Moonlight Video: A Chance To Stay Together

Following my recent Silent Sunday post featuring a Moonlight fan art, I chatted about this show with a couple friends. This brought me to pick one of the videos I made for Moonlight as the latest addition to my YouTube channel. So far, I created four videos for this TV series.

A Chance To Stay Together is a Mick/Beth centric on a song by one of my favorite bands, Vaya Con Dios. Enjoy!

Movie Review: Divergent

I had heard a lot about Divergent, but I didn’t read the books, contrary to how I had devoured all the Hunger Games books prior to watching the first movie. I recently watched the movie, so all my knowledge of the universe and this review are solely based on the feature films as I am not familiar with the books at all.

I wasn’t blown away by the movie, though there are some elements I found interesting. I had a really hard time engaging with the female lead, Tris. I wanted to, but as much as I was glad to see her mature throughout the story, I didn’t feel moved by her as I did for example with Katniss Everdeen. In my view, Tris is much more of a classic hero. In a way she reminded me of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, in how she just doesn’t fit where she is, runs around in circles, and just wants out. Even Tris’s brother had earlier development for me, in the scene when he comes to speak to Tris the evening before the Choosing. This was a great moment.

Source: Wikipedia.

Source: Wikipedia.

I tend to enjoy dystopian stories, but the world presented in Divergent didn’t catch my attention so much. The information dumping at the opening of the movie was straightforward, which was a good thing. Yet, I didn’t feel all that interested in the setting. The five faction: Abnegation the selfless, Amity the peaceful, Candor the honest, Dauntless the brave, and Erudite the intelligent, were also presented well, but from the moment the Choosing for the 16 year old left me with tons of questions, that remained with me for the rest of the movie. If people are able to change factions, definitely, when they are sixteen year old, and even though told to forget about the one they were raised in, the movie shows that people can retain skills and mindset from their childhood’s group. Tris’s mother shows that she still retains abilities from her Dauntless childhood, and isn’t shown as Divergent (rarities when people, like Tris and Four, think outside the box and aren’t ‘ruled’ by a primary faction in their personality). The same way, I was curious that Candor people could eventually learn to lie when they choose another faction. I understand that the test is to determine which faction dominates someone’s personality, thus letting someone have traits from other factions I guess, to a smaller degree. Yet, the whole Divergent aspect puzzles me a little, because I am not so sure about the possible genetic or personality implications, especially as people evolve as they continue to mature. What I understand best about this is the political system and a way for the factions to keep people in line. I still find it surprising that so few people are detected as Divergent though.

Another thing I had issues with was the Dauntless and their mindset and training. I understand that they are brave and fearless as they are the warrior faction. Yet, as they are also described as protectors and security officers, I think that showing them as being reckless and undergoing training that only seems to be about “beat or be beaten” is very reductive. I would have expected this faction to benefit from more than just that, and develop skills beyond violence to get their calling achieved. Of course, you could say that certain scenes, like the hunt for the flag, shows that they also need observation skills for example. Yet, the whole dauntless training and settings didn’t feel as compelling as it could have been, for the most part.

While I don’t support gratuitous rape (even attempted) scenes, I think that the one Tris sees in her final test, showing her fear of such things made sense and brought up a discourse about how women’ and girls’ no means exactly that: no, and must thus be respected. I remember reading this piece a few months ago, even before seeing the movie. Showing that fear of sexual assault can be visceral even when someone gets involved with another person who has treated them well, and that it can take time to overcome said fears.

That brings me to what I liked best in Divergent: male lead, Four, and his love story with Tris. I didn’t expect to find Four such a compelling and layered character, but he was my favorite without any hesitation. The execution of the love story, and how it developed from a mentor and mentee relationship, and then a friendship, was very well done. One thing that was especially important was that even when they first had conflicts, they were always able to speak to each other, and have clear communication. This is great to show how they didn’t need to play game with each other. Seeing Tris express her boundaries and Four respecting them without any problem is an important part of the movie. I like how there were so many little moments between them that helped the bond grow bit by bit.

When Four reveals his fears to Tris, it brings up the issue of parental abuse. Earlier in the movie, it was mentioned how the political leader, Marcus might have beaten his son, prior to said son changing factions. Most people wave it away, including Tris’s parents. When Four is revealed as Marcus’s son and that the abuse is confirmed as real, this makes one wonder who did really know, who didn’t want to know. I hope that more is done about this. Four reunites with his father towards the end of the movie, but I hope that they are able to address it further in one of the sequel movies. There was tacit and nonverbal communication, but it makes me uncomfortable that Marcus might just get away with everything, just because he helped a bit to free the Dauntless from the mind control, and save others, at the end of the movie.

A Galaxy of Possibilities: Discussing Character Writing, Diversity, Star Wars and Fandom – Week 6: The Deleted Jedi Files

GalaxyofpossibilitiesLOGO2

The Deleted Jedi Files: Hildegard, Strakisia Mirian
Tumblr Gallery

When I first came up with the idea for this blog series, I knew that including all my deleted roleplaying characters was important. While I have twenty nine active characters, I had requested deletion of about a dozen ones since I first started roleplaying back in summer 2008. Just like I don’t delete my old videos, no matter how they can make me cringe because of technical issues, I believe that being forward with the characters I don’t write anymore in a series discussing character writing, diversity, Star Wars and fandom, is crucial. Hiding them under a virtual rug would diminish what the creative struggles we face as writers and artists, regardless of our medium.

I don’t come to delete roleplaying characters very easily; but I have learned that when I truly feel that a character isn’t working for me, often in its early stages, there is no reason for me to keep them around. It tends to clutter my mind and hinder my creativity for the rest, so I need to make fresh space, whether I replace the deleted character with a new one or not. It helps me keep the muse flowing and this is why I have learned to recognize the moment when asking for deletion is the healthiest choice I can make.

HildegardWIKI

Hildegard

I had two Jedi characters who got deleted over the past couple of years: Strakisia Mirian and Hildegard. The two didn’t even make it to the beginning of their training and were only written in a single (and unfinished) thread each. Both stemmed from my interest in actresses due to specific roles. For Hildegard, it was Evangeline Lilly‘s portrayal of Tauriel in The Hobbit, and for Strakisia, it was Michelle Fairley as Lady Stark in Game of Thrones. Appreciation, no matter how strong, for an image claim isn’t enough to build a character.

With Hildegard, I once again toyed with the idea of having a lightsider turning dark at some point. I should have known better than thinking it could actually work, as it seems to be a narrative arc that just don’t work with me. I have characters who changed factions as they evolved, and I will mention them during the course of this series; but Jedi turning dark siders still doesn’t work. I theoretically find the ambivalence extremely interesting, but the actual fall doesn’t do it for me as a writer, even though I like reading or watching such stories at times. I had some background for Hildegard already, including Arkanian genes somewhere in her bloodline, to keep Tauriel’s Elven pointy eared look. I also liked the idea that she used a bow as I didn’t really have this before. It eventually went to another character I have developed in 2014. I had ideas for her, but I realize that I wasn’t able to come up with anything from her that would make Hildegard her own person and I couldn’t see past the fall story line I didn’t have muse to go with.

Strakisia Mirian

Strakisia Mirian

Strakisia had a much more solid background and was somewhat accepted as part of the Jedi Order in the only thread I did with her. I liked the idea of writing a more mature character, since many of mine fall into the 20-35 age range. After having lost her husband during an attack on their ship, she had been separated from her three children and captured by slavers. The slavers were stopped by people from the New Republic and she had found shelter on Republic soil, helping in a small tavern as she recovered. She still hoped that at least some of her children were alive. She met a Jedi Master while working in the small village and the two women got along very well and the Jedi Master was the one showing her about the other possibilities she had, notably by becoming a Jedi. I have great memories of this thread. Yet, my muse for Strakisia dwindled very easily and I knew that I didn’t have the energy and creativity to keep her going.

I don’t necessarily delete characters because I don’t like them. The understanding that I am stuck whenever I write them, even after plotting over possible approaches, is what drives me to let go of them. This is what happened with Hildegard and Strakisia, even when the latter had a much more solid development already.

  • Are there specifics in a character’s back story that tend to come to you first?
  • Does having a general direction for a character helps you building them?
  • Is there an age range that comes more naturally to you?

Links: Writing, Feminism, Toy Industry

Links: Writing, Feminism, Toy Industry

Image courtesy of samuiblue / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of samuiblue / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Is This Writer Up To?

I realized that for the past while, my blog has been mostly filled with reviews. I am grateful for being able to catch up with so much TV and movie watching, as well as reading. It has been very inspiring. Yet, I think it’s time I actually bring up what I have been up to on the writing front. There has been a lot of writing going on!

Photo Credit: Tyssul Patel.

Photo Credit: Tyssul Patel.

On the academic side, I have been deep in article writing. I am currently working on my third piece since end of July, and I have at least one or two more to do right after this one is done. I wrote/will be writing about the following topics:

  • Pacific Rim and Yoko Tsuno
  • Star Wars (Jedi Younglings)
  • Disney Princesses/Nala/Leia Organa
  • Vidding and pedagogy

I am still unsure of what topic I will focus on for a possible remaining call for papers I have on my to do list. I am taking things one at a time, as it always works better for me. Right now, I have four confirmed upcoming publications (3 essays and 1 book) and I am waiting on answers for 6 articles and my Scully book proposal. I hope that I will get positive answers and some of these will be published in the future! Regarding my Scully book project, I have a lengthy list of possible publishers, so that will help me submit until it gets accepted.

Then, there is the fiction side, which is a huge surprise. I haven’t dabbed into original fiction in almost a decade, save for some note takings and world building every once in a while (and not since 2010). A universe I only briefly took (many) notes for came back to me full force. I hadn’t touched it in more than four years but I have been working on it for the past ten days and it is an exhilarating feeling. I had forgotten my love for original fiction. I am outlining several short stories (as it will be the road I take) and have been doing lots of reading and research to get back into the writing craft and self publishing, since my academic writing is always published in a given journal or by a specific publisher. I am pretty excited about all of this.

I have also been toying with possible blog contributions to other websites, but this is on hold for the time being as I want to focus on finishing the articles and outlining my short stories. I hope to get something in the making this Fall!

TV Review: Crisis (Episodes 9 to 13)

Marcus Finley. Source: Crisis Official Website.

Marcus Finley.
Source: Crisis Official Website.

I admit that I had lost interest in Crisis within the first episodes of the show and was somewhat relieved when it got cancelled. Yet, I wanted to see it to the end for three reasons: the plot and two characters (Marcus Finley and Meg Fitch). I wish I had been more into the show, regardless of its cancellation (after all, I fell in love with a few shows that got cancelled after only one season this year).

The idea was brilliant and overall well executed. As I said before, my biggest problem was that I didn’t care for most of the characters. Of course, I felt bad for the kidnapped kids and what their parents went through as well, but I didn’t feel emotionally engaged with this show as I expected to be, especially given the topic. For example, I found Agent Susie Dunn okay at first and remotely interesting, especially with the personal revelations that took place early in the season. I was also hoping to find myself invested in her relationships with both her sister Meg and Agent Finley, her new partner. I didn’t manage to. It felt that most scenes where I should have just left me staring at the screen and wish that some spark had actually happened.

Without Marcus Finley and Meg Fitch, I don’t think I would have actually sit down during the whole thirteen episodes. Both Lance Gross and Gillian Anderson just delivered something on screen that made me care for their characters and it was a breath of fresh air in this show, but even them weren’t enough to make up for all the other scenes when they weren’t included.