multiple levels

You are an older raid boss who once took many players to defeat. After multiple expansions higher level players are able to defeat you by themselves. You decide to do something about it.

A white guy’s thoughts on “Get Out” and racism

This weekend, I went to see a horror movie. It got stuck in my head, and now I can’t stop thinking about it—but not for any of the reasons you might think.

The movie was Jordan Peele’s new hit Get Out, which has gotten rave reviews from critics—an incredible 99% on Rotten Tomatoes—and has a lot of people talking about its themes.

First of all, I should tell you that I hate horror movies. As a general rule, I stay far, far away from them, but after everything I’d read, I felt like this was an important film for me to see. This trailer might give you some inkling as to why:

Creepy, huh? You might know writer/director Jordan Peele as part of the comedy duo Key & Peele, known for smartly tackling societal issues through sketch comedy. Get Out is a horror movie, but it’s also a film about race in America, and it’s impressively multilayered.

I left the theater feeling deeply disturbed but glad this movie was made. I can’t say any more without revealing spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and you don’t want to have the plot spoiled for you, stop reading now and come back later.

Seriously, this is your last chance before I give away what happens.

Okay, you were warned. Here we go.

Our protagonist is Chris Washington, a young black man who has been dating Rose Armitage, a young white woman, for the last four months. She wants him to meet her family, but he’s hesitant. She acknowledges that her dad can be a little awkward on the subject of race, but assures Chris that he means well.

After unnerving encounters with a deer (echoes of The Invitation) and a racist cop, Chris and Rose arrive at the Armitages’ estate. On the surface, the Armitages are very friendly, but the conversation (brilliantly scripted by Peele) includes a lot of the little, everyday, get-under-your-skin moments of racism that people of color have to contend with: Rose’s dad going on about how he voted for Obama, for instance, and asking how long “this thang” has been going on. Chris laughs it off to be polite, though he clearly feels uncomfortable.

There’s a fantastic moment here, by the way, when Rose’s dad offhandedly mentions that they had to close off the basement because of “black mold.” In the midst of the racially charged atmosphere of the conversation, it’s nearly impossible not to take this as a racial remark, and Chris certainly notices, but what could he possibly say about it? Black mold is a real thing; his girlfriend would surely think he was crazy and oversensitive if he said it sounded racist. Chris never reacts to the remark, but that one tiny moment is a reminder to the audience of a real problem people of color often face, when racism can’t be called out without being accused of “playing the race card” or seeing things that aren’t there. (Incidentally, it turns out that the basement is actually used for molding of a different sort.)

There are other reasons for Chris to be unsettled: The only other black people on the estate are two servants, Georgina and Walter (Rose’s dad says he knows how bad it looks, but that it’s not what it seems), and something is clearly “off” about them. Later, more white people show up—and one more black character, and he, too, feels “off.”

By the end of the film, we learn the horrible secret: Rose’s family is kidnapping and luring black people to their estate, where they’re being hypnotized and psychologically trapped inside themselves—Rose’s mom calls it “the sunken place”—so that old or disabled white people’s consciousnesses can be transplanted into their bodies. The white people are then able to move about, controlling their new black bodies, with the black person’s consciousness along for the ride as a mere “passenger.” In a shocking twist, it turns out that even apparently-sweet Rose is in on the plot, and Chris must fight her and the rest of her family to escape.

This isn’t a “white people are evil” film, although it may sound that way at first, but it is a film about racism. I know many of my friends of color will connect with this movie in a way I can’t, so I won’t try to say what I think they’ll get out of it. I do want to say how I connected with it, though, because I think what Jordan Peele has done here is really important for white audiences. 

If you look beyond the surface horror-movie plot, this film actually gives white people a tiny peek at the reality of racism—not the epithet-shouting neo-Nazi kind of racism that white people normally imagine when we hear “racism,” but the “Oh it’s so nice to meet you; I voted for Obama” kind of racism, the subtle othering that expects people of color to smile and get along and adopt white culture as their own whenever they’re around white people.

So many of the moments in Get Out are clearly intended to work on multiple levels. When Chris confronts Georgina about something being wrong and she smiles and says, “No, no no no no no,” with tears streaming down her cheeks, the symbolism is blatant. How often do people of color have to ignore the subtle indignities they face and hide their true emotions in order to avoid coming across as, for example, “the angry black woman/man”? How many times do they find themselves in social situations—even with their closest white friends!—where people make little comments tying them to an “exotic,” supposedly monolithic culture, where they have to respond with a smile and a laugh instead of telling people how stupid and offensive they’re being? 

I can’t tell you the number of these stories I’ve heard from my friends, and I’m quite sure that the stories I’ve heard are only a tiny fraction of the stories that could be told. So there’s something in that moment that speaks volumes about the experiences of people of color in America.

The same is true for so many other moments. The black characters Chris meets at the Armitages’ have all symbolically given up their identities and conformed to white culture; when Chris meets one character, he turns out to be going under a new name, with new clothes and new mannerisms; when Chris offers him a fist bump, he tries to shake Chris’s fist. Again, within the story, there’s an explanation for all this, but every moment here is also about assimilation and culture differences. 

For me as a white audience member, all of these moments did something remarkable: They showed me my own culture—a culture I’m often blissfully unaware of because it’s all around me—as something alien. They reminded me that I, too, have a culture, and that expecting everyone else to assimilate to my culture is just as much an erasing of their identities as it would be to expect me to assimilate to someone else’s culture.

And that’s a big part of what Get Out is about—the erasing of identities, and the power of racism to destroy people. I think it’s really significant that racism is portrayed here very differently from how it’s normally portrayed in movies written by white people. In most Hollywood movies, you know a character is racist because they shout racial epithets or make blatant statements about a certain race’s inferiority. That allows white audiences to say, “I would never do/say that, so I’m not racist!” We really don’t want to think we are.

But notice something important about Get Out’s treatment of racism: This is a film about the literal enslavement of black people—racism doesn’t get more extreme than that—and yet Peele doesn’t go for the obvious by having the white characters admit that they think black people are inferior; instead, they subjugate and dehumanize people by claiming to admire things about them. They turn them into fashion accessories. 

When Chris asks why only black people are being targeted for this procedure, the response is telling: It’s not (supposedly) because the white characters think African Americans are bad, but rather, because they like certain things about them and they want “a change” for themselves. They want to become black—it’s trendy, we’re told!—but without having had any of the actual life experiences or history of African Americans. White people need to see this: to experience the ways in which Chris is othered by people who tell him all the things they like about him—isn’t he strong? Look at those muscles! Does he play golf like Tiger Woods? And he must be well-endowed and have such sexual prowess, right, Rose?

The white people in the audience need to be reminded that just because you’re saying positive things about someone doesn’t mean you’re not being racist, that turning someone into an exotic “other” may not be the same as shouting an epithet, but it’s still taking away someone’s identity and treating them as a commodity.

The film is filled with these kinds of moments. When we realize that Rose’s white grandmother has inhabited the body of Georgina, the fact that she keeps touching her own hair and admiring herself in the mirror takes on a whole new level of significance. (White people, please don’t ask to touch your black friends’ hair.) When Chris connects with a dying deer on the side of the road and later sees a deer head mounted on the wall at the Armitages’ estate, the symbolism is hard to miss. Black people are being turned into trophies in this house. And, oh yeah, they’re being literally auctioned off—as they were in real life in the not-too-distant past.

One day, I’d like to see the film again to pick up on all the ways things read differently the second time through. I noticed several things in retrospect that gain new significance once you know the ending, and I’m sure there’s a lot I didn’t notice. For example, Rose’s dad says he hired Walter and Georgina to care for his parents, and when his parents died, “I couldn’t bear to let them go.” The first time you see the film, it sounds like the “them” is Walter and Georgina. But in retrospect, it’s clear the “them” he couldn’t bear to let go was his parents, so he sacrificed Walter and Georgina for them. Which, again, is an example of how the supposed care of the white characters for the black characters (his care for Walter and Georgina, Rose’s care for Chris) is really all about caring for themselves and treating the black characters as completely interchangeable objects.

The message of the film isn’t simply that the black characters are “good” and the white characters are “bad.” There are presumably—hopefully—many good white people in the world of this film, and many others who wouldn’t do what the Armitages are doing but also probably wouldn’t believe Chris or make the effort to stop it. Peele’s mother and wife are both white, so he’s clearly not trying to paint all white people as villains. 

But I admit, as a white guy, I really, really wanted Rose to be good. I’ve been the white person in an interracial relationship introducing my black boyfriend to my family. I’ve been that. So I related to Rose, and I really wanted to believe that she was well-intentioned and just oblivious; even though she misses the mark on several occasions, there are times that she seems like she gets it and she really does listen to Chris. When a cop asks to see Chris’s ID early in the film even though he wasn’t driving, Rose stands up against the obvious racism, showing us all what it looks like for white people to do the right thing. “That was hot,” Chris says to her later, and I thought, yeah, that’s who I want to be.

So I have to admit, it was really upsetting to me to see Rose, the only good white character left in the film, turn out to be evil. But I realized that part of that is that I really wanted her to represent me, and that’s really the point. Just think how often horror films have only one black character who dies early on, and how many films of all genres have no significant black characters for audience members to look up to or identify with. I think it’s really important for white audiences to experience that.

As I’ve reflected on the film, it seems to me like there are three kinds of popular movies about people of color. There are those that feature POC characters that are essentially indistinguishable from the white characters—as if they just decided to cast Morgan Freeman instead of Tom Hanks without giving any thought to the character’s race. Then there are the movies that deal with racism, but in a way that allows white people to feel good about ourselves, because we’re not like the characters in the film. (This is especially true for movies about racism in the past; some of them are very important films, like Hidden Figures, which I loved, but we need to be aware that it’s still easy for white America to treat it as a feel-good film and think that we’re off the hook because we no longer have separate restrooms.) And finally, there are movies that focus more directly on the lives of people of color but tend to draw largely audiences of color; not many white people go see them, because we think they’re not “for us” (even though we assume films about white people are for everyone).

Get Out isn’t any of those. It’s drawing a broad audience but it’s not afraid to make white people uncomfortable. And if you can give me, a white guy, a chance to have even a momentary fraction of an experience of the real-life, modern-day, casual racism facing people of color in America, I think that’s a very good thing.

somebodylost-chan  asked:

I'd like to ask, how do you know when fight/smut scenes are necessary? Or how to make them effective & not simply as fanservice or just for word count? Usually, I find myself skimming through fight scenes as a reader, bored. As a writer, I'm inclined to just 'fade to black' and imply stuff at the next chapters. I'm not really a fight/smut-scene writer, even though my characters know & need to fight. Thanks for keeping this blog. :D

A good fight scene (and a good smut scene for that matter) always works in the service of the narrative. It works toward the cohesive big picture.

From an entertainment standpoint, violence is boring.

You need your audience invested in the characters participating in the violence, in the actions and events leading up to the fight, in the aftermath and how this will effect the character’s overall goals.

In a narrative context, if you’re bored during a fight scene or a sex scene it’s because the build up to that moment failed. The scene itself may also have failed. However, your foundation is what makes your story sing.

Think of a story like building blocks. You’re playing Jenga with your reader on a homemade house, they’re slowly pulling out the pieces and you’re betting you built your blocks well enough to withstand scrutiny. You’ve got to keep them interested long enough to get to the end before the whole thing comes tumbling down.

A fight sequence which works in concert with it’s narrative is enjoyable, doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, and ultimately works to build up the story it’s telling. Fighting isn’t fighting, you see. Combat is a form of problem solving, the fight itself is an expression of the character’s individuality. Everything we’ve been learning about them, their goals, and their behaviors are being put in a pressure cooker and dialed up.

You should be learning about the character as the fight progresses, the fight working on multiple levels in concert with its narrative to get the story where it needs to go. Often, a first fight is like an establishing shot in film. You get a feel for who this character is when under pressure, who they are. Peril can be a great way to get the audience invested, but its up to the author to prove why they should.

Poor fight sequences don’t tell you anything. They’re there to establish the character as capable of fighting but don’t even do that because their concept of combat is generic.

The combatants aren’t individuals expressing themselves, the fight isn’t proving anything except fighting, it doesn’t have meaning except for its attempts to prove the narrative’s poor concept of badassery. This often happens with no regard for the setting’s rules, the aftermath consequences, what the character’s actions will effect in the long run.

It doesn’t mean anything and, while violence is shocking and terrifying in real life, in fiction violence has to mean more than just an exchange of blows.

How many times have you read a book where several mooks show up to get their ass kicked by the protagonist? They limp off at the end and while they’re often in a perfect position to be seen again due to their connections, we never do.

In even just a moderately competent narrative, those same mooks are characters. We’ll see them again in bit roles. They’ll play a role, either to help or hurt later as an aftermath consequence of the protagonist’s earlier actions. These are callback characters we can use to remind the audience of what happened previously in the narrative, and offer up some catharsis.

In a really well written scene, these mooks serve an important purpose when it comes to establishing the protagonist’s character in a quick snapshot. Like the moderately competent character, they come back later to the aid or the detriment of the protagonist. The mooks’ response actions are a direct result of their encounter with the character, often acting as an inciting incident. The protagonist suffers direct consequences as a result of their actions, whether its injury, loss, or the attention of the villain which causes them to lose something. In these fight scenes, you can see the story’s trajectory because it acts as another way to get to know the hero, the secondary characters, the tertiary characters, and whoever else is participating. It’s working on five different levels.

What you often see in a good fight sequence, whether it’s in a written medium or film, is the culmination of a great deal of hard work on the part of the author. A smut sequence is a reward, it’s a way to pay off on the reader’s investment in the relationship between these two characters and the narrative’s investment in them. It doesn’t matter if that’s hardcore sex, or a Victorian hand touch, or a knockout blow to the jaw, the end result is the same. It’s entertaining, satisfying, and even cathartic.

A poor sex scene is just dolls bumping bits. A poor fight scene is just dolls trading blows. Nothing occurs, nothing happens, there’s none of the underlying satisfaction or catharsis in the outcome. You don’t have any investment, no consequences, it overstays its welcome and tells you nothing about the characters.

You’ve no reason to care, so you don’t.

As a reader, you don’t owe a writer attention when reading their work. They’ve got to earn it. If they aren’t, then it may be that the story isn’t for you and that’s okay. Take into account your tastes,

It takes practice to choreograph a fun fight scene. Writing sex and violence is mostly about learning to find your limits (i.e. what you’re comfortable with writing), and overcoming embarrassment. Determine the difference between need and want.

Are you avoiding writing these scenes because you’re scared of being bad at them or because they just don’t interest you?

These are two very different issues, and it’s easy to hide from the first behind the second. Be honest with yourself. If it is fear, then don’t give into it. The easy solution if you’re afraid of being bad at something is to practice. Start looking critically at the media you consume, when you start to get bored during a fight scene or a sex scene, when you want to skip ahead, ask yourself, “why?”. Check out the sequences and stories where this doesn’t happen, and try to figure out the differences between the two.

When it comes to the mechanics of both violence and sex, the more you learn the better off you’ll be at writing it. The more you practice writing violence/sex/romance then the better you’ll be. Like with everything, it’ll probably be pretty terrible in the beginning but the more you practice, the better you get. Writing itself is a skill, but its also a lot of sub-skills built in underneath the surface. Being good at dialogue doesn’t mean you’ll be good at action, having a knack for great characterization doesn’t mean you’ll be good at writing setting description. Putting together great characters doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be good at worldbuilding.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

All it takes to figure out whether or not the time to fight is right is by listening to your gut.

Remember, the best scenes are based in narrative cohesion and emotional investment. They’re a pay off in and of themselves for your audience, dessert after dinner. They aren’t the meat and potatoes. If you set out to just write a fight scene or write a smut scene then it’ll get gratuitous. Then the focus is on the fight or the sex itself, hangs entirely on their shoulders, and you’ve just upped the ante for how entertaining you need to be.

It’s not “how do I write a fight scene”, it’s “how did my characters get to this point and why are they fighting”. If you start from a character place, it gets easier. The same is true with romance. “How do my characters participate in a romance (sex or not)”.

Make it about the individuals, that’s when it really gets fun.

And, if you get too stuck, try writing fight scenes with characters who don’t know much about how to fight. Sometimes, it’s easier to get into it when you begin at the beginning. There’s a lot less pressure convincing an audience with a character who knows nothing than one at the top of their field.

There’s a lot less stress about “is this right?” when you’re trying to get a feel for the flow if you’re dealing with a character who doesn’t know jack shit. Fight scenes with characters who know nothing can also be really, really, really fun. They’re wild, improvisational frenzies where all you have is the character sorting through their alternative, non-fighting skills trying to figure out how to survive.

Believe it or not, this will help you because you don’t get to cheat with the idea that your character already knows what they’re doing when you don’t. It’ll help you tap into the character, seeing scenarios from their perspectives, and writing to that instead of “generic fight scene”. When you’re unsure, characters who know nothing about the subject matter they’re engaging in but still have to engage are great. They teach you how to write from the standpoint and perspective of the individual. You need those skills just as much when writing characters who are professionals or at the top of their field.

If you don’t think you can write an interesting fight sequence with a neophyte, then that might be a part of the problem. A character doesn’t need to be good at something to be entertaining. A smut sequence where everyone’s fumbling, knocking into each other, embarrassed, stuck in their clothing, cheesy, corny, and laughing can be just as fun (if not more so and more honest) than the ones that generally get envisioned.

For me, good is entertaining and the entertainment is based in humanity but you need to define “good” for yourself in your own writing. Be honest with yourself about your fears and you’ll find a way to bridge yourself to the kind of writing you want to be doing.

Freeing yourself of your own internalized preconceived notions will help a lot, and produce stories that are way more fun.

-Michi

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Thoughts on The Emoji Movie

           It came as no surprise to me, or anyone else, that The Emoji Movie was a disastrous train-wreck of a movie with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. From the moment it was announced, The Emoji Movie was a joke, little more than a punchline of what corporate Hollywood would make just to pander to a younger audience. Yet, by creating the shoddy garbage pile of a “film” (I use this term sparingly) that is The Emoji Movie, Hollywood has done something incredible—they have killed art.

PART ONE

           The “plot” of The Emoji Movie is one that has been presented countless times before: a misfit must leave home to change himself but learns along his adventure that his true value lies in his uniqueness. In this iteration of the “finding yourself” story the hero is Gene, a socially-outcast “meh” emoji who is terrible at what he does—he has all sorts of “non-meh” feelings that he simply can’t contain. On his first day of work, he is called upon from his emoji station to be used, but he freaks out at the last minute and causes a glitch in the sending of the emoji, leading to Alex (the phone’s user) embarrassing himself in front of the girl he likes. Because of this, the smiling emoji, Smiler, who is the “big status quo boss lady” decides to kill him. Gene, however, runs away from the antivirus software and hides in the “loser emoji” section of Textopolis (the city where all the emojis live together). There he meets Hi-5, who was once a famous and well-liked emoji who got to stay in the “favorites” section of Alex’s phone, but hasn’t been used in weeks and now seeks to regain his lost fame.

           In order to reprogram Gene’s malfunction and get Hi-5 back into the favorites section, the pair leave Textopolis and go to a piracy app that Alex, a fifteen-year-old boy, has on his phone for some reason. Gene’s parents then leave after him to try and find him and Smiler sends her antivirus robot soldiers outside Textopolis to apprehend Gene. Meanwhile, in a story beat stolen straight from Wreck-It Ralph and The Lego Movie, they meet Jailbreak, a hacker emoji who serves as the purple-haired punk love interest for the movie. Jailbreak refuses to help them at first, but when she sees Gene’s ability to express multiple faces, she agrees to work together to get to “the source code” in “the cloud.” Then, the antivirus robots appear in the piracy app, (despite the fact that they were given orders to follow Gene’s parents, who are nowhere in sight) and the hero trio escape through a tunnel to Candy Crush where Gene gets trapped and they have to play the game to help him escape. This scene has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the film and is only an overblown advertisement for a phone app, which one will likely notice as a reoccurring theme in this movie.

           After escaping Candy Crush, they take a tunnel to Dance Now (available now in the app store) and they have to play the game because Hi-5 pushed a button for some reason. Here they reveal that Jailbreak can’t dance, and the dramatic stakes are heightened, except they aren’t because Gene teaches her how and then they do the “Emoji Bop” together in what I assume is supposed to be a display of self-love. But oh no! The antivirus robots show up again somehow, so our trio has to escape fast, or risk being deleted. Then, because his phone is playing Dance Now music during class, Alex deletes the app, and Hi-5 fails to escape, sending him to “the trash.”

           Naturally, because of the friendship that the three characters have cultivated together after knowing each other for two hours, Jailbreak and Gene decide to use Spotify to travel to the trash and rescue their companion. Meanwhile, Gene’s “meh” parents have had a falling out because each one blames the other for their son malfunctioning. It’s ok though, because they meet in an Instagram photo and Gene’s dad reveals that he malfunctions too, so naturally they make it all up it each other Alex also decides to delete his entire phone because it sent the wrong emoji one time and made noises on its own. Gene and Jailbreak then save Hi-5 from the trash and they’re chased by a bigger, badder antivirus that follows them until they get to Dropbox, where it can’t get them for some reason.

           They then have to upload themselves to the cloud, and each character uses their own talents to get past the firewall. At this point the movie realizes it makes no sense and in a series of nonsensical rapid-fire events proceed as follows: Gene professes his love to Jailbreak, who it turns out is actually a princess emoji, Jailbreak denies him because of a throwaway line earlier in the movie about her being an empowered woman, the antivirus appears somehow and takes Gene back to Textopolis so he can die in front of the other emojis, Jailbreak and Hi-5 fly back on the Twitter bird to rescue him, Alex begins to delete his phone but chooses not to when Gene sends himself to Addie and she responds with “that was a cool emoji” (verbatim), Smiler is crushed by a giant robot, the emojis have a dance party, and everyone lives happily ever after.

           Watching the shoddy piece of work The Emoji Movie calls a story, I felt my head spinning with questions—not just regarding the plot holes and contrivances, but to the world itself. How do emojis reproduce? If emojis age in years, as is stated in the movie, how could any emoji be older than the amount of time Alex has had his phone? What if an emoji isn’t at the station when it is called upon? How does time flow in the phone as opposed to outside of it? Are all the emojis that marry the same emojis incestuous? Why do some emojis have names like “Gene” while others are simply called by their appearances, like Hi-5? Why is the Christmas tree shown in public in the first scene but then shown in the loser lounge two scenes later? How do the emojis know the history of their app? Why do actions in some apps affect Alex’s phone while actions in other apps do not? How to the antiviruses find Gene and his crew over and over again? Why didn’t Smiler send any antiviruses after Jailbreak when she first left Textopolis? Why does Alex try to delete his phone after sending one incorrect emoji and having it make noise in class twice? How does the illegal antivirus get into Dropbox? How did Smiler get the illegal antivirus? Why did Smiler feel the need to kill Gene in front of the other emoji? Why did Smiler feel a need to kill Gene in the first place? Why does the girl on the Dance Now app ignore jailbreak messing up after the second time? How do all the emojis come back from deletion? If the trash is emptied out daily why is an email from weeks ago still in there? And, most importantly, why did I choose to watch this movie. The Emoji Movie does not answer these question, because it doesn’t care.

           The Emoji Movie doesn’t care about its story, its congruity, or the specifics of its world, because none of it matters. The story beats, directly stolen from other, better, movies, are still in place, and none of the specifics beyond set up for this formulaic and unoriginal wholesale feel-good message have any relevance to the story. The pink-haired rogue stolen straight from The Lego Movie has no personality beyond what the plot demands, and the same can be said for almost any of the other characters. Gene, or, discount Wreck-It Ralph, has the defining personality trait of “feeling things” and his story arc leads to him “feeling more things” and Hi-5’s slightly more defined emotional journey leads from him wanting fame to wanting friends. All the other characters in the story are even less one-dimensional, somehow, with personality traits that are all literally written into their very names and appearances.

           But ultimately, these characters are simply set pieces. There is no investment in the world of the emojis, no feeling when the entire phone is deleted. Half the scenes in the movie are just cash cow product placement filler, and it becomes clear when one realizes halfway through the movie that none of the adventures they have seem to matter, even within the context of their own story. When the characters themselves seem to realize that their journey is pointless, it becomes impossible for an audience to care about or interact meaningfully with the film that they’re viewing, and the best that any viewer can conjure is a “meh.”

PART TWO

           The story of The Emoji Movie is a clear cash grab, and rivetingly unengaging in its poor execution, but more lies beneath the surface. The morals that The Emoji Movie tries to impart to its audience are well-intentioned (as any moral is), but also inherently flawed, and violently mangled in every scene where they are introduced. Indeed, the heaping dumpster fire of a film that titles itself The Emoji Movie exists on multiple levels of terribleness, not using poor storytelling techniques, but imparting poor morals through these techniques as well. It often contradicts itself, falling flat on its face and hopelessly bumbling between individualistic self-love and a quite utilitarian doctrine—almost impressive.

           The Emoji Movie has all the markings of a summer Hollywood “live your true self” movie at its beginning. The main character has a specific, boring role that he is expected to serve unquestioningly, and is made a pariah for breaking from this role. His sidekick also rebels against the system in his own right, trying to cheat his way back into a position of power. By focusing on these two, the story accentuates the flaws with the emoji system and how it emotionally damages those who are forced to suffer under it. Even the villain, Smiler, is affected in her own right—he constant need to maintain happiness seems to have driven her to a place of near insanity. In the opening monologue (a completely different problem), Gene points this out this flaw to the audience by noting how the laughing and crying emojis can never break their character and the viewers begin to see the thriving city of Textopolis as a flawed dystopia. However, after the first scene, little attention is given to these flaws, instead focusing on Smiler herself as a villain. The plight of the “loser emojis” (emojis that don’t ever get used) is also fantastically mishandled. They are only seen twice in the movie and the second time is in a post credit scene where they remain in their basement, unaffected by the event of the entire movie. After sitting through an entire movie with the message that we should be ourselves instead of acting how society tells us to, we see that by nature, some people will (or must) always be excluded from the metaphorical “emoji dance party” for being themselves. The “self” that The Emoji Movie pushes is not just a best self, but also a “most useful” self.

           This is expanded upon in Gene’s journey, where he goes from being a hyperactive “meh” emoji to (briefly) being a good “meh” emoji to finally learning to use his true power as a multi-faceted expression emoji. In the stages before he discovered his true potential, Gene was outcast by his peers—and any viewer could argue that this was rightfully so. Gene broke the emoji picking device and injured dozens of emojis in the process of his one mistake and possibly endangered the safety of the entire phone. Gene then realizes his mistake and goes off to “fix” himself, only to come back stronger and more useful than ever. As is the case in many stories, Gene is accepted only after his usefulness becomes apparent, and the villain is revealed as a bloodthirsty authoritarian rather than the level-headed leader the denizens of Textopolis cited her as being. All is forgiven for Gene and the emojis are given a world where they can serve their own purpose to society, whatever that purpose might be.

           Utilitarian theory is nothing new, and it has both its merits and its flaws, but the type of utilitarianism presented in The Emoji Movie is inherently flawed, as it places Gene’s happiness above the well-being of the collective for the majority of the movie. The ending in itself is also serves as a perfect propaganda point for the utilitarian theory that it begins to uphold later on. Gene obtains happiness when he is most useful to the group collective—and thus, happiness becomes associated with utility to the group. Instead of positing that happiness can be found through the self, or that the self can and should be used to help others, The Emoji Movie combines the two, raising the idea that true bliss can only be achieved when your “self” is given to others.

           Ultimately, this idea is an idea that I disagree with. Whether or not you choose to side with me is up to you, but, speaking objectively, the romanticizing of self-sacrifice is an idea that has tangible harm on audiences who are fed it without question. Modern Japan, for instance, continued to have problems with high suicide rates due to the presentation of hara-kiri, or suicide by sword as “altruistic” in many historical texts (Suicide in 20th Century Japan, 150). This is not to say that using one’s self to assist others is harmful—good deeds are the basis of a functioning society—it is simply to note that the mixed messages that The Emoji Movie gives point towards both complete discovery and complete subjugation of the self in an unhealthy and shoddy portrayal of a moral that has always been cliched at best.

           The Emoji Movie also makes the mistake of attempting to tackle “women’s issues,” despite not even passing the Bechdel Test. Throughout the movie, Jailbreak’s primary motivator is that she wants to be free to express herself however she wants, which she will obtain by reaching the cloud. The movie attempts to attach this to womanhood by attaching this to Jailbreak wanting to escape the oppressive strictures of heteropatriarchal femininity—except, in the finale, she is framed as being in the wrong for not reciprocating Gene’s feelings for her. Not just this, but the day is saved by her using her femininity and consenting to be with Gene, despite her feelings on the matter never being brought up for discussion. Despite the single throwaway line about “men getting credit for women’s work” The Emoji Movie is not pro-woman, and could easily be interpreted as the opposite of that. It defines traditional femininity as being the most useful aspect of a woman to a society and inherently ties all its female characters to something within that stricture, pushing its heteropatriarchal utilitarianist propaganda points deep into the dirt as it tries the make the point that “sensitive guys are cool too.” This is not to say that women who embrace their traditional femininity are by any means being women incorrectly—The Emoji Movie just happens to portray its women poorly, using them always as tools for the man-driven plot and never fleshing them out as characters.

           Tony Leondis offered his own interpretation of The Emoji Movie’s story, calling it a “coming-out story” which is significant, as Leondis is both the director of the movie and a gay man. If one looks from a distance and squints, the similarities between The Emoji Movie and a coming-out story can become visible. Gene is outcast for his “malfunction” as many gay teens will be. The butchering that follows this plot point is incredibly poorly done, and leads to something to utterly offensive and heterosexual to be called a “coming-out story.” First and foremost, a “coming-out story” needs to reach the very low bar of deviating from traditional heterosexuality in its story’s romantic subplots, somehow. This seems to go without saying, but the team of The Emoji Movie conveniently forgot this, instead tripling down on the action and giving the audience three heterosexual romantic subplots, those being the ones between Alex and Addie, Gene and Jailbreak, and Gene’s Mother and Father. None of these deviate at all from a traditional heterosexual romantic story, and, if anything, Gene and Jailbreak’s story enforces obligatory heterosexuality instead of contradicting it. Not only that, but the farther one goes into the plot, the less a coming out story makes sense. When Gene’s father reveals that he has the same malfunction, is he being implied to be the emoji version of “gay?” In a better movie, this could have been used as a tool to foster an emotional connection between Gene and his father, but The Emoji Movie is not that better movie, so this plot point is essentially forget after it becomes irrelevant. In the finale, Gene actually watches his parents get “erased” and can’t break out any expression except a “meh,” which is telling of how well the emoji movie establishes connections between its characters.

           The themes explored in The Emoji Movie are explore poorly at best, and offensively at worst, often taking a back seat to the far more important message of the film—the advertisements. Ultimately, the reason that The Emoji Movie does such a terrible job with its ideas is that these ideas are only borrowed plot points, there to mask the movie for what it really is—a massive commercial for phone apps. The true message of The Emoji Movie isn’t “be yourself” or even “make yourself useful” it’s “buy our product,” and everything beyond this is simply pointless fluff.

PART THREE

           It’s no secret that The Emoji Movie was a corporatist cash-grab, but it was astounding to see just how deeply that had sunk into the movie itself. The entire story is product placement after product placement, a journey to Dropbox, through Candy Crush and Dance Now,  so unabashed in its capitalism that it made me question the film industry as a whole. Where do we draw the line between business and art? At what point do we leave all hope of creativity behind and choose to instead sink into shameless cash grabs and commercials like The Emoji Movie? Then I realized, with a sinking feeling in my gut, that The Emoji Movie had indeed killed art.

           On its first day, The Emoji Movie made ten million dollars in box office sales—a fifth of what it cost to produce. Despite withering reviews and constant scorn from the demographics it seemed to be targeting, The Emoji Movie will chuckle through its entire life as a movie, because it played us all. This movie is a Frankenstein’s monster created by Hollywood, a mishmash of everything that makes money crammed into one pandering mess of a film, and I’m sure it knows this. I’m sure it knows that it looks like a dumb, out of touch, unwatchable pile of garbage, but I’m also sure that it doesn’t care about this, because it’s found a way to make money without even trying.

           The Emoji Movie probably paid for itself in the sheer amount of advertisements it crammed into its ninety minute runtime, and the young, impressionable minds watching it will all be immediately entranced by the colorful scenery of lands like Spotify and Candy Crush. Sales will go up for the sponsors, and the Hollywood capitalist fat-cats who decided that a movie should be made out of emojis will laugh all the way to their enormous Beverly Hills mansions. They knew that they could take advantage of the “car crash phenomenon” that makes people stare at things they shouldn’t, so they sent The Emoji Movie out to their theatres and made a quick buck for Sony Animation.

           But beyond this, The Emoji Movie sets a precedent. It showed that idiots like me can be drawn to this shit like moths to a light. It showed that movies do not need to have good quality, or have be art, to be marketable, and that the film industry should prioritize business and profits above all else. The Emoji Movie has proved, statistically, that quality cinema should always come second to quality advertising. The time to organize against the Hollywood capitalist is now. A boycott of terrible Sony films is the least the we can do to stop them, even though such an action would be little more than a thorn in their hide. We Must accept that our idiocy and submission to this trash is at least partially responsible for the state of film as it is in America today, and we must break free of the chains that force us into our roles as submissive cash cows.

           Good cinema does good things for those that watch it. It can be used as a tool to convey important and revolutionary ideas, or to relay important information to those that are systemically spat on by traditional education. Historically great films have caused great controversy, such as the movie adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird which caused riots in the south upon its release. When we let film fall to business we lose a part of our cultural identity—we submit art, heritage, and storytelling as just another part of a capitalist machine.

           We have the buying power. We choose where we spend our money, and where we place our values. No longer can I sit idly in my movie seat and watch terrible movies for fun—the time for action against the greatest threat to art in the western world is now. Resist capitalism, resist the state, and resist the attack upon the most basic human freedom of expression.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Until next time, Comrades.

-Sunshine

The Doctor’s personality types

So every once in a while I find myself trying to perfect my categorization of the Doctor’s different personality types. Because although my brain definitely groups them together in certain ways, it’s not quite sure why it does so. But now that we’ve seen Twelve’s arc, I think I’ve finally got it:

The Flippant Renegade

These Doctors don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks. They live free and dress sloppy. If they play the fool, it’s as a protest to show how little respect they have for their enemies or the situation that they’re in. They do fight for things on occasion but oftentimes are more concerned with rebelling against. They’re the most anti-authoritarian Doctors and have the strongest individualist streaks.

The Devious Trickster

These Doctors are always working on multiple levels. They’re prone to clowning to keep their enemies off-base. They lie a lot and keep things close to the chest. There’s always a distance there. They’re also the most professorial, with the biggest interest in knowledge and teaching. While they have a strong sense of right and wrong, they’re very pragmatic about how they achieve their goals. These are the ones most capable of genocide.

The Arrogant Moralist

These Doctors think that they’re always right all the time. They have very high standards for everyone else. Anyone who falls below their standards they treat with disdain, but anyone who meets their standards, they adore. They’re the most self-impressed and also the most concerned with their own appearance and image. They tend the most toward hypocrisy.

The Humane Tourist

These Doctors aren’t looking for trouble. They’re not showy. They’re leisurely. Their dress is subdued but distinctive. They’re less concerned with morality and more concerned with mercy. They’re also the most interested in other people and their lives. They’re the most collaborative Doctors, oftentimes looking for input from others on how to proceed.

…You know, looking at it now, it’s entirely possible I may have just sorted them into Hogwarts houses, but I’m gonna try not to think about that too much.

Matt implied that Vecna snatched Gilmore and the girls after he saw VM before their feywild trip, and from Gilmore’s description it seemed like Gate, so does that mean Vecna’s burned his 9th level spell?

poems i would write you | shawn mendes

MY MASTERLIST

word count: 9,018 (i was gonna split this up, but decided to just keep it together. it’s long. put on your favorite sweatpants and grab that bag of hot cheetos you’ve been saving before you dig into this thing.)

author’s note: GUESS WHO’S BACK, BACK AGAIN? BERRY’S BACK, TELL A FRIEND. welcome to the first installment of my college!shawn series, which takes place during Y/N’s (that’s you) freshman year. it’s got fluff, angst, and some pretty stupid decisions on everyone’s part. title from “shot down” by khalid, as per a recommendation from @light-up-shawn. enjoy.


Your name: submit What is this?

i.

Upon your arrival to college, you had been on the receiving end of entirely too much advice from various relatives, older friends, and even strangers. Don’t walk alone at night, don’t sign up for eight AM classes, don’t drink the “jungle juice” at any frat parties.

Your parents had told you to focus on your studies and seek tutoring help if you needed it. Your sister had encouraged you to join a sorority to really be at “the heart” of university life, as if you knew what that meant. The only advice your cousin gave you was to always remember your room key and to pack a pair of shower shoes, the latter of which she accompanied with a shudder - you could piece together that anecdote on your own.

But nobody had prepared you for this particular problem.

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Truth: Arrow 5x20 Review (Underneath)

Arrow isn’t a perfect television show. To be fair, I don’t know one that is, but I never needed Arrow to be perfect.  All I need from Arrow is a good story.  My frustrations with Oliver and Felicity’s break up, and the Baby Mama storyline, aren’t a secret. I found their break up to be wildly problematic on multiple levels. However, the one caveat I always held to was if Arrow can piece together some interesting character growth for Oliver and Felicity it would go a long way of easing my ruffled feathers. We’ve been dealing with the ramifications of Oliver’s lie about William since 4x08. That’s 35 episodes. We’ve waited a long time for Oliver and Felicity’s individual arcs to come to fruition.

The wait was worth it. At least for me.

Our perceptions of “good story” vary as widely as our perceptions of “perfect” but “Underneath” is a good story for me.  It’s almost perfect. 35 episodes. This road was long. It was hard but, in the end, I feel like I understand. It connects all the dots that need to be connected (and some I didn’t expect) while delivering some real character development that feels earned.

In the midst of the crazy world of arrows, masks, Mirakuru soldiers, 15 different canaries and Barry Allen resides the relationships between Oliver and Felicity

and Original Team Arrow. 

These characters, and the love they have for one another, is the sanity in all the madness. It’s the real in the fiction. Oliver, Felicity and Diggle are the beating heart of Arrow for a reason. The love we have for these characters is the reason we watch and “Underneath” returns Arrow to center. It focuses on the love stories that made us fall in love with the show. In particularly, it brings Oliver and Felicity’s individual arcs to fruition and FINALLY merges their roads into one again.

Trust. Honesty. Forgiveness. Compassion. Humility. These aren’t always popular concepts in our society, but they are the building blocks to any relationship. You lose one, the whole house can come down on you. Love feels like it has its own inertia, like it chooses you and not the other way around. And maybe that’s true. Maybe we can’t choose who we love.  However, we can choose how we love.

If you are either Team Felicity or Team Oliver in the break-up- Baby-Mama-drama then there’s probably things about “Underneath” you didn’t like. As for me, I believe there are things both Oliver and Felicity need to learn from the breakup and “Underneath” addresses those things. But more than anything, I am ready for Arrow to rebuild what they broke. I am ready for Arrow to fix it. Are you?

Buckle up. This is, by far, my longest review. We’re going all the way back to the pilot and discuss about five different episodes. This took me about 22 hours to write. No need to comment on how long it is. I am well are.

Let’s dig in…

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so like anyway park jinwoo is the most beautiful man i’ve ever seen in my life and i mean in it in multiple ways and levels like ok he doesn’t exactly suit popular beauty standards but he has the most beautiful and comforting smile i’ve ever seen and his teeth aren’t perfectly straight but they suit him so well and when he smiles really really big and it’s Real he gets those super cute like dimple wrinkles all around and they’re SO cute and make me smile so big!!!!!!!! then his EYES !!! he doesn’t have double eyelids or anything but they’re so beautiful i love them so much the shape is so pretty and they’re small and cute and when he smiles they turn into the cUTEST crescent moons!!!!!!!!!!!! then he has this Big Nose that i LOVE DEARLY and he has cute lil ears and freaking don’t even get me STARTED on all of his GORGEOUS FRECKLES especially the one on his chin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it’s so freakin pretty like all of his “imperfections” just make him 1000000x more beautiful to me!!!!! then his bod oh bOY u put him in a sweatshirt (which he LOVES!!) and lose jeans and his gargantuan sneaks that he’s obsessed with and he looks like a MOUSE!!!!!! he looks so freaking precious !!!!!!!! but he also looks so freaking boyfriend i want to wrap him up in a pancake and eat him up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and then throw in a SNAPBACK ?!!!??! HE A FULL COURSE MEAL + SNACKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!! but thEN u throw him in a tank top and holy frick!!!!!!!! he’s like macho man!!! he’s SO broad and built!! but then has the slimmest waist like holy frick when will i ever!!!! the best part is is he is H E A L T H Y!!!!! u can tell he’s eating and treating his body SO well. he is constantly telling the other members and aroha to eat well, and to not go on bad diets!!! transitioning to how freaking stunning he is on the inside ………man …where do i even begin…………he has the heart of gold. his heart is GINORMOUS too. he would do absolutely anything for his members and fans and family. he’s an incredible leader, he lets the members do whatever embarrassing crap saying “aight i’ll just take the blame” like ???) KING !!!!!!!!!! he’s so passionate abt his work, u can see it in his eyes that he loves 100% what he’s doing. everything makes him cry; he’s so freaking soft !!!!!! he’s so touched by aroha and astro and everything beautiful. he has a passion for photography and the beauty in simple things. he sees the beauty in all of the sky, the earth, his members, himself. he’s not super confident in his looks but he pushes himself TO be. he tells himself every day that’s he’s handsome!! and he’s RIGHT!!! hes so kindhearted and warm. he probably gives the BEST hugs and cuddles. and he’s not boring either!!!!! it’s rly hard to find someone so sweet and kind but FUNNy and entertaining!! he’s such a dork and isn’t afraid to show it ,,holy frick frack pally wack dally dack ding dong do i love park freaking jinwoo

Trump isn’t wrestling with a dilemma made difficult by two valid competing moral imperatives. He’s torn between (on one side) the reality of what it actually means to scrap protections for hundreds of thousands of people who know no other country, are thoroughly American and just want to contribute positively to American life; and (on the other) the need to continue propping up his campaign lies about how deporting these people will boost American workers. The conflict is between the inescapably awful truth about the real-life consequences of ending DACA and the imagined need to continue making empty gestures to his core supporters.
 
 
Consider that in announcing an end to DACA, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was tasked with delivering the message Trump would not, claimed that the presence of these “illegal aliens,” as he described the dreamers, “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans.” As Paul Krugman explains, the idea that the dreamers constitute an economic threat is nonsense on multiple levels.
—  Trump is exposing the big lie at the core of Trumpism