Canadian Political Events

Beyond Politics => General Discussion => Topic started by: kimmy on June 04, 2017, 10:29:48 pm

Title: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 04, 2017, 10:29:48 pm
So the new Wonder Woman movie has had a spectacularly successful opening weekend, along with amazingly positive reviews.  It has already earned over $100 million in US box office, which is the third best of the year (behind Beauty and the Beast, and Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2.)

This comes as a tremendous relief to me.

I was not terribly invested in Wonder Woman, the character. I really only know the character from Saturday morning "Super Friends" cartoons, and some reruns of the campy TV show starring Lynda Carter.   I didn't read any of the DC Comics.

However, I was quite emotionally invested in the success of the movie.   I remember reading, once upon a time, that when the first Supergirl movie, starring Helen Slater, was a box office failure back in 1985, the movie studio decided that movies starting women didn't sell and they weren't going to make any more.   Given the recent failure of the female-led Ghostbusters remake, and given the poor performance of recent DC movies (particularly the new Superman movies and the Batman vs Superman movies)  I had a bad feeling that this just wasn't going to be successful and would end up as another black eye for the idea that people would want to see women-centered movies outside the realm of romances and chick-flicks.

I have also had a feeling, for a while, that the female "superhero" people wanted to see a movie about isn't Wonder Woman, and certainly not Captain Marvel or Black Widow... but rather Harley Quinn.   That's a little problematic, as she's first off more a villain than a hero of any sort, and also that her popularity is, I think, built more around a sort of "broken doll" fetish rather than her redeeming qualities (such as they are). I do, however, think that with the right writer and with the sensational Margot Robbie in the sequinned hot-pants, there's still potential for them to tell a tremendously good Harley Quinn story.  It wouldn't be a "nutty girl in sequinned hot-pants saves the world using a giant wooden novelty hammer", it would be more like "damaged woman struggles with her demons as she tries to find her way in a world that's as crazy as she is."


As for Marvel's upcoming Captain Marvel movie... I just don't think you can tell a proper Captain Marvel movie without Rogue from the X-Men.  The two characters' histories are so intertwined that the most interesting parts of both characters are all wrapped in each other.  But the Marvel/Disney universe doesn't have Rogue, and the Fox X-Men universe doesn't have Carol Danvers, so the part of the story that made both characters compelling in the comic books just won't even exist in the movie. I also think that when you say Captain Marvel, people think of a big square-jawed dude with a lightning-bolt on his chest, not a blond girl in a jump-suit.


Anyway, back to Wonder Woman, I haven't seen it yet, but I plan to.  I think that like many others I started feeling some optimism for the project when I saw Gal Gadot in the Batman vs Superman movie. A lot of reviews said that she was one of the few bright-spots in the film, and I felt the same.  I got shivers in my spine at the part where she takes on the Doomsday monster.  There have been precious few times in movies where I've gotten shivers in my spine from anything a female character was doing.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 08, 2017, 05:35:43 am
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o the new Wonder Woman movie has had a spectacularly successful opening weekend, along with amazingly positive reviews.  It has already earned over $100 million in US box office, which is the third best of the year (behind Beauty and the Beast, and Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2.)

This comes as a tremendous relief to me.

Why ?

Do you think that the success of the lady superman means that attitudes towards women have changed, ie that it's a signifier ?

Or does it mean that attitudes towards lady supermen have changed ?

Or does it mean that this will now change attitudes towards regular ladies ?

Or are you concerned about superpeople movies or Hollywood in general ?

You seem to be looking for some meaning behind this and I want to know what it is.

Also since you are talking about 'mass culture' are you making the masses into a kind of 'other'.  Do you consider yourself part of the masses ?  I doubt it.  You seem to be looking for a moral signifer here, which says something about how you look at 'society' (sorry for the use of quotes, I know I don't define my terms very well but that's so boring). 

Lately I have been thinking that in a way all problems are cultural problems and that if we all think about things that way it could help.  Mass media certainly helped America accept the 'gays' by way of Billy Crystal, Ellen, Nathan Lane, Will & Grace just as Bill Cosby made people realize that Blacks could do no harm.  :(

We don't have much in the way of top-down culture anymore so we need to figure out new ways to moralize, which may now involve online or in-person fighting.

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I was not terribly invested in Wonder Woman, the character. I really only know the character from Saturday morning "Super Friends" cartoons, and some reruns of the campy TV show starring Lynda Carter.   I didn't read any of the DC Comics.

In first year university I was 'unwoke' and homophobic but also oblivious.  In the girls' dorm, two ladies shared a room.  One pair used to spend a lot of time together and always watched the Lynda Carter show.  I thought them odd but didn't figure it out until a year or so later.  Two years after I graduated, I ran into another pair of ladies from that dorm who were room-mates, walking down Yonge Street together.  We chatted and caught up, then moved on.  I was as much heart-warmed that they could have found each other randomly like that, their first week away from home, as I was shamefully titillated by the encounter.  In the aspect of how cis males respond to such pairings, I am part of the masses.

One of my BurningMan friends came from Black poverty in the US, and made his way to college where HIS college room-mate made him discover his true sexual self.  They would make a big show of going on dates with ladies from the Black sorority - getting dressed up for their fraternity friends to see.  It was a great cover: a public showing of courting, dancing with the ladies at frat parties... then the two would give them a kiss goodnight and retire to their dorm room for several hours of hot lovemaking.  Those girls must have thought they were too polite, or maybe religious.  Ah well, disappointment is a part of life.

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However, I was quite emotionally invested in the success of the movie.   

This bears examination, see above.

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As for Marvel's upcoming Captain Marvel movie... I just don't think you can tell a proper Captain Marvel movie without Rogue from the X-Men.

I read Captain Marvel comics that were 50s reprints.  Dr. Silvana was the main villain... when did these other tie-ins happen ?

----

The thing that will help new points of view get attention, such as women's stories, is utter boredom with middle-class white male stories.  As Jesse Brown from Canadaland says we have seen every combination of these and are saturated.  I am not above watching something because I 'should', ie. eating my cultural vegetables, but I don't have to any more.  I started watching Orange is the new Black out of such motivation and almost turned it off.  But when they wisely started focussing on the back stories of how women of culture get in jail, it got interesting and now I watch every episode with anticipation.

Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 08, 2017, 09:48:10 am
Why ?

...

You seem to be looking for some meaning behind this and I want to know what it is.

I will think more on this and respond more later.

Also since you are talking about 'mass culture' are you making the masses into a kind of 'other'.  Do you consider yourself part of the masses ?  I doubt it.  You seem to be looking for a moral signifer here, which says something about how you look at 'society' (sorry for the use of quotes, I know I don't define my terms very well but that's so boring). 

I am certainly part of the masses, but the masses has a will of its own and I am as uncertain where it's heading as anybody else.  I suppose I am looking for clues as to where things are heading.

In first year university I was 'unwoke' and homophobic but also oblivious.  In the girls' dorm, two ladies shared a room.  One pair used to spend a lot of time together and always watched the Lynda Carter show.  I thought them odd but didn't figure it out until a year or so later.  Two years after I graduated, I ran into another pair of ladies from that dorm who were room-mates, walking down Yonge Street together.  We chatted and caught up, then moved on.  I was as much heart-warmed that they could have found each other randomly like that, their first week away from home, as I was shamefully titillated by the encounter.  In the aspect of how cis males respond to such pairings, I am part of the masses.

That's cute!   "Baywatch" provided a similarly formative experience for a girl I used to know. She even bought a red one-piece bathing suit for me to model for her.

I read Captain Marvel comics that were 50s reprints.  Dr. Silvana was the main villain... when did these other tie-ins happen ?

The Marvel Comics Captain Marvel is not the Captain Marvel you remember ("Shazam!") who was I think a DC Comics character. 

The character who will be in the upcoming Marvel movie is the character who was originally known as Ms Marvel.

(https://canadianpoliticalevents.createaforum.com/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FM0cebGL.jpg&hash=5e4a16b00b5821df977f434ea065b340)

She has a new costume that doesn't look like swimwear now, and has become a "Captain" rather than a Ms.   ...perhaps she got drafted, I really don't know.





The thing that will help new points of view get attention, such as women's stories, is utter boredom with middle-class white male stories.  As Jesse Brown from Canadaland says we have seen every combination of these and are saturated.  I am not above watching something because I 'should', ie. eating my cultural vegetables, but I don't have to any more.  I started watching Orange is the new Black out of such motivation and almost turned it off.  But when they wisely started focussing on the back stories of how women of culture get in jail, it got interesting and now I watch every episode with anticipation.

I think there is a market for new and different stories, but there also seems to be a backlash from people who are annoyed that they aren't the center of attention.   There was some amount of grumbling from curmudgeons about the new Star Wars franchise being centered around a female character and about the prominent feminist presence in Mad Max: Fury Road, for example.

Must go; will post more later.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 08, 2017, 10:51:32 am
I am certainly part of the masses, but the masses has a will of its own and I am as uncertain where it's heading as anybody else.  I suppose I am looking for clues as to where things are heading.

Ok.  So the super ladies' acceptance as a bellweather for regular ladies' acceptance.

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That's cute!   "Baywatch" provided a similarly formative experience for a girl I used to know. She even bought a red one-piece bathing suit for me to model for her.

Response redacted.

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The Marvel Comics Captain Marvel is not the Captain Marvel you remember ("Shazam!") who was I think a DC Comics character. 

That's disappointing.  I don't like superpeople movies but I *might* have gone to see the DC guy say 'Shazam'.
 
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She has a new costume that doesn't look like swimwear now, and has become a "Captain" rather than a Ms.   ...perhaps she got drafted, I really don't know.

There were 3 Cpt. Marvel superheroes: The Captain, Captain Marvel Jr. which was not his son as that would complicate things I guess, and Mary Marvel.  :D

(https://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/1/16549/606150-l_3a4778dbef8ef4b6e25dff1350028c6b.jpg)

I remember having a crush on her, although she seems to wear flats and be marginally brunette.  Ok.

These people, along with an old codger named Captain Marvel Sr. I think (he was a faker, with no super powers but everybody knew and let him get away with it... comic relief) formed the Marvel 'family'...

(https://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/0/0f/Marvel_Family_6.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20100413160721)






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I think there is a market for new and different stories, but there also seems to be a backlash from people who are annoyed that they aren't the center of attention.   There was some amount of grumbling from curmudgeons about the new Star Wars franchise being centered around a female character and about the prominent feminist presence in Mad Max: Fury Road, for example.

Must go; will post more later.

 -k

These people, like you, are considered about the morality of others... busybodies... I am one...
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: Bubbermiley on June 08, 2017, 01:14:59 pm
(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4e/Captain_Marvel_v1_1.jpg)

The Marvel Captain Marvel was created so Marvel would own the copyright on the name, once it was left unclaimed by Fawcett after DC won a suit against them that claimed Fawcett's 1940s Captain Marvel was too much like DC's Superman. Then DC got the rights to that Captain Marvel, but Marvel already had a comic being published under that name so they had to call the comic (and awesome 1970s Saturday morning TV show) Shazam!.

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a8/Shazam%21_%28TV_series%29.jpg)

Fortunately I downloaded the complete series of Shazam and Isis before it became traumatic to look for Isis videos online.



Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 08, 2017, 01:31:33 pm
Yes, I'm waiting for a reboot on that broadly-appealing female superheroine named ISIS.  I can wait a long time.

Also the new Marvel looks like a dud.  I'll take my 50s sensibility superheroes over these Soviet-styled automatons any day, comrade.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: Moonlight Graham on June 08, 2017, 08:21:36 pm
Wonder Woman being successful is important for women because that character really is the only top-tier female superhero in comics that approach the level of star characters like Superman, Spider-Man etc. and has held her own in a longstanding solo comic series  There are other great female comic superheroes but most female characters are part of a team like X-Men or Avengers (Storm, Scarlett Witch etc) or just aren't on the same level of popularity as Wonder Woman historically (She-Hulk, Supergirl etc).

Anyways, for those reasons I don't think this necessarily means many more female superhero movies will come since, as I said, there is a major lack of historically mega-popular female heroines in comics.

Also, I think female protagonists have proven they can lead blockbuster movies, like Hunger Games & Star Wars: A Force Awakens so I don't think Wonder Woman bombing at box-office would have changed that dramatically..unless it was well-reviewed and still bombed.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 08, 2017, 08:50:59 pm
Wonder Woman being successful is important for women because that character really is the only top-tier female superhero in comics that approach the level of star characters like Superman, Spider-Man etc. and has held her own in a longstanding solo comic series  There are other great female comic superheroes but most female characters are part of a team like X-Men or Avengers (Storm, Scarlett Witch etc) or just aren't on the same level of popularity as Wonder Woman historically (She-Hulk, Supergirl etc).

Why is it important for women that there be a top-tier female superhero though ?  Can't we focus on something less important like... I don't know... pay equity ?

I really hate all of those movies by the way, if you can't tell.

If the movies were more relevant to culture then I might have cared more. 

Why aren't there more female themed rollercoasters ?

http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/coasters/browse/a-to-z
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 09, 2017, 06:26:49 am
Why is it important for women that there be a top-tier female superhero though ?  Can't we focus on something less important like... I don't know... pay equity ?

What good does that do?    Pay equity, and the underlying issues, have been talked about for a long time, and really very little has changed. Ultimately many of the factors in the often-quoted pay gap between men and women aren't a result of outright discrimination anyway, but rather a result of choices.   One thing that really help close the pay gap in the future would be if more women went into STEM careers instead of traditional female careers.  Who knows, maybe if I'd had Agent Patterson on my TV when I was a kimlet instead of Kelli Bundy, maybe I would have made different choices in my life.  Who can say?

I don't know enough to comment on the nature/nurture debate, but I personally feel that having a Barbie that whines "Math is hard" probably wasn't very helpful for young girls. In previous generations, the Disney princess would wait for a heroic prince to come and save her... in 2015 Princess Elsa skips the boyfriend part and just fixes things on her own. In previous times her worth would be validated if the handsome prince loved her, but now she can prove her own worth.     In times gone by, a superhero movie would have the damsel in distress tied up and wait for the hero to come rescue her. In The Avengers movie, the Black Widow is tied to a chair while some bad-guys attempt to interrogate her... once they've told her everything she needs to know, she quite easily frees herself and smacks the shit out of everybody without a needing hero coming to her rescue-- quite deliberately lampooning the damsel-in-distress trope.  It used to be that the women in these movies-- action movies in general, really-- were just props for the men.


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I really hate all of those movies by the way, if you can't tell.

If the movies were more relevant to culture then I might have cared more. 

The genre has been with us for over 80 years.... I can't think it survived this long without being relevant to people in some way.

And I think that stories with fantastical premises often allow writers to explore themes that they simply couldn't in a story set on a couch in a crappy Paris apartment.


 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 09, 2017, 06:39:30 am
What good does that do?    Pay equity, and the underlying issues, have been talked about for a long time, and really very little has changed. Ultimately many of the factors in the often-quoted pay gap between men and women aren't a result of outright discrimination anyway, but rather a result of choices.   One thing that really help close the pay gap in the future would be if more women went into STEM careers instead of traditional female careers.  Who knows, maybe if I'd had Agent Patterson on my TV when I was a kimlet instead of Kelli Bundy, maybe I would have made different choices in my life.  Who can say?

I had to look up STEM careers. 

Well, ok if equality is a lost cause then I suppose we can focus on cultural symbols.  Maybe that's a sign that we're all well-enough off, who knows. 


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I don't know enough to comment on the nature/nurture debate, but I personally feel that having a Barbie that whines "Math is hard" probably wasn't very helpful for young girls. In previous generations, the Disney princess would wait for a heroic prince to come and save her... in 2015 Princess Elsa skips the boyfriend part and just fixes things on her own. In previous times her worth would be validated if the handsome prince loved her, but now she can prove her own worth.     In times gone by, a superhero movie would have the damsel in distress tied up and wait for the hero to come rescue her. In The Avengers movie, the Black Widow is tied to a chair while some bad-guys attempt to interrogate her... once they've told her everything she needs to know, she quite easily frees herself and smacks the **** out of everybody without a needing hero coming to her rescue-- quite deliberately lampooning the damsel-in-distress trope.  It used to be that the women in these movies-- action movies in general, really-- were just props for the men.


The genre has been with us for over 80 years.... I can't think it survived this long without being relevant to people in some way.

And I think that stories with fantastical premises often allow writers to explore themes that they simply couldn't in a story set on a couch in a crappy Paris apartment.


 -k

What's this Paris movie ?  I want to see it !

Sure, the genre is relevant, but as I have been saying on the other thread it's on the back of the cultural infrastructure.  It may mean that they're mining cultural memory to maximize profits for the mass market.  But mass culture itself is dying now, and what replaces it will be more accommodating to alternative viewpoints IMO.

Again, be careful what you wish for.  We will have 'diversity' on a mass scale in the way of backwater towns with vastly different culture than San Francisco or Toronto.  I know where I want to live.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 09, 2017, 09:48:06 am
I had to look up STEM careers. 

Well, ok if equality is a lost cause then I suppose we can focus on cultural symbols.  Maybe that's a sign that we're all well-enough off, who knows. 

I don't think equality is a lost cause.  In many ways I think equality is a won cause. The laws say the battle has been won.  And yet it doesn't feel like like the battle has been won, because prejudices and attitudes lag behind.   Changing attitudes and challenging prejudices is now where the battle is at, and popular culture is both a tool in that fight as well as a barometer of the state of that battle.

What's this Paris movie ?  I want to see it !

It's a hypothetical movie that I use as shorthand to represent the kind of movie August1991 would like to watch.  It stars unattractive people, a drab setting, and has no special effects at all. A chain-smoking French woman with unshaven armpits and an out of shape middle aged French man talk about their relationship, over the course of two hours and many cigarettes. Subtitles are provided for plebs like me.  It is the greatest cinematic achievement of our time.


Sure, the genre is relevant, but as I have been saying on the other thread it's on the back of the cultural infrastructure.  It may mean that they're mining cultural memory to maximize profits for the mass market.  But mass culture itself is dying now, and what replaces it will be more accommodating to alternative viewpoints IMO.

Again, be careful what you wish for.  We will have 'diversity' on a mass scale in the way of backwater towns with vastly different culture than San Francisco or Toronto.  I know where I want to live.

I know of what you speak. I live in a place that's a lot closer to those backwater towns than to Toronto.

I'm not sure that mass culture is dying.  It's evolving.  Some time ago "popular music" fractured from a monolithic entity into a thousand different things, but music continues on. We are seeing the same kind of thing in other forms of media.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 09, 2017, 09:59:04 am
Changing attitudes and challenging prejudices is now where the battle is at, and popular culture is both a tool in that fight as well as a barometer of the state of that battle.

Ok.  So this is a signifier then.  Mass Culture and the Culture of the Moralist are melting in I guess.

I guess these movies are more important than I give them credit for.

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It's a hypothetical movie that I use as shorthand to represent the kind of movie August1991 would like to watch.  It stars unattractive people, a drab setting, and has no special effects at all. A chain-smoking French woman with unshaven armpits and an out of shape middle aged French man talk about their relationship, over the course of two hours and many cigarettes. Subtitles are provided for plebs like me.  It is the greatest cinematic achievement of our time.

Have you seen Amour ?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1602620/

I care you to watch it.   I don't know what August1991 looks for in a movie but I imagine he would like a Quebec James Bond movie.


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I know of what you speak. I live in a place that's a lot closer to those backwater towns than to Toronto.
 

Yes, Toronto is amazing I agree.  Would you say that it's the ultimate evolution of the perfect human gathering or just simply the best one there currently is ?
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: Moonlight Graham on June 09, 2017, 05:05:51 pm
Why is it important for women that there be a top-tier female superhero though ?  Can't we focus on something less important like... I don't know... pay equity ?

It's related to pay equity.  If society, including both men and women, and especially middle-aged men in board rooms etc, has a more normalized belief that women too can save the world and be strong leaders etc. just as much as men, then that's something to root for in our culture.  People seeing & believing that women can be Wonder Woman instead of just Ariel The Little Mermaid or Barbie or a dainty princess that needs to be saved will help break glass ceilings.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 10, 2017, 08:37:05 am
Ok.  So this is a signifier then.  Mass Culture and the Culture of the Moralist are melting in I guess.

I guess these movies are more important than I give them credit for.

I'm of the belief that the Will & Grace sitcom and Ellen DeGeneres sitcom and talk show have done more to change attitudes towards gay people than Pride parades have done.   It's before my time, but perhaps the Mary Tyler Moore show was similarly important for working women. 

I also agree with what Moonlight just wrote:
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If society, including both men and women, and especially middle-aged men in board rooms etc, has a more normalized belief that women too can save the world and be strong leaders etc. just as much as men, then that's something to root for in our culture.  People seeing & believing that women can be Wonder Woman instead of just Ariel The Little Mermaid or Barbie or a dainty princess that needs to be saved will help break glass ceilings.

It might be a little late for middle-aged men in boardrooms.  But it's not too late to offer girls stories about women who make their own way instead of being passive figures who wait for others to take care of them and define them and validate them.

Your attitude seems to be that since it's a silly genre it's unimportant and has no impact.  I don't think a story's value or impact depends on its genre.  Some of our oldest and most enduring and most culturally important stories use fantastical story elements and plot devices to make their point. We see this in the Bible and in the ancient myths of just about every culture.

If you showed people "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Gattaca", I think a lot of them would say that "Sleepless in Seattle" is realistic and "Gattaca" is just sci-fi.   But personally I think that "Sleepless in Seattle" is one of the most unrealistic, fake things I've ever seen, while the possibilities and perils depicted in "Gattaca" become more and more relevant with each advance in the field of genetics.

"Sleepless in Seattle" is set in a real place and has a realistic premise and has no super-powers or special effects. So it's realistic, right?  Well, no. It's sheer fantasy drivel. It's one writer's fantasy of a beautiful love story, and it's just as escapist as anything involving unicorns or light-sabers or space-ships.

As an aside, I think it's actually harder to tell a "real" story in a real setting than in a fantastical setting. Your reader or viewer is completely willing to suspend disbelief for the unicorns and lightsabers and spaceships, but won't be able to get past details that he or she relates to personally.  Even details like "he can't park there!" or "how the fuck can she afford that apartment?" break the illusion if you get them wrong, to say nothing of bigger annoyances like "who in the fucking blazes would actually drop everything and travel across the country to meet somebody they heard on a radio show?"


Have you seen Amour ?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1602620/


That's exactly the kind of movie I avoid. Judging from the synopsis it sounds terribly depressing.  I have seen "real" movies that I found very powerful and deeply affecting, and I'm sure Amour is very good. But I don't want to be reminded of human frailty and mortality ... when I watch a movie I want to forget about that stuff for a couple of hours.

I'm an enthusiastic fan of escapist fare.

Yes, Toronto is amazing I agree.  Would you say that it's the ultimate evolution of the perfect human gathering or just simply the best one there currently is ?

I've never been *to* Toronto.  I've been *through* Toronto many times.  My first instinct when I get into Toronto is to get out of Toronto as quickly as possible.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 10, 2017, 08:55:21 am
  I don't think a story's value or impact depends on its genre.  Some of our oldest and most enduring and most culturally important stories use fantastical story elements and plot devices to make their point. We see this in the Bible and in the ancient myths of just about every culture.

I'm not convinced.  People didn't think the bible was fiction, they thought it was the document of human inception and evolution and a moral blueprint.

Maybe 'value' and 'impact' aren't the right terms, but I can't accept that the bible and Grimm's tales could be on the same level of impact.  Granted that they are different, but I think genre matters.  Even within the realm of 'folks narratives' some are more important than others.

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If you showed people "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Gattaca", I think a lot of them would say that "Sleepless in Seattle" is realistic and "Gattaca" is just sci-fi.   But personally I think that "Sleepless in Seattle" is one of the most unrealistic, fake things I've ever seen, while the possibilities and perils depicted in "Gattaca" become more and more relevant with each advance in the field of genetics.

Ok, but Gattaca exceeds the grasp of its genre while Sleepless in Seattle seeks to comfort the viewer and not change dialogue so much.


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That's exactly the kind of movie I avoid. Judging from the synopsis it sounds terribly depressing.  I have seen "real" movies that I found very powerful and deeply affecting, and I'm sure Amour is very good. But I don't want to be reminded of human frailty and mortality ... when I watch a movie I want to forget about that stuff for a couple of hours.

Ok, so you seek escapism.  Thankfully, Will and Grace and All in the Family snuck their medicine into some humour, subversively, so that people would challenge themselves somewhat and not escape.

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I've never been *to* Toronto.  I've been *through* Toronto many times.  My first instinct when I get into Toronto is to get out of Toronto as quickly as possible.

Yes, I agree that Toronto is fantastic.  Next time you come let me know and Joan and I will take you around...
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 10, 2017, 11:03:30 pm
I'm not convinced.  People didn't think the bible was fiction, they thought it was the document of human inception and evolution and a moral blueprint.

Fair enough, perhaps the Bible was a poor choice of example.   Regardless, you can find myths and legends and folk-tales of fantastical and supernatural individuals and creatures and events everywhere. It's ubiquitous. Any culture, any time in history.

You can look at the Chinese legend of the Five Brothers, or Gilgamesh, or Hercules, or Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, or Whiskey-Jack, or John Henry, or countless others...  why do so many cultures have these figures?

I think that our current love of superhero movies is just the latest expression of something that goes back a very long time, across many different cultures, and is somehow ingrained in our nature.   As I said before, I don't believe that the longevity and popularity of the superhero genre is an accident, I think it exists because it taps into something built into human nature.




Maybe 'value' and 'impact' aren't the right terms, but I can't accept that the bible and Grimm's tales could be on the same level of impact.  Granted that they are different, but I think genre matters.  Even within the realm of 'folks narratives' some are more important than others.

Well, few documents in human history have had the level of impact of the Bible.

I am of the belief that anything that survives, survives for a reason.  Whether in life, or more specific to this conversation, in culture.  I think that if we understand the appeal that causes something to remain popular, we understand something about ourselves.

I think that our dreams and nightmares and hopes and fantasies say more about us than our earnest attempts to describe ourselves.


In describing "value", what is the "value" in Amour?  What makes Amour more inherently worthy of my attention than say Gattaca or Westworld?

Good acting or complex, realistic characters? Is there more?  A gripping emotional experience? A profound insight on human nature? What really makes a movie or a book "valuable"?

Ok, but Gattaca exceeds the grasp of its genre while Sleepless in Seattle seeks to comfort the viewer and not change dialogue so much.

Gattaca doesn't exceed the grasp of the genre.  Gattaca demonstrates the possibilities of the genre. 

Science fiction (and "speculative fiction", for those who wish to seem serious-minded) are uniquely suited to telling stories that pose "what if?" type questions. Gattaca asks "what if the wealthy could genetically engineer their offspring?"   Minority Report asks "what if we could predict a murder before it happens?"  The new Westworld television series asks "what if computers began to become self-aware?"

Perhaps these kinds of questions could be explored in a movie about unattractive French couple sitting on a shitty couch in a shitty Paris apartment while they chat and chain-smoke, but I assure you the result would be total dog-shit.


Ok, so you seek escapism.  Thankfully, Will and Grace and All in the Family snuck their medicine into some humour, subversively, so that people would challenge themselves somewhat and not escape.

As it turns out, comedy is an effective and engaging way of presenting social commentary.  There are other engaging ways of presenting social commentary too, and thankfully not all of them require an unattractive chain-smoking French couple sitting on a smelly couch bickering for 2 hours.

Yes, I agree that Toronto is fantastic.  Next time you come let me know and Joan and I will take you around...
One time, I was flying in to Toronto on a clear day. I thought to myself "finally, I will get to see the famed CN Tower!"    Every other time I had flown into Toronto, it was cloudy or late at night and so I never got to see the famous tower.  This time, though, with the sun in the sky and not a cloud in sight, I was sure it was going to happen.  As the plane got closer to the city, haze began to thicken. Soon I could see very little. Then I heard someone say "look! It's the CN Tower!"  I looked and looked, and finally I saw it for myself. A tall thin grey shape surrounded by shorter thicker grey shapes in a sea of grey haze.  I was tremendously impressed, as you can imagine.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 11, 2017, 07:54:08 am
Fair enough, perhaps the Bible was a poor choice of example.   Regardless, you can find myths and legends and folk-tales of fantastical and supernatural individuals and creatures and events everywhere. It's ubiquitous. Any culture, any time in history.

Ok, I am suddenly disarmed.  Now I'm not sure if my assessment of this genre is from being out of touch.

Certainly my facebook feed is FULL of status updates about superheroes, and this super lady in partcular.  I was ascribing that to the fact that most of my friends (Facebook friends that is) are liberal humanist moralists, but I realize that they are also much younger than me.

Are we indeed at a point where our cultural icons - even our FANTASY icons - matter ?  Or is this just a fad.  I'm considering it.

Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way.  Superhero people films are certainly more relevant today than sitcoms, which was the opposite case 25 years ago when Murphy Brown's character choices became an election issue.  And maybe group moral change is just brought on the winds of whatever people are paying attention to in these times.

IF that's true, then the moral changes will stay with us, and in 20 years we will be watching something else ... a new type of content ... which will reflect whatever societal questions are top of mind.

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You can look at the Chinese legend of the Five Brothers, or Gilgamesh, or Hercules, or Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, or Whiskey-Jack, or John Henry, or countless others...  why do so many cultures have these figures?

As Harold Innes said, and I paraphrase, why do we pay attention to the things we do ?

TV sitcoms in the 1960s turned escapist and fantastical (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, My Favourite Martian, Gilligan's Island, Beverley Hillbillies) until the cultural zeitgeist couldn't run away from issues, or assign magical housewives to send them away.  Then, in the 1970s, sitcoms (starting with All in the Family) tackled social issues head-on.

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I think that our current love of superhero movies is just the latest expression of something that goes back a very long time, across many different cultures, and is somehow ingrained in our nature.   As I said before, I don't believe that the longevity and popularity of the superhero genre is an accident, I think it exists because it taps into something built into human nature.

Of course, my reluctance to accept them comes from my distaste for the genre but you are right.  They have always been with us.  They could also be a fad, though, and they are certainly an outcome of the underlying infrastructure that produces films.  ie. demographic tastes, cultural mining, potential for large revenue.

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In describing "value", what is the "value" in Amour?  What makes Amour more inherently worthy of my attention than say Gattaca or Westworld?

You used the term 'value', but I think we don't need to define 'value' and 'impact' since we're both exploring here.

I think that the value and impact of stories is unknowable, and I think that people will pay attention to what they will pay attention to.  I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that pure fantasy would be as impactful to an adult as even a realistic drama such as 'Inherit the Wind'.  'Schindler's List', 'Birth of a Nation' or Philadelphia.

But again, I'm reconsidering this.

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Good acting or complex, realistic characters? Is there more?  A gripping emotional experience? A profound insight on human nature? What really makes a movie or a book "valuable"?

In terms of describing social impact, I think a real story with non super characters would have an advantage in making people see how social issues play out in the human arena.  You can see why I think that, right ?

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Gattaca doesn't exceed the grasp of the genre.  Gattaca demonstrates the possibilities of the genre. 

Yes, and speculative fiction of which science fiction is a part can answer the types of questions you describe.

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A tall thin grey shape surrounded by shorter thicker grey shapes in a sea of grey haze.  I was tremendously impressed, as you can imagine.
 

Yes, I agree it's fantastical.  It's like if God redesigned the Eiffel Tower to be better and also decided that it should be wonderful.  It looks like a giant grey olive on a stick.  They light it up at night now, so it can be pink or something during Pride.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 11, 2017, 01:51:37 pm
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Ok, I am suddenly disarmed.  Now I'm not sure if my assessment of this genre is from being out of touch.

Certainly my facebook feed is FULL of status updates about superheroes, and this super lady in partcular.  I was ascribing that to the fact that most of my friends (Facebook friends that is) are liberal humanist moralists, but I realize that they are also much younger than me.

Are we indeed at a point where our cultural icons - even our FANTASY icons - matter ?  Or is this just a fad.  I'm considering it.

I think that our cultural icons, by definition, matter. Otherwise they wouldn't be icons. Fictional, fantasy, real-life, these are just minor details in the larger picture.  People might consider LeBron James an icon because he represents the peak of excellence in his field, perhaps he represents other things such as the power of determination and hard work, I don't know, I'm really not a basketball fan.  You mentioned Murphy Brown... was she an icon? I was rather young when she was at the peak of pop culture, I don't really recall much... in hindsight I think I was pretty dense at the time even by little-kid standards.  People might see Murphy Brown as someone who embodies traits they wish to emulate. She's a strong and independent woman who makes her own choices and takes no crap.  I think that the same can be said of Wonder Woman.  One is obviously a fantasy character and the other is less obviously a fantasy character, but I don't think that is a significant detail in determining the extent to people identify with these characters or are inspired by them.


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TV sitcoms in the 1960s turned escapist and fantastical (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, My Favourite Martian, Gilligan's Island, Beverley Hillbillies) until the cultural zeitgeist couldn't run away from issues, or assign magical housewives to send them away.  Then, in the 1970s, sitcoms (starting with All in the Family) tackled social issues head-on.

Ok, so let's take I Dream Of Jeannie and Bewitched for a moment.  Doesn't the fact that these became big hits say something about the audience?   I am of the assumption that these were shows created up by male writers, approved by male TV executives, and embraced by largely male audiences...  bearing that in mind, isn't there something we can conclude about the culture of the day?  I think there are people who make entire careers of doing that sort of analysis. 

I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched might not talk about a single socially contentious issue in any episode, but I think the existence of the shows and their popularity in their time is in itself a form of social commentary, and possibly a more significant comment about the society they existed in than any conscious social commentary the writers might have inserted into an episode.  As I said earlier, I think our dreams and nightmares and fantasies say more about us than our conscious attempts to describe ourselves.



As for Tackling Social Issuestm I think there's a certain level of delusional self-importance involved when writers set out to "tackle social issues".   "This week on a Very Special Episode of Diff'rent Strokes, we're tackling drugs!"   One of Willis's friends has obtained a joint, and Willis wants his friends to think he's cool, but after a "Watchoo talkin bout Willis???" and a lecture from Mr Drummond, Willis realizes that being cool isn't the most important thing. Problem solved! Issue tackled!

I don't think that issues get "tackled" in the space of a half hour moral lesson... I think that "tackling issues" is a long term project. I think that Ellen DeGeneres has "tackled" homophobia by building empathy and rapport over a span of many years.   Archie Bunker is another one that's before my time, I've only seen clips... but I gather that it depicted a dialogue between tradition and conservatism and progress and liberalism that went on many years. 

And I don't think that overt attempts to "tackle" an issue are especially effective anyway.  I don't think that setting out to create a fictional environment that shows racism is bad is as effective as creating a show around a black family that people find likeable and relatable and building empathy for the situation.  I don't think that an overt attempt to "tackle" homophobia would be as effective as Will ^ Grace or Ellen were.   And I don't think having someone lecture people about female empowerment is as effective as simply presenting empowered females-- be it Murphy Brown, or be it the newer generation of active and assertive Disney princesses, or be it Wonder Woman.


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Of course, my reluctance to accept them comes from my distaste for the genre but you are right.  They have always been with us.  They could also be a fad, though, and they are certainly an outcome of the underlying infrastructure that produces films.  ie. demographic tastes, cultural mining, potential for large revenue.

Well obviously movie and television studios are in the business of making money, and their interest in tapping into whatever trends stems from a desire to make money, not to effect social change.  Their success or failure in these ventures-- their assessment or misjudgment of what the public is craving-- provides information that we can analyze.   Is the success of the current Wonder Woman movie a signifier?  Was the massive failure of the recent female-led Ghostbusters movie a signifier?  What went right for one and went wrong for the other?


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I think that the value and impact of stories is unknowable, and I think that people will pay attention to what they will pay attention to.  I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that pure fantasy would be as impactful to an adult as even a realistic drama such as 'Inherit the Wind'.  'Schindler's List', 'Birth of a Nation' or Philadelphia.

But again, I'm reconsidering this.

I think that "issue movies" can be powerful, but they can also be trite or preachy and terrible.   I thought that "Schindler's List" was incredibly moving and powerful.  The ending, with the candles in the darkness, where they showed his legacy... the people who survived, and their thousands of descendants, because of him... was pure waterworks for me.  I couldn't contain it.  The power of one man to make a difference, even in the midst of all that horror... was so profoundly uplifting.  Part of it was that it was simply superb film-making, but I think that for me at least a part of it is that this was a real man who did a real thing that changed so many lives.  (I was also quite moved when I read the account of the man who stood up and shouted "**** you, I'm Millwall!" when the terrorists stormed into the pub in London last week. This drunk soccer fan attempted to fight the terrorists with his bare hands, buying everyone else time to flee out the back. He ended up in the hospital with many cuts, but who knows how many people he might have saved?)

On the other hand some of the attempts to create gripping emotional drama just don't affect me at all.  I can only vaguely remember seeing Philadelphia, for example. For whatever reason, it just didn't ...  I dunno.  I agree that discrimination is wrong and that this man was treated unfairly, and I think that depicting this situation was a noble goal, but maybe it just didn't connect for me because it felt preachy.  Obviously most didn't feel the same and the movie was recognized as being a great artistic success, but it just didn't move me in the way that Schindler's List did.


For me the "value" is not in the effort to depict something important or noble, it's in the effect it has on me as a viewer.  Schindler's List was valuable for me, not because it told a story about a courageous person, but because for me it was a profoundly moving experience.  Philadelphia, for me, was not nearly as valuable and not because the subject matter wasn't important but rather just because it wasn't personally moving for me in the way that Schindler's List was.

Mad Max: Fury Road, for me was "valuable" because even though it didn't involve much in the way of deep thinking or social commentary, it controlled my heart rate for two hours and gripped me and energized me in a way that few other films ever have.   The "value" in terms of expressing some idea that's important to society is minimal to negligible... but the value to me as a viewing experience was beyond describing.

And for me as a viewer, the "value" isn't a function of having a laudable message, it's in the experience. Schindler's List and Mad Max: Fury Road both delivered an incredible experience, in different ways.  Philadelphia, for me, didn't, in spite of making a thoroughly commendable effort to depict injustice.

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In terms of describing social impact, I think a real story with non super characters would have an advantage in making people see how social issues play out in the human arena.  You can see why I think that, right ?

Sure. But I feel that making an overt attempt to depict social issues is not the only way to make people understand things.

I think the scene in Frozen where Elsa sings the big song, embraces her magic power, builds the ice-castle, and accepts who she is probably has more impact, especially  for a younger viewer, than any words Murphy Brown might say.

Yes, I agree it's fantastical.  It's like if God redesigned the Eiffel Tower to be better and also decided that it should be wonderful.  It looks like a giant grey olive on a stick.  They light it up at night now, so it can be pink or something during Pride.

If the CN Tower is a giant olive on a stick, does that make Toronto a giant Martini?

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 11, 2017, 04:34:40 pm
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If the CN Tower is a giant olive on a stick, does that make Toronto a giant Martini?

Club Sandwich.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 11, 2017, 10:44:59 pm
Club Sandwich.

Well, see, if you'd said Martini, I'd have been more inclined to come visit.

I have really enjoyed this, Michael.  Such a refreshing change from talking about Trump and conspiratard idiocy and Muslims Muslims Muslims. I believe that the process of trying to express my ideas to someone else causes me to re-examine them and sometimes gives me fresh insight into my own opinions.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 12, 2017, 05:50:50 am
Imagine that.

I am still reading your last long post above, btw.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 12, 2017, 06:21:41 am
Ok, so you are focussing on the phrase "tackle" and if we burst that apart we can find Wonder Woman is in that cohort of embedding social issues on the light end of the spectrum:

-Serious films that are directly written about social issues - preachy or not - such as Inherit the Wind, Philadelphia, Schindler's List

-Films that aren't about those issues but embed social issues within them - Birth of a Nation, Lethal Weapon

-Sitcoms and popular television that overtly put 'social episodes' together - Different Strokes, Soap, or All in the Family

-Sitcoms that embed minority characters for you to get to know the 'other' - Will & Grace, The Cosby Show

-Fantasy and sci-fi that buries the social themes, but are detectable - Wonder Woman, Handmaid's Tale

----

I think it's too simple to say that the producers are tapping into issues to make money.  Unlike others, I do accept that money is the prime driver and in some cases (Soap, All in the Family - Norman Lear in general) the idea seems to be to get viewers on the back of controversy.  But I also think that creators are artists, and as such they do have an agenda.

Wonder Woman as some kind of breakthrough still doesn't make complete sense to me, but if the chattering classes in my Facebook feed are any indication maybe there's something to it. 
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 12, 2017, 09:32:02 am
Ok, so you are focussing on the phrase "tackle" and if we burst that apart we can find Wonder Woman is in that cohort of embedding social issues on the light end of the spectrum:

Not to nitpick, but I'm going to nitpick...
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-Serious films that are directly written about social issues - preachy or not - such as Inherit the Wind, Philadelphia, Schindler's List

I'm not sure genocide and gas chambers are exactly a social issue in recent times. I think the debate on those issues has been long settled, other than for a deranged few. *cough*cough*taxme*cough* 

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-Films that aren't about those issues but embed social issues within them - Birth of a Nation, Lethal Weapon

uh... Lethal Weapon? I guess I missed the embedded social issues.

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-Sitcoms and popular television that overtly put 'social episodes' together - Different Strokes, Soap, or All in the Family

As I mentioned I haven't seen a full episode of All In The Family, but my understanding is that the social commentary flowed organically from the premise, as opposed to "very special episodes" of sitcoms where the attempts at social commentary felt forced. 

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-Sitcoms that embed minority characters for you to get to know the 'other' - Will & Grace, The Cosby Show

Agree, although I believe the thought process is primarily "Let's make a popular TV show!" rather than "Let's make a show that will educate people."

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-Fantasy and sci-fi that buries the social themes, but are detectable - Wonder Woman, Handmaid's Tale

I have not yet seen the new Handmaid's Tale TV show, but I saw the movie some time ago. It was set in a near future world where human fertility had been drastically reduced (due to environmental degradation? I forget). The few remaining fertile women became commodities.  It was a not-at-all subtle take on reproductive freedom issues, with other social issues thrown in for good measure.    With many US states enacting laws that seek to elevate the rights of a fetus above the rights of the women carrying it, and with Mike Pence one heartbeat/impeachment away from the White House, it might be a very relevant premise for American audiences at this point.

I think it's too simple to say that the producers are tapping into issues to make money.  Unlike others, I do accept that money is the prime driver and in some cases (Soap, All in the Family - Norman Lear in general) the idea seems to be to get viewers on the back of controversy.  But I also think that creators are artists, and as such they do have an agenda.

Yes,  I agree.  I didn't mean to suggest that it's all a callous plan to exploit real issues to make cash.   But ultimately, the studio and the investors didn't scrape together a big-move budget without the intention of seeing a return on their investment.

I think that the artistic people involved-- the actors, the writers, the directors-- often have genuine intention of doing something positive.  And perhaps the studio people do as well, but their primary decision is not "is this positive?" but rather "would people watch this?"

Perhaps back in the 1970s some studio guy looked at the pilot for "All In The Family" and said "this will never fly, we need dumb jokes and an annoying kid to make it more other sitcoms", and maybe his colleague said "are you kidding? this is amazing! people will watch this to find out what everybody is talking about!" and luckily for us the second guy won the argument.

I have no doubt that Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot and the creative people in the Warner Brothers DC Comics division wanted to make a female-positive movie, but ultimately they had to make a movie that people would go see.

Wonder Woman as some kind of breakthrough still doesn't make complete sense to me, but if the chattering classes in my Facebook feed are any indication maybe there's something to it. 

I don't think "breakthrough" is the right word.  You used the word "signifier" earlier, and I think that's closer.

They've made a movie that's by most accounts an unabashed celebration of female empowerment, about a character who is perhaps the most unabashed symbol of female empowerment ever created.   And the movie has been incredibly well received, from both an artistic and a commercial standpoint.  I just find that gratifying.

After a year where the first woman to run for President lost to a senile orange idiot, it feels like a win.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 12, 2017, 09:54:44 am

I'm not sure genocide and gas chambers are exactly a social issue in recent times. I think the debate on those issues has been long settled, other than for a deranged few. *cough*cough*taxme*cough* 

The larger social issues are very relevant and will be for awhile.

 
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uh... Lethal Weapon? I guess I missed the embedded social issues.
 

Anti-racism messages embedded throughout.  You missed them i guess.

 [ quote]As I mentioned I haven't seen a full episode of All In The Family, but my understanding is that the social commentary flowed organically from the premise, as opposed to "very special episodes" of sitcoms where the attempts at social commentary felt forced.   [/quote]

Ok - so another point in the spectrum then.

 
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After a year where the first woman to run for President lost to a senile orange idiot, it feels like a win.
 

Congrats on your win then.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: Moonlight Graham on June 12, 2017, 11:59:19 am
One time, I was flying in to Toronto on a clear day. I thought to myself "finally, I will get to see the famed CN Tower!"    Every other time I had flown into Toronto, it was cloudy or late at night and so I never got to see the famous tower.  This time, though, with the sun in the sky and not a cloud in sight, I was sure it was going to happen.  As the plane got closer to the city, haze began to thicken. Soon I could see very little. Then I heard someone say "look! It's the CN Tower!"  I looked and looked, and finally I saw it for myself. A tall thin grey shape surrounded by shorter thicker grey shapes in a sea of grey haze.  I was tremendously impressed, as you can imagine.

Ahh Toronto.  It's a city where mother nature bulldozed over wonderful grasslands and paved it over with fabulous grey concrete as far as the eye can see in every direction, then plopped ridiculously expensive houses & condo highrises on top.  The CN Tower itself is made from the finest grey concrete that can be poured.  At it's base lies the the Skydome, a giant mountain of grey concrete topped off with polyurethane grass inside & homeless folks outside.  The Dome, which literally became horribly out-of-date within 5 years of being built, is now called "Rogers Centre", complete with statue of Ted Rogers out front, which is a huge tourist attraction, as zero people flock to nab selfies with the man who overcharged them on cable TV & mobile.

 The city smells like car exhaust & marijuana.  If you're lucky you might find micro-pieces of "fake nature" (human-planted trees and grass) scattered with dog shit/piss.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 12, 2017, 01:10:28 pm
... people flock to nab selfies ...

Agreed.  It is fantastical.  Like a fairy kingdom.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: Moonlight Graham on June 12, 2017, 04:28:14 pm
Wonder Woman as some kind of breakthrough still doesn't make complete sense to me, but if the chattering classes in my Facebook feed are any indication maybe there's something to it.

I don't think it's a "breakthrough" of epic proportions, but it's a little something.  Women as lead protagonist in action movies is a newish social/cultural trend.  Like I said, the new Star Wars trilogy & Rogue One & Hunger Games etc. led by females (the woman who George Lucas hired to take over the Star Wars franchise for him is a woman...obviously an overt feminist, but she's a great role model too.  She produced E.T., Back to the Future films, Jurassic Park etc in a highly male-dominated industry especially back then).

Movies are like any media, filled with propaganda and social agendas, good or bad.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 13, 2017, 12:14:10 am
Anti-racism messages embedded throughout.  You missed them i guess.

I mean, ok, there's a black guy and a white guy and they're friends. And in one of the episodes the villain is a racist South African diplomat, and a South African secretary who is ok because she's not racist and sleeps with Mel Gibson.

I think that if this is the standard for being a socially aware film, then everybody's socially aware. I mean, Wonder Woman and Mad Max:Fury Road are full of pro-feminist messages,  Waterworld and Godzilla have an environmental message... I mean... it's setting the bar pretty low, don't you think?

...

So you never did actually elaborate your own thoughts on the "value" thing we were talking about. What gives a film value?  You clearly feel that Amour is valuable, I'd like to hear why.  I'm not suggesting it isn't, I just want to hear your thoughts on what that value is.

  -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 13, 2017, 05:19:18 am
it's setting the bar pretty low, don't you think?

It's a new phenomenon that may have started with that series.  Mel probably had nothing to do with it.
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So you never did actually elaborate your own thoughts on the "value" thing we were talking about. What gives a film value?  You clearly feel that Amour is valuable, I'd like to hear why.  I'm not suggesting it isn't, I just want to hear your thoughts on what that value is.

  -k

What is 'quality'.  Read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'.  You can't define it.

Why I think Amour was valuable was that it was engaging and challenging and told a real human story.  I remember more scenes from that film than from all the 2 (3?) Lethal Weapons films.  I believe that societies seek out art as a salve.  There's no knowing why they choose escapism vs. real art.  'Farenheit 911' was the #1 film in the box office a few years back, and the next week the #1 film was 'Kangaroo Jack'.  The poor kids in my town all wore heavy metal t-shirts, and 20 years later it was Tupac.  The superhero film is a fad that will play out, and is thriving because of what I call infrastructure factors (cultural mining, broad appeal, revenue potential) but will eventually die out.  At some point, also, the current cultural conflict will manifest itself somehow in the arts.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 13, 2017, 11:17:37 pm
It's a new phenomenon that may have started with that series.  Mel probably had nothing to do with it.

I doubt it started with Lethal Weapon.  I'm sure there are interracial buddy-flicks that predate Lethal Weapon.  I'm sure there's lots of other movies with social messages-- I mentioned Godzilla, for example-- that predate Lethal Weapon.  I'm sure there's lots of movies featuring black characters poking holes in racial stereotypes that predate Lethal Weapon.  I think that Trading Places, with Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, probably did the same sort of thing long before Lethal Weapon did.

What is 'quality'.  Read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'.  You can't define it.

"I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it."

I made an attempt earlier.  If something gives me a genuine experience-- be it a genuine belly-laugh, or the visceral thrill of Fury Road, or the powerful range of emotion that Schindler's List provided, that's quality.

If something leaves me feeling like Philadelphia... "well, that was nice, I guess, and I agree with their message, but it didn't really grip me..." then that's not quite in the same league.

And if somebody sets out with the noblest intentions and the most laudable message and the most important subject, but just doesn't hit the target, then that's not quality...  no matter how much one might wish they'd succeeded in their goals.

For you, perhaps Jurassic Park was a silly fantasy story with an outlandish premise.  For me, when they get to the part where they unveiled the dinosaurs, that moment was etched on my brain forever.  Seeing that, in the theatre as a little kimlet, that was the most wondrous thing I had ever seen and I cried tears of joy it was so beautiful.  For me, that moment was more valuable than any socially-conscious message a director might put in a movie.

Why I think Amour was valuable was that it was engaging and challenging and told a real human story.  I remember more scenes from that film than from all the 2 (3?) Lethal Weapons films.  I believe that societies seek out art as a salve.  There's no knowing why they choose escapism vs. real art.  'Farenheit 911' was the #1 film in the box office a few years back, and the next week the #1 film was 'Kangaroo Jack'.  The poor kids in my town all wore heavy metal t-shirts, and 20 years later it was Tupac.  The superhero film is a fad that will play out, and is thriving because of what I call infrastructure factors (cultural mining, broad appeal, revenue potential) but will eventually die out. 

I think there were 4 or more of the Lethal Weapon films.

A "real human story"...   does a "real human story" have to be told in an ordinary, real-world setting?

At some point, also, the current cultural conflict will manifest itself somehow in the arts.

Which cultural conflict?

Some people believe that every cultural conflict manifests itself in the arts. Some people have proposed that the post-WWII environment in the US-- McCarthyism, fear of communists in every closet, and that sort of thing-- found an outlet in alien invasion, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds, etc type entertainment.  Similar analysis has been done regarding the effect on the arrival of AIDS on US cinema in the 1980s, and I'm sure there are numerous connections that could be drawn.   Popular culture says something about the audience that made it popular... and that goes not just for what you term "real art", but equally for what is transitory.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 14, 2017, 06:21:13 am
I doubt it started with Lethal Weapon.  I'm sure there are interracial buddy-flicks that predate Lethal Weapon.  I'm sure there's lots of other movies with social messages-- I mentioned Godzilla, for example-- that predate Lethal Weapon.  I'm sure there's lots of movies featuring black characters poking holes in racial stereotypes that predate Lethal Weapon.  I think that Trading Places, with Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, probably did the same sort of thing long before Lethal Weapon did.

Of course, but I'm submitting that the way Lethal Weapon did it was so covert that it was almost imperceptible. 

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I made an attempt earlier.  If something gives me a genuine experience-- be it a genuine belly-laugh, or the visceral thrill of Fury Road, or the powerful range of emotion that Schindler's List provided, that's quality.

If something leaves me feeling like Philadelphia... "well, that was nice, I guess, and I agree with their message, but it didn't really grip me..." then that's not quite in the same league.

And if somebody sets out with the noblest intentions and the most laudable message and the most important subject, but just doesn't hit the target, then that's not quality...  no matter how much one might wish they'd succeeded in their goals.

You can go ahead and try to define it for yourself.  I think that if you write all of the reasons down, your humanity will find an example that delights you that meets none of the criteria.  Dumb and Dumber was one such film for me.  It went against all my rules but I eventually was broken down by the sheer silliness and started laughing.

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For you, perhaps Jurassic Park was a silly fantasy story with an outlandish premise.  For me, when they get to the part where they unveiled the dinosaurs, that moment was etched on my brain forever.  Seeing that, in the theatre as a little kimlet, that was the most wondrous thing I had ever seen and I cried tears of joy it was so beautiful.  For me, that moment was more valuable than any socially-conscious message a director might put in a movie.

I liked it too, and I thought it was well-made.  I certainly think that there's a place for escapist films in the same way that I order desert from time to time.  But not every single meal.
 
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Which cultural conflict?

Really ?


Quote
Some people believe that every cultural conflict manifests itself in the arts. Some people have proposed that the post-WWII environment in the US-- McCarthyism, fear of communists in every closet, and that sort of thing-- found an outlet in alien invasion, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds, etc type entertainment.  Similar analysis has been done regarding the effect on the arrival of AIDS on US cinema in the 1980s, and I'm sure there are numerous connections that could be drawn.   Popular culture says something about the audience that made it popular... and that goes not just for what you term "real art", but equally for what is transitory.
  Yes, that's what I'm saying.  I don't know about 'every conflict' but major psychic issues do manifest themselves in popular art, as you have illustrated.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 15, 2017, 02:20:27 am
You can go ahead and try to define it for yourself.  I think that if you write all of the reasons down, your humanity will find an example that delights you that meets none of the criteria.  Dumb and Dumber was one such film for me.  It went against all my rules but I eventually was broken down by the sheer silliness and started laughing.

If your "rules" didn't allow for the possibility that a silly movie could give you a genuine laugh, your rules may need to be reexamined.

A really simple "rule" I believe in... did the movie accomplish what it set out to?  If so, then it's quality.  A comedy that makes you laugh?  An action movie that provides thrills and excitement?  A speculative fiction film that makes you think about the future?   It's unreasonable to evaluate a story by standards it never intended to meet.  If you're watching a Jackie Chan movie and you're upset because the movie didn't provide thought-provoking social commentary, you missed the point.  That's not Jackie's fault, it's your fault for watching the wrong movie.

I personally have very little interest in horror movies. However, I'm willing to consider that there could be quality horror films. I'm simply the wrong person to evaluate whether a film in that genre has achieved the goals it set out to.  And I'm open to the idea that even though a horror film has little to no value for me personally it could still have value to someone else.  Those movies have been around for a long time... they must have value for somebody. 


I liked it too, and I thought it was well-made.  I certainly think that there's a place for escapist films in the same way that I order desert from time to time.  But not every single meal.

I'm not suggesting otherwise. I'm just saying that that sense of awe and wonder was a "real" and "valuable" experience for me, and that a movie that can provide me an experience like that is worth my time.  It doesn't matter to me whether the movie will be looked on by critics as a masterpiece of high-brow entertainment, and it doesn't matter to me whether in 25 or 50 years the movie will still be remembered.
 
 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 15, 2017, 05:13:49 am
If your "rules" didn't allow for the possibility that a silly movie could give you a genuine laugh, your rules may need to be reexamined.

I have no set 'rules' per se, but my point is that you can't imagine what you might like as you are a human.


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A really simple "rule" I believe in... did the movie accomplish what it set out to?  If so, then it's quality.  A comedy that makes you laugh?  An action movie that provides thrills and excitement?  A speculative fiction film that makes you think about the future?   It's unreasonable to evaluate a story by standards it never intended to meet.  If you're watching a Jackie Chan movie and you're upset because the movie didn't provide thought-provoking social commentary, you missed the point.  That's not Jackie's fault, it's your fault for watching the wrong movie.

I like movies where you don't know what they were trying to do.  I'm thinking of 'Holy Motors' right now.

 

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I'm not suggesting otherwise. I'm just saying that that sense of awe and wonder was a "real" and "valuable" experience for me, and that a movie that can provide me an experience like that is worth my time.  It doesn't matter to me whether the movie will be looked on by critics as a masterpiece of high-brow entertainment, and it doesn't matter to me whether in 25 or 50 years the movie will still be remembered.
 
 -k

Here's the test of the escapist-lover.  If they feel that a movie made them uncomfortable, sad or somehow didn't delight their senses then they think the movie is 'bad'.  It doesn't matter if the story affected them, or stayed with them - they just don't want to be affected in any way except trivial amusement.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 15, 2017, 05:16:01 am
This is my beef with escapist culture: not that it exists, or that it's unnecessary, but that some consume it like they consume sugar.

I like Coca Cola once in awhile but it's not all I drink.  I drink water, milk and bourbon sometimes.  I have read comments online that people didn't like a movie because it was 'sad'.  That's sad.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 17, 2017, 11:14:19 am
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trivial amusement

I think that a lot of movies that people think are "serious" or "real" are actually trivial.  A trivial story isn't made less trivial by putting it in a real-world setting or a historical setting.  Conversely I think that a fantastical premise can be a very effective tool for exploring themes that are non-trivial. The original Star Trek TV series of the late 1960s used science-fiction premises-- alien cultures, astounding technologies, and the like-- as a springboard to create commentary on human nature and a wide variety of social and cultural topics.  And between trivial and "serious" is a whole range.

Jurassic Park-- may have been primarily an excuse to put CGI dinosaurs on the screen (which was in itself a wonderful thing) but was also based in part on real-world science (as Michael Crichton stories tend to be.) It provided an eye-opening look at the possibilities and perils of the research being done in genetics and might be the reason that genetic engineering first appeared on the radar of public interest. 

Field of Dreams-- a farmer hears voices that tell him to build a baseball diamond in his corn field so that ghosts can play baseball.  Trivial?  Well, maybe, but if you start thinking beyond the literal about what the field represented for him, why he needed to do it, what he accomplished... maybe it's not trivial.

When Harry Met Sally... a romantic comedy/drama that I gather created a lot of conversation back in its day by exploring the question of whether men and women can be friends without sex becoming an obstacle. Trivial? Serious?  I'm not sure. It concluded with the idea that you can solve the dilemma by marrying your friend and having sex with them, I recall.

How about Forrest Gump?  Was that a "serious" movie? I think it was primarily escapism and an appeal to baby-boomer nostalgia. It glanced through a number of social issues-- racism, Jenny's abusive home... but I don't think it actually had anything very significant to say.

Aren't most of the tea-and-crumpets period-dramas that were all the rage among "serious" movie fans in the 2000's basically just trivial amusement for highbrow audiences?  Escapism for snobs?

I think there's an element of prejudice involved here... the assumption that a movie that isn't set in a "real" setting will inherently have nothing "real" to say.


 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 17, 2017, 11:15:19 am
Gal Gadot and her proud husband:
(https://canadianpoliticalevents.createaforum.com/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FVcPGnFL.jpg&hash=bd74086d379ffbb30e0ed6889d35e3ce)

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 18, 2017, 04:11:58 am
I think that a fantastical premise can be a very effective tool for exploring themes that are non-trivial.

On this front, another one that comes to mind is American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.   I've not yet seen the new TV series based on the book, but the book was quite interesting.  The premise is as escapist as could be...  figures from legend, myth, and folklore exist and interact in modern-day America.  The plot, such as it is, is primarily an excuse to explore the premise:  an ex-con named Shadow (who is probably Baldur of Norse mythology) has been taken on a cross-country road trip with Mr Wednesday (who is most certainly Odin of Norse mythology) for reasons that only Mr Wednesday really knows. They interact with a number of other characters who are obviously (and sometimes not obviously) symbolic of figures from mythologies from around the world. Also present are the New Gods... representing aspects of modern culture that have take on mythological importance-- technology, media, finances, and a group of "Men in Black" symbolizing the neverending obsession with conspiracy theories.  The old gods are slowly dying off or are just a shadow of their former glory-- because people no longer believe in them. While the new gods become stronger.  Mr Wednesday has a plan to rally the old gods together to do battle with the new gods and reclaim their place or go out in a blaze of glory.

But that's really kind of beside the point, because the book is mostly about man and myth and our need to create mythologies and the role of mythology in our lives.  A number of times the book completely leaves the main story to tell other stories that have nothing to do with the main story.  In one of them an ancient tribe of nomads has crossed the land bridge into North America. In another, a superstitious woman arrives in America, inadvertently bringing fairies and pixies with her. In another, a badgered salesman from the Middle East has arrived in New York and encounters a cab driver that might be a jinn of Middle East folklore. These diversions could be stand-alone short stories, but as part of American Gods they serve to build on Gaiman's premise and to express ideas he has about the subject matter.  So again, the premise is pure escapism but the story ends up being more.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 18, 2017, 03:17:58 pm
I think that a lot of movies that people think are "serious" or "real" are actually trivial.

Agreed.

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And between trivial and "serious" is a whole range.

I don't think trivial and serious are opposites.

If you have an example of a fantasy story that is deeply affecting or even disturbing please tell me.  I think it would be difficult to put those two attributes together.

 
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How about Forrest Gump?  Was that a "serious" movie?

I don't think so.
 
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Aren't most of the tea-and-crumpets period-dramas that were all the rage among "serious" movie fans in the 2000's basically just trivial amusement for highbrow audiences?  Escapism for snobs?

Yes.

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I think there's an element of prejudice involved here... the assumption that a movie that isn't set in a "real" setting will inherently have nothing "real" to say.
 

No, I think that fantasy films can have something to say but it's still escapism.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: JMT on June 18, 2017, 11:16:06 pm
I don't know about all of this, but as a movie, Wonder Woman was very good.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 19, 2017, 10:05:13 am
If you have an example of a fantasy story that is deeply affecting or even disturbing please tell me.  I think it would be difficult to put those two attributes together.

I don't think I've ever watched anything more deeply affecting and often disturbing than the Game of Thrones television series.  I'm still processing the program and haven't decided on its merits as anything beyond entertainment, but its ability to be deeply affecting is matched by almost nothing I've ever watched.


I think the Watchmen comic book series is probably the best example. It's a 12 issue limited series that transcends the medium and stands as serious literature.
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It's rare when a comic earns critical mainstream recognition, but Watchmen is no ordinary comic. The October 24 issue of Time magazine features a list of the top 100 novels since 1923. The only graphic novel to make the list is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen.

Book critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo created the list, which includes J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

Grossman calls Watchmen "A work of ruthless psychological realism."
http://www.ign.com/articles/2005/10/17/watchmen-distinguished-in-time

I read it when I was a teenager when my little brother purchased it.  I was pretty blown away... I bought my own copy, and read it again about 10 years ago when the movie adaptation was released.   And I read it again last winter. Each time I have read it I have found something new... themes and ideas that went over my head the previous time I read it. There is simply so much in the book to chew on. I'd often find myself in idle moments wondering what Moore meant with something he wrote, or why he made some of the choices he made.  The movie adaptation made an effort to highlight some of the main themes but wasn't able to do justice to it... there's far more in the book.  It's a study of humanity and life and the view of humanity it presents is actually very bleak and sometimes disturbing. It's definitely a deeply affecting work, often disturbing. It's almost haunting.


This is hardly an exhaustive list, it's just the first two that came to mind, and the two I'm most emotionally invested in.  Fantasy and science fiction can be powerful vehicles for presenting ideas that are unsettling or disturbing, and to make something "deeply affecting" is just a matter of creating characters and situations that the reader/viewer is emotionally invested in.


No, I think that fantasy films can have something to say but it's still escapism.

Google says escapism is
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    the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.

But I think that science fiction and fantasy can actually be an effective way of presenting unpleasant realities for an audience, and conversely many "real" films are just fantasy.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 19, 2017, 10:06:27 am
I don't know about all of this, but as a movie, Wonder Woman was very good.

Thanks, I still haven't been able to get to the theatre.  I wanted to go see it with my friend but she hasn't been able to get to town.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 19, 2017, 10:36:45 am
I don't think I've ever watched anything more deeply affecting and often disturbing than the Game of Thrones television series.

I find that very surprising to hear.
 
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to make something "deeply affecting" is just a matter of creating characters and situations that the reader/viewer is emotionally invested in.

yes... 'just'... LOL


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science fiction and fantasy can actually be an effective way of presenting unpleasant realities for an audience, and conversely many "real" films are just fantasy.

We're getting into the realm of personal taste again, which isn't a productive conversation, but I would say objectively the less you have to suspend disbelief the less escapist the genre is.  I just thought that up now, but let's try that idea on for size.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 19, 2017, 10:41:41 am
Also, to drive the point that we are discussing and not arguing I want to clarify a few things and set up an example of mine that undercuts my own points:

- My feeling is that the culture is nursing too many audiences with escapist trivia
- I also feel that escapism is limited in the spectrum of affecting experiences it can deliver, maybe in the same way film itself is
- I don't deny that there is quality escapism, or that any genre can deliver affecting and excellent art

And to undercut my own point, The Leftovers is a deeply painful long form cable series on HBO that is based on (religious) fantasy.

Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 20, 2017, 12:11:33 am
I find that very surprising to hear.

Why would that surprise you?  Is it because it's set in a fictional kingdom instead of a fictional advertising firm?

The artistic merit of the program is top-notch.  It's consistently among the top contenders at the award shows and several members of the cast have received awards or nominations for their portrayals.  The production values are among the best ever put on television... a season of Game of Thrones is comparable to a ten-hour long Hollywood blockbuster. The characters are complex and richly drawn, and we've watched them grow and evolve over the course of six seasons.    The writing delivers unmatched suspense... the series has shown that they're completely unafraid to kill characters that you're emotionally invested in, and when characters find themselves in perilous situations the audience is fully aware that the cavalry might not arrive to save them.

Game of Thrones didn't develop a huge and almost obsessive fan following by being lukewarm.    Several episodes of this program have become infamous for the intense emotional reaction they caused viewers.  Some episodes I have watched almost entirely without sitting down, instead pacing anxiously around my living-room, dreading the outcome.  Some events on the show have left me so stunned that I felt hollow for hours afterwards. And just once in a while, something incredibly beautiful and wonderful happens.

Yes, absolutely it's one of the most deeply affecting and sometimes disturbing things I've seen.  It can deliver an emotional punch in the gut like no other program I've ever seen, and only a few movies compare. Without question.


And yet I  have this hunch that you feel all of this could be greatly improved if it was set in an advertising firm.


Perhaps it could be called "Game of Ads" or  ... "Corner Office". How about "Corner Office".  Ned Stark and Cersei Lannister could be reimagined as rival Vice Presidents instead of medeival lords and ladies. Rather than Cersei Lannister plotting to get Ned Stark beheaded, Sarah Lancaster plots to sabotage Ed Stark's big ad campaign and cost him that big promotion that he's been angling for. Is that the thinking?  That this would be more compelling, because it's a Real Situationtm?  Except it's not very compelling, and it's not very real either.

yes... 'just'... LOL

My point is that it is a matter of execution, completely independent of genre.

Why would I, as a viewer, be more likely to empathize or identify with a fictional advertising executive than a fictional lord?  Why would I as a viewer feel more emotionally invested in a fictional drug-lab operator than a fictional lord? 

We're getting into the realm of personal taste again, which isn't a productive conversation, but I would say objectively the less you have to suspend disbelief the less escapist the genre is.  I just thought that up now, but let's try that idea on for size.

I disagree. 

I think I've mentioned before that I do creative writing. More as a hobby than in any hope that I'm going to ever get published. Regardless, I've got hundreds of pages of work in various unpublished novels, novellas, short stories, and so-on, in several different genres.

The first major epic I embarked upon was a tale of supernatural and the occult set in London in the 1870s.  I posted chapters to a creative writing group I belonged to for feedback from other writers.  I got excoriated for mistakes in English slang. I got reamed for anachronisms. I got roasted for getting London geography wrong. I got not a word of criticism for having a narrator who is a cat (actually a woman's mind trapped in a cat's body, not that that's any more sensible) and no complaints about the depiction of the occult.

Another of my efforts is about a 20-something woman who dreams of becoming a big rock star, and her struggles with her family and her band and a stalker... it's the closest thing I've attempted to a "real" setting. Once again, lots of complaints that I've screwed up geography (I set it in Phoenix AZ for some reason) and complaints about inaccuracies regarding music equipment and technique and what practicing with a band is actually like.

Your audience is willing to cut you plenty of slack when it comes to depicting a fantasy or science fiction setting.  Trying to depict "real" is real hard. If your audience is 6 seasons deep in Game of Thrones, they're not going to stop and say "hey, come on, dragons aren't real."  If they're watching the show at all, they've already bought into your premise and they're ok with it, as long as you stay consistent.   

As a viewer, I strongly feel that the shows that push your willingness to suspend disbelief the hardest aren't science fiction or fantasy.  It's shows that purport to depict realism but utterly fail that are the toughest to suspend disbelief.  The computer technology fails on espionage shows that depict "hacking", or the science fails on forensic dramas like CSI, for example. I have never tried watching an episode of House MD in a room full of doctors, but I have watched an episode of CSI with engineers. They would have let Doc Brown talk about his Flux Capacitor all day, but the howls of laughter as the CSI guys discussed the possibility that the dead guy might have been electrocuted by his TV remote control made me feel quite silly for even watching it.

There's no such thing as magic or dragons, so you can't "get it wrong", and your audience knows that and they're willing to buy in to the story you want to tell them.  But if you're setting out to depict "real", you can definitely "get it wrong", and when you do fail, it is immersion-breaking for your audience.


 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 20, 2017, 12:31:53 am
- My feeling is that the culture is nursing too many audiences with escapist trivia

The audience gets what the audience wants. Escapism, be it musicals or beach party movies or frat-house comedies or whatever, has always been popular in movies.  And plays and books and stories and myths going back for a very long time.

- I also feel that escapism is limited in the spectrum of affecting experiences it can deliver, maybe in the same way film itself is

I guess I really need to know what you mean by escapism before I can really respond. To me, the word "escapism" has a connotation of lightheartedness and inconsequentiality. Seeking refuge from things that are complex or stressful or scary.

To me, something like "Friends" or "Sleepless In Seattle" are escapist, even though they're set in a vaguely realistic setting.  Whereas to me, something like "Game of Thrones" or "Watchmen" isn't escapist, because even though they're in fantasy settings they're presenting things that are complex and unsettling and upsetting.

But, if by "escapism" you mean anything that's not in a "real world" setting, then I disagree.  If you feel that movies like "Gattaca" are escapist because they're in settings that aren't "real", then I think that movies like that actually have a far greater potential to explore ideas that simply couldn't be presented adequately in a "real" setting.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 20, 2017, 06:38:53 am
Why would that surprise you?  Is it because it's set in a fictional kingdom instead of a fictional advertising firm?

Yes.

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The artistic merit of the program is top-notch.

As I said above, I don't doubt that there is quality there.

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And yet I  have this hunch that you feel all of this could be greatly improved if it was set in an advertising firm.

Setting it in a real setting would make it different, not 'improved'.  And my main point, again, is that fantasy sets a frame of reference that is different than reality.  As I pointed out in my own counter-example, elements of fantasy alone don't do this at least for me.

I didn't enjoy 'Magnolia' but there were elements of fantasy there, mixed in with a story based in reality.

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My point is that it is a matter of execution, completely independent of genre.

Why would I, as a viewer, be more likely to empathize or identify with a fictional advertising executive than a fictional lord?  Why would I as a viewer feel more emotionally invested in a fictional drug-lab operator than a fictional lord? 

Maybe because the frame of reference of reality eliminates the possibility of supernatural outcomes, and brings the lives of the characters closer to our own ?
 
I can't speak to why your experiences here differ from mine, I just find it hard to fathom that there could be fantastical stories that have the ability to affect us as much as realistic ones.

 
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As a viewer, I strongly feel that the shows that push your willingness to suspend disbelief the hardest aren't science fiction or fantasy.  It's shows that purport to depict realism but utterly fail that are the toughest to suspend disbelief.  The computer technology fails on espionage shows that depict "hacking", or the science fails on forensic dramas like CSI, for example. I have never tried watching an episode of House MD in a room full of doctors, but I have watched an episode of CSI with engineers. They would have let Doc Brown talk about his Flux Capacitor all day, but the howls of laughter as the CSI guys discussed the possibility that the dead guy might have been electrocuted by his TV remote control made me feel quite silly for even watching it.

It sounds like CSI is a kind of fantasy.

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There's no such thing as magic or dragons, so you can't "get it wrong", and your audience knows that and they're willing to buy in to the story you want to tell them.  But if you're setting out to depict "real", you can definitely "get it wrong", and when you do fail, it is immersion-breaking for your audience.
 

Your examples, though, are still mostly entertainment although maybe less trivial.  The key to me is that you said that you avoided some works because they made you feel bad.  There are human emotions that are not related to suspense that can make you want to watch, even if they fill you with dread.

The reality show 'Intervention' was a tough one.  I think that may be an example of popular art acting as a salve to popular reality.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 20, 2017, 06:42:34 am
The audience gets what the audience wants. Escapism, be it musicals or beach party movies or frat-house comedies or whatever, has always been popular in movies.  And plays and books and stories and myths going back for a very long time.

And the audience wants popcorn and Coca Cola.  Sometimes, for some reason, they want 'Intervention'

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I guess I really need to know what you mean by escapism before I can really respond. To me, the word "escapism" has a connotation of lightheartedness and inconsequentiality. Seeking refuge from things that are complex or stressful or scary.

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the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.

Quote
But, if by "escapism" you mean anything that's not in a "real world" setting, then I disagree.  If you feel that movies like "Gattaca" are escapist because they're in settings that aren't "real", then I think that movies like that actually have a far greater potential to explore ideas that simply couldn't be presented adequately in a "real" setting.
 

I suppose that's true, but I'm still interested in the tough stuff.  For me, it's nurturing and edifying.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 20, 2017, 09:14:11 am
Setting it in a real setting would make it different, not 'improved'.  And my main point, again, is that fantasy sets a frame of reference that is different than reality.  As I pointed out in my own counter-example, elements of fantasy alone don't do this at least for me.
 
(...)

Maybe because the frame of reference of reality eliminates the possibility of supernatural outcomes, and brings the lives of the characters closer to our own ?

And why would Don Draper's 1960s ad firm or Walter White's meth lab be any closer to my life than the chilly halls of Winterfell? That stuff isn't real either. It might be somebody's vision of a reality that might exist somewhere, but it might as well be a fantasy world.  I watched Winter's Bone, and quite enjoyed it... but the depiction of life in the Missouri Ozarks didn't bring the characters closer to me... it was a completely alien culture that could have just as easily been in another century or another planet.   Maybe life in the Ozarks really is like that, or maybe it isn't. I wouldn't know. It was an interesting setting, for sure, but not because it was real or relatable but more the opposite.  What made Winter's Bone work for me was a compelling character facing a suspenseful situation.  If I hadn't become emotionally connected to Jennifer Lawrence's character, it wouldn't have worked as a film.

The idea that I'm trying to express, and that I think you might be struggling with, is that the qualities that make Don Draper or Walter White or Ree Dolly connect with the audience aren't a result of the setting.  We become emotionally invested in characters that speak to universal human experiences, and these transcend genre.


I can't speak to why your experiences here differ from mine, I just find it hard to fathom that there could be fantastical stories that have the ability to affect us as much as realistic ones.

I suspect that perhaps a prejudice against certain types of material has prevented you from appreciating its potential.

Your examples, though, are still mostly entertainment although maybe less trivial.  The key to me is that you said that you avoided some works because they made you feel bad.  There are human emotions that are not related to suspense that can make you want to watch, even if they fill you with dread.

The reality show 'Intervention' was a tough one.  I think that may be an example of popular art acting as a salve to popular reality.

If I want to watch real-life druggies ruining their lives with real-life drugs I can look out my window. I don't need to watch them on TV. 

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 20, 2017, 04:51:16 pm
And why would Don Draper's 1960s ad firm or Walter White's meth lab be any closer to my life than the chilly halls of Winterfell? That stuff isn't real either. It might be somebody's vision of a reality that might exist somewhere, but it might as well be a fantasy world.  I watched Winter's Bone, and quite enjoyed it... but the depiction of life in the Missouri Ozarks didn't bring the characters closer to me... it was a completely alien culture that could have just as easily been in another century or another planet.   Maybe life in the Ozarks really is like that, or maybe it isn't. I wouldn't know. It was an interesting setting, for sure, but not because it was real or relatable but more the opposite.  What made Winter's Bone work for me was a compelling character facing a suspenseful situation.  If I hadn't become emotionally connected to Jennifer Lawrence's character, it wouldn't have worked as a film.

I don't know why you keep bringing up Mad Men.  I will submit that there is more chance that an ad executive's life or a hillbilly's life will be closer to the viewers than that of a hobbit.

Winter's Bone was pretty good if I remember.


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The idea that I'm trying to express, and that I think you might be struggling with, is that the qualities that make Don Draper or Walter White or Ree Dolly connect with the audience aren't a result of the setting.  We become emotionally invested in characters that speak to universal human experiences, and these transcend genre.

It's not setting alone, but a real setting puts the viewer into a different experiential context than a fantastic one.
 
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I suspect that perhaps a prejudice against certain types of material has prevented you from appreciating its potential.

I didn't say it can't be good but I don't have many examples where fantasy can approach the kind of challenging film that brings the viewer to the level of theatre.

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If I want to watch real-life druggies ruining their lives with real-life drugs I can look out my window. I don't need to watch them on TV. 

Ok, beside the point.  It seems to bother you that I can't take fantasy as seriously as some genres.  I'm sorry.
 
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 21, 2017, 09:05:13 am
I don't know why you keep bringing up Mad Men.

Mad Men and Breaking Bad are the gold standard for people who love "real" television. They're the only recent TV programs I could think of that have the same degree of critical acclaim and cultural impact as Game of Thrones. Going back farther one might put The Sopranos in the same weight class.

I keep mentioning Don Draper and Walter White to make the point that it's not their clothes and their place of work that makes them so engrossing to their audience.

I will submit that there is more chance that an ad executive's life or a hillbilly's life will be closer to the viewers than that of a hobbit.

Well, I don't offer The Hobbit movie or the Lord of the Rings movies as an example of challenging material (and undecided on the books) but that's beside the point.

You look at Frodo and apparently see a short guy with hairy feet and therefore unrelatable. Where as Don Draper wears a suit and works in an office and is therefore relatable. That's the thought process?

Others might see one as an aloof, unapproachable man of mystery while the other as young person struggling with a responsibility he's ill-prepared to deal with. Are you sure the ad guy is more relatable?

Winter's Bone was pretty good if I remember.
It was.

It's not setting alone, but a real setting puts the viewer into a different experiential context than a fantastic one.
Can you elaborate on this?
 
I didn't say it can't be good but I don't have many examples where fantasy can approach the kind of challenging film that brings the viewer to the level of theatre.
Sure, the majority science fiction and fantasy material aren't intended to be challenging.

Ok, beside the point.  It seems to bother you that I can't take fantasy as seriously as some genres.  I'm sorry.

Your personal preference doesn't bother me, but you've been trying to make the case that there is an objective logical basis behind it and that not-real programs are inherently less worthy.

And personally I'm deeply skeptical about the merit of something like "Intervention".  I've never watched it but I'm familiar with the concept. I view it and similar programs as being akin to grief tourism. You can pick up the remote, wallow in someone else's tragedy for half an hour, and then go on with your life.  Are we so desperate to feel something that we need to vicariously share somebody else's trauma for half an hour a week?  You've likened escapist cinema to dessert... is this what you view as the veggies?   Is this what you find "edifying"?  To me this isn't edifying, it's exploitive and voyeuristic.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 21, 2017, 01:08:10 pm

Mad Men and Breaking Bad are the gold standard for people who love "real" television. They're the only recent TV programs I could think of that have the same degree of critical acclaim and cultural impact as Game of Thrones. Going back farther one might put The Sopranos in the same weight class.

*Spitting out my coffee*

Mad Men was a truly great show but it was essentially a very brainy and sociologically-themed soap opera.  You could definitely feel for characters, as you would in any quality film, but it wasn't exactly "real" nor did it rise above escapism at all times.

Breaking Bad was a comic book thriller.

The Sopranos was an extremely well-written crime soap. 

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I keep mentioning Don Draper and Walter White to make the point that it's not their clothes and their place of work that makes them so engrossing to their audience.

Of course that's only part of it, as I have already said.  Unless we come up with an example we will keep talking past each other.

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Well, I don't offer The Hobbit movie or the Lord of the Rings movies as an example of challenging material (and undecided on the books) but that's beside the point.

You look at Frodo and apparently see a short guy with hairy feet and therefore unrelatable. Where as Don Draper wears a suit and works in an office and is therefore relatable. That's the thought process?

No... he's *more* relatable because DD is a human being.
 
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Can you elaborate on this?

Robert Reed (Mr. Brady from The Brady Bunch) wrote a famous memo to Sherwood Swartz:

https://www.ericdsnider.com/blog/batman-in-the-operating-room-why-some-comedy-isnt-funny/


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Your personal preference doesn't bother me, but you've been trying to make the case that there is an objective logical basis behind it and that not-real programs are inherently less worthy.

I struggle with 'less worthy'.  Like saying 'Coca Cola isn't nutrious' it's not exactly true.  I have never said that there's no worth to escapist fiction or trivial fiction but that - like a balanced diety - a healthy society demands more.

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And personally I'm deeply skeptical about the merit of something like "Intervention".  I've never watched it but I'm familiar with the concept.

Ok, well I have watched most of the things I have commented on.  I haven't seen GoT so I can't comment on it much, except to say that I don't see how fantasy can challenge reality for a deep experience.  It's no comment on GoT which I hear is great.

Can you explore grief without causing it 'grief tourism' ?  If so, then I don't see how you could go more real than intervention.  The Americas have a huge addiction problem and this is a way to see it in front of your face, and feel it in your heart.
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Are we so desperate to feel something that we need to vicariously share somebody else's trauma for half an hour a week?  You've likened escapist cinema to dessert... is this what you view as the veggies?   Is this what you find "edifying"?  To me this isn't edifying, it's exploitive and voyeuristic.

 -k

We need to explore our pain through the arts.  Do you disagree ?  There is indeed a counter-argument.  I think of 'Sullivan's Travels' which is a serio-comic classic film that explores this question in an entertaining and intelligent way.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 22, 2017, 02:18:52 am
*Spitting out my coffee*

Mad Men was a truly great show but it was essentially a very brainy and sociologically-themed soap opera.  You could definitely feel for characters, as you would in any quality film, but it wasn't exactly "real" nor did it rise above escapism at all times.

Breaking Bad was a comic book thriller.

The Sopranos was an extremely well-written crime soap. 

Ok, you started off arguing that fiction in "real" settings is inherently more compelling, but now you seem to want to talk about "reality tv" shows instead.


Of course that's only part of it, as I have already said.  Unless we come up with an example we will keep talking past each other.

No... he's *more* relatable because DD is a human being.

For any practical narrative purpose, Frodo is a human being as well.  He's got human emotions, human psychology, human facial expression, lives in what is for all intents and purposes a human agrarian culture, and literally the only thing that makes him not human is that the author called him a Hobbit.  If Tolkien had merely said he was short would you then be willing to buy in?

If you're unwilling to buy into Frodo because he's short, why would I buy into Don Draper, who is a powerful male?  How can I identify with this Diana Prince person, when she is clearly a brunette?

Ultimately the reason we build rapport with fictional characters isn't physical characteristics or labels that are attached to them.


(sidebar: in a genre where major events always seem to center around Kings and Lords and great heroes and powerful entities of all kinds, Tolkien made the Hobbits the most relatable protagonists possible. Surrounded by the likes of Aragorn and Gandalf and Galadriel, Frodo and friends represent the everyman.)



Robert Reed (Mr. Brady from The Brady Bunch) wrote a famous memo to Sherwood Swartz:

https://www.ericdsnider.com/blog/batman-in-the-operating-room-why-some-comedy-isnt-funny/

He's making a point that relates to something I've learned in writing, which was expressed to me as "make a promise to your reader, and keep it."  You need to establish a tone quickly to let your reader know what you're offering them, and if it's interesting to them they'll keep reading and if it's not interesting to them or if they can't figure out what you're offering them, they'll put your story down and read something else.  Batman showing up in the operating room, or turning your satire into a slapstick, would be examples of breaking your promise to your audience.  On the other hand, when the gang in Blazing Saddles brawl all the way off the set into the movie studio and out into the parking lot, we've already been primed for something completely absurd to happen, so this is right up our alley.

Nothing in what Reed is saying actually suggests that a "real" frame is inherently better. Indeed, as the accompanying article says:

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To summarize, Reed’s basic point is this: You cannot mix wildly different theatrical styles within the same production. If a show starts out being realistic (whether drama or comedy), then the audience expects realism. We don’t have to suspend our disbelief very much. But if suddenly a non-realistic element like slapstick or fantasy is injected, we are thrown off. We have not been prepared to accept something like that.

We have no problem accepting a fire-breathing dragon in a production that has already established itself as fantasy. But if that dragon were to appear in a Neil Simon comedy, we would find it baffling and unbelievable.

If you're watching Lord of the Rings, and find yourself unable to empathize with a main character because he's 3 feet tall and has hairy feet, you're just watching the wrong movie.

In Game of Thrones, we don't actually see any dragons until episode 10. But they set a tone right from episode 1 that lets us know we're not watching a fairy-tale with knights in shining armor and happy endings.  The hatching of the baby dragons at the end of episode 10 is preceded by 9 episodes of brutal violence, gut-twisting tension, startling betrayal, and all manner of other unpleasantness.  Anybody who thought they were getting a happy care-free fairy-tail was probably long gone by the end of episode 3.

I struggle with 'less worthy'.  Like saying 'Coca Cola isn't nutrious' it's not exactly true.  I have never said that there's no worth to escapist fiction or trivial fiction but that - like a balanced diety - a healthy society demands more.

Ok, well I have watched most of the things I have commented on.  I haven't seen GoT so I can't comment on it much, except to say that I don't see how fantasy can challenge reality for a deep experience.  It's no comment on GoT which I hear is great.

Because like all great fiction, it taps into human experience that transcends genre.

Can you explore grief without causing it 'grief tourism' ?  If so, then I don't see how you could go more real than intervention.  The Americas have a huge addiction problem and this is a way to see it in front of your face, and feel it in your heart.
We need to explore our pain through the arts.  Do you disagree ?  There is indeed a counter-argument.  I think of 'Sullivan's Travels' which is a serio-comic classic film that explores this question in an entertaining and intelligent way.

I'm not sure that spending a half-hour a week vicariously sharing the grief of drug-stricken families would really make me understand the drug crisis any better. It might make me feel sad for a while, but is that inherently valuable?  "The drug crisis goes on, but Kimmy has shed tears and is now Woketm."

Obesity is a huge problem (no pun intended) as well, and I accidentally watched a few minutes of one of those shows that follows the struggles of morbidly obese people trying to lose weight. I understood that it was a big struggle for them. I understood that they felt very bad that they kept letting themselves down.  But so what? At the end of the day, my feeling sorry for some fat-people for a few minutes didn't make me feel "edified" or "nurtured". I'm struggling to think of any positives I took away from it.

And how real is it, anyway?

Every once in a while I hear a reporter on CBC radio go do interviews with homeless people. Apparently an attempt to humanize them and build sympathy or something. But the interviews never talk about the freak-outs and fights I see on a regular basis, never talk about people passed out in a pool of their own vomit, never talk about dropping trow and pissing on the street in front of pedestrians. Doesn't talk about business owners shoveling human excrement off their steps each morning...   stuff that I know is real that somehow doesn't make the cut for radio.  What did the fat-people show decide didn't merit showing?  What part did the intervention show leave out?  Are you being "edified", or just being manipulated?

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 22, 2017, 06:27:58 am
Ok, you started off arguing that fiction in "real" settings is inherently more compelling, but now you seem to want to talk about "reality tv" shows instead.

Yes, I'm using it to explain how challenging stories have more propensity to affect if they are set in a real setting.

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  If Tolkien had merely said he was short would you then be willing to buy in?

It's not about being willing, it's about how the story affects you outside your mental processes.  A truly masterful story will disarm your critical functions and thinking about such things.


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If you're unwilling to buy into Frodo because he's short, why would I buy into Don Draper, who is a powerful male?  How can I identify with this Diana Prince person, when she is clearly a brunette?

By the time these stories are 10 minutes in you are in the mindset of the fantasy world anyway.  Again, without an example that worked on you we can't go much further with this.

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He's making a point that relates to something I've learned in writing, which was expressed to me as "make a promise to your reader, and keep it."  You need to establish a tone quickly to let your reader know what you're offering them, and if it's interesting to them they'll keep reading and if it's not interesting to them or if they can't figure out what you're offering them, they'll put your story down and read something else.  Batman showing up in the operating room, or turning your satire into a slapstick, would be examples of breaking your promise to your audience.  On the other hand, when the gang in Blazing Saddles brawl all the way off the set into the movie studio and out into the parking lot, we've already been primed for something completely absurd to happen, so this is right up our alley.

Yes and the promise of a real and challenging story will be different than that of a fantasy IMO.  If an imaginary creature can appear to solve all the problems then we're in a different frame of mind.  There is no escape.

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Nothing in what Reed is saying actually suggests that a "real" frame is inherently better. Indeed, as the accompanying article says:

I'll admit that what I am saying smacks of snobbery but I struggle to NOT say 'better'.  But I'm glad you read the piece.  I remember it as hilarious.  Did you think so ?

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If you're watching Lord of the Rings, and find yourself unable to empathize with a main character because he's 3 feet tall and has hairy feet, you're just watching the wrong movie.

'Unable to empathize' is not the case.  I empathized very strongly with Indiana Jones in Raiders and found it to be truly amazing and great.  Maybe an all-time favourite.  But it was not the same experience as I get from theatre.

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In Game of Thrones, we don't actually see any dragons until episode 10.
:D

Ok.  I'm snobbing out on this.  I have had friends try to convince me to watch GoT.  I tell them I don't like stories with dragons and they said there were no dragons... until episode 10 !   :D

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Because like all great fiction, it taps into human experience that transcends genre.

Absolutely agree.  Still not the same experience.  I have loved many different types of women but they were still different people.  That's an analogy btw.

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I'm not sure that spending a half-hour a week vicariously sharing the grief of drug-stricken families would really make me understand the drug crisis any better. It might make me feel sad for a while, but is that inherently valuable?  "The drug crisis goes on, but Kimmy has shed tears and is now Woketm."

Obesity is a huge problem (no pun intended) as well, and I accidentally watched a few minutes of one of those shows that follows the struggles of morbidly obese people trying to lose weight. I understood that it was a big struggle for them. I understood that they felt very bad that they kept letting themselves down.  But so what? At the end of the day, my feeling sorry for some fat-people for a few minutes didn't make me feel "edified" or "nurtured". I'm struggling to think of any positives I took away from it.

And how real is it, anyway?

It's real.  And you say you're not sure.  Well, as I have been saying until you have had that experience it's like describing LSD to someone who hasn't taken it.  Have you ever seen theatre ?  I think the films that I am talking about draw on a heavily theatrical experience.

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Are you being "edified", or just being manipulated?

All story telling, all art manipulates.  And you pay them to do it !
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 24, 2017, 02:02:32 pm
Yes, I'm using it to explain how challenging stories have more propensity to affect if they are set in a real setting.

And yet I provided examples of characters in "real settings" and you didn't like those examples either because of some other factor, so maybe it's not "real settings" that you're actually talking about here.

It's not about being willing, it's about how the story affects you outside your mental processes.  A truly masterful story will disarm your critical functions and thinking about such things.

By the time these stories are 10 minutes in you are in the mindset of the fantasy world anyway.  Again, without an example that worked on you we can't go much further with this.

Yes and the promise of a real and challenging story will be different than that of a fantasy IMO.  If an imaginary creature can appear to solve all the problems then we're in a different frame of mind.  There is no escape.

No.  This relates back to what I talked about in the previous message.  The "promise" made to the audience.  The MASH audience knows that Batman isn't going to show up in the OR.  The Brady Bunch audience knows that Mr Brady isn't going to punch Mrs Brady and give her a black eye.  The sitcom audience knows that there are no problems that won't be resolved by the end of the episode.  And the Game of Thrones audience knows that none of the problems get an easy solution, imaginary creatures be damned. 

Your problem might be that you've been conditioned that if you see a castle you expect a fairy-tale ending.  We get to Winterfell and it's a dirty, dingy place full of horse manure, prostitutes, and dirty destitute peasants. It's not a Disney castle. The first time we meet Ned Stark he's executing two soldiers for desertion. He insists that he swing the blade himself, because he believes that as ruler he's accountable, and he insists that his sons watch so that they too understand.  Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Within minutes we've already been told this isn't a Disney fantasy kingdom.  10 minutes in and we're in a very different mindset from the fantasy setting you're thinking of.


I'll admit that what I am saying smacks of snobbery but I struggle to NOT say 'better'.  But I'm glad you read the piece.  I remember it as hilarious.  Did you think so ?

Yes, it's hilarious, but you missed Mr Brady's main point, which is for the most part a counter-argument to the idea you're proposing.

'Unable to empathize' is not the case.  I empathized very strongly with Indiana Jones in Raiders and found it to be truly amazing and great.  Maybe an all-time favourite.  But it was not the same experience as I get from theatre.

"Unable to empathize", "less able to empathize", whatever.  Whichever the case, your argument is that superficial characteristics-- shortness, hairy feet, doesn't wear a suit or work in an office-- make Frodo a less empathetic character than Don Draper.   But that's silly, because superficial characteristics aren't what build the connection between the audience and the character.

Ok.  I'm snobbing out on this.  I have had friends try to convince me to watch GoT.  I tell them I don't like stories with dragons and they said there were no dragons... until episode 10 !   :D

By episode 10 the audience has seen so much violence, treachery, brutality, and ugliness that the audience is long past the notion that the dragon hatchlings are going to provide a fairy-tale resolution. Central characters have been killed, characters the audience was invested in.  The tone of the series is firmly established by this point.  This first arrival of anything mystical in the show is a remarkable moment for an audience that's been almost struck numb by the events of the series up to this point.  The arrival of the dragons is a turn of events that signals a change in the so-far dismal fortunes of one of the main characters, but the dragons are only the size of cats at this point-- it's not a deus-ex-machina solution to her problems.


Absolutely agree.  Still not the same experience.  I have loved many different types of women but they were still different people.  That's an analogy btw.

You can agree that great fiction needn't be set in an office building to tap universal human experiences?  Ok, then. What's "not the same experience" then?

It's real.  And you say you're not sure.  Well, as I have been saying until you have had that experience it's like describing LSD to someone who hasn't taken it.  Have you ever seen theatre ?  I think the films that I am talking about draw on a heavily theatrical experience.

All story telling, all art manipulates.  And you pay them to do it !

Yes, I've seen theatre.  Not sure what it has to do with reality TV.

I just don't feel like wallowing in someone else's grief for a half hour a week makes me a better person.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 24, 2017, 11:49:08 pm
And yet I provided examples of characters in "real settings" and you didn't like those examples either because of some other factor, so maybe it's not "real settings" that you're actually talking about here.

Not only real settings, no. 
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And the Game of Thrones audience knows that none of the problems get an easy solution, imaginary creatures be damned. 

Ok, I'm guilty of not having watched the show so I assumed there was magic in it.

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Your problem might be that you've been conditioned that if you see a castle you expect a fairy-tale ending.  We get to Winterfell and it's a dirty, dingy place full of horse manure, prostitutes, and dirty destitute peasants. It's not a Disney castle. The first time we meet Ned Stark he's executing two soldiers for desertion. He insists that he swing the blade himself, because he believes that as ruler he's accountable, and he insists that his sons watch so that they too understand.  Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Within minutes we've already been told this isn't a Disney fantasy kingdom.  10 minutes in and we're in a very different mindset from the fantasy setting you're thinking of.

I clearly don't understand the show.  Castles don't make fantasy, since castles existed in the real world.  I thought the show had dragons or something... if it's just a medieval pseudo-earth then maybe I misunderstood.
 
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Yes, it's hilarious, but you missed Mr Brady's main point, which is for the most part a counter-argument to the idea you're proposing.

No, it's not at all.  You're acknowledging that there are modes of storytelling at play here, and that's what I'm saying too.
 
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   But that's silly, because superficial characteristics aren't what build the connection between the audience and the character.
You're mixing up quality of story with modes of storytelling.  I empathize more with Indiana Jones than many characters in so-called serious movies.  Forest Gump for example.  That's because Raiders was better storytelling.  This may be confusing, but the type of story I'm talking about is real as well as well-told.  And I'm certainly not saying all serious-themed works are better than any fantasy.

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By episode 10 the audience has seen so much violence, treachery, brutality, and ugliness that the audience is long past the notion that the dragon hatchlings are going to provide a fairy-tale resolution.

Ok, so there ARE dragons.
 
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You can agree that great fiction needn't be set in an office building to tap universal human experiences?  Ok, then. What's "not the same experience" then?

It's like describing an experience that you have never had.  Unfortunately, I know if I watched GoT I would probably enjoy it but I would feel the same way.  Unless you somehow had the experience I'm describing from my perspective, ie. a deeply affecting experience on the level of theatre, you may not be able to understand this.
 
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 26, 2017, 02:06:06 am
No, it's not at all.  You're acknowledging that there are modes of storytelling at play here, and that's what I'm saying too.

Your notion of "modes of storytelling" apparently includes the assumption that a fantasy setting means fairy-tale happy endings, and apparently precludes the possibility that it could be as emotionally powerful as an episode of reality TV.

  You're mixing up quality of story with modes of storytelling.  I empathize more with Indiana Jones than many characters in so-called serious movies.  Forest Gump for example.  That's because Raiders was better storytelling.  This may be confusing, but the type of story I'm talking about is real as well as well-told.  And I'm certainly not saying all serious-themed works are better than any fantasy.

Ok, so just to recap, you're willing to become emotionally invested in Indiana Jones, even though he's a two-dimensional comic-book character in a setting full of fantasy elements and completely implausible events, because it's good storytelling.

Whereas you're less able to empathize with Frodo Baggins, because he's 3 feet tall and has hairy feet and doesn't work in an office. And unable to get emotionally invested in Ned Stark and the gang at Winterfell, because there are dragons.

I feel like we're approaching August1991 levels of absurdity here. I can't tell if I'm being trolled or not.


Ok, I'm guilty of not having watched the show so I assumed there was magic in it.
...
I clearly don't understand the show.  Castles don't make fantasy, since castles existed in the real world.  I thought the show had dragons or something... if it's just a medieval pseudo-earth then maybe I misunderstood.
...
Ok, so there ARE dragons.

You talked above about being able to buy into Indiana Jones because it's good storytelling. Game of Thrones is the best storytelling I've seen on TV, bar none.  These are richly-drawn, deeply developed characters that you become emotionally invested in like few others. And with their track-record of killing major characters unexpectedly, you're never sure what might happen. You complained that in fantasy settings a magical creature will just show up and fix everything, but in 6 seasons of GoT we've seen precious little get fixed, and a whole lot of things get broken.

 You watch Indiana Jones knowing full well that whatever happens he'll come out on top and the good-guys will win in the end. You get no such promise watching GoT, and the result is a tremendously suspenseful and sometimes nerve-wracking experience.  You get no promise that your favorite character will see the end of the season, you don't get any assurance that the good-guys will come out on top... it's sometimes hard to decide who the good-guys even are.

As I said before, I've watched several episodes while pacing nervously back and forth the whole time. I've been so crushed by several episodes that I felt numb for hours afterward.   There's simply nothing else like it.  That's my opinion. If your opinion is that I must be wrong because there are dragons, or that it couldn't be that compelling because it's not set in an office building, I don't know what else to say.

It's like describing an experience that you have never had.  Unfortunately, I know if I watched GoT I would probably enjoy it but I would feel the same way.  Unless you somehow had the experience I'm describing from my perspective, ie. a deeply affecting experience on the level of theatre, you may not be able to understand this.

It sounds like you've already decided you wouldn't like GoT, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy so at this point I'd suggest you not bother.  For me, it delivers a level of suspense and excitement and highs and lows unlike anything else I've ever watched on television, certainly unlike watching obese losers wallow in self-pity because they can't stay away from Snacky-Cakes.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 26, 2017, 08:07:28 am
Your notion of "modes of storytelling" apparently includes the assumption that a fantasy setting means fairy-tale happy endings, and apparently precludes the possibility that it could be as emotionally powerful as an episode of reality TV.

Not 'happy' endings but deus ex machina.  Yes, my idea is that fantasy doesn't have the potential of reality to affect me, and audiences in general.

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Ok, so just to recap, you're willing to become emotionally invested in Indiana Jones, even though he's a two-dimensional comic-book character in a setting full of fantasy elements and completely implausible events, because it's good storytelling.

'Willing' ?  No.  The mark of a master storyteller is that your will melts away and you find yourself in their world.


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Whereas you're less able to empathize with Frodo Baggins, because he's 3 feet tall and has hairy feet and doesn't work in an office. And unable to get emotionally invested in Ned Stark and the gang at Winterfell, because there are dragons.

I feel like we're approaching August1991 levels of absurdity here. I can't tell if I'm being trolled or not.


What may be happening is that you are revealing the difference between us: I have no choice but to fall under the spell of a good storyteller.  I forget myself and stop thinking entirely.  You haven't experienced that.

What I have said several times is that until we have an example where you were caught in it, we can't come to an understanding.



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You talked above about being able to buy into Indiana Jones because it's good storytelling. Game of Thrones is the best storytelling I've seen on TV, bar none.  These are richly-drawn, deeply developed characters that you become emotionally invested in like few others. And with their track-record of killing major characters unexpectedly, you're never sure what might happen. You complained that in fantasy settings a magical creature will just show up and fix everything, but in 6 seasons of GoT we've seen precious little get fixed, and a whole lot of things get broken.

I have never doubted on here that GoT is good storytelling.

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You watch Indiana Jones knowing full well that whatever happens he'll come out on top and the good-guys will win in the end. You get no such promise watching GoT, and the result is a tremendously suspenseful and sometimes nerve-wracking experience.  You get no promise that your favorite character will see the end of the season, you don't get any assurance that the good-guys will come out on top... it's sometimes hard to decide who the good-guys even are.

Yes, so Raiders is even more escapist than GoT.  Maybe we can pivot on that and take each others' arguments moving forward ?

 

It sounds like you've already decided you wouldn't like GoT, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy so at this point I'd suggest you not bother.  For me, it delivers a level of suspense and excitement and highs and lows unlike anything else I've ever watched on television, certainly unlike watching obese losers wallow in self-pity because they can't stay away from Snacky-Cakes.
 
[/quote]

Yes, maybe we're spinning here because you're not listening:

" I know if I watched GoT I would probably enjoy it " - comment 54 above.

New idea: are you watching the Handmaid's Tale ?  Maybe differentiating reality-based and emotionally-immature stories would help us:

                                  \  Reality Level:                     Real                                Unreal
Emotional Maturity:

High                                                                      Amour                              Game of Thrones                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Low                                                                        Forrest Gump                   Harry Potter


-------

I have given zero thought to that graph, or maybe the time it took to type it.

So there are some points for you to address, in our discovery.  I would also like to switch arguments with regards to Raiders vs. GoT

-Why do I need to watch a show where my favourite character could be killed at any time ?
-Why do I need to spend my time on entertainment that makes me feel bad ?

Your answers could be informative to our discussion here.                                                                               
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: cybercoma on June 26, 2017, 08:25:10 am
"Why do I need to spend my time on entertainment that makes me feel bad ?"

It's interesting that you bring this up. In video game design they want people returning to their games over and over, buying add ons for the games, etc. What they're finding is that games that are dark, a large number of people engage with them but don't stay. They suspect the oppressive tones make people feel like they need a break from them. Overwatch is such a massive success because it got away from the dark, drab, and dreary tone of games like Call of Duty, Counter Strike, etc.

This shouldn't be surprising to people. Comic relief has been around since Greek theatre. Writing a story is a lot like cooking. You need a balance of flavours. If you're too heavy on one it throws he whole dish off.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 26, 2017, 08:31:32 am
Still, there is an audience for dark with low chance of light.

Look up 'Dark Victory' - an old movie that spawned a rush of weepers.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 28, 2017, 02:18:49 am
Not 'happy' endings but deus ex machina.  Yes, my idea is that fantasy doesn't have the potential of reality to affect me, and audiences in general.

Deus ex machina can happen in any genre.  It doesn't require fantasy elements, it just requires bad writing.

"Now what are we going to do? They'll foreclose on the orphanage any day now..."

"Hey, it's a letter from a lawyer.  He says my great uncle just passed away and left me $14 million!"

"That's great, but what about the orphans? How can we stop the bank from foreclosing on the-- wait, did you say $14 million? That's the exact amount we need to save the orphanage!"


You know what I mean?  You're 38 minutes into a 42 minute episode of Law & Order with no hope in sight, when suddenly a police informant shows up out of nowhere with just the right clue to crack the case and get the conviction. Or the forensics geek turns up from the lab and says he's found something that they missed earlier. Or whatever. 



'Willing' ?  No.  The mark of a master storyteller is that your will melts away and you find yourself in their world.

What may be happening is that you are revealing the difference between us: I have no choice but to fall under the spell of a good storyteller.  I forget myself and stop thinking entirely.  You haven't experienced that.

Certainly I've experienced that.  Why would you think I haven't?

What I have said several times is that until we have an example where you were caught in it, we can't come to an understanding.

We've been discussing GoT as emotionally compelling fantasy... what kind of example, specifically, do you need?


New idea: are you watching the Handmaid's Tale ? 

Not as of yet, but maybe eventually.

Maybe differentiating reality-based and emotionally-immature stories would help us:

                                  \  Reality Level:                     Real                                Unreal
Emotional Maturity:

High                                                                      Amour                              Game of Thrones                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Low                                                                        Forrest Gump                   Harry Potter

I guess it's a start, although I'm not sure the phrase "emotional maturity" is exactly what I'm thinking of.  I will think more on that.


-Why do I need to watch a show where my favourite character could be killed at any time ? 

What has made the death of major characters so effective in GoT is that it creates a strong sense of uncertainty.  With most stories you know the good guy will win and it's just a question of how.  With this one, when you see a character you thought was a primary focus meet an unexpected end, it changes your expectation greatly.

"Somebody will save Joey. He's the star of the show.  It would be such an unfair ending if Chloe gets away with this. Joey has to survive.  The cavalry better get here real fucking soon. Holy shit, they did it.  They really fucking did it. I can't believe they fucking killed Joey."

Going forward, you know that the characters aren't safe and it adds greatly to the suspense.  As a viewer this completely changes your mindset. You no longer feel that sense of assurance that Indy will escape somehow.


-Why do I need to spend my time on entertainment that makes me feel bad ?

Well, I don't like entertainment that makes me feel bad, as I said early on in the thread, but I have become engrossed in this one because the experience-- suspense, anxiety, and all-- is so compelling, and because the payoffs are so much sweeter because of the struggle.


 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on June 28, 2017, 12:24:27 pm
Deus ex machina can happen in any genre.  It doesn't require fantasy elements, it just requires bad writing.
  If you take the literal meaning, then not really but yes it has come to mean any hail mary pass thrown into a story by a desperate writer.

Law & Order.  Sheesh, yeah. 

Quote
 

Certainly I've experienced that.  Why would you think I haven't?

This kind of wording:

"you're willing to become emotionally invested in Indiana Jones...Whereas you're less able to empathize with Frodo Baggins, because he's..."

Just a hunch based on your wording and you being a writer.

Let's see if you watch Handmaid's Tale and I'll try to watch GoT. We may get somewhere after that.
 

 
Quote
I guess it's a start, although I'm not sure the phrase "emotional maturity" is exactly what I'm thinking of.  I will think more on that.

That's the best I could come up with, but I agree it's lacking.

Quote
What has made the death of major characters so effective in GoT is that it creates a strong sense of uncertainty.  With most stories you know the good guy will win and it's just a question of how.  With this one, when you see a character you thought was a primary focus meet an unexpected end, it changes your expectation greatly.

Yes, that's a mature story that expects more from its audience I agree.  You didn't say it was better, nor do I say that whatever we're talking about now in my examples are better.  I just see the stories I'm describing as being able to take you more in the direction of 'uncertainty' as you call it.
 
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on June 30, 2017, 01:08:57 am
Current projections are that Wonder Woman could close with domestic box office of $390 to $400 million, which would surpass Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as the biggest movie of the year to date. The box office totals as of last weekend have surpassed "Mamma Mia!" which makes it the highest-grossing film to have been directed by a woman.   Patty Jenkins last shot at directing a movie was Monster, in 2003.  Monster is the movie that won Charlize Theron an Oscar (and a truckload of other awards) and cemented her status as a top actress. In the time between directing Monster and Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins has directed a few TV movies and some television episodes, but has surprisingly little on her resume for a writer and director who scored such a critically acclaimed movie in Monster.  I read an interview in which Jenkins said she hated the choice of Gal Gadot as the star, until she met Gadot in person, at which point she became an instant fan-girl.


I did finally get out to see the big movie yesterday.  I really enjoyed it.


This version of the character debuted in last year's not-very-good "Batman vs Superman" movie. In that movie, Bruce Wayne has an old sepia-toned photograph of Diana and 4 male comrades posing for the camera during World War 1.  He's of course very intrigued that Diana hasn't aged a day in almost 100 years.  This movie opens with that photograph, and tells the story behind it.

It's somewhat a fish-out-of-water story. Diana, having grown up on the idyllic Themyscira ("Paradise Island", as Steve Trevor dubs it) is appalled when she arrives in the modern world, from the industrial smog of 1918 London, to the horror of World War 1.  Initially believing it's her duty and birthright to bring peace back to the world, she's so shocked by the things that she encounters that she begins to doubt whether it's even worth saving.

Chris Pine is wonderful as Steve Trevor. Though she might be bulletproof and imbued with limitless strength, he's the real hero of the story, as his example convinces her that the world still has things worth fighting for. From Steve, and his comrades Sammy, Charlie, and "the Chief" (the four men beside her in the photograph) Diana gains a deeper understanding of the modern world and the people living in it.

The action scenes are spectacular, but there are also many scenes that are simply charming... Diana's attempts to come to grips with London are amusing, particularly her attempts to navigate a revolving door.  And Chris Pine and Gal Gadot have a pleasant rapport that's enjoyable to watch.



Aside from the movie itself, one of the highlights of the evening for me was when a dad and young his daughter arrived. The girl was perhaps 5 years old, and she was dressed in a Wonder Woman costume! She looked delighted.  I am sure she found the movie much more inspiring than a symposium on pay equity would have been.



 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on July 01, 2017, 02:48:10 pm
  If you take the literal meaning, then not really but yes it has come to mean any hail mary pass thrown into a story by a desperate writer.

If one goes by the literal meaning, then the opening of the Ark in Raiders is the most literal interpretation of deus ex machina that I can think of! :p

This kind of wording:

"you're willing to become emotionally invested in Indiana Jones...Whereas you're less able to empathize with Frodo Baggins, because he's..."

Just a hunch based on your wording and you being a writer.

I don't mean that any conscious thought goes into becoming immersed in a story or invested in the characters.  However the viewer has to give it a chance.

I was thinking of a thread where August talks about "Inception" because he'd seen 30 seconds of about it by accident. (this also appears to be the thread where I debuted the "unattractive French couple on an ugly couch" meme!)
http://www.mapleleafweb.com/forums/topic/16907-inception/#comment-568858

Quote
I turned to my friend and said that we were in the wrong hall. We had wandered about half way into Inception. As we walked out, I added that I hate such fake movies.
(...)
IMV, special effects and CGI are no substitute for content. Heck, good acting is no substitute for content. I have no desire to see Leo talk to people with weird eyes - if the movie wins Best Picture, so be it.
(...)
I can accept cartoons and CGI if the intention is child-like whimsy, fantasy. It's fake. I cannot accept bad CGI (and most is) to present the real world.

I guess the determining factor turns on one's ability to "suspend belief", the essence of all art.
(...)
the 30 second scene I saw involved a very serious Leonardo di Caprio (and di Caprio is so earnest; it's as if he's always trying to prove that he's a real actor and not someone who won a lottery) talking to some creature, I don't know how else to describe this, with weird eyes.

When we see scenes of cats flying planes or dogs talking, we know that we are not seeing reality. But it's also done tongue in cheek.
(...)
Di Caprio's earnestness. No smirk, no sense of irony.
(...)
So, it was perhaps the lack of a di Caprio nod to the absurdity of talking to a CGI creature that irked me. I mean, what would Shrek be for Western adults or teenagers without the irony of Eddie Murphy.

Ultimately, August's view is that "Inception" should have been played as a comedy because he can't take anything seriously if there are fantastical elements involved.  He won't (or maybe can't) look past the fantasy elements to become immersed in a story. 

And, reading your comments earlier regarding dragons, and mythical creatures showing up to fix everything, and so on, it made me think of the same thing: here's a guy who isn't willing to give this type of material a chance because of his preconceptions about it.



Let's see if you watch Handmaid's Tale and I'll try to watch GoT. We may get somewhere after that.


I'm not sure how getting me to watch Handmaid's Tale helps you illustrate your point.   If it's anything like the movie, then it's an example of a writer using a fantastical situation to tell a story that provides commentary on our present reality... more in the lines of "Gattaca" or "Minority Report" or maybe "A Clockwork Orange" than "Amour".
 
Yes, that's a mature story that expects more from its audience I agree.  You didn't say it was better, nor do I say that whatever we're talking about now in my examples are better.  I just see the stories I'm describing as being able to take you more in the direction of 'uncertainty' as you call it.

That's typically the direction they go, and it's typically what the audience wants, but it's not a limitation that comes from the setting or the inclusion of fantasy elements.  It's a limitation that comes from the type of audience the movie has targeted.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: SirJohn on July 01, 2017, 07:27:39 pm
Current projections are that Wonder Woman could close with domestic box office of $390 to $400 million, which would surpass Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as the biggest movie of the year to date.

And neither left their audiences cursing...

I remember when I was younger I used to like horror novels. I picked one up by a guy named Peter Straub. He was a terrific storyteller, filled the book with tension and characters you cared about, solved the evil thingee with a chapter to spare. Then in the final chapter the evil thingee came back and killed everyone. Was I admiring of his brilliant storytelling? No, I threw the book across the room and the next time I saw a book by Straub in the book store I flipped to the back to see... yup, ended the same sort of way. I never bought another book from Peter Straub. Not everything ends in a happy ending, it's true. But people don't invest in stories to be depressed or to see some character they care about die in the end while the evil thingee wins. That's self-indulgent of the writer, in my opinion, and puts his own sense of artistry ahead of the satisfaction of his readers/viewers.

And make no mistake about it, the satisfaction of the readers/viewers is job one. Any sort of message you want to deliver on the side has to bear that in mind.
Having said that I have to admit that I bought the first book of Game of Thrones long before it became a TV show and it was so depressing with all the characters dying that I never finished it. I am watching the series, and enjoy it, but in a more cursory fashion. The only characters I actually like are the dwarf and the blonde.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: dia on July 04, 2017, 09:31:00 am


What has made the death of major characters so effective in GoT is that it creates a strong sense of uncertainty.  With most stories you know the good guy will win and it's just a question of how.  With this one, when you see a character you thought was a primary focus meet an unexpected end, it changes your expectation greatly.


My opinion is that the killing off of major characters and 'good' people whilst 'bad' people continue to live is one of the elements that makes GOT realistic, even though it's a fantasy setting.   
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on July 04, 2017, 09:53:48 am
If one goes by the literal meaning, then the opening of the Ark in Raiders is the most literal interpretation of deus ex machina that I can think of! :p

Oh, I see what you're saying.  Yes.

Quote


Ultimately, August's view is that "Inception" should have been played as a comedy because he can't take anything seriously if there are fantastical elements involved.  He won't (or maybe can't) look past the fantasy elements to become immersed in a story. 

And, reading your comments earlier regarding dragons, and mythical creatures showing up to fix everything, and so on, it made me think of the same thing: here's a guy who isn't willing to give this type of material a chance because of his preconceptions about it.

That's a more extreme version of me.  I don't make a conscious decision, but it breaks the frame like Batman in the operating room.  Ally MacBeal was another example.  They tried to combine serious, or serio-comic with absurd and I couldn't deal with that.  I just turned it off.



 
Quote

I'm not sure how getting me to watch Handmaid's Tale helps you illustrate your point.   If it's anything like the movie, then it's an example of a writer using a fantastical situation to tell a story that provides commentary on our present reality... more in the lines of "Gattaca" or "Minority Report" or maybe "A Clockwork Orange" than "Amour".
 

HT is not fantasy.  I'm not trying to 'make a point' about you, just wondering if we can learn from watching each others' examples and examining how we react to those.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on July 09, 2017, 04:02:42 pm
That's a more extreme version of me.  I don't make a conscious decision, but it breaks the frame like Batman in the operating room. 

I still feel like you're missing what Mr Brady was expressing.  Yes, Batman showing up in the OR on MASH breaks the frame.  But Batman showing up in a dark alley in Gotham City doesn't break the frame.  It's implied by the frame. You're not watching a dark alley in Gotham unless you're expecting Batman to arrive. If your reaction when Batman arrives is "I was interested in the urban crime drama aspect of this, but now that I know it's a superhero movie, I'm out" then clearly you were watching the wrong movie and you have only yourself to blame.

Leonardo talking to "a guy with weird eyes" in Wolf Of Wall Street would break the frame. Leonardo talking to "a guy with weird eyes" in Inception doesn't break the frame. The premise of the movie is, I gather, the ability to enter a person's dreams to interact with their subconscious.  If you're willing to accept the premise that you're watching someone's dreams, the notion that you might find weird or surreal or unsettling elements inside shouldn't break your suspension of disbelief.


Your complaint isn't about breaking the frame, it's that you feel some frames are just inherently not good at expressing mature themes.


Ally MacBeal was another example.  They tried to combine serious, or serio-comic with absurd and I couldn't deal with that.  I just turned it off.

I didn't watch much of Ally McBeal... I didn't like it very much.   My recollection is that the images on the screen were not always literal, but were sometimes representative of Ally's perception. I recall one episode where she was on a date... the man she was with was eating a Caesar salad and got salad dressing on his lips, which she found gross. Later when she looked at him, she (and we the viewer) kept seeing him with his whole face covered with gross creamy Caesar dressing, and she couldn't date him any more.

Later in the series she became haunted by a bizarre dancing baby that only she could see... it would prance around her to the "ooga chakka, ooga-ooga" chant from Blue Suede's "Hooked on a Feeling".  I gather it was intended to be a comical representation of her ticking "biological clock". 

The antics of her co-workers were sometimes too bizarre to be taken literally as well. I don't think the show was ever really meant to be taken as a literal attempt to portray reality.  I think it was intended as a caricature of real life.  They made fun of real character traits by exaggerating them. It was satirical commentary on society and human nature, but it was never intended as a documentary.  The absurdist elements were part of the commentary. 

I didn't care for McBeal myself either, but I think that's where they were coming from. I think if I'd understood what they were doing at the time it was on the air, I'd have probably enjoyed it more.

Absurdity has a place in storytelling.  Franz Kafka blended absurdist elements into his stories as a way of making commentary, but probably did so with a little more subtlety and gravitas than Ally McBeal.

HT is not fantasy.  I'm not trying to 'make a point' about you, just wondering if we can learn from watching each others' examples and examining how we react to those.

I don't think you're trying to make a point "about me", I think you're trying to make a point that realistic settings make better vehicles for expressing mature themes.

In regard to the Handmaiden's Tale, the movie is set in a dystopian future where fertile women have become just commodities, due to widespread sterility.  There are many other totalitarian aspects as well.  This is speculative fiction, as we discussed earlier.  It's not a realistic setting, it's a fictional setting created to advance certain premises for exploration-- like Gattaca and Jurassic Park and others in that vein.

But as I said earlier, I'm already very open to that sort of material... I feel that these kinds of settings are a great vehicle to explore all kinds of challenging ideas that could never be adequately discussed on a couch in an apartment in Paris.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on July 09, 2017, 05:41:02 pm
If your reaction when Batman arrives is "I was interested in the urban crime drama aspect of this, but now that I know it's a superhero movie, I'm out" then clearly you were watching the wrong movie and you have only yourself to blame.

Right, but if Batman starts talking about themes that are too serious, I think "Why did they put this in the Batman movie ?"
 
Quote
Your complaint isn't about breaking the frame, it's that you feel some frames are just inherently not good at expressing mature themes.

Maybe.


Quote
 
  The absurdist elements were part of the commentary. 

Sure. But after a scene like that, the evocative piano music could come on and someone could say "Ally... I need to talk to you..." in a serious tone.

Really ?

Quote
...did so with a little more subtlety and gravitas than Ally McBeal.

Surrealism and pathos are hard to make work.  I don't think I have ever felt like crying during a surrealist movie.

Quote
I feel that these kinds of settings are a great vehicle to explore all kinds of challenging ideas that could never be adequately discussed on a couch in an apartment in Paris.
 

You have to give me the name of that movie ?
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on July 10, 2017, 11:05:33 pm
Right, but if Batman starts talking about themes that are too serious, I think "Why did they put this in the Batman movie ?"


That's because your preconception is that Batman should be Adam West running around in tights talking about "shark-repellant Bat Spray".

(https://canadianpoliticalevents.createaforum.com/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FUoxB42E.jpg&hash=c787f1ede45906feffaf39d3ddfcb518)


But that's your expectation imposed on the genre, not the genre itself.  The Tim Burton/Michael Keaton version expressed a much darker vision that was very successful both commercially and critically.   The Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale version was darker still, and even more commercially and critically successful.  "The Dark Knight" is the single most successful comic-book adaptation ever from both a commercial standpoint and a critical standpoint, and one of the most commercially successful movies of all time, period.  And it was extremely bleak.  No shark-repellent Bat Spray, not a "Biff!" or "Pow!" to be found.

You can consider that the idea of a grown man running around in tights is inherently funny.  You can also consider that the idea of a mentally unstable vigilante hunting down criminals is inherently disturbing.  Both views have been applied to the "superhero" concept with great success. Both are completely valid.


I argued earlier that the comic book superhero is just a modern incarnation of an archetype character that has been with us for millennia in one form or another.  As such, it shouldn't be overlooked. It shouldn't be shrugged off because you grew up with the Adam West comedy/satire Batman on your TV.


Surrealism and pathos are hard to make work.  I don't think I have ever felt like crying during a surrealist movie.

I don't think I have either, but I don't think I've watched much that would qualify as surrealist. I wouldn't discount that it's possible, though.

I used to read my little brother's comic books once in a while when I was a teenager. Most of them were just what you'd expect. But I became very attached to the Uncanny X-Men... one issue in particular left me with a lump in my throat, I felt so badly for the character involved. If an author can create a character you empathize with, and put her in a situation you can relate to, it doesn't matter what the genre is. It's all in the execution.

I was never struck numb with shock while watching a fantasy program until I saw season 3, episode 9 of Game of Thrones. I was never overcome with rage while watching a fantasy program until I saw season 4, episode 8 of Game of thrones.  I never covered my eyes in terror while watching a cartoon until I saw the B-17 sequence from "Heavy Metal".

You have to give me the name of that movie ?

As I say, it's a hypothetical film that only exists in my imagination... it's what I envision would be August's ideal, perfect movie.

This is about the closest real-world comparison I can find.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDbxpmyZmWQ

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on July 11, 2017, 06:20:59 am
Buried thread...
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on July 11, 2017, 06:53:36 am


That's because your preconception is that Batman should be Adam West running around in tights talking about "shark-repellant Bat Spray".

No, it's because it's being done by a guy in a cape who can fly.
[/quote]

Quote
But that's your expectation imposed on the genre, not the genre itself.  The Tim Burton/Michael Keaton version expressed a much darker vision that was very successful both commercially and critically.   The Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale version was darker still, and even more commercially and critically successful.  "The Dark Knight" is the single most successful comic-book adaptation ever from both a commercial standpoint and a critical standpoint, and one of the most commercially successful movies of all time, period.  And it was extremely bleak.  No shark-repellent Bat Spray, not a "Biff!" or "Pow!" to be found.

Dark does not equal real.  And to state that it's my expectation because of the genre is correct, it's also universal to anybody with any culture who watches any performance and goes back to Robert Reed's essay.

Quote
You can consider that the idea of a grown man running around in tights is inherently funny.  You can also consider that the idea of a mentally unstable vigilante hunting down criminals is inherently disturbing.  Both views have been applied to the "superhero" concept with great success. Both are completely valid.

Once again I have never said any of this is invalid.

Quote
I argued earlier that the comic book superhero is just a modern incarnation of an archetype character that has been with us for millennia in one form or another.  As such, it shouldn't be overlooked. It shouldn't be shrugged off because you grew up with the Adam West comedy/satire Batman on your TV.

Once again I have not shrugged it off.

Quote
I don't think I have either, but I don't think I've watched much that would qualify as surrealist. I wouldn't discount that it's possible, though.

I used to read my little brother's comic books once in a while when I was a teenager. Most of them were just what you'd expect. But I became very attached to the Uncanny X-Men... one issue in particular left me with a lump in my throat, I felt so badly for the character involved. If an author can create a character you empathize with, and put her in a situation you can relate to, it doesn't matter what the genre is. It's all in the execution.

Of course, but there are limits which is what I have been arguing.



Quote
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDbxpmyZmWQ

 -k

This looks good.

Look, I don't think we're making forward progress.  There is just a taste for profoundly affecting performance that I got from theatre, that barely exists in film that I feel I have that you don't.  I detect that in your aversion to the 'ugly French people in apartments' genre, whatever it is.  I have no parallel aversion.

Until you try something in that genre, and like it or at least don't dismiss it outright and see something in it I don't know what we can talk about. 
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: cybercoma on July 11, 2017, 08:39:52 pm
I suppose now that I've seen Wonder Woman, I should actually read this thread.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on July 12, 2017, 09:37:08 am
I suppose now that I've seen Wonder Woman,

What did you think of it?

I should actually read this thread.

... uh, mostly just me and Mike bickering, really.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on July 12, 2017, 10:40:54 am


... uh, mostly just me and Mike bickering, really.

 

Not so much.  I bicker your bickering.

I think that such movies are limited in what they can give the viewer, and Kim seems to think not.  I feel that the kind of experience I get from non-cape-wearing films likely hasn't been experienced by her, and that until she comes and experiences something like that she can't agree or disagree with my assertion.

Also these movies are stupid.  Sorry. :D
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: cybercoma on July 12, 2017, 12:03:14 pm
What did you think of it?
 -k
I was expecting it to be great, given the media buzz, but it was even better than I expected. DC finally has a winner, but it feels kind of like an empty victory considering how awful the Justice League teasers have been.
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: MH on July 16, 2017, 04:13:53 pm
....and Dr. Who is going to be a woman now.  I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY KIM !

Really, I hope you are. :)
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on July 16, 2017, 08:49:19 pm
Quote
I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY KIM !

I don't follow Dr Who in the slightest, and I think Dr Who is a rather small corner of geek fandom, as opposed to a mainstream success in the way Wonder Woman has been.

Nonetheless, I have been following some of the reaction this has generated on the Interwebs, and yes, I am pretty tickled.  ;D   It's fun to see the howls of the Trumptards and MRAs and Gamergaters and others who are outraged that the downtrodden straight white male is being erased from the pages of history.



From what I can gather, the Doctor is part of a race of powerful alien entities who adopt human form when they wish to interact with humans. In the show's mythology it has been established that they aren't limited to manifesting themselves as one gender or another, and that in their regular existence human sexuality and gender are completely unimportant to them.  And they have had characters who were male in one incarnation return later in female incarnations already.   So the potential for casting a female in the role has been established, and the reason for casting the Doctor as male is a result of writer and audience preference, not of anything inherent in the show's established mythology.

And yet there seems to be legions out there claiming the show has been RUINED FOREVER by this move.

Happily there are at least as many mocking the outraged with mock outrage of their own.   One popular howl of mock outrage is that they did not cast a ginger; gingers are up in arms in mock outrage over yet another non-ginger being cast as the Doctor.


Quote
is part of a race of powerful alien entities who adopt human form when they wish to interact with humans.... in their regular existence human sexuality and gender are completely unimportant to them.

Often in science fiction we see entities trying to masquerade as humans for a variety of reasons.  I once watched a similar show called Sapphire And Steel, starring Joanna Lumley and David McCallum, which is similar to Dr Who in the sense of proposing a time-traveling being adopting human form to perform tasks.  Sapphire (Lumley) and Steel (McCallum) were two extra-dimensional entities who adopted human forms to prevent malicious beings from entering this dimension by causing disruptions in the continuity of time... it was all rather confusing. Lumley and McCallum both portray their characters in a way that seems somehow unearthly.  They way they interact with people creates a strong impression that while Sapphire and Steel may look like humans, they aren't. 

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on July 26, 2017, 01:25:30 am
And neither left their audiences cursing...

...

That's self-indulgent of the writer, in my opinion, and puts his own sense of artistry ahead of the satisfaction of his readers/viewers.

I don't think giving an unhappy ending is necessarily a stunt to aggravate the viewer/reader.  It might be, although I think it many cases there's a better explanation.


One example:  I recall reading Alan Moore discussing his epic, legendary, all-time-great Watchmen story.  He said that by the time he had finished writing Chapter 5, he knew that Rorschach couldn't survive. It wasn't that he felt like killing off Rorschach for shits and giggles. It was that there was no way to resolve Rorschach's character with the events that would happen at the climax of the story.  A resolution that involved anything other than Rorschach dying to defend his beliefs would have been untrue. It would have been dishonest, cowardly... the integrity of Rorchach's character *required* that he take the stand he did and there couldn't be any outcome other than Rorschach dying for his beliefs.

Rorschach dying in the way he did might have been upsetting to some readers/viewers...  but picking any other outcome would have undermined the integrity of Rorschach's character, which had been firmly established.

This is the kind of writing I respect... writing where choices are made not with an eye to whether the audience will like it or not like it, but whether it rings true. Rorschach choosing that hill to die on rang true.  No other outcome would have rung true. It was unsettling and upsetting... but it rang true.



From the Game of Thrones season 4, there were two notable deaths of major characters. One I hated, one I thought was wonderful.

With the Red Viper, it felt like his death at the hands of The Mountain, after he had easily dominated The Mountain in their duel, felt like a deliberate "fuck you" to the audience. I hated it. It felt like the way it was done was a deliberate effort to punch the viewer right in the kimmables.  I understood from a narrative point of view that this was something that drove the story onward, but the way it was done really sucked.

With the Hound, on the other hand, I felt like his death was a perfect culmination of a beautiful and tragic story arc. I loved the Hound, more than any other character on the show, and when it became clear that either he or Brienne of Tarth wasn't going to survive season 4, I was horrified because I loved Brienne as well. So... the Hound, mortally wounded during the brutal brawl with Brienne and finds himself trying to goad his companion into killing him and ending his suffering. And the awful things he says, the things he hopes will enrage his companion enough to put him out of his misery, only manage to remind him of how far he fell short of the life he wished he had led. Instead of making his companion mad enough to kill him, all he accomplishes is making himself so sad he almost cries. I loved the Hound so much, and I hated that he died, but the way he died was so true to his character, it was a perfect ending to his story arc and it felt so true to the character the writer had created. Even though I was heartbroken to say goodbye to a favorite character, I don't think the story arc could have been ended any better.  Ultimately, he died trying to be the knight in shining armor that he always wished he could be, and that rang so true for me that it put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes and cemented my love for the character.  Even though it was a sad moment, it was also a moment where the artistic integrity of the story created something especially meaningful for me as a viewer.

And make no mistake about it, the satisfaction of the readers/viewers is job one. Any sort of message you want to deliver on the side has to bear that in mind.

I think that viewers can be fulfilled by outcomes that aren't necessarily "happy".  I mention the above Game of Thrones story involving the Hound as an example. 

Having said that I have to admit that I bought the first book of Game of Thrones long before it became a TV show and it was so depressing with all the characters dying that I never finished it. I am watching the series, and enjoy it, but in a more cursory fashion. The only characters I actually like are the dwarf and the blonde.

I think a big part of the excitement of GoT is the knowledge that neither the dwarf, nor the blonde, nor Jon Snow, nor anybody else are necessarily getting a happy ending.   It was hinted right from the beginning, but made abundantly clear starting at the climax of season 1 episode 9: the characters you think are indispensable, aren't.  The happy endings you expect aren't the happy endings you're going to get. Somehow, despite the shock of season 1 episode 9, the show moved right along without skipping a beat.

As things have moved along, we've seen giant figures come and go... Tywin Lannister, Robb Stark, Magaery Tyrell, Stannis Barratheon, Roose Bolton...  all of them seemed, for at time, to be very powerful, yet all eventually succumbed to factors beyond their control.

Ultimately I still think the ending will be happy... I'm still not sure I know for whom.  That's part of the magic of the show.

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on July 26, 2017, 01:31:09 am
I was expecting it to be great, given the media buzz, but it was even better than I expected. DC finally has a winner, but it feels kind of like an empty victory considering how awful the Justice League teasers have been.

Given the success of Wonder Woman vs the Meh of the rest of the DC movies, wags are now suggesting the upcoming Justice League movie should be rebranded as "Wonder Woman and the Superfriends."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8H1bg65TaM

 -k
Title: Re: Wonder Woman
Post by: kimmy on July 26, 2017, 02:16:26 am




Quote
Vindication must feel good for Patty Jenkins, who said at last year's Comic-Con she spent over a decade lobbying studios to make a Wonder Woman movie. But what really proved Wonder Woman's worth at that panel were the dozens of little girls dressed up like Wonder Woman, lining up to ask Gadot a question or get a signature.

...

In fact, Wonder Woman appeared to be one of the most popular costumes at the convention this year, along with Rey from Star Wars and Daenerys from Game of Thrones. (And yes, men, too, donned these costumes.) Just five or ten years ago, these characters didn't have onscreen iterations. Now they're icons.

The popularity of the Wonder Women, Reys and Daeneryses of the world prove that women want to see themselves as superheroes, jedis and mothers of dragons. They want to see themselves in genre. It's something that female moviegoers have known for decades, but it took Wonder Woman's lasso of truth to convince the industry. May we never doubt her power again.
http://time.com/4870175/wonder-woman-sequel-gal-gadot-patty-jenkins-comic-con/



As I mentioned earlier, one of the highlights of going to the movie, aside from the movie itself, was when the dad came in with the little girl in the Wonder Woman costume.  It was so cute I almost cried. This lady took her daughter to Comic-Con in San Diego, and they got to meet Gal Gadot there.

Quote
Keller also added on Facebook: “These characters matter and can have a huge influence on young people. What a great role model and genuine, nice person. My daughter will always remember this moment for the rest of her life. Thank you, Gal Gadot!” 
http://www.nme.com/news/film/watch-gal-gadot-comfort-crying-wonder-woman-fan-comic-con-2116225

Wonder Woman takes over Comic Con-- girls and women age 7 to 57 celebrate the movie.
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/the-conversation/sd-wonder-woman-taking-over-comic-con-20170720-htmlstory.html


A movie reviewer describes her initial reaction to seeing an early draft of the movie:
Quote
I cried the first time I watched Diana cross No Man’s Land. It was February 2017 and I was in Warner Bros.’ edit bay in London. The world was in flux, I was in flux, and the instability left me blinded. I had to get away, and this trip felt like the perfect salve. Until I cried. I can count the times I’ve cried at movies on one hand (seriously), and never once has it ever been during a superhero film. And it has never happened in front of the director who created it. (I was very embarrassed.) I couldn’t truly wrap my head around what I was seeing, but I knew that it moved me beyond words to see a woman so confident in her gifts and skills, in her mission and her purpose and her moral code. To watch her stand up against an oft-heard sentiment from men—you can’t do that, no man can—and respond in kind that she was no man, and that gave her strength that the army, and Steve Trevor, and all of mankind, did not have. I felt like young Diana: naďve, but thrilled and joyful, overwhelmed at the possibility of what this film could become.
http://nerdist.com/wonder-woman-no-mans-land-scene/




One can only imagine how much more inspiring all of this would have been were it set in an office building.



...  :-\


 -k