Quotes: She Gets to Screw It Up

After the release of Terminator: Dark Fate in November of 2019, Emmet Asher-Perrin wrote at Tor.com about the Terminator franchise. This section at the end describes perfectly why the original T (1984—oh gosh!) will always be my favorite of the series and why we need more (super)hero stories with women in the focus:

“The end of The Terminator is maybe more entrancing than any other finale in the franchise for that reason. It has more in common with a horror film than a sci-fi action flick. Sarah Connor, the final girl who has to make it through for so much more than the sake of her own life, crawling away from two glaring red eyes. Her leg is broken, she’s barely fast enough, but she pulls it all together to crush the T-800 into scrap parts. You can see the moment where the unflinching hero of Judgement Day is born, and it’s right when she says ‘You’re terminated, fucker.’ It only took a span of days to rip her normal, unremarkable life apart, but we get the chance to take the entire journey with her, to sit in her emotions and think about how it would feel. It’s just as fast as most ‘Chosen One’ narratives tend to be, but it doesn’t feel rushed because we are with her for every terrifying second of that ride.

“There are a few more heroes who get this treatment, but they are rarely women. Black Widow has a few muddled flashbacks in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Captain Marvel gets flickers of her past in formative moments. Wonder Woman gives us a brief introduction to Diana’s home and the women who raised her. Rey doesn’t get much time to wrestle with her budding Jedi abilities before heading off for training. We get brief hints of where these women came from, of how it feels to take everything onto their shoulders. But Sarah Connor gets to muddle through it. She gets to wear weird tie-dyed t-shirts and shiver when she’s cold and decide whether or not she can accept the idea of time travel and unborn sons and machines that will always find her no matter where she hides. She gets to present herself as wholly unqualified, and she gets to screw it up, and she still makes it out the other side to fight another day.” [original emphasis]

– Emmet Asher-Perrin

We’ve recently watched a few excellent crime procedurals (for example, Vera and The Fall, plus a new Finnish-Spanish production called Paratiisi) where the female protagonists were written with multiple characteristics that television’s stereotypical damaged males have (like a traumatic past, superficial sex / multiple throwaway partners, alcohol use, difficulty maintaining meaningful human relationships or, indeed, behaving professionally towards your colleagues, to mention a few).

Criticism of these kinds of women in stories is often framed in terms of likeability: you can’t like a woman who behaves in “un-feminine” ways. Well, assuming we’re not talking about comfort-watching or reading (which I’d allow some liberties to), do you have to? I’ve never met anyone who liked everyone they ever met.

I’d say it’s lazy storytelling at its core to plop in a feature of a given character or culture or setting without examining its purpose in the story. For example, while I appreciate the performances of Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in the Sherlock series by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, I detest the selfish, egotistical, arrogant, inconsiderate way Moffat and Gatiss have their Holmes behave. (There’s a reason we haven’t rewatched the series.) He if anyone is unlikeable, to put it mildly, but somehow people can only see his genius—even when the original Sherlock Holmes emphatically behaves with kindness.

And while it’s true that none of these “unlikeable” people would be easy to have as friends, it’s also true that none of them is without any redeeming qualities either. The point is, depicting one gender only in a certain light and cutting off other possibilities of being from them is overly limiting, because in the real world possibilities are nigh on infinite.

Depicting a variety of individuals is exactly what makes for instance heist stories like Ocean’s Eight or Jane Austen’s novels so enjoyable and delicious. Flipping details around, reversing patterns, defying expectations—these are exactly what make a story shine. Women are people and people come in a range of shapes, sizes, and mentalities. Just think of the range of abilities and body shapes Olympic athletes represent, for example.

Just like I do not want all men in my fiction to be cookie-cutter copies, I certainly don’t want all women in my fiction to be cast from the same mold. Expecting all or even most members of any group be an amorphous mass is really rather ill-advised, for it ruins many a good tale and taken to extremes would make stories untellable.

To re-phrase Asher-Perrin: what The Terminator really gets right is that Sarah Connor gets to feel her feels, to react, emote, and flail (like Ye Old Female Protagonist)—AND she gets to win the day.

Asher-Perrin, Emmet. “The First Terminator Movie Gave Sarah Connor One of the Most Compelling Origin Stories”. Tor.com, November 01, 2019.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

Mulan in Live Action: Final Trailer

Just over a month to go, and the final trailer for live-action Mulan is here:

 

Disney’s Mulan | Final Trailer by Walt Disney Studios on YouTube

More character moments and more action than in the previous two trailers, that’s for sure! There is apparently going to be a woman in a major protagonist role, which is perhaps tiresome, but then again, it’s a Disney production so it’s not likely the story will be something new and astounding. I’d also ditch the most egregious wirework stunts, but that’s another highly personal preference.

An interesting choice was to show Mulan’s parents discussing her choice and have them wrestle with the implications, but I’m guessing there won’t be too much of that in the movie. And it is still incredibly beautiful.

Mulan is released March 27, 2020.

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Black Widow Special Look Trailer

The Black Widow movie is released in just under two and a half months, and a special look trailer is out.

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow | Special Look by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

We see more action, but still relatively few plot points are added to the first trailer: for example, the character I assume to be the Taskmaster remains officially unnamed in the clip. We do hear that a new class (a “vault”) of widows has been trained, which has lots of spin-off potential.

What I really enjoy the most, though, is that we see at least three women being pals (well, for certain values of pals at least) and kicking ass while at it. Sure, some of the stunts look a bit ludicrous, but show me a superhero movie that doesn’t have overdone action in it. The point is, women get to do it, too, and not just the lone Smurfette pasted in to flash cleavage. These women—like the other characters in the story—are highly trained and they are finally allowed to act it. Fucking finally!

Leverage Sophie It Is On

Black Widow opens May 01, 2020.

Image: screencap from the tv series Leverage (“The Office Job”, season 4 / episode 12) via Oui, Mais Non (insertusernameici) on Tumblr

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Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears: Trailer & Thoughts

In two weeks, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears opens! Well, at least with certain values of open: It’s released on February 27, 2020, in Australia. Here’s the trailer:

MISS FISHER & THE CRYPT OF TEARS | Official Trailer | 2020 [HD] by Roadshow Films NZ on YouTube

Looks very much like an upgraded version of the tv series, so it should be fun. (Apart from the bad trigger discipline, but I fully admit I’m very sensitive about that.)

I haven’t yet seen confirmed dates for Europe or North America; one site gave March for U.S. and a tv channel March 23 for their streaming date; no sources have confirmed theatrical release details, though. If anyone has seen firm dates, please let us know!

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Mulan in Live Action: Second Trailer

It’s about two months till the release of the live-action adaptation of Mulan.

Disney’s Mulan | Official Trailer by Walt Disney Studios on YouTube

The visuals continue to be as gorgeous as in the first trailer. (Suprise, surprise.) If I ever were to see this, it’d be mostly for the eye candy; the story hasn’t really drawn me in, at least in its earlier iterations, and as far as these two trailers go, they’ve not changed the situation. Well, there is Rosalind Chao, who is thoroughly awesome.

We’ll probably see it on disc eventually: giving our local library some circ stats isn’t a bad thing.

Mulan is expected to release March 27, 2020.

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First Trailer for Wonder Woman 1984

Good grief, there’s basically a slew of movie trailers out! Just the latest is for Wonder Woman 1984:

Wonder Woman 1984 | Official Trailer by DC on YouTube

Not bad, huh? When I heard the sequel was going to be set in the 1980s, I cringed (I’ve been there once; don’t want a repeat, thank you). But this is actually looking promising—many of the painful bits I remember are hidden away and the period even looks mildly innocuous.

But but but! Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor?!? I get that this is a superhero movie, but to pretend they can supposedly return people from the dead with 1980s tech? C’mon. Srsly. I don’t think I can suspend my disbelief that much. (Because, if it was mythical Amazon or god tech bringing people back, surely they also would’ve mentioned it in the original and brought back Antiope? Unless they’re also doing that in this film?!? Otherwise it really stinks of a bad case of Deus ex Machina.)

Despite its problems, overall I did like the first WW. Apart from the era and the implausible return of the obligatory heartthrob, I have fairly high hopes of the sequel, too. And apart from Patty Jenkins directing, she also co-wrote the screenplay along with Geoff Johns and Cave Callaham; I’ve seen some of their work and thought it was at least decent. Also, director of photography Matthew Jensen makes a return; along with the first WW, I’ve seen his work in Game of Thrones, CSI, and the 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four, and liked it. Finally, to borrow a line from a friend: “Also they had me at Blue Monday so whatever.” 🙂

According to IMDB, WW84 is expected on June 05, 2020.

Oh, yeah; 2020 is gonna be a pretty good movie year for us!

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The King’s Man Trailers

It’s about three months till the next Kingsman continuum movie comes out. This one is set back in time and dubbed The King’s Man, and, as usual, there are trailers:

The King’s Man | Official Teaser Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX on YouTube

The King’s Man | Official Trailer 2 [HD] | 20th Century FOX on YouTube

Based on the two preceding movies it looks like the franchise-wannabe doesn’t quite yet know how serious vs. tongue-in-cheek to go. The King’s Man appears more somber in tone, but we’ll see.

Find it in theares on February 14, 2020.

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First Black Widow Trailer

We’ve had to wait for a movie starring Black Widow for so long, a part of me won’t believe it’s going to happen. But! There’s a trailer now!

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow – Official Teaser Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

I have a hard time figuring out what the story will be from this clip, but sources talk about a character called Taskmaster. Otherwise, looks like we’ll see more European and Russian locations; I do enjoy both. Apparently the story is set between Civil War and Infinity War.

Filming apparently largely takes place in Budapest and elsewhere in Hungary, and Norway seems to stand in for Russia (I assume Siberia and/or other northern locations), which is nice—I’ve never been to Hungary nor the far Norwegian north, so it’ll be nice to gawk and keep my old-cat creature comforts at the same time.

I didn’t use to like Black Widow, but that may have more to do with how little Johansson was given to work with in the first phase of Marvel Cinematic Universe. Indeed, Nat’s road-trip-buddy mini movie with Captain America stuffed in the middle of Winter Soldier is one of my favorite MCU excerpts.

Black Widow is written by Ned Benson and directed by Cate Shortland, both of which are unknown to me. The new cast (i.e., outside the familiar MCU characters) is mostly unknown to me, too, so it will be a big—dare I say it the third time—unknown overall. I’m looking forward to it, though, and fervently hoping it’ll be as awesome as other MCU favourites of mine!

The movie opens May 01, 2020.

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Frozen II Is at the Theaters, and Soon Dubbed in Sámi

Today is the premier for the animated sequel Frozen II here in the U.S. Unlike most Di$ney princess movies*, I will be seeing this one during its theatrical release for a particular reason.

In the story, Anna and Elsa et al. travel to the north and meet a people resembling the Sámi. For their research and inspiration, the Walt Disney Animation Studios not only talked with Sámi people but actually signed an agreement with the Sámi to do it in a respectful, collaborative way.

The Sámi are the only indigenous people within the European Union area. They currently live in the northern reaches of Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia.

Disney even invited some members of the Sámi Parliaments to U.S. to see the movie at the world premier, meet some of the makers, and tour the animation studio.

Yle Siv Eli Vuolab Samediggi Frozen II World Premiere

The most exciting part for my linguist brain is that the studio will record and release a version dubbed in Northern Sámi, the largest of the Sámi languages. The voice actors are drawn mainly from Sweden and Norway, among them the acclaimed Sámi musician Mari Boine, but also one Finn. (Yay!)

Yle Frozen II Screencap Northern Herders

While it’s true they aren’t very numerous these days (partly thanks to racial, linguistic, and cultural discrimination), the Sámi do exist and do have a living culture. (Just check out the music scene for one incredibly vibrant aspect—yoik comes almost in all styles now!) I grew up two hours south of the Arctic Circle, and the Sámi were my classmates, neighbors, and teachers. For me it’s delightful that Disney took the time to research, listen, and respectfully pay homage to people I grew up with.

Undoubtedly I will also enjoy scenery that reminds me of trips to Lapland even if the first reports say the northern mountains look too young and rugged to be based on the fells on the Finnish side of the border. 🙂

Yle Frozen II Screencap Valley View

*) The only other exception is Moana, which was also produced in cooperation with indigenous peoples.

Images: Per-Olof Nutti, Aili Keskitalo, Åsa Larsson Blind, and Tiina Sanila-Aikio with their daughters at the world premier of Frozen II by Siv Eli Vuolab / Sámediggi via Yle. Three members of the northern herder tribe from Frozen II via Yle. View overlooking a northern valley from Frozen II via Yle.

In Live and Active Cultures we talk about cultures and cultural differences.

Second Trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now a month away. Here’s the second (and apparently final) trailer:

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | Final Trailer by Star Wars on YouTube

My my, it looks more epic than before, and you really cannot fault episodes VII and VIII for being bland. Furthermore, the movie seems epic in all senses, with beautiful work in both the visuals (environments, propping, fights—did you notice the outstanding cutting of the trailer?) and the story (resistance, courage, friendships, sacrifices).

Now I have one wish: that J.J. Abrams won’t ruin it. (His work has been a hit or miss for me in the past.)

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