May the Fourth FOAD

An old college chum and I am in touch with on social media posted a Space Shooters image and tagged it with the name of this punnish fan day. And I say, what a great May the Fourth to reflect on the colossal failure of this franchise to stick a respectable landing, to see just how much their latest bullshit has tarnished anything worthwhile in the fun cheesy garbage that came before. What a great day to commemorate the dissolution of any interest I have in pursuing anything Disney has to offer from this cash cow ever again, for me to celebrate not feeling even slightly compelled to drop money on a ticket for their shit, or get their streaming service, or even lift a finger to pirate it.

I’ve dedicated a post like this to Rose Tico before, but better to dedicate it to Kelly Marie Tran and John Boyega, who are done with the shitshow that was clearly done with them before it was over. No offense to people who can get past the burn to enjoy the old stuff in their way, but that ain’t me. Have fun with your stuff, but respect where others of us are coming from. We’re done.

Batwoman Biff Pow

Whammo!  I’m not exactly a media influencer, but I must add my dos centavos to the ruckus about the new season of Batwoman because there’s a lot of toxic waste out there that needs a balance.  Here it be:  The replacement batwoman is great and this show deserves a second shot, for anyone who actually cares about batpeeps in general.

One:  Do you not care about batpersons?  Do you not care for superheroes?  Do you balk at media that reinforces cultural ideas about how crime is the result of personal villainy rather than systemic issues and should be addressed with violence?  Then don’t bother with this show, or any other super-hero show.

Two:  Are you the kind of anti-SJW chode that ripped on the first season of Batwoman but is now suddenly acting like replacing the lesbian superhero played by a bisexual actor with a lesbian superhero played by a bisexual black actor is somehow ruining something you didn’t like in the first place?  Don’t bother.  Also, figure out what went wrong with your life, or fuck off and die for all I care.

Three:  Javicia Leslie has charisma and a good screen presence.  She can be dignified, cute, funny, intimidating, whatever she needs to be for the part – at least from what I’ve seen in the few episodes that have aired.  The ratings suck, which means the show is probably doomed, but that’s a real shame.

New lady is great.  Anyone who is hating on her was either too invested in the story the first season set up (shake it off bud – it’s over), or is racist sexist homophobic or some combo of the three.  The show had a corporate-fascist mercenary police force shown far too sympathetically as a baked-in feature of its storyline, and changing the main character gives an opportunity to back off that fundamentally bad idea.

Best of luck to everyone involved in the show as it now stands.  You deserve it, and you’ll need it.

Quickie Thoughts on Recent CW

I have a few thoughts on recent happenings on the CW, like, CBS/Warner Television, not Content Warning, though usually my reviews include some of those.  I just don’t have the time to do it up like I used to in Media Reviews, so this is going to be real brief.

Legends of Tomorrow:  Has been renewed, will have its new season sometime this year.  I feel like it should have ended in 2020.  Of the CW slate getting crippled by COVID, they did the best job of having a satisfying season.  In fact,  I feel it was their best season ever, and ended with a cliffhanger one could easily write off without ever seeing the conclusion to (something out of a Big Lebowski daydream).  I have a lot more specific thoughts about Legends if anyone’s curious in the comments, but I’ll leave it off with this for the post: It’s nice the remaining cast members have a job, but artistically speaking last season should have been the end of it.  I’ll be very impressed if the show proves me wrong.

Black Lightning and Supergirl are cancelled:  But they have one more season left, here in 2021.  Black Lightning in 2020 had the second best season of the CW shows I watched, and had far and away the best “Crisis on Infinite Earths” tie-in episode.  Actually, if you take superheroes seriously, it was far better than Legends.  I don’t, so I preferred the lighthearted show.  But the drama and intrigue of superhumans on Black Lightning?  Better than anything on the CW slate.  Plus whoever did fashion design for the show should get more gigs in a hurry – they’re great.  2021 will see an episode of BL serving as a “soft pilot” for a Painkiller spinoff series.  I doubt it will get picked up, but the guy playing Khalil is a very worthy action hero.  He’s hella built, has sick moves, and is a good actor.  I hope he gets movies.  Everyone else is great too, honestly, from “ABC After-school Special” Mom to “Jean Grey with Self Esteem” daughter.  Good luck in your careers.

Meanwhile Supergirl was one of the shows hard hit by COVID (Flash and Arrow were the worst).  Did they finish their plot arc last season?  I don’t even remember by now.  The X-Files’s Mitch “Sexy Bald Daddy Type” Pileggi and Cara “Appears in IMDb on a Movie with Yours Truly Great American Satan” Buono were going to exterminate humanity or something?  Jesse Rath, who plays Brainiac on the show, has done some great work there.  Again, I hope he gets some good jobs after the show is gone.

As for the rest of the show, really, everybody did as good a job as they could, given how cutthroat and difficult TV is, and I’m sorry to see them shitcanned.  In the awkward lurching foolery of the show you could sense behind-the-scenes problems were on display.  It’s especially a shame that Superman is coming to the CW exactly as Supergirl is cancelled, sending the message that “nobody wants woman-centered entertainment, men sell.”  C’est lavie.

The show was ridiculous, but they tried.  Katie McGrath was Queen of the World as Lena Luthor, but in movies she’s just a babysitter that gets triple-murdered by dinosaurs.  It’s a fuckin’ shame.  Supergirl’s human sister played by Chyler Leigh was a fun character for me.  She drinks embarrassing quantities of wine and lesbian processes like a big dog.

Goodbye, ladies.  It really was nice knowing you.

Spoiler Warning  for Something that aired a Year Ago, who cares?

Stephen Amell’s sendoff in Arrow was fucking hilarious.  He was fighting a bunch of 1-HP ghosts until they “got him” somehow, leaving him with barbecue sauce on his face and just enough life to say goodbye to all his homies.  Then he was undead for a minute and went to heaven with his wife.  The end.  He did a good job on that show, but TV is a mess.  As show creators, unless you know for a fact you have a set limited run, you’re just incredibly unlikely to make a satisfying story arc for a series.  Meanwhile Flash just literally could not finish their season at all.  Big mess.

There’s artistic intentions in these shows, but they are quickly lost in the business of making them happen.  But effort is made, and I do enjoy watching the little successes and failures of individual episodes and seasons.  I feel this is a case of “no ethical consumption under late capitalism” because you know these actors are paid shit and thrown away at a moment’s notice, and 99% of people on the other side of the camera are even more disposable and exploited.  All entertainment industries are rotten as hell.

The good news:  You want content that centers indigenous people?  You miss Cleverman?  I don’t know if it’s being aired on CW or just on their streaming service, but there’s a Canadian show called Trickster that’s looking pretty good two episodes in.  (Actually the whole first season is probably available from the Canadian source in some way.)  My fave character is the MC’s mom played by Crystle Lightning.  She’s an adorable fucked up badass.  I also like the show’s treatment of alcoholism and drug use as just part of everyday life, sad but inevitable.  It doesn’t waste time with all the usual shit and feels more like real life, if maybe a bit fantastic in some ways.  I don’t know how y’all feel about shows playing with the line between being schizophrenic and being a shaman, so tread carefully if that’s a problem for you.

Also, BATWOMAN.  If you’re up on superhero TV, this is probably the one you were wondering about.  The premiere season was OK, had some plus and minus.  The constrained cast and generally depauperate universe gave the impression of a very limited budget, the show has the same fashy ideas about crime control that Arrow had, but…  The actress playing Batwoman literally quit!  The villains and side characters and story were all tied to her, they’d have to recast or cancel, right?  Maybe make some excuse why her face is different, like surgery from getting blown up?

No!  They decided to let the character get mysteriously disappeared and have a new lady take up the batmantle.  The decision seems absurd and you’ve probably seen people hating on it, but one episode in, I can say – it’s looking good!  She’s good.  Particularly if you feel the sting of Black Lightning’s black lesbian superhero being lost to cancellation, pick this one up.  I have no doubt she’s going to do this well.  She jokes, she brawls, she has her dramatic feels.  I’ll be interested to see how she does when she has a chance to do romance.

That’s about all for now.  Not as brief as I expected, but far from a comprehensive look at the shows themselves or my full thoughts on them.  Discuss in the comments, if you like or have questions.

The English Faust Book, Fury

Content Warnings: Blood and Guts, Kinda Dark Thoughts.

I didn’t think much of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, despite the hype.  It seemed slight and breezy.  Might make a good play, but as prose, not that interesting.  It was an adaptation of The English Faust Book, or The Historye of the Damnable Life and Deserued Death of Doctor Iohn Faustus:  A Discourse of the Most Famous Doctor Iohn Faustus of Wittenberg in Germany — Coniurer and Necromancer —  Wherein is Declared Many Strange Things That He Himselfe Had Seene and Done in the Earth, and in the Ayre, with His Bringing vp, His Trauailes, Studies, and Last End.  Marlowe basically did the kiddie adaptation of some adult material (not that it makes Marlowe’s Faustus child appropriate).

The play is a play, the book is prose, so it surely fares better in comparison on dead pages.  The story isn’t amazing, it’s offensive in the expected ways, and it’s boring in a way one might not expect, being 21st century people.  There are big sections where the writer just wants to show off their knowledge of interesting things in heaven and earth, literally a travelog of “hot spots to visit in Renaissance Europe.”

However, it has one hot advantage over Marlowe’s Faustus.  When the action heats up, it’s bad ass.  Here’s our man Faust summoning devils:

…Then began Doctor Faustus to call on Mephostophiles the Spirit – and to charge him in the name of Belzebub, to appear there personally: then presently the devill began so great a rumor in the wood, as if heaven and earth would have come together, with wind, that trees bowed their tops to the ground: then fell the devill to bleat as if the whole wood had been full of Lyons, and suddenly about the circle ran the devill, as if a thousand wagons had beene running together on paved stones. After this, at the four corners of the wood it thundered horribly, with such lightnings as if the whole world to his seeming had beene on fire…  suddenly over his head hung hovering in the air a mighty Dragon: then calls Faustus again after his devilish manner, at which there was a monstrous cry in the wood, as if hell had been open, and all the tormented souls crying to God for mercy…

Here’s the first time devils get mad about Faust getting cold feet:

Suddenly upon these words came such a whirlwind about the place that Faustus thought the whole house would have come down, all the doors in the house flew off the hooks: after all this his house was full of smoke, and the floor covered over with ashes… and flying up, Faustus was taken and thrown down into the hall that he was not able to stir hand nor foot: then round about him ran a monstrous circle of fire, never standing still, that Faustus fried as he lay & thought there to have beene burned.  Then cried he out to his spirit Mephostophiles for help, promising him he would live in all things as he had vowed…  Hereupon appeared unto him an ugly devill, so fearfull and monstrous to behold that Faustus durst not look on him.  The devill said, “What wouldst thou have Faustus? …What mind art thou in now?”  Faustus answered, he had forgot his promise, desiring him of pardon, and he would talk no more of such things.  “Thou wert best so to doe,” and so vanished from him.

And I’m gonna spoil this for you.  These are literally the best three paragraphs in a book that is full of boring crap.  Here’s what Faust looked like after the devil came for his due:

But when it was day, the students that had taken no rest that night arose and went into the hall in which they left Doctor Faustus…  They found not Faustus, but all the hall lay besprinkled with blood, his brains cleaving to the wall, for the devill had beaten him from one wall against another: In one corner lay his eyes, in another his teeth, a pitifull and fearfull sight to behold.  Then began the students to wail and weep for him, and sought for his body in many places: lastly they came into the yard, where they found his body lying on the horse dung, most monstrously torn and fearfull to behold, for his head and all his joints were dashed in pieces.  The forenamed students and masters that were at his death, have obtained so much, that they buried him in the village where he was so grievously tormented.

There’s something about this violence I find appealing.  I’m not big into horror where blood and brains are dripping off the wall.  But the extreme nature of the movement – trees bending to the ground, fire and lightning blasting all around, men being tossed like rag dolls – it’s exciting.  And the cause of it too.  Oh no, Faustus, you gave yourself to Satan, and now you are his plaything.  Throw yourself in the garbage and see what happens.

There’s a part in the 1941 movie version of The Devil and Daniel Webster where sexy succubus Simone Simon is dancing with a lost soul, and as they twirl his feet are lifted off the ground – light as dead leaves or empty clothing.  In my memory of this there was a trick with camera speed to make the moment more unnatural and alarming.  It has that motion, the fury of hell sweeping you away.

It’s a shame this stuff is all very xtian, and that it pretty much has to be.  I’d like to own a piece of the action – the movement and fury.  What is this feeling for me?  I have some primal feelings about motion and motivation, this is probably related.  The feeling of being helpless before the fury of violent forces, that can’t be good, can it?

Maybe it works because in the real world we are helpless before the world ruining evil of the human ability to elaborately diffuse blame, of the rich to absolve themselves of their direct hand in fucking us all to death because the weapon they used was the abstraction of money – something they can’t see.  And there’s a dark feeling like, why not just turn that into a literal bomb and sweep me away?  It’s faster, more exciting.  A lot of the dark humor of the 1980s comes from this attitude, inherited from Dr. Strangelove.

Hail Satan.  Get wrecked.  Why not?

In seriousness, my ultimate goal is to try to treat the art of hell and devils as neutral to positive, and all things holy as despicable.  I gotta change up this situation in my writing.

Faust is Real, or Mephistopheelin’ Groovy

Content Warnings: Satan, God, Religion, Sexism, Violence, the Occult, the one link to youtube is NSFW audio, some image links are a bit gory or lurid Renaissance style.

Alright, I haven’t done a deep dive into the hard facts on this, but based on some shallow research, it looks like Faust – the guy who sold his soul to The DevilTM – was an actual historical figure.  Christ’s miracles weren’t attested to in any writing that survives from within his own life, but the misdeeds of Faust were already being fictionalized within his own.  Like the historicity of Jesus, Faust’s existence isn’t important.  It’s just fun to say.

I did a Faust once.  I was having a lonely time in life, feeling melodramatic on my way home from work, or maybe it was on the way home from the dive bar I went to on my 21st birthday.  A wide busy suburban street without proper sidewalks, just two feet of grass and garbage against a short chain link fence.  I might have ducked into an unlit side street overgrown with short, untrimmed trees.  I recall it was darker than the headlights and taillights of randos driving by would have allowed.

I went to my knees and I said something like, “Satan, I give you my soul forever if you appear to me and show me that anything magical exists in this world.”  At the time I was working for Pizza Hut, where all of my pay raises over the years were erased by increases to the minimum wage, and I was already half bald and still a virgin, so forgive my melodrama.  I later realized based on the way I phrased it, Satan could let me live to a hundred a philosophical materialist, then show up on my deathbed and snatch me up.  Well, it was going to happen anyway.  Might make dying a little more interesting.

distorted goat head pentagram

The first version of Faust I read was Goethe’s play, which was surely inspired by Marlowe’s much earlier play, which was an adaptation of a then very recent translation of the quite fictionalized but not long posthumous German biography of Faust himself.  A little merry-go-round between those cultures.  I’ve been reading the Marlowe play Doctor Faustus at the moment, from this 2005 edition.  From what I’ve read in the foreword, editions can be extremely varied.

This is the frustrating thing for anyone who seeks authenticity in antique texts.  Marlowe’s play survived in a small number of iterations from within a few years of when he died young.  Which was closest to the original was argued extensively one way, then the other.  What we can know with certainty is it was changed in subtle but significant ways within just a few years of his passing.

Before Marlowe there were pamphlet-style legends about Faust, oral legends, and these influenced each other, and by the time the full-length (24 pages or less) German Faust book was printed, how much did it include or omit?  What was lost?  But it’s a mistake to try to wonder after those kind of answers in the first place, as the legends were much inspired by stories that preceded Faust’s birth, which in turn surely had cultural cross-pollination and roots reaching before written history.  It was bullshit all the way down.  But my modern mind, trained by late twentieth century copyright culture (Disney propaganda), is always trying to find that original.

…I return to this draft having read most of Doctor Faustus.  It’s a slim little play.  While it would take more effort to perform than to read, it would still be a very short show.  No intermission.  It’s also not very deep.  It’s just japes and foolery and some token religiosity to keep the censors off the playwright’s back.  I’m a fan of badassery in fiction, and there’s a truly macho quote in here, but it’s wasted in the mouth of a toss-off character that never appears again:

“I am Wrath.  I had neither father nor mother: I lept out of a lion’s mouth when I was scarce half an hour old, and ever since I have run up and down the world with this case of rapiers, wounding myself when I had nobody to fight withal.  I was born in Hell; and look to it, for some of you shall be my father.”

That line alone moves me, more than the scene where Faustus is turned invisible so he can box the pope’s ears.  But then, speeches about being PO’d tend to be rousing – like that Russell Crowe bullshit in Gladiator, the dueling taunts in Romeo and Juliet, or the opening line of The Cask of Amontillado.  It does contrast starkly with the featherweight treatment of the supposedly heavy material in the play – rejecting jeezy, throwing your soul away – and makes me wish that I was reading something with more heft.  Heft like a case of rapiers.

Speaking of badassery, my favorite detail from the wikipedia page on a possible historical Faust is this:  He allegedly died in an explosion, an alchemical experiment in a hotel room.  His mangled body was reported to have the mystical property of always facing away from heaven.  His neck was broken such that however you turned the body, it would face the ground.  Bad ass.

…Having read a bit more, oh my GAWD Faustus is a flip-flopping inconstant binch!  Behold:

OLD MAN:
I see an angel hovers o’er thy head,  And, with a vial full of precious grace,
Offers to pour the same into thy soul:  Then call for mercy, and avoid despair.

FAUSTUS:
Ah, my sweet friend, I feel  Thy words to comfort my distressed soul!
Leave me a while to ponder on my sins…

OLD MAN:
I go, sweet Faustus; but with heavy cheer,  Fearing the ruin of thy hopeless soul.
(Leaves.)

FAUSTUS:
Accursed Faustus, where is mercy now?  I do repent; and yet I do despair:
Hell strives with grace for conquest in my breast:
What shall I do to shun the snares of death?

MEPHISTOPHILIS:
Thou traitor, Faustus, I arrest thy soul
For disobedience to my sovereign lord:
Revolt, or I’ll in piece-meal tear thy flesh.

FAUSTUS:
Sweet Mephistophilis, entreat thy lord  To pardon my unjust presumption,
And with my blood again I will confirm  My former vow I made to Lucifer!

All that shit, loosely translated:

SOME RANDO:
Still doin’ that Satan stuff, huh?  How about…  Jesus?

FAUSTUS:
Oh god, really?!  Yes!  Jesus rocks!  Sign me up!

SOME RANDO:
(Leaves.)

FAUSTUS:
I suck so much, gotta get redeemed ‘n’ shit.

MEPHISTOPHILIS:
What the fuck, bro?  I thought we were cool!

FAUSTUS:
What?  Oh yeah, Hail Satan.  WTF was I thinking LOL.

Goethe’s Faust was a heavy-headed intellectual with grandiose feelings, Marlowe’s was a child that couldn’t decide whether to drink his juice box or take nap time like a good boy.  (Off topic:  Both plays were hugely sexist, Marlowe’s less offensively because it was such a slight and simply written work.)  Either way, I’m not advocating for either of these stories.  A case has been made that Christopher Marlowe was, at least, an atheist.  And gay.  He also was a spy and may have been a brash homicidal asshole, which are not endearing traits.  But the atheist interpretation of Doctor Faustus is fun, and not without merit.

The Faust literature and other stories of sinners, as well as stories of saints such as the contents of the Golden Legend, are full of fantastically morbid and sensual imagery.  They were an imaginative outlet for European people in scary times, when modern medicine hadn’t reduced the frequency of mysterious or horrible deaths around us,  and before global corporate capitalism had pushed the horrors of production onto poorer nations.

You’d never want to be a sinner, oh no.  That’s the worst.  But they’re interesting to watch.  As a moral lesson.  Wouldn’t it be just the worst if somebody turned invisible and punched the pope?  Heaven forfend.  Nothing appealing in any of this, I assure you.  And you don’t want to see the saints suffer do you?  It’s terrible what bad people did to those holy sweet saints.  Throwing them in bondage and scouring their (presumed) fair flesh, oh no.

But now we’re in gentler times, for the “first world.”  We aren’t face to face with death and depredation – not the same as the people dealing with the avarice that props us up and devastates faraway places.  I have personally never seen a person die, except on TV.  The constant wars and plagues of medieval to Renaissance Europe, the immediacy of having your family with you instead of carted off to a big hospital and closed behind doors – these guaranteed most people had some experience of seeing bodies corrupted broken or bereft.  Sci fi and fantasy weren’t off the ground yet, but the fictions of the day – with or without the seal of canon – provided entertainment morbid enough to reflect the world as they knew it.

Maybe that’s getting a bit off topic.  Doctor Faustus was pretty mild in its violence.  But the perversity is there.  The desire to throw off the rigid social order of the day to get what you want, live for yourself.  It’s a shame the idea of achieving freedom is often bound to selfishness – as Ayn Rand’s vile religion demonstrates.  I imagine it’s because when we are indoctrinated to the mores of our cultures, we are told it’s because doing otherwise would be selfish.  We sacrifice what we desire to get the social harmony we all need, per the dogma.  But you can be free without saying “fuck the world.”  If anything, greed enslaves us all.

Again, off topic.  I don’t know what I want to say about Faust, about Doctor Faustus.  Faust in most iterations is, ostensibly, a cautionary tale for xtians.  It can be a cautionary tale for satanic strivers as well – pursue freedom from god, throw off the shackles of the holy.  Hail some Satan.  But be kind, share the fruits of your infernal achievements with others, and you can go to Hell knowing you lived your life well.  And don’t wuss out like our boy Dr. F.  “Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven, That time may cease… That Faustus may repent and save his soul!”  What an embarrassment.

Content Warning: Led Zeppelin

Given that the dudes from Zepp were most likely rapists, and given that even if they weren’t, they literally have songs about impregnating teenage children, it’s fair for anyone to disregard their music, avoid them like the plague.  Certainly I don’t advocate giving them money.  But I would like, if I may, to make a puerile observation about one of their puerile songs, and if possible, keep the tenor of the discourse puerile as well.  That is to say, don’t read this if you don’t want to speak with light-hearted amusement at the horndogging foolery that is Led Zeppelin’s catalog.  Proceeding thusly…

[Read more…]

Not Paying Disney for This

From a spoiler here, a spoiler there, an opinion here, an opinion there, I’m getting an impressionistic look at the new Space Shooters film. And it sounds unappealing, uninteresting, not worth the ticket. Hell, not worth the bother to pirate. I didn’t watch Revengers: The Last One either. Disney brought me right up to the grand finales of their big cash cows and lost me there. Why?

Revengers had a big ensemble cast but always felt like at core it’s the Tony! Toni! Toné! show, and it doesn’t feel good. Robard Downy Jerk was fun in his first movie, because of the focus on wacky inventor stuff and because he rejected the military industrial complex. By the second one – by his own admission – he was “bored of the liberal agenda” and was just back to being an asshole. Some people insist they love characters who are assholes, but that ain’t me. The more I heard about The Last One, the more I realized it was a big exercise in fellating Downy with a good dose of fatphobia to wash it down. Nuh.

Space Shooters: The Franchise Awakens had these cute actors playing cute characters with heart, big bombastic visuals that spoke to my dreams, and a villain who was a great reflection of the kind of flailing infantile fuckboyism that’s taken over our world. The sequel kicked up the space wizard stuff all the notches, making Da Force feel like some Dragon Ball Z shit. It made the main characters of the first one feel less important, less like they have agency in any important way. It included people giving waaay too much latitude to a egotistical ass who got a lot of people killed. But it shook out all right, in my opinion.

It also introduced a character who was a sweaty nerd and an excellent audience stand-in – Rose Tico. Think of this: She was cute but not sexy or conventionally attractive. She was deglammed in dumpy overalls, sweating and trying hard. She cared more about furthering the story than our diffident man of action Finn. Come on, sexy main actor people!, she said. You have to be the heroes we’ve held you up to be! You have to engage in this star war!

But it sounds like the new movie was designed by committee (how many writers?) to avoid offending any given partisan audience member – which meant capitulating to the sexist racist misogynists who couldn’t see past their dicks to notice Rose Tico was for them, leaving the second most important character from the first movie in time-killing mode, walking back anything interesting they’d done in the second movie, and generally wasting the potential of a damn fine set-up.

That’s the impression I’m getting. I still haven’t seen Revengers: The Last One and Space Shooters has become even less interesting than that. In honor of Rose Tico, I’m not paying Disney for this bullshit anymore.

Spoilery Thoughts on Next Black Panther

This contains spoilers for Avengers: Whatever Whatever and Spider Man: Far From Shabby.

So I found out while watching the new Spiderman movie on my b’day yesterday that the people who had been snapped out of existence by T. Hanos were de-snapped 5 years later having not aged a day. For the purposes of spidermanning, it meant some kids were younger than their little siblings, which is kinda funny. But I started to think about the ramifications for other parts of that world.

Wakanda lost a king and got a replacement that was immediately rocked by some turmoil. Then that king got snapped, along with half of Wakanda, after battling and losing against an alien Grimace. I can’t imagine the average Wakandan thinks highly of T’Challa given those events, and do think they’d be quick to blame it on T’challa opening the borders.

I know some of the Black Panther comics involved dealing with movements for Wakandan democracy, but haven’t read them and don’t know how they went. But it’s a really safe bet the next Black Panther movie is going to include some amount of that.

T’Challa is going to come back to a kingdom in some level of turmoil. Maybe his mom will be acting as a regent, maybe his sister be queening. Maybe they will have capitulated to some form of democracy or republic. And you know there will be an agitator who is xenophobic, maybe racist, pushing to become a strongman “reformer” …

What I’m saying is I’d like to see if they make a bad guy of an African Trump. I don’t know how I’d feel about that kind of character being held up as symbolic of democracy itself, opposed only by an ostensibly righteous monarchy. That’s a mess. But it might be funny to see that orange scrote lampooned in the film. What do you think?

Just Go Ahead Now

     

Some weeks ago, I was at work and the radio chanced to play “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors. I was in a silly mood and felt the kitsch, was amused by the thing as I went about my labors. Some time after that, I was at home, remembering the song and vaguely recalling the video. My judgment skewed by the afterglow of that moment, I looked it up on youtube.

At work I only heard a bit and at low volume. At home with headphones on, the band in front of me? Something else.

I didn’t last a minute. That song is pisschristing horribad. It is the Abyss, and when you gaze too long, it tips its hat and says “milady.” It shivered my fucking timbers, matey.

Since then, I occasionally have moments when I think about it. It’s tempting to view the song as emblematic of something terrible in the American character at the time.

Grunge was a thing, and it had lessons for the masses. People can’t subsist on music about dancing and fucking. There’s more to life than that, and sometimes it’s best expressed with unpleasant nonsense words and guitar feedback.

But some people took the wrong lessons from that, decided Seattle = cool, expensive coffee, big sweaters, shitty facial hair. Two Princes was the dawn of the Starbucks playlist.

That part of our culture is what I like to call NPR liberalism. It’s about being just progressive enough to feel good about yourself and refusing to look with any depth at the class war, racism, misogyny, and cisheterofascism underlying this whole shitshow.

NPR liberals aren’t always bad people. A lot of them are swell, just obnoxiously blind to important shit.

They give at the church but never look at what the church does with that money outside the congregation. No matter how many times you tell them, yes, your church really is exporting violent homophobia, they will forget that shit like a goldfish.

They’re the moms that misgender you constantly because they will never in their hearts acknowledge your identity. They’re contrite when caught, but will never change because their cutesy memories of how they saw you as a child? More important to them than your real mental and physical health as an adult.

They just can’t remember anything that isn’t somehow nice or cute or reassuring. The extent to which they can remember what the big bad republicans are up to is only the extent to which it can be put back in a box with a sassy soundbite, put on a mug, put on a sweater.

NPR liberals have faith in the “blue wave” and the forward trajectory of history. Just wait, you don’t have to be loud. Go with the flow, have fun.

Two Princes is like “Don’t Worry Be Happy” for white people, but eh, maybe Don’t Worry Be Happy was the Don’t Worry Be Happy for white people. I think Chuck D said something about that once.

So the song puts me in mind of that strain of thought in the USA, and of how prevalent it was in my high school, in media of the ’90s. The dualism of our country then was the liberal sense you should be nice to people, with the anti-PC-flavored chuckles from the bros on the other side. Dharma and Greg were walking hand in hand, apple pie, yellow ribbons and A-10 warthogs.

Because the NPR liberal is committed to making nice, they never offered any opposition to the advance of American fascism. The belly piercing girls and darwin fish boys from my school grew up to be the moms and dads telling you family is more important than politics when you get pissed at grandpa Bruce and baby Braden for chatting holocaust denialism at Thanksgiving.

It’s tempting to look at the dopey grin and scragglebeard on that dude, at the floppy flaps on his shitty hat, to hear the Walmart-friendly “alternative” hootenanny jam, and to see that as emblematic of the blind eye people turn to keep things nice, reassuring, simple, peaceful.

It’s tempting, but surely just overblown nonsense. Mental vomit in response to the overwhelming saccharine smell.

So if you want to call me baby, just go ahead now.

Thoughts on ABC Freeform’s “Cloak and Dagger”

ABC made a TV show off Marvel’s comic “Cloak & Dagger,” and shit it out onto their new streaming service called “Freeform.” The concept was and is problematic (black teen boy with powers of dark hungry void, white teen girl with magical powers of light), but the execution – even in the comic days – was pretty progressive, humanist, not shabby.

The show could be better, could be worse. The kids are alright. One thing sucked tremendous though: It ended in zombies. Really boring shitty nonsense zombies. Can we be done with zombies yet? I heard Walking Dead has flushed all its good will with fans straight down the terlet. Can that be done? Can everything zombie be done?

The worst thing though? ABC Freeform. The only things of any interest at all on there are Cloak & Dagger and re-runs of The Nanny. I kid, I kid, I mean, I could watch Paul Blart on there too, what am I complaining about? Everybody cancel your streaming services of choice and hit it up.