Casting of Castes: A Critical Look at Sorting Pt.2

Alright, the second part of my argument: Hogwarts Houses.

So on top of that Blood Purity Caste I discussed in the previous post, there’s a  secondary caste system a work in this book which is much more prominent: The Hogwarts House System. Dear God is it ever prominent. For those of you who haven’t actually read these books I’ll give you a quick summary: When the new students arrive at Hogwarts they are brought into the Great Hall and ‘Sorted’ (I just love this word don’t you? Not ‘Placed’. ‘No ‘Divided’. Sorted. As though there are only four types of people in this world.) by the Sorting Hat, which will sing a Sorting Song highlighting the traits about each House.

The four houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. The traits you require to be sorted into each house are:

Gryffindor: Courage, Bravery, Chivalry

Hufflepuff: Hard-working and Loyal

Ravenclaw: Wit and Intelligence

Slytherin: Cunning and Ambition

So with these lovely personality traits (which I’m sure all people possess in varying degrees) comes certain stigmas attached to each individual house. These stigmas are at work in all the houses, but especially for Slytherin (partially for reasons discussed in the previous post).

“There’s not a Wizard or Witch that never went bad in Slytherin!”

Draco Malfoy’s entire rant a Madam Malkin’s

“All of Voldemort’s Death Eater’s were Slytherin” etc,

And this is before Harry even gets on the train to  go to Hogwarts and already he’s being programmed to reject one-quarter of the student population. Really? Really JK Rowling? Had to make it that blatant. I get that his was to set up a contrast between Harry and Voldemort, The hero overcoming his roots and all, but I somehow dealt that all of the eleven year-olds sorted into Slytherin are evil. I mean really, since when are cunning and ambition bad things to have? Also, none of the Slytherins strike me as all that cunning. Malfoy’s just a bully and Crabbe and Goyle are hired muscle men with no ambition to speak of except to follow Draco. Slytherin must be rolling in the grave somewhere to see his house reduced to this. So  Harry, of course, rejects Slytherin for Gryffindor, the House of Heroes, because if he hadn’t we would have had a protagonist with some depth.

And while we’re on the subject of Gryffindor: Peter Pettigrew. I have no idea how the man got into that House because not only is he coward when he’s finally revealed, actually no, that’s the only point I was going to make. So Gryffindor evidently produced a Death eater as well. So, if eve Gryffindors can be evil, logic follows that not all Slytherins are evil too. Then there’s Hermione, who is probably the most intelligent person in the books. And probably should have been in Ravenclaw, because I suspect she would have been happier there.

So Gryffindor has a resident genius and produced the traitor that killed Harry’s parents, Slytherin House seems to have forgotten to have either ambition or cunning, that just leaves Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.

Ravenclaw doesn’t get much spotlight, except in the form of Luna Lovegood, who while intelligent is also a little bit crazy. But crazy in a good way. She has quite the imagination and is always searching for things even the Wizarding World doesn’t believe exist, rather than relying on books for answers.

Finally we have Hufflepuff: the House of Leftovers. Which I really don’t think is fair. Work ethic and loyalty are far from bad traits to have, they just don’t sound as cool as Courage and Wisdom. Secondly their mascot is a badger. Have you ever seen the damage a badger can do? Also, let’s not forget that Cedric Diggory, the Hogwarts Champion was a Hufflepuff. But Hufflepuff is the most devalued House of them all. No one wants to be a Hufflepuff. (Except me evidently, I think they’re a pretty amazing house).

This system is on display in every book, particularly in the case of the House Point System, which I’m sure was originally a way to encourage students to be competitive academically but has since twisted into a system for promoting rivalries and bigotry. The point I’m trying to make is that Hogwarts literally classes its students into a system that indoctrinate them into prejudice. Rowling gives us several examples that the broad categorizations made by Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasely are categorically wrong, but the books themselves never address this fact. I highly doubt all the eleven year-olds in first year are evil, but when enough people hate you and tell you this on a regular basis, you tend to start thinking they are right.

Dumbledore preaches about acceptance, but his own school is a time-bomb he does nothing to stop or change. By allowing House Rivalries to run rampant, he allows another generation to be indoctrinated into this cycle of prejudice.

And this is a problem even the Magically Animated Talking Hat recognizes.

-Imported from old blog “British Literature”

Casting of Castes: A Critical Look at Sorting

Blood Purity in Harry Potter.

So let’s talk about Harry Potter. If there ever was a contemporary British novel about the Caste system and steeped is racial themes: This is that book.While I was considering this, I realized I’d have to do this post in two parts.

1. The Blood Purity Argument

2. The Hogwarts House System

Both deal with a specific type of caste value system and in both these castes your position is unchangeable. So, let’s talk about Blood Purity.

If we are going to explain the Blood Purity argument, we first have to explore the reason Rowling gives the prejudice against Muggleborns. That reason is Salazar Slytherin.

And here’s his chocolate Frog card. Note how even his illustration and posture makes you think “This man is evil and not to be trusted.”

Now for some news that will BLOW YOUR MIND: Salazar Slytherin wasn’t actually the evil guy the books make him out to.

Yes, he didn’t want to teach muggleborn students magic. Yes he believed that magic should be restricted to magic only families, and yes he left Hogwarts over an argument about this issue. But is that the measure of evil in a ma? Not necessarily (and yes, I KNOW about the basilisk, but I’ll get to that later.)

What everyone, including the students of his house, tend to forget is that Slytherin lived approximately 1000 years before these books take place and therefore you must take his views in that context. And when you consider just what was going on at that time in Britain, Salazar’s viewpoints make sense.

1. Muggleborns should not be taught magic at Hogwarts.

Well at this time most of these muggleborns would have been illiterate peasants, rather than scholars and thus would be incapable of reading and writing, two very important skills integral to scholarly learning. That’s not to say they couldn’t have been taught, but ask anyone who struggles with literacy and they’ll tell you it’s not easy. The students of magical would probably be literate, due to their parents having schooled them before coming to school. Also, the rise of the Church and the witch burning made muggleborn children a security risk; the Founders would essentially have to kidnap them and never allow them to see their families again. Now, children typically left at that age for apprenticeships or younger, depending, but can you imagine the problem of extracting a muggleborn Aristocrat?

2. Muggles are inferior to wizards

So, 1000 years ago, it was the Dark Ages. Seems like an obvious answer doesn’t i Remember what caused the Dark Ages? Answer:the collapse of the Roman Empire. Once the Empire collapsed, quite a lot of knowledge was lost that humanity had to  rediscover. My theory is that wizards never had that problem and their magic allowed them to retain that knowledge and standard of living while  the rest of the populace struggled to get by. This would have put most magical families on par with the muggle aristocracy or at least the merchant class.

Now let’s take a look at who, 1000 years down the line, is promoting these outdated viewpoint:

Harry’s Slytherin contemporaries.

These kids worry me, because they’ve been born introduced into the symbolic order by their parents, who have taught them to be racist against those with muggle ancestors. Which I’m pretty sure includes their own families. The wizarding population is so small, that it has to breed with muggles in order to survive and not produce mentally unstable or deformed children. Which includes squibs (those from magical parents without magic themselves and are therefore lower than dirt). My theory is that all muggleborns have a squib ancestor in their own family tree somewhere and the magic gene is a recessive trait.

Voldemort: The main antagonist of the series.

And then there’s this man, the self-styled Lord Voldemort. Whose stated goal is for supreme rulership over Britain (and then the world presumably) and the elimination of those with muggle ancestry. And if this is reminding you of the logic of another historical figure and his ideas then you aren’t alone:

This promotion of the superiority of wizards and Purebloods especially is incredibly hypocritical. Considering that Voldemort himself is a half blood, he literally has no foundation to stand on, except for the fact he is apparently a very persuasive speaker. Which only makes sense because for all his propaganda of a master race god knows Hitler certainly wasn’t Aryan.

They play this issue really well in the movie, In fact the entire scene at the Ministry of Magic scared me far more than the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort:

It frightens me, because everything Dolores Umbridge accuses the muggleborn witch of is very similar to not only the Nazi regime, but also the interrogations of the Cold War. And that’s a terrifying thought, that a government can be corrupted in this way. (PS. digital cookies for anyone who can spot all the Third Reich symbolism here).

Most of the equality problem here stems from the lack of an Industrial Revolution. They never really needed one. As there appears to be a small population there was no need for migration to the city and magic would have allowed them [wizards] to create what they needed  efficiently without the need of factories to mass produce it. The Wizarding World, prior to this, was always far ahead of the muggle world and could be secure in that superiority. By 2011, when the final movie came out, it occurred to me that this is no longer the case. Muggles have far surpassed wizards in every area, for instance communication: Owls and the Floo Netwrok sound and look cool, but the Internet is much faster and easier to communicate with. We’ve even walked on the Moon.

The Muggleborns are needed now more than ever for the Wizarding World, because they`ll force it to change, mostly by innovation. This class oriented society, which even with marriage you cannot move away from the label they stick on you, is in a state of stagnation when Harry finally vanquishes Voldemort. It is in a state of decay, which is proven by the fact that these are the only books I’ve read that don’t actually RESOLVE any of the conflicts, except obviously the elimination of Voldemort.

In the end, I think we must consider Dumbledore’s words in book four as a wake up call:

“It is not who you are born, but who you grow to be that truly matters in this life.”

-imported off my old Blog “British Literature”

Predicting the Future: Storycraft and PR Team-up

Supernatural Predictions: The Road We’re Coming To

Incendiary Statement Below Gif.

I Don’t Ship Destiel but am interested in its canonizing anyway.

Predictions up until the end of the series.

Read Under Cut if Interested

 

So, let me start this off by saying that I, like most of you, have seen Misha Collins and Russ Hamilton’s tweets. I have heard the news about Misha becoming a regular. I’ve heard the rumours, seen the polls and watched the interviews.

Let me also say I am a Public Relations personnel by trade with a degree in English Literature.

This leads to make some interesting conclusions about where Supernatural is going with its pairings and story in general. Which I will post here so in 3 weeks I can say : CALLED IT!

Prediction 1: Happy Endings ALL Around. (for the series finale anyway)

There really are only so many ways to write a story that is recognizable in Western Storytelling Tradition. And this one isn’t heading for tragedy like Kripke’s story arc was.

Likely enough, the series finale ends with our boys getting happy endings. Or what passes for happy for their individual characters. IE Sam becomes a Man of Letters, gets married and has kids. That’s the way his character arc is headed right now.

Prediction 2: Destiel becomes canon.

Let me start this off by saying I don’t really ship Wincest or Destiel. So this is not the opinion of shipper feels, this is the opinion of PR and the cultural climate of the television business.

Wincest is never going to happen in canon. Really. No matter how much you tweet. For the very simple reason that INCEST WILL NEVER GET THE GREEN LIGHT FROM THE TELEVISION EXECS. They won’t show it. It would likely lead to a shutdown of the series because no station is going to risk that kind of controversy.

Destiel, on the other hand, is a distinct possibility. Why? I hear the screams of SPN tumblr fans wail. Well, because story and free publicity. Destiel works in the story and character arcs we’ve been fed. It’s a possible route the writers can go. But it’s more interesting from a business perspective.

See, Supernatural has been running for 8 seasons now and they need to keep getting viewers. (Why Misha Collins is instrumental to this is another post all together). But that’s really difficult because Entertainment Media has all these shiny new shows to promote, and Supernatural is clearly a good bet. It’s not interesting to the media anymore. But the two male leads in a romantic-sexual relationship? That has potential and is publicity GOLD. Likely they set it up as the season 9 mid-season finale, which is around the time they need to pitch for a renewal for season 10. The media interest will blow up! People will watch the show just to see what this Dean and Cas thing is all about.

Also, it’s controversial enough that people will talk about it, but not controversial enough to lose air time. The rights of same-sex couples are of big interest right now. The cultural mind is ready for it.

Prediction 3: Gabriel returns

I have very little basis for this one except hope. I really liked Gabriel and I want him back. EVERYONE ELSE GETS TO COME BACK. Nobody ever really stays dead in this show ok?

Prediction 4: Human Cas – That’s the season 8 finale

This is so likely. The big problem with Cas is he’s so overpowered it’s difficult to write threats against him. He immediately dissolves all the stakes. Makes him hard to use. A Human Cas would solve this story issue nicely, letting him be around more, setting up the main conflict for season 9, getting some Destiel character development for my predicted media explosion etc. And they’ve already got enough backstory for Cas to be human. Also, they can’t kill him, no one’s going to buy that after 3+ resurrections. And Misha Collins is a confirmed regular.

So that’s the way I saw the world this week. Agree, disagree? Drop me a line.

Etiquette and Manners: Be Polite

Depths of Fan-culture or Who is Misha Collins and Why do I care?

Idols and Ideas, the Actors of Supernatural and General Politeness

Or: People occasionally confuse me and fandom is not an exception.

Hello new followers 🙂 In celebration of acquiring around 100 of you in the span of about 48 hours I thought I’d break pattern and post some more rambling text of deep thoughts that has been floating around in my brain for awhile.

 

Let me start this by making an annoucement that will blow your minds: Jensen Ackles grocery shops.

Mull that around in your brain for a moment. I’ll pause to let that sink in.

Mind-boggling isn’t it? That someone you only ever see from a distance, hear about from second hand gossip (print or digital), and will probably never meet outside of a professional setting has a life that involves the mundane things that you do everyday. He’s a person, with person feelings, and person relationships and imperfections and opinions and stories. In short – Jensen Ackles exists outside of what you happen to think and imagine him to be.

Where am I going with this? Well I had this conversation with my brother in the grocery store about celebrity gossip magazines, actors, and tumblr and my brother turned to me and said, “Jensen Ackles is not a person.”

This blew my mind, because obviously Jensen Ackles is not in fact a collective hallucination. He’s an actor. In fact, there is overwhelming evidence of that fact. My brother was quick to respond, “No, I mean to most people he isn’t a person, he’s an idea.”

That stopped me because it seemed so odd. But now that I think about it my brother is right. Fandom and the Mainstream Media has a semi-annoying habit of making actors into ideas just as their characters are.

Now let me be the first to say I don’t think there is anything wrong with being invested in fictional characters and concepts. As irritating as those people who say it isn’t healthy are the fact is that humanity has done this for centuries. It’s called religion. Every culture has a set of stories by which they showcase desirable and indesirable traits in their belief system. So yes, it is totally acceptable to be emotionally invested in something fictional that doesn’t exist necessarily outside of the collective cultural imagination. (By which I mean: The average Ancient Greek probably wasn’t going to meet up with Apollo on the street corner after hearing about him cursing Cassandra. Take that as you will.)

But it is it acceptable to apply that logic to real people?

Personally, I really don’t think so. But then I have a really hard time investing in people I don’t personally know and interact with on a fairly regular basis.

Fan Confession- For most of the first 5 seasons I had no idea who played what character in Supernatural. This isn’t really odd for me as I very rarely note the names of the actors playing anyone. The Winchesters and Castiel were the Winchesters and Castiel.

Then I saw “The French Mistake”. And my reaction was the same as the Winchesters “Jared Pada-who?”

Also, I still didn’t care. Sam and Dean were my main concern. In many ways they still are. I’ve invested a significant portion of time and emotion in  the boys, gone along on all their adventures, seen them suffer, seen them laugh. I’ve participated in the lives of Winchesters even if in a passive way. I know their stories. I didn’t know or particularly care about the actors who portrayed them.

It’s a bit different now. I’ve watched most of the Youtube videos of the cons for J2 and Misha and genuinely enjoyed them. The actors seem to be great people, Misha Collins is always a joy to see and they have great stories. Stories are what I like about people, I like to know about the silly things that have happened, that give me a glimpse of who they are even if I don’t know them well. If they are funny stories, well all the better. We can laugh together at the silly things that happen in life. I’ve gotten to participate in their lives for a short while in a small way. If I saw that them at a convention and didn’t immediately suffer the social anxiety I have with most people I’d be comfortable saying “Hey you guys do a really god job and I enjoy the show.” “Maybe even, “Congratulations on your new baby.” or “Your child is adorable.” But that’s about it. The type of stuff you can say to people who you’ve just met and is socially acceptable. They’ve shared a bit of themselves with me and the rest of the fandom, so I think that’s great. I feel closer to them as people and that makes me care about stuff they have to say more.

But at the end of the day, most of what those people do or say is not going to directly affect me physically or emotionally. And anything I have to say is going to affect them even less.

Which brings me to this: Why did Gen Padalecki (Cortese) actually get threats against her life? Why did that one person send porn to Jensen Ackles parents? And why does half the fandom want to have their babies?

There are lines. Boundary lines of politeness and legalities that really shouldn’t be crossed. There is no excuse for these things. The Supernatural fandom is mostly decent about this particular breed of nastiness. But seriously? What possible reason is there to threaten the life of the now Mrs. Padalecki? I’m reasonably certain she hasn’t done anything to deserve it. All she did was fall in love and marry her husband, which is something the majority of people seem to aspire too. Jensen Ackles might remember you as an anonymous weirdo, but all sending that package did was make him and all involved really uncomfortable. And really girls? I understand you really like these men, both the actors and their characters but in reality having babies involves 9 months of pregnancy, childbirth and at least 18 years of being responsible for a child.

And as much as I like the Winchester brothers, I wouldn’t go that far.

I guess what I’m saying this: Let’s all enjoy the story together, but at the end of the day People are going to be People regardless of that story.

There is a definite line between fiction and reality my friends. Let’s all try to remember that it exists.

 

 

 –imported from my tumblr

Rise of the Guardians – Americana

Unpopular Opinion – Guardian Mythos

So once again, I return to tackle an issue that is sensitive and may incite a shitstorm, though I hope not. (Because I’m not popular enough to rock the foundations of tumblr, I have maybe 10 followers)

General Disclaimer: People who do not have the assorted Guardian Mythos in their childhood, in no way am I attacking your belief system/Religion/Culture. In fact, I probably study it and would like to learn more about it. Ok? here, have this Jack Frost gif I found. He says much better than me.

 

So, Rise of the Guardians. I think most of this fandom agrees it was a pretty good movie right? Excellent. While browsing the tags though, I’ve come across a couple of posts that mention that they (the author) didn’t have Santa Claus/Tooth Fairy/ Easter Bunny/ Sandman as a child, so they didn’t quite mesh with the movie. Now, I’m not going to mention names, because honestly I can’t remember them, but the content sticks out in my head.

The assorted authors mentioned that their childhood figures didn’t make it into the movie. My first thought was ‘No, really? A movie about mostly post-colonial North American folktales didn’t include your particular beliefs? Shocker.’ Then the Critical Literature training kicked in and my second thought was “Huh, I wonder why that is? Why these 5 heroes?”

So I thought about it. Then I thought about it some more. Then a crossover fanfiction idea occurred to me, so I wrote that, and then the answer appeared. And this is my guess:

Dreamworks/William Joyce wasn’t being racist or anything of the sort in choosing these characters. They just form a particular Pantheon of Mythology and including people from outside that Pantheon just did not occur to them.

Now, most of you are probably thinking:

But allow me to explain:

A Pantheon is: the gods of a particular mythology considered collectively.- (dictionaryreference .com) but it can also mean: the place of the heroes or idols of any group,individual, movement, party, etc., or the heroes or idols themselves( – also dictionary.reference.com)   And this is what I tend to think of the Guardians of. A particular group of heroes/stories that all fit together for most North American children. So, people who didn’t connect, it’s not that you were ignored, its that Joyce/ Dreamworks just picked a specific set of mythology to use. It’s something that happens all the time. Recent examples: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Kane Chronicles, Runemarks, The Wicked Lovely Series. It would have been odd for this particular group of heroes to include anyone outside their folklore. And believe me- it is interconnected. As to why that is? That’s probably for another post.

And now to escape the fandom before you kill me.

– Artisan_Danni

-imported from my tumblr

Old Trek Vs. NuTrek

Unpopular Opinion: To Boldly Go

So fellow trekkies, I feel I’ve been hanging around in the fandom long enough now to try to address this issue that’s been plaguing the fandom ever since the Star Trek Reboot got released. And that issue is: does the reboot somehow wreck the integrity of the original series? And did Abrams and his team miss the point entirely?

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Or Abrams’verse vs the Original.

Short answer: No.

If you happen to disagree with that statement, or it angers you, or you just aren’t interested in my reasons, feel free to stop reading now. If not, please click for more.

Also Spoiler Warning For Star Trek Movies Of All Kinds Under Cut

 

If you’re still with me, I can only assume you are interested in how I’ve managed to come up with that answer. Or at least angry enough to want to argue to prove me wrong. Well, before we get to the anger, let me quantify my response first.

How I Got Into This Fandom:

Confession time- The reboot was the first Star Trek I really watched. After avoiding it for so many years of hearing bad reviews, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the movie. It was not without its problems, but I enjoyed it enough to give the rest of the Star Trek franchise a try. My first real exposure to Star Trek was through my mom, who loves the original series. She used to watch it at lunch time back when I was still in grade school, so I was at least familiar with the crew of the Enterprise (So much so that I was actually kind of excited when my grade 10 math teacher told us he met George Takei on a trip to Stratford. I may have yelled out “you met Hikaru Sulu?!’ in front of my whole class.) Since seeing both the reboot movies and watching the Original series and most of the original movies as well (I may have skipped TWOK because SPPPOOOOOCCCKKKKKKKKK!!!!!! *tears* I’m not ashamed because my mom still hasn’t seen it for that exact reason) I feel I’m in an interesting place to compare the two.

So Why Like The New Movies?:

I hear a lot of fans complain that the reboot ‘misses the point of Star Trek’. And until STID came out, I would have agreed with you. BUT: something we all need to remember is that Star Trek has always explored the problems and anxieties of the particular time it’s being produced in. That means over 47 years the Star Trek franchise has tackled many different issues in different ways. The difference here is that they’ve never rebooted a cast of beloved characters to do so, and that’s part of what makes people so uncomfortable. In the 60s people were concerned we would never be able to get along as a species, that we would destroy each other and our planet. Star Trek gave them a vision of the future in which we got past our prejudices, accepted each other and moved forward. The new movies aim to tackle the problems of our generation: The ones who lived through 9/11 and its aftermath. The generation living through the war on terror. If STID reminded you of 9/11 before you saw that dedication at the end, that’s because it was supposed to. It was a very deliberate move.

Terrorism and it’s Military Response:

At the end of 2009 Spock Prime tells his younger self he has inheirted a broken world. He isn’t incorrect. The terrorist Nero has just wiped out a planet something which was previously thought impossible by the  inhabitants of the Federation because the idea is psychotic. But one man, leading one group of people, had this insane idea that the Federation had to pay for crimes it hadn’t committed, but was still being held responsible for. This horrific act had consequences- the full breadth we begin to understand when STID rolls around. That certain individuals no longer see war as a far off concern, but as the only answer. The Abrams’verse has become a place of trauma. How do you carry on in the face of tragedy like this? How does Starfleet stay a peaceful humanitarian exploratory organization in the face of madmen with ships that can cause such destruction? In the face of the Vulcan Tragedy the world of Star Trek has lost faith in the ideal that we can all get along. But STID does end on a high note- Kirk says he wants to move past this, to keep trying to be good people. To boldly go where no one has gone before. It’s a powerful message in this day and age. One that has me hoping that the rumored 2016 movie will deal with healing trauma rather than chucking this plot arc. In that sense, Star Trek has remained true to its original calling.

So Why All The Anger? :

JJ Abrams is not a Star Trek fan. I get that. I get why that’s concerning. HOWEVER THAT DOES NOT MEAN HE DOES NOT RESPECT THE SOURCE MATERIAL. You don’t have to be a fan of something to respect it. Lens flares aside, the have the reboots ever outright disrespected Star Trek? Has Abrams ever disrespected the fans, other than with his usual marketing bullshit? Because that’s part everything JJ Abrams makes and is not Star Trek specific. (Khan is another issue, I’ll get to later). The movies have some problems, some of them glaring, but they are still pretty decent films as far as Star Trek goes. The travesty that was the Original Motion Picture comes to mind.

So Let’s Talk About Alternate Universes:

Abrams’verse Trek gets tagged Alternate Original Series for a reason. It’s because these movies are an Alternate Universe, which despite that being stated pretty clearly still seems to go over some people’s heads. I like the old crew. I like the new crew. I respect their differences. Maybe it’s because I’m a fanfiction writer but I’m fairly familiar with the AU trope.  AUs always start out with the question: what would happen if this event was different/never occurred/shifted time etc. It takes familiar characters and settings and builds them around a whole new set of questions and events. So really, the AOS just feels like decently written fanfiction to me. Kirk and his crew have been updated with adjusted backstories, which have skewed the personalities of their characters a bit. The original crew was made up of stable, functioning adults, who had this very military-like outlook on life. AOS is full of just-graduated kids, who are just starting out, and haven’t had time to grow into their jobs. They’re young. Very young, untried and traumatized. And it shows. That’s part of the reason they react very viscerally to situations that their original counterparts would have chilled through. They don’t have the same experience and self-confidence, which makes them react differently and to me at least, sometimes more interestingly than the TOS crew would.

But There Are Problems:

Now’s the fun part. Despite all my cheerleading for the reboots, I admit, they have some problems. Even large problems. Problems that are even more apparent in STID. Problems like this guy:

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I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a good actor. I love him in Sherlock. And if he had been playing Cmdr. John Harrison, my two big concerns would not exist.

1. Khan Noonien Singh is a South Asian Character. Despite Ben’s wonderful performance here, and even if Abrams’ first two choices turned him down, casting a white actor in this role is still whitewashing. There’s been a lot of words written around this topic so I won’t expand on it here.

2. Khan really didn’t need to be in this movie. At all. For story reasons.

The writers kind of dropped the ball on this one. Having small shout outs to various Star Trek lore is great, even encouraged. Trying to retread Wrath of Khan was a bad move. And not just because they appeared to have missed the point of that movie entirely.

TWOK is the beginning of a 3 movie story arc that the original series did fairly well because they understood the story they were trying to tell. Putting it in here just seems weird. Khan was a continuation of an established storyline. Not so much here. Khan is a desperate plot twist, and a poorly used one at that.

Honestly? John Harrison should have stayed John Harrison. He could have still been a super-soldier, still could have had all the same motivations, the movie honest to god would not have needed to change except Quinto wouldn’t have got to pull his best Shatner impression at the end there. I could have easily accepted Harrison as the leader of a completely differently group of super-soldiers banished from earth because Star Trek already established that could happen. It’s plausible that there is more than one ship floating around out there. They might have had to adjust Leonard Nimoy’s cameo a bit, but the outcome could have been entirely the same. And they wouldn’t have had the frankly deserved bad publicity that comes with whitewashing.

Problem 2: Women.

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The Lovely Ladies of the Enterprise Nyota Uhura and Carol Marcus.

On the one hand: Kudos to the writers for managing to get another woman into the Enterprise crew without it feeling forced.

One the other hand: Is there a particular reason Janice Rand and Christine Chapel haven’t made an appearance? Both of them were portrayed as incredibly competent in the original, why don;t they at least get bits parts here?

Nyota and Carol get a mixed reaction from me. In Uhura’s case, its mostly pleased. She didn’t get very much to do in the original series, and I feel the writers have actually given her more of a chance to shine in the reboot. On the other hand, did she need a romantic relationship with Spock for that? She stands well enough on her own two feet and I’m not sure dating Spock adds anything to her character that couldn’t be accomplished with some more clever writing.

Carol shares the same problem. On the one hand she gets to be incredibly  competent in her field and can stand on her own. On the other hand, really? We needed the underwear scene? I get that she’s being set up as a possible love interest for Kirk but come on writers, you’ve already proved to me you are clever, why did you regress to this juvenile bullshit?

Problem 3. The Spock/Uhura Relationship

MY PROBLEM WITH THIS IS NOT SHIPPING RELATED!

Now that’s out of the way.

This relationship is kind of weird. Because I’m not sure it adds anything to the story. It’s just kind of there, like they needed to prove Spock was capable of caring about someone romantically for some weird reason. It doesn’t really add anything to Uhura’s role, except now we get the typical girl-hate for canonical relationship to a male character we like to ship with another male character, and the sly accusations she’s only on the Enterprise because she’s sleeping with Spock.

And its weird for Spock too, because it messes with his dynamics with Kirk and Bones. If the writers ever intended to develop it so that Nyota and Spock had conversations that helped them grow as characters and helped their relationship along, I’d be okay, but that will NEVER HAPPEN because they understand the fan base really well even if they apparently missed the memo that explained Kirk, Spock and Bones are 3 parts of a person and that’s why they work. That’s why those 3 get all the best dialogue and scenes in the original series. It because they’re really who we want to see.

This relationship feels very forced. Not bad. Not unwelcome. Forced. And maybe not used to its best advantage.

In Conclusion:

It all comes down to STORYCRAFT and how well the writers understand it.

As movies, the Trek reboot is not bad. As Star Trek movies, they are also aren’t bad. Maybe not great. Maybe not the best (because that title belongs to the one with the whales). But still pretty good as movies.

They do deserve to be judged on their own merits and failures. They aren’t  just retreads of an old beloved series. The reboots try to make Star Trek available for a new generation without alienating existing fans. And that’s a tough job for any franchise, let alone one with such a dedicated fan base.

My predictions for the 2016 movie are as follows:

-The movie actually deals with the fallout of Vulcan on a larger scale.

– It takes place after the 5-year mission

-We get to see the affects of the two previous movies of an older, more adult crew

This is assuming the writers intend to follow the three act model they’ve been following up until this point.and don’t attempt to remake Search for Spock when they’ve already negated all the possible avenues for that one.

Let’s see some original story lines guys. Let’s boldly go where no one’s gone before.

 

PS: Does anyone else thinks it’s cool that Leonard Nimoy’s gotten to play the same character for 47 years? Because the Harry Potter Cast may have grown up being their characters but Leonard Nimoy’s grown old with Spock.

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Effective Social Media Campaigning Starts With Knowing Your Audience

Unpopular Opinion: Beliebers

I absolutely love Beliebers. They are a Public Relations gold mine. They have enough social media presence to make the print and web media write about whatever has them upset this week without the journalist de jour taking them seriously.

It’s fabulous. Look at all the free and positive publicity Supernatural’s getting because they’re upset at Jared Padalecki. I’ve read fifteen online articles, some of them on major news sites, and all of them mention Supernatural, the CW Network and Jared Padalecki by name in the lead.

I’m just cackling so hard because they want to boycott the show and get it cancelled and they’re actually having the OPPOSITE effect.

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