Real Life News Bulletin

My last day at work will be the 9th. It’s nothing to do with performance, and in fact they would have me back once things get better in the industry, but unfortunately there’s just not enough work right now. I work for a government contractor and we don’t have as much to do as we’d like, so there have been a LOT of cuts. I’m not the only one, either.

Howdy folks!

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, I’ll be posting more frequently.

The bad news is, I’ll be posting more frequently because I am getting laid off.

*sad trumpet sound*

My last day at work will be the 9th. It’s nothing to do with performance, and in fact they would have me back once things get better in the industry, but unfortunately there’s just not enough work right now. I work for a government contractor and we don’t have as much to do as we’d like, so there have been a LOT of cuts. I’m not the only one, either.

But I’ve got several years’ experience in this industry behind me, plenty of resumes out floating around, and most importantly, an emergency fund saved up to see me through. And of course, there’s unemployment.

So I am worried, but not really worried. I have to say I’ve been planning for this since January. And while I had a new job and disposable income and such, I never REALLY forgot what being unemployed, broke, and desperate felt like. I don’t think anyone who’s felt it ever really does. So I tried to make sure my boyfriend and I live somewhat frugal lifestyles. I don’t go out for meals TOO much, rarely shop for anything but essentials, and try to save money where I can. I do treat myself once in a while, and even then it tends to be a single item.

So don’t worry for me! I’m fine, there are jobs out there, I’m smart and experienced and very professional. All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

(Although if you have any leads on instructional design or copywriting jobs in the Orlando area, send me an email!)

Old World Evil Entry Number 2: Hannibal (2001)

Lecter’s corruption extends to the audience, too. When some truly awful people (Mason Verger is a drug-addled billionaire and convicted pederast) come after him, Lecter defends himself: Pazzi tries to run some game and gets a gypsy boy and himself shanked, Verger tries to torture him to death and the result is probably the strangest thing Gary Oldman has ever had to do as an actor. And we find ourselves cheering for this predator of humans. After all, he has a moral code and he follows it, even protecting Starling when she is in danger. That is Verger’s fatal error – he thinks that Lecter is as corrupt and evil as he is, when in fact Verger is threatening one of the few people on earth Lecter cares about and respects.

Hannibal movie poster.jpg

For the record, I have never liked this poster. I get what they are doing: only part of his face is shown, the other side hidden in shadow, reminding us of his duality. One side of his personality is erudite, refined, the consummate gentleman, but we are not to be fooled – we must remember he is savage beneath the facade, as the red, demonic eye indicates. So I get that, but it just doesn’t work for me. I do like how it echoes Caravaggio’s use of light in his paintings, and he often depicted gruesome scenes in beautiful ways, so it has that going for it.

I knew who Hannibal Lecter was waaaaay before I ever saw Silence of the Lambs. He is as much an American cultural icon as Jason, John Wayne, or Tom Sawyer. I was about 12 when SOTL came out, which was a little young, so I didn’t see the film until I was 17 or so, and I was instantly fascinated.

Even though Lecter is a main character in SOTL, we spend very little time with him and never see him in his natural element. Every time he’s onscreen we’re riveted. We want more of this character. If you read Red Dragon and saw the film Manhunter, again your appetite was whetted for more.

So when the book Hannibal came out it caused quite a stir – finally, we would see Hannibal in his natural habitat! Free-roaming Lecter, at last! It promised to be the difference between seeing a tiger in the zoo and seeing one in the jungles of India: no walls, no rules.

The book definitely offered more than we had before – almost too much. The Hannibal parts were good, great even, but all the other stuff – Mason Verger and his bodybuilder sister who was omitted from the movie, the Italian crooked cop, the memory palace stuff, Krendler being a douche, and Starling’s fall from grace – there was just SO MUCH of it. It’s also entirely possible that SOTL as a book was good but not great, and the film turned it into something more memorable. I read the book about 20 years ago but can’t recall much of it- the movie has overridden it, I think.

But when we’re hanging out with Hannibal Lecter in his parts of the book, everything is awesome. 

Free-Range Hannibal
Hannibal-Lecter-in-Florence REALNESS

He hangs out in bistros sipping espresso from those little-bitty cups, demitasses. He wears amazing suits, hats, and sunglasses, and gloves all the time. The two latter are not just because he’s dressed to the nines – they allow him to hide his face from surveillance cameras and ensure he leaves no fingerprints behind. He creates individual bouquets of THE FANCIEST hand cream so he can write a letter to Starling on beautiful paper, sealed in red wax. The scent of the hand cream is intentional – it is a clue she can use in order to find him. He’s acting as the interim director of the Palazzo Vecchio, a museum/libarary in Florence, Italy under the name “Dr. Fell.” Even when he’s hanging out at home, his pajamas or whatever he’s wearing when Pazzi pays him a visit appear to be silk or maybe fine linen. During the scene he’s sipping red wine and treating the museum’s archives like a personal gift shop.

One of the movie’s many themes is corruption, and Hannibal’s corrupting effect on others. For example, an Italian cop in debt begins to suspect Hannibal. His wife has expensive tastes, and the huge reward that Mason Verger is offering for Lecter’s location and capture is too tempting for him to ignore, which leads to his demise. Starling too is corrupted, although she tries valiantly to warn the Italian authorities and Pazzi in particular about Lecter.  Verger was corrupted before he even wandered across Lecter’s path, but Verger himself acts as a corrupting influence on his own people: he has his private physician all tangled up in his evil schemes. (Ironically it’s Lecter who frees the man from the private hell he’s made for himself – given the choice between saving Verger and throwing him to the maneating pigs [long story], Lecter shouts ‘Hey Cordelle! Throw him in!  You can always say it was me!”).

Once Lecter realizes Verger is on to him, he decides he’s been away dallying in Italy too long, and heads stateside. He boosts walking shitbag Paul Krendler’s Amex and goes on a little shopping spree, and I am here to tell you that  if a ‘Hannibal Lecter’ cooking collection existed I would totally ruin my credit buying stuff from it. He purchases copper pots and pans , fancy dinnerware and flatware, flowers, and cooking tools, in addition to some Gucci shoes for Starling. Sur Le Table or Williams-Sonoma ought to get on that. Hell, even just an Amazon Wish List would be fascinating reading.

Thomas Harris and George R. R. Martin should start a catering business. Weirdest dinner party ever.

Lecter’s corruption extends to the audience, too. When some truly awful people (Mason Verger is a drug-addled billionaire and convicted pederast) come after him, Lecter defends himself:  Pazzi tries to run some game and gets a gypsy boy and himself shanked, Verger tries to torture him to death and the result is probably the strangest thing Gary Oldman has ever had to do as an actor. And we find ourselves cheering for this predator of humans. After all, he has a moral code and he follows it, even protecting Starling when she is in danger. That is Verger’s fatal error – he thinks that Lecter is as corrupt and evil as he is, when in fact Verger is threatening one of the few people on earth Lecter cares about and respects.

I am excited to watch the tv show with Mads Mikkaelson. I haven’t seen it yet, but all the fandom stuff I’ve seen has me curious to check it out. A friend said that the show has the same kind of cooking eyecandy that Hannibal the movie did, so I’m looking forward to it.

Hannibal the movie is available on Instant Watch. The show doesn’t seem to be, but I’ve heard it is available on Amazon Prime.

Bon Appetit!

The Secret Heroes of A Song of Ice and Fire: Fat Guys

Today, I am focusing on a single, select group of heroes that have no other defining characteristic than offering more cushion for the pushin’. As before established, heroes come in all shapes and sizes in Westeros, and so do heroic deeds. Today, we’re giving some time to a group who need and deserve some recognition. Their deeds might not be writ large, but my gosh, GRRM sure writes THEM large! (yes that was a dumb joke; moving on)

This post will contain some WICKED spoilers from the books and the show! Just FYI! 

There are all manner of heroes in A Song of Ice and Fire: obvious heroes like Jon Snow, who wrestles with his inner turmoil so much it’s a wonder he can even get past breakfast in the morning; Ned Stark, whose heroism was cut short (HEYOOOO!!!!) by both his rigid adherence to honor and his utter lack of self-preservation; Davos Seaworth, who can be as rigid as the fallen Lord of Winterfell but has four billion times the good sense, and SO FAR seems to be plugging right along, despite some pretty awesome fakeouts discussed below;  less obvious heroes who at first seem to be terrible people and then either perform some selfless acts or see the error of their ways, like Sandor Clegane and Jaime Lannister; complex, flawed heroes like the MAGNIFICENT Tyrion Lannister, for whom no good deed goes unpunished; and simple, stalwart heroes like my personal all-time favorite, Brienne of Tarth.

But we aren’t here to talk about them today!

Today, I am focusing on a single, select group of heroes that have no other defining characteristic than offering more cushion for the pushin’. As before established, heroes come in all shapes and sizes in Westeros, and so do heroic deeds. Today, we’re giving some time to a group who need and deserve some recognition. Their deeds might not be writ large, but my gosh, GRRM sure writes THEM large!  (yes that was a dumb joke; moving on)

Samwell Tarly

samwelltarly.jpg
Utilizes the same defense strategy as a basket of kittens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samwell Tarly on the show is pretty much the same as Sam in the books. He will literally be the first person to tell you how cowardly he is, but they gave him a bit more dignity in the show by skipping the parts where he wees himself in terror during battles with the Others. Sam is a gentle boy who loved songs, playing with his sisters, and literally, baskets of kittens. That’s one of his favorite things right there, I’m not being funny, he literally loves baskets of kittens. ADORABLE!!

Sam’s father is the terrifyingly badass Lord Randyll Tarly, who gave Sam the choice of either taking the black so Randyll’s younger, butch son could inherit his title, or having a fatal “accident.” Tarly the elder also practiced such gentle paternal techniques as beating the holy living fluff out of Sam, and chaining him up in a dungeon. So, given the choice between death and a suck life, Sam chose the suck life. Sam has absolutely no belief in himself, and despite the fact that he slays a White Walker, perhaps the FIRST White Walker in over eight thousand years to be slain by a human being, he is convinced it was an accident. The nickname that the other Night’s Watchmen give him, Sam The Slayer, is BADASS, but the name only embarrasses him. However, HE DID THAT. Maybe it was an accident, but either way, he did it. To paraphrase something Eddard Stark told Jon, a man can only be brave when he IS afraid. In that case Sam Tarly is one of the ballsiest men in the Seven Kingdoms.

Later in the books, Jon Snow sends Sam on a trip down to Oldtown to become a maester, and to watch over Aemon Targaryen, who is ancient and in danger of being burned by the red witch (long story). He travels with Gilly, and I am very pleased to say he loses his virginity during the sea voyage. It’s just too sweet! Sam’s story is awesome because while he’s not outwardly heroic, he’s also not exactly the usual type of anti-hero either: he’s shy, he blushes around women, is terrified of just about everyone, and is so useless in a battle he’s usually ignored by enemies because he poses no threat. Granted, there is a lot to dislike, but as a character he has come a long way. He challenges the reader by unflinchingly revealing all his flaws, but then redeems himself on the odd occasion he pulls off something heroic. I was CHEERING  for him when he shanked that White Walker, AND when he nails Gilly for the first time – although to be fair, in the latter situation it was more her nailing him. Whatever! Good for Sam!

Varys the Spider

"Girrrrllll, PLEASE!"
I treasure every eyeroll, ESPECIALLY the ones at Littlefinger’s expense.

To be fair, Varys is described as “stout.”  POV characters think of him as soft and effeminate, with his silks and powders. To further be fair, silk bathrobes are unforgiving on EVERYONE without a wardrobe wrangler, so it’s to Conleth Hill’s credit that he brings the character to life and makes him as riveting as he does.

POV characters think of Varys as duplicitous, untrustworthy, and scheming. The audience knows different: he really does try to help save people from themselves, but can’t compromise himself or his network of spies. He counsels Ned Stark on how to save himself, and to Stark’s credit he takes the advice, but Joffrey the Shitbag ruined that plan by just being his shitbag self and everyone knows how that turned out. Varys also tries to advise Tyrion from continuing his relationship with Shae, but when he sees that Tyrion is dead-set on seeing the whore he arranges for them to meet in secret. He does betray people, which is pretty far from heroic, but he only betrays people after they have already betrayed themselves.

Varys is nothing if not practical: as a Targaryen loyalist, he is trying to both hold the realm together and tear it apart just enough for Danaerys to arrive and reestablish the Targaryen dynasty. Varys helped spirit the Targareyn children away, and later,  you find out that he also was instrumental in helping save (HUGE SPOILER HERE IT COMES!!!! ) Rhaegar Targaryen’s son, Aegon.

Though he’s not an actual fat guy per se, he does take epic amounts of shit about being a eunuch and generally disliked. However, he can change his appearance by using costumes and makeup (although by all accounts he makes a repulsive woman). It wouldn’t surprise me if, at the end of the series, Varys revealed himself to be seven feet tall and cut like a granite cliff face with hair down to his waist. If that happens, I’d like to take credit for being the first person to imagine the possibility, and I’m refusing to Google and see if someone else has come up with the same thing.

Strong Belwas

Strong Belwas, wearing the same amount of armor that women are usually shown in.

Strong Belwas has not yet appeared in the show. He shows up either at the end of A Clash of Kings or the beginning of A Storm of Swords, and is basically there to act as a distracter for the real meat and potatoes of the story, reintroducing Barristan Selmy (Note: maybe I’ll do an ‘Old People of ASOIAF’ next; Selmy would be king of that list). A former pit fighter, Belwas is a huge fat eunuch who seems like an oaf at first; he shows up, and basically acts as occasional comic relief, doing nothing but eating and sort of doofing around in the background. He has a sword, and a tiny iron vest he wears as armor. He is covered with scars, claiming that each cut represents a foe he has slain, as he allows them to make a single cut before he finishes them so everyone can know how many men he’s fought. Everyone sort of glances at each other and smiles, thinking he’s full of it.

THEN.

During their march, Danaerys’s army comes up on a walled city. The city close up their walls and send out a single champion on horseback. The meaning is both clear and veiled: Dany can send out her own champion to fight the lancer, but there is no guarantee that the people will open their gates if her champion wins; the veiled meaning is that if she loses, she will look weak and foolish AND be out a champion. She looks over her little court of champions and decides to send out the one who hasn’t done a whole hell of a lot yet and wouldn’t be a big loss to Team Targaryen, Strong Belwas.

Belwas requests they make him a dish of liver and onions, which are his favorite ‘after battle’ food,’  draws his sword and absurdly tiny shield, lumbers out onto the battleground, and goes to work. However, when battle is joined, he moves like a fat tiger.

In thinking about Strong Belwas’s fighting technique, I am reminded of Bruce Lee’s adage of ‘Be like water.’ If Lee was a fan of ASOIAF he might have amended that adage to “Or jello. If you can’t be water, be jello.” Jello traps an enemy’s blade, conforms to whatever shape it’s dropped in, and springs back into shape once it’s freed. So too does Strong Belwas. He’s fast, he’s agile, and he lets the lancer get in a single cut before he finishes the guy like the last french fry. Then, rather than take a victory lap, Belwas drops his pants and takes a victory dump in the direction of the city’s no longer cheering crowds. Then he returns to Dany’s camp and requests the aforementioned liver and onions. After all, he did make some room.

Strong Belwas again proves himself when he inadvertently eats a poisoned dessert intended for Dany, surviving the poison because of his huge bulk. I have no idea what the future holds for the character, but I do love him so.

Illyrio Mopatis

Played by Roger Allern in the show

Illyrio Mopatis in the book has probably the cruelest description of all the fat guys on this list. He’s described as ‘lord of suet,’ ‘lord of cheese’, ‘vast’ and other unkind terms, by various POV characters. In the show he just looks like they added some padding to the actor.

Illyrio is a magister in Pentos, basically a super rich businessman. We meet him in the beginning of the series when he helps Viserys (remember him? he was AWFUL) arrange Danerys’s marriage to Khal Drogo. The fancy mansion that the Targeryens are staying in belong to him. He also gives Danaerys her dragon eggs.

Like Varys, much and more is said of Mopatis, and most of it is not too kind. Besides POV characters describing him as fat, he is also mistrusted and considered to be conniving and self-serving. Strong words, considering he sheltered the Targaryens and is helping Varys with his plans to restore them to the throne. It could just be that he’s a businessman with unusually long foresight – after all, whichever Targaryen takes the throne would remember the man who helped them, and that would be a good position to be in. Some make the facetious claim that if he had known the dragon eggs would hatch, he would have sat on them himself rather than give them to Danaerys.

However, as the reader I think he’s a bit more of an altruist, similar to Varys. Both of them grew up penniless on the streets of Pentos, and when he was young Mopatis was a sellsword who was incredibly lithe and fierce with a  blade. Perhaps they both remember those days and are seeking to stabilize the realm for the benefit of smallfolk. After all, the smallfolk are the ones who pay the highest price when it comes to wars.

Mopatis sends Strong Belwas and Arstan Whitebeard to Dany as bodyguards. When Tyrion escapes King’s Landing, Mopatis helps him across the Narrow Sea and also sends him to Dany, chatting with Tyrion along the way. Tyrion mistrusts his motives, but I don’t know, I really think he’s just out to help the little people. He also states that Viserys had intended to sneak into Dany’s room the night before her wedding to Khal Drogo and steal her maidenhead, but he put a stop to that by posting guards outside her room.

Wyman Manderly

Any resemblance to Santa is purely coincidental… or IS it?

Wyman Manderly appears at Winterfell early in A Game of Thrones, but I don’t believe he’s in the show, or if he is they didn’t introduce him. He shows up as one of the Stark bannermen to discuss things with Bran, who is acting as lord when everyone else is away. He is, without a doubt, my FAVORITE secret fat guy hero of the entire series.

Uncharitably but probably truthfully described as ‘Lord Too Fat To Sit a Horse,’ Manderly is the lord of White Harbor. Two of his sons are involved in the War of the Five Kings: one is taken captive by the enemy, and the other travels with Catelyn Stark, ultimately being murdered during the Red Wedding. One of his sons is visible in the show during the Wedding, a round-cheeked guy with a waxed mustache and a silver merman on his black shirt.

SPOILERS AHOY!

By the time Davos Seaworth makes his way to White Harbor in the fifth book to ask Manderly to support Stannis, Manderly has become paranoid and mistrustful. He has Freys in his charge as wards and allies, and so he immediately puts Davos to death. Later, another POV character reports that they have seen the Onion Knight’s head dipped in tar, his mouth stuffed with onions and put on a spike above the gates of White Harbor. Since Davos is another of my favorite characters, I was M A D that day. My boyfriend occasionally comes to check on me when I reading ASOIAF, usually when I start yelling. Sometimes my yelling is angry (GODDAMN IT CATELYN STOP DOING THINGS), sometimes my yelling is in disbelief (WTF THEY JUST CUT OFF JAIME’S HAND I CAN’T EVEN) and sometimes it’s in excitement (SAM FOUND BRAN AND RICKON! YEAAAHHHHHH!!). He just wants to know what kind of yelling it is. That day it was the ‘THIS BOOK KEEPS KILLING THE GOOD PEOPLE THIS IS ALL BULLSHIT’ kind of yelling. I am very passionate when I read.

BUT!

It was all a ruse!

Davos has been chilling in the dungeon, and since he knows how to write now he can probably write the ‘Let’s Go!’ book of Westerosi dungeons since the man spends more time in them than anywhere else.

Wyman Manderly is NOT a turncloak – he is aware that his court is crawling with Frey spies, and he is FIERCELY loyal to Team Stark. He had to make it seem like he was putting Davos to death, even going so far as to kill some poor bastard who resembled the Onion Knight and putting his head on top of the gate. He has also found one of Theon’s underlings and gotten the true story of the Stark boys out of him: that Bran and Rickon are alive, and heading to the Wall. He charges Davos with the most awesome, dangerous, and heartfelt quest  in the book, after Brienne of Tarth’s: finding Manderly’s young lost lords, Bran and Rickon, and bringing them home to White Harbor, safe. He knows for certain that Rickon is on the Isle of Skagos, so that is where Davos heads.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!!

Remember how I said that Manderly had a couple of Freys in his charge? And he was fiercely loyal to the Starks? And how EVERYONE in Westeros knows about the Red Wedding?

Manderly gets some sweet, sweet vengeance. Oh yeah.

He bakes them into a pie and serves them to Roose Bolton, Walder Frey, and some other Freys.

BAM!!!

WYMAN THE PIEMAN, baby!

I had some friends who declared that they didn’t want to watch the show anymore after the Red Wedding. I honestly can’t blame them; I knew what was coming because I read the book, but even reading the book I nearly stood up and threw it across the room. Since it was my Kindle, I had to exercise restraint though. After I sat down and my blood pressure slowed down, I HAD to keep reading! SO MUCH GOOD STUFF happens in the second half of book 3 and beyond. I am hoping that seeing Joffrey buy it (GOD that day can’t come fast enough – even though i know it’s coming I CANNOT WAIT)  will draw people back.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little reemergence of my ramblings. I really do want to try and keep it up again. I have ideas for entries all the time and just can’t seem to work blogging into my schedule. I do enjoy it so!

Do YOU have a favorite character on GoT? Who is it? Why?

Current in Theater Post: Insidious

Anyhoodle, Insidious is fun like a decent haunted house ride; there are scares, and the atmospherics in the beginning are pretty awesome. It’s a shame the ride had to make a stop in Clichetown along the way. And it introduces one of the more creepy haunted house characters i’ve seen recently, a character I shall only refer to as Darth Goat. See it for him, at least, but maybe wait until it’s on video.

How is her veil not catching fire? How?
Is your washroom breeding old lady ghosts?

If a friend had not asked me to go, I would probably not have seen Insidious in the theater, and truth be told it probably would have flown right through my radar without making much of an impression, otherwise. A lot of horror movies come out these days, and few of which are worth my time or money.

I’m definitely glad I went, though.

It’s not a diamond in the rough, it’s not a secret success–Insidious is one part atmospheric haunted house movie in the vein of The Others, one part magical realist/dark fantasy like House of Leaves or Clive Barker’s Thief of Always, and one part lurid freakfest. Unfortunately these themes are as clumsily meshed as the three acts of the film are mismatched, but each one on their own was entertaining.
 
The nonexistent segues made if feel as if I was watching one film made up of segments by 3 different directors; it reminded me of the old Tales from the Crypt series, which was a little 30 minute vignette written and directed by a variety of Hollywood’s finest and most creative. But while that works for a tv series, it doesn’t lend itself well to a film.
While the trappings of the movie–creaks, groans, mysterious things moving about, and eventually some pretty batshit-weird looking ghosts–are all fine, the story was fairly creative. There were flashes of some really interesting and innovative ideas here, but they just didn’t pan out.
Also problematic for me was the uneven tone of the movie. It starts out with Renai (Rose Byrne) and Whatsisface (Patrick Wilson, of Watchmen fame) and their three kids moving into a big old house where weird shit starts to happen. And of course, it begins happening to the wife, because when you’re driving this model of cliche wagon you had damn well better trot them all out. Women are emotional, so they have these dumb feelings, and that’s why ghosts go after and attack them. Cause they’re unable to ignore dumb shit like feelings.
What’s telling is the creepily static gender roles espoused in the movie: in the first half, when ghosts are passive-aggressively making their presence known, only the female notices and reacts predictably, freaking out, screaming, crying, etc. When things get serious and action is needed, the movie literally switches protagonists and the male becomes the center of focus.
If they had wanted to do something really interesting, they might have taken a leaf out of The Devil’s Advocate’s book; in that, we did not see the things that were happening to the wife, which made them that much harder to accept as real, and that much easier to dismiss her problems as imagined or the result of a mental illness. Imagine each day the guy comes home and his wife is acting weirder and weirder, to the point where he doesn’t know if he trusts her with his kids anymore.
Here’s my theory on the current psychology behind these ghost movies where women are the protagonists:
The ghosts, who are being passive-aggressive with their ‘walking around in the background’ and moving objects around shit, are weakly requesting attention. The stereotypical assumption is that women are better at noticing nuances of behavior, and are more likely to notice these types of behaviors. Men need more direct interaction, and only become involved when furniture flies around and the walls start oozing blood, again on the assumption that men don’t recognize nuanced behaviors as well. All of which is horseshit, but is the faulty logic upon which haunted house/woman in peril movies operate. /rant
Anyhoodle, Insidious is fun like a decent haunted house ride; there are scares, and the atmospherics in the beginning are pretty awesome. It’s a shame the ride had to make a stop in Clichetown along the way. And it introduces one of the more creepy haunted house characters i’ve seen recently, a character I shall only refer to as Darth Goat. See it for him, at least, but maybe wait until it’s on video.

Toenail Painting, Giggling, Talking About Boys Entry: Charlie’s Angels

There just aren’t enough high-level movies where women respect each other and get along. For Christ’s sake, we comprise HALF the world population, getting along with each other and learning not to compete for some dude’s attention shouldn’t be this hard. For reals.

In 2000, just a few hours past the dawn of the new millennium, American culture stood on a cusp, though it did not know it.

Stuff Blows Up Real Good. And Titties.

The late 90’s saw a wave of postmodern feminism (yes, this is going to be one of THOSE posts) that I look back on with nostalgia. We had Buffy. We had Scully. We had Tank Girl. We had L7 and Poe, Veruca Salt and other snarly girl bands.

We had females DOING things, speaking their minds, making mistakes, trying and failing; granted, it wasn’t perfect, but it was stumbling, staggering, and shuffling towards that equality that feminists of the previous 100 years had dreamed of.

Charlie’s Angels was an exponent of that time, almost more so than the subsequent Kill Bill movies, and here’s why:

Charlie’s Angels, for all the glitter nail polish, high heels, explosions, and bouncing boobs, acknowledged the ridiculousness of the action genre by allowing women to take part in it the same way that men did. Plain and simple, it showed that women could be as witless in movies as their male counterparts.

For example: take any action movie that preceded it, and look at the cliches. The bad guys are terrible shots, go down with one punch, may be blown up but are never hurt in a way that humanizes them (ie broken limbs, etc.), attack one at a time, posture, but are less competent than your average frycook.

The good guys never miss, can do ridiculous stunts, have 12-foot vertical leaps, can punch through concrete, and have encyclopedic knowledge of Earth and all its contents. Most importantly, they never look bad: with one exception (played for laughs) their hair and makeup is always perfect. Just like in the boys’ movies, where the protagonist can be shot at, beaten up, fall out of a helicopter into a volcano, fight their way through a herd of buffalo and look elegantly rumpled, so too the girls of Charlie’s Angels are always sleek and poised. After a couple kung fu go-rounds with the baddies, the most disheveled they get is that ‘just been fucked’ look.

And really–for a tom boy girlified enough to like the accoutrements of beauty and fashion, what better movie is there than Charlie’s Angels? The main characters are capable, intelligent, and violent when necessary. It’s just plain awesome.

Of course, for anyone even marginally aware, the last decade has seen a bizarre return to 1955’s gender roles. Commercials would have you believe that women need men to do math and open the pickle jar, and that men are barely civilized savages who only wear pants and use utensils if women are around to nag them into it. Plain and simple, it’s bullshit.

I know women who are so slovenly in their household affairs you’d consider calling the health department, and men so neat and tidy (gay AND straight) you could perform brain surgery anywhere in their home without fear of contagion. I know women with no social skills, men afraid of snakes, women who lift weights, men who wax, women who hate children, and men who daydream about changing that first diaper. When people begin sentences with ‘Well, girls are naturally. . .’ or ‘Little boys always. . .’ my hackles begin to raise and a host of anecdotal evidence lines up for reference in my mind.

Unless you are speaking about biology, gender doesn’t matter a whole lot to the individual; but it matters to the masses, and this is where enculturation comes in. Think of the boys’ and girls’ toy aisles in the store: teaching males to be ‘boys’ and females to be ‘girls’ begins at a very young age, even before children are mobile. Hell, it practically begins in the womb, with people showering pink and blue gifts on people.

But I digress. I was talking about how much fun Charlie’s Angels is.

Because I like watching movies where women DO things rather than ARE things. The Angels, although directed by the ever-unseen Charlie, are more proactive in the investigation, following threads and formulating theories (however convoluted they might be) to the final showdown with the bad guy.

En Garde!
Very pointy. From the sword, to the eyebrows, to the nose, very pointy.

The other thrill that Charlie’s Angels presented the world was Crispin Glover’s return to mainstream cinema.

I was sitting in the theater, agonizing over why the Creepy Thin Man was so familiar, when my friend leaned over and informed me that it was none other than George McFly, from Back to the Future.

“But that’s impossible,” I thought. “That movie came out like 20 years ago and he looks about 25!”

He was about 35, actually. Which, since I am not too far away from that myself, doesn’t seem that huge a difference. But still. A well-kept 35, to be sure.

Man, I had a crush on him for like 2 years after that.

Anyhoodle, Charlie’s Angels was followed by the slightly less fun Full Throttle, which was only lessened by the enormous expectation set up by the first fun-filled film.

I think the most fun thing about Charlie’s Angels is the simple camaraderie of the 3 lead actresses. No backbiting, no veiled criticisms of each other, no snark; literally just 3 people who get along very well but for a few quirks and function as a well-oiled machine.

LOL See whut I did ther?
VERY well-oiled!

There just aren’t enough high-level movies where women respect each other and get along. For Christ’s sake, we comprise HALF the world population, getting along with each other and learning not to compete for some dude’s attention shouldn’t be this hard. For reals.