We need to change the way we depict love in media. Some disclaimers. I’m mostly talking about hetero love. I’m no expert on queer representation except to say that we could do with some more of it. Today I wanted to talk about the way we depict hetero romances. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Guy pines over a girl, guy continues to pine for an unhealthy amount of time, he asks the woman out, end of story. Maybe the story is complicated by a boyfriend who just isn’t right for her. Maybe the girl hates the guy because a miscommunication caused the guy to say the wrong thing. There are some even worse examples. Examples were the guy follows the girl until romance happens, as seen in two separate episodes of Doctor Who penned by Stephen Moffat (Blink and the Christmas Special based on CS Lewis’ most famous book because god forbid you write your own goddamn story, Stephen). Apparently I still have some issues to work out with Stephen Moffat’s time on Doctor Who. I just have to remind myself. He’s gone now. He can’t hurt me. Anyway, another dodgy expansion of this horror show is where the girl repeatedly rejects the guy until he wears her down. Chances are if you’re on the same wavelength as me right now you can think of some examples. You might even get a sense of what’s wrong with telling this narrative repeatedly. Well, it’s time for another round of Zach had to unlearn some problematic shit and continues to regret his life choices.
So I’ve been thinking about the film Bohemian Rhapsody recently. It’s a film that I have complicated feelings over. My review might read: a film of good acting and subpar to decent filmmaking. It also reminded me how fond I am of the music of Queen, which was surely part of the impetus behind the film’s creation. There’s also the worrying stink of Bryan Singer and all the sexual assault allegations against him. All that aside, there was an interesting thought that occurred to me. The film seems to be pushing and pulling between two instincts. Is this a biopic of Freddie Mercury or Queen? The two might seem to be synonymous in some ways. The story of Queen is the story of Freddie Mercury, right? The film follows Freddie as the protagonist. From his quiet family life to his meteoric rise, to his attempts to break away from Queen, to their reunion for Live Aid. However, the film from a thematic standpoint is about the band as a family with Freddie as the wayward rock star son. It has been pointed out that the other members of Queen get to be the level-headed paternalistic members of the band while Mercury plays to the standard rock star tropes. Also, noteworthy is that the still-living members of Queen got some significant power over the film by virtue of licencing all their songs and being creative voices in the room. This no doubt led to the push and pull of the film’s narrative vs themes. With this in mind, can pop culture ever truly eulogise the dead?
Over the Christmas period, I went to go see Wreck-It Ralph 2 known as Ralph Breaks the Internet. Generally, I enjoyed the first film. The message about being constrained by society’s expectations of you is an interesting one and all the pieces fit together cohesively. The central theme of the second film is pretty solid too and one that spoke to me. It is, in essence, a story about not being possessive of your friends as they pursue their dreams. All in all, the film is pretty harmless. However, the representation of the Internet kept throwing me for a loop. Before the film, I generally expected the cringy adoption of internet culture by the film in a skin that would feel as hollow as the Emoji movie. While I watched the movie, I got a sense that there could be a darker, more caustic movie behind the movie. However, the fact that this was a big budget Disney affair meant that they had to play it safe. So, let’s take a look at the Internet. Before heading into this piece, obviously spoilers ahead.
We, as a society, tend to give women the short end of the stick. Right now, you might be thinking ‘duh’ or crying misandry right now. If you’re in that second group, I can’t help you with this piece. Sometime last year I was listening to the Slow Burn podcast about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. I had complicated thoughts about the whole thing. As someone who grew up in the 90s, I was distantly aware of the scandals. Bill Clinton mainly figured into my worldview via re-aired episodes of the Simpsons. Episodes were he appeared as a cool saxophone-playing guy, was replaced by an alien in their attempts to take over the Earth, and uh, flirted with Marge Simpson. Generally, as I learned more, there were a few conclusions I came to. What Clinton did was wrong, regardless of whether the relationship was consensual or not. The power imbalance between the middle-aged President and his twenty-year-old White House intern was always going to be fraught. Might we view Clinton in a different light in the wake of the #MeToo movement? Absolutely. However, at the time, it was clearly a partisan hack job. Those condemning the President weren’t about moral standards. You know why I think that? One of Clinton’s detractors was a fellow named Brett Kavanagh and we know what his track record with sexual assault is. There was only one person in the whole scandal who I thought was pretty blameless in all this. Monica Lewinsky herself.
As with TV, I didn’t see too many movies this year. The nature of some movies is such that release dates can be tricky to track in Australia if the movie isn’t a blockbuster title. Hence, I saw mostly tent-pole movies this year and mostly Disney properties at that. Chances are I’ll rarely go to a movie unless the buzz is quite high or it’s a movie series that I’ve been following for a while. My understanding is that most tent-pole releases have been pretty bland this year. However, this year did contain some great gems.
So that new Robin Hood movie came out. The one that has been described as a second-rate Batman Begins. The one where knights carry riot shield and the Crusades play out like Zero Dark Thirty. That one. One thing that intrigued me about the new film was the use of Robin’s dual identity as Robin of Locksley to make the Batman parallels even clearer. I just have one question throughout this mess. Why are we expecting the rich to save us? Batman is a billionaire who plays dress up to beat up the poor and disenfranchised. Robin Hood robs from the rich and gives to the poor while remaining a feudal lord. Green Arrow … has a goatee? I’m sure we’ll get to Green Arrow. At least he jumped into politics, although looking at recent blondes millionaires in politics, maybe not so good. So, let’s talk about the myth of the benevolent billionaire.
So, the trailer for the CGI remake of the Lion King came out recently. I’m not fond of it. The original film was perhaps one of my favourite films growing up. However, this string of ‘live-action’ remakes isn’t particularly compelling to me. However, there is one exception. The film that started this trend, 2016’s Jungle Book. I think that the changes made in this film are interesting when compared to the original source material. So, I’m about to explore the differences between the 2016 remake and its fifty-one (as of writing) year old predecessor to see how adapting something can transform both texts.