Knights of Badassdom
Director: Joe Lynch
Writers: Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall
Recommended? Not really, no.
Bechdel Test: See below.
It’s never any fun when your culture is represented by outsiders. Geeks know this as much as anyone—we’re much maligned, us people who favor strange costumes and make-believe. So like plenty of geeks, I’ve been waiting around for Knights of Badassdom for awhile now—finally, a film for us, by us. In fact, I’ve been waiting several years now. (There was a whole kerfluffle between the director and the studio that set it back a number of years and left us with a cut that is not what the director intended.)
But, well, if this is what geeks have to say about geek culture… then this is not our proudest day.
At the beginning of the film, a group of LARPers (Live Action Roleplayers) have their games ruined by a bunch of camo-wearing rednecks with paintball guns. Oh, the jocks… the geek’s natural enemy. I’m sympathetic to the LARPer’s plight.
Continue reading Knights of Badassdom (2013)
Into the Forest
by Jean Hegland
1996, Dial Press
I was lying in bed sick.
“Hey,” I said to my friend, “what book should I read?”
“Have you read Into the Forest?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“Read that,” he said. “Post-apocalypse.”
“Is it going to be like The Road?” I asked. I was sick. I didn’t want to read something as doom and gloom as The Road.
“Not really,” he said.
I’m glad I decided to believe him, even if I’m not sure he was telling the truth.
Continue reading Into the Forest, by Jean Hegland
Vikings, Season 1
2013, The History Channel
It’s a show called Vikings. It’s a drama. The protagonists are vikings. They hit people with swords and axes and they sail around in longships and kill Christians and take slaves. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and the acting is remarkable. The writing wavers from good to great. The historical accuracy is not particularly high but is better than some people are giving the show credit for.
And it’s about vikings.
You’re either going to want to watch the show or not based on that. There’s little I would want to do to convince you otherwise.
What’s the show about? As I watch it, it’s a show about death. It’s not gory like a war film. The death in it is not by large glorious, not even gratuitous. But the show is about death, and the emotional toll of death, viewed from outside the Christian/Atheist lens chosen by most of the media we’re presented with.
Continue reading Vikings, Season 1
Director: Pete Travis
Problematic: Protagonizing the police; protagonizing fascism; villainizing drug users; villainizing sex workers; misunderstandings of class and crime; etc.
Bechdel Test: Pass.
When it comes down to it, this is a film about some white cop who runs around a projects building killing poor people because some of them might be dealing drugs (drugs that honestly look really fun and aren’t presented as having any negative side effects). It’s one of those non-stop-action movies that’s light on complexity but high on moralizing. The protagonists have body armor and high-tech gizmos and the opponents are impoverished. It’s somewhat entertaining, has strange moments of beauty, and tries but fails to be anything but a feature-length accolade of how great the police are.
It’s hard to imagine that this film was written by and for anything other than suburban, middle- and upper-class Americans.
The character Judge Dredd comes the UK comic series 2000AD and is intended to be a black-comedy satire of authoritariansm. This film adaptation, however, seems to entirely miss the point. And, according to the screenwriter Alex Garland, intentionally so: it was written as he understood the comic as a ten-year old boy. So there you go. Unfortunately, while I’m all for black-comedy and satire, this film is direct proof as to why those things are dangerous when they go over people’s heads.
Continue reading Dredd (2012)
The Oregon Experiment
by Keith Scribner
Recommended? Sure, why not.
I’m going to cut this review into two parts. The first part, the shorter part, is just my “why you might like to read this book, why you might not.” The second part is a longer analysis of the ways in which mainstream sympathetic fiction is portraying anarchists.
So, The Oregon Experiment, by Keith Scribner. Scanlon and Naomi are a middle class couple that moves to small town Oregon, and soon their American dream crashes into the rocks of anarchists, secessionist hippies, and the repression thereof. Scanlon is an academic who studies radical social movements, Naomi is a depressed “nose” who was forced to retire from the perfume business when her mental health destroyed her ability to smell. Scanlon gets mixed up with Sequoia, a sexy hippie mama who wants to peacefully secede from the US, while Naomi spends too much time a Clay, a depressed, angsty anarchist who hates everything. Hijinks ensue.
It’s a short, entertaining novel with interesting enough characters. I read it, I enjoyed reading it, and it left me awake thinking after I’d put the book down for the night. While the plot focuses on the gulf between academia and radical action, the themes of the book are much more about parenting and relationships, which I appreciated quite a bit. I appreciated the often-realistic and incredibly flawed characters, though the intensity of male desire directed at mothers—on the basis of them being mothers—is kind of intense. Overall, the book made me nostalgic for early-aughts Oregon.
Continue reading The Oregon Experiment, by Keith Scribner