This is an honest question. I listen to a lot of comedy podcasts and one of the things I have just learned to accept is that all of these guys, men in their 30s, are going to wax rhapsodic a minimum of once a month about the unparalleled greatness of The Dark Knight trilogy, films I skipped because I found the worldview (and the cinematography) too dark. Now Pacific Rim is out and they all hate it. They think it’s bland and uninteresting. Or even when they like it, like on Jeff Rubin’s podcast, they slam the things that I thought were the most meaningful and amazing.
I’ve given these podcasts a lot of time, support, and, in some cases, money. And I like that they have their own opinion. That’s why I listen. But I’m way too involved in loving Pacific Rim, so I’m learning to just hit stop when the topic comes up. A sort of tumblr savior for life. Otherwise, I just end up feeling alienated from the podcaster and the community.
But really, is this a gender divide? Do boys not like PR? I’m afraid to ask the boys I know for their opinion. (I learned my lesson on that one with STID.)
I think there is a grain of truth in this, especially when the protagonists of the story are a guy who is really good with feelings and a girl who ends up having the actual hero’s journey.
Maybe there is also a divide between cinema geeks and true geeks (an arbitrary distinction, but bear with me) in that the geeky podcasts I love (like Hardwick and Co. at the Nerdist) fucking worship this movie while the cinephiles deride it. Maybe it’s because the geeks know the origin myths that the movie comes out of?
But that doesn’t explain why I love this so much - I have never been much for Japanese mecha/anime/monster movies. I love it because there is a real emotional journey that ends in real, actualized HOPE, and that the moral of the story is just “to be a good person in this world, be connected to the people around you.” Maybe that’s too cheesy for dudes who watch Bruce Wayne suffer for decades and then suffer some more. Maybe that just makes them assholes who love schadenfreude?
Yeah, this is the point where I went, “…okay. They’re doing this right.”
YES, THIS! It annoys me when people are like, “Pacific Rim isn’t a feminist film. Mako Mori isn’t the one calling the shots in the fights, Raleigh is. And she’s the one who screws up the drift the first time. And she has to get Pentecost’s permission to fight.”
Which. She’s a rookie. She’s never done any of this before! That’s the context her character occupies, and nothing about that context is inherently problematic. Raleigh is her partner, but he’s also the seasoned pro who’s helping her find her feet. Again: not inherently problematic. Also: PENTECOST IS THE BENEVOLENT DICTATOR OF EVERYONE. Everyone has to get his permission, for everything!
There is nothing inherently anti-woman about any of this*. It’s true that this is a situation that could easily skew in an icky direction, but to the movie’s ENDLESS CREDIT, it decidedly does not.
And in fact, IMHFO (in my humble fucking opinion) if the only way you can buy into a female character is if she’s flawless and powerful and perfect and unstoppable, then what you are looking for is a boring, lifeless archetype, not a real person.
Mako Mori is a real person**.
And I have had a LOT OF COFFEE TODAY OKAY.
*Except, yes, it really would have been really, really nice if this movie had more female faces in it across the board and especially in the Tendo/Hermann/Newt types of secondary roles. I’m on board with that complaint, 100%.
**for values of “real” where “real”=”complex and believable”, not actualfax a real person in the real world, I am not that crazy, though I swear to god I’m getting there.
If Talia Hale is Peter Hale’s sister (which was confirmed last night), then that means she didn’t change her name when/if she married. Which is totally cool and modern of her!
But it doesn’t explain why NONE of the Hale children have their father’s last name.
Is this a matrilineal werewolf thing? Do all wolf kids get their mom’s last name? Is it an alpha thing, where you marry an alpha and her name is the one everyone keeps? Or a “all the Hale children were fathered by different dudes in Talia’s harem of hot werewolves and she’s a badass single mom” thing? Or is this just a “Jeff is bad at continuity” thing?
I know which one I want it to be, and I know which one it probably is. Sigh.
In wake of this week’s episode, I wanted to write something about the way Teen Wolf has been plotted over the course of this season. I was pretty enraged about character assassination after “Visionary,” but this episode left me thinking more about the overall way Jeff Davis et al have been telling the story this season, on a broad structural level as well as in terms of character development.
I want to do this in as rational and systematic a fashion as possible because I actually am really interested in the ways they have gone wrong, and I hope doing it this way it will be productive for writers/would-be writers who are interested in plot. I am on record as thinking that the first two seasons of the show are very well-done, on the whole – the season arcs weren’t necessarily resolved in the most satisfying ways possible, but the arcs themselves were pretty solid and the character growth was also very well-done, I thought. The show’s sense of humor about itself and its habit of mining horror tropes for its own ends have also been extremely enjoyable. It has been far from a perfect television show, but given what it was trying to do, it was broadly successful.
HOLY SHIT, YOU GUYS. MORGAN NAILED IT.
#except no other faves COULD ever because nearly every other names character in this film is male #and natasha operates within gender paradigms #she exploits them and inverts them and uses them to burn the best laid plans #i do think she’s actually afraid here when he says he’ll have clint kill her slowly and intimately #just because he could and my kingdom for the two of them when she has a nightmare about the hulk #but otherwise she knows exactly what she’s doing. every facial expression and body motion is purposeful #these strong powerful men with ego problems think her vulnerable because she’s armed with nothing but her body #and that body is small and breakable and doesn’t have any armor at all #but that body is far more powerful than any of those men realize and she can kill with it if she has to #and she’s got no problem with that but her main goal is extraction and you can’t extract information from the dead #so she takes those assumptions about her and turns that strength against the men who think little of her #she allows them to think they’ve gotten power over her and in so doing she crawls into their plans and burns them down from the inside #your favorites could actually never because every other avenger in this film is a man #and a man could never do this
So in a post today mostly unrelated to what I want to talk about, John Green stated, “It’s not okay to ship real people and other real people.” I respect John Green in all ways, but I disagree 100% with this statement, and I want to clear up why Real Person Fiction is not actually wrong.
The first important issue to cover is that RPF is not tinhatting is not harassment. If you ship something, you like to think about it, write about it, draw it, joke about it, talk about it with your friends, and it makes you happy in your own little corner of the world. This is okay. Tinhatting is when you believe your ship is really happening in real life and the Powers That Be are hiding it from you. This is also okay, until it becomes harassment, which is when you throw your ship into the involved people’s faces repeatedly in spite of requests to stop and you say nasty stuff about their girlfriends to them and generally make everybody unhappy. This is never okay.
But that’s not what shipping is, and that’s not what RPF is. The first point I want to make here is that RPF is not actually about real people.
I can’t help but mention that the Cora/Derek situation continues to be dire. I think the bedside scene was meant to strengthen their onscreen relationship, but IMO Cora’s entire character arc and relationship with Derek continues to be utterly baffling. WHY DIDN’T HE REACT WHEN SHE CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD? Why do they never interact in a way that makes sense? And I don’t mean like, “These people are emotionally damaged and find it impossible to express their feelings.” I mean in the sense that there’s been no evidence up until now that they are anything other than casual acquaintances who are forced to share the same apartment. — Teen Wolf, The Girl Who Knew Too Much.
With the exception of not tackling the “is Jennifer actually poor dead Paige?” theory, this is FLAWLESS, as per usual.
An open letter to Jeff Davis and anyone who thinks that character development occurs only through adding more manpain.
Mathematics has this really nice concept called a limit. In math, it means that as x approaches a value a, y approaches a value b. For the non-mathematically inclined, think of it like this: you are 10 feet away from something, say, a chair. You are only allowed to approach this chair by going half the distance between you and it. First, you go 5 feet forward. Then you go 2.5 feet. Then 1.25 feet. Then .625 feet. You get the idea. The point is, you get closer and closer to the chair without actually reaching it, because there will always be that one really tiny amount of distance between you and it. But when you get down to less than half an inch, it doesn’t matter, because it feels like you’re practically there.
I want you to think of mainpain as a limit. The first time something horrible happens to a character, they’re devastated, and we, as the audience, are devastated along with them. The next awful thing adds more misery, but not quite as much as the first. And so on and so forth as awful things keep happening.
However, there can only be so much misery added before it all just becomes dull. We become used to it. It doesn’t shock or ruffle us as the first or second or even third times something terrible happened. It’s just a few more droppings on a mountain of shit. It doesn’t matter because you’re already overwhelmed by the smell.
Now apply this concept to Derek Hale. Derek’s entire family dies; he blames himself; he is a ball of failure and misery. We’ve been at this level since season one. Adding anything else to that? Does not make the impact you think it will. Here’s a graph I drew up for easy looking:
Do you see what I’m saying? We know Derek is miserable. We know Derek blames himself. We know he keeps trying and failing. And you know what? It’s enough. We get it. Life shits on Derek Hale.
But at some point, you’ve got to stop, and you’ve got to start digging yourself out of that shithole. That is character growth. That is character development. Adding more misery for the sake of manpain? That’s boring. That’s dull. The character becomes stagnant. The show becomes repetitive.
So really, just stop.
The things you should know about Pacific Rim.
1. If you suspect that, somewhere in your soul, you might enjoy giant mechas fighting giant monsters, see this movie. Trust me, you will enjoy that.
2. If you’re looking for a great world to fuse with basically any fandom *cough* hockey *cough* you should see this movie.
3. If you’re a Guillermo del Toro fangirl like me, see this movie.
Now Ima get real. Here are a bunch of awesome things about this movie.
1. A truly international, progressive worldview. GdT said about his movie: “It’s ultimately about the world saving the world, not just about one country with one ideology.” And that is absolutely true. There are jaeger (mecha) teams from many continents, both male and female. One of the leads is black, one of the leads is Asian. The bulk of the action takes place in Hong Kong. This is not a movie where the apocalypse is represented by New York and Los Angeles, and it’s white English-speakers who save the day. This movie truly is about everyone. The idea that everyone in the world will or should work together to save a problem is a very progressive one. We are facing that now with global warming, which is alluded to in the movie. It is a sad fact that a movie like this that doesn’t engage in American jingoism is a rarity. The main female characters gets to be emotional without being weak.
2. This movie respects its roots. Pacific Rim owes a lot to many movies that came before, and it knows it: Godzilla and its ilk, a lot of anime, Top Gun, the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, Independence Day, Lord of the Rings, and Guillermo del Toro’s own oeuvre. Pacific Rim fits into the Hellboy world. Better moviephiles than me have written about this.
3. This movie builds a rich world with rich characters. It’s easy to think of Pacific Rim as a fairly well-trodden story about macho flyboys saving the world, but there’s the whole scientist/Hong Kong underworld subplot that lends a lot of depth to the story. While there are a few holes in the world building, mostly, it hangs together very well, creates an interesting and fully realized world. While the main character is a little thin, almost everyone else is very well realized, and even the main character has a believable, understandable tragedy that drives him, and fits within the larger world.
4. Guillermo del Toro is a master of visual storytelling. Is it the best-written, best-acted movie I’ve ever seen? No. There is some good acting, some bad acting, and some clunky writing. What never fails is absolutely perfect visual choices and design at every turn. Ron Perlman’s character alone…*loves*. Which brings us to point 5…
5. It is funny and fun. GdT talked about this being a movie he made for kids, 11 and 12 year olds, as well as adults. And lemme tell you, this movie satisfies my inner 12yo nerd-boy like nothing else. I never knew I wanted to see a giant mecha smack a giant Lovecraftian monster with a container ship, but GdT knew, and he showed it to me.
6. The fic possibilities are endless. Here’s where it gets pervy, maybe wrong…
But the funny thing about that is we (as readers/viewers) sometimes miss out on information that might have been interesting. The author didn’t think it was, but fans? Most fans will soak up content like a sponge (see: LotR extended editions, cutscenes, etc). And so we’re likely to ask ridiculous questions like “What is laundry day like at Avengers Tower?” - not because it’s important to the narrative, but because we’re curious.
Not to mention: every narrator is an unreliable narrator. Especially the ones who seem the most straightforward. Which means there are a wealth of stories not being told hiding right behind the story that is.
Which, I think, gives an inkling of the primary difference between original fic and fanfic: original fic is declarative, saying “here is the story, these are the important events and characters and aspects of the world,” while fanfic is exploratory (even when it’s got a cracking good plot).
Fanfic exists in the interstices, in the ellipses and the enjambment. Fanfiction exists in the moment before the wave function collapses.