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Posted by Charlotte Finn

From 1995 to 1998, Topps Comics published a comics tie-in to The X-Files that featured original stories and, among other artists, some of Charlie Adlard's earliest US art. With Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully returning to television in January, we're revisiting this classic series and highlighting some of the best stories it had to tell, starting with The X-Files #13: 'One Player Only'.

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Posted by Chris Sims

Q: Who is the closest DC equivalent to Jessica Jones? -- @charlotteofoz

A: For what I suspect is a pretty obvious reason, this is a question that seems to be going around a lot this week, and it's an interesting one. As much as DC has experimented with it, the publisher has never had a lot of lasting success with street-level looks at how its universe functions. And really, that makes sense when you consider that its most famously gritty urban vigilante is also a billionaire who drives around in a rocket car and hangs out with his friends on the moon.

But there is a pretty good answer, and while I can't take the credit for thinking it up myself, it's definitely one that I agree with. If you're looking for a character to fill that role in the DC Universe, then you're looking for Cameron Chase --- and not just because they both have those alliterative initials.

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Posted by Carly Lane

In the aftermath of the news that Fantastic Four 2 had been quietly pulled from Fox’s schedule (it was originally slated for a 2017 release), more details are emerging from one of the film’s stars on his experience making the original movie.

Michael B. Jordan was on the Bill Simmons podcast to promote his upcoming film Creed, but the conversation quickly turned to the Fantastic Four movie and its unfortunate failure. In typical class act fashion, however, Jordan admitted that he has no regrets about working on the project.

As a comic book fan, Jordan said, “it was just a dream come true being able to play that character,” but also stated that the experience was “one of those things where it was a lesson for me that really made me realize that things aren’t in your control.”

It sounds like Jordan is choosing to focus on the positive in the lessons he’s learned from working on Fantastic Four–which, sometimes, is all you can do when things don’t turn out the way you originally hoped:

“You can get up everyday and be like ‘I’m going to give 110% to this one thing’ or to anything, and it still not turn out how people want it or how you expected it to, and it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or it doesn’t mean that you didn’t do a great job, it just means that as a whole, as a project, there are so many other pieces that are moving that have nothing to do with you that determine the outcome of a film, so that was kind of one of those things that I had to come to terms with.”

Is this the part where I just say “four for you, Michael B. Jordan”?

(via Den of Geek, image via Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

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Comic Book Legends Revealed #551

Nov. 27th, 2015 05:58 pm
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Posted by Brian Cronin

In this week's column, did Marvel nearly have Northstar die of AIDs in the 1980s? What odd reason was there for Hobgoblin debuting BEFORE the Green Goblin on the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon series? And was Archie's pal, Jughead, meant to be Native American originally?
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Posted by John Scalzi

Every year in the first week of December I run a shopping guide for the holidays, and over the years it’s been quite successful: Lots of people have found out about excellent books and crafts and charities and what have you, making for excellent gift-giving opportunities during the holiday season. I’ve decided to do it again this year.

So: Starting Monday, November 30, the Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide Returns! If you’re a writer or other creator, this will be an excellent time to promote your work on a site which gets tens of thousands of views daily, almost all of whom will be interested in stuff for the holidays. If you’re someone looking to give gifts, you’ll see lots of excellent ideas. And you’ll also have a day to suggest stuff to other folks too. Everybody wins!

To give you all time to prepare, here’s the schedule of what will be promoted on which days:

Monday, November 30: Traditionally Published Authors — If your work is being published by a publisher a) who is not you and b) gets your books into actual, physical bookstores on a returnable basis, this is your day to tell people about your books. This includes comics/graphic novels.

Tuesday, December 1: Non-Traditionally Published Authors — Self-published? Electronically published? Or other? This is your day. This also includes comics/graphic novels.

Wednesday, December 2: Other Creators — Artists, knitters, jewelers, musicians, and anyone who has cool stuff to sell this holiday season, this will be the day to show off your creations.

Thursday, December 3: Fan Favorite Day — Not an author/artist/musician/other creator but know about some really cool stuff you think people will want to know about for the holidays? Share! Share with the crowd!

Friday, December 4: Charities — If you are involved in a charity, or have a favorite charity you’d like to let people know about, this is the day to do it.

If you have questions about how all of this will work, go ahead and ask them in the comment thread (Don’t start promoting your stuff today — it’s not time yet), although I will note that specific instructions for each day will appear on that day. Don’t worry, it’ll be pretty easy. Thanks and feel free to share this post with creative folks who will have things to sell this holiday season.

Steamer Fury

Nov. 27th, 2015 08:33 am
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Posted by Jasmine Wang

When Marnie Was There

(Spoilers for When Marnie Was There)

When I was younger, I wanted to know if, given the choice, my family would have chosen to have me in their lives. What am I in the story of your life? A sequel? A spin-off? Irrelevant?

These questions are inherently unlikeable. They’re needy, insecure, and cloying. They expose a deep-seated fear of abandonment that people don’t know how to respond to. That’s exactly why I was so moved to find that these questions were at the heart of the most recent Studio Ghibli film, When Marnie Was ThereIt’s a brave choice precisely because it’s an uncomfortable one.

The progression of female protagonists in film seems to have moved slowly through multiple stages, from the existence of a woman in a central role, to a woman whose role isn’t purely to be saved by the man, followed by the boom of the Strong Female Protagonist, and more recently the development of complicated—potentially unlikable—women characters. So much of the hype surrounding Gone Girl was merely reverberations over the shock that it deigned to feature a sociopath who was a woman. Similarly, last year’s critically acclaimed, female-centered horror film The Babadook was considered one of the most frightening films of the year. There were many valid reasons for this, but I would argue the very idea that the underdog single-mother who genuinely loved her son could simultaneously hate his very existence was more terrifying than any demon, ghost or serial murderer. When Marnie Was There is Studio Ghibli’s foray into developing an unlikeable female protagonist, and it’s important, if only to dilute the shock over the realization that a heroine can be compelling without being typical.

Anna, the protagonist of Marnie, is an orphan living with foster parents. When the audience first meets her, she is unhappy, self-conscious, and antisocial, and we don’t understand why aside from the assumption that she is a stereotypically angsty pre-teen. By choosing to conceal Anna’s history until the final act of the film, we very realistically progress through most of the story by judging Anna as we would judge anyone who we don’t understand but whose actions are unappealing. Anna is ungracious towards the adults who are kind to her, unresponsive to offers of friendship, and sometimes, unjustifiably mean. Regardless of the circumstances of her life, it’s understood from the very beginning that Anna, herself, is a major cause of the loneliness she experiences, and Anna knows this, too, as one of her first lines is the classic, “I hate myself.”

According to film media, childhood is a time for happiness, tenacity, hope and perseverance, but there is no room for sadness. You never see Cinderella mourn for her parents on screen, Simba’s grief after the death of his father in The Lion King is immediately replaced by a montage of his carefree life in the jungle, and Frozen conveniently time-lapses over Elsa and Anna recovering from the death of their parents.  This year’s mental health-themed film Inside Out is only able to express the importance of sadness by first overloading the film with joy. Literally. Marnie is the inverse; it’s first overloaded with sadness, then reluctantly learns to accept joy.

Stories and narratives are powerful because they paint our understanding of how we are meant to fit into the society around us. Anna’s worldview consists of an “inside” and an “outside”—some people fall within the scope of the overarching narrative, while others exist only on the peripheries. When Anna looks at the children around her, her peers are happy, lively, friendly, and occasionally spoiled but redeemable. Anna doesn’t fit in, just as the film itself doesn’t quite fit into the canon of children’s films; she needs to learn to grieve for the loss of her family, to forgive her own self-loathing, and to face her fear of abandonment. There is no narrative to guide her; she has to forge her own.

All stories have a beginning, and in most cases, it doesn’t begin with you. You are not your own person—not completely, anyway. Your life begins with those who came before you, perhaps your parents or grandparents, your culture, history, and heritage. The series of events that led to your existence. The legacy that you can choose whether or not to inherit.

Anna searches for the beginning of her own story by asking the same questions I used to ask as a child: Was I wanted? Did somebody choose me? What am I to you? Anna answers these questions by conjuring up her grandmother as a girl her own age—the eponymous Marnie. Whether it’s a stroke of magical realism or simply a child’s imagination, Anna wanders into the past and meets Marnie, whose identity is still a complete mystery but who seems strangely familiar.  Marnie, however, immediately likes Anna, and she quickly becomes Anna’s first friend. This is made all the more poignant when it is later revealed that the elderly Marnie was indeed Anna’s first friend when she was only an infant.

Anna’s story reaches a moment of catharsis when, believing she had been abandoned by Marnie, she finally vocalizes the fear that has been plaguing her her entire life. She accuses Marnie of abandoning her, leaving her behind, and betraying her. The real wound Anna has ripped open is her unresolved grief resulting from the actual abandonment by her mother and, later, the death of her grandmother, Marnie. As a child, Anna mistakenly translated grief into abandonment and loneliness into unworthiness. It’s fascinating to see this psychology front and center in a children’s film, because it’s so human and so literal. There is no villain more horrifying than one’s own self-doubt.*

By conflating time and space, the film builds upon the fantasy that there is a timeless inevitability to human connection. Anna has always been in Marnie’s life—appearing like a time-traveler at major moment’s in Marnie’s childhood—and Marnie continues to exist in Anna’s life, though she has passed away in real time. Anna and Marnie are bonded not because they are blood relatives but because they love one another and have chosen each other as irreplaceable parts of their own lives. When Anna accuses her of abandonment, Marnie responds with the words that I think all of our deceased loved ones would have liked the opportunity to say: “I didn’t mean to leave you. Forgive me.”

When my grandmother died, I thought my life had ended, too.

She raised me during my most crucial years when my mom was working, my sister was a teenager, and my dad was dying of cancer. It was my grandmother who taught me the multiplication table and adapted fairy tales to include the things I liked. My grandmother’s back was ruined from carrying me, and she loved me enough to chastise me when I did things wrong. “Who was I,” I wondered, “to deserve such love?” I couldn’t accept the fact that such things could be unconditional; I was afraid of being abandoned.

After my dad died, my grandmother returned to China, where she knew the language and had a community. Her absence left a void in my life that I tried to fill by becoming the sequel that she deserved. I convinced myself that she had raised me to become someone she could be proud of, someone worthy of inheriting the rest of her life, and someone that she would choose to have continue her story. When she died, I felt as though this purpose died with her. What am I to do with myself now? For whom do I live?

It was easier for me to take issue with myself for suddenly losing focus in life than it was to grieve for a person I had lost. To me, grief felt like such a large thing—so grand that the world would not have space for it and the havoc it would cause. It’s messy and inconvenient, full of feelings of abandonment, insecurity, and the courage to admit that you have loved and been loved and still to have lost. To grieve is to admit that your life is not your own, that you exist in symbiosis with others, and that the feeling of losing someone is the same as a part of you dying. To grieve is to accept that you will be dying for the rest of your life.

Like Anna, I never learned to grieve as a child, but I’m learning now, slowly. I’m learning to be ugly and unpleasant, uncomfortable and awkward, to take the time and space that is mine to have, to be contradicting and horrifying, and to exist with sadness and happiness, individualism and legacy. In grief, I am trying to be the complex female protagonist I am deserved.

*Except perhaps a complex female character.

(image via Studio Ghibli)

Jasmine Wang likes to be pensive and then travel to a different country and do the same thing. To read more writing on mental health, vagabonding, the art of overthinking and an occasional bit of pop culture, follow her at www.plaintofu.com.

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otw_staff: Kiri, OTW Communications Co-Chair (Kiri OTW Communications Co-Chair)
[personal profile] otw_staff posting in [community profile] otw_news
banner with 'Wolf and Hound' written, from that website

Wolf and Hound, a Sirius Black/Remus Lupin archive, is being imported to AO3. If you contributed/visited, read on!

X-Men Legacy #5

Nov. 28th, 2015 01:53 am
laughing_tree: (Default)
[personal profile] laughing_tree posting in [community profile] scans_daily

'In writing episode #5, I got as near as I'll ever come to that Spaceknight Rom pitch I've had in my "Work In Progress" file since I was 14.' -- Si Spurrier

Read more... )
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Posted by John Scalzi

It’s just barely big enough for her. Barely.

So, how’s the post-Thanksgiving food coma recovery coming along? I personally went to bed at 9:30 and woke up 12 hours later.

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Posted by Sead Fadilpašić


Lenovo has issued a patch which fixes vulnerabilities located in the software which comes preloaded with some of the laptops it sells.

The company recently released version 5.07.0019 of Lenovo System Update. This tool is made to keep the BIOS and drivers updated, previously called ThinkVantage System Update.

The patch "provides a direct connection to Lenovo Service and Support for ThinkPad and ThinkCentre drivers, software and BIOS updates", and "helps maximize your system performance and minimize security vulnerability", Lenovo said.

The vulnerabilities this patch fixes were spotted by researchers at IOACtive.

One of the vulnerabilities allowed users to start an Internet Explorer with administrator privileges, even though they weren’t on the administrator account.

That was possible as Lenovo System Update itself runs under a temporary administrator account that the application creates when installed, so any process it spawns will run under the same account.

"From there, an unprivileged attacker has many ways to exploit the web browser instance running under Administrator privileges to elevate his or her own privileges to Administrator or SYSTEM", IOActive security researcher Sofiane Talmat said.

The second vulnerability is related to the way usernames and passwords are generated. Even though the passwords were randomly generated, the script was built in a predictable way.

"It is possible for an attacker to regenerate the same username based on the time the account was created", Talmat said.

"This means an attacker could under certain circumstances predict both the username and password and use them to elevate his or her privileges to Administrator on the machine".

Published under license from ITProPortal.com, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: m00osfoto / Shutterstock

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Posted by Svetlana Fedotov

No one can tell a southern ghost story quite like Cullen Bunn. Author of such down-home tales as Dark Horse’s HARROW COUNTY and Oni Press’s THE SIXTH GUN (as well as a very impressive resume with Marvel and DC), Bunn has been spinning scary yarns for most of his career. So it’s no surprise that […]
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Posted by Carly Lane


We’re finally starting to get into the thick of it with Supergirl, and frankly, I couldn’t be more excited. Three new clips have already been released for Monday’s new episode, “Red Faced,” and we’re getting a lot of important new information thrown at us in terms of this show’s universe.

We know that Homeland and Orphan Black are fictional shows that exist in Supergirl’s world, too (which I love for a variety of reasons), and now we also know that there’s a female president running things? This definitely gets a thumbs-up from me.

There have been small hints of Cat’s contentious relationship with her own mother, and now we get to see it first-hand in the clip below:

And apparently now there’s only so much abuse Kara is willing to take from Cat before she snaps:

And last, but certainly not least, we get our first glimpse of Red Tornado, a government-created cyborg who Kara will have to face as part of a training exercise:

What do you think of where the show is going so far? Are you excited for Monday’s episode? Supergirl finally feels as if it’s finding its groove, and it’s awesome.

(via Comic Book Resources, image via Darren Michaels/CBS via Getty Images)

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Posted by Maddy Myers


If you’re already logged into the PlayStation Network and getting your holiday shopping done right now, well, better hurry and get through that digital check-out, because PSN has been up and down all day today. The outages don’t just effect shopping, either! If you wanted to get in some rounds of Destiny on your day off, that might not work either—plus, video and music services have been up and down as well.

If you’re the sort to feel sorry for a massive corporate juggernaut on today of all days, then pity Sony for all the sales they’ll lose on such a popular shopping-oriented day. Meanwhile, everybody else who can’t connect to PSN should continue to click on the icon and reload it obsessively, which won’t help anything, but it’ll feel helpful. Almost as fun as waiting in line in a brick-and-mortar store, right? Welcome to the future, everybody.

(via Independent, image via Gaming Union)

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Posted by Vrai Kaiser

feed me

In honor of the upcoming holidays—I’d intended Thanksgiving but maybe the self-serving bloodthirst of Black Friday is more thematically appropriate—I wanted to tip a hat to an old favorite. Alternately: I’m happy that Frank Oz’s intended version of Little Shop is out in the world, but it’s the version quickly making itself scarce that I’m grateful for.

Few words are as dirty as the phrase “focus testing,” the process in which bewildered strangers representing various marketing demographics are ushered into the screening of an unreleased film and then battered with questions about their feelings. Alright, it’s a bit more involved than that, but it’s also a process well known for being used as a crutch by nervous studio executives (also known as The Man) to rein in artistic types who want to try out something that, God forbid, might fail. The fallacy of this system has been discussed in broader scope by more learned souls than I, so today, let’s keep it simple. There is one case in which I remain in favor of the results of a focus group: the infamous edited ending of the 1986 film Little Shop of Horrors.

For those not in the know, a brief history: Little Shop of Horrors is, at its basest roots, the story of a poor young man, Seymour Krelborn, who finds a mysterious plant that brings him a great deal of wealth, accomplishment, and the love of the girl he was pining for. The trouble is that the plant feeds on blood, and as it gets bigger and the stakes get higher, Seymour has to resort to feeding it bodies. The story was originally a 1960 film born from the production house of gimmickry master Roger Corman, with the plant serving as a pretty heavy-handed drug metaphor and Seymour as the only victim. In 1982, the story was adapted into an Off-Broadway musical with a score furnished by future Disney Renaissance composer Alan Menken, becoming a Greek tragedy rather than a morality play (a stroke of genius that no doubt has a great deal to do with the play’s enduring quality). That musical then became the basis for the 1986 film starring Rick Moranis and directed by Frank “he did things besides Muppetry?” Oz.


Now, the play ends with Seymour, his paramour Audrey, and eventually the entire planet being consumed by the ravening alien plant dubbed “Audrey II.” Seymour’s undone by his fatal flaw, there’s a Greek chorus, and the show ends on a direct address to the audience called “Don’t Feed the Plants.” It’s a metaphor, y’see. The film was initially shot with that ending as well, until focus groups declared that they hated it, and Oz was forced to go back and shoot a happier ending with Seymour and Audrey surviving (as well as a small Audrey II peeking up out of the idyllic garden). People have hated that ending ever since, but while it’s definitely sappy, perhaps unduly so, it’s still a better fit for the finished film than the original ending.

The first issue is one of medium, which is almost unfair to hold against the film. “Don’t Feed the Plants” is directed toward an audience assumed to be in the same room and is almost always staged correspondingly (plant props falling on the audience or a giant puppet looming over the seats). It takes advantage of the intimacy of theatre as a medium in order to impress that last message as a plea by the dead characters, and that in-person bond with the actors is a huge part of making something like that work.

Oz tries, to his credit, making the final shot of the director’s cut involving Audrey II seeming to rip through the screen, but it’s simply not the same, and once the characters we’ve spent 90 minutes with are dead, there’s no urgency or horror in seeing unnamed civilians overwhelmed by vines, nor does it help that he cuts up the rhythm of the finale to twice its original length in order to have long, looooooong shots of giant plants rampaging through the city. Because it alters the stage convention of Seymour et al. returning as plant buds to sing the final number, it doesn’t so much surge into its ending as it limps the remaining six minutes until the credits finally roll. Even Seymour’s death lacks punch on screen. While his stage counterpart died making a final run at the plant with an axe, screen Seymour is picked up and swallowed up with agonizing, passive slowness.

first cut.

“Passive” is the word du jour when it comes to film-Seymour. Rick Moranis’ performance is wonderfully sweet and endearing, and perhaps it’s because of that there are a dozen little cuts and tweaks centered around absolving his character of culpability. Stage-Seymour’s arc is one that takes small but active steps toward his own damnation, thus making it a tragic but fitting end when he sacrifices himself trying to end what he started. Film-Seymour might go through the same basic motions, but as film goers, we’re used to sympathizing with people who do bad things for sympathetic reasons, and the film almost goes out of its way to make the overall tone sympathetic: the film death of sadistic dentist Orin ends with Seymour saying that “it was for her,” and Orin’s first confused and then non-repentant reply hammers home that this is a man better off dead; likewise, by having Seymour successfully pull the gun, it cuts away the staged version of Orin pitifully begging Seymour (in song!) for help.

Mushnik’s death is also given a semi-karmic edge in the film. While stage-Mushnik is no saint, the script plays genuinely on the fact that he’s troubled by the implication of Seymour being a murderer (“just so my conscience can rest easy” is his last line before Audrey II starts up “Suppertime”). Film Mushnik, meanwhile, not only saw Seymour chop up Orin (rather than only suspecting it) but is perfectly fine with letting that fact slide in the name of blackmailing Seymour for the plant. And Seymour’s active hand is once again removed, having him babble in shock until Mushnik trips into the plant on his own (stage-Seymour manipulates Mushnik into crawling right into Audrey II’s mouth). In both cases, Seymour’s biggest sin is passivity, allowing bad things to happen for his own advancement but not actively taking part in them. Even “Feed Me” is restrained: one would think that the film would take advantage (as it does with other numbers like “Somewhere That’s Green”) on at least a cutaway or two when Seymour is indulging in his more selfish desires for fame. Instead, we stay in the room (which probably has something to do with that fantastic puppet), and Audrey II looms so large as to make Seymour seem like the helpless prop.

Much of this is helped along, in the stage show, by the three chorus girls (Chiffon, Crystal, and Ronette) who comment on the action of the play. Most of their numbers are cut or shortened to help with the film’s pacing, meaning that “You Never Know,” about Seymour becoming famous after his radio interview (and positively loaded with the toxic masculinity and capitalist success language that push him to his doom throughout the play), gets replaced with the functional but less subtext-heavy “Some Fun Now,” the reprise of the opening cautionary tale prior to the end of act I is gone, and most importantly, “The Meek Shall Inherit” omits Seymour’s monologue.

The Meek Shall Inherit” is the montage number wherein Seymour is deluged by contracts, fame, and fortune. The meat of it can still be seen in the film, though you’ll notice that Seymour mostly sits, silent and bewildered, as he has for much of the film. The full song, by contrast, includes an interlude where Seymour argues with himself about signing the contracts, knowing that agreeing to it will mean killing more people to keep Audrey II alive. But, afraid that Audrey won’t love him without his success, he makes the decision to go through with the agreements—it’s his last chance to back out, and instead he signs his metaphorical death warrant. The fact that we see him work through and make that decision is crucial as a turning point. It’s what makes the line, “You’re a monster, and so am I,” work, and it means that without it, Seymour works only as a piteous and not a tragic figure.

In fact, the one active move film-Seymour makes in distinction from stage-Seymour is to take a stand after the arguably accidental murders, not only not making that damning decision about the contracts but instead vocally refusing to give Audrey II more human meat. He becomes a hero struggling to claw his way out of the pit he blundered into rather than a Shakespearean victim, and the needs of the third act correspondingly become different.


In particular, the film-only number “Bad” (no doubt written, as is common for film musicals, to have a shot at the Oscar’s Best Original Song category) only really works in a scenario where Seymour makes it out alive. It’s a grand eleven o’clock piece of gloating for Audrey II and a brutal, semi-slapstick gauntlet for Seymour as he tries to take the plant down. The effect of placing that sequence before Seymour’s death not only has a cruel effect on the tone (he’s not just eaten but humiliated first, and doesn’t even get that last active choice with the axe), but also results in Audrey II having two victory moments back to back—rather than the confrontation being focused on Seymour’s failing and then leading into the idea of The Plant as a bigger, more metaphorical threat to be presented to the audience.

But “Bad” does work as a final test that Seymour needs to go through to atone for what he’s done, accidentally or not. It works as the moment when he decides to overcome his sin of passivity and become an active hero. That feels, corny or no, like the story the film specifically is writing for its Seymour—not a tragic downfall, but a transition from innocence to experience (so yes, even that gotcha moment with the bud works, as it ties well into the idea that Seymour might have to face up to his old sins in future). It wound up telling a different story, one that arguably lacks the brutal emotional punch of the stage show but meshes better with the film’s high concentration of weird comedic bits. (Looking at you, Bill Murray!) The front half is so loaded with goofy guest stars and tongue-in-cheek humor, so dialed back in letting Seymour be an actively flawed character, that ironically, it’s the tragic end that winds up feeling like a cheat.


And besides, Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene are too damn cute for me to want anything but the best for them.

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Vrai is a queer author and pop culture blogger; they’re currently deep in a research hole with Herbert West’s name on it. You can read more essays and find out about their fiction at Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, support their work via Patreon or PayPal, or remind them of the existence of Tweets.

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[personal profile] heresluck posting in [community profile] hamiltunes

The net impact of Miranda's rendition of the dispute is to render Hamilton as a more progressive-friendly figure and Jefferson as a more straightforwardly conservative one. Jefferson complains that Hamilton's text is too long, echoing Republican criticisms of Barack Obama's key legislative initiatives, and objects generically to taxes — again, sounding like a modern Republican — without raising the point that 18th-century taxes hit the poor more heavily than the rich.

This is part of a larger shift in the trajectory of how American history is understood. [...]

Miranda's Hamilton so perfectly matches the sensibilities of mainstream Obama-era Democrats that the Democratic National Committee turned an early November Hamilton performance into a fundraiser.

And it reflects an ongoing, albeit somewhat subtle, split among contemporary Democrats.
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[personal profile] kerkevik_2014

Jessica Jones


I was excited but nervous when Marvel and Netflix announced their Jessica Jones series. I knew the source material, knew sexual violence was central to the story, and I was worried about what the adaptation would be.TV has not had a great track record with stories about rape – often featuring gratuitous scenes and victim blaming storylines – and the world of superhero comics certainly hasn’t been great on the subject, either. But I held out hope for a show about a complicated retired lady superhero, despite my subject matter concerns.

Binging the series with my girlfriend this weekend, I was stunned by what I saw. Yes, this is a “superhero” show with a female lead, but Jessica Jones is so much more. The show does what we all got excited about Mad Max: Fury Road doing this summer: it’s a story about the aftermath of sexual violence that doesn’t include gratuitous rape scenes, one that takes on issues of violence and patriarchy head on without replicating harmful tropes. ButJessica Jones goes further than Fury Road by making survivors the central characters, and making their trauma and recovery the meat of the show.

Far from a drab, depressing treatise on patriarchy, Jessica Jones does all this while being an entertaining, tightly paced and expertly told superhero show. The writers – led by Melissa Rosenberg (it’s no surprise Jessica Jones‘ showrunner is female, and an example of why it’s so important to have greater diversity in who gets to tell stories in Hollywood) – build a tense, engaging narrative that finds drama in the process of trying to rebuild after trauma and the ways the world treats victims. Kilgrave is a terrifying villain because we are initially introduced to him through Jessica’s PTSD – we know the impact he’s had on her, making him a much more compelling bad guy than those featured in any Marvel movie. And we’re presented with characters unlike any we’ve seen in mainstream pop culture before – especially Jessica, who isn’t just another all too rare example of a complicated, messy female lead – her complexities are incredibly true to life because they’re clearly informed by psychological and interpersonal realities faced by survivors.

As Alexandra said Monday, “she’s the superhero [we] have been waiting for.”

Some minor spoilers follow.

The first episode plunges us into one of the most powerfully accurate depictions of PTSD I’ve ever seen. Jessica wanders, drunk, through her own life, always on edge, feeling disconnected and alone, memories flooding her consciousness at the worst times, pulling her into the past. Our superpowered hero (super strength in Jessica’s case) is trying to move forward after an intense experience of trauma: before the events of the show Kilgrave, another “gifted” individual with mind control abilities, became obsessed with Jessica, forcing her to stay with him and do whatever he told her. She’s escaped, but she’s still very much in her past, and over the course of the season Jessica must confront her own trauma directly.

Mind control is often used in superhero stories as a baddy-of-the-week conceit. After all, if you really center mind control and take it seriously, it’s extraordinarily dark and disturbing. And that’s what Jessica Jones does. The show is very clear that everything about mind control is wrong – that it is fundamentally taking away another person’s ability to consent. Fluffy pop action hero fare this ain’t – this is the best of magical realism, using a twist of reality to get at real world issues. Mind control serves a a metaphor for sexual violence, to be sure, and the show uses it to elucidate a number of common experiences survivors face in victim blaming patriarchy. Jessica knows no one will believe what Kilgrave has done to her. She struggles to let herself off the hook for actions she took while under his control, as do many other characters. And she knows the official avenues for taking action – like the police and prisons – can’t be relied on to stop this violent perpetrator.

The show is packed full of survivors of mind control, all of whom struggle with this violation of their consent. They’ve had a range of experiences with Kilgrave, but there is never a hierarchy of victims: a man who gave Kilgrave his coat when told to has just as much place at a survivors meeting as someone who was under his control for extended periods of time, and this is never questioned. Speaking of male survivors, there are a number on this show, and they all get to have moments of being emotionally open about the trauma they’ve experienced.

Sexual and relationship abuse doesn’t get to be just treated through metaphor, though. It’s clear from the beginning that Kilgrave used his mind control to abuse and rape Jessica and Hope, another character he uses to get at our hero. It’s not until more than halfway through the series that Jessica states outright that she’s been raped, though. This feels in no way like avoiding the subject of sexual violence. Instead, it feels like we’ve followed Jessica to the point where she’s able to name and speak her trauma. Further, we’ve spent a number of episodes with her, seeing the aftermath of the abuse she experienced, understanding her terror at the very real depth of Kilgrave’s evil, seeing this powerful superhero try to escape rather than jump into revenge mode. So when rape is mentioned it doesn’t get to be the sensationalized plot twist or ratings grab it has been on many other shows – it’s real. We know what Jessica’s talking about. We know her experience through watching her fight to survive. And there’s no need for a gratuitous rape scene to communicate this reality to the audience.

The most disturbing flashback scene to me is a brief moment where Jessica is not under Kilgrave’s control and is unable to escape, which Kilgrave tries to convince her means she wanted to stay with him. This is perfect use of the mind control trope, letting the audience see Jessica’s struggle to escape and her own difficulties parsing that moment, and seeing Kilgrave try to force his version of reality on her. Through the conceit of mind control, the show gives us a moment that perfectly represents someone trapped in an abusive relationship without being exploitative.

There are so many ways in which Jessica Jones depicts realities of trauma that fly in the face of TV tropes. Abusers are so regularly given second chances on TV (it seems to be a trope based on wanting to keep characters likable and on the air, and it’s sick). There are a number of moments on this show where characters could give abusers (not just Kilgrave – everything on this show is about trauma and abuse) a second chance. We do see Jessica struggle with this in some ways, showing us the depth of Kilgrave’s manipulation, gaslighting, and victim blaming. But no abuser gets that second chance, no matter how compellingly they argue they’re a changed person – the sort of thing that often gets TV characters off the hook.

Like SupergirlJessica Jones has no problems regularly passing the Bechdel test because it’s a show with a female lead who’s surrounded by other powerful women who are all actively engaged in their own stories, none of which are just about a man (it also features scenes with multiple black characters interacting on screen – something that’s still all too rare on shows not executive produced by Shonda Rhimes). But the show goes well beyond this very low bar, featuring survivors – male and female – supporting each other and working together. It takes place in an unflinchingly horrible world, but it’s full of people struggling to be their best and support each other in this context, which I find especially hopeful and inspiring because it’s so accurate to reality.

Jessica Jones is not perfect, and I’m sure the fact it does some things so well and is currently being praised for that means there will be a wave of critique as well. But the show gets so much right in ways I’ve never seen in mainstream pop fare like this. And it does all this by being excellent TV – in fact, it’s probably the best example of a narrative designed specifically for binge watching that I’ve yet seen. The one-two punch of this and Masters of None has this anti-capitalist very excited about the new paradigm where Netflix has enough data to know there is an audience hungry for shows that deal with racism and gendered violence in real, powerful ways.

In a pop culture context that’s full of shows and movies reproducing and perpetuating rape culture, Jessica Jonesthrows down the gauntlet, demonstrating how TV can be used to address sexual and relationship violence, trauma, and PTSD in real ways that treat survivors with respect and give no purchase to abusers. It’s frankly stunning to see a story like this produced by Netflix and Marvel, and I hope the praise the show is currently getting means we get more stories like this in the future.


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Posted by Charlotte Finn

Since the first issue of the new Archie comic, one of the driving forces behind the plot was the recent breakup between Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper, paving the way for Veronica Lodge to wrap Archie around her finger like a freckled piece of string. The impetus behind the breakup was "the lipstick incident," which was describned specifically as Archie not cheating on Betty – leaving everyone to ask, "what exactly happened?"

Archie #4, by Mark Waid and Annie Wu, answers the question.

Continue reading…

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Posted by Carly Lane

Katherine Timpf

A Fox News contributor found herself on the receiving end of death threats earlier this week—from Star Wars fans—when she appeared on an early-morning talk show on the network and began talking about some of the trolls that had come out of the woodwork to make fun of her for not having seen the films.

In a segment that aired last month, Katherine Timpf mentioned that she had no interest in watching Star Wars: “Yesterday, I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars because I’ve been too busy liking cool things and being attractive. People threatened my life.”

The Internet’s response? Well, one doesn’t have to look very far to find both death threats and YouTube videos lashing out against Timpf, but the ironic part is that the show she was on is self-labeled as a satirical news program—so one would think that it would have been easy to discern that her remarks may have not been entirely serious, and to not take them personally at all?

As for Timpf, she says that she is entirely aware that the reaction of a few Star Wars fans isn’t representative of the fandom as a whole, and she won’t be apologizing for her words that were clearly made in jest.

“Obviously, the totally insane whackjobs who have been attacking me don’t represent most Star Wars fans,” she wrote in a post for National Review Online (which also details some of the abusive comments—just as a warning for those who click through). “But the fact that so many adults have responded with so much unhinged emotion astounds me.”

Most fandoms have a pretty decent sense of humor when it comes to making fun of themselves, and it’s also good that Timpf isn’t losing sleep over her harassers. At the end of the day, we should remember that Star Wars fandom will always be a lot stronger than a few satirical remarks—for better or for worse.

(via Vulture, image via Fox News)

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Posted by Emma Fissenden

Dragon Age: Inquisition jerk

Catch up on previous Bad Gamer installments if you missed them!


It’s difficult to think straight, let alone sleep, while these voices whisper in my head. It’s been days now, and I’ve taken to walking the battlements at night to get some sort of peace. Maybe Morrigan should have been the one to drink from the Well, the one to have taken its power. At least I’d be able to get some rest.

Josie catches me yawning during a war table meeting and gives me a sad look. There’s nothing worse than condescending pity from others though, so I do the only thing that comes to mind: I tell them to sort it out themselves and turn on my heel to find something much better to do. Like summoning Mythal and asking for her help.

Before I head out to Mythal’s Altar, I check in with everyone to see how preparations for the battle against Corypheus are going. As I walk through the rotunda, Solas demands to see me. Okay. He angrily asks if the power of the Well was everything I’d hoped for, was worth everything I’d sacrificed. I tell him I’m fine, though I’m sure he doesn’t actually care. He’s probably just jealous he wasn’t there to push me out of the way and take the power for himself.

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Solas demands to know what I’ll do with the Well’s power once Corypheus is dead. Uh, one thing at a time, Solas. Let’s just kill Corypheus first off. He apologizes, but points out I need to start making decisions before someone else makes them in my stead. Then he starts making some vague statements about rescuing Corypheus’ orb and saving the past. I just want to kill the bastard Magister, Solas. Priorities!

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Dorian is still skulking around in the library. He tells me the Temple of Mythal has him thinking. Once Corypheus is dead he ought to go home to help fix things in Tevinter. Despite us being here united against Corypheus, he can’t help talking about the state that Tevinter is in and how he ought to be doing something about it. Just go the fuck back home, Dorian. He continues moaning that he’s barely helped his people.

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Well, no shit. This is fairly typical of you, Dorian. You never seem to do much of anything. He tells me he intends to change that particular idea people have of him. Insists that I’ve inspired him because I’m busy shaping the world around me. Hah. Whatever, Dorian. I shrug him off and go see Vivienne.

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Vivienne asks how I’m feeling, but she does so in a kind, respectful way. What would I do without her? She’s been such a calming presence in my short life as Inquisitor. I tell her I’m not feeling that great. She tells me it will take time for me to recover from absorbing the Well’s power. That I will need to heal. At least she understands. She always understands. She waves me away on account of having other things to do, and off I go up the stairs.

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I go to see Leliana. She’s received a letter from Divine Justinia. You mean dead Divine Justinia managed to post you a letter from the beyond? Do they even have mail service in the Fade or wherever she is? Leliana claims it’s a genuine letter using a code only they used in correspondence together. The letter was only to be delivered upon her death. The letter instructs her to go to Valence to find something waiting for her there. It smells like a trap. Leliana wants to go regardless. I refuse to give her permission. She can send someone else. I need her here. Leliana whines that she wanted to go herself and even take me with her. Hello? Corypheus? I want to shake some sense into her. To see what’s really important right now.

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She then asks if I think she ought to be the next Divine. No, Leliana. Just no. Leliana is happy it’s not up to me to decide and has this grand vision of everyone being accepted by the Chantry rather than just focusing on the acceptance of Mages. Apparently this focus is what caused all of the mess in the first place—the Divine’s death, the idiocy at Conclave, etc. Sure, Leliana. Just blame all Mages. Leliana laughs. If Justinia couldn’t gather enough support for reform, then why ever would she? She tells me she should probably just get back to work. Yes. You probably should before I punch you in the face.

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Cassandra’s up on the battlements. She wonders what Corypheus might be planning. He’s lost pretty much everything, so he’s probably going to make some sort of desperate move. If he tries to fight me, he’ll regret it. Cassandra smiles and changes the subject. She wonders what will happen to her when Corypheus is defeated? I’ve always assumed Cassandra would just leave, especially after her display the other night. She admits she doesn’t usually drink and apologizes for saying things she ought not to have. I don’t really care to be honest if she stays or goes. It makes no difference to me at all.

Cullen is praying, but he doesn’t really know why he’s doing it. I ask why he bothers if he doesn’t know why. He ignores me and repeats the prayer. He admits he has faltered and the prayer is only for those who have not. He swore he would be free of the lyrium but he has failed. How many times do I have to tell him he can try to quit after Corypheus is dead? When I don’t have to deal with the fall out? He tells me he’ll return to his duties to ensure we’re prepared. Good. Stop fucking wallowing. Stop making it my problem.

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Cole refuses to fight Corypheus without the amulet to protect him. Oh yeah, that. Oops. I forgot. He’s also troubled by the prospect of Corypheus’ ability to reincarnate himself. That he can be killed but not die. He tells me it’s difficult to think about his past. That it would hurt less to forget. If only we all had that luxury, Cole. I tell him to remember. I don’t need him confusing others even more than he already does.

Bull and I obviously spend whatever time we ought to have spent preparing for battle in bed. Bull thanks me for reminding him who he is. For reminding him that he belongs to the Qun. He hopes that our arrangement has made being the Inquisitor easier. Absolutely it has. He smirks and tells me it’s been his pleasure. Not entirely, Bull.

Altar of Mythal:

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When I wake, it’s time to head the Altar of Mythal. It’s located in a really lovely place, but I don’t really know what to expect and this feeling has me anxiously looking around. Will Mythal herself meet me? Will another appear in her stead? Or will nothing actually happen? I really hope something does happen or I’ll look the fool for listening to the voices in my head. A fool for believing.

I read the message on the Altar and realise what this place actually is. Elves would come to her Altar and call out to her. She would come to them and they would speak here, until one day when Mythal suddenly stopped coming and left them all alone. Bull asks if I want them to piss off for the moment. I tell them not to go far, but yeah, to piss off.

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Of course, that’s the exact moment when Morrigan arrives. Didn’t she get the message? I want to do this alone so no one would interfere or fuck this up. Morrigan laughs. Do I have any idea who or what Mythal is? She’s a goddess, I tell her, with sudden confidence in my knowledge. I’m Dalish, she’s human. What right does she have to pretend she understands my culture better than my own people do? The voices whisper. I close my eyes to shut Morrigan out and to listen. Surprisingly, they tell me Morrigan can stay.

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Morrigan comments in that sarcastic manner of hers that she’s honoured that the voices in my head have given her permission. I don’t know where the words seem to come from, but suddenly I’m calling out to Mythal to come down, to come speak to me—the last to drink from the Well. Much to Morrigan’s surprise, a figure appears. It’s an old woman. Morrigan gasps, then calls out to the figure. It’s her mother. You’re kidding me. This is probably some elaborately concocted scheme to assassinate me. It’s much more likely than this woman—if this is indeed Mythal—being Morrigan’s mother.

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I demand to know what’s going on. Morrigan summons a spell. She’s on the offensive already, so clearly whatever has gone on between these two is deep seated and painful. Mythal, or whoever this woman is, tells me to restrain Morrigan. I do it, but I can’t remember actually making the decision to do so. Mythal laughs. I drank from the Well, so of course I have to listen to her. Oh shit.

If Morrigan is her daughter, this makes Mythal mortal, surely? This is all a mistake. It has to be. There might not even be a Mythal. Morrigan is freaking out. How can her mother be Mythal? The woman reveals that she has carried Mythal inside of her for many, many years—that Mythal is a part of her. I have no reason to trust this woman, and the fact that Morrigan is so visibly freaked out has me doing the same. When does Morrigan ever freak out about anything? Even when she’s mad, she acts wholly indifferent to the emotion. Morrigan’s mother tells me to listen to the voices. What are they saying? I listen. They tell me she’s telling the truth. Morrigan’s mother, or whoever she is, is also Mythal. She properly introduces herself as Flemeth. My head is spinning.

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Flemeth congratulates me on bringing my people so far. I’m guessing she doesn’t know that most of my clan are dead, then. I tell Flemeth that the Elves needed her, needed Mythal. Where the hell has she been while my people suffer and die? Flemeth tells me nothing can be changed. That there is nothing she can do and no way to help my people. Well, that’s the most ridiculous bullshit I’ve ever heard.

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I ask what happens now. Can she help us against Corypheus? Flemeth tells us she can. The Altar’s guardian, a dragon, will appear. If I master it, I can command it against Corypheus’ own Archdemon. If I can destroy the Archdemon, Corypheus will be mortal and I can kill him. Great. Just master a dragon and we’ll be on our way then. No big.

Flemeth bids me well and turns to leave. Morrigan calls out after her. Flemeth turns and tells Morrigan she was never in danger, then disappears. I’m sensing a lot of drama between these two and I’m not sure I want to know, especially considering I am now Mythal/Flemeth’s slave. Fuck. Why did I drink from that bloody Well? Morrigan tells me she’s glad I did. I’ll bet she is. This whole thing had better be bloody worth it.

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It is. Bull and the others come running when they hear the dragon screeching into the valley. We fight the dragon and after a while it just stops. Just looks at us. Bull goes for the killing blow, but I tell him to stop. There’s something telling me that the dragon is beginning to understand, that I need to challenge it somehow into backing off. I stare the dragon down. It settles, and seems to accept my rule, my mastery. The dragon swoops off. Bull laughs. You don’t seem that every day! No, you don’t. The dragon is mine now. Mine to attack Corypheus with. Watch out, ugly butt; we’re coming for you.

Emma Fissenden is a writer of all trades. When she’s not pushing through her next rewrite, she’s playing too many games and working as the Editor in Chief of @noblegasqrtly. You can find her on Twitter @efissenden, or check out her other series for TMS, Game Changer.

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Posted by Maddy Myers

I have a soft spot for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, even though the original book adaptation was essentially created in a lab to please fangirls. It came out back in 2009, when zombies still had a certain cultural cachet; Quirk Books editor Jason Rekulak wanted to find a way to incorporate “popular fanboy characters like ninjas, pirates, zombies, and monkeys” into public domain works, like War and Peace.

Eventually, writer Seth Grahame-Smith came up with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s Jane Austen’s book, with very little changed, but a lot of new stuff added in—such as a zombie apocalypse, which has struck Great Britain (and the rest of the world, presumably). Elizabeth and her sisters are well-trained zombie hunters, as is Darcy and everybody else. Except, institutional sexism still exists—because apparently women still can’t inherit property, and they still need to get married in order to keep themselves housed.

Back in 2009, when this book came out, I was only just starting to get my feet wet in the world of feminism. The idea of a “strong female character,” complete with problematic stereotypes, felt like enough for me in my 101-level days, and that’s more or less what Lizzie Bennet is in the redux version of this book. I had only skimmed reading the original Pride and Prejudice before, having dismissed it as a shallow rom-com story that was “too girly” for my liking (I know, I know). So, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came at just the right time for this self-hating femme. I apparently needed a couple of dudes to show up and give Elizabeth a sword and a bunch of zombie fights before I could understand that, actually, she’s smart and human and has a lot of cool one-liners in this book that are Austen’s doing, and she’s stuck in a society that doesn’t respect her, and that’s what the book is supposed to be about.

Maybe the movie will help some other clueless gals out there and convince them to read the actual Pride and Prejudice—and watch all the other cinematic adaptations of that, because there are some great ones. This one has zombie fight, which is fine if you need that sort of thing to get you through your first Jane Austen story.

(via Comic Book Resources)

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