‘Fireworks is Just Like Porky’s’

“Is “Fireworks” (…) an homage to those bawdy ‘80s sex comedies like “Porky’s” and “Private Resort?”

I dunno, is Christie Lemire retarded?*

I’ll be honest. I did not think Fireworks was that great; it was nowhere near as good as Your Name, though it still had a lot of charm and a lovely aesthetic to it. What I didn’t pick up on was anything that justifies Lemire’s need to equate Fireworks to one of the raunchiest R-rated sex comedies ever filmed.

Fireworks is about first love, from a boy’s perspective—from a boy who’s hovering in the awkward realm between childhood and adolescence. He wants to be a man and have the opportunity to prove himself, but, being a child and inexperienced and unwise to the ways of the world, he really doesn’t know what to do and has a hard time figuring it out.

Norimichi’s love for and fixation on Nazuna is innocent and non-sexual. For all of the shots of Nazuna that Lemire complains about, Nazuna’s portrayed not as a woman to be lusted after but something pure and elfin, beautiful and innocent, something that Norimichi wants to cherish and protect, even though he doesn’t really know how. She is the idealization of first love. Yes, there’s billowing skirts, subtle glimmer on the lips, hair wafting aetherially in the breeze—but no, there are not upskirts, downshirts, boob-shots, etc. She’s mysterious, and though imperfect, Norimichi idealizes her because she’s his first love.

Now, the boob jokes from the friends and about the teacher that Lemire complains about: Norimichi’s friends exist to show a contrast between Norimichi’s youth and innocent affections and male adolescent posturing. The awkward adult relationship between the teacher and her boyfriend, who cracks a joke about her breasts is there in juxtaposition to the purity of Norimichi’s first love.

Yes, all of the agency in the story is with Norimichi, because it’s a story of a boy trying to become a man and protect someone he loves.

Lemire is mad about this, too, but anyone who compares the story of a boy’s first love and how that boy would try to do anything he could to make life better for that girl to a movie where a bunch of high schoolers get into a violent prank feud with a redneck  brothel owner is probably a broken human being.

*:This is a rhetorical question; since her resume includes 8 years working with the Armenian Genocide-denying Young Turks network, the answer is obviously yes.

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Fa Yuiry from Zeta Gundam is a Badass

Fa.Yuiry.587181

No, she’s not what immediately springs to mind when one thinks “badass female character”. She’s not sexy-in-leather, dodging bullets, doing somersaults, and beating up guys twice her size with waif-fu, but consider this:

Fa fought in the Gryps War and survived a show in which more than half of the main characters, including all but three women, died.

She did so piloting an experimental mech that’s generally considered inferior to the post-Mk II Gundams many other characters flew.

She wasn’t military or para-military like Emma or Reccoa or the Titan gals, but she volunteered to fight for Anti-Earth United anyway and fought bravely.

She not only put up with Camille when he was going through his Giant Robot Hero angst and reined him in some when he needed it, she stayed with him to take care of him when he became a disabled vet on the losing side of a war.

So, where is all this coming from?

I’d seen this just before another thread I was in about bad girls and best girls spiraled off into a Gundam tangent:

Credit to this juxtaposition by @KateVsTheWorld

gail killing joke

guybrush

Now, I have mixed thoughts of my own regarding the Killing Joke (TL;DR, it’s overrated and I understand why Moore himself is critical of it), and this isn’t the place to address Gail “Women in Refrigerators” Simone’s comments, but it was what got me thinking about Fa and the context surrounding her as a “badass female character”.

Zeta Gundam is a show that not only has a lot of female characters, it has a lot of female characters who have horrible stuff happen to them. Yes, you can claim that some of them were there to give male characters motivation (that a woman who was a better pilot than him could take an interest in him but then be killed in an MS battle by a kid he’d gotten into it with really messed Jerrid up), but they’re all very rounded, very complex, very real-feeling characters that many viewers had deep attachments to.

zeta gundam women

From pink hair to the right: Dies in sequel, lives, dies, dies, dies, dies, lives, lives, dies, dies, dies, lives.

  • Mouar and Lila (teal and blonde next to her) are both talented officers and pilots who die in fights with Camille.
  • Four (turquoise on the right) is emotionally abused by the researchers at the Murasame institute and eventually dies in battle.
  • Ditto Rosamia (purple/pink in the middle).
  • Sarah (salmon on the left) is emotionally (and probably sexually) abused by Scirocco and dies in battle taking a bullet for him.
  • Emma (second brunette from the right) nearly makes it to the end of the war, but dies in the last battle.
  • Reccoa (red-head next to Emma) dies in the last battle too—Reccoa fans are few and far between, though, because no one likes a traitor.
recoa

TFW Hypergamy Intensifies

Lest you think that the show was just particularly brutal to women, keep in mind that it would be easier to list off the main/major male characters who lived than rattle off all the ones who died. (Camille, Yazan[villain], Bright, Amuro, Astonage, and Char[though it’s left ambiguous, highly implied that he died, and he’s nowhere in ZZ], and the last three all die in Char’s Counterattack.)

In a story where none of the good guys die, the cute long-suffering girl-next-door girlfriend of the hero who gets to pilot her own robot every now and then is comic relief at best and obnoxious wannabe eye-candy at worst.

But in a story where anyone can die, and they often do, there’s something to be said of the character who can fight, survive, and still retain something of herself when it’s all over and go on to be a personal hero to those closest to her when she’s not fighting.

So, yeah, Fa Yuiry is a badass.*

Fa & Camille

*: And Best Girl. Sorry, Four, but teenage me was wrong about you. Get you a girl who will forgive you for liking Four and take care of you when you’re a disabled vet.

Phineas & Ferb Star Wars: A Reminder that Disney Isn’t Star Wars’ Problem, it’s Kathleen Kennedy, Rian Johnson, and JJ Abrams

A few months back on a lark, my GF started watching Phineas & Ferb on Netflix. While it took a bit for it to grow on me, it’s become one of my favorite cartoons, and I’ll be bummed when it’s gone next month.

Season 4 had an unusually high share of “special” episodes and two-parters–the best of these was a Star Wars special.


While Mouse Wars has scrambled to hit diversity checkboxes and increase female representation in science fiction to 1920s level, Kathleen Kennedy and her ilk have failed to create any likable, relatable, or compelling female characters. Rey is a grating bully who is constantly berating her companions and treating them like they’re useless. While I enjoyed Rogue One, I recognize its roots in Tabletop and therefore see Jyn for what she is–the MacGuffin NPC the Party has to protect for their TPK one-off adventure. Rose Tico and Holdo are bad memes (I feel bad for Kelly Marie Tran, a cute fan-girl that the film-makers intentionally dumpied up and gave a shit part so they could check a diversity box, much less so for Laura Dern). Phasma was supposed to be a big deal, cuz “ermegerd, a lady Storm Trooper!”, but we all saw how well that went.

Feminist Star Wars couldn’t even make a female character as compelling or with half as good an arc as Storm Trooper Candace.

Candace was everything that Phasma or Finn should’ve been–someone who’s bought into the imperial ideas for reasons that are not bad reasons, so they can have a genuine moral conflict when presented with a dilemma that makes them reconsider their role as an imperial enforcer.

It’s cheesy, has a bunch of song and dance numbers, and has a bit of an over-reliance at times on the old “Darth Vader’s socks” meme… Here’s the thing about this cartoon special, though… If you strip away the burlesque elements, you’re actually left with the building blocks of a pretty compelling Star Wars story:

  • A villain has devised a way to artificially augment Dark Side Force abilities.
  • A Rank & File Imperial who believes in “the cause” gets caught up in an incident that leads them to see the humanity of the Rebels.
  • Brother is set against brother when the villain corrupts one of them.
  • A tough-girl space pirate (Pepper Melange, anyone?) falls in love with the hero, one of the brothers, because she comes to realize that he’s not a squish and is willing to put his life on the line for his friends.

Compare that to:

  • A villain is mad at mom and dad, so he digs out grampa’s war memorabilia and goes off to play space Nazi. Some has to go stop him, I guess?
  • A janitor defects from a cause he’s not invested in the first time he sees action.
  • A woman yells at said janitor and treats him like crap until he gets coma’d. (Seriously, how does “Pro-Diversity” Star Wars go from having a black man piloting the fastest ship in the galaxy to destroy a Death Star to having a black man get yelled at and told he’s useless by a white lady for 2 hours?)

So, if you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and watch this before they take it off and it gets shuffled over to Disney’s streaming service they’ll be launching in the soontime.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Yondu vs. Obi-Wan (Major Spoilers)

So, saw Guardians 2 last night, and I gotta say. As a franchise, people who like pulp SF should maybe start looking to Guardians of the Galaxy instead of Star Wars. Star Wars has averaged out to be trash, coasting more on the theoretical potential of the property as it has been explored by other creative types rather than the films themselves. But more importantly, Guardians of the Galaxy has a much stronger moral core than Star Wars.

Let’s take a look at Obi Wan vs Yondu for a second. Yondu is superior by far as the older father figure mentor character.

This isn’t something I’m going to put a lot of energy into explaining or even defending, but I just want to toss it out there. Let’s even completely forget my theory that Obi-Wan is the main villain of Star Wars for a sec.

In Star Wars, Obi-Wan has been secretly watching out for Luke, and eventually he takes him under his wing. He tries to explain the situation in a way that will not hurt the young Skywalker, because while he believes in him, he does not believe in him enough to trust him with the truth. And ultimately, that’s his bad. Only when it comes down to it, he doesn’t really accept responsibility for what he has done and tries to justify rather than coming fully clean and apologizing, even when it wouldn’t have cost him anything to do so. And when knowledge that Leia is Luke’s sister would jeopardize the fate of the Rebel strike on Endor, Obi-Wan’s ghost rather casually confirms it.

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Yondu pretty much raises Star Lord after his mom dies. He’s a tough father figure, and does a lot wrong by the kid growing up, but he genuinely does care about him. Yondu is also protecting Star Lord from his father with a lie, but when the chips are down, Yondu comes clean and is honest about his reasons “I knew your daddy was bad and killed those kids, and I couldn’t stand to see that happen to you.” After all is laid bare, Yondu makes the ultimate sacrifice so that his “son” will live.

Both franchise are owned by Disney, and both are cogs in multi-billion-dollar merchandising apparatuses, so I’m not going to factor that in when comparing the two. Even with all of its flaws and cringe-points, I’m gonna have to give this one to Guardians.

Lego Batman

This is just a quick review of the Lego Batman movie.

If you’re a fan of Batman, watch it.

Its story is just coherent enough that it manages to keep rolling along while delivering nonstop Batman fanservice.

Like the first Lego movie, it is painfully self-aware, and I really don’t think it’s going to stay a fresh and enjoyable approach into the Ninjago movie they had a trailer for, but if you got a kick out of narcissistic asshole Batman there, this manages to keep the funny coming.

Batman here is a grotesque, all of his worst qualities (particularly those from the 80s & 90s comic incarnations) are exaggerated and played for laughs but also to give a bit insight into just why Batman is so messed up. It ends up looking at a lot of the same themes as Dark Victory, just taking an incredibly gonzo approach to get there.

I don’t know how well it would work as an actual kids movie; there’s plenty of action and explosions and slapstick humor, but much of the comedy and entertainment value revolves around either Batman being a terrible person or Batman obscura in film, cartoons and comics. If you’re a Batman fan, it’s definitely worth a couple of bucks to see.

(Did anybody else think it was weird that they used Carrie Kelley’s character design for a Robin that was supposed to be Dick Grayson?!)

The Force Awakens to Put Me to Sleep

In all of the ongoing discussions as to whether or not Rey from the Force Awakens was a Mary Sue, I seem to have missed anyone warning me just how boring Episode 7 was.*

Keep in mind, I’m someone who loved Rogue One and has gone to bat for it a few times – it restored in me a love of Star Wars I haven’t really felt since playing TIE Fighter. That said, if I HAD seen The Force Awakens, I probably would’ve skipped out on Rogue One.

Absolutely nothing in The Force Awakens seemed to have any real weight, and everyone was just sleepwalking through their roles. Han and Chewie looked as if they couldn’t wait for it to be over and done with. With Carrie Fisher’s passing, seeing Leia show up as tired and old and barely relevant to the story is even more of a gut punch and should’ve undercut anyone’s excitement that ‘hurr hurr, she’s a general now, because women are important in sci-fi for a change!’

Despite how much he’d been hyped everywhere I’d seen in fandom, Poe felt about as relevant as Biggs did before all of his scenes were cut.

Finn’s affections for Rey can only be excused as thirst, cuz she treats him like crap through the whole movie. He’d’ve been much better as an “I seen some shit” vet who’d finally had enough. He needed a better “God is not here today, Priest” moment.

Rey was more annoying than I’d expected because I’d never heard Daisy Ridley speak before. Her character comes off as a whiny scold. I disliked her from the moment she bullied that random desert nomad guy into giving her BB-8 for no reason. We’re told over and over that she’s special, but we’re never told why. We’re told Chewie likes her, and since Chewie is Han’s morality pet and supposedly a good judge of character, we ought to like her, too.

Starkiller was just there to have another Death Star in the background. It barely felt relevant. I don’t even remember if the not-Rebels were concerned about figuring out how to destroy it; it kinda felt like “it’s all good, we’ve got this, done this twice already”, so there was no tension.

No, the big secret everyone was after was Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts, because the Star Wars universe is obviously just as full as people obsessing over the canon as real life.

And what’s up with Snoke? Emperor just happened to have an ugly darkside giant tucked away somewhere to pick up the reins? No! I’d’ve much rather seen a Hellenistic Empire split between ex-governors and former moffs playing and being played by the Rebel Alliance against one another. Yet Hux and Kylo Ren are the best the Imperial remnants have to offer.

I’ve seen complaints that the characters in Rogue One were flat because they didn’t get much onscreen development. I think it worked there, though, because Rogue One relied on Tropes – you knew enough about the characters because you understood their functioning role in the story: Pilot, Heavy Weaponry Guy, Kung-Fu Dude, so on and so forth. It’s black and white cowboy hats and Henry Fonda’s blue eyes. The Force Awakens had nothing. It had neither character exposition/development nor fictional tropes to rely upon in the absence of development. As terrible as they were, the prequels were a hundred times better at character development and storytelling than The Force Awakens, and that’s saying something!

On a final note, Captain Phasma was a hell of a wasted character. How great would it be to see a Star Wars movie where the dashing rebel pilot ends up stuck with ice queen stormtrooper captain lady?

“Take the helmet off.”
“No…”
“I said take it off!”
::pretty dame under the stormtrooper helmet::
“I can see why the Empire would want to hide a pretty face like that.”
“Sh-shut up!”::angry blushes:: “I’ll have you executed when we get back to the Star Destroyer!”
“IF we get back to the Star Destroyer…”
::giant space monsters show up that they have to fight together before they fall in love::

Anyway…

@corduroyalist summed it up quite well: I found force awakens a disjointed pointless movie with the trauma of watching Han Solo be a loser & then die.