Saturday, 3 June 2017

Amazonian Might - A Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman is not a movie that is designed for me. In a way I suppose you can take it in a sexist sense. As a man, the narrative of the Amazonian goddess does not exact seem all that relevant as I do not face the same struggles that a woman does. But more fundamentally, I am not familiar with the series in question. I come at this movie as a general movie-goer, not as a comic book nerd nor semi-familiar ultra-fan. I know no monumental stories involving her, I don't know any of the villains that she fights, I don't really even know where she lived. The only things I know are the aforementioned goddess title, the Lasso of Truth, the invisible jet and some of the more sensational parts of her character's background. I mostly came about watching this movie in part due to the wave of positive reviews that seemed to be a rarity for DC and in part to finally understand their main heroine whom I had neglected for so long.

Since it is the first film to ever have Wonder Woman as the lead, the film definitely seemed to cater to certain needs that a beginner like me would have. For starters, I was able to find that her name is Diana (yes, I did not know) and that she lives on the island of Themyscira with other Amazonian women. She is told great stories about the war between Zeus and Ares, and how Ares being the vengeful god of war that he is, came to corrupt man. She later is told that if Ares were to ever show himself again that only a weapon deemed "the god killer" would be able to defeat him. After saving Steve Trevor, an American spy who crashes near the shores of Themyscira, she comes to find that a massive war is brewing in the human world. Believing that it is the work of Ares, she goes along with Steve to stop the war.

I was generally optimistic when it came to Gal Gadot being Wonder Woman. Even though Batman vs Superman had her in the cameo corner, I could see that there was more potential. Wonder Woman proved to show that potential in full force as she could properly balance bright-eyed idealism with stern determination and fish-out-of-water antics with sophistication. Though her voice didn't have the proper energy for certain moments, her expressions and actions more than made up to express her character.

The whole cast was a ton of fun as well. I absolutely loved seeing the Amazonian women kick some serious ass as they went on horses armed with only arrows, swords and shields to charge at German soldiers armed to the teeth with guns. Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine), much like the Cap who shares his first name, was able to provide a sincere charm and reserved demeanour that worked well off of Diane's more brazen attitude. Later on in the movie, we come across a group of mercenaries who offer some wonderful banter as we transition to larger scenes. And of course the villains were entertaining, with Dr. Poison (Elena Ayana) having a quiet madness to her and Ares relishing in the destruction of mankind through his ruthless actions.

As expected, the action was wonderful throughout the film. It was focused, with the proper angles and use of slow motion accentuating each movement, making each hit have it's impact. The cinematography was vibrant, with even dark and dreary scenes popping out like an intense comic page. Both elements would have been well enough to simply sate the masses but what I think took this film into riding the waves of high praise was what DC movies were lacking, balance. Wonder Woman allowed itself to be comedic, to be light-hearted, in a way that felt natural rather than as an awkward way to offset the rest. The characters were able to breathe and interact with one another as humans rather than exposition devices or melodramatic caricatures.  It was able to tell its story without rush, and let the pieces fall into place.

There are certainly some imperfections this movie has, most of which I can't speak of without spoiling it. But part of why I feel it necessary to embolden the strengths of Wonder Woman is that it is bold enough to deserve such. I could have not been more perfectly introduced to Wonder Woman's character and her raison d'etre. She carries the standard badass nobility of a superhero, but her warmheartedness and frankness allowed her to stand out alongside her contemporaries. The moral of the movie was not particularly new or radical but it was so genuine in carrying it through that I could not help but feel emotional over it. It disappoints me that by simple virtue of being a female lead that it will come to be a battleground for the constant culture war that the Internet wages. It is a movie that is larger than the politics that has surrounded it and will come to surround it in the coming days. Even if this film does not do proper justice to the source material for some reason, I feel that it can serve as a magnificent interpretation of her character.

At a time that superhero movies have become to feel derivative, I'm glad that Wonder Woman managed to stand out as a bright beacon amid the tired, the gritty and the hollow.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Area Man Suddenly Sad At Night After Relatively Decent Day

Toronto, ON - Realizing that his existence is utterly devoid of any meaning, area man Samuel Davidson said Wednesday that just as he was about to go to bed he had felt an overwhelming wave of depressing thoughts amid a day that was in his own words, "pretty alright".

Samuel Davidson, a 24-year old bartender at a downtown nightclub, told reporters that he had enjoyed yesterday as he was hanging around with his friends, managed to get a couple of decent tips and even flirted with one of the patrons, but that right when he was about to go to sleep, he began to feel his stomach sink.

"I just felt like every human interaction I had was completely fake. Like it seemed that no one was really being honest with me, they just humored my existence," said Samuel, adding that he felt that his life was destined to go down an even worse path due to past decisions. "It just seems like things are built on a house of cards, like I'll be lucky if I live over 30."

Davidson remarked that what had started the chain of thoughts is when he looked at the phone number that the patron had given him. He felt that the number was fake as he had past experiences where false numbers were given to him. This, he remarked, made him feel as if he was just an annoyance, that he couldn't properly small-talk with anyone, let alone flirt with them. Davidson would later find himself questioning how honest his friends were with him, figuring that innocuous jokes aimed towards him were really just major flaws related towards his character. Lying in bed, his mind then came across the haunting realization that in the grander scheme of things, he was insignificant to the world around him and that there was no real reason to go on.

"What does it matter if I live another day? I'm just gonna end up dead anyways," Davidson stated as one of thoughts that were going through his head that night.

At press time, Davidson was elated when he found that his favorite show had made up for the otherwise dull and dreary day he had today.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Area Man Given The Ever-Expanding Well Of Information That Is The Internet Keeps Watching The Same 5 Videos On Youtube

Vancouver, BC - Sitting in his home office on Saturday with his work completed, area man Brad Silverman was reported on his computer, repeating a series of videos rather than exploring the bounty of knowledge that was accessible to him in an instant. Brad, 31, told sources that he was "planning to look up art tutorials" as he had told friends and family members he was interested in improving his hobby but then found himself "stuck watching some goofy cat compilation videos" from user FluffyKittenz33. "On the one hand, I understand that I'm not taking advantage of just how much I can discover from the technology that I have at my disposal, but at the same time, there's just something about watching videos I've seen before that is so relaxing. Plus those cats are really silly." At press time, a slightly tired Brad informed us that he decided to binge watch a random show on Netflix so that he could have something to small-talk about to with his co-workers on Monday.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Poll: 75% Of Americans Say Their Liquor Just Isn't Fucking Strong Enough To Deal With Daily Events

Poughkeepsie, NY - A new survey by the Marist Institute of Public Opinion found that 3 out of 4 Americans need something stronger to cope with the absolute shitfest that is going on. "Due to high levels of anxiety from recent events, many people are finding comfort from the bottle rather than any sort of recreational activity", said Marist data analyzer Sandra Crestwood. "In fact, many of the people who we asked already were carrying flasks with them." Among those polled, half of them have said that they've gone from whisky to absinthe, and 10% of them have gone from absinthe to Sunset Rum. "One person has straight up decided to take shots of pure ethanol to get through the day." She goes on to add that one of the most surprising factors is the amount of conservatives who feel their liquor isn't doing the trick. "Some of them are drinking out of regret and others are just trying to drown out all the noise. It's pretty much a coin-flip on which one it is for them." The survey also found that 80% of Americans would rather you shut the fuck about taking yoga to calm down about the political mess that's going on.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

It's Gonna Be A Long Four Years...

It's been a while since I've made a blog. And in doing so I've been thinking about the kind of things I could mention on this blog that would not be political. If you know me through any of my main social media outlets, you know that I've been going on non-stop about politics. Specifically, what's going down to the neighbour down south. I can't really shut up about it and neither can many others. And while it's certainly a topic that I'm interested in going on about, I understand it if others are irritated by it. Not only because it's a generally exhausting topic that requires you to look at various other sources to make a firm decision on the matter at hand but because in the current climate, everything is politicized. You can certainly make the point that all that one does is inherently political, but you can also make the point that people honest to god need to give it a rest. I was intending to do so for this blog, but I can't help but write something longer about what's going on and try to touch on some key aspects.

These past few weeks have felt more like years considering all that has gone on so far. With the frenetic energy that has come from his executive orders and petty tweets, Trump is continually making an ass out of himself and everyone else. It was fun for a while seeing the hilariously pathetic inauguration go by and I am keeping my promise to give the man credit when he's does good like destroying the awful deal that was the TPP. But then there's also that Muslim ban that resulted in furious commotion, Yates getting the boot and pretty much being illegal. Not to mention the rounds of cabinet picks that have pretty much resulted in the swampiest of people to rise up like Betsy Devos, the embodiment of stuck-up private school soccer moms being in charge of Secretary of Education. Add in the wonderful spins by Conway and Spicer to the whole mess and you might as well make like Harry Whittington and get the vice-president to shoot you in the face.

With all that's going on, it does astound me just how much his supporters are willing to let slide. He has dropped the "lock her up" line, his cabinet is made of rich elites, Obamacare being dead has essentially fucked their affordable care, he is using private email and also indulging in pay-to-play tactics. I can make quick jokes about what all they care about is that he keeps them damn Mexicanos and Mooslims out to have a giggle at the xenophobia that has propped him up but I'm more curious to see how this is being rationalized. Especially considering that he's being very blatant about it, particularly with the fact that he still really hasn't split his business from his politics. That and if I want to have a laugh at the xenophobia, I might as well do so at the mastermind of this whole administration, Steve Bannon, who pretty much looks like if a frog developed a rash.

As fun as it is to pick apart the gross nature and gross incompetence of this administration, it would certainly be unfair to just decry the whole of the right. And not because there are some like Ana Navarro that give me hope, but because there is certainly a lot of stupidity coming from the left too. Now let's be clear: I definitely think that the Women's March made a very bold statement, especially juxtaposed to the inauguration crowds. And definitely there has been a tireless effort by protesters, senators and other workers to continue the push against Trump. If nothing else, Hilary has completely vanished from the not-quite-a-loss she had with him. But good lord if there's anyone's law that has been horribly enforced lately, it's Godwin's. For every Spencer punch, there's an exaggerated outburst of rage that is flung towards anyone who doesn't perfectly align or thinks a slight bit different than the left. Sure, I wouldn't exactly say that Republicans are doing much to heal the divide, but partisanry goes both ways. And even though there is reason to be on edge about the whole situation, the hysteria is getting in the way of delivering the message properly.

Part of why this is happening is because of the fragmentation between the liberal and the left. Easy way to tell the difference is that one will scream about wanting Hilary or Obama in the White House and the other will scream about how those two picks are actually awful. And I certainly find myself going back and forth on what's to be done now. On the one hand, I do want there to be some unity between the two sides. On the other hand, it seems like the only thing that gets into the heads of the government is obstruction so Democrats shouldn't fold to the Republicans. Being that I'm young, it would be natural of me to tend a little more far to the left, but at the same time I've seen what going far left can lead. Despite the friction, there are hiveminds that are created and they manage to spill the aggression beyond those that can rightfully deserve it (though depending on who you are, whoever you believe that to be may be different than what I do).

Unfortunately, that's the nature of the political dichotomy in the US. Simplicity serves better for the politicians and their constituents even though reality is far more complex than it leads on. And we all end up playing the game because we all want to feel good about our commentary. It's why we read thinkpieces, why we share videos that stick it to our opponents, why we crack jokes about what goes on. I like to make it fair to show that I understand those on the other side, but there's no denying that I'm not down with the Donald at all. And that alone will be an issue. Some can look past these political differences and remain civil when discussing matters. Others cannot. These people change through time. Even I can be included in that category. Such is the way things go.

There's still a lot more of this presidency to get through. Amid all the awful that has transpired, he's yet to really piss the bed, at least to the point that it would become quite unanimous. The media continues to be relatively lackluster in their attempts to curtail him. And lord knows that Hollywood's smugness might just turn me into Toronto's Marco Guiterrez. I may be in Canada, but I can feel the vibrations of his actions up here. Not simply because of Kevin O'Bleary or Kellie Leech but because of the sensitivity that my university faces with these topics. A part of me still wants to remain positive about all of this. Not simply in that selfish sense of having this be such a trainwreck that it ruins him and builds a better movement, but in that sense that I was wrong about my assumptions. But again, I still am tied to my convictions. These years are going to drag on for a good while. And all I can really promise for the that my next blog will not be political. Trust me.

Friday, 18 November 2016

The Mole Hills Are Now Mountains

Last Halloween, I wrote an op-ed for The Gargoyle called “Costume Policing” talking about how the politicization of costumes seemed to get in the way of a proper cultural exchange. During the writing of that article, there was a part of me that kept on asking “what the hell is the big deal about this shit?”. After all, did Chad wearing that lazy Mexican costume while pounding tequila shots lead to any further turmoil in the Middle East? Are the bigoted costumes why the Canadian economy is in decline? I’ve certainly been seeing the “we’re a culture not a costume” poster for the past couple years, so it must be an urgent matter. And if we want to be more recent, it seems like Starbucks is bringing back the drama with their new coffee cup. Remember last year when conservatives nearly exploded from the lack of holly-jolly the dreaded red cup of communism those baristas gave us? How dare they ruin Christmas! Nevermind that the Eaton Center just had a winter wonderland bukkake as soon as we went into November, I feel threatened!

The trivial often seems to become some travesty to someone. And the news can’t help but indulge in these thinkpieces. Maybe they just serve as pointless filler to pad in between the more urgent issues, but perhaps to some those are the urgent issues. I don’t believe Christmas is threatened when people say Happy Holidays (though I am of the belief that if I said Merry Christmas I meant it with good intentions; it’s not like I pissed in your place of worship or lack thereof), but some people truly see that as some threat. Our poor neighbours to the South find themselves turning any small matter into a battleground for the culture war, with alt-righters and progressives having a veritable pissing contest over what domains are their own. I mean they took Pepe, now we must take him back! #SavePepe

Part of me does find the exaggeration to be quite absurd. I come from Venezuela, where there’s a lot of absurdities to face already. Especially now where the smallest problem is figuring out what to wear to go out to the supermarket to wait for a long line to hope to get any food as you try your best not to be torn apart by thugs or the police or people who revere the bus-driving dictator piece of shit, later wondering how the fuck an oil-rich nation became one suffering horrible inflation and poverty. But hey, that doesn’t mean we feel for you! We do feel your pain when it comes to the small grievances. Focusing on them distracts us from the larger horrors that we face. Maybe such a feeling is the same that you all face.

But if such does not apply, I think there may be something else to it. See, Canada’s a swell nation. So is (or maybe was) the United States. It’s the reason why we immigrants do our immigrating, as we see you as a safe haven from the collapse of our homeland. No country is perfect though, and you have your own problems to face. There’s some large and some small. Now while the large are indeed important, they also take a lot of time to fix. We need our intellectuals, our political leaders and our savvy pundits/late night comedians to help us through them.

In the meantime, we can tackle the small problems, those that are well within our reach. We don’t necessarily want to feel as though our tackling of these problems is just meaningless. If such is the case, then our efforts were wasted and we would have to try to deal with those larger problems. And they’re tough, we need to invest so much time into those. We’re busy folk, damn it! So in order to make those problems a lot more important, we inflate them. Sometimes, we can find that those tiny breadcrumbs that we deal with actually lead to a greater conflict, that those microaggressions have an impact that further emphasizes the corruption of systemic injustice. Other times, we’re just trying to justify our angry yelling. In this process, what seems as minor does in fact become the major, because it is one that is well within our reach. It is one that we can have a dialogue on because it’s surface-level, allowing for everyone to understand it and make their opinion on the matter as fast as possible.

Our walks of lives are quite different and as such our priorities are quite different. What one might consider as innocuous, the other may see it as morally reprehensible. And as such, everything becomes contentious as a result. So very little in this world is agreed upon universally. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people object to oxygen. But especially in these privileged wonderlands, we want to distract ourselves from the utter boredom of our lives. And the only way we can is through conflict. So don’t get too flustered if someone starts a petition for bringing back a cancelled TV show or if a newspaper publishes a smear campaign towards manbuns. Just remember, that you too have small things that feel a lot larger. And yes, I am talking about penises.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

A Post Post-Election About The Election Results

Now that I've had some time to digest the results of the election and take things into consideration, I feel as though I might as well go about making some long-winded post about it. I mean everyone needs the obnoxious politically-minded friend, so I fulfill that niche.

First off, as much as I may be fuming from the win being the sensitive little liberal that I am, I congratulate my Republican brethren for their victory. Amid the fearmongering and the gerrymandering and the voter supression, there are decent people who had valid reasons to go to this candidate. I said it before and I'll say it again, not all who went for Trump simply did it for the bigotry. I assume that many voters voted for what would be best for the US, not simply for themselves. And though each day in the election brought more astonishment that people still went for this man and the demographics show that white people were mostly supporting Trump (which means that there certainly was a race factor in all of this no matter how much you try to spin it), you stuck through it. Your passion for the man knew no bounds. I hope we can start to bridge the gap and I'll do my part to give the man the benefit of the doubt for a year or two. I won't be any doormat and I will have my reservations, but I'll play nice and maintain a level head. Assuming that he doesn't cross any large lines.

Second, to those who voted for third parties or made protest votes like going for Harambe or Bernie, as much as the liberal in me wants to choke you to death, I can't stay mad at you contrarian rapscallions. A part of me did believe that third parties had some place back then. And if there was any time to protest, this would be the one. You went with your conscience and you voted to protest a disgusting establishment that gave us two of the most unlikable human beings ever as the heads of the major parties. There was some way that people could have swayed you to the other sides but by being dismissive and arrogant certainly was not the right way. I don't have the same feeling for those who didn't vote at all. Especially in this election. Fuck you, you lazy shits.

Third, let's face it, Clinton did not cut the mustard. With Trump, the energy that his supporters had was incredible. They would die for the man. I think the only people who would for her is Lena Dunham or Samantha Bee. She did not captivate the populace, instead assuming that she had this election secured and neglecting the priorities of others. She was artificial and two-faced, with the deception from the DNC looming over her as people paved the way for her to march forward. You can make any argument you want about how these comments about her might just have to do with a sexist society, but you can't dispute that she lost. And the liberal smugness clouded the frustrations that people had with the general establishment. It may only serve to cloud further to reprimand the half of the nation that mobilized themselves enough to move forward.

Fourth, while there's a lot of factors to take in such as the intensity of the Republicans to block the Democratic vote, the passion for Donald Trump in compared to the lukewarm reception for Clinton, third-parties or protest votes taking away from Clinton, or the Democrats' utter complacency to the whole system, to me the greatest factor in this election was the media. The fucking media didn't shut up. They hyped everything to insane levels. They took the bait that Trump laid out every time and put a nice big BREAKING NEWS graphics package in front of it. You can either see them as playing into the status quo and neglecting the real anger that people had with politicians or as riding the sensationalist rollercoaster, using false equivalencies and hot air to fill in the void of true conversation about policy. Personally I see them more as the latter, since money runs their industry. Trump ruled the airwaves and the thinkpieces. And perhaps we can also be at fault of that for taking it in, but we were far past the point where we could have averted this.

Finally, amid all of this I say to all of you that it is not over. The election was close. There is still ways to push back. In a way, we can see this awful victory as a grand wake up call. The politicians didn't take the prospect of a man like him getting as far as he did, and he made it to the farthest point he could. Remain attentive and maintain the passion you have. The political infrastructures that we depended on were filled with termites. They are now being knocked down by a bulldozer with a huge shiny Trump logo on it. And in this wreckage we must restructure ourselves and push to prevent the radical or the incompetent from coming to fruition.

Don't look just to 2020 to prevent his second term, look to anything that comes near. I don't think that Democrats playing the obstructionist card will do any good. And I say that not because they have little sway in the government. But because that only furthers the frustration. The voice of the people must be heard and if that voice can stride for unity, for the betterment of the nation, they will follow it. I may not be proud of this election, but goddamn it, I'm still American! I still can see hope since there are still checks and balances in place! I believe that we can get through this! So let us keep going! For if America is terrible now, then we must try to make it great again.