C'mon guys.

This is annoying, too, because I was feeling so good about the world after seeing The Hobbit and having renewed faith in humanity and then this kept lingering in my mind after we'd left the theater and I realized that it's totally awkward to be invited to an event where you and half the other people don't know each other because your friend just invited a large group without thinking about how they'd mesh. And then the roommate was being kind of weird about my love for The Hobbit. So it was a weird situation all around. At least it didn't influence my view of the movie.

This comes with the realization that I think I've truly reached my limit for how college-aged men treat women. I specify college-aged men because they're the demographic I'm around and some of the things they say are appalling. Still thinking that blondes are not as smart or that women all become lunatics on their periods or that we are somehow vastly different beings because we have two x chromosomes. Give me a break. I would never think to insinuate that a man - or anyone, for that matter - would sleep with someone just to better their grade or position and I find it extremely insulting that a such a passing comment can be made by someone who doesn't even know me.

Compounded by current events and (probably) my lack of sleep, I'm feeling more dismayed than usual. However, I'm finding this all segues nicely into a fandom-related post I was going to type out, so, with your indulgence, we'll go forth into that in a following post. So, I'll end here with a song by one of my favorite musicians (and the inspiration for this blog title).

The Peanut Gallery: Hobbitsez

After getting only 4 1/2 hours sleep prior to seeing the midnight premiere of The Hobbit at a theater in St. Louis Park, attempting to write up a review of the film might be a bad idea. But I feel weirdly rested, better than I do on some school nights after getting 8 hours of sleep. I can't explain this. I think this only furthers my perception that the The Hobbit is the most magical film I've ever seen.

I have a confession to make: prior to last night, I had never seen ANY of The Lord of the Rings films in the theater. I'm not entirely sure how this happened. Perhaps because when LOTR came out, the only fellow friend I had who was also a fan lived in Indiana (I then later made friends probably because of LOTR, which is pretty awesome). Maybe I didn't seem them because my parents don't go to the movie theater that often. Regardless, I was psyched for this film because of FINALLY getting to see hobbits on the big screen, hobbits in general, and MARTIN FREEMAN.
This seems like a good place to begin.

1) Casting: Martin Freeman is the perfect Bilbo Baggins. Not that I had any doubt, but upon seeing him on screen, I was giddy with joy. It's also wonderful and beautiful to see this dearly loved actor from Sherlock in a large Hollywood role and he was funny, adorable, and immensely clever. Of course, Sir Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian Holm, and Hugo Weaving were all perfect in their roles from the prior films. And, because I was sitting next to a Richard Armitage fan, I very much enjoyed Thorin Oakenshield. I mean, because he's a badass dwarf. A very handsome badass dwarf.

(Tangent time. So my favorite local radio station, The Current, does this 9:30 coffee break every weekday morning where they pick a theme and play music that listeners request based on that theme. Today was, magically, The Hobbit. And so, there was Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" and Leonard Nimoy singing "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins." But the first song they played was Soft Cell's "Sex Dwarf."

Listeners who requested this song - I see what you did there :D).

2) The film in general: The New York Times has some mixed things to say about The Hobbit (funny, that's exactly how I feel about The New York Times on a regular basis). Of course, being a fan, their reviewing is absolutely irrelevant to me. They make some good points, but I feel like they might have seen a different movie than I did. The film certainly never felt hollow to me or like the action sequences were non-perilous. Sure, extending one book into three films might seem like a bit much but, reminder, this is NOT George Lucas. I have far more faith in Peter Jackson's prequels than I did in Lucas'. Besides, I'm a fan - I DON'T want the films to end, so the length (2 1/2 hours, I believe) was really not a problem at all. The fact that the reviewer compares The Hobbit to Pirates of the Caribbean makes me really displeased. I get that the franchising of this film is looked at kind of negatively, but I also wonder what exactly the reviewer is expecting from a film franchise now. Of course profit is a motive, but Peter Jackson is a total fanboy. I think he's doing this more out of interest in keeping to the book and extending things that get a bit glossed over or are mentioned more in Tolkien's other stories. For example, we actually get to see the village of Dale and the dwarf kingdom in the Lonely Mountain at the beginning (which, as I'm writing a fanfic about several sisters from Dale, I very much appreciated this). The storyline of the Necromancer is a underlying plot, which is great, because in the book it feels more like Gandalf just disappears to deal with this situation and we don't get a lot of the details. (Also, you should know - and most likely already do - that the ever lovely Benedict Cumberbatch is playing both Smaug and the Necromancer - whom we (SPOILERS) get the briefest of glimpses of (enough to recognize Cumberbatch's silhouette and to get his name in the credits and still be incredibly powerful and pretty damn scary) (okay, clearly I've reached a new level of fangirling if I could recognize Cumberbatch's silhouette. But that's probably due more to the prior knowledge I had that it was him in that role.))
I admit wholeheartedly that the entire film felt as if the vision I had in my head was projected on screen. It was better than I could have dreamed. A few things were different than the book and a few things felt familiar but I couldn't remember them and am unsure if they were in the book or just worked (namely Radagast the Brown's rabbit sleigh, which is clearly the best method of transportation around Middle Earth. But then again, my spirit animal is a rabbit). I get the feeling some people weren't too happy about the additions (especially the rabbit sleigh) but I don't mind. I write Hobbit fanfiction for crying out loud; I'm in the werid flexible interpretation part of fandom practices. As long as completely utterly outlandish things don't happen, I'm going to be rather pleased. 

3) The Music: I've already downloaded the soundtrack because I'm a colossal movie score nerd. Howard Shore continues to be awesome and dwarfs sing. Enough said. 

4) Fanfare for the Common Man: I really love hobbits because they represent the "non-heroic" sorts of people, the ones who are caught between wanting to snuggle up in their little hobbit hole or go on adventures and get rained on and almost die fifty times. Basically, this is the story of my people. The theme of Bilbo being a symbol of hope is so lovely and increases my fansqueeing by about tenfold so I adore the continued nod to hobbits being the chill food-loving people who are still epic and powerful. It's a nice and baffling parallel to my love for superheros and makes everything complicated and wonderful and wibbly-wobbly. 

And finally:

5) There were hedgehogs in this film. Absolute perfection. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Space Villains

I'd apologize about the lack of updating on this blog, but I'm really not sorry. Three papers (mostly finished) later and I've realized, "Wow - that was a lot of work." Then again, one is my senior paper, the other two are for film and media classes, both discussing The Avengers, so they're incredibly fun papers to write.

I was really hoping to bounce back with a serious blog post here. To which I have decided: Are you kidding me? It's finals - now is no time to be serious. No, really, I took finals seriously once - it was terrible. But then again, I'm the strange sort of student who actually does worse if I study a lot. I learn best by listening and discussing so reading over my notes repeatedly generally results in getting concepts confused and making really dumb mistakes when I take tests. Thus, finals are not a time for me to become serious and crackdown and cram. And so serious blog posts will resume later (not that I'm particularly very serious on here to begin with). For now, I present to you something that made me very, very, very happy: the Star Trek: Into Darkness trailer.

You can probably very easily tell why this makes me very happy: not only is Benedict Cumberbatch shown in this trailer, he is featured in it. He narrates it, for the love of Pete. It's essentially an ode to Mr. Cumberbatch being a righteous space villain. Which is a lovely surprise, as I was just hoping for a glimpse of his face or something. Expectations utterly met - and exceeded.

I realized that this trailer reminded me of something when I watched it. I had just been working on one of my Avengers papers the night before and had watched the trailer (realizing I never seen this trailer in movie theaters):

Something seem... kind of familiar? Ominous voice over featuring a very lovely British actor with an incredibly recognizable voice being totally badass and awesome and resulting in fangirl glee that a major American motion picture features this actor despite the fact that he is not as well-known out of fangirl circuits? The parallels are beautiful. And they get better. After a few images from the Star Trek film were released, featuring Cumberbatch's villain locked behind glass, it didn't take long for the Tumblr-sphere to go exactly where my mind went...

Oh yes... I like the looks of this. I am at a complete failure to explain why two of my favorite actors find themselves playing villains locked behind unbreakable glass in films about darkness (Star Trek: Into Darkness and then we've got Thor 2: The Dark World), but I'm not complaining. Bring it on.

So until it was released that Mr. Cumberbatch's character's name is John Harrison, I was going with the absurdly ridiculous theory that clearly Cumberbatch was playing Loki's cousin who wreaks havoc in the Star Trek universe because CROSSOVER ALL THE FANDOMS. Seriously, it's like crossover soup right now anyway. Christopher Eccleston is in the new Thor, Cumberbatch is in Star Trek and in The Hobbit, along with Martin Freeman... you get the idea. So if this could somehow result in Misters Cumberbatch and Hiddleston making another film together where NEITHER OF THEM DIE, PLEASE, I would be very happy. Because they have a beautiful bromance of epic proportions.

Also, probably because I'm still not over War Horse. I was not expecting... that. The "that" which happened (to not spoil this movie in case you haven't seen it). Spielberg, I know you had nothing to do with the writing of the film (especially as it's based off a play), but because you make me cry with half of your movies (E.T. man - what the hell was that about? I didn't think I would cry... and I broke down. IN A FILM CLASS. I hope you're happy with yourself, sir), and also because Hollywood still clings to auteur theory, I'm pegging the blame for the emotional turmoil this film causes me on you. Consider it a compliment. Steven Moffat does.

So, while I finish up finals and meander off to Christmas break (and see the midnight premiere of The Hobbit because HOLY CRAP IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING I'VE WAITED SO LONG) (wow, there's an obnoxious amount of caps-locks in this post. Sorry about my excessive enthusiasm), consider this idea for... something: The Revengers - kickass space villains band together and plot to destroy the world (I feel like this must already be a thing by now. I wasn't the only one who thought "Loki" when the Star Trek pics came out, after all). Sounds like a party.