US American reporter and translator Angelica Frey posted an article yesterday on “Sailor Moon’s Fashion from Christian Dior to Theirry Mugler” on Jezebel. This is a great read on the intersection of East Asian storytelling and graphic novels, European fashion, and the US American market in the 1990s. If just one of those topics interests you, I highly recommend her article on Jezebel.
Image from Photograph: Sopa/Rex/Shutterstock via The Guardian
A series of protests and rallies have spread across Thailand, condemning the government. The protesters, many of them high-school and university-aged young people, are using art to circumnavigate the lèse-majesté laws in place, making it a crime to defame, insult, or simply criticize the royal family. By using the images, symbols, and narratives in Harry Potter and the Hunger Games, protesters can critique a government which has acted in eerily parallel to the books’ plots:
- King Maha Vajiralongkorn was crowned King Rama X of Thailand in 2016, and later the Palace led a campaign that changed the constitution to give the king increased emergency powers.
- The Thai Crown is closely linked with the Thai military, as the king now has personal control over several influential army units and the Prime Minister previously led a military coup
- Police have increasingly harassed activists
- Nearly ten dissidents who have fled the country have “disappeared,” and at least two are confirmed dead
- Public school students face stricter behavior and personal appearance guidelines set forth by the government.
The imagery and language of Harry Potter are being used by the protestors to call out their government. Many protesters use “Wands Up” gestures using prop wands or glowing cellphone flashlights to evoke imagery of the final battle for Hogwarts against the Deatheaters in the penultimate book. Some dress in Gryffindor colors or witch/wizard robes. A few dress as Deatheaters and hoist gilded gold framed images of Lord Voldemort– gold being the color of The Crown in Thailand.
The youngest protesters also use other art forms to tell their stories. The New York Times published a photograph of high-school-aged children performing the Mockingjay Salute. Their article also explains a piece of performance art by one such child protester: she was tied to a chair, a pair of scissors on her lap. Audience members (fellow protesters) are instructed by a nearby sign to cut her hair to the government-mandated crop length– even with the bottom of her earlobe.
Hundreds of young protesters use pop culture iconography, imagery, and narratives to indirectly criticize their government that limits free speech. It is indisputable, at least in Thailand, that art continues to be a powerful tool against oppression.
Sources + Read More:
I’m presenting 2 panels at Awesome Con this weekend in Washington DC.
#1 Friday, 4:00 PM – “Good Omen’s Good Theology” room 140
#2 Saturday, 5:00 PM – “Supernatural: Bible Canon vs Bible Fanon” room 140 again.
Both are with Rev. Will Green from Foundry UMC. (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Hope to see you there!
PS Once the formal copyright comes through, we’ll have the material from these presentations published on this site.
Yesterday, the Baltimore Police Department created a new webform for victims of sexual abuse to report “sexual offenses related to the Netflix series, ‘The Keepers’.” This form was promoted via their Facebook and social media with the tag “#TheKeepers”.
Source: RT article Netflix series prompts Baltimore Police to create online form for victims of sexual abuse
“We don’t discriminate against people based on what countries they come from — we discriminate against them based on their age and weight,” Jimmy Kimmel stated in his opening monologue. His audacious claim whizzes right by racism and sexism– Racism being the elephant in the room that magically stole the card for “Best Picture -Moonlight” in an unprecedented Academy slight towards a critically-acclaimed film.
Despite the historic amount of “black” films being nominated (18, with 5 winning,) there is real, constructive criticism about how “black” these films really are. A look at the white directors, white producers, white writers, and a majority of white crew behind the cameras of these and virtually all the other films nominated reveals that we are not as far in fighting racism as we would like to see ourselves.
A perfect example of this racism erasure is the insertion of a fictional white saviour into Hidden Figures, as pointed out by Da’Shawn Mosley. While this film is acclaimed for its historical accuracy, the white screenwriter of Ms. Margot Lee Shetterly’s book decided to take creative license in making it more palatable to white audiences. In his adaptation, the boss, Al Harrison, takes a crowbar to the segregated bathroom at NASA and also invited Katherine Johnson to the control room to view the historic space flight. In reality, and in Shetterly’s book, these doors remained closed to Ms. Johnson for the entirety of her career at NASA.
While we have seen a sweep of nominations of films with black protagonists this year, I can only wonder if we will see a “white-lash” as we have recently in culture, politics, and society. First with the Hugo awards. Then with the post-Obama white-lash that carried and inflamed (still ignites) xenophobic violence across the US. Now we have a step in the right direction for Hollywood, and one can only hope that we do not see a similar pattern of push-back.
- Transcript of Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue for the 2017 Oscars, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jimmy-kimmel-s-opening-monologue-transcript-oscars-2017-980304
- “A discussion of Blackness in 2016 films and this year’s Oscars,” facilitated by Foundry UMC’s Racial Justice Ministries Team. Panelists: Tim Gordon, Oscar-winner Russell Williams II
- “Hidden Racism” by Da’Shawn Mosley, https://sojo.net/articles/hidden-racism
The journalist and feminist political activist submitted a scathing critique of the state of film today in its portrayal of women. This article ran today and raised eyebrows–and awareness– to the celluloid dismissal and demeaning of women.
Read the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/opinion/gloria-steinem-women-have-chick-flicks-what-about-men.html?smid=tw-share
X-men: Apocalypse was released in North America last month. The film misses the mark on many of its lofty ambitions. The actors are sincere but their characters are not compelling for those who haven’t seen the previous films (recently). The settings and scenes jump from continent to continent, creating a quasi-fast pace for a story that doesn’t make much progress until an hour in. The themes and messages are numerous–too much commentary is conveyed all at once–making the point of the film rather messy until the very end.
However, fans of the series will find it engaging and dense. We see a smooth and thorough development of the characters who play roles in the canonically later films. (This series parallels Star Wars, with a primary canon trilogy being released first, followed by a subsidiary prequel trilogy.)
The biggest missed opportunity would be the inclusion of the lyric version of “Figlio Perduto.” The music from “Allegretto” of Beethoven’s 7th is used in the turning-point of the film and reprised in the credits. However, only classical music buffs will recognize how much depth and context the song adds to not only the emotional scene but also the overarching message of the film.
Linked via the graphic below is a lyric video explaining the significance of the song. Damnit Jim, I’m an analyst and not a videographer, so don’t judge the sophomoric quality of the video. It gets the info across. (Link also here)
Bonus: Cherik lovers will also appreciate Marc Winslow’s music video using a rendition of the song by a male singer and set to clips from “Les amitiés particulières,” a 1984 French GLBT classic film. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPO_nOL9WnA
The third movie in the latest Star Trek film franchise launched a new trailer yesterday. Star Trek Beyond won’t premier until late July this year, but it is already hooking in the Baby Boomer and Millennial target audiences.
All Phasers locked on Baby Boomers
In an interesting shift from the previous two movies, this trailer hints that the movie will focus on the relationship between Bones and Kirk, rather than the Sprik dynamic that climaxed in Into Darkness’s role-flip of the iconic Wrath of Khan character development scenes. The entire first minute of the two minute, twenty-four second trailer is devoted to two older characters advising the young Kirk. The opening dialogue between Bones and Kirk delves into the young captain’s struggle to live up to his father’s legacy. Kirk self-deprecatingly claims “I joined [Starfleet] on a dare” and Bones corrects him, “you joined to see if you could live up to [your father].” Bones continues to advise Kirk, and the next voice added to the dialogue is that of an older woman ( 64 year old, new-to-the-franchise Shohreh Aghdashloo,) who also counsels Kirk on the dangers of space.
Later in the trailer, Dr. McCoy appears again to impart wisdom to a junior. This time, Spock claims, “Fear of death is illogical,” and once again, Bones counters the younger’s position: “Fear of death is what keeps us alive.” Continue reading
Contemporary Contextualization: Mozart’s Requiem in Pop Culture Television
Part 2: Hannibal, Season 1, Episode 7, “Sorbet”
“Hannibal” transversed boundaries in television no one had come close to touching. The series itself can only be described as an artwork. The creators blend cleverly cutting dialogue with earnest and honest characters contained in exacting costumes and framed by lavish sets, and yet all the meticulous creation builds to show the audience a mirror of their darkest, secret desires. The show builds upon the grotesque artistry precedented a dozen years previous by Silence of the Lambs, while tapping into contemporary discourses of religion, medically-assisted suicide, and untraditional “found” families.
Classical music is used throughout the series. While most television series reserve the grandiose sound of a full orchestra for large dramatic climaxes, Hannibal uses well-known classical pieces as pointed motifs of the titular character, often laying an audiophile subtext into the nondiegetic storytelling. “Lacrymosa” is played at the near halfway point of the first season. Much of the dialogue of “Sorbet” revolves around the idea of friendship–being a friend to someone, or the lonely, “painful” state of friendlessness. The choir beseeches a nameless entity as Hannibal paces in a darkened, empty room, waiting for his patient and colleague Will Graham to arrive for an appointment. The song ends and we see Hannibal breaking his normal pattern of behaviour to seek Will out, confront him about his absence, and their conversation flows into a volleying of words, a verbal repartee about Hannibal’s most-wanted alter ego, the Chesapeake Ripper. This moment elevates the relationship of Hannibal and Will Graham from hunter and prey to something more complex, as the dialogue and plot suggests a type of agapé love to be building between the two. In some respects, “Lacrymosa” marks the death of the singularly-motivated Hannibal. The relationship of the Hannibal and Will is indelible altered from this point onward, and their interactions and intimacy increasingly drive the story as the series progresses through its three seasons.
Contemporary Contextualization: Mozart’s Requiem in Pop Culture Television
Teen Wolf, Season 3a, Episode 8, “Visionary”
Teen Wolf is an MTV series that springboards from the eponymous 1985 film and incorporates European and Asian folklore with a personable and complex cast of characters and fast paced plots to build a momentous popular narrative with a passionate following and an exemplarily creative fanbase. Since its inception in 2011, it has garnered over a dozen Teen Choice Awards, and its actors have seen their careers take off in popularity: one third of the original main cast members have since secured roles in high-profiled movies.
The show began in 2011, and has gained an immense following of fans. Over 17 fanmade conventions (one of which is a hop, skip, and jump away in New Jersey, Howlercon) and very creative fanbase with over 50,000 works of fanfiction on Archive of our Own, 40,000 fanvids on Youtube, and 25,000 pieces of fanart on DeviantArt.
The show supports a demographically diverse audience by resonating on several levels and pulling from (and putting a creative spin on) familiar mythology. While themes of high school cliques, sports, and popularity taps into the primary YA demographic, subtexts and commentary on prejudice, gender, and homosexuality engages an adult audience as well. It is during the development of one of these “more mature” sub-themes that Lacrymosa is played: in a flashback episode, the audience is given information on the background of the Big Bad of the Season. The leader of a (friendly) werewolf pack agrees to meet with a hunter under the premise of discussion of a treaty. Said hunter uses the guise of peace to capture and blind the werewolf leader by the classical Greek method. The moment of the leader being blinded triggers a spin into insanity and obsession with the acquisition of strength and power. This crystallizing moment cements both characters on a destructive path, and the choir beseeches “Dona eis requiem” in the background.