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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Vikings

I've been making my way through the first season of Vikings and there are a lot of things I like very much.

And there are a lot of thing I don't.

The villain, played by Gabriel Byrne, is too cartoony, too unnecessarily treacherous.  I suppose it's an attempt to make him unlikable, and it does...maybe too well. 

I do like the leads, though, both Travis Fimmel, who plays Ragnar Rodbrock, and Kathryn Winnick, who plays his wife.

But I also like the tone.  It's set in a time when the Vikings were first coming into contact with Christian settlements in England, and they tend to emphasize the cultural differences.  From what I've read of the Vikings in Robert Ferguson's book, they get a lot of details right.

Of course, they get a few wrong too.  The Viking halls weren't as cavernous as depicted, for instance, but you have to leave some room for dramatic license.

The other thing I like about is the theme song, which is out there.  Take a listen.  The vocals are by a woman, but they're processed so that they sound like they're by a supernatural creature of some sort.



This will never end
'Cause I want more
More, give me more
Give me more

This will never end
Cause I want more
More, give me more
Give me more

If I had a heart I could love you
If I had a voice I would sing
After the night when I wake up
I'll see what tomorrow brings

If I had a voice, I would sing

Dangling feet from window frame
Will I ever ever reach the floor?
More, give me more, give me more

Crushed and filled with all I found
Underneath and inside
Just to come around
More, give me more, give me more

If I had a voice, I would sing

Hippiepunching the Self-Hating White Male Feminist

Some guy on the internet says:
Ironically, it was a scene with no men in it that reminded me how bored I am with movies about men.

OK, let's be more specific: I am super-bored with movies about all the straight white guys who, it sometimes seems, are the most important people in the world, if our film culture is to be believed.
I've heard this kind of thing before from feminists like Alyssa Rosenberg and others.  But this is a dude saying it, a white dude.  (No word on whether he's straight, and really...who gives a shit?)

Frankly, I'm bored with this.

As a "straight white guy" myself, let me tell you:  There's no way this stuff comes off as anything other than sexist and racist.  Hey, I'm sure some people are bored with movies about "cross-dressing black guys" but they can't say that shit out loud.  That would be racist.

Let's try a new tactic.  Instead of focusing on a person's race or sex or sexual orientation, let's just focus on the person.  Can we finally try that once and for all?

The guy moans on:
More broadly, I'm just tired of movie after movie about loser men and the brilliant women who melt down over them; of movie after movie that relentlessly privileges the male experience; of movies where all women seem to think about are men; tired (and this is not about "American Hustle" but about movies in general) of movies with a billion men and one woman in them.
You know what, man?  That's your fault.  Rearrange your Netflix queue, dummy. 


And it just gets worse:
Let's not even get into race (though, if I could return to the aforementioned "American Hustle" for a second, I think I saw three non-white people on the screen the whole time) or, God forbid, the idea that gay people should be seen as anything but best friends or award-winning roles for straight actors in prestige pictures.
Let's not get into race? Man, you led with that. And the gay thing?  Come on.  One reason that Netflix has a gay/lesbian section is because there are a lot of gay and lesbian films.  If this dude got off his ass and looked for them, he would find them.


But this...this is the best part.  It would be very difficult, indeed, to be stupider than this:
These are hardly new thoughts. They have been expressed a million times through the decades. The Bechdel Test is rightfully revered, after all. But it's sometimes easy to forget -- especially if you're a man! -- just how much these things are signaled to us. (Take a look, for example, at this year's Oscar nominations: all men!)
No, these thoughts are not new. You just took them all in and made them your own, internalized them so you didn't even have to think about it that much.  Just go right on auto-pilot, so you can say stupid shit like, "Take a look, for example, at this year's Oscar nominations:  all men!"

Yeah, except for all the women who were nominated, you politically correct clown.

Snowden

I have not mentioned Edward Snowden on my blog yet and the main reason is that I have a somewhat unpopular, counter-intuitive take on the subject.

Rather than seeing him as some kind of brave hero, I think he's more of a delusional fool.  I'd like to note, however, that this does not mean that I approve of the NSA's domestic spying program.  I just do not approve of putting Snowden on a pedestal as a way of registering your disapproval of the domestic spying program.

The dude stole classified information and took it to Hong Kong China.  Then he took it to Russia.  Then he's trying to get some kind of "political asylum" because he's worried he'll be tortured if he's extradited back to the US.*

And meanwhile, every well-meaning liberal, skeptical conservative, and brain-dead libertarian in this country are falling all over themselves in praise of Snowden.  I'm surprised statues haven't been commissioned.

And now the Obama administration has announced reforms.  The president gave a big speech about it the other day.  Outlining the ideas, Kevin Drum calls them "fairly weak tea," and he's right.  These are the weakest, most cosmetic, most useless reforms imaginable.  It's hard to see how anyone will be satisfied by them, and from what I've seen of the pro-Snowden folks I read, they're not.

But this is ridiculous:
Nonetheless, I'm pretty certain that we wouldn't have gotten even this much if it weren't for Edward Snowden. This is why I support Snowden's disclosures despite the fact that I'm not happy about every last thing he's disclosed.
Are you kidding me?  Snowden is going to spend the rest of his life in jail or on the run all so the NSA is restricted to only two hops instead of three?  What a hero.  I guess that's what happens when you're more interested in self-aggrandizement than doing something truly useful.


*  Told you that torture shit wasn't a good idea.