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

 

The Reviews Are In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

This is the last Fangirly review I will ever write. And it’s all Ellen’s fault.

See, Ellen has a job where a working knowledge of pop culture is requisite. Needless to say, Ellen is very good at her job. She knew long before I did that that reviews for James guardians-galaxy-2-poster-charactersGunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the film for which we bought our tickets weeks in advance, was getting slightly less glowing reviews than it’s predecessor. She told me, “Go into this movie thinking that’s it’s only OK, and it will probably exceed your expectations.”

So I did. I trust Ellen to a fault, not just because she’s my hero (please don’t tell her I said that), but because she has a nose for this sort of thing. Ellen’s the pop culture guru and I’m the one that can, under the right conditions, burp the first four letters of the jsc3020-cmp-v3781007-jsc3050-cmp-v2631009-comp-r-1486345142271_1280walphabet. You could say we both bring things to the table.

But as I sat through Vol. 2, I kept forgetting that it wasn’t a perfect specimen of modern film-making. I kept dancing in my seat to the soundtrack. I kept getting wrapped up in the story. I kept enjoying watching characters develop. I kept laughing so hard that I cried, and in some instances, crying so hard that I laughed. In short, I kept forgetting why I wasn’t supposed to love this movie unreservedly.

6ab3ae6be78d4be8fb6407ee754133c867474d74If I’m being honest, it wasn’t Ellen’s fault. She was just trying to shield us both from potential disappointment. But I can’t help but wonder what my experience of this movie might have been if I hadn’t spent the whole 136 minute run-time wondering which of it’s glaring flaws I was missing. I learned that I’d rather be surprised by life’s occasional disappointments rather than spend my time anticipating them. The pop culture landscape is such that people can earn a living from tearing down something someone else put blood and sweat into making.

So I’m done reading movie reviews. I encourage you to do the same. Whether you use guardians-of-the-galaxy-2-2016-billboard-1548them to decide which movies to see, or you use them to validate opinions you already had, I think that the brain trusts over at Entertainment Weekly have officially outlived their usefulness.

That being said, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to fans of Batman V. Superman. You thought that movie was great, and I trashed it. Hard. While I stand by what I said, you are entitled to love that dumpster fire of a movie (double standards are fun, aren’t they?).

Oh, I was supposed to review Guardian of the Galaxy, wasn’t I? Guys, so good.

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

Fangirly Presents: The Most Inspirational Women of 2016

If you’re anything like me (or even if you’re not) you woke up this morning feeling pretty disheartened. It’s been a rough few months. And as I thought this morning about what Fangirly’s response should be, none of my ideas were really in keeping with the upbeat and positive tone that Ellen and I have hopefully cultivated here. So I eventually decided not to focus on events that I found disappointing, but rather to emphasis people in pop culture who represent the kind of world I want to live in. And because 2016 has been a incredible year for women in pop culture, I decided to inaugurate (get it?) a new annual feature: Fangirly’s Inspirational Women of the Year. Some of them are fictional, and some of them are flesh and blood BAMFs. You’ll notice that this list won’t be a patent pending Fangirly Top Ten. That’s because, unlike our dear President Elect, Fangirly doesn’t believe in ranking women on a scale of one to ten. So without further ado, Fangirly Presents the Bad-ass Broads of 2016.

Rey (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

After the release of The Force Awakens, Fangirly wasted no time in gushing about the galaxy’s newest Jedi-Jane. She’s tough and smart, and we salute her. In the film’s 138 minute run-time, she managed to save the galaxy and make knee-length harem pants look cool. It’s genuinely difficult to say which of those feats is more impressive.

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Malala Yousafzai (He Named Me Malala)

Although Davis Guggenheim’s documentary about activist Malala Yousafzai came out in 2015, it didn’t reach most American audiences until 2016. Not that Fangirly feels that they need to justify adding Malala to any list that includes the catch-word “inspirational”. If you haven’t gotten around to seeing He Named Me Malala, you’re probably not alone. But with Islamophobia on the rise in this country, it might behoove you to do so. It’s the true story of a young Muslim girl who spoke out in favor of educating women, putting her in opposition of the Taliban. Here’s a video of 16 year old Malala’s address to the UN in 2013.

Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman)

After her turn as the most watchable part of Batman V. Superman, DC released trailers for the Wonder Woman movie, set for release in 2017. Wonder Woman has been a feminist icon for decades, and her stand-alone film is a stride long overdue. Please enjoy this perfectly bitchin’ piece of pop culture history.

Winona Ryder (Stranger Things)

After years away from the spotlight, Winona Ryder returned to the screen in Netflix’s Stranger Things. If you haven’t binged Stranger yet (and I promise, binging is the only way to go), you’ve not only missed one of 2016 best shows, but also one of it’s best performances. Winona, in the words of Veronica Sawyer, you’re beautiful. Only, in this case, we actually mean it.

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Beyonce Knowles 

Because, duh.

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Ellen (Of Fangirly.com)

This year alone, Ellen moved cities, jobs, and wrote a hit web-series, The Cate Moreland ChroniclesShe was an inspiration to me this year. Get it, girl.

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Peggy Carter (Agent Carter, Captain America: Civil War)

2016 marked the last time we will most likely see Hayley Atwell’s iteration of Peggy Carter on screen, and it’s a loss that we feel already. Peggy was the embodiment of smart, strong women in a male dominated field. She was a reminder that if women everywhere can learn recognize their own value, we’ll get that patriarchy slayed in no time.

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Hillary Clinton (The 2016 Pre-Apocalypse, I Mean, Election)

Whether or not you agreed with her policies or trusted her judgement, this woman has done something amazing. She is the first ever woman to be nominated by a major political party in the United States. She’s worked her entire adult life to open that door, and thanks to her, one day a woman will walk through it. Thanks for reminding us that women are more than just a p#ss to grab. You may not be my president, but you are one Nasty Woman.

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Whitney Weldon

The Reviews are In: Dr. Strange

maxresdefaultThere’s a moment during Marvel’s Dr. Strange when the titular Sorcerer Supreme, while discussing the (spoiler) sometimes dubious motivations of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) with Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo, thinks for a moment and says, “She’s… complicated.”

Complicated is a pretty good word for Dr. Strange, too. It’s characters are layered, it’s action set pieces are frickin breathtaking, and it boasts a level of political and social awareness and I, for one, am coming to expect from Marvel. But first things first. Let’s reign it in for a sec and talk about the Cumberbatch of it all. If you’re not a fan of England’s finest import doctor-strange-1since Posh, Scary, Baby, Sporty, and Ginger, you’re either not female or not a fan of marine mammals. If such is the case, this might not be the post for you. So… scoot. Yep. Go watch the new XXX trailer on repeat.

Are they gone? Oh good. Now that it’s just us Cumberbitches, let’s get to it.

Even as someone who expects only the very best from Benedict Cumberbatch, I found his performance impressive. His interpretation of Stephen Strange (a  Marvel Comics deep cut) is part Dr. House, part Tony Stark, and part Hilary Swank from The Next Karate Kid. It’s a zag for Cumberbatch, who’s characters tend to be varying degrees of austere. Dr. Stephen Strange is a celebrated neurosurgeon who loses everything when a car accident causes permanent nerve damage to his hands. He wanders the globe in search of a cure, only to stumble upon a secret order of sorcerer ninjas in Kathmandu who take him in and teach him their ways. He’s thrust into a world of magic, inter-dimensional evil, and Danish bad boys. That last one, of course, refers to Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), zealot follower of a malevolent force hell-bent on forcing the Earth into submission.

Dr. Strange doesn’t subvert superhero tropes by any means, but because the source doctor-strange-benedict-cumberbatch-rachel-mcadams-copertinamaterial is so unknown and the film itself so visually arresting, I sort of didn’t care. We still had an unfailingly loyal girlfriend (Rachel McAdams), a conflicted BFF (Ejiofor), and a reluctant teacher (Swinton). No, what made this movie interesting wasn’t it’s humor or complex characters or it’s new, mystical approach to superheroism, but it’s uncanny timing.

Stephen is given a choice between two opposing, but equally fanatical, factions. One is lead by a woman forced to make difficult, and often morally compromising, decisions that she believes will facilitate the greater good. The other is driven by a radical who, while claiming to be acting in the best interest of the world, actually seeks to acquire eternal life and make the human race as miserable as he is himself. Sound familiar?

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And THAT is what I love about the superhero genre, and why it will never bore me. Because almost without trying, they manage to reflect our own experiences back at us, in a way that encourages and rewards bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming tyranny. Also, the muscles.

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I really like the muscles.

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

The Reviews Are In: Suicide Squad

suicide-squad-assembled.jpgI’m not going to tell you that there is nothing to like about Suicide Squad. The latest DC offering, with it’s confetti-colored Hot Topic aesthetic, is a fun time at the movies. But like it’s similarly underwhelming big brother Batman V. Superman, this movie unnerves me in a way that goes beyond just poor film making. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

SUICIDE-SQUAD-55Squad is an ostensibly anti-superhero film about a handful of colorful villains that, through the cloak-and-dagger machinations of some deadpanned civil servants, get drafted into the hero business. They can save the world in exchange for a commuted prison sentence, or they can get dead. Even so, it’s a hard sell. These baddies are, apparently, the only people in the entire DC universe equipped to take on Enchantress, an extra-dimensional witch-demon who is, I don’t know, trying to bend mankind to her will? As ever, villain motivations are a little fuzzy here.

The story itself is about as messy as it could be, and not it a good way. The entire first act is Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller sitting in a restaurant with a colleague, delivering endless backstory and exposition between bites of steak, and even then the film manages to forget to introduce some of it’s characters (sorry, who is Slipknot?). It then proceeds to hit all the predictable notes, never letting you forget what kind of people the protagonists are (at one point, Harley Quinn smashes a store window for no discernible reason and drawls, “What do you expect, we’re bad guys!”, as if we were likely to forget).

As sloppy as the writing was, I’d happily overlook it if, just this once, DC had given me some interesting, fleshed-out characters to work with. Swing and a miss. All attempts at depth and humanity fall just short, resulting in a coterie of criminals that never really feel like much Suicide-Squad-Trailer-El-Diablo-Fire-xlarge-large_trans++Rp36Ti1MFCYr8PMuS2fHb17hoDUspm84EYl8tHPMRlkmore. Deadshot (Will Smith) stands out as the most sympathetic character, a man who is trying to reconcile the killer he is with the father he wants to be. Otherwise, there isn’t much to relate to here. June Moone (Cara Delevingne) is an archeologist with all the charisma of a Crate and Barrel lampshade. Diablo (Jay Hernandez) is a former kingpin who murdered his family in a fit of rage. Killer Croc and Boomerang, who between the two of them accrued about ten lines of dialogue, zero of which were memorable. And these were the least troubling of the crew. No, the majority of my beef lies with loony lovers Joker and Harley Quinn.

JOKER1On the one hand, you’ve got the Joker (Jared Leto), who’s particular brand of crazy is surprisingly formulary. It’s hard not to draw comparisons between this Joker and the Heath Leger performance that preceded it. The scariest part of Leger’s Joker was his restraint; his outward insane levity was constantly at war with the much darker madness within. Leto’s Joker wasn’t quite so…layered. And for as much unjustified screen time as he had in this film, there should have been layers.

Speaking of missing layers, we have Harley Quinn, who in true DC fashion is yet another female character not allowed to cover more than 40% of her body at any given time. As with the Joker, we are told that she’s nuts rather than allowed to see any evidence supporting that fact. Not to mention the fact that she’s fetishized beyond the point of relateability. I present exhibit A…

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I don’t want to say there was nothing redeeming about Suicide Squad. It boasts some pretty impressive cinematography and special effects. You might even say that Harley Quinn is a metaphor for the film itself: pretty to look at, and not nearly as wild as it could have been.

Whitney Weldon

 

 

Fangirly Exposed: ASMR Videos

It’s not as weird as you think, I swear.

Actually, that might depend on who you ask. ASMR (not a clinical term) is a sensory response only experienced by a certain percentage of the population. Exactly what that percentage might be currently remains a mystery. What researchers do know is that not everyone experiences this very nebulous, and as yet unexplained, phenomenon.

So what is it? Good question. Have you every gotten that tingly feeling that starts at your scalp and then slowly works it’s way to your limbs? Maybe it happens when you’re getting a haircut or talking to a friend.  Triggers can be as diverse as the people who experience them, but there are a few common denominators: soft voices, personal attention, hand movements, and a non-threatening atmosphere are only a few.

So you might be thinking, “Yo, Whitney, how does the fall under Fangirly’s purview? You guys write about pop culture, not fringe science.” Very astute.

Turns out, there’s a burgeoning internet subculture surrounding ASMR. YouTube is lousy with what’s called ASMR “trigger videos”. Here are a few of my favorites. Heads up- theses videos work better with headphones.

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Easily my favorite ASMR channel. Asmrrequests tends to be more innovative and creative with it’s content. I also recommend this video.

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I only recently discovered ALBinwhisterland, who was recommended by a friend (word up, Amanda). This channel is quickly growing on me.

3) And finally…

Another of my favorite channels, whispersunicorn has the added benefit of being quietly, and surprisingly, hilarious.  A quality we value highly here.

So that’s it. My not-so-dirty little secret. What are you favorite ASMR videos? Hit us up in our comments section!

Whitney Weldon

The Reviews Are In: The Conjuring 2

Here’s a not-so-secret secret about me: I suffer from sleep paralysis. It’s a sleep disorder that causes the sufferer to maintain consciousness while the body remains asleep, causing temporary immobility. Sounds awful, right? It is. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is the hallucinations. More often than not I see a dark, menacing, vaguely human shape standing Who-Plays-Demon-Conjuring-2in the corner on my room. Or, if I’m really lucky, I’ll see something waving to me from inside my closet. These experiences are the closest I’ve ever come to pure, mortal terror.

And, for the record, that’s pretty close.

The point of this story is that there is not, nor will there ever be, anything more terrifying than our own imaginations. And I further postulate that there isn’t one filmmaker working today who understands this better than James Wan, directer of The Conjuring 2. He knows how to give an audience a creaky floorboard, an empty rocking chair, and a shadowy presence looming slightly off-screen, and let their brains fill in the gaps.

This sequel to 2013’s The Conjuring (also directed by James Wan) once again stars Vera the-conjuring-2-movieFarminga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, reputed paranormal investigators. This film, like it’s predecessor, tackles a real-life haunting, the case of the Enfield Poltergeist. In London, a single mother and her four children are terrorized by what they believe is the spirit of the previous owner of their home. Ed and Lorraine travel to England as agents of the Catholic church to determine if the haunting is legitimate.

Vera Farminga and Patrick Wilson are as groovy as ever and their onscreen romance continues to be the beating heart of the Conjuring franchise. Frances O’Connor also shines as the cockney mother at her wits end, as she and her family battle overdue rent, leaky

The Hunter. Photo by Matt Nettheim.

The Hunter. Photo by Matt Nettheim.

pipes, and the forces of darkness.

The best thing about this film is it’s restraint. Wan has a talent for building tension and then letting it diffuse, only to have it build again. It’s terrifying, but not relentlessly so. The audience gets the chance to recover from a scare before another one gets thrown at them.

I think it’s safe to say that the Conjuring franchise is horror for people who don’t like horror. These movies aren’t crude, or gory, or campy. They’re thoughtful and poignant and frequently so scary that half of your time will be spent actively trying to not crap yourself. You know, if that’s something you’re into.

Whitney Weldon 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fangirly Crush of the Week: Michael Fassbender

How.

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No.

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Why must God always allow bad things happen to good heartthrobs?

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YES. Exactly.

Today I made a discovery that shook me to my core. My very core. Roughly around the area of my skeleton. The boniest part of me, readers. Because I saw X-Men: Apocalypse this week, I decided to look back at the Fangirly archives and see what we’d written about star Michael Fassbender. The answer? DISGUSTINGLY LITTLE. He’s never been the crush of any week. Nary a mention to be found.

I’m nothing short of shamed and astonished. How did Iggy Friggin’ Azalea get love and recognition before this guy?

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I guess what I really wanted to say is, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that Ellen and I have so deeply betrayed the public’s trust. You’ve come to depend on us to be nothing if not exhaustive in our celebrity crushing. Such an oversight is inexcusable. We will be taking the next seven days off from writing Crushes of the Week to reevaluate, spend time with our celebrity crushes, and get our priorities in order. We’d also like to apologize to Michael Fassbender, who has been our rock through this trying time. Thank you for being the incarnation of masculine perfection.

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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

Crushes of the Week: Our Top Ten Harry Potter Crushes

Only a millennial can understand the oppressive nature of a Harry Potter crush. It’s the kind of love that won’t let you go, and to honor that love, we’re listing our most violent Potter Passions.

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10) Snape

There are two things we can’t resist here a Fangirly: a long-term undercover sting operation and undying love. So… Snape.

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We get why Lily didn’t go for it (can’t blame a girl for not wanting to live on a Hogwarts teacher’s salary?), but Snape really knew how to make stalking your childhood sweetheart seem only fractionally as creepy as it should have been.

9) Sirius Black

Sirius was my first HP crush, and the passion has yet to abate. Nine years old isn’t too young to learn that sexy bad boys are always a good choice when you’re looking for auxiliary guardianship of your only child. If they aren’t in a Dementor-guarded gulag or on the run from the law, they make bitchin’ godfathers. (Get it? Bitchin’? Cause… he was a dog sometimes?)

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8) The Shrunken Head from the Knight Bus

Would you believe me if I said I have my reasons?

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7 and 6) Fred and George Wesley

The most common of all wizarding crushes. They were funny. They were entrepreneurial. And they were identical. I want to explain why that is such a major selling-point for me, but my mom reads this blog sometimes. I’ll try to keep this post clean, even though my Fred and George fantasies are anything but.

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5) Dobby

What do you want me to say?! I like a guy with an independent streak.

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*swoon*

4) Neville Longbottom

Who could have guessed that the little chub-scout from The Sorcerer’s Stone  would become one of the franchises most reputable Dream-sicles?

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It’s fortunate for him that he finally grew into his hunkiness, because “Mrs. Longbottom” is going to be a tough sell for anybody.

3) Barty Crouch Jr.

I’m not sure what it is about Barty Crouch Jr. Maybe it’s his daddy issues. Maybe it’s the way he licks his lips like he doubled-down on his last dose of Risperdal.

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I’m only saying that if you don’t want to raise a generation of confused women, don’t cast sexy British actors to play mass murders. That’s just common sense.

2) Victor Krum

I don’t think it’s an accident that “Krum” rhymes with “yum”, you guys.

It’s also worth noting that lakeside calisthenics are the the way to any woman’s heart

And finally,

1) Tom Riddle

I understand that he grew into a nose-less genocidal maniac. I get that he murdered people. I’m aware that he had a weird relationship with a snake.

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But you need to understand that I’m only human. I can take only so much.

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And I think YOU’LL find that won’t be necessary. Let’s do this.

Whitney Weldon

Fangirl Poetry: An Ode to Agent Carter

Some TV Execs are pleased with themselves, over at ABC

“Women have never had it so good!” they’ll say in synchrony

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They’ll say, We gave them a show,

with a Lady Hero,

But cancelled ’cause ratings were low

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They’ll go on, We gave it a shot,

But the ratings were not

Worth it’s prize prime-time spot

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They’ll go,  We don’t need someone like Peg on TV

A dynamite gal, an upper-case “She”

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A character with brains, and brawn, heart

A woman who isn’t afraid to be smart

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There are plenty of others, to whom girls can look up

Like those ladies on YouTube who barf in a cup

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So we’ll let the ax fall, and give Carter the boot,

The fans, how they’ll wail, though their point will be moot

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But we on the ground know the truth, ever tragic:

With Peggy gone, TV lost something magic

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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

The Reviews Are In: Captain America Civil War

captain-america-civil-war-robert-downey-jr-chris-evansMost superhero movies (actually, most movies in general) are more than willing to do the ethical legwork for you. The bad guys (easily distinguished by facial scars, a dark color pallet, or customary bad attitude) are always wrong, and the good guys (identifiable by their steely-eyed commitment to the greater good and general dishy-ness) are always right. Even those films that dip their toes into moral relativism always eventually find their way to the safer, more solid narrative ground of Righteous Hero v. Dastardly Villain. But what happens when everybody looks like a good guy? What is expected of us as an audience when everyone’s actions, including the guy in spandex we came to see, can be understood as right or wrong? For once, maybe the question of morality is open to our interpretation.

Such is the case with the third Captain America stand alone, Civil War. The film opens like 3049303-56d4dc054b73ayou’d expect: good guys going after bad guys. But when the good guys (here represented by Cap, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Falcon) make a mistake with fatal consequences, there is a global outcry for a little accountability, in the form of UN sanctioned panel that would oversee the Avengers from here on out. Some, like Iron Man, Black Widow, and Vision, see this as a necessary compromise. Others, namely Cap, Scarlet Witch, and Falcon, see it as an undermining of what the Avengers are supposed to be- a group a super friends with the autonomy needed to keep the world safe from handsome alien conquistadors and shapely, artificially intelligent robots. The result can only be described as a, ahem, civil war.

1401x788-Captain-America-Trailer.jpgIf you’re worried that this movie sounds too much like a talky political drama, rest easy. Civil War has even more than the usual amount of ass-kicking. But what’s really cool about this movie is how the Russo Brothers managed to take out almost all the cartoonishness of superhero violence. There’s a scene, pretty early in the film, where Captain America falls from a ledge and gets beaten around like a rag doll before making an uncharacteristically graceless landing. And, even more surprising, he doesn’t immediately bounce back. Right away we get the feeling that, in this film at least, violence has consequences. And unlike many other action movies of it’s kind, it feels as though the fight scenes are built around the set pieces, and not the other way around. The characters have to adapt to and use their surroundings in a way that makes the idea of a super-soldier and a guy in a cat-suit going at it feel a little more grounded.

Also, I’d like to take this moment to mention Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, andbuc0410-trl-v0141027-173551 everything I want to say can be summed up in one onamonapia: meow. Seriously, don’t change a thing.

In fact, there isn’t one weak link in this cast. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is predictably wonderful, Robert Downey Jr. is invariably the coolest guy on screen, and Chris Evans
continues to give Captain America a depth and charm that has managed to turned one of Marvel’s most stoic (and frankly, boring) heroes into a surprisingly relatable  dude.

In this humble Fangirl’s opinion, Civil War is the best superhero movie we’ve gotten thus far. It’s beautifully made, and asks more of its audience than to simply Captain-America-Civil-War-Movie-Wallpaper-5go along for the ride. You feel obligated to choose a side, and for once, it might not be the same side as the guy with his name on all the posters. Right and wrong is a matter of perspective and actions have far reaching consequences. Does that sound a little familiar?

Whitney Weldon

 

 

 

Fangirly Crush of the Week: James Norton

Have you ever seen a man who looks so good in period clothes that you wonder why men ever stopped wearing cravats and breeches?

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Now you have.

James Norton has been a moderately progressive aristocrat in Belle. He’s played a lovelorn suitor in Death Comes to Pemberly. He’s been a laconic bad boy in Happy Valley. But most recently he’s been scorching the small screen as Sydney Chambers, country vicar who just can’t play by the rules, in Grantchester. Ne’re have I seen a dude make a dog collar look quite as Fresh to Death as it does here (I’m issuing a swoon alert on the following picture)-

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In the words of the Immortal Bard… damn.

If you’ve allowed this specimen of English manhood go unnoticed, I offer you my 1364037662126magnanimous pardon, as his CV consists almost exclusively of films and shows from the
other side of the pond. But between his increasingly impressive credentials and his perfect hair, a career in Hollywood isn’t inconceivable.  If you want to familiarize yourself with his body… of work, you can catch the latest season of Grantchester on your local PBS station. Just be warned that James Norton is going to ruin you for all other tall, blue eyed, square-jawed Brits.

Whitney