Category Archives: tv and movies

Doctor New

And there it is.

Like many current events, the reaction to “the backlash” far outweighs the backlash itself: nowadays the revolution will be televised, but nobody will tune in. Revolution is clean out of style. And in this sense, the BBC is way late to the party: they sex-swapped the Doctor’s venerable enemy, the Master, and pretty much nobody cared. And that follows years of other substantial changes to beloved characters the world over, none of which really have done much – either they’ve gone back to the old status quo ante, or else the changes killed the story – and after enough of that, well, the law of diminishing returns sets in. As a means of drumming up some welcome controversy to goose flagging viewership numbers, the Lady Doctor thus fails on two counts: it’s not all that controversial, and it entirely misses the reason why viewers have been falling away. And that reason can really be summed in three words:

STORY IS KING.

So, as for this change? Well, if it serves the story, sure, it could work, and Jodie Whittaker has a fine reputation in her field. But increasingly, it serves merely as the punchline to a joke nobody is telling. I doubt that THIS is the time we’ll all finally laugh. And on those terms alone, this is probably something the BBC should not have done.

But of course, they didn’t do it for story reasons, and that’s another substantial objection…

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Who doesn’t go Nazi?

Marvel Comics needs a refresher course on their Dorothy Thompson.

Read the article linked above first, if you’ve got the time, and then keep that in mind when you read all about Marvel’s decision to bring Steve Rogers back from the dead just to have him Hail Hydra.

There’s some speculating that this is a “long con” by the character to infiltrate and destroy them from within. My own thought is that actually killing Cap wasn’t enough for the Gatekeepers, who have decided that they have to desecrate the corpse as well by trying to kill his ideals.

It’s being passed off as a political commentary, of course, but whether through willful writer’s malpractice or a woeful lack of craft, they’ve only betrayed their own thoughts about America – and shock of shocks, it’s that America sucks. And I don’t buy for one minute that this has anything to do with the political rise of Donald J. Trump, official GOP nominee for the Presidency. They felt this way going into it, and they’d be doing the same thing if Ted Cruz took the nod. The writer has already gone on record in saying that the Republicans are all evil, so why not ruin their favorite freedom-loving symbol as well? It insults them AND ruins the guy who has (until now) unapologetically loved his country, to the point of punching Hitler in the face in his first comic.

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Gatekeeping!

So the fur continues to fly over the puppies of the world, sad and otherwise.

The insularity of the TrueFans, the Gatekeepers, is no accident. The thing they truly love is not scifi itself, but the Status of True Fan – and the more-closely held that status is, the smaller the Inner Circle, then the greater is their own self-assigned status among the great unwashed.

Honestly, this almost isn’t even about whose thinks are thought properly or who’s having “wrongfun” (to use Larry Correia’s delightful coinage). It’s all about who gains access to the outer courts, where dwelleth the official adoring masses of the Inner Circle. The criteria used are just a convenience that serves all needs: it’s the natural creed of the SJWs, so they don’t have to stop and think about who qualifies; nebulously-defined so accusations based upon them are impossible to truly refute; full of jargon to flatter their flabby and under-exercised minds. But it could just as easily be about anything, as you can see from all the times when they all dart off in a different direction like a school of fish: “THIS is the true definition of what we believe – do the opposite of what we did last Thursday and never let it be remembered among us (or mentioned to us) that it was ever otherwise.” And of course anyone slow to that change proves they aren’t Inner Circle material, so this habit makes the necessary purges much simpler.

It explains so much. It shows why they are forever accusing others of behaving the way they do – they behave in no other way and can’t even begin to imagine that someone else could ever have a different motive. It’s why splits in the ranks take on the fervor of holy war – schisms in a church are always among the bitterest of quarrels. It serves as a suitable pretext for thinning the ranks when they get too large to properly manage – again, the fuzzy borders of the definition gives them almost the obligation to clarify that when they said DO THAT, it didn’t mean YOU could. It explains why such groups are generally so hostile to other people’s accomplishments, especially through unapproved channels – it robs them of their precious control while simultaneously exposing how they’ve rigged the system to reward flattery of the Gatekeepers, rather than real skill.

NOTE – this is NOT to say that some of the Gatekeepers aren’t skilled themselves; they often are, and use that fact to reject accusations from outsiders that they are merely interested in maintaining the clique – valuing control of the subject rather than the subject itself. But true lovers rejoice to find one who also truly loves; they do not and this gives the game away. They have lost the good in exchange for some illusion of controlling who gets to enjoy that good. Whatever robs them of that illusion becomes the enemy that must be destroyed and banished at all costs.

It doesn’t just hold for scifi, of course. It can happen in churches, in companies, in local homeowners’ associations; it can and has permeated hobbies of all description from gaming to sports; it’s greatly affected what we’re allowed to do in our leisure time and what we see in movies and television; and of course the politics of the land are infested with this kind of lousy behavior.

This is a bell I was ringing last year, and the only thing that’s changed is that this time, the Gatekeepers noticed how many more people were ringing along, and they want to shout down the bells.

And the band played on

The first album I ever owned was the soundtrack to Mary Poppins.

At the time nobody in the family knew what I was getting into. My folks just wanted something age-appropriate for me to listen to, and I thought it was cool that I had “my own record” to play. (My parents, understandably, didn’t want me fooling with their own collection, which has some standouts and rarities.)

It wasn’t all I had. My parents loved music, and I was given some pure kiddie albums too, some of the songs of which I can still hear in my mind nearly four decades later.¹ And my Dad loved superheroes and comics, so I got a series of spoken adventures on 45 featuring Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and others. I remember those less clearly, but anyone who knows me can tell that they had an influence as well.

But it was the brilliance of Richard and Robert Sherman that wound up helping to hook me on musical scores and soundtracks. I own dozens of every description, from video games to movies and television, foreign and domestic. And this guest post over at Sarah Hoyt’s reminded me of those great times growing up and all the joy I’ve had since then listening to these wonderful compositions.

The Sherman Brothers weren’t the starting point, however. The starting point, as it was so often for folks of my age group, was the great John Williams.

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A counteroffensive

Author Sarah A Hoyt is having a small difficulty writing about friendship.

The difficulty is in the tendency of all too many folks to Werthamize everything. There’s no such thing as text, only subtext, and that subtext needs must be sexual. Oh, but not openly… never openly, because the author is secretly a repressed homophobe of some sort who won’t give the fictional friends their proper due. It’s crypto-closeted.

CS Lewis dealt with this sort of unfalsifiable non-argument with the scorn it deserved in The Four Loves, saying that it was akin to stating, “If an invisible cat was sitting in that chair, it would look empty; it looks empty; therefore an invisible cat is sitting there.” He’s right, but of course the debunkers and scoffers don’t care. The argument HAS to be impossible to prove or disprove. That’s a feature, not a bug.

The Four Loves was published in book form in 1960, and as Ms. Hoyt’s difficulty shows, things haven’t gotten any easier for an author… or, for that matter, a friend. It’s part of the systematic campaign to dehumanize all of us and turn us into insects in a hive: all alike, all interchangeable, and above all, easily controlled and herded. There’s only one queen in a hive, easily overwhelmed by sheer numbers if it came to that. It never does. An ant or a bee that starts to behave erratically and out of concert with the others will be set upon by its fellows and destroyed.

That is the method by which the machine runs. Once social engineering and politic correctness take a deep-enough root, our community gets to the point where any deviation from the common doesn’t have to be dealt with by the leaders or tone setters, but by one’s own neighbors and coworkers. Continue reading

Do not go to the elves for writing advice

(UPDATED with TWO pertinent quotes and a couple of fixed typos.)

For when you ask about fanfic, they will say both No and Yes:

On the one hand, this bothers me as being somehow analogous to a sort of intellectual piracy flying a flag of hommage, but on the other, I’ve never had much difficulty with Sherlockiana, or post-Lovecraftian contributions to the Cthulhu mythos. And I certainly think there’s a difference between giving away a song written in the manner or style of a band and uploading that band’s original work to a free torrent site (a frequent problem for musicians these days). But in that case, where does a cover band, or even more nebulously, a tribute band, fit into such a discussion?

So what does this naughty and neglectful¹ elf say? As you may guess, it’s No and Yes, but there’s an explanation. But first, we need a little background.

A lot of fan fiction, like a lot of everything else, is prone to its own tropes and lazy little shortcuts. The best-known is the dreaded Mary Sue, where the fictional framework really only exists to flatter a thinly-disguised avatar for the author. What would you say if you were forced to read a Star Trek story in which dashing young Leiutenant Flightny saved the whole Federation, with the principals of the show reduced to marveling one to each other how awesome that new guy is, and shouldn’t he be promoted to command that new invincible prototype ship, the USS Millenium TARDIS?

Hopefully you wouldn’t say anything, because no power on Earth could force me to write it for you. But if I did (and may you all hunt me for sport if it happens), it would be out there for you to read if you so desired. This is not always a good thing.

Come back with me, below the jump, to the dark days…

:::doodilly-doop, doodilly-doop, doodilly-doop:::

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Screen Evil

Good stuff here from Friend of the Hive, Sir Robbo.

I struggle with this myself.  On the one hand, I can’t watch stuff like Criminal Minds that focuses on the antagonist to such a degree as to seem to revel in the horrible things they do – especially inasmuch as the writers of such procedurals often are guilty of some obnoxious one-upmanship, coming up with ever-crueler ways to show the depravaty within reach of the human heart.  It was my biggest beef with the original season of The Following, for example: on some level it almost seemed like the writers themselves were under the sway of the psychopathic cult leader.

It’s hard on me.  It makes me want to swoop down like an rescuing superhero, or else like an avenging… hm.  Angel is not the correct term.  It’s more of a dervish.  I find myself possessed of a growing and useless rage, and sometimes have to leave the room.

On the other hand, as a writer myself I understand the power involved in a tale where the hero has to overcome terrible odds, or terrible enemies; and under the doctrine of Show, Don’t Tell, you have to depict some awful stuff to carry that terror home.

Now, perhaps seeing such things in a visual medium carries an impact that my own writing lacks, or else I am somewhat vaccinated against the effect because these are my words, and I well know the uppance that shall come upon my baddies.  But I suspect that I am rather uncomfortably good at the depicting.  I have come up with some gut-punching moments, a suspicion generally confirmed by friends whom I’ve spooked with the stuff.  So does that make me a hypocrite?  Worse, what in the world am I tapping into when I write it?