Thursday, April 18, 2013

TV Report: Monsoon Season

If you asked me right now what TV show I enjoy the most, I'd quickly say RuPaul's Drag Race. Becca really got me into the show last year, and this season has been pretty incredible. It's a great time to be watching, too, because Jinkx Monsoon is easily my favorite contestant in the history of this show.

Monday night's episode "Sugar Ball" was very, very hard to watch, though. For possibly the first time ever, I think the top four contestants left are the most talented contestants on the show. But as the competition gets fiercer, the knives become sharper, and I had a really hard time watching Roxxxy Andrews just pick on Jinkx like a total bully. Look, Jinkx is a comedy queen: she's funny, she's a good actor, she's a good performer, she's beautiful and intensely creative, and her drag style is amazing. She's in a drag tradition that's kind of trash (in the way John Waters has enshrined the word) and a little burlesque and an absolute joy to watch, I find. I've just been riveted by everything she's done, particularly her Little Edie Beale impression in this year's Snatch Game, which she totally dominated. So it's been very hard to watch her get picked at by the glamour queens who are hostile to the idea--offended by it, even--that what Jinkx is doing is a very valid form of drag, just not their style of drag. I find it narrow-minded and shallow, and Roxxxy (and Detox) would just not drop this idea that Jinkx somehow lucked out by getting a lot of acting or comedy challenges. They're threatened by her well-roundedness and her growing talent.

It just got really bizarre. I understand that everyone is under more and more pressure the longer they stay on, but what I'm watching consistently is a multi-talented drag queen (who takes criticism well, learns from it, and constantly improves) get absolutely marginalized and dismissed week after week after week after week by people who keep telling her that learning and being well-rounded and having all of these talents somehow makes her a bad drag queen because she does comedy. It's this inflexible view and it's been a lot of bullying over this inflexible view, and I'm just so sick of it.

I really hope Jinkx wins. She's amazing. It was really gratifying to see Roxxxy apologize to Jinkx on Twitter after Monday's episode aired, and I think Roxxxy is a fine drag queen and deserves to be in the top three. But I'd really rather see Jinkx or Alaska win after all of this.

Happy 75th Anniversary, Superman

I remember Mark Evanier once talking about who our definitive artists are... When you picture Superman, for example, in your mind's eye, whose rendition is the one that immediately comes into your mind? Who drew your Superman? For me, it's Curt Swan.

I could go on and on (and have) about what Superman means to me and how I interpret him as a character. But today I'll just say Happy Anniversary.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Breaking the Fourth Wall

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Good Outnumber You, and We Always Will

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world." -- Mister Rogers

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Song of the Week: "River Deep - Mountain High"

I caught What's Love Got to Do with It? on cable the other night. Hadn't seen it in a good long time. I can't get this song out of my head now, so here it is. It's one hell of a song; I love the Phil Spector Wall of Sound, and other than the Christmas album he did, I think this is my favorite of his productions. What an amazing voice to match up to it!

TV Report

I don't really have a ton to say on this one, but I did want to add that I'm really enjoying Hannibal. Very stylish, very engrossing, and I'm already a fan of Mads Mikkelsen, so I like the casting (Hugh Dancy's good on it and Laurence Fishburne is great in everything). I know it's not highly-rated (what on NBC is?), but I hope it sticks around a bit.

What I do find interesting is that a lot of the things critics are praising Hannibal for (stylish-looking, well-cast, modernized prequel) are the same things they're excoriating Bates Motel for (which I would also consider a stylish-looking, well-cast, modernized prequel). I enjoy that show, too, especially how completely it's decided to go off the rails but still just plow ahead. I also like how both shows don't pretend that we the audience don't know that its main characters are murderers (or future murderers) and instead play with the iconography of something long-established in pop culture. I like Bates Motel as a bizarre re-interpretation of Psycho (by way of The Wicker Man, apparently) rather than a straight prequel. Already been done, so why do it again?

I do think it's hilarious how both shows are messing with the minds of people who tiresomely demand some kind of adherence to continuity. But you know that always makes me laugh. I still don't buy "this thing is not that thing" as a legitimate criticism of quality, sorry.

:: I have every episode so far of Vikings and Top of the Lake on my TiVo. I need to sit and watch them, but I'm wondering now if I should just wait until they're over and watch them all at once. I enjoy binge-watching as much as I enjoy watching week-to-week, and hate reading arrogant people bleating on about which one is, I don't know, the morally superior viewing or whatever.

:: I don't, however, like the week-to-week waiting to find out who gets eliminated on this cycle of Hell's Kitchen. It needs the short-term conclusion every week. It's been almost a week now, and I don't even remember who's actually up for elimination. Look, these shows are not cultural events, they're just ephemeral ways to waste a Tuesday night. The momentum doesn't carry week-to-week anymore, so just give us the payoff and stop putting it off for a week. I don't care by the time next week starts.

:: So, so happy Game of Thrones is back. Besides being a very entertaining show, it's very interesting to see where and what they cut and/or delay for later in order to have a linear narrative. I think it's a good lesson in the different experiences of reading a novel versus watching serialized television. It also shows that you can still tell a good story without having to hew too closely to exactly what's on the page if it isn't going to work as a piece of visual entertainment. A lot of chapters in the Song of Ice and Fire series are less things happening than people talking to each other about things that just happened or might happen, which isn't visually stimulating on the screen. I don't need every word to feel complete. If I did, I'd read them again.

:: Three weeks in, and I still haven't watched Doctor Who. The first three episodes of are on my TiVo, but I'm kind of dreading them. At least Amy Pond is over, but this Clara person hasn't been much better so far, and I'm sort of sick of Stephen Moffat's take on the whole thing. Like I said last year, I don't want to sit and whine about how I'm not enjoying this show right now, because it's frustrating to write and boring to read when I could just as easily not be watching it, but... well, I'll catch up and one day it'll be a different Doctor and a different showrunner and I'll hopefully be happier.

:: Castle may be the show I used to adore again in many ways, but that doesn't forgive that ridiculous Irish mob episode a few weeks ago. Yeah, I saw The Departed, too. (I also saw Taken, but that episode was much more tongue-in-cheek, at least.)

:: I saw How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life). Eh. I thought the reviews were hilariously over the top. The AV Club, for example, seems to just get pissed off at anything that dares to not constantly reinvent television. Pick your battles, guys. Your expectations for a show like this are too high. It's not an abomination, it's just nothing special and not very funny. I know, snark is easier to write, but then you have to be the asshole who takes something that doesn't try very hard and pretend it was aiming to be the new Arrested Development rather than taking it for the modest filler it is, and you just look like an asshole. But yeah, snark on. Doesn't take much effort, after all.

:: How did I turn into a person who watches Shark Tank? Or Storage Wars? Or Dance Moms? Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just reminds me that I'm not 25 anymore, you know?