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Rachel Anne

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  1. I have to say, that I don't think that Disney's project to set up Star Wars as a second cinematic universe alongside Marvel is going to succeed. Star Wars was showing signs of serious creative exhaustion even before Disney picked it up, and Disney has done nothing since to suggest that they have any ideas as to how to reinvigorate it. If we look at Star Wars, the first and second movies (episodes IV and V) can claim to be really fresh, but even the third (episode VI) was showing signs of creative exhaustion, recycling locations and events from the original even as it struggled across the finish line to complete the story. The prequel trilogy, of course, suffered necessarily in that its main story line was known to us before it started, but beyond that they showed a tendency to recycle and re-use even when it seemed perverse to do so (as examples, the strange decisions to have had C3P0 built by Anakin and to have Boba Fett be a clone of the same original as the clone army). By the end of the prequels, the Star Wars Universe looked a lot smaller and more inbred than it had before. Far be it from me to fault the commercial calculations behind episode VII, but creatively, it doesn't so much continue the original story as reboot it. When Han, seeing the newest Death-Star-like-object, remarks "So, it's bigger, so what?" I said to myself, "Great question!" and left the theater. For me, as an audience member, the sense of déjà vu was simply overwhelming. There was just no reason for me to be there. Since then, Disney has launched Rogue One, an interstitial that leaves us with exactly nothing that we didn't have before, and is soon to release another interstitial, that looks to have the same problem. These two interstitial movies are not parallels to the various Marvel single-superhero properties because they can't go anywhere or do anything: they are in a narrative vice between a known past and a known future. If we look at the Marvel cinematic universe, whatever its faults, it is a toy box full of toys from which new stories can be constructed, and each new Marvel movie adds more toys and opens up new possibilities. Star Wars isn't like that. At its best, it has been a single linear story, and at its worst it is just a recycling and gap-filling of places and events in that story. I believe that, from a story-telling perspective, the Star Wars "universe" isn't Marvel, it's Pirates of the Caribbean.
  2. Rachel Anne

    The Matrix

    Whatever that means. There's a reason he chooses to identify as female rather than male. If there were no difference, he wouldn't bother. Given that Lana has not personally chosen to expand on her meaning here, I am at some risk in attempting to do so on her behalf. But generally, denying the gender binary is used to endorse two ideas: (1) that many traits treated as two wholly separate points, one "male" and one "female" actually exist as a line, where people can be found anywhere along it. (2) that people often embody a mix of "male" or "female" traits; that statistical or cultural distinctions are often mistaken for absolute or natural ones. Obviously there is a lot of ambiguity at this level as to what traits we're talking about, and even if I suspect I understand Lana's meaning at this general level, I don't think I could guess her positions on a more particular level. A denial of the gender binary, however, is not the same thing as an assertion of universal androgyneity, so yes, it could still make a difference. Finally, I would note that trans people generally regard it as offensive to refer to them by pronouns that deny the reality of their transition, and Lana has made herself clear that she shares this general feeling. If you wish to show respect: "she", and not: "s/he" or "he", is the way to do it. If you wish to show disrespect, well, frankly, you have many options available to you. No doubt she will have heard all of them before. No doubt I will have too.
  3. Rachel Anne

    The Matrix

    I would agree of course that Alien is very much of an ensemble movie. The a priori assumption that "the Captain" was going to be the lead is itself interesting in that it reflects ideas based on the sf side of its heritage, as opposed to the horror aspect of its heritage, which would actually make the Captain/authority figure a pretty near certain corpse. None of this has any bearing on my general argument about the way women are handled in sf/action movies, obviously. But that doesn't mean it can't be an interesting subject in its own right.
  4. Rachel Anne

    The Matrix

    And I am saying that even in the act of catering to an audience largely made up of young males, male and female storytellers will think differently, write differently, direct differently. The logic is much less "male audience" = "only the male characters actually count" than it is "male storytellers" = "only the male characters count." I have no argument with SDG's reply, but I would like to add to it. It does not seem to me that putting the responsibility on the audience or the genre for the way female characters are often handled by filmmakers holds up very well. Ellen Ripley was the lead character in Alien and Aliens. Sarah Connor was the lead character in The Terminator. These are iconic movies of the sf/action genre. They were beloved by the young males in their audience who never, as far as I have ever been able to tell, ever voiced the slightest objection to the movies having had female lead characters. Further, female characters do not have to be lead/action characters to be successful as characters in sf/action movies. Carol Marcus is an important character in Star Trek II; she is both the lead developer of the Genesis Device as well as Kirk's former lover and (as is revealed) the mother of his son. In Blade Runner, the terrible plight of Raechel makes her far more in the movie than just Deckard's love interest. Finally, as a general observation, talking about who is the audience for a genre and what the audience's wants are as things that exist prior to the actual works of the genre and which are therefore responsible for the characteristics of those works does not seem like a sound line of thinking to me. The Hunger Games movies are clearly sf/action but have a lead female character AND a primarily female audience AND have been huge commercial successes. If other sf movies have had mainly male audiences, it clearly is not because female audiences have some natural antipathy to sf, that gosh-darn-it-hard-as-they-try-male-filmmakers-just-can't-overcome.
  5. I agree with the above explanations about the ending. I would add that:
  6. Short answer: California hadn't reported in yet. Long answer: Different states report their results at different rates. Generally speaking, states with later poll closings and later time zones turn in their results later. The result is that early popular vote results are not necessarily representative of the whole country. Particularly important was California, which was on Pacific Time and had a late poll closing time and which favored Obama over Romney by almost 2 million votes, none of which were counted in early popular vote results.
  7. The problem with effects studios, though, is that they don't really generate much in the way of profits, and the benefits of effects studios' technology is available for rent anyway, so there isn't that much reason to own one.
  8. Does Lucasfilm actually consist of anything valuable besides a set of rights? What does the full-time staff of Lucasfilm consist of?
  9. Rachel Anne

    Cloud Atlas

    An excellent speech, I thought. Very inspirational to those of us, who, like her, have struggled with gender dysphoria their whole lives but have always been afraid of coming out, afraid of transitioning. The fear of losing everything you care about is an awesome and terrible thing.
  10. There is one point about arranged marriage in Brave that is worth noting in the context of feminism: It is as much arranged for the sons of the tribal leaders as it is for Merida. Arranged marriages in this context aren't a problem of feminism per se, but of social order: nobody gets to choose. That's why the end of the arranged marriage for Merida is celebrated by the sons of the chieftains: her freedom is their freedom. I will point out that in the history of arranged marriages, that it has by no means been true that only daughters suffered from it. I had a male coworker and friend from India who returned home to discover that his parents had (unbeknownst to him) found him a bride, and when he returned to the U.S., he did so as a married man. if we look at Jane Austen's novels, we don't see the institution of arranged marriage in its full-blown form, but there is frequent parental pressure exerted against sons and daughters to make a suitable match: Edward Ferrars, Henry Tilney, Eleanor Tilney, Anne Elliot, Frank Churchill, Fanny Price, and Fitzwilliam Darcy are all characters who had the screws turned on them to choose spouses suitable to their parents (or parental figures). Also, in European history, generally speaking the higher the rank, the less personal preference has to do with marriage: Frederick the Great of Prussia, for example, was forced into a marriage by his father that he regarded as so dire that he considered suicide. None of this is to say that the society in Brave (or in European history) is in any way gender-neutral, nor that the gender differentia were not heavily weighted against women in a broad range of areas. Only that arranged marriage, as an institution, had far less to do with men having control over women than parents over children.
  11. I guess Taylor Kitsch can't star in everything.
  12. That may be the worst thing I've ever read.
  13. For your next birthday, you need: Link Ryan IS awful young to be an old fogie. Some people do age fast though:
  14. This is a terrific essay: http://thenewinquiry...princess-movie/ [edit]Terrific is really an understatement. I've called lots of things terrific that weren't nearly as well done as this.[/edit]
  15. Not nearly as unpleasant as the possibility of a third movie in the same vein. As you noted, the first two were remarkable in their awfulness. Not since Joel Schumacher had we seen so thoroughly determined an effort by the captain to scuttle his own ship.
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