If you've been watching this blog long enough you'd know that each week a new post is put up on Wednesday. But once and a great while, an exception has to be made. And after the events on the show Game of Thrones this past Sunday and the subsequent reactions to it, I felt a need to put in my 2 cents about the matter. This is a blog geared towards women in geekdom, after all.
Image via HBO
SPOILERS. SPOILERS. SPOILERS. Nothing but spoilers, folks!
In the last episode of GOT, Sansa reluctantly married the ruthless and terrifying Ramsay Bolton so that him and his father would have a rightful claim over Winterfell, and, in turn, the North. You're all aware of what a couple usually does on their wedding night, but knowing Ramsay, it's going to be twisted into something much worse. Ramsay rapes Sansa while making Reek, formerly Theon, watch the whole thing. After the episode aired, everyone flipped out! There were claims from hundreds of fans saying that they were done with the show or threatened that they would stop watching if this kind of thing kept happening. A politician even had some harsh words to say, so you know it's serious *sarcasm*.
Initially the thing that confused me the most, was the impression that everyone seemed to have that the show was somehow endorsing something as heinous as rape. In what way are they doing that? The man raping Sansa is one of the most hated and feared characters of GOT! I've yet to meet any fan that likes him or finds him in any way redeeming, whatsoever. Not once in the series has a protagonist openly communicated in any way that sexual violence is A-okay! Whenever they do decide to show such a thing, it makes the viewer cringe and silently outraged; that isn't on accident people! They wrote, shot, and edited each of those scenes to make you understand and feel the injustice and inhumanity of what you're seeing.
Then I realized that this is far from the first time they've shown something like this on the show. Where were all of these threats to stop watching when a sobbing Dany was forced to consummate her marriage to Khal Drogo in the first friggin' episode? Why did no one make a fuss when they found out Craster kept dozens of daughter/wives sexually enslaved in his keep? Where was the outrage when Joffrey tortured whores in his chambers? I don't even remember people getting this upset when Jaime assaulted Cersei at Joffreys' funeral! The entire plot of the series wouldn't be the same if a woman wasn't assaulted at some point.
The series, in both the book and television, takes loads of inspiration from historical people and events that took place in European history around the 1400s and beyond. Knowing how violent and patriarchal society was in those days, you can bet your butt that the way women have been treated in the show is accurate with the times.
Listen, if you're the casual viewer who just can't stomach the amount of blood, sex, and violence in the series then don't watch the show. I completely understand that it's not everyone's cup of tea. There are even a few friends of mine that I have steered away from GOT because I know they wouldn't be able to handle it. But if you've been an avid watcher since the first episode, and up to the current episode of season 5, and you're only now complaining and throwing a fit about it's content, then you're a hypocrite. Plain and simple. You can't suddenly act all high and mighty after coming this far and seeing the countless boobs, blood, and violence. The moment Sansa was given to Ramsay you knew what was probably going to happen.
I suppose lots of credit needs to be given to Benioff, Weiss, and Martin for making the Game of Thrones universe so real to those watching that they forget Sansa Stark isn't an actual person that lives in Westeros (Which, guess what, also doesn't exist!). It's incredibly sad to me that the same people who are outraged over a television show can't have the same reaction to the fact that real women are sexually assaulted and raped every minute of every day across the globe.
Here's what I think the main issue is that people have had with the recent 'developments' of GOT: Sansa is innocent. Since we've known her as a young girl she's been naive and even a bit spoiled, dreaming of being a princess and someday even a queen. Then over the course of each episode, that dream is slowly torn down, piece by piece. She comes to realize that her intended is a monster, watches her father get beheaded, is constantly abused in nearly every way by the crown prince, made to marry a man that is seen as a joke throughout the kingdom (thereby making herself a joke), threatened and assaulted by what she thinks is the only family she has left, and finally taken back home to Winterfell to marry the biggest monster in Westeros. The worst part of it all is that somehow she's managed to keep her 'virtue' intact throughout all of this madness. The way in which she finally loses it can almost be seen as an incredibly cruel and callous joke.
Being familiar with storytelling and development from my college studies, what Sansa has been through this entire time is called an 'arch', in which a character (usually the protagonist) starts off with certain attributes and goals but then goes through a journey where they are changed into something else. Usually they change for the better and overcome whatever obstacle is put in their way. Right now, Sansa is at the lowest point in her journey, rock bottom, the thing she's kept safe has been stolen from her and it looks like she may never have the idealistic, fairytale happy ending that she's always dreamt of. After this point in the story, characters will make the change that is needed for them carry on and succeed. It's a plot device as old as dirt.
I'm actually intrigued as to where Sansa's character could go from here. She's been nothing but a victim for several seasons and that may be about to change. What kind of change she's going to make and whether or not it will be towards the dark side or light side remains to be seen; this IS Game of Thrones we're talking about after all. But, like any women who goes through something as horrible as what Sansa went through they can rise up and be stronger, be a voice for sexually abused women when everyone else puts their hands over their ears, refusing to look or listen because 'they don't need to think about that' or because it's 'upsetting'. Who knows, she may now become a huge playing piece that changes the course of history in Westeros.
And that is why I'll continue to watch Game Of Thrones.
Rant over. Phoebe out!
So everyone's seen the trailer for the newest entry into the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens by now, and either cried their eyes out, shook uncontrollably, got chills, or curled up in a ball as if they were being attacked by a wild rancor.
Not even Matthew McConaughey was immune.
Most of those that experienced the aforementioned effects were Generation Xers anxious to return to their childhoods which were apparently 'so great' that they felt the need to complain about them in Grunge music for 10 years.
Anyway, based on the YouTube view stats for trailers one & two, most people have viewed both trailers multiple amounts of times (me included), and based on internet trends, it seems like with the limited amount of info presented, everyone has started to concoct a theory about what chapter VII is going to give us.
I'll give a kind curtsy to J.J. Abrams & Company for their ability to keep a lot of the details about this film hidden. J.J. Abrams knows as well as anyone, that speculating about what's going to happen in a Star Wars movie is half the fun of its fandom. That speculation seemed to hit a fever pitch a couple weeks ago when the second trailer hit, and started spawning theories around questions like these: Who's behind the Vader-type mask? Where's C-3P0? Why is that stormtrooper is always out of breath? And my personal favorite: How has Chewbacca avoided any grey hairs?
Chewie... we're at the drug store. Get your hair dye and let's go.
But with all the theories flying both good and bad, I noticed that there weren't that many about the young Skywalker-looking girl, named Rey. She's the one being played by newcomer, Daisy Ridley.
I wish I knew how to use the Force.
Now, this could be due to the fact that everyone has just assumed that she is the daughter of Leia and Han, but it seems that in everyone's euphoria, they forgot to do simple math. Could a girl that's only looks to be about 17-years old really be the daughter of a now elderly Leia and Han? Granddaughter maybe, but even that's a stretch. What the crap?
So sit back as I present to you a wild Phoebe theory that I've cooked up about this girl named Rey from the two existing TFA trailers (with the backup support of some hard cold official Star Wars canon facts). Fair warning, everyone, this theory has all my friends thinking I've gone nuts from too many trailer viewings. [I'm only up to about 67 viewings... and counting]
Before I get to my theory, let's start out with what we know about the Star Wars movies, shall we? Well, for one, we know that the Star Wars saga is about the Skywalkers, period. So, could this new trilogy not feature a new generation of Skywalker(s)? I guess, but it'd be breaking away from a huge story element, and geeks around the world would probably be in a bigger uproar than they were about Jared Leto's Joker. To have this new set of movies not be about a new generation of Skywalker(s) would be like the producers of Doctor Who making the Doctor's new persona a robot, just because they felt like it.
If you'll concede to me the fact that the Star Wars Saga is about the Skywalkers, then maybe you'll agree with me when I take things a step further, and say that the Star Wars saga at it's core, is really about Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. So now when I ask, could they make a new trilogy without Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader involved somehow? You may be forced to say, "Well, I guess, no."
This sand sure is interesting.
It's all about ME!
This line of thinking was what I used to form my theory about this mysterious Rey girl, and my theory is this:
What if, the new trilogy is about a set of twins cloned from the DNA of Anakin Skywalker and this Rey girl is one of them?
Dun, dun, dun...
Search your feelings fans, you know it to be... maybe true?
If you buy in to my theory, then all the clues are in the trailer, although it could just be conformational bias. Either way, let's break down select parts of the most recent trailer, and maybe I'll convince you to turn you to my dark side.
Clue #1: This girl is apparently a scavenger on a desert planet. Sound familiar? This was the starting point for both Anakin and Luke. Also, it seems like she's quite good at driving fast machinery also a Skywalker trait.
I want off this desert planet!
Join the club, sister.
Clue #2: The lightsaber being handed to what many suspect is Leia due to the voiceover. Many fans were excited to see the weapon they remember being lost in ESB, but seem to have forgotten that it's not actually Luke's lightsaber, it's Anakin's. I blame this massive oversight by Starwoids on what I call 'Prequel Amnesia.' Could it be possible that in a round about way, the lightsaber is going back to its original owner?
Hand and batteries not included.
Clue #3: Darth Vader's burned helmet on a platform. It seems someone went to a lot of trouble to obtain such a relic. For what purpose? Cloning. Could it be that a cult of Vader recovered such an artifact to recreate the most midichlorian rich being ever in the universe?
Did the Emperor only make one helmet? That thing must have stunk.
Clue #4: Luke's voiceover. I think everything is intentional when it comes to film, and the strange duplicate echo seems to imply some kind of copying (or cloning if you will.) You also have to consider the subtext of what he says, "My father has is it, my sister has it, I have it... and you have that power too." Hmmm... Now if she were in fact a clone of Luke's father, how would she fit into the family tree? Niece? Mom? Grandma? Cousin? It seems like Luke just disregarded titles, and just went with, you.
Clue #5: The girl herself. Anyone else get the feeling she looked like someone we've seen before? I think J.J. Abrams & Company went to a lot of trouble to find someone that had a 'look' before a name for a very specific reason.
Now let me reach into some deep Star Wars lore and present further evidence for my theory using Star Wars facts.
Fact #1: George Lucas originally planned for Luke Skywalker to be a girl in the first Star Wars. If this girl were an Anakin clone of sorts, he'd be getting his wish in a round about kind of way as this series would feature a strong female Skywalker lead.
Lady Luke Skywalker concept art.
Fact #2: Like it or not, clones are a part of the Star Wars saga and have been since they were first mentioned by Princess Leia in "A New Hope." Now, if suddenly in the world of Game of Thrones, a King Joffery clone appeared, many fans of GOT would scoff at it as ridiculous and unbelievable, but in the world of Star Wars, clones are pretty commonplace, so to me, an Anakin clone isn't out of the question. After all, Boba Fett is a clone, no?
Maybe I should clone myself, just in case. Nah, I'll do it after my wedding.
Fact #3: George Lucas has always stated that the Star Wars movies are like poetry and that they sort of 'rhyme.' So taking that into account, I think it's within reason to think that this new trilogy will also feature twins or siblings one good, one bad thus the ever-present balance of the force theme that runs though all the films. So far, we have similar Skywalker themes with this Rey character.
Hopefully Episodes VII -IX features less sibling kissing.
In closing, I really think that with this new trilogy, Disney is really going to unite fans of the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy. So don't expect any of the new films to completely ignore Episodes I-III. As much as you may hate them, believe it of not, there are a lot of people under 35 that like the prequels (Jar Jar included), as they grew up with them, as well. Star Wars belongs to new fans just as much as it does to the old ones and with a clone angle, I think it's their best way to unite the trilogies.
I have more theories and speculations, but I'll stop here for now. I think in all the excitement that surrounded the newest trailer, people missed a lot, and if J.J. Abrams' Lost taught us anything, it's that the man sure loves his clues.
What do you think? Am I on to something or have I gone completely insane?
He's canon, folks. Deal with it.
If you're a geek or subscribe to fandom culture anywhere on earth, you're no doubt aware that last week, we lost a legend. On February 27th, 2015, Leonard Nimoy passed at the age of 83. On that day, even the Star Wars/Star Trek rivalry was shelved to honor a man that used his talent and fame to enrich and inspired the human race.
I'm a fan of Star Trek. That's all I'll say about it because I don't want to spend a lot of time this week on ol' Phoebe. Instead, I want to use this space to honor the man we all knew as Mr. Spock.
As I reflected on Nimoy's death this past week, and read about his life in the countless articles/obituaries, I felt a bit sad that so many would only remember Nimoy for his work in the entertainment field and will never know of the work he did off the movie sets to leave this world a better place.
This week, I'd like to highlight three things about Leonard Nimoy that reveal a man that was dedicated to making a difference on this planet.
1.) During his time on the original Star Trek series, he championed for equal pay for actress Nichelle Nicholls who played Uhura. This meant standing up to the show's producers, which was a bold move in the racially tumultuous times of the 1960's.
Learn more HERE.
2.) In 2007, he created the "Full Body Project." The project was a book that consisted of photos taken by Nimoy that featured full-figured women from a San Francisco burlesque group. He said he created the project in order to 'challenge entrenched concepts of beauty' and that it was 'direct response to the pressure women face to conform to a size two.'
Learn more HERE.
[Warning: some material may be NSFW]
Nimoy behind the camera.
3.) In 2001, he donated $1 million smackaroos to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, CA. They even named a section of the place after him. If you've never heard of the Griffith Observatory, it's one of the only free, city accessible, observatories in the world and has been a location in countless movies and TV shows including the Star Trek franchise. During a visit to Los Angeles some time ago, I got to visit it, and recommend it to anyone with an interest in the stars.
Learn more HERE.
Griffith Observatory. Photo by Matthew Field, http://www.photography.mattfield.com
I've provided links so you can learn more about the legacy of Nimoy and hopefully you too will see the man as more and just Spock.
Goodbye, Mr. Nimoy. Live long and prosper...
So, "Fifty Shades of Grey" came out recently, and to no one's surprise, made ALL the money. I've seen pictures of people lined up and around the block in front of multiplexes so that they can say they've watched softcore porn in a conventional movie theater. I could say that society is corrupt, and that we all have an unhealthy obsession with sex, but then I'd just be voicing the opinion of pretty much everyone.
Except for these people.
By the way, this is not going to be a 'Shades of Grey' post. It's not a review, because I haven't seen it and don't plan to. It's not a rant about it, because, frankly, the problems with 'Gray' are apparent (or should be) even to the massive loads of women who went to see it. But, I started noticing a lot of hate directed towards something related to the film that I really don't think deserves it.
For those of you unfamiliar with its' humble beginnings, "Fifty Shades of Grey" was originally an episodic series titled "Master Of The Universe" that was published on fan fiction websites.
That would be interesting...
It featured characters named after Edward Cullen and Bella Swan from the oh-so-popular "Twilight" saga. But, due to too many people complaining about the sexual nature of the story, it was later removed from aforementioned websites. After the purge, the defiant author re-named the characters and re-posted it on her own website, FiftyShades.com
Twilight already had enough problems on that front.
Soon, the author, E.L. James, developed her stories into a three-part book series and took down her content from the site in order for them to get published and become the phenomenon that we all know today.
This is actually an amazing feat if you think about it. For ANY fanfic to become a book series, let alone a movie, is very impressive, and means that James deserves some recognition for at least knowing how to market her work to the masses. Fanfic is rarely taken seriously; even before it became mainstream, other fans saw it as creepy or even an affront to the creations that they loved. To most people (both geek and otherwise), fanfic makes one think of unoriginal stories, written by someone with very little talent, who simply wants to live vicariously through the characters they write.
From personal experience, I'd have to say that the amount of bad fanfic greatly outweighs the good. When you let thousands of people have free reign on anything artistic, stupidity is bound to sprout up like weeds. You need examples of this? Well, glad you asked. One, we're talking problems with basic grammar and spelling that oftentimes, makes the story incomprehensible. Two, there's also a general lack of knowledge by writers of how characters would act in any given situation. Three, the term 'Mary Sue.' It's a term for an original character inserted into an established group of characters from popular works of entertainment that is usually just the authors putting themselves into the story as wish fulfillment.
Fourth, and this one gets the crown, the worst thing about fanfic, is the sex scenes. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I've crushed on characters that don't really exist (made a list about it, in fact). But people, there are better and far less creepier ways to express your attraction. When you've got tags on your fanfic like 'torture', 'genderswap', 'Mpreg', 'male lactation', 'interspecies romance', and 'walmart' your story shouldn't see the light of day!
Freud would have a field day with your fanfic. I think he's reading it here.
Believe it or not, there's also fanfics so bad that they become famous such as "My Immortal" and "Half Life: Full Consequences'"for similar reasons why films like "The Room" and "Birdemic" have such huge cult followings. They're known as 'badfics' and have become something of a meme on the internets. There are countless Tumblr pages, blogs, and websites such as "Godawful FanFiction Archive" or "Citizens Against Bad Slash" that are devoted to showcasing every horribly hilarious 'badfic' there is to find. I could and have spent hours laughing my rear end off at the unintended humor these poor authors have put their heart and soul into (Warning: Many of the posts on these websites are sexually confusing).
It's pretty clear as to why fanfiction would be a writing medium that very few people take seriously.
All of that being said; one of my dear friends, Tiffany, is an avid fanfic writer. She has accounts on most major fanfic websites and even has a pen name she's known by. She's told me many times that she writes these stories because... well, she just can't help it. She'll get to thinking about one of her favorite movies or TV shows, then her brain goes on a million tangents, and suddenly she thinks of a pretty cool story. It's not so much about whether or not someone reads it, but more about getting it out of her system, and exploring her fandom in a way she never would normally.
By the way, her stories are not like the ones I described earlier. She does what a lot of my favorite stories do, which is: Stay interesting and more importantly, stay classy! What does that mean? It means staying true to the original source material. How? Well, one way is by taking stories we all know and love and telling them through the perspectives of supporting characters. Or writing a story that quickly explores a quiet moment with a beloved protagonist. Yet another way would be to take a thread of a story that's only hinted at in the original material and expand on it until your imagination is satisfied.
Many fanfic authors consider their stories to be a compliment to the original creators. This makes sense in a way, but then we have to talk about whether or not taking someone else's intellectual property and making it your own is morally sound. Original authors have had mixed reactions to fanfic, from loving it, to outright loathing people who write it. Your own opinion may depend on whether you are open-minded, or a fan purist. I personally don't have a stance on it and getting into a debate is not something I intend to have happen on this blog. I WILL say that regardless of how professional writers feel, it's become a trend, at least in Hollywood. Look at all of the remakes, prequels, and sequels being made. They just announced that they're going to make a female version of Ghostbusters, for Pete's sake! 'Gender-bending' is a constant in the fanfic world.
Male Ariel (c) Sakimichan. You can see more at: http://sakimichan.deviantart.com/
Ultimately, fanfic isn't for everyone. Many people are content with the original works and that's fine. But keep in mind that in every bin filled with sex-filled or grammar-botched 'badfics,' there's one gem of a story written by someone who put their heart, time, and talent into sharing it with the rest of the world. If there's one thing we should hope for in the world of fanfic, it's that THAT kind of a story gets published, and not more overrated garbage.