Week(s) In Review

Whoa, that daily blogging schedule I had kind of went poof, huh? It’s not that I haven’t been writing much. I have, most days. It’s just that a lot of it hasn’t been on the blog. And I do prioritize the reading schedule because getting into that habit has been a lot harder for me, I never really stopped writing.

So what am I writing now? A bunch of reflective essays on ordination and ministry I assigned myself. I realized that my bill-paying career is probably not going to be in the church and therefore ordination as a UU is basically just a massive waste of time and money, both for me and for the people who decide those things. At the same time, ministry is still important to me and something I want to continue, maybe even by making my own group. (Not really my own church, that still seems a bit weird, but my own ministry, probably internet-based.)

So I’m going to get ordained with the Universal Life Church. But I want a clear picture of what I’m doing with it first and I want it to mean something and be the start of something, not just done on a whim. And a lot of times I find I don’t really know what I think until I write it. So, essays. I’ve set my ordination date as April 26, because it was exactly 10 weeks after I made that decision and I found out it’s Universal Ordination Day on the Discordian calendar. Coincidence? Yes! But I like coincidences and I’m embracing it.

I’ll be sharing condensed versions of those essays somewhere. Either this blog or a “random things I write” blog I might start. I already own the domain for it and haven’t let it go even though I took down the original site and haven’t done anything with it for a couple of years because I just really like the name. And I kind of like the idea of having an “everything else” blog so I can keep this one focused on pop culture spirituality. But we’ll see.

I’ve also read and watched some shiny new things that aren’t actually getting their own blog posts, so I’ll talk about them here briefly. (You know, for a certain me-like definition of “briefly.” Like, probably less than if I was actually going to give each of them their own separate blog post? Yeah, almost definitely.)

America #1
It’s heeeeeeeeere! We’ve been waiting so long and it’s heeeeeeeere!

So. What I knew about America Chavez from before reading this comic is basically that she’s a/the/not sure main character from the Gillen/McKelvie comic Young Avengers and is from another dimension where her having two moms is the norm. I’ve been planning to read Young Avengers for quite awhile, but other things keep coming up and I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I will now. It was already on the list to read this year, but if it wasn’t I’d be adding it. And I definitely want to get the full hardcover omnibus thing now instead of just volume one. I want it all. I want to know everything.

img_20170305_005543I love her so much. She has this awesome star motif that shows up everywhere and it’s so pretty and cool and I love symbols so much and she behaves so badly in this issue but that’s so normal for that age (or the age I assume she is) and I kind of relate to it? She’s taking a break from super-heroing to go to college (an awesome college, just look at the map guide to the right of this paragraph), and she basically acts like a college student. More specifically, like a college student who wants to learn but also is pretty convinced she’s already awesome and has all the knowledge and insight so people should do things her way. Which, again, not an unfamiliar feeling to me and probably a lot harder to overcome when you’re an actual legit superhero.

Also, there’s this, an actual real canon thing that happens in the comic. I’d already seen the panel on Twitter but assumed it was fanart or something, for some reason. Nope! And yes, that is Steve in the background. She totally dove in and stole his Hitler-punching moment. How/why is she there? READ AND FIND OUT.

The Emperor’s New Groove
Okay, so not actually new but new to me. I never watched this because it came out during my “Disney’s for kids” phase. Even worse, it came out right around the same time as The Road to El Dorado, so I got to express this totally uninformed hipster “Dreamworks is so much more mature and their animation is so impressive and look Disney is such a copycat” attitude about it because they have similar settings (but pretty much nothing else at all in common).

Having seen it now, I still prefer The Road to El Dorado if I was going to watch just one of them. But since they’re really nothing alike, there’s not much reason to compare it that way. The Emperor’s New Groove is adorable and fun and well worth the watch. Also, Yzma-kitten! I want. Yzma is fantastic in general.

Spoilers. All the spoilers, I’m not even trying. And my complaints require plot details, so. Don’t read if you plan to watch and don’t want to know what happens. Though honestly, you can predict the whole thing in the first 20 minutes or so.

I had a brief couple of days where I thought I really liked this movie, but I was wrong. I don’t hate it or anything, but I was hung up on a couple of details and once I talked them out they just weren’t all that interesting. I do this thing where I’ll imagine much more complex stories for characters and want to know everything about what happened to them behind the scenes to get them to this point. Especially in a movie like Warcraft, where so very little information is given to us and we’re just supposed to care about these characters we don’t know and who all look exactly alike and who have no discernible motivations. I’m convinced there must be more to the story, so I latch onto tiny details and imagine all sorts of history and emotion to explain them.

With Warcraft, they got those imagination hooks deep into my brain. Saruman-wannabe Medivh is so…flat. We know nothing about him, and the prequel motion comic given in the special features shows us a younger version who is literally nothing at all like the guy in the movie. His betrayal means nothing because he was so obviously the bad guy from the first time he’s mentioned, but at the same time the other random-identical-white-dude who thinks he’s bad doesn’t actually know, he’s just whining and shouting because he’s mad the wizard isn’t actually all-powerful and there’s just so much emoting and telling us how we’re supposed to feel without anything actually making us feel that way. Then out of nowhere not-Saruman’s like “Oh I’m sorry I was bad here let me save most of you” and I still don’t care but I feel like I’m supposed to care so I try to do the writers’ work for them and imagine a scenario that makes me feel for him. What clues was I not seeing?

I thought about this for two days. Then I told my husband I wanted to talk about it and we bounced reactions off each other and I realized that I wasn’t seeing it because there’s nothing to see. It’s just a lazy movie that expects us to care about its boring identical white dude characters because they’re white dudes and we’ll naturally empathize with them because we’re taught to. So it’s not just a bad, lazy movie, it’s actually resting on and reinforcing racist impulses. Ugh.

To clarify, I don’t think that empathy impulse is actually limited to white dudes and I think I would have done the same thing with anyone. I think most people would do the same with any character they’re told to see as a¬†protagonist, even if it turns out the protagonist was being slowly taken over by a demon and was responsible for everything bad that happened. But because studios don’t believe that and because they chose to have those protagonists be three identical white dudes and didn’t bother to do anything else to give them a personality or motivation or anything, it does wind up feeling like they’re relying on whiteness to be inherently sympathetic, something we see a lot in the real world.

This has to stop. And while movies certainly aren’t the most important example of it, they do have an influence and at the same time it’s something we directly influence by spending money on them or not. It’s one area where we get to actually have an immediate impact and let the people responsible know we don’t think much of their lazy racism-enabling tactics and instead put our money towards encouraging better representation and more diverse and creative narratives. So this one gets a definite pass from me. There just have to be better ways to spend your time and money.

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