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Tomorrowland has two awesome female characters, so why isn’t anyone seeing it? June 6, 2015

ZZ01BC52E1-700x319It’s no secret that I am someone who drinks the Disney Kool-Aid. My Disneyland premium annual pass almost never leaves my wallet and I check in there so often that people have asked me if that’s where I work. Fans like Walt Disney products and parks for a multitude of reasons and the studio’s diverse movies for even a gazillion other reasons. Like many of you, I could not wait for the movie “Tomorrowland” to come out. The trailers gave me chills, the Disneyland preview had me singing, “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow…” But, like many of you, I did not rush out to the theater when it opened. Believe me, it wasn’t because of the lukewarm reviews. My schedule has been insane lately and I really just couldn’t get there. I would be lying if I said that the mediocre reviews didn’t affect my speed in seeing it though. I finally got around to watching it at the El Capitan a month after it came out and all I have to say is Tomorrowland is a pivotal movie to see if you’re a feminist or have a young daughter or two.Athena_Tomorrowland

“There are two wolves who are always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. The question is… which wolf wins?” Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) asks her father quoting his own analogy. Casey is a teenage character who is not obsessed with boys or selfies, but rather with science and space. I was surprised to hear Casey was originally written to be a boy. The good news is Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof had the foresight to see that a good character is a good character and that gender doesn’t have to define them. So, these two visionaries changed Casey to a young woman. Bravo!

“There is a completely false perception of, ‘Well, our main character is interested in space travel, so it’s gotta be a boy,’ but the first time I said, ‘Well, what if it was a young girl,’ it just felt like it was exactly right for us,” said Lindelof. Wow, I might actually start liking Lindelof (I still haven’t forgiven him for Prometheus though! Never forget.). That being said, the bankability of women at the box office is growing. The Hunger Games franchise certainly proves women can be capable action stars, but unfortunately suffers from cliché emotional hang-ups centered around romance with a guy.

Lindelof continues, “What if she doesn’t get distracted by romantic entanglements? What if her “romance” is with the future?” That sounds great to me! Could this be the summer of blockbusters with strong women leading at the box office?

Terminator Genesys brings Sarah Connor back to the frontline this summer. I was happy to see this as I’ve always looked up to characters like Sarah Connor and Ripley from Aliens. Not to mention, this has been the year of female-driven comedies (Spy, Trainwreck and Pitch Perfect 2 anyone?!).

Disney has led the race in making their films slightly more progressive. Ratatouille had a strong female chef. Brave finally gave Pixar a dynamic female lead. Frozen, well, you don’t need me to tell you about the girl power that is in Frozen. Malificient proved that you don’t need the love of a prince anymore. And now, Inside Out’s Riley is complex and dynamic as female animated characters get. Let’s see if The Force Awakens continues this trend with Daisy Ridley playing the lead.

Now, as I mentioned, Tomorrowland has two awesome female characters and both are under the age of 18! Well, sort of. Athena (SPOILER ALERT) is a robot recruiter in the form of a prim and proper English school girl, but don’t let her ladylike façade fool you. She’s as tough as they come, tackling comedy and action in one particularly entertaining scene in a collectibles shop.

Athena (Raffey Cassidy) is looking for a new recruit and finds the daring, risk-taker, Casey. She has courage, determination and hope: exactly what Tomorrowland needs. Donning her father’s NASA hat and jeans, Casey is exactly the kind of female protagonist I’ve wanted to see on the big screen for a long time. She climbs fences, gets into trouble, but most of all believes that the future can be brighter. Her connection to her father and her risk-taking remind me of a young Katherine Janeway in the book “Mosaic” written by Jeri Taylor. Glad to see this trend of father/daughter relationships continuing from “Interstellar.” I loved that film for many reasons, but the father/daughter bond really cemented my love for it.

There is a spirit of optimism about Tomorrowland and both of its female characters embody it. And guess what? This film passes the Bechdel Test. Yes, you could argue that Athena is a robot and therefore, not female. That is semantics though. The spirit of the character is definitely female, so I say she counts!

Lindelof felt the script was missing a certain sweetness from Athena, who he describes as “an eleven-year-old that has to express emotional maturity, depth, intelligence and a world-weary attitude.” He could see that Raffey was capable of bringing that to the role based on her audition. It’s nice to see meaty roles for children that don’t belittle them or make them a cliché. If anything, Athena illustrates that gender and age have very little to do with getting a mission accomplished.

With Tomorrowland” behind her, Raffey hopes the things she learned will help her land a role like Saoirse Ronan’s in “Hanna” — the 2011 movie she says is her second favorite movie. (No. 1 is “Tomorrowland,” of course.) I loved Hanna when it came out, but it was another movie that seemed to come and go from theaters in the blink of an eye. It definitely left a strong impression in my mind. Young female assassin? Oh, hell yes!

For Athena’s fight scenes, Raffey had to do two months of gymnastics, swimming, and martial arts training. “She just couldn’t get enough of all of it,” said Bird, adding that Cassidy did most of the stunts herself. “She wanted large orders of everything.”

While all of this is awesome, why was all the marketing of this film centered around Frank Walker (George Clooney and young George Clooney)? Yes, I know he’s a movie star, but if you ask me, the days of basing your film’s success on star power are long gone. Look how many movies with big names tank at the box office. I’m looking at you, “Aloha.” Perhaps, Tomorrowland would have had a fighting chance at being more popular if the marketing was more action-driven and centered around the two leading ladies.

I couldn’t tell you what the movie was about from the trailers except that young George Clooney ends up going to “Tomorrowland” after following a girl into “It’s a Small World” at the ’64 World’s Fair. Oh yeah, and by touching a Tomorrowland pin you can somehow get there, but you’ll end up in a cornfield first. Not exactly marketing gold. Granted, Tomorrowland is not exactly easy material to wrap your mind around and sum up in a short trailer.

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For me, the bigger picture ideas behind Tomorrowland appealed, but I’m a Star Trek fan. I already subscribe to the better future philosophy. What I didn’t expect, was seeing Clooney get a run for his money by two ladies less than half of his age. Not only did Raffey and Robertson keep up, they actually stole many scenes from him.

I don’t get it. Movies like the Avengers make a buttload of money, but the marketing is all Captain America, Thor and Ironman. Black Widow doesn’t get merchandising (for Christ’s sake the motorcycle she rode in the Age of Ultron was given to Captain America in the toy version)! Bravo to the women who protested her lack of merchandising and got that trending on Twitter.

71Z+sCpFtNL._SL1280_Sadly, Tomorrowland’s Athena and Casey weren’t given much merchandise either. Sure, they got a couple of tiny action figures, but those were hardly anything to write home about. Funko put out not one, but two versions of George Clooney’s character, Frank Walker!  Yet, they couldn’t bother to make a Pop! figure for either of the two young women. They even made one of the male villain. This speaks to a larger problem. Why won’t companies believe in the buying power of female audiences? Most of the women I know spend lots of money on their fandom through their cosplay outfits, collectibles, Blu-ray and convention tickets. It would be nice to have corporate America take notice and actually start making merchandise that appeals, but doesn’t pander to us. What I mean is that I would love Black Widow merchandise, but it doesn’t have to draw attention to the fact that it’s for girls. Let it be for everyone, but let’s just get some representation at least. I know many guys who would love some Black Widow swag. grid-cell-12438-1429561290-3

The action figures below, in all their retro-like glory, are hardly anything I would want to display on my bookshelf.  I’ve seen way more women collect Pop! figures than men, but yet, all we get are these lame “fully posable” action figures with horrible likeness from Funko. Talk about a missed opportunity.

With all this being said, I still can’t figure out why the movie did so poorly. I raved about it, but it seems like the “uncool” thing to do. Twitter can be a pool of cynical sharks on most days. At times, Twitter seems to be the realm of clever negativity. People are praised for how snarkily they can tear someone or something down. So, it’s hard to see such an uplifting film like Tomorrowland trending over there even though the message of the movie targets the very cynics that won’t give it the time of day.

417ST33eDDL._SY450_71ucrSbGVyL._SL1000_Do yourself a favor and pick it up when it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. Disney is doing right by women lately, but this trend can only continue to thrive if viewers support such films by putting their money where their mouth is. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s fine, but I at least hope you see the value in having such inspiring female characters be the norm in our society.

 

Those little moments July 26, 2014

Filed under: Life,Television & Film — Televixen @ 4:25 pm

Sometimes there are moments throughout the day that stop us in our tracks, that make us smile and help us realize things always fall into place. Connor Bright, my young co-host of Glue Guns and Phasers, was obviously meant to become a Star Trek fan. Although, a generation apart and half the country away, two girls were destined to become the dynamic duo of cosmic crafting. Yesterday, while at work she sent me this photo. Normally, I ignore my phone while on the job, but this made me smile ear to ear. To the “next generation” of fans, welcome aboard. There’s always room on the USS Enterprise for young bright minds.

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Connor in the arms of her father on the transporter pad next to her mom.

 

Dirty as we want to be November 25, 2013

Filed under: Life,Television & Film,Uncategorized — Televixen @ 6:43 am

ss_1-1Is raw and sexually explicit comedy still a boys’ club? Brian Lowry from Variety magazine seems to think so. In fact, he recently said of Sarah Silverman, “Despite all manner of career-friendly gifts – from her looks to solid acting chops – she’s limited herself by appearing determined to prove she can be as dirty and distasteful as the boys…” Now, I’ve never heard of Brian Lowry and I suspect he’s just looking to get his name out there in the press by stirring up some controversy. Lowry’s going to have to try harder because A. as the article below states, he used this same quote on comic Amy Schumer a few months back and B. people are going to remember this shit and call him out on it. See the link below:

http://happyplace.someecards.com/27693/variety-critic-really-freaked-out-by-girls-who-dare-to-be-dirty

I am tired of male “journalists” and bloggers putting women down to get their name thrown around social media to enhance their careers. I am still not over Joe Peacock’s sexist remarks about women in geek culture. However, I refuse to keep talking about him because clearly that’s what he wants. Putting someone down in order to elevate your own status is just plain bullying. I’m tired of geek elitists who feel they can be the arbiters of who is a “true fan.”

Similarly, I’m sick of the old adage that women aren’t funny or that when they are crass somehow they are “acting like one of the boys.” I’ve watched Sarah Silverman’s career for a long time and she’s been pretty darn successful and consistent. I don’t think dirty jokes are purely a man’s domain. I’m writing a pilot now and the things I say in it might make you blush. And guess what? It’s about women’s issues, our experiences and the way the world reacts to us. If you don’t like this brand of humor than all I can say is don’t read it, don’t watch it and just ignore it.

As for you, Brian Lowry—Sarah Silverman affects you how? You’ve stated you find her attractive judging by the references to her looks. So, let me get this straight, she can’t be dirty on stage, but would you be OK with her being dirty in the bedroom? Good enough to sleep with, but god forbid she’s… funny. Talking filthy is part of her brand of humor. How exactly does that limit her? It’s what her audience accepts and most likely wants. By the way, performers in The Vagina Monologues use the P word a lot too. I seriously doubt anyone would dare say those women were “talking filthy as the boys.” Male or female, gender has nothing to do with how explicit someone’s sense of humor is. End of story.

 

Guinan was always just… November 23, 2013

images…Guinan for me. She wasn’t a favorite character. She didn’t even stand out as anything other than Whoopi Goldberg. Uhura was the first black woman in outer space, so Guinan didn’t have that to set her apart. One thing I have always liked about the character is that she was the last character Gene Roddenberry created and developed before he passed away.

I grew up on Whoopi being the psychic in Ghost and the lead in Sister Act, so to me she was always a superstar. By the time I saw her in Star Trek, I found it distracting, like that one time Madonna showed up in a James Bond film. I didn’t watch TNG in its original run. (I know, I know!) But, I have been exploring the female characters of all of the Star Trek shows and movies lately. My friend and fellow convention panelist, Jamala Henderson has a deep affection for the character. She sent me this video and I was deeply moved by it.

Some people saw her as a calculated move to put a famous person in that role. Plus, why do we need another counselor type when we have Deanna? Much less one that is the cliche bartender? Well, I say just as  Seven of Nine evolved from a ratings-booster into a complex character, Guinan proved she was there to listen not because she had to, but because she wanted to. Her unsurpassed closeness to Picard and untold backstory (which I now appreciate as a writer), always added emotional depth and charm to the show. Whoopi could hold her own with Patrick Stewart in any scene, which is no easy task. She wasn’t in as many episodes as you would think and there’s an air of mystery about her that I really like. Thanks Jamala, for helping me see her as more than just a barkeep with a famous face!

 

Happy Halloween!!! October 31, 2013

Filed under: Life,Television & Film — Televixen @ 6:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

1394399_10151752710167568_1031031790_nIt’s no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday. So, I wanted to take a moment to wish you a happy one. To me, Halloween is an entire month spanning from late September, when I put up my decorations, until early November. While the amateurs spend one day getting their scare on, I hit the haunts all month long, some years even sporting more than one costume. As a kid, I always felt like an outcast. I never felt like I fully belonged at my Catholic school. Halloween was the one day out of the year to go a little crazy (or mad as Norman Bates puts it). It was the one day out of the year where you were encouraged to be someone else and go wild. You could escape your boring little reality. You could eat sweets, be evil and decadence was accepted. As a teenager, I got into The Cure and Nine Inch Nails and soon became obsessed with horror variety shows, anthology series and the TV hosts. I was a bit of a goth kid. The Crypt Keeper and Svengoolie (UPN fixture in Chicago) were the ones that dominated my parents’ TV screen. But, before they could do their thing, there was one woman who revolutionized local TV. Her name was Vampira.

Vampira (real name Maila Nurmi) is one of my favorite gothic icons. Hell, I even played her in a theatrical production. She had a dark sensibility long before there was an Elvira. (She even sued her for stealing the idea/look). While Elvira was cheeky, Vampira was seductively evil. She was a fixture in California for being a horror TV host in the 1950s, but didn’t really grab the nation’s attention until much later when Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space” became a cult hit. Even though she has no lines, she’s the one thing I always remembered.

This Russian site has some pretty awesome and rare Vampira photos. Check it out!

http://www.liveinternet.ru/users/irena_69/post244683517/

Happy Haunting!

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Trek panel at Geek Girl Con coverage October 30, 2013

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Tanya Feldman, Jamala Henderson, Me and Jarrah Hodge.

Our panel, “Is Star Trek a Feminist Utopia?” at Geek Girl Con in Seattle is getting a lot of mentions on websites and blogs all around the net. I thought I would post some of the coolest mentions here. Feel free to link me to others as you find them. The overwhelming feeling I’m getting is that people wished they could have discussed Star Trek with us for hours, but they think that we didn’t give enough attention to Enterprise. Very true. There were only 3 of us, plus one moderator. We each thought we would cover a series. I had TOS, Jamala took on TNG, Tanya and Jarrah tag-teamed Voyager and Deep Space Nine. I know we didn’t give enough coverage to the movies, but there was mention of them. I spoke about First Contact and I think there were other mentions too. The main thing we learned from this experience is that we could have a panel on any one of these areas and it would take up nearly an hour or more. We did our best, but the time ran out so quickly. We mostly wanted to make sure we had enough time to hear your thoughts. Sorry we rushed through our discussion of Into Darkness, but I’m not sorry we disliked it! Can’t wait until Star Trek Las Vegas where I will, hopefully, be moderating a similar discussion in August.

Some of our fabulous mentions: 

http://mythcreants.com/blog/the-best-quotes-from-geekgirlcon/

http://gothmaureen.tumblr.com/post/64743272814/geekgirlcon-2013

http://blogs.uoregon.edu/4dbio/2013/10/20/geek-girl-con-2013-day-1/

http://www.shybi.com/forums/index.php?app=blog&module=display&section=blog&blogid=1086&showentry=9315

http://majorspoilers.com/2013/10/24/conventions-day-geek-girl-con/

 

Your moment of TrekZen*. October 28, 2013

Filed under: Television & Film — Televixen @ 6:40 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Your moment of TrekZen (from Dayton Ward who got this from The Daily Show)

Take your time.

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…And you better not say Uhura in the Captain’s Chair if you know what’s good for you! -MC ; )