Doctor Who Series 8 Wrap-Up

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I’ve been a bit behind here, so this is a rather delayed reaction.  I was watching in real time, then got to “Kill The Moon” and sort of dropped off… I got bored truth be told, and there were so many other shows.  But Netflix just added Series 8 so I decided to catch up!  I finally watched Mummy On The Orient Express straight through to the finale.

Ahem: *Spoiler Alert*

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So much of Doctor Who rests on your connection to the companion/Doctor relationship and I was so bummed with how badly the relationship between Clara and Twelve has been written. If I were a Clara fan (which I’m not) I would have been infuriated with how they wrote her this season. She’s been ALL OVER the place and melodramatic. The inconsistency of the writing was really apparent in the Mummy episode (which should have been her last one, honestly) because it was otherwise a cool episode- the train, the mummy mythology, the humor in the script- it should have been great.

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HI I AM SPOOOOOOKY

But the contrived drama between Clara and Twelve just ruins it. The whole episode sets up this sad-eyed, tragic Clara who doesn’t trust this Doctor, doesn’t like him anymore because he lies, this trip is their “last hurrah”, she’s gonna quit and go be with Danny, etc. etc. There is even a mechanic character on the train who is subtly set up to step in for her at the end… then in the last TWO MINUTES Clara changes her mind-

(upon finding out the Doctor ISN’T a heartless asshole- which apparently she didn’t know before, because what is continuity?)

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-and decides to stay and keep lying to her boyfriend instead. Even the SCRIPT acknowledges it was an irrational and sudden turn-around, and Clara is basically painted to be an emotional, erratic person who can turn on a dime- and that characterization continues the rest of the series. When she tries to ransom the TARDIS to bring Danny back from the dead before she EVEN TRIES ASKING the Doctor for help??? Are you fucking kidding me? Every single companion, no matter which you like, whether the bond was friendship, romantic, whatever- they all had the same thing in common- LOYALTY. Even if the Doctor lied to them or they were pissed at him or whatever, they would never stab him in the back. Can you even imagine Donna, Rose, Martha, Jack, Amy, or even Mickey, threatening to destroy everything the Doctor loved, unprovoked, just to get their way- without even asking for his help first?

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Even if it was an illusion, it was nothing more than a hissy-fit. Ugh. OF COURSE HE WOULD TRY TO HELP, which he does, even after she acts like a toddler.

Having Clara trying to “juggle” the Doctor and Danny was just a juvenile plot-point and for her to keep jerking the Doctor around and treating him like crap instead of just leaving seemed to be designed to turn fans against her. They make a big deal out of Twelve being grumpy to her, and he is- but it’s mostly on the surface, especially in the latter half of the series. You have a funny face, you’re short, etc. LOLZ. In the beginning it could’ve easily been said (and it was, by many) that he was the one being a total asshole to her by constantly criticizing her personal life and looks, but she is the one who truly mistreats her best friend in the end by constantly questioning his humanity.  It honestly feels like an insult to her relationship with Eleven. Are we really meant to believe that Clara cannot see past appearances and know that this is the SAME PERSON? Whoever is writing her character does not seem to think much of her.

Keep in mind that all of this directly follows the reveal that Clara had jumped into the Doctor’s time stream and “saved” multiple versions of him (past and future).  That would mean she was not only accustomed to seeing him in different bodies, but felt a connection to him that was so strong that she ran after him every time, no matter how “old” or different the body was.  That entire story relied heavily on the notion that Clara’s connection to the Doctor was profound, and in fact that she literally “was born to save the Doctor”.  Her behavior towards Twelve in the season premiere was slightly odd considering this, but since she had unarguably been closest to Eleven’s form it was understandable, and I thought it was handled very well and wrapped up nicely.  In one episode.  Which was then promptly and conveniently forgotten for the rest of the series.  Having Clara’s confidence in the Doctor waver would have been fine, had they not set up the Impossible Girl narrative.  But since they had, it felt like all previous characterization and story was forgotten, and this was an entirely new companion.

I HATED the fact that they killed Osgood off, and the way they did it felt pointless, abrupt, and cruel. She should have mattered a little bit for fucks sake, and it felt way out of character for the show to do her like that. The same show that gave us such beautiful notions as “Nine hundred years of time and space and I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important.” and “There’s no such thing as an ordinary human” gives us this perfectly “ordinary” human who idolizes the Doctor and showed her bravery in the wonderful anniversary special; this now confident girl calmly states “Bow-ties are cool” in the finale, before SHE GETS VAPORIZED AND NO ONE GIVES A SHIT, THE END.

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(We know you would have given a shit, bby)

The Good: The Mistress was great- Michelle Gomez plays her to be absolutely chaotic and over-the-top but I thought it worked, and Danny Pink’s role in the finale made it heart-wrenching. He was easily the best character of the entire season (sorry series, goddamn Brits), and even though I will never forgive Moffat for sacrificing him on the alter of convenience at least he went out like the honorable badass he was, saving the world in the process.  That being said, it was incredibly frustrating to have this wonderful (and gorgeous) character written into this series and then placed in a position to be the Fun-Killer who doesn’t want Clara running off and having adventures.  He deserved better.

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One thing series 8 did very well was comedy- there were so many hilarious moments and lots of terribly funny bits of dialogue.  “Flatline” was fun, along with a couple of other episodes, and “Listen” was straight-up terrifying.

Overall I was just really disappointed in series 8 because it started out so strong- I love Peter Capaldi so much and I think he did a wonderful job.  I liked a handful of the episodes but the writing mostly ranged from uneven to terrible. I really, really hope something changes next season. If not the companion then for fuck’s sake, hire a writer that can develop her into something beyond a concept because otherwise the only impossible thing about the Impossible Girl is liking her. I am so sick of her giant teary eyes moping around the TARDIS, her frequent bouts of indecision sandwiched in-between sassy, cutesy one-liners. I try to be sensitive to the people who like Clara because (besides my best friend being one of them) Lord knows I get annoyed when people talk shit on my favorites.  But as I said before, if Clara was *my* companion I wouldn’t be annoyed- I would be livid. Because the way they wrote her to be unbearable this season felt intentional. Half the fun of this show is watching the companions hurl themselves into space with the Doctor without a second thought. If you don’t want to be along for the ride, get the fuck off and let someone else on.

I understand they can’t all be Rory Williams, but this is getting ri-goddamn-diculous.

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I Tried The 4 New Lay’s Flavors So You Don’t Have To

You all know that I am First and Foremost: A Scientist.

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The other day I happened to make a Facebook status stating how disgusting the new Lay’s flavors looked to be.  What followed was a surprisingly lengthy thread of people debating and discussing the merits of the various experimental flavors that Lay’s keeps insisting on debuting.  That would have been that, as I had no intention of wasting money on giant bags of chips I almost certainly wouldn’t like, but then the other day I saw these small, individual bags at Subway…  I went ahead and got one of each since I am plagued by an insatiable curiosity and also apparently a desire for pain. I tried one flavor a day last week to see if any of them were palatable, and voilà.  Here are my reviews and now you don’t have to go through this yourselves:

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1. Truffle Fries.  I totally expected to like this one since I love truffle oil and it naturally pairs with potatoes. But of course these chips in no way contain truffle oil, which is expensive as ass, but instead an artificial flavoring that tastes vaguely like truffle oil that has gone a bit moldy.  To me they tasted exactly like French Onion chips with just a vague background of extra stank on them. Did not like. Managed to eat maybe half the bag before I gave up and tossed it.

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2. Gyro.  Dear Gods this was the worst one. It was like someone dumped an entire jumbo container of the cheapest Greek seasoning in existence into one little bag. They were so over-flavored it was revolting and to add injury to insult they were kettle-cooked, which means in addition to everything else they were mouthblood flavored. I ate like 5 or 6 to give them a chance then threw them into the garbage, which probably tasted better than these chips.

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3. Reuben.  These were tolerable, probably because The Reuben is the best sandwich in existence and these managed to resemble the taste of one, a bit. I could taste rye bread flavor the strongest, and a little bit of corned beef. Finished the bag but it was not super exciting.

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4. Biscuits and Gravy.  These gave me an existential crisis because of all four flavors, this one was the MOST ACCURATE. These goddamn things actually tasted like biscuits and gravy and it confused my brain. I expected to hate them the most but I liked them. I ate the whole bag.  I ate them for breakfast which somehow felt more okay. My Southern relatives are somewhere weeping and praying for my soul (for a new reason now!), but what can I say.

The problem is that they could never GO with anything, which I think is my main problem with all of these flavors as a whole. While one might be good and another tolerable, I am never going to want biscuits and gravy-flavored chips on the side of my hot dog or a sandwich-flavored chip on the side of my sandwich. Chips should be made to compliment other foods, not contain 50 different flavors within themselves all drowning each other out.

I guess I could see dipping the Reuben flavor in some sort of sour cream/horseradish dip but on the whole all of this feels really unnecessary.


Conclusion: Give me my Salt & Vinegar chips and Get Off My Lawn.

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Jon Voyage

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I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.

When I was 13 years old I bought a tiny, black-and-white television set from a yard sale for $10.  It got 4 channels and you had to wrestle with the bunny ears to even get those, but it was a huge deal for me.  Although we had a TV in our living room it was closely monitored, and most shows were forbidden.  My siblings and I would set our alarms to sneak into the living room and watch Saturday Night Live every week, and if my Mom was out of the house we would catch In Living Color and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, and when I was home sick it was Beverly Hills 90210, all the way… but there was always the fear of getting caught and having all privileges revoked.  No secular television was technically “allowed” – the only reason for the existence of the TV was so that there was something to hook a VCR up to so we could watch a series of Christian cartoon videos.  You can imagine how exciting and stimulating those were to a pre-teen who was already hiding borrowed Steven King novels between her mattresses.

Once I had my own TV hidden in my room it was ON.  I could now watch whatever I wanted (well, as long as it aired on those 4 channels) and one day, I found The Jon Stewart show.  Not only did I find the writing hilarious and smart, but I developed the type of obsessive crush on the host that only a young teenage girl is capable of forming.  I thought he was brilliant, handsome, and was drawn to his endearing humility and quick wit.  This crush actually ended up creating my “type”, something that has followed me into adulthood.  From that point on, show me a nerd with dark curly hair and I will swoon like a motherfucker.  Some of those crushes (*ahem* Jeff Goldblum) not only survived into my adulthood but have actually grown.  Once Jon moved over to The Daily Show, I loyally followed him.  Cable was trickier but being old enough to stay over with friends at that point, I made it work.  I moved out of the house at age 17 and it was never an issue again.  Since then Comedy Central has been non-negotiable in any apartment I lived in, even when I was making $7 an hour and had to go without other things.  The ritual of watching the show and the comfort it brought me was a form of the actual therapy I should have been in and could never have afforded.

Growing up I was a very well-read, smart kid, but I had zero interest in politics.  I didn’t have much interest in reality in general to be honest, because most of what I saw of it was shitty.  I despised organized religion, having grown up in it, and spotted hypocrites everywhere I turned.  As far as I was concerned, politicians fell into the same category and the whole thing seemed like a hugely sexist, racist, homophobic pile of unending shit that could never be changed.  I never had anyone to look up to in real life outside of my older siblings, so I rejected real life.  I cared about fiction.  I cared about creating realities that were better than this one.  As a child I was either not very empathetic, or was so much so that I had to turn it off and just retreat into fantasy.  I’m still not sure which one of those things is true.

But as the show progressed, something changed in me as it grew more deeply analytical and political in tone.  Besides my love of watching Jon, he seemed to have a way of pulling back the curtain and showing us the working parts that make up the world that we live in.  He also had a way of doing it piece by piece, so that none of it felt overwhelming or insurmountable.  I started engaging.  I started examining my political views, trying to understand how they were formed and whether or not some of the foundations they were based on might be made of bullshit (spoiler alert: they were).  Although I knew I was an Atheist from the time I could form such thoughts I never realized how the narrow, bigoted world I had grown up in had affected my political stances without my even noticing.  Sure, I never treated people who were “different” from me badly or thought of them as lesser, the way I was taught to (my Mother once screamed at me for almost an hour accusing me of being a lesbian because I refused to stop hanging out with a gay friend I had as a teenager), but of course all murderers should get the death penalty I mean why are we even talking about this?  And capitalism??  YAY.  Although I had rejected the religion I was raised with and the Evangelical Christian Republican label that went with it, my political views by the time I was about 20 had ended up falling somewhere in the region of Naïve-Ayn Rand-ian-Libertarian-VagueTown.  I had yet to truly explore that part of my mind and expand my understanding of how the world worked outside of the only country I knew.  But along with reading and watching the show, I was now actually reading world news almost every day- something you would have had to put a gun to my head to get me to do just a few years earlier.  I also suddenly wanted to travel outside of the country, and saved so that I could do so.

My older sister, who eventually went on to get her Masters in political science at Harvard, rejoiced.  Always the most earnest child you have ever met in your life, she wanted to make the world a better place from the time she was small, and politics was a way she saw to do that.  In the past whenever she had tried to talk to me or get me excited about politics, my eyes would glaze over after about 5 minutes.  I had no trust of adults in positions of authority of any kind, no matter what political party they belonged to or what words came out of their mouths.  They were all liars and none of them really cared about anything but themselves.  My life up until that point had taught me that lesson, and I had learned it well.  But now I was the one calling her, wanting to have discussions about politics and asking questions of someone who was years ahead of me in learning about this strange clusterfuck of a system we live in.  She was ecstatic to oblige.

All of that was well over a decade ago and when I look back I certainly cringe to remember how strong my political convictions were, especially considering my limited understanding of pretty much everything.  But when you are 20 years old you tend to think you know everything, so I try not to be too hard on myself.  I don’t need to tell you how The Daily Show got better and stronger, or try to emphasize the enormous effect his show has had on the young people and the culture of this country.  There have already been so many articles written on the subject, and I trust that you have access to google.  This is a selfish post, explaining what he did for me.  And yes, he has had a strong team of writers and correspondents behind him and they all deserve praise and recognition, but for me, if not for his voice, I wouldn’t have tuned in.  His empathy is palpable and his willingness to be criticized is admirable.  He will also make a complete and total ass of himself in the service of a bit and that is something that has never changed, no matter how successful the show has become.

When someone points out something problematic in one of his segments, I don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to get mad or defend him.  Truthfully I think that is because thinking critically and deeply is exactly what he is trying to get people to do.

The departure of Stephen Colbert from The Colbert Report (another blessed gift Jon has given me) made me sad, but the sadness was off-set by the fact that not only did I still have Jon’s show to watch, but Stephen was going to be back on my TV soon in the form of the Late Show, which I will now be watching (sorry dudes, never thought Letterman was funny unless he was standing next to Leno).  With Jon leaving to apparently go live on a farm in Jersey with his family and a bunch of rescue animals, I don’t know when I will get to see him on TV again.  After 20 years of his presence on my television being one of the only constants in my life, it leaves a huge hole in my heart.  I adore him more today than I did when I first found him as a stupid kid, and I will forever remain in his debt.  I’d like to think that I could have evolved into the kinder, more empathetic, intersectional feminist I try my best to be even if he’d never come along, but I’d rather not think about that.  And yes there have been many life experiences and many, many books, television shows, movies and articles by amazing women and men that have expanded my knowledge and understanding of the world after the fact, but Jon is the person who initially challenged me to snap out of the apathy and cynicism I was far too young to have, and find the strength to care.  He ignited the flame.

I am still a little surprised when I turn on my television at night and don’t see a new Daily Show on my DVR- I think it’s going to take a while longer for it to sink in.  Until then, I can always watch this handy VHS tape I made of an episode of The Jon Stewart show when he had Kate Mulgrew and Van Halen on as guests.

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Over 15 years and countless re-locations later, I still have it.  If only I had a VCR.

Farewell, Jon*.

*pleaseohplease take me with you that farm sounds amazing and peaceful and I will bring my own snacks I promise you won’t even know I’m there

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San Diego Comic Con: Diary of a First-Timer

Hello humanoids!  Last week I attended San Diego Comic Con for the first time with my sister and a handful of friends.  For someone like me, this is basically The Promised Land.  Let’s get to it.

Wednesday: Preview Night, Hop Con 3.0: w00tstout

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Comic Con started off with a bang.  After many awesome cosplay sightings outside the convention center we managed to get onto the floor and buy a shit-ton of merchandise before heading out to Hop Con.  Hop Con is a food + craft beer party thrown by Wil Wheaton and Aisha Tyler at Stone Brewery every year.  If you haven’t been- the place itself is gorgeous.  Koi ponds, gardens, beautiful landscaping; Stone is worth the trip even without any special event happening.  Wil and Aisha are super nice and Aisha even collaborates on a beer every year and serves it up herself, like the motherfucking boss that she is.

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Thursday:  Extant, Doctor Who, Con Men, Carry On My Wayward Cocktails

I went to the Extant panel because it was in Ballroom 20 before the Sherlock panel, which I had initially planned to attend.  Halle Berry and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are both fucking stunning.  Halle said some lovely, insightful things about representation on television as opposed to movies, getting roles as a woman of color who is “no longer young”, and preferring to have more control over her projects now.  Of course she looks amazing but since Hollywood is a sexist, ageist, whitewashing monster, I was in no way surprised to hear about the shit she’s had to deal with.  I’ve never seen the show but based on the preview it looks fucking cool.  Extant: Added to my list.

After the Extant panel I happened to check Twitter and saw that the motherfucking HALL H LINE WAS SHORT AS HELL.  This does not ever happen.  So I hauled ass over there to see the Doctor Who panel instead since the Sherlock panel was not going to have any of the actual stars from the show and Doctor Who was.  During the brief time we waited in the Hall H line, a cosplayer had mingled in with the Jesus protesters that show up to SDCC every year, and provided us with entertainment as we waited.

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Troll Level: Joker

The panel was great.  Moffat was surprisingly likable and I’ve always loved Peter Capaldi.  Jenna Coleman continues to be adorable and also about as interesting as a bowl of dishwater.  She was clearly never interested in DW until she took the role, so she had very little insight or stories to offer, but she is perfectly nice.  Michelle Gomez, who plays the newest incarnation of the Master (or the Mistress, as the character is now known) was the best and most surprising part of the panel.  Clever, quick, whip-smart and hilarious, she had great responses to all of the questions and is a whole lot sexier in person than her severe characterization on the show would have you believe.  I can’t say I cared a whole lot about her character either way for the first half of series 8 that I managed to watch, but count me in as a fan now.

After that came the Con Man panel.  The brainchild of Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, Con Man is basically a love letter to the Firefly fandom.  It looks hilarious.  Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Seth Green, and other nerdy fan-favorites completed the panel.  It was even more fun than the DW panel, and it was capped off with a surprise marriage proposal between two of the crew members.  The man who was proposing clearly caught his boyfriend completely by surprise, and when they started choking up, so did everyone else.  Now thanks to SCOTUS, these longtime partners can return to their home in the South and tie the knot.  Not a dry eye in the house.

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In the evening we had tickets to a Supernatural fandom-run cocktail party at a downtown San Diego bar.  There was food, an open bar with SPN-themed cocktails (I myself was drinking single man-tears) and best of all, SWAG BAGS.

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Best.  Party.  Favors.  EVER.  The Hillywood girls were there, and at the end of the party they played their amazing video and everyone sang along.  Good times.

(Here is the video, for any nerd left on the planet who hasn’t seen it)

Friday:  Exhibit Hall, Chris Hardwick’s Funcomfortable Tour

My sister and I walked the floor and managed to talk to Jane Espensen and Orlando Jones, get autographs and pictures with Taran Killam, and even spotted the gorgeous actor who plays Lestrade in Sherlock walking around.  Did I mention he is gorgeous?  Because he is.  Also the BBC booth took so much of my money.  Taran was a highlight because after I told him how much I loved the SNL sketch in which he played John Boehner opposite Miley Cyrus for the “We Did Stop” video, this happened:

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Too adorable for words.

After a fruitful day in the Exhibit Hall we got to see Chris Hardwick perform stand-up at the Balboa.  If you think you know Hardwick because of all the shows he hosts, lets just say he is a little different when he is unfiltered.  He started off with a joke involving mothers and jizz and it only got better from there.  I laughed so much my sides hurt.

Saturday:  Fan Favorites, Simpsons, Seth McFarlane, Grimm, Outlander, Hannibal, Hall H Sleepover

I spent most of Saturday in Ballroom 20.  My goal was to get a good seat for the Hannibal panel (or “Pannibal”) at 5pm, so my ass was in the seat by 11am.  Besides Grimm at 3pm I didn’t even know what else would be in the room, but as it turns out the Comic Con Gods were smiling down upon me.  The panel I walked in on was a “Fan Favorites” panel and boasted Norman Reedus, Maisie Williams, Yvette Nicole Brown, Wendi Mclendon-Covey, and David Anders.  Maisie and Norman were every bit as cool as they seem- especially Maisie.  My favorite story of the panel was how a young fan tweeted her and said anything Maisie tweeted back, she would use as her yearbook quote.  Maise replied “Anyone can be killed”.

Maisie = Real Life Arya.

The Simpsons panel was mostly notable because it featured Gulliermo Del Toro, whose movies I love.  I haven’t actually watched the show itself in years, but the panel was fun.  Ditto for McFarlane’s, mostly because all of the Family Guy voice actors busted out their character voices and read lines.  Grimm is a really fun show full of hot people, so naturally that was a great panel.  I’ve never seen Outlander, but those people were clearly having a blast with each other which is always awesome to watch.

FINALLY: THE PANNIBAL.  Bryan Fuller is the best.  Hugh Dancy and Richard Armitage were there as well, and all three of them humored us by rocking flower crowns.  I do not have time to even scratch the surface of how amazing Hannibal is and what a fucking travesty it is that it was cancelled.  Bryan gave us a sliver of hope that someone else might still pick it up, but I have been burned too often by shitty network decisions to hold out too much hope.  My favorite moment was when Bryan was asked why he has chosen to leave out most of the sexual violence from the books, and Bryan explained that if you are going to portray rape or sexual violence you have a responsibility to present it carefully; fully examining all of the consequences to every person involved, and if you’re not willing to put in the time and effort to do that, you should simply omit it. He mentioned that many shows right now don’t do this, and he didn’t want his show to be cheap or lazy. And this is why Bryan Fuller is my favorite.

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Yet another reason why women and gay men need to helm more shows. Also: Fucking cosplay on point.

Apparently he is also putting Richard Armitage in short jean shorts later this season.  Fannibalism forever.

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After the Pannibal it was time for our Hall H camp-out.  We had a friend with us who did not have a badge for Saturday, so she got in line for Hall H at 11am (bless her).  After our panels were done, my sister and I joined her and our other friends for what turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable, restful camp-out.  It helped that the Hillywood girls came by and handed out chocolate, then about 10pm Misha Collins himself rolled up with the Random Acts crew and brought us all pizza.  Because the Supernatural fandom is better than all of the other fandoms (yes, we were camping out for Supernatural- I will address that on my Sunday post so shut your fucking face).  They filed us onto the grass under the tents, and we snuggled into our sleeping bags and slept in the wonderfully mild San Diego weather.  You don’t have to camp out to get into Hall H, necessarily (except for the day before ANYTHING Star Wars), but you do if you want decent seats.  Out of a hall packed with thousands of people, we were in row SIX.  Boom.

Sunday: Supernatural in Hall H AKA the fat cherry on the Comic Con sundae

So: Supernatural.  If you follow this blog at all you will no doubt remember my vow to stop watching this hot mess of a show and participating in the fandom.  I’m leaving that post up because I fully meant it, and also because everything I said about the way Charlie was treated is 100% accurate, but leaving the fandom proved to be a bit more difficult than I imagined.  The panel demonstrated beautifully why that is and actually helped me put it into words.  There were so many amazing things crammed into a single hour that I hardly know where to start, but leaving aside how hilarious and engaging the panel was overall, it can be broken down thusly…

1)  For the most part, WE ALL FEEL THE SAME WAY.  The fandom, the actors, the good writers- we are all united in hating the same things, and one hero had the guts to get up to the mic and call out Jeremy Carver to his fucking face about it.  This girl gets up there in front of thousands of fans and basically asks Jeremy- given how female deaths are so frequently used to further the male character’s storylines on Supernatural, how did he think it was a good idea to kill Charlie, who was their only queer character to boot, and dump her in a bathtub?  The hall went nuts with applause.  The actors (who were pretty vocal about their disagreement with that decision after the subsequent outrage exploded online) literally half-stood to rotate their chairs and TURNED THEIR FUCKING BACKS ON HIM while he answered.  They left him twitching in the wind as he fumbled his way through a non-explanation which basically consisted of “well, um, we kill everybody, blah blah bullllllshit”.  He seems to think that killing everyone is what keeps people watching, which just goes to show how little he understands the fandom.  Sorry bro, but we keep watching DESPITE this constant dumbfuckery with fridging.  But honestly, just hearing someone speak for all of us and call out the showrunner reminded me why I love the fandom.  We are frequently disgruntled.  We do not blindly defend our show, even though we love it.  We are overall a thoughtful, intelligent, passionate bunch, and that is good company to be in.

2)  The actors.  A huge part of why I could not bring myself to dump the show is because after ten seasons, I could not desert these people.  These kind, beautiful people who come to every con, who show up ready to listen, who share their family photos with us, who cry with us, laugh with us, and listen to us bitch about the show without a shred of impatience or anger.  These boys are angels.  They understand the characters better than any showrunner (besides Kripke) or writer (besides Robbie Thomas) at this point, but as actors, they do not always have the control that they would like to have.  I have been to 5 SPN cons at this point and I have yet to see their kindness or commitment waver.  I watch countless television shows and am part of so many fandoms, and there is literally no other cast like this one.  They embrace us and allow us into their lives and personal struggles, and by doing so have turned a fandom into a family.  No matter how much your family pisses you off, you can never really leave.

3)  Always Keep Fighting.  Our fandom is powerful.  We are capable of ugliness, but we are also capable of wonderful things.  From the fan art, to the fan fiction, to the charitable projects, we are always ready to find the beauty in everything and lend a hand when it is needed.  This was exemplified in the candle display in Hall H that I was so proud to be a part of.

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For some background: Earlier this year Jared was forced to take a break from shooting the show and fly home abruptly.  He has been fairly open with us about his struggle with depression and even started a t-shirt campaign last year that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for “To Write Love On Her Arms”, a charity that provides resources to people struggling with depression and addiction.  The t-shirts he created had the words “Always Keep Fighting” on the front- a motto many fans have adopted as their own.  After his break this year, someone got the idea to organize a huge show of support at Comic Con.  With the help of Random Acts they distributed small electric tea lights to almost every single person in line for Hall H.  Hall H can hold about 7,000 people.  After the Q&A portion started, everyone in the audience was signaled and we all held up our lights.  It is dark in the hall, so if you looked at the screen, all you could see was a sea of twinkling lights that looked like stars.  Everyone on the panel was confused for a few seconds, then after hearing the shouts they slowly realized what was happening.  Jared barely held it together and he was clearly touched beyond words.  To be in that hall was to feel wrapped up in the support and the warmth that the fans show to the actors and to each other, and that the actors give right back to us.

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That is why I am still here.

And with that, my San Diego Comic Con adventures came to an end.  One of the hardest parts of Supernatural Cons is returning to normal life and San Diego Comic Con gave me the same emotional hangover, times 50.  I was not prepared for how amazing the experience would be so I was equally unprepared for how difficult it would be to come home.  I anticipated that the good parts would be evened-out by bad parts.  Long lines, huge crowds, not getting to see everything I wanted to, and most of all, exhaustion.  I felt none of those things.  The crowds were nowhere near as bad as I anticipated, I waited in practically no lines besides Hall H (which I was mentally prepared for), and I saw almost every single thing I wanted to.  I didn’t drink too much and I slept enough, so by the time I woke up Monday morning, I was still high off of the experience.  There is nothing like spending five days around people who are as passionate as you are about the same types of things.

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If I ever miss a SDCC from here on out, it will not be from lack of trying.

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Game of Thrones, Fandoms, and a Culture of Misogyny

TW/CW: For discussion of rape and spoilers of recent shows

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Hey so if you read my blog (hi there, thank you) you may have noticed that I recently shared an insightful post that was entitled “Game of Thrones Can Go Fuck Itself; Or, Why Rape Is Different From Other Onscreen Violence”.  This blog post was written by a dear friend of mine and discussed the myriad of reasons why adding yet another rape scene to the TV show that was not present in the books was an awful decision (3rd one, for anyone counting).  That post is no longer present on my blog and I am about to tell you why.

First of all, the post pointed out (and I’m paraphrasing here) that unlike be-headings, being burned at the stake, or death-by-snow-zombie, rape is a form of violence that almost every single woman on Earth has either experienced firsthand or knows a woman who has.  Sexual violence against women and girls is a literal epidemic and by portraying rape irresponsibly you are contributing to the culture that allows it to continue.  I would like to be able to remember the rest of the post but I can’t, because she ended up removing it.  If you have to ask why she made the decision to do so then I can safely assume you are not a woman who frequently expresses her thoughts and opinions online.

The reason she removed the post was because after posting it she received a torrent of online abuse, and she made the decision not to endure it.  As a pop-culture junkie, I post, tweet, rant, etc. quite a bit about many different television shows.  Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Doctor Who; the list goes on and on.  I post my reactions all the time, both positive and negative.  As to the negative, I have complained about many things: The uneven writing in this past season of Doctor Who, Maggie uncharacteristically forgetting she had a missing sister for like, 3 straight episodes in the last season of The Walking Dead, the added rape scenes in GoT, and most recently, the utterly horrible decision to kill off Charlie in Supernatural. Out of all of these reactions that I have posted on multiple forums- can you guess which was the ONLY ONE to be met with a barrage of excuses, insults, and abuse? Go ahead, guess.

There is a veritable army of men online who are poised to strike the second any woman dares to complain about rape being trivialized or glamourized- whether by a TV show, a movie, a politician, or a stand-up comedian.  They jump in instantaneously to tell you exactly why that rape NEEDED TO HAPPEN.  This is rape culture.  This is a culture that tells women to sit down and shut up about their experiences.  Tells them that they are at fault for whatever sexual abuse or violence happens to them.  Tells them “it’s just a joke” and to “grow a sense of humor” when the issue was never the fact that someone made a rape joke, but the fact of who was the butt of it.  This is a culture that writes entertainment based on the assumption that the best method of making a female character more “interesting” is to have her raped.

Do not mistake me, rape is very much a part of our reality and this should not be ignored.  Portrayals of or allusions to rape and sexual violence on TV and other mediums is absolutely, in and of itself, important.  Many stand-up comedians have delivered brilliant jokes that deal with the subject of rape (your John Mulaneys, your Louis CKs, as opposed to your Tosh.Douchebags) in which the victim is not being mocked, but the culture itself.

As far as television shows go, the question is this: How is it presented?  Is it from the point of view of the victim?  Does it tell her story?  Are the consequences to her life addressed?  Does her characterization evolve and do we see her deal with it, again, from her point of view?  Or did you throw it in there solely to evoke an emotion or reaction from a male character?  When GoT had the wonderful character of Sansa raped, it was shot in such a way that the camera is focused on her once-surrogate brother Theon, and we see the pain in his face as he is forced to watch.  This is not okay.

I am down for watching all kinds of horrific shit if it is in the service of an amazingly well-crafted story.  My sensibilities, they are not delicate.  But when something horrible happens to a woman in service of nothing whatsoever beyond giving some dude a second of man-pain it is beyond insulting.  You are essentially flipping off half of your audience and telling them their stories only matter in the context of how they affect a male character’s development.

I am going to contrast the GoT rapey rape-fests with an arc from an unlikely show: Sons of Anarchy.  Although the show went completely off the rails in the later seasons, the season in which Gemma is gang-raped was handled incredibly well.  The scene, the aftermath, the fact that it wasn’t treated as something that could be fixed within a few episodes by her “boys” going out and defending her “honor”…no such nonsense occurred.  It not only made sense that it could happen in the context of the plot (and thus did not feel gratuitous) but it was dealt with from HER perspective, and how she healed and obtained vengeance was entirely her own journey.  She fucking flipped the script and she did it on her own.

[Again- none of this applies to what the show later became.  SOA ended up bringing new meaning to the word “gratuitous” in subsequent seasons when dealing with rape.  How a show could fall from such greatness to such utter crap is beyond me.]

Was it hard to watch?  Yes.  Was it hurtful and gut-wrenching to see our beloved (at the time) matriarch have to go through such an unthinkable experience?  Absolutely.  But this shit happens in real life all the time and people shouldn’t pretend that it doesn’t.  But the trick is writing and portraying it in such a way that humanizes and enlightens as opposed to basically making violent rape-porn à la Game of Thrones.  It’s harmful, and it’s lazy.  At this point I can’t help but feel as though they must be getting off on it, as I can see no other reason for turning two consensual sex scenes from the books into rape scenes and then straight-up adding another one.

(This is a serious and depressing topic, so I am using the SOA discussion as an excuse to insert a Jax Teller gif as a palate cleanser.  Let’s all take a quick break…

…Okay, back to the bullshit)

There are shows that actually cut rape scenes from the source material because they recognize that they were gratuitous in the original content and did nothing to serve the story.  The Walking Dead removed the scenes where Michonne and Carl were raped and I will forever be grateful to them for doing so.  Seeing a powerful warrior who is not only a hero to many but more importantly, a black woman, be sexually brutalized would have sent a powerful message, and not a good one.  And child-rape?  NO THANK YOU.  I appreciate that the producers of the show had the insight and intelligence to realize that a zombie-apocalyptic hellscape where family members and friends are killed off horrifically left and right is plenty traumatizing enough to move character development along.  On top of that, they had the decency to not include them just for shock value.  They had a ready excuse, right there in the graphic novels, but they chose not to.  Now, one could certainly argue that they had more cynical reasons, such as fear that it would alienate too much of their audience, or maybe AMC wouldn’t allow it, but no matter what the reason- WE WERE SPARED.  Meanwhile the GoT show-runners read the already extremely violent books and were like, “You know what this is missing?? MORE RAPE. Rape-ier please!!!”

IF THE STORY HAS ZERO FUCKING REASONS TO HAVE A RAPE SCENE THEN MAYBE DON’T.

Basically I am so very tired of supporting shows that shit on every well-developed, complex, interesting female character they manage to create.  If any show-runners feel that they need to brutalize or kill off these characters, it is not too much to ask that it be done for a reason other than to upset a male character.  I love the fantasy genre with all of my heart.  I love Tyrian, Arya, and Jon Snow.  I love Sam, Dean and Castiel.  I shouldn’t have to sit through so much sexist, nonsensical bullshit just so I can enjoy the good parts.

Man, it’s been a rough couple of weeks to be a fan of fantasy/sci-fi and also a female person.

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Supernatural: How Could You.

Charlie

Hi Supernatural.  How are you.  Although this is technically a breakup letter, it’s not a hate note.  It’s a love letter, and a fond farewell.  Am I angry?  Sure.  Disappointed?  Beyond measure.  But the purpose of this is not to yell at you for what you did (although there will be some of that as well), but instead to thank you for what you have done in the past, and to explain why we no longer have a future together.

My life changed when I fell in love with you.  Your characters were fun and ever-evolving, your dialogue was sharp, your monsters were scary, and your heart was unwavering.  I am not one of your fans who fell out of love with you after Season 5.  I happened to think the leviathans were cool.  Soulless Sam was played to perfection by Jared and Crowley’s greater involvement in the show was a gift.  Losing Bobby was devastating, sure.  He was as beloved as a character ever was.  But “Death’s Door” was so beautiful, so touching, so incredibly moving, that I was able to let him go.  After all, he was a hunter who had been in the game for a long time.  His death made sense to the story and was treated with all of the reverence and attention that it deserved.  That episode remains one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful things you have ever created.

Demon Dean was nothing short of a revelation.  The idea was brilliant, Jensen’s transformation of Dean was absolutely terrifying, and some of the best acting that has ever been on television.  The only possible complaint to be made about it was that it was too short-lived.

There was a moment along the way- one single moment that almost caused me to leave you.  When Kevin was killed off without really even a decent reason, I was baffled.  He had so much story left.  His death was pointless, and beyond giving us an episode of Winchester man-pain afterwards, was treated as a throwaway.  This beloved character who had been so skillfully written as to evolve from a scared kid in advanced placement who was suddenly thrust into a life he did not choose, into a cynical, (adorable), and valuable member of the Winchester family who was quick enough on his feet to become Kevin freaking Solo when the occasion called for it, and brave enough to stand up to the King of Hell himself, was somehow disposable all of a sudden.  The lone person of color on your show at that time was snuffed out for seemingly no other reason than to give us a shock at a mid-season finale.  The ghost episode took the edge off, sure, but it was just a bad choice overall and the terrible loss of potential was frustrating.

In the first few seasons, side-characters dropped like flies but it didn’t matter because they were mostly written to be throwaway characters. They were simple and basic, because they were cannon fodder.  And that was okay!  It worked perfectly in the context of the show, because it was initially a horror show about two brothers and only two brothers.  But as the show continued on, amazing side-characters (besides Bobby, and Cas, who I now consider to be a main character) started to emerge.  The show was evolving into something else and that was amazing, and also necessary in order for the show to stay fresh.  So with Kevin all of a sudden being reduced to a red shirt, yes, I was furious and sad.  But I still had enough in me to keep going.

But once upon a time you gave us Charlie.  Robbie Thompson and Felicia Day gave us this woman who was the anti-Becky (Becky being the not-so-kind parody of a fangirl). Charlie was nothing short of a love letter. She felt like a beautifully perfect tribute to the female fans (us) who support you by paying money to go to Cons and voting for you to win awards and basically making sure we do everything in our power to keep you alive. She is a queer nerd who is brave, loyal and kind, and whose passions (LOTR, Harry Potter, video games, comics, etc.) are never played as a character flaw. They are actually played as a sign of her strength and goodness.  She has a vulnerability about her that makes you want to protect her, but she has also always held her own- even more so in her recent episodes.  She has demonstrated over and over again that she is NOT to be underestimated. She is a genius.  Felicia Day plays her with so much skill and so much joy that there has not been a single episode her presence has not made a thousand times better.  You gave us Charlie and it meant the world to us.  The first ever canonically queer character on Supernatural matters.  The only surviving long-running, truly relatable strong female character (outside of the amazing Jody Mills who if you touch, I Swear to God) matters.  A character like her existing in your universe MATTERS.

Now at the end, what did you decide she was worth?  A lackluster, off-screen death that made no sense at all. Kickass, resourceful Charlie- taken down seemingly effortlessly by a wounded enemy in a way you didn’t even bother to show us.  An enemy that Charlie had already demonstrated she could evade or beat- and that was before he was wounded.  Plot integrity?  What plot integrity?  All in service of Dean’s man-tears, rage, and his ten-year quest to be the man with the most guilt and self-loathing in the world EVER.  You needed to piss off Dean?  Pretty sure there were about 100 other ways to do it.  Considering how close he was to the edge, Charlie being taken hostage instead of murdered would have easily done the trick, and made more sense, incidentally.  Leverage and all that.  But you sacrificed plot integrity for shock value.  Again.  It’s tired.  It’s so very tired.  How many times are you going to taunt us with these occasional breaths of fresh air when it comes to representation and diversity then carelessly murder them in order to make some straight (or “straight” in Dean’s case) white dude sad?  How many of these deaths is it going to take before you get off the merry-go-round and think of a new plot device to make sure Dean always has enough of the guilt that defines his character?  Because I’m pretty sure he’s full up at this point so you could probably move on. (P.S. There is also this character named “Sam” that we like a lot, maybe you could do something with him, IDK just an idea.)

Charlie’s death has closed a chapter in my heart.  I have spent thousands of dollars on cons (that I have had a BLAST at- so thank you for that), spent countless hours watching your wonderful episodes that I have loved (again, thank you), and most importantly of all- I have made so many incredible, beautiful friends while watching you and for THAT, I owe you the most.  I don’t regret a second of it.  But I will no longer be able to go to your cons or watch you.  And please know that it is not out of my anger or about making a statement, it’s because you have made it impossible for me to care about you any longer.  If, after all these years, you can’t understand how killing off these wonderful characters we love so much just to give us more of the same Winchester angst has gotten stale, then I don’t know what to tell you.  It doesn’t make me sad any longer; it takes me out of your story and makes you feel empty and pointless, as though you are on an infinite loop.

Although your fan base may be male and female; you know full well who goes to cons.  You know who buys the merchandise and live-tweets the episodes.  You know who your strongest supporters are.  And guess what- we are not “Beckys” (most of us, anyway). We are Charlies.  We are all Charlie.  We are nerds, but we are also nurses, teachers, mothers, wives, scientists, writers, political activists, soldiers, computer geeks, and doctors, to name a few that I personally know.  We are bright, fully-functional adult women with families and friends and other areas of interest.  But we adore you because you provide us with an escape from our stressful lives and allow us the joy of a common bond.  There are always going to be mistakes and missteps during the course of every show, no matter how awesome, but until “Dark Dynasty” you have never been able to destroy that bond.  But taking our hero out of the equation so pointlessly and thoughtlessly was a slap in the face to every single one of us.  You sent us a message, loud and clear, and we have heard it.  I am leaving you because you do not value us.

Supernatural, you are a hot mess.  If you would just suck all of the time it would be so much easier but instead it is always one step forward then three steps back when it comes to character development, plot devices, and representation.  You create so many wonderful things and make these huge strides then you turn right around and undo it all with the next episode.  I would tell you to get your shit together but it is officially too late.  I suppose that part of me knows that, just as in the case of Kevin Tran, you never fully understood what you had.  And you never fucking deserved her.

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Yes, I will be okay.  There will always be walkers and crossbow-toting heroes, green-clad protectors of cities, timelords, and consulting detectives.  There will always be Starks and Lannisters.  But I will always love you, Supernatural, for the show you were and for everything you have given me.  I will never stop watching your DVDs and crying over Swan Song or getting chills over Lazarus Rising.

I will remain a fan of all of the actors, who I’ve learned over the course of many cons are some of the most loving, generous people out there.  I will always follow their careers and support their causes (I am wearing my “Always Keep Fighting” t-shirt as I write this).  You brought Misha Collins into my life and I will continue doing GISHWHES and being involved in whatever mad scheme he comes up with next.  In short, you were amazing and you gave me so many wonderful gifts.  But my heart has left the show with Charlie and I can’t care about you anymore, no matter how much I try.  I realize losing a few dozen, or even a few hundred fans over this isn’t the end of the world for you, but after so many years of loyalty and devotion, I care about you too much to leave without telling you why.

So, with that…

[Edit: It is worth noting that the people who were allowed to write the episodes killing off our last two most beloved side-characters were the same writers who were responsible for some of the weakest episodes in SPN history, including your two most universally reviled and offensive episodes ever (Route 666 and Man’s Best Friend With Benefits, in case there is any way you do not know).  Writers so awful, obtuse, and racist, there is no way they would have this job if not for nepotism.  This is not just a question of sensibilities- this is a total lack of depth, and of skill.  If Charlie had to go, I know that Robbie would have at least sent her out like the badass that she is.  I don’t know, maybe saving the world, or even someone’s life, instead of bleeding to death in a bathtub like an extra on Law & Order SVU.  But he has made it clear since that he strongly opposed killing off her character, so I doubt he would have been willing to write it, even if they had asked him.

Robert Singer and Jeremy Carver and anyone else who allowed this travesty to happen: You are 100% completely out of touch with the fans and you should learn to listen to the people you employ who actually involve themselves in the fandom. In case you didn’t figure it out from the immediate outrage afterwards- it was bad.  You made a bad choice.]

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The “After” Myth

This. This is fucking powerful. You are yourself and only yourself in any given moment. There is no before and after- there is only now. Thank you for writing this. I came by this knowledge painfully over the course of many years and I only wish I’d known it 15 years ago.

Can Anybody Hear Me?

DURING

After.

It’s here.

In my first post, Before, 3 years ago, I said “I’m not to After yet, but I’m closer to After than to Before.”

I now weigh 117 – 120 pounds (depending on the day), and standing at 5-foot 6-inches, that measurement means that After is very, very here. But, before you congratulate me, dear readers…if I have any…and dear friends and family who I know follow this blog… I have to come clean with you: I don’t feel like I’m at After. I’m terrified of being at After. And, I don’t like that After is here.

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The tagline of my blog is “uncovering myself one pound at a time.” For most of this blog, I’ve spoken strongly about how my relationship with food and myself was what caused my weight struggles. I stand by that. The thing is, the symptoms have resolved faster than I’ve been able to…

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