This year I wrote Studio 60 fic in the shape of The Bend of Her Hair (3,000 words, Jordan/Danny, with a little Matt/Harriet, no warnings). It's bittersweet, and probably more bitter than sweet, because of all the relationships on the show, whether friendships or romantic relationships, I found theirs the least explicable.

The process of writing 'The Bend of Her Hair', and reading the other Studio 60 fic produced for the challenge, has prompted some thoughts on the show.

Studio 60 was the only Sorkin show that I've ever watched completely as it aired, and some of it was timeshifted thanks to my PVR. I watched the first few seasons of The West Wing as it aired, but the way the broadcaster shifted it about the schedule in the UK, made it more sensible to get the boxsets. Ditto for Sports Night, which I watched over the space of a few days.

There's a lot to like in Studio 60. Sorkin writes male friendships incredibly well, and I think that Danny Tripp and Matt Albie work beautifully together. There's a fantastic ensemble of characters, and the fact that Sorkin was tracing the details of his relationship with Kristin Chenoweth, doesn't detract from the glory that is Harriet Hayes, who is funny, smart, and decent. There's a pale reprise of Dan Rydell's issues with Jacob Rydell in Tom Jeter's relationship with his own father, and an episode exploring masculinity and performance. There is a fantastic double-bill called 'Nevada Day' that covers off city vs country, religious satire, international trade, business integrity, honour and war, and manages to skirt just the funny side of all-out farce. The show says some moderately interesting things about representation and patriotism, and tries to answer the question 'What is America?'.

The things I liked less )
I didn't expect to like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 as much as I did. It's had dreadful reviews, and there's been quite a lot of Twitter snark about how boring it is. Contrarily, I think it might have been my favourite film so far.
  1. The pacing struggled a bit in some of the other films, because they were squeezing so much into each one. I thought the pacing very good in Part One, and I was completely gripped. I think it was very sensible to split DH into two, although it now feels like quite a long wait until July, and I think I'm going to have to re-read the book. 
  2. I love Harry, Hermione, and Ron together. I thought that the bits of romance there were, were the weakest part of the books, and it's lovely to see their friendship foregrounded.
  3. I love Hermione most of all. She's pleasingly bookish, competent, and brave.
  4. The design of the wizarding world is brilliant. I love all of the crooked old houses, full of gorgeous, interesting things. There were a few touches of European mid-century fascism in the design of the publications coming out of the Ministry of Magic, which worked well.
  5. Britain looked wild and beautiful, and pleasingly wintery.
A rec for those who came out of the film wanting fic. )
Apparently it's Fandom Love Day, and I ganked this celebratory meme from [livejournal.com profile] lusciousxander , despite the fact that I'm still not entirely sure whether I am, in fact, a shipper. 

Fave Ship: Dan Rydell / Casey McCall.

Canon Scene: My favorite moment between Casey and Danny, in a show absolutely full of Ho Yay, is the pause at the end of Dan's apology in 1.02 "Apology". Dan is forced by the show to apologise for a comment he made in a magazine interview, which suggested that he was not entirely in line with the policy behind the War on Drugs. He apologises to his brother Sam, who was killed while driving a car drunk and stoned, for the bad example he set in smoking so much dope.

After Dan finishes talking, Casey moves in, and reaches out to him, but then cuts himself off and goes back to talking about the Starland Vocal Band, which they had been discussing earlier. It's a tiny moment, but I like Casey's understanding that Dan couldn't bear his sympathy, or his touch, and the way that he metaphorically lets Dan lean on their banter as a way of making it through the next few minutes. (It is possible that I have overthought this.)

Read more... )
It is self-evident (textual, even) that Dollhouse can be read as an extended metaphor for, or is even a straight representation of, prostitution and trafficking. The way that the dollhouses work, in wiping the personalities of individuals and replacing them with synthesised, or actual personalities of other people, at the behest of clients who pay big money to have dolls 'be' other people, also brings forth a whole bunch of other issues around consent and choice. It's a regular ontological thought experiment.

What I do find disappointing, because I am unreasonable, is the amount of times the show misses the open goal of making any kind of point about gender and bodies being for sale. I've just started watching S2, and this disappointment has not been assuaged much by the first three eps.

Spoilers for 2.3 "Belle Chose". Also, contains details of Whedonverse plots and proposed plots that may be triggery around rape.  )
I have a bit of a weakness for films and documentaries about corporate mendacity, but, like a true Sorkin fangirl, would pretty much go and see anything he writes. The Social Network, then, hit at least two of my buttons.

Given that so much of the exposition happens around a sequence of boardroom tables, during a succession of depositions, and that most of the characters are desperately unlikeable, it was one of the most engaging films I've seen this year.

I did find it strangely un-Sorkin-like in tone, and the righteousness of The West Wing, and (to a greater extent) Studio 60, is largely missing. What Sorkin does write beautifully, though, is relationships between men, and the central love/friendship triangle is exquisitely rendered. You can almost taste the bile rising in his throat when Eduardo Saverin realises that he has been comprehensively fucked over by Mark Zuckerberg, in favour of Justin Timberlake's truly hideous Sean Parker.

There has been much commentary around the fact that facts and individuals have been blurred and elided in the script, and there are certainly other views of the central characters than Sorkin's. Parker, particularly, is portrayed as a pretentious, malicious playboy, whose chief value to Zuckerberg is his rolodex and ability to spout business truisms. A recent Vanity Fair piece has him as a renaissance man, whose genius and insight transcend disciplines. The truth, probably, is somewhere in the middle.

The film's opening sequences feature Zuckerberg insulting his girlfriend's school (Boston University); blogging about her stupidity, her ethnicity, and her breast size; blogging about creating a website to compare female undergraduates with farm animals; and then creating a website to allow male Harvard students to compare the relative attractiveness of female undergraduates. This latter sequence is intercut with scenes of the 'Fuck Bus' (bringing attractive female undergrads from other schools) arriving for a final club party, and then women kissing each other, and dancing in their underwear for the benefit of the privileged male club members.

Read more... )
A spot has opened up in my TV roster, and I've been marathoning (slowly, due to the bizarre-o LoveFilm DVD allocating algorithm) the first season of Fringe.

Full disclosure: I have a special place in my heart for The X Files, which was not only the first show I was fannish about (it made me read history, because I am incapable of Doing Fandom Right), but also the first show for which I stumbled across fic.

I was mildly intrigued by the idea of Fringe, and like the following things about it: 
  • The pilot is, frankly, an awesomesauce actioner, and has a capable, brave, and gutsy female protagonist kicking ass and taking names. 
  • It offers the possibility of one of my favourite types of manpain: the tormented father/son relationship.
  • It is exceedingly shiny.
A few episodes in, and the following things have become apparent: 
  • The production values on the rest of the season are much lower. 
  • You can tip your hand too soon when establishing a multi-season conspiracy.
  • While the ghost of white Courier-esque font must loom large over the post-production process, the floating establishing sub-titles are distancing, and look derivative and cheap. [They are discussed at length here, font geeks.]
  • Science is practiced best by (mostly male) people who work, for whatever reason, by themselves, and are capricious, indifferent to the feelings of others, and can be forgiven anything (including assaulting their co-workers with syringes full of drugs) because of their utter brilliance.
I miss you, Scully.
I'm writing (incredibly slowly) a post-Chosen Riley fic, and watched Dead Things again for reference. Of course, watching a single episode of Buffy is almost impossible, so I ended up watching through to Entropy. I always remember Entropy as a series of plot points; mini-explosions throwing some things together and blowing others apart, but there are some beautiful (and enraging) moments, which gave me some thoughts.

It's not you, it's me

It's in this episode that it becomes evident that, despite some tap-dancing and hand-waving, the show does not intend to satisfactorily explain Xander's decision to dump Anya on their wedding day.

Obsessed, as I am, with family dysfunction and origin stories, I might have been tempted to lean more heavily on Xander wigging out because he grew up in a house chock full of toxic relationships and emotional (at least) abuse. Or, the show could have used Anya's point-of-view to critique marriage and relationships, and reveal that after a lifetime of smiting errant suitors / husbands / boyfriends, Xander was afraid of meeting her expectations.

What we get instead is a confused mish-mash of Xander wanting a relationship but not being ready for marriage, and not letting Anya know about this soon enough. It feels almost like it's tapping in to that 'men are afraid of commitment' trope, which is a very conventional place for the show to go, as well as seeming a little bit incongruous within their relationship's arc. 

Read more... )
Feminists for Choice has a fantastic series running at the moment, which is exploring the representation (and lack thereof) of abortion in television and film.

Yesterday's edition looked at Julia's unwanted pregnancy in season two of Party of Five, so I watched the episode on YouTube. I was never a huge fan of the show, but I dimly recalled watching this episode as a teenager and rolling my eyes at the moralising of Sarah's character (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt).

There's something depressing about watching mid-90s television that is so more sympathetic to feminist politics than shows currently being produced. It's not without sexism, obviously, and the B-plot in this episode is an overwrought storyline about Bailey and Sarah's 'first time'. Bailey is portrayed as the sexual aggressor, and female virginity is fetishised to the nth degree, but the assumptions underpinning all of this sexual stereotyping are somewhat undermined by Julia revealing to Bailey that she is not unhappy because she doesn't want to have sex (as he thinks), but because she is pregnant. 

Read more... )
dipenates: (Xander - OMWF)
[livejournal.com profile] gabrielleabelle  is nothing if not a provoker of thoughts on the Buffyverse, and there's a fascinating discussion going on over at her place about whether Xander is or is not an interesting character. (The jury seems to be coming down on 'is not'.)  This, as with so much her commenters write, got me thinking, and the subsequent tl;dr is a bit much to be contained in comments. 

Firstly, and obviously, it's a good thing that we're all interested in different things. Buffy fandom is incredibly rich precisely because we all have different views on a multiplicity of things, and the huge variety of opinions translates into an amazing bounty of fic that explains, amplifies, critiques and comments on canon. There is something truly awesome about knowing that you can read new  fic every day in Buffy fandom that will make you think about something you've never thought about before.

One of the thing that interests me about Buffy canon is its representation of  sex and gender. A large number of commentators and writers, many rooted in the traditions and culture of fandom, have positioned BtVS as a (third-wave) feminist text. From its opening scene, the show undermines existing tropes about who is and is not a hero(ine), monster, warrior, or victim. This undermining is frequently done along gender lines.

Whether BtVS can be said as a whole to succeed as a feminist text, it has places of both strength and weakness in the narrative arc and perspectives of Xander, who transitions from sexist Everyboy to (somewhat) enlightened Everyman between seasons one and seven. Moments in "The Pack" and "Consequences", particularly, undermine the reimagining of gender roles that the rest of the text undertakes.

Read more... )

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