An Open Thank-You Letter to DC Entertainment

Dear DC,

I don’t remember a lot about my childhood (most likely a result of all the heavy drinking and drug abuse. The 90’s, am I right?). There are however, a few memories that have followed me to adulthood, like the psychological equivalent of adult acne. For example, I vividly remember one stunningly embarrassing conversation I once had with my mother when I was ten year old.

We were driving in the car, on our way to my daily swim team practice. My mom had been uncharacteristically quiet for most of the drive while I, oblivious, bounced around in my seat, excited to see my friends and to show them my brand new modified-Anakin-Skywalker haircut.

For context, I should explain that Attack of the Clones had just been released to theaters, and I was completely captivated  by all things Jedi, bless my heart. Also, if you’re curious as to what a modified-Anakin-Skywalker haircut looks like, it’s really just a short pony-tail without the goofy little side braid. Mom had to draw the line somewhere.

We were almost to the pool, when my mom blurted out, “Whit, do you wish you were a boy?”

I was a little taken aback. “Um, yeah, sort of.”

I knew right away that I had said the wrong thing. To this day, I have never seen my mother look so crushed. I rushed to explain.

“Boys just get to do all the fun stuff, and they are always the good guy.”

My mom didn’t look any less devastated. I tried to summon all the eloquence at my ten-year-old disposal. I told her that I didn’t like princesses. That I related better to the male heroes I saw on screen. That I wanted to be like them because I just saw more of myself in them. That I’d give anything for a girl protagonist that spoke to me, but that I couldn’t find one.  To this day, I’m not sure if I ever really made my point, and mom never brought it up again.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized that my mother and I had been having two very different conversations.  Her concerns were, um, worldly in nature.  I was simply trying to explain to her that, as there weren’t many kick-ass women on screen for me to emulate, I was making do with what I had on hand. Shortly thereafter, I decided to shake my tomboy persona. I chose to hang up my lightsaber, rather than have that conversation ever again.

Maybe it’s because the pop culture landscape has changed so much, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how that little girl felt. Now girls have Hermione Granger, and Rey, and Katniss, and Peggy Carter. All she had were a handful of Disney Princesses who made her feel that a woman was only really valuable if she was beautiful, a message that became even more crushing the day she realized she would only ever be average-looking, at best.

If I could, I would go back and tell her about that not too distant future. I would tell her about the surge of on-screen female heroism that would finally help us reconcile the words femininity and feminism. I’d probably tell her about Wonder Woman‘s Diana, a character who’s ass-kicking capabilities are exceeded only by her compassion and selflessness.

So thanks, DC, for making the movie that I needed fifteen years ago. You and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, but because you and other studios are making strong women a priority, other little girls won’t have to make the choices I did. They won’t have to decide between the heroine that most closely resembles them biologically and the hero that speaks to who they are and who they want to be. Keep making movies for those little girls, and the mothers who cut their hair.

Whitney Weldon

 

Fan-Rants- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Subversive Power of a Good Narative

Dear Internet,

Sorry I haven’t written in a while, but so much has happened in the last three months. Ellen and I have fulfilled our mutual destiny by moving in together. Yes, that’s right; these two single soul-sisters are finally makin’ it happen. I’d say that our roommate dynamic is one part Golden Girls, one part Playing House (Ellen’s beagle Steve operates as a sort of Baby Charlotte to our Emma and Maggie).

Ours is a quiet existence, which is just fine with us, as it affords us plenty of time to pursue our passions: painting, dance, basket weaving, and making “ah-OO-gah” noises at cute boys through open car windows…

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Scratch that: we watch a lot of TV. Tonight’s media menu was The Music Man, followed by a YouTube palette cleanser, rounded off with a fresh episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you, like so much of the world, have written S.H.I.E.L.D. off as another one of ABC’s lost causes, you’re assumption is as understandable as it is premature.  S.H.I.E.L.D. has had it’s ups and downs over the last 4 seasons (I’m looking at you, season 2). But nothing makes for fine TV escapism quite like a world in turmoil. Our evermore chaotic 24 hour news cycle is the perfect fodder for some scintillating social commentary, if only a member of our media-elite should take enough time from mustache twirling and fake news-ing to look for it (these are the jokes, folks). Enter  Agents shield-season-4-jemma-fights-lmdsof S.H.I.E.L.D. If you haven’t kept up, let me bring you up to speed.

Through a escalating and, frankly, very complicated series of events, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team
have found themselves trapped in a parallel “framework” reality where the government and media are controlled by Hydra. Some- Daisy, Gemma, and Coulson- remember the world as it was, while others- Fitz, Mac, May- have bought into the lie.
Fitz, in particular, has made a temperamental 180 as the new de facto leader of Hydra. Gone is the sweet Fitz of yester-season. In the framework he murders and manipulates anyone who opposes him as he works to bring an as yet unspecified Hydra agenda to fruition.

IAIN DE CAESTECKERThis season, in addition to being beautifully written, has been less than subtle in it’s criticism of our recent, ahem, regime change. References to “alternative facts” and a seamless work-in of the line “nevertheless, she persisted” abound.  This week’s episode featured a scene where one especially sleazy character offers to take another female character “furniture shopping, anywhere she wants”. For anyone not picking up on the reference,  I offer you this proud moment in American history.

Some might be tempted to say that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been heavy handed, that they are pushing an unapologetically progressive agenda. To which I say, maybe.

Or it’s just a story about a group of people trapped in a reality they don’t understand. Where ideologies that were once collectively deemed hateful and unsupportable have gained a foothold. Where good people are changed beyond recognition by conditions out of their control.  And, like any good example of the superhero formula, it shows that while some people might succumb to their circumstances, other will rise above them and work to make the world a better place.

Oh, and then we went to Chick-fil-a for dinner. Have you tried the spicy chicken sandwich? It’s like buddah.

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Whitney Weldon

Fangirly Presents: Why Women aren’t Funny

You know what sucks?

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And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, I was informed today that women are, tragically, not funny.

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It’s true.

I know this because the person who let me in on this secret was, himself, blessed with a penis, so you know he knows comedy.

At first I was furious. How could someone make, with such confidence, such a blatantly untrue generalization?

Then I thought about it. And, wouldn’t you know it, he’s right.

Women really aren’t funny.

I mean, we have no sense of irony.

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Woman are historically terrible at physical comedy.

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Honestly, how many women can do impressions?

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I think, and this is just me, that women are too preoccupied with their appearance to be funny.

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And you know who really isn’t funny? Mature women.

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Maybe if we didn’t harp so much about objectification in the media.

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Maybe if we just got better at rolling with the punches.

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If we weren’t so damn prissy. You know, developed a sense of bathroom humor.

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It’s no wonder that male comedians don’t want to work with women.

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And why there aren’t any good female comedy duos.

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Who would have thought that ovaries, those things that launch our transformations into raging hose beasts with each new moon, would be the agents of our comedic destruction?

Let’s rally, ladies. Let’s focus on our strengths. Like wifery.

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And being good at literally everything else.

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Actually… wait…

I think I just thought of a joke.

Ok, bare with me, I’m new at this.

What did the woman say to the dumb-ass who thinks women aren’t funny?

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Get it?

Whitney Weldon

Fan Rants: My Worries About Wonder Woman

If this trailer doesn’t give you girl-power induced tingles, try watching it with your eyes open. DC’s Wonder Woman is one of the most anticipated movies of 2017, if you can believe my twitter feed. It combines all the things I love most: superheroes, period pieces, and brunettes gettin’ it done. But in light of the most recent DC tent poles, my Wonder Woman hopes now have a pretty big asterisk.

WonderWomanSupermanBatmanIf you’re at all familiar with Fangirly, you know that Ellen and I have some issues with the way women are portrayed in superhero films, DC films specifically. And although DC is far from the sole guilty party, it’s safe to say that they struggle the most with bringing their female characters to the big screen in a empowering and (frankly) interesting way. I think I’ve pretty much said my peace on Batman V Superman and Man of Steel, so lets look to more relevant examples.

In a long list of disappointing things about Suicide Squad, perhaps the most substantial bummer is how it obliterated its opportunity to bring us any well-rounded or well-thought out women characters, which would have gone a long way toward engaging DC’s ever-dwindling non-fanboy audience. Take Harley Quinn. Here’s a character who lost her freedom, her career, her sanity, to her relationship with a green-haired gangster. She’s a poster 2A8183C600000578-3160445-image-m-68_1436863964058.jpgchild for the devastating effects of abusive relationships, but the most interesting thing this film found to say about Harley Quinn was that she was “hot” and “crazy”, not necessarily in that order. And don’t even get me started on the scene where the Joker offers Harley’s “services” to a male business associate. Seriously, don’t.

The other ladies in the movie are hardly worth mentioning. In lieu of giving June Moone a SUICIDE-SQUAD-55personality they gave an age old shortcut: a love story. Katana serves no narrative purpose at all,  unless the shadowy government agency that formed the squad had some kind of Affirmative Action quota to fill. And Amanda Weller, easily the film’s most intriguing character, male or female, get’s boiled down to one word- bitch. Reductive? Sure. But also not that surprising.

The reason women can’t seem to catch a break in these films is because I’m fairly certain that they aren’t made with women in mind. Several scenes in Batman V Superman were complete undecipherable unless you were intimately familiar with the comics on which the film was based. And even though girls are carving a real niche for themselves in the comic book arena, the fact still remains that most comic fans are one X chromosome shy of 12670724b2dcebae01d32954ca08fcc760bac3e368b5075752c482d983b67a09.jpga matching set. Dudes, in other words. Which is why, you understand, I have my concerns about DC attempting to launch a franchise centered around a character that is an icon of Third Wave Feminism.

DC, you cannot get this wrong. Wonder Woman will be the first female stand-alone superhero franchise, and it’s success means more than just a bottom line. That means resisting the urge to put women in hot-pants. I know you have it in you.

Yours optimistically,

Whitney Weldon

Why I’m Not A Nerd, And You Probably Aren’t Either

Not long ago I was walking with a friend. Actually, not a friend. Technically, this is a person that I hate passionately but to whom I am nonetheless bound by the codes of mutual friendship, and the fact that we spend 80% of our time on the same university campus. Anyway, as I was walking with this Friend-of-a-Friend, I tried to keep the conversation as neutral as possible. And since pop culture is the only topic in which I’m remotely conversant, we mostly talked about TV. It went thusly:

I’d mention a show-

-And she’d jump in with how much she was obsessed with that show. Because, you know (*sheepish, with the slightest hint of shame) she’s just such a nerd.

Cool. I really dig it, too-

-Yeah, but I mean, not the same way she loves it. She used to watch the original series with her dad. So it’s just more special for her.

Sure.

I’d bring up a movie I recently saw-

-And she (excuse her, she didn’t mean to interrupt) couldn’t contain herself, just had to tell me about all the merch she’d gotten from that franchise. It was a lot of money, but, you know, (*still sheepish, now slightly over-selling the shame) she’s just such a nerd.

Thanks. Got it.

The appropriation of nerd culture into the mainstream has created a perfect niche for people like this girl. It allows her to feel cool and relevant, with the added thrill of feeling special, because what is Nerdom, if not a counter-culture that thrives on it’s own self-imposed exclusivity?

I not saying that I don’t love nerds. I really, really do. I admire anyone that is passionate about something, and who finds genuine joy in that passion. But like anything, there are two sides to Nerd culture. The first side loves something with so much of itself that it wants to share it with feature-kate.jpgeveryone. It wants other people to share and experience the thing that means so much to it. But once that thing is out there, is made accessible to everyone, we see the other side of Nerd mentality. It circles the wagons. It realizes that what was once it’s thing now belongs to many, and it resents this perceived loss.

For a while I thought that the popularization of nerd culture would make things more inclusive, and in some ways it has. It’s safe to say that people now feel more able to express themselves and their allegiance to their fandoms like never before. In other ways, it’s also made things more esoteric. I don’t live and breathe for the original Star Wars Trilogy, so my love for The Force Awakens must not run as deep as a real fan’s, right?

The truth is, however much you may wish it were otherwise, you are probably not a nerd. You’re probably not Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science. You’re probably not David Krumholtz in Ten Things I Hate About You. And that’s totally fine. Do you know why?

Because it’s more likely that what you really are is a well-rounded, multi-denominational person who happens to be passionate about something, or more likely many things. You don’t need to be a nerd. You are allowed to like what you like, without trying to tailor yourself to the specifications of one group or another. Because labels, even the ones we assign to ourselves, are ultimately damaging and self limiting.

Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said “If you label me, you negate me”?

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Whitney Weldon

R Rating For Wolverine 3 Confirmed, Leaves Fangirly Dismayed…

Just to be clear, Fangirly doesn’t shy away from an R rating. Some of our favorite releases this year were deemed unfit for moppets of all ages. Deadpool, Spotlight, Ex Machina, Room. But, to be fair, those are the movie one expects to be hit with an R rating. Made by deadpool-2-boyfriend-picgrown-ups, for grown-ups. And what if the increasing commercial success of R rated movies causes this trend to spill into other genres?

Which brings me to Wolverine 3. We get it. Wolverine is edgy; he smokes and drinks and gets laid and takes bad guys to the cleaners. But thus far, the powers-that-be have been able to tame the characters wild side just enough to squeeze out a PG-13 rating. That was true for 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine and 2013’s The Wolverine. So why now the sudden change in direction? Well, because all the cool kids are doing it.

There is a direct line of causation between the BANANAS success of Deadpool and this new development in the Wolverine franchise. And frankly, if that were the extent of it, I apoc9wouldn’t be bothered. But I think we can all agree that superhero movies, from either side of the Marvel-DC partisan line, are getting progressively darker and, much as I hate to use
this word, grittier. To prove my point, let’s look at this summer’s latest cash cow, Captain America: Civil War.

It was amazing right? But can we all agree that with each subsequent film, the Captain cwttss11America franchise has delved deeper into that dark, self-aware realism that has made the sequels so surprisingly wonderful? As an adult audience member, I’m loving it. But I’m not the only demographic at whom these movies are supposedly aimed.

I’ve got this neighbor. His name is Jack, he’s six, and he has the most extensive collection of superhero costumes I’ve ever seen. Picture a first-grader in full batman armor and you’ve got a good idea of what I see every time I look out my kitchen window. The take-away here is that Jack loves superheroes. Which really sucks for Jack, because there’s only a handful of superhero movies his mom will let him watch.

I can’t say I blame her. Would you let your six year old watch The Dark Knight, or Captain Batman-V-Superman-Trailer-3-ArmorAmerica: The Winter Soldier? Or, maybe more to the point, should you? These movies are starting to delve into themes and employ levels of violent realism that kids like Jack just aren’t ready for. And yet these movies, and all their must-have merchandise, continue to be marketed to him.

I just worry that one day, there won’t be any good superhero franchises left for younger audiences, who are, arguably, the ones that need these heroes the most. I don’t want to look out my window and not see Jack running around his yard in full spider-man regalia, keeping the neighborhood safe from evil. I want Jack to still have on-screen heroes he can look up to. Easier said than done, when he can’t even watch their movies.

Whitney Weldon

TV Raised Me, and I Feel Fine

I saw my brother for the first time in months this last weekend. As insufferable as we are as individual units, we’re exponentially worse when we get together. Every other word is an inside joke (Sleepy Richard, earning your lunch meat, Pretzel Boy, moving about the house), and all the words in between are movie and TV quotes. This earns us little respect from the people around us. But this sibling shorthand we’ve developed comes from a shared childhood experience: we were raised by TV.

To be clear, we had great parents. We were always clean (ish), well-fed, and adequately loved. But when both of your parents work full time, TV is often used to fill the gaps. And when you come from a family of renowned movie buffs, a certain level of cultural literacy is expected. The problem is, when people learn this about you, you get a very specific look. It’s a look that says, “I’m so sorry for your unfulfilled life”. My response usually reflects my impeccable upbringing and unimpeachable manners.

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I appreciate your thinly veiled shade, but it is unnecessary. TV made me who I am, for better or worse. From a early age, I was exposed to movies and shows written by some of the cleverest people in the world.

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I learned social graces.

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I learned how to carefully formulate a snappy comeback.

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I realized that not everyone can be trusted.

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Sometimes these stories reflected my own experience.

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And sometimes they didn’t.

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But without them, I’d never be able to feel another person’s crushing disappointment.

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Or mortal terror.

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I wouldn’t know how it feels to watch someone you love die.

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I’d never understand how it feels to lose everything you have.

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Good TV, like a good book, gives us a window into another person’s experience,

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and explore realities that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

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TV made me empathetic, and forced me to experience emotions other than my own.

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So don’t be worried that your kids watch TV. Worry about what they watch on TV. Make sure that what they watch reflects the kind of person you want them to be. If it doesn’t…

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Make sure their shows are funny and smart.

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Make sure that they are gaining experiences beyond their own.

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And remind yourself to thank me later. I’ll wait.

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Whitney Weldon

Fan Rants: Coming Clean About Batman V Superman

trinitylargeIf you read this blog with any sort of regularity, you may know that on Saturday I saw Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman. You may also recall that I thought it was, ahem, flawed. Nothing weird there, right? The film’s 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes suggests I wasn’t alone. What I didn’t expect was the amount of time I’d spend defending a position that, quite frankly, I thought I’d already made pretty clear. So let me try this one more time.

Shall I tell the real reason why I didn’t like BvS? It wasn’t just the sloppy writing, or the less-than-inspired dialogue, or the fact that I’ve seen high school health videos with more emotional complexity. It was the fact that I was expected to enjoy, even connect with, a story that so obviously wasn’t made for me.

As a lifelong fan of the superhero genre, I’ve reached a sort of begrudging acceptance of the way things are; women may not be equally represented in blockbuster tent-poles, but at least the women we do see are invariably spectacular in their own ways. And when the trailer for this latest DC offering was released, I was just as excited as anyone by the prospect of finally getting a Wonder Woman worthy of the name. It wasn’t as though my hopes weren’t realized. In the seven minutes she’s on screen (yes, that is the actual batman-vs-superman-ew-pics-2number) Gal Gadot’s iteration of Diana Prince proves herself to be much more savvy, capable, and interesting than either of the titular heroes. Of course, if you blinked at any point during the movie, it’s a performance you probably missed. In fact, there are really only four notable female characters in the entire film, and by “notable” I of course mean “has any kind of speaking part at all”. Lets take a (somewhat spoiler-y) look at how these women were used in the film. It won’t take long; like I said, it’s a short list.

batman-v-superman-dawn-justiceLet’s start with Lois Lane. Smart, independent, award-winning reporter who manages not to choke on lines like, “I’m not a lady, I’m a journalist”. She’s the one person who even attempts to figure out what really happens during a desert shoot-out, for which Superman is blamed (despite the fact that he doesn’t use guns…). An attempt that, by the way, is dismissed as a misguided effort to stand by her man. So much for that. At least there was still something for her to do in the film. She also appears as the prettiest piece of bait you ever saw. 635944238331424071-BVS-19098r

Then there’s Martha Kent (Diane Lane), adopted mother of Superman and purveyor of pithy, home-spun wisdom. She represents Clark’s deepest connection to his own
humanity, a trait that is repeatedly called into question. So you think she’d feature pretty strongly, right? PSYCH. Her husband’s ghost has more lines than she does. Luckily for Martha fans, she does also make a cameo as Hostage #2.

Next let’s look at the most overlooked and tragically underused character of them all. Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) is the only person in this movie who acts with any kind of Screen-Shot-2015-07-13-at-11.46.10-AMclear motivation. She’s strong, she’s decisive, and she’s the only person trying to demand accountability in a realistic way. The only problem? We’re not really supposed to like her. Whether by intention or by reflex, Snyder plays her off as a nag; a woman of a certain age who just complicates matters for the men involved. Not only is she a victim of the Capitol Bombing, she’s specifically targeted by the parties responsible. For what? Being too aggressive? Too articulate? I’m not sure what the message is here, but I know I’m not comfortable with it.

Which brings us back around to Diana Prince. That bastion of Badassery. That oasis of empowered womanhood. It is worth noting that the most impressive woman in this movie isn’t allowed to be such without a whip, thigh-high boots, and a tight leather outfit.

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So stop asking me why I didn’t like this movie. Stop asking me to explain myself again and again. Gender politics aside, it was an underwhelming movie-going experience. Gender politics included, it’s actively harmful to how women are represented in film, particularly in superhero films. If that’s something you are ok with, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Whitney Weldon

Whitney’s Official 2016 Oscar Snubs

There are plenty to choose from, right? Ridley Scott, Star Wars, Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba. The list of Oscar snubs, as it does every year, goes on. My diplomatic response would be that the Academy simply can’t accommodate and acknowledge all the great work that was churned out this year. My unfiltered Fangirl answer would be, did The Revenant and Fury Road really, really deserve 12 and 10 nominations, respectively? It’s a subject that’s certainly up for debate. But I’m not here to talk about the Academy’s apparent inability to spread the love. No, I would instead like to focus on the few specific snubs that really bring out the Troll in me.

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3) Crimson Peak for Best Cinematography

It’s pretty obvious that this movie wasn’t for everyone. But no matter what you thought about this Guillermo Del Toro horror set in a repressive, Victorian hell-scape, you must admit that it was beautiful to look at. As a genre, though, horror rarely gets any props at the Oscars, mad or otherwise, so this snub wasn’t at all surprising.  I had hoped, however, for some kind of honorable mention. Something like “Best Use of Tom Hiddleston’s Shapely Hind-Parts in a Drama”. Just a suggestion.

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2) JJ Abrams for Best Director

This is mostly wishful thinking. I just hoped that after all  the garbage that has been slung at this genuinely wonderful movie, it might have been recognized with a nom somewhat more meaningful than “Best Film Editing”. JJ Abrams gave us a Star Wars that was steeped in action and humor and nostalgia and feminism, and in return received a whole lot of internet bitching and a truck-load of broken box office records. We audiences are nothing if not inconsistent.

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1) Charlize Theron for Best Actress 

You would think that at least one of the ten nominations doled out to Fury Road would have gone to the performance that made the movie what it was. Theron’s Furiosa was easily the most moving and complex performance in an action movie, well, ever. I bet this pointed snub has left her pretty inconsolable right now.

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See what I mean?

Whitney Weldon

Why I’m Ca-REY-zy about The Force Awakens (See What I Did There?)

*Spoilers dead ahead. Proceed at your own risk. 

Last Monday I made my usual two mile pilgrimage to the one and only movie theater in my current place of residence (go ahead and cry for me, Argentina). This time I was dropping my Benjamin’s on a third viewing of JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens.  While standing in line for my ticket I ran into a neighbor who was headed in the same direction, with his six year old daughter in tow. He admitted that she was the only one of his four children he could drag along to see the newest Star Wars installment. One look could tell you that this forbearing youngster was only there out of filial obligation; she looked about as unenthused as it is possible for a six year old to look.

88086bfd-09c8-4d00-a09d-9a31055356d7-2060x1236But I knew something she didn’t. I knew she would walk into the theater a bored moppet, but would emerge a card-carrying superfan of the galaxy’s newest mamma jamma, Rey.

Rey is the hero I wish had existed when I was six. She’s jaded, and compassionate. She’s brave, and smart. She’s bad-ass, and approachable. She commands the respect of every other character lucky enough to share the screen with her.

Drawing comparisons between Rey and characters like Katniss and Tris rey-2and Lisbeth Salander and Black Widow is unavoidable. For as long as I can remember, we’ve been conditioned to think that a female protagonist couldn’t be compelling if she wasn’t sexy, damaged, or vulnerable, preferably all three.  Enter Rey, a woman whose sexuality is irrelevant. Her past, though tragic, doesn’t define her. She puts the needs of others before her own interests and is unambiguously good. In short, she’s everything that a little girl (or, what the heck, boy) should want to pattern themselves after.
But the really revolutionary thing (and the thing that struck me the most) wasn’t Rey herself, but how others responded to her. Within the first five of meeting Finn, the storm trooper turned rebel fighter, she chases him though a crowded market, brains him with a stick, accuses him of theft, and rescues him from the decidedly Third Reich-y organization The First Order. And to Finn’s infinite credit, he gladly follows her lead. He Star-Wars4doesn’t resent being occasionally shown up by a girl because he admires her strength and smarts, too. A bad-ass in his own right, Finn is confident enough to recognize Rey’s value without letting it threaten his own.

The best part is that Finn’s reaction to Rey isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. Han Solo offers her a place on the Millennium Falcon. Kylo Ren openly admits that her power not only matches, but probably exceeds his own.

As I left the theater that day, I caught up with my neighbor and we chatted for a while, about the movie and how cute BB8 was and how we couldn’t wait for the next one. I asked his little girl what she thought, and her big blue eyes articulated everything her vocabulary couldn’t. She was in love, and I was right there with her. I hope that little girl knows how lucky she is. I grew up in a time when the world wanted girls to believe that they could be anything. She gets to grow up in a time when the world is starting to believe it, too.

Whitney Weldon

 

 

Fan-rants: Why Jared Leto Needs To Cool It

Harley-Quinn-Suicide-SquadListen, everyone is excited about Suicide Squad. You can’t throw a stick into the internet without hitting an article or entertainment blog post featuring a picture of Margot Robbie or Cara Delevingne in their creepy and predictably objectifying costumes. But the old adage that any publicity is good publicity isn’t always true. Warner Bros. has been pushing Squad pretty hard, which is understandable given how much money they’ve almost certainly sunk into this project and how much they stand to make should the movie do well. But do they really need to work this hard? A movie like this, with comic book origins, a pre-existing fan base, a well-known cast, and millions of dollars behind it, will generate it’s own buzz. And with every released photo and every crazy teaser, expectations just get more out of control. That means that audiences now feel entitled to a not just a good movie, but a great one. At this point, Squad can meet expectations, but probably not exceed them.

Which brings me to Jared Leto. No part of this movie has been buzzier than Leto’s balls-to-the-wall method approach to playing the Joker in this born-to-be-a-blockbuster. In a recent article with MTV news, Will Smith admitted that he’s never actually met Jared Leto. All of his interactions have been with “The Joker”. All year, audiences have been barraged by reports of Leto sending fellow cast members creepy gifts from his alter ego and generally being weird in character. And while I admire1401x788-Screen-Shot-2015-07-13-at-4.20.07-PM (1) his commitment, the whole thing is starting to feel more like a publicity stunt than legitimate preparation.

Also, I think we can all agree that, given the nature of the part, Leto might need to tread lightly. He’s reprising a role that most recently belonged to a beloved actor who passed away shortly after filming wrapped on The Dark Knight. Leto’s method acting, which under different circumstances would just be another actor going native, may here be seen as someone trying to make his Joker bigger, badder, and crazier than the one before him. That isn’t going to ingratiate him to The Dark Knight/ Heath Ledger fans (aka humans). I’m not saying that Jared Leto shouldn’t give this part his all, but maybe cool it with the antics. Give audiences the chance to be as pleasantly surprised with this performance as they were with Ledger’s. Fans will thank you for it.

Whitney Weldon

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Fan Rants: Death to the Networks!!!

THE MINDY PROJECT: Mindy (Mindy Kaling, R), Jeremy (Ed Weeks, C) and Danny (Chris Messina, L) discover a change in the office staff in the

When I initially heard that Fox had cut the cord on our Fangirly Favorite The Mindy Project, my reaction was more or less what you might expect. I sold all my earthly possessions, joined a doomsday cult, and settled in for the End of Days. But from the midst of tragedy, an unlikely hero emerged, destined to redeem us all from a Mindy-less existence. Yes, people, ya heard. Hulu will be picking up Kaling’s brain-baby and giving it new life online.

And this isn’t the first time that a streaming service has needed to step in to save a beleaguered series. Yahoo adopted Community and Netflix resurrected Arrested Development (with debatable success, but still). Not only are these sites delivering really strong, occasionally award-winning, original content to subscribers, they are salvaging the network underdogs that struggle to perform and bringing them back from the dead.

Ok, I’m not an idiot. I know that Hulu probably isn’t doing this out of altruism or some media-messiah complex. They roku-3-streaming-tv-giveawayprobably stand to make a lot of money from this deal and I have no doubt that the switch will be marketed aggressively. But the fact stands that Hulu is taking a chance on this amazing little show written by and starring one of the only non-white female leads on TV. Ever. Meanwhile, networks are giving us Boy Meets World reboots and a Full House made-for-TV-movie.

This all leads me to ask, do we really need networks? Or are the a relic that is desperately trying to recapture the magic of ten, twenty, thirty years ago? Most shows are available online anyway, and even HBO is offering a streaming service for much less than your exorbitant cable package. As a representative of a generation that watches most of it’s TV online anyway, it’s not a very hard question.

What do you think? Hit us up at fangirlyfangirls@gmail.com, or @fangirly2, and give us what you got.

-Whitney

Fan Rants: Why You Should Be Watching Agent Carter

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with one of my Fellow Fems about female under representation in pop culture (like many a pretentious, twenty-something, bra-burner before us). She made the inevitable leap to how unfair it was the Marvel’s Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) doesn’t have her own stand alone movie. My initial response was, ‘right on, sister’. Then I asked if she’d been watching ABC/Marvel’s new series Agent Carter. She answered that, no, she wasn’t. Come again?…

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It’s probably the worst kept secret in network TV history that Agent Carter is serving as a dry run for strong female leads in the MCU. If smart, empowered, beautiful, charasmatic Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) can’t draw crowds with a limited run TV show, why should Marvel shell out millions upon millions to make a female driven superhero movie? And let’s not kid agent-carter-pilot-hayley-atwell_article_story_largeourselves, Carter is enjoying pretty abysmal ratings, despite the fact that, in my opinion, it’s a good show. It’s got a great lead in Atwell, James D’Arcy as bulter Edwin Jarvis makes for an awesome Girl Friday, and frankly, it’s been much fresher and more entertaining than Agents of Shield ever was in it’s first season. So why in the Susan-B-Anthony can’t this show seem to thrive?

I keep coming back to one thing. Because really, there is only one reason I can think of why audiences would be more receptive to a Black Widow stand alone than a Peggy Carter one. Black Widow is defined by her sexuality. I mean, yeah, she can quip with the best, and kick all the necessary ass, but she’s also severely underwritten and hyper-sexualized.  If Peggy Carter ran around in a black cat-suit, would that make her more marketable? I’m actually scared of the answer. la_ca_0325_captain_america

I guess what I’m getting at is, let’s not perpetuate the idea that Marvel’s fan base won’t support strong, independent, female leads with more to offer than their butt-kicking capacity and deft application of feminine whiles. Let’s promote female characters with emotional depth and intelligence and appeal that isn’t directly related to how good they look in skin-tight stealth suits. Watch Agent Carter, Tuesday’s at 9 on ABC, and you’ll see what I mean.

Whitney

Lighten Up, DC Comics

why-so-serious-the-joker-3122768-1024-768Today DC Comics announced their plans for 10 upcoming movies including The Flash, Aquaman, a stand alone Wonder Woman, Shazam, and 2 Justice League movies.  While this news does excite me, it fills me with some degree of trepidation, as well.  I need to make it clear that I will always welcome more superhero movies because I am a sucker for superhero movies.  However, Warner Brothers’ recent mandate that this upcoming slate of movies will have no humor really does not work for me.

I think I understand why they are doing this.  The Dark Knight Batman movies are far and away DC Comics’ most successful and at least ranking as such for Warner Brothers and those movies are assuredly not the most gut-busting.  At least not in the laughing way.  Removing the humor is also a pretty good way to set themselves apart from Marvel.

It’s pretty clear that DC Comics wants to follow in Marvel’s success and create their own “cinematic universe”, but this really doesn’t seem like the way to do it.  At this point, Marvel is guaranteed success because we know their films are going to be an entertaining, enjoyable, good time at the movies. “Enjoyable” being the key word.  People were wary of the unknown Guardians of the Galaxy but once word got out that it was funny, it became the biggest movie of the year so far.

I had multiple issues with Man of Steel, but perhaps my biggest was that Superman needed to lighten up or at least people needed to make jokes at his expense, otherwise he is just an indestructible pretty boy and who likes those?  Then when you throw characters like Aquaman in the mix, I don’t know how seriously I am going to be able to take it.  Even if he is played by the oh-so-imposing Jason Mimoa.  None of comic book source material is without at least some form of levity, especially The Flash and Wonder Woman, and I have to imagine that the humor of those series has aided in their success.  DC Comics has also done pretty well with their TV series and again, I think a lot of that has to do with the shows being fun to watch.  Even the gloomy Gotham has some laughs.

All that being said, DC, I will still see your movies, I just wish you made it easier for me to look forward to it.

– Ellen

Fan-Rants: Too Far SNL, Too Far

tqq2fftrgyvppodtgtppThe day Saturday Night Live stops making raunchy jokes is the day I stop watching. Innuendo and crassness were the solid foundation upon which SNL was built. But can we agree that there is a line? That there are jokes that, while totally acceptable on a un-rated stand-up special, have no place on network TV. Well, Pete Davidson’s SNL debut during the 40th season premiere went there and made itself at home.

I’m not saying that I didn’t find the “Talk Business” bit completely hilarious, because I did. It just wasn’t appropriate for SNL. If you’re thinking, “but Whitney, inappropriate is where SNL lives!” you would be right. But there’s a difference between clever, subversive humor and being gross for laughs.

More than anything, this tells me that there are probably just not enough chicks in the SNL writer’s room. Because you know that if someone had tried to get away with something like this during the Tina Fey years her response would have been…

tina-fey-6I’m pretty sure she would have laughed first, but after the lizzing had subsided, Bossypants would have told the guy to fix it or nix it. Sadly, these are not the Tina Fey Years. Most of TV’s funniest women have taken their act elsewhere, leaving audiences with sorta funny, way too explicit Weekend Update segments about what today’s youth are willing to do for a million dollars. I guess that’s what happens when over 80% of your writing staff is made up of sweaty, y-chromosome-bearing comedy dorks. Which begs the question: where are all the sex jokes coming from anyway? I thought writers were supposed to write what they know.

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Whitney

Fan-Rants: Hulu Commercials

hulu-screenshot1As I write this post, I am marathoning The Mindy Project, mainly because I wanted to re-watch Danny and Mindy’s mounting sexual tension, but also in preparation for the new season.  I am using my Hulu Plus account for this marathon and I have a complaint.  Unlike most Hulu users, I have gotten over the fact that I have to watch commercials on a service for which I am paying.  (Okay, actually, confession: I log into my mom’s account for which she pays, but my complaints are still valid).

So, no, I don’t care that I have to watch commercials, I care that I have to watch the same commercials.  Over. And over.  I realize that I am bound to see some repeats when I watch 15 episodes of The Mindy Project in a row, but can’t Hulu spring for more than 4 commercials?  I swear, if I have to watch that Honda Fit commercial with Nick Thune one more time, I am going to toss my work computer out the window, then I’m going to get fired and it is bound to turn into this whole thing and then my unemployment will be on your conscience, Hulu.  Can you deal with that?  I can’t imagine that you don’t have various products (that I will never buy) that don’t want to be on your service, so please, on behalf of all of us who have a TV-watching problem, get some more commercials

Ellen

How to Make Friends and Stop Alienating People at the Movies

Regal-Cinemas-620x412This is the post I hoped I would never have to write. Because by doing so, I’m forced to acknowledge and address those dinguses who seem utterly incapable of spanking their inner moppet and acting like grown-ups at the movies. If this post comes across as, ummm, combative, I apologize in advance. After an appalling experience at the movies yesterday (a second viewing of my new favorite Oscar contender, Guardians of the Galaxy) I know that this particular bug will stay firmly lodged up my butt until I speak out. And as we all know, Hell hath no fury like a lady whose enjoyment of Chris Pratt was compromised by some jabroni with an iPhone. In an effort to prevent such atrocities in the future, I present Whitney’s Rules of Movie Theater Etiquette. 

1) Arrive Early. I mean, going to the movies is supposed to be a leisure activity, right? Why not make it leisurely by giving yourself enough time to look at movie posters, visit the Pee Palace, get your concessions, and get to your seat in a timely fashion, rather than trying to squeeze in during the previews. Because some of us like the previews, and having you crawl over our knees like a terrier while you try to nab a seat does not enhance the experience. You might ask, How early is early enough? Excellent question. I like to get there anywhere between 20-30 minutes early. Be cognizant of how long it takes you to get there and how long lines at the ticket booth might be.

2) Once the movie starts, ditch the snacks. Ok, this one is harder to justify, as it’s really just kind of a pet peeve. Hearing someone swan-dive into their worryingly large vat of buttered popcorn is a real mood killer. If you want to chow during the previews, then by all means, go to town. But if you are a non-child or non-diabetic, then you should be completely capable of going two hours until your next Junior Mint pick me up. 

3) Let the credits roll. After every movie, there is always that one dude who tries to pole vault over seats in order to be watching-a-scary-movie-in-cinema_818first out of the theater. Why? If science tells us anything, it’s that watching three minutes of credits will not kill you. I’m not saying you need to sit there until an usher gives you a dirty look; once they roll the post-production departments you are probably good to go. 

What is your biggest theater pet peeve? Go ahead. Let it all out in our comment section.

Whitney,

 

 

 

 

Fan-Rants: [Spoilers] WHAT THE HECK JULIAN FELLOWS?!?

julian-fellowes_custom-c48719149534279f38f23f2324ea101b13cf605a-s6-c10I would like to start off by saying that this post is fraught with spoilers. Fraught. So if you haven’t seen the finale of Downton Abbey you should probably 1) get your act together and 2) don’t read any further, because this is about to get REAL.
I am fully aware that Mr. Fellows, creator of DA and Oscar-winning writer of Gosford Park, probably had very little to do with Dan Stevens’ decision to leave the show. Stevens is a star, baby, and if he wants to head off in search of bigger and better parts, more power to him. (This is me being diplomatic; in actuality I am super pissed). What I can’t condone, however, is the emotional roller coaster Fellows forced us to ride, like a cinematic Splash Mountain. I mean, killing someone off minutes after the birth of their on-screen son? A joyous event that has been three seasons in the making, followed by a fatal, and dare I say totally avoidable, car crash? Not cool. Also, why are we trying to vilify babies? Killing off a lead character every time there is a birth in the family seems a little unfair to the infants in question.
Matthew melodrama aside, I loved this episode. It was nice to see Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) getting some well deserved extra screen time, and watching the reconciliation between Jimmy (Ed Speleers) and Thomas (Rob James-Collier) was pretty satisfying. Oh, and then there was this…

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Good. Grief. We at Fangirly try really hard not to objectify our favorite stars (false) but I think the award for Best 20th Century TV Bod goes to Mr. Allen Leech. I don’t know about you, but I’m suddenly much more optimistic about series four.
-Whitney