Saturday, April 29, 2017

Network Supervillains Win: Powerless Gets Cancelled

(Apologies to my non-American readers for this rant.)
I’m angry. My favorite television show got cancelled. Powerless told the story of the team at Wayne Security who worked around the clock and goofed off around the clock, developing protective gear for innocent bystanders of superhero battles.

Afraid of getting hit by bricks during one of those aforementioned battles? You need their brickproof umbrellas—which cascades bricks to the side, meaning they can sell more umbrellas. Or afraid of getting scorched by a ball of flame? You need their fireproof poncho, and they may or may not get a superheroine to pose naked in the ad before she dons it. (Poncho does not protect against rain.)

The series mainly focuses on office humor. The minor superheroes they encounter are actually off to the side. Emily, played by Vanessa Hudgens, has frustrating misadventures as she tries to bond with team members, save a good invention, or break her way into the good ol’ boy club that makes up the board. Her sunny smile, her awkwardly fading smile, and her wickedly triumphant smile just about carry the show.

Her incompetent boss, Van Wayne (a cousin of you-know-who), played by Alan Tudyk, often steals the scene with his vapid stupidity. His blunders, as well as the egos of the team members, can ruin Emily’s best-laid plans.

So, what happened? Their premier episode was funny, their second episode was outstandingly funny, and their third episode was okay. That may have let their ratings go down. Also, they were put on against Supernatural, which claimed part of their demographic. (This is like how Buffy the Vampire Slayer almost didn’t make it at first, because it was put on against Ally McBeal, which ruled among young females.) Then NBC preempted two of their episodes to premier some other comedy that wasn’t funny, which makes the audience forget to tune in again.

The rest of the show continued to be funny. It was the highlight of my Thursday evenings. But the morons at NBC cancelled it. If you’re able to access it through Comcast or Xfinity or whatever, hurry and record the available episodes of Powerless before they go away. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Earth-Shattering Love: Movie Review of Your Name

Mitsuha is a teenage girl living in a village in Japan so small, it doesn’t even have a coffee shop. She hates the rural life and longs to move to Tokyo. Taki is a rather ordinary teenage boy in Tokyo who commutes to school by train and who works as a waiter.

One day, Taki wakes up in what is obviously a girl’s body in a house he doesn’t recognize. The next day, Mitsuha is told by her sister and her friends that she acted oddly the previous day—not recognizing people and acting as if she had amnesia, though she cannot remember it. Taki has the same experience. After a while, they realize they are switching bodies.

Overjoyed at being in Tokyo, Mitsuha spends too much of Taki’s money. And Taki doesn’t know how to play basketball or sit with feminine modesty. The switching happens on random days, so they write notes to each other, starting with Mitsuha writing her name on Taki’s hand. As they become more convinced of the reality of the phenomenon, they make detailed notes in each other’s diaries, including complaints about each other’s behavior.

Taki finally decides to call Mitsuha. But the call cannot be completed. And they stop switching bodies. What happened?

Your Name is advertised as the #1 film of Japan in 2016. I don’t know if they mean the #1 animated film, or if it’s just hype. But it is a beautiful movie. I can only say the twist that occurs shows that this phenomenon involves more than just Mitsuha and Taki. And the theme of “Who are you?” pervades the movie.

Some cultural notes:
-In Japan, they drive on the left side of the road.
-It is normal to eat rice and fish at breakfast.
-Politicians really do drive around in trucks and vans to give speeches on the street.
-High schoolers in Tokyo do commute by train.

Whether you’re a fan of anime or never had an interest in it before, Your Name is well worth seeing in a theater. Please do not be offended by their reactions at finding themselves in bodies of the opposite sex. Bring glasses if your theater has the subtitled version, and do yourself a favor by not reading any online descriptions of the movie. Some of the online people said they cried, but I avoided that by an act of will. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Wonder Woman’s Shaved Underarms—Rage Against . . . Something

The latest controversy that makes twitter heads explode is the observable fact that Wonder Woman, the titular character in the upcoming movie, has no hair at all in her underarms. They look quite polished. And even though she is a superheroine who can hold her own with Batman and Superman, extremists who have their hair tied back so tightly it interferes with brain circulation claim that this is a sign of being dominated by the patriarchy. If only we had known it was so easy.

Gal Gadot, former combat trainer in the Israeli military and
the former Miss Israel in the 2004 Miss Universe contest and  
former model, now turned actress. 5’10”  

photo by Gage Skidmore

There are more pressing issues: How does Superman shave? Does he use razors with Kryptonite edges? And why isn’t Bruce Wayne horribly scarred up? Considering his lack of superpowers and all the fights he’s been in, he would be in pretty sad shape.

Or perhaps the world of superheroes isn’t meant to be completely realistic. How many women have you met in real life who looked like the Wonder Woman in the comic books or in the movies?

And this controversy does the opposite of showing the oppression of women. In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins was referred to as a “child of the kindly west.” You have to be a child of the kindly west (or part or an elite elsewhere) to have the time and energy to fuss about this, considering how women are treated in the majority of the world. So relax and enjoy a comic book fantasy. 


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