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Off the fucking chain

0014: Creepy piano music starts. We see frumpy lady in the elevator, startling as the elevator goes ding. Wanna bet that by the end of the trailer she will look supersexyhotinatotallyconventionalway because creepy dude semen has magical wardrobe-improving powers?

0014: “At least everyone’s white. I know that sounds kind of weird, but no one should have to put up with this abuse but white people.” <– my Latina housemate, y’all.

0018: Everything in Mr. Grey’s office is white. Just like the cast.

0020: Sleek blond personal assistant lady in grey power suit reminds me of Portia in Better of Ted a bit, except that was funny and not fucking creepy.

0024: IMPOSING DOORS.

0036: I think this is supposed to be sexy? Apparently he’s intimidating? I guess that’s an intimidating giant hand, rendered in HD on my TV screen.

0036: By the way? Pepper Potts did a much better CEO office.

0045: Worst interviewer ever.

0047: Oh teehee Mr. Creepy Dude! I’m the empty vessel frumpy female character who is here just for you to mold into a thing you like! Teehee!

0051: “Look at me.” “I am.” Presumably not for the first time, I vomit slightly into my mouth.

0051: Also, the big reveal on what Mr. Creepy Dude looks like? He looks like a random creepy dude you might meet in college. You know. The kind you wouldn’t leave you drink unattended around. Presumably he is what is known as “hot” by… someone. I’m guessing.

0051: Also, I disapprove of his tie. With a charcoal gray suit, if he wants to make some kind of dominance statement he really should have gone for the pop of color.

0104: “I exercise control in all things, Miss Steel.” LOL (then wouldn’t you think he’d probably need to loosen the fuck up in the bedroom a bit?)

0111: This has got to be the least sexy supposed-to-be-read-as-dominant-kissing-in-an-elevator scene I have ever witnessed.

0113: OH LOOK HE GRABBED HER WRIST AND PULLED HER ARM UP OVER HER HEAD. SO DOMINANT. MUCH SEXY. VERY STILTED. WOW.

0113: BEYONCE, WHY

0114: Please note that the word “Phenomenon” quite literally only means “a thing that happened.” So yeah. This is sure a thing that happened. Sure is happening. Right now.

0115: Oh god send me help please. Or whiskey. Or pepto.

0118: He has a helicopter. Whee?

0119: As predicted, her clothing is becoming progressively more fashionable and her hair less messy.

0123: “I had a rough start on life. You should steer clear of me.” SOMEONE TURN ON THE MANPAIN SIGNAL.

0124: He’s jogging! In a grey hoodie! SUCH MANPAIN. YOU MUST RESCUE HIM, WOMAN WITH NO PERSONALITY! FIX HIM!

0127: GRRRRR HE IS TERRITORIAL ISN’T HE SO SEXYBARRRRRRF

0137: So like, the thing where he’s touching her leg under the table at dinner. This would be cute or even sexy but this entire trailer is shot like at any instant the officers from Law and Order: SVU are going to come busting through the door.

0139: Oh boy. Lip biting.

0144: He also owns a glider apparently. Double whee? HE IS A RICH, EXCEPTIONALLY CREEPY WHITE GUY. IN CASE YOU HAD NOT NOTICED. SO RICH. RICH AND FULL OF MANPAIN.

0153: “Enlighten me, then.” Could this line have been delivered with less emotion?

0202: The red room. Montage of BDSM stuff one would find doing a google search. Wants to be sexy. Fails.

0222: Bonus for the soft sighs played in the background, which would do nicely if this was a movie about serial killers, I think. Third acidic vurp.

I have no idea who the target audience was for this trailer, but I’m not it. There was nothing romantic or remotely sexy about it. Rather, it read like a tragic cautionary tale about a woman who is stalked, emotionally manipulated, and used by a rich guy who thinks he has it rough.

So fairly accurate to the source material, from what I can tell.

This nauseating creepfest might well destroy my liver next Valentine’s day if my readers hate me enough. Hahaha well considering how I generally feel about that holiday and the way abusive behavior is often depicted as romantic, the release date does seem appropriate, doesn’t it?

(PS: This one isn’t coming up for six months. Wanna make me suffer through something terrible much sooner?)

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Off the fucking chain

You know, the new one, produced by my favorite ever, Michael Bay. Because there is still a part of my childhood that has not been violated. In which all of the turtles look like Shrek.

I wasn’t actually even thinking about this one, just because of scheduling fuckery. Bay’s TMNT comes out on August 8. I am literally flying to the UK on the evening of August 7, and will not be back until August 19. The earliest I could conceivably see the movie would be that evening, whilst terribly jetlagged. Not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing, more just pointing out that the movie will not be quite so fresh by that point. Or I could wait a couple days until after my foot surgery on August 21, at which point I won’t be able to drink, but I will be on vicodin. So yeah.

Anyway I’ve now had four different people ask me if I’m going to watch this one and review it, despite the aforementioned scheduling issues. And I don’t mind the requests, I really don’t, since I like helping worthy causes get money. It’s more I only just did T4 and I’m going to be late on this one, so I feel kind of bad asking people to open their wallets again so soon.

THEN AGAIN, Y’ALL ARE ASKING ME TO SUFFER, THIS DAMN SOON.

So here’s the deal.

If you all donate at least $300 across the following charities, I will go see TMNT by August 24 and blog about it. Possibly while having a bad trip that involves Shrek and pizza and oh god why. And you guys get a discount because I will be seeing the movie so late.

If you donate $450, you get the scans of the handwritten notes, as per Transformers 4.

Charities:

As always, honor system. If you donate, contact me via social media, e-mail me, or leave a comment here to be counted. (You’ll get an acknowledgment from me if I see you.)

PROGRESS: $50/$300

A GIANT THANK YOU F*U TO

  • Jess: $50

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Two storifies, two podcasts for Wednesday

Off the fucking chain

I know, there has not been bloggening in forever. July has been and will continue to be totally crazypants as far as scheduling goes. But here, I have some stuff for you!

Storifies:

During my one long break at DetCon1, I went to the Detroit Institute of the Arts. I only had a bit over three hours there, which wasn’t nearly enough, but it made a profound impression on me.

John C Wright (misogynist, unconscious self-parody, conservative with desperate fantasies of being persecuted rather than simply irrelevant, and one of my favorite chew-toys) has put on his whineypants mightily (lo, verily he hath) because the evil liberal conspiracy that wants to set fire to every velvet Jesus ever painted forced Marvel to make Thor a woman. Or something. Thus doing his small part to answer the question we were all asking ourselves since the announcements about Thor and Captain America: Are comics fans more racist or misogynist? Anyway, I made fun of him on Twitter because I couldn’t be arsed to write a full blog post. And really. After a while all you have to say is would you get a load of this fuckin’ guy?

 

Podcasts:

Comes the Huntsman is now a Podcast! Go listen! I just did, and I’m really pleased with it. And, recall that Comes the Huntsman was a gift story. Therefore.

I was on Skiffy and Fanty again, to talk about BBC’s Sherlock, season 1. As you might already suspect, I expressed a lot of unpopular opinions.

 

Other stuff:

I will be at ArmadilloCon this weekend! Here’s my schedule! If you’re there, please say hello!

DetCon1 was lovely. Major thanks to everyone who said hello to me and came to my panels. And a big extra thanks to everyone who came to the reading I shared with Leah Bobet! And then managed to survive Leah and I playing feels chicken with each other with our readings. You’re all super awesome!

I want you all to start thinking about this now, in readerland. How much would it be worth to you, to make me watch the Fifty Shades of Grey movie? And put your thinking caps on for worthy charities that could benefit from that level of agony.

 

Final thought:

Free fajitas are the best fajitas.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Disappointment fajitas before cannibalism

Off the fucking chain

I find this disturbing on a multitude of levels.

I will lay this out here first: I have not read the fic in question, any of the writer’s other fics, and I am not part of either of those fandoms; don’t care about Persona, and while I listen to WTNV, I don’t participate in the fandom in any kind of meaningful way. I am completely uninterested in the fics in question or debates about their relative merits. Got it?

(And good thing, since apparently I might have a rough time reading the fics in question now.)

So let me explain why this whole thing disturbs me.

  1. Writers, whether they are writing fanfiction or original fiction, write disturbing shit all the time. All the fucking time. Hell, my best friend writes horror. I once beta read one of her stories and sent it back with “WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS” as my only comment. This idea that whatever a writer puts down on paper is somehow must be a true reflection of their deep-seated beliefs and desires is wrong, and frankly, dangerous. My characters are not me, any more than the characters an actor plays are him or her. The stories we tell might have some meaning to us and a myriad of different meanings to other people. Do not assume that you know what a writer thinks or believes just from the fiction they have written.
  2. Go read this, in which a marginalized young adult makes the case for all that unsavory sex, drugs, and violence that has people these days clutching their pearls about YA fiction being too “dark.” Underage pornography is bad. But work with explicit sex (or violence) that involves underage characters is also not automatically pornography.
  3. This is yet another example of fanfiction being used as a way to try to embarrass or attack a fan. Or the fact that someone has written explicit material of some sort as a way to attack their other activities—including careers. This also perpetuates a stigma that is generally only used to punish women.
  4. Whenever this kind of shit happens, I take a long look at everything I’ve ever done as a fan and seriously contemplate burning it to the ground. It’s not hard to connect my real name with my fan works. And I’m pretty much the only person in the English-speaking internet. The only reason I don’t let the paranoia get to me is that I really doubt my company gives a flying fuck that I used to write, say Gundam Wing fanfics. And they googled me pretty thoroughly before they hired me; I think they knew what they were getting. But this is an incredibly privileged position I’m in as an employee, and few people enjoy my level of security. As long as this sort of thing keeps happening, there are a large swathe of people who are going to get scared right out of the fandom because they’re afraid some shithead is going to go after them for whatever reason and try to ruin their career. Which I guess is only a problem if you think people in professional career tracks like teachers and doctors should be allowed to be in fandom. (Which I do.)
  5. The original post comes from a blog that at the time of this writing literally has only three posts. This sort of thing happens all the time, since social media accounts are easy to create, largely anonymous unless someone wants to do a lot of digging that can be easily foiled, and generally disposable. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, since anonymity can be used to expose some real, very ugly problems. But I’ve seen this method used far more often to attack someone spuriously, and that makes it all the harder to draw attention to those aforementioned real, very ugly problems.
  6. Which brings me to my final point, which is far more expansive: I am really fucking tired of fandom cannibalism.

I don’t know if that’s the entirety of what’s going on here. Perhaps I’m characterizing it unfairly. But I’ve seen this happen enough, and to close enough friends that it’s setting off all the same damn warning bells. Because it generally goes like this:

  1. Fan A (who is invariably a woman) has something awesome happen to her. Could be a book deal. Could be getting to do something cool and special. Could be just some kind of online recognition being given to her by a creator/writer/actor.
  2. Fan B takes exception to this for mysterious reasons, which ultimately seem to boil down to jealousy.
  3. Fan B, rather than dealing with jealousy in a healthy way, starts a smear campaign that normally involves newly created social media accounts.
  4. Other people in the fandom (at first those who are friends with Fan B, but then expanding out into basically bystanders who may be well meaning or quietly gleeful to see Fan A get torn down or anywhere in between) start spreading whatever dirt Fan B came up with.
  5. Drama ensues and perpetuates. Fan A, often for the sake of her sanity, gets as far away from the fandom as possible.

I have seen this happen again. And again. And again. And I’m fucking sick of it. Because when you come down to it, I am so goddamn tired of watching women (because yes there can be men or genderqueer individuals involved but it’s most commonly people who identify as women) tear each other down. I am so goddamn sick of watching women turn on each other over what is often nothing more than scraps.

And I am so. Fucking. Sick. Of women buying the bullshit lie over and over again that the success, however small, of one woman somehow means there is less left for everyone else. My successes, no matter how big or small, do not in any way diminish your life.

So, I suppose this is the place where I could go into an uplifting message about how we’re all in this together and we owe it to each other to be supportive and each other’s best cheerleaders, and don’t be jealous! Well, no. I also am aware that we’re goddamn human beings. Jealousy is part of the human condition, an ugly part no one likes talking about. Well, I admit it. I’m jealous of the amazing things my friends do all the fucking time. But like all emotions, you can’t necessarily help that you feel that way, but you can damn well control what you do after.

You want to be annoyed and talk about how someone’s writing is total shit and they don’t deserve their book deal and you never liked that person anyway? Fine. But that does not give you the right to shit on them and everything they love and try to destroy their career.

Eat your goddamn disappointment fajitas and knock it the fuck off.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Schrodingersexuality

Off the fucking chain

So apparently the new Constantine isn’t going to be bisexual or a total fiend for cigarettes, but hey at least they managed to make him blond this time? That’s a brave creative choice there, guys. There is so much about this article that just gets on my pecs that I already ranted about it on Twitter, but I still have more than enough froth to lay it all out in long form too.

I really don’t give that much of a shit if Constantine smokes. Yes, there’s been some plot connected to it. And yes it’s part of the character’s image, but considering smoking is bad for you and there’s a concerted effort to make it less glamorous in the media, fine. I can buy that. But the bisexuality thing? I mean, I get that bisexuality has a long history of being portrayed as glamorous in the media and that there is a definite public health concern Oh wait, no. Wrong paper. Here’s right right one. It reads: fuck you.

When asked about this at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour Sunday, executive producer Daniel Cerone ran down the various editions of the character that have existed since the demon fighter was introduced in 1985 to suggest his sexuality is not a crucial aspect of the character (nearly all of the character’s relationships in the comics have been with women). “In those comic books, John Constantine aged in real time,” he said. “Within this tome of three decades [of comics] there might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man. So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.”

So let me get this straight:

  1. Being bisexual totally isn’t important to the character.
  2. In fact, it’s so unimportant that we are making a conscious choice to leave it out.
  3. I mean, he mostly bangs women anyway, and that’s all that matters. He’s barely bisexual at all. You wouldn’t even know to look at him.
  4. Sexuality is so unimportant and he screws so few men, he’s basically heterosexual, amirite?
  5. And maybe we’ll make him bisexual in twenty years, so quit your whining.

Am I missing any part of this absolutely scintillating argument? (Also, double bonus fuck you points to EW for spending almost the entire piece on the issue of the cigarettes because that’s totally more important than representation.)

What really chaps my ass is the way this just reiterates and promulgates the idea that bisexuality is something that is defined by outside observation, instead of something we get to define from within ourselves. It’s not math. You’re not bisexual just because you you’ve crossed some magical ratio threshold and they take away your straight or gay card and replace it with a license for wanton promiscuity, confusion, or other bullshit stereotype of your choice. I’d still be bisexual even if I died without ever having a girlfriend. Why? Because I fucking said so.

It’s hurtful. It’s insulting. How can it be anything but hurtful and insulting (and goddamn frustrating) when we basically get told over and over again that we’re lying, mistaken, or just plain wrong about one of the most intimate, personal matters of our own goddamn lives?

Look, I totally get that it’s not easy to viscerally understand how someone can be attracted to something you’re not. But unless you’re a giant asshole, we’re way past the point where matters like love and attraction get discussed as a matter of choice. And here’s the thing: you don’t have to understand how we can be attracted to both men and women. You just have to accept that we know better than you how our own thoughts and emotions work since we’re the ones thinking and feeling and shut the fuck up.

Our sexuality is not defined by interaction with our environment or by your observation thereof. We’re not fucking Schrodingersexual. This is not rocket science. This is basic respect.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

[Movie] Snowpiercer

Off the fucking chain

There is a basic level of surreality you have to accept when you approach this movie, similar to when you watch a Terry Gilliam or Jean-Pierre Jeunet film. (I can’t believe it’s coincidence that one of the characters is named Gilliam.) There are things that happen that don’t necessarily make sense outside of a sort of dream logic. But if you can accept that, the experience is intense and rewarding.

Snowpiercer is gorgeous and disturbing and a bit heartbreaking. Just the way it was filmed was beautiful. Every car of the massive train has its own distinctive color palette and environment, which I loved. It goes from claustrophobic filth in the rear of the train to strangely 50s-esque, to technicolor futuristic to heartlessly gearpunk. And while there’s quite a bit of violence in the film, it’s brutal rather than titillating. People who get hit once with an ax go down and stay down. (Well, mostly.) Characters come out of the mid-film meat grinder utterly shell-shocked.

(And considering the movie I saw before this was Transformers 4, I appreciated the visual coherence among the complexity all the more.)

The plot for the movie sounds deceptively simple when summed up: Geoengineering that attempts to counter the undeniable threat of global climate change goes horribly wrong, throwing the world into a life-killing ice age. Humans take refuge on a massive train that is effectively a closed ecosystem that never ceases moving, making an entire circuit of all the continents once a year. There is a strict class system enforced with religious fervor, based on the original ticket bought by the passengers. The tail of the train is basically steerage, controlled brutally and fed on “protein cubes” with the cars becoming increasingly high class toward the engine. Curtis (Chris Evans) working with Gilliam (John Hurt) foments a rebellion and attempts to take control of the engine so they can demand equal treatment for those who live in the tail.

As you can imagine, this movie is very specifically about class, and about the way the poor are controlled, abused, and used by the wealthy. It’s also very much about the structures put in place by the wealthy in order to maintain that control—in this case to a Machiavellian, mind-bending degree. But the most pointed and brutal scenes of the movie are really the ones that involve children, both the way children are indoctrinated from an early age, and the way the children of the poor are ultimately meat for the gears of society.

The next time someone says that science fiction—nay, good science fiction—can’t or shouldn’t be political, I invite them to sit down and watch Snowpiercer. Then take a big swig from their swimming-pool-sized movie theater cup of shut-the-fuck-up.

I can’t begin to say how grateful I am that Bong Joon-ho dug in his heels and fought to keep his cut of the movie intact. If you’re one of those lucky people who live in a city where Snowpiercer is showing on its limited release, drop what you’re doing and go.

(For an excellent analysis of Snowpiercer as a movie about capitalism, see here.)

And a few SPOILERS now: 

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Off the fucking chain

THIS IS SO HILARIOUSLY PRECIOUS THAT I CANNOT HELP BUT SHARE IT. Like a video of a kitten angrily batting at an enormous piece of exercise equipment, but with 300% more fedora.

(By the way? Andrew’s fault. Because he finds hilarious and terrible things and tells me. Left to my own devices, I’d just kind of… pick up heavy things and put them back down until I got tired, then have a glass of milk fortified with whey protein. I know how to party.)

Because you see, John C Wright has suffered a bout of severe why is the world no longer catering to my demographic in every way apoplexy. And written a brief post about it. Titled (I shit you not) “Dungeons and Perverts.” (Link has been do-not-linkified.)

The whole thing stands on its own as a matter for total hilarity. Because at this point, he’s become a complete, unselfconscious parody of conservatism, and it’s comedy gold. But I do have a few points to call out.

And what could possibly be more authentically faux medieval than that?

It has long been known, of course, that homosexual, trans, and genderqueer people were not even invented until the late 20th century, for the express purpose of dragging the world into the bowels of Hell by their stubborn insistence on existing and performing controversial and harmful activities like breathing oxygen. In public.

No doubt you are wondering ‘Didn’t John C. Wright, famed international author and curmudgeon, just use that picture yesterday to underscore some point about Leftist crazies forcing Catholics to pay for abortifacient contraceptives and calling their unwillingness to do so a war on women?’

I can’t honestly decide if his blatant third-person ego stroking or his total (and proud) ignorance of how biology actually works is more hilarisad. Maybe both?

Yes, well the picture is appropriate today as well, now that gamer crazies are trying to manipulate kiddie ideas about decency and perversion in sex in a game otherwise concerned with spelunking robbers who slay monsters.

…has this guy actually ever even played D&D? And what did that sentence ever do to him to deserve being tortured?

But in all seriousness, I am incredibly concerned to learn that neckbearded liberal cryptofascist feminazi gamers are busting down the doors of innocent families, confiscating their dice, and then holding the children—won’t someone think of the children?!?!—at Lord of the Rings museum quality replica sword-point and forcing them to create queer characte

Oh wait. That’s not what’s happening?

There’s just a note in the character creation chapter that states genderqueer characters are possible and encourages players to—NO ANYTHING BUT THAT—use their imaginations to the fullest extent?

There is a saying of my people I feel is appropriate to share here. It goes something like this:

Crai moar.

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 7.20.14 PM

 

(Related: a criticism of the D&D section in question. Not conservawank self-parody.)

 

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

[Movie] Transformers 4: Fuck This Movie

Off the fucking chain

I’ve been trying all day to come up with a funny way to write about how transcendently angry this movie made me. Something hopefully a bit more highbrow than the entire concept of “rage pee.” And then I realized I can’t do it, and it was going to stop me from meeting my obligation to you lovely people, who gave $400 to charity to make me watch this insult to common decency on film. So I’ll just lay it out for you.

I had this one moment, midway through my second beer (bless you, Alamo Drafthouse, without your alcohol I would not have survived) where I almost, almost convinced myself that no actually, Michael Bay is totally a genius, and this is his never-ending art project to hold a mirror up to movie-goers across the globe and prove that no matter how low you think the lowest common denominator is, actually you need to pick your shovel back up and keep digging. It was like he was laughing, Bella Lugosi-style, deep and evil and amused, at the incontrovertible proof that we are a culture in only the most bacterial of senses, unquestioningly throwing money at anything rancid so long as it came coated with the appropriate amount of bright orange glitter. And I almost laughed with him for a moment as my sanity cracked and bent.

None of us deserve the smirking comfort of thinking there’s some kind of meta-point to all of this.

There is no plot. There is no character. If I was feeling charitable I would say that Michael Bay and his screen writer, Ehren Kruger, have transcended the concept of plot, but that would imply some kind of higher purpose beyond stuffing in a little more creepy ogling and another unsubtle product placement. This movie is effectively a well-shot, two hour and forty fucking minute long, ugly, ravenous kaiju baby of a music video for the Imagine Dragons song Battle Cry, Hasbro’s newest line of merchandise, and centuries of ingrained misogyny and racism.

This is Michael Bay, with the executives of Hasbro and Paramount arrayed around him and applauding, taking a giant shit on a platter and offering it to the world. Except instead of a regular silver platter, this one’s shaped like a woman has been painted down with a spray tan. This is a two hour and forty fucking minute long movie in which the only actual plot thread is a man deciding if he will retain ownership of his daughter, peppered with slow motion explosions, incoherent car chase scenes, and battle after battle of CGI robots fighting other CGI robots in such a way that it really just kind of looks like a trash compactor fucking a junked car in the tailpipe, but less visually discernible.

And I never thought I’d say this, but considering the length of the movie it could have used more explosions, and giant robots rolling around in indecipherable masses of computer-generated metal. There is proportionally less Transformer action in this movie than in those previous in order to make room for men being super creepy at a seventeen-year-old girl.

The constant misogyny throughout the very fabric of this film is inescapably vile and toxic. Every major male character, when introduced, within his first few lines of dialog explicitly objectifies the nearest female character. At the very beginning of the movie, in one scene we quite literally go from Lucas (TJ Miller) creepily eyeing a couple of women walking by and calling them ‘junebugs’ to in the next scene, the theater landlord talking effusively about ‘dancin’ girls with big chachas.’ The only male character who doesn’t get a major moment of creepy objectification is Cade (Mark Wahlberg) but that’s apparently because he’s too busy obsessing about the state of his daughter’s purity. Which doesn’t get creepy at all.

If you’ve read anything about this movie, you’ve probably heard about the rightfully infamous “Romeo and Juliet law” scene. Nothing I have read as of yet does actual justice to how absolutely fucking creepy this scene is. Cade and Shane (Tessa’s boyfriend, played by Jack Reynor) have been pissing on each other’s legs since the moment they met about, frankly, just to whom Tessa belongs. Then Cade finds out that Shane is 20; well, Tessa is a minor. Without so much as blinking, Shane launches into a lecture about the Romeo and Juliet law of Texas, and has the text of the law on a laminated card in his wallet. He is carrying it the way one might expect a young man to carry a freaking condom. And it’s honestly impossible to state which is creepier in this scene; the constant emphasis on how young Tessa is when she is consistently objectified throughout the film, the fact that her creepy-ass boyfriend has memorized a legal defense of his right to fuck a minor, the complete and disturbing possessiveness of her father, or the fact that Michael Bay purposefully made the creative choice to include all of this and then made a point of it.

Double bonus ick points for this all occurring just a few scenes after one of the movie’s many incoherent car chases, during which time Shane tells Tessa to ‘grab his stick’ to do a driving maneuver, then informs Cade she ‘has the best hands in the business’ in the most innuendo-laden way possible.

I’m not a prude. The thought of teenagers having sex does not make me clutch at my pearls, have the vapors, or despair about the morality of America. But the way Tessa is basically treated as a non-person throughout the movie who has no say in her own life, and is explicitly objectified as underage by basically every male non-robot, and it’s the central human conflict of the movie? Yeah, you bet your ass that grosses me out.

Honestly, if it weren’t for the way Tessa had less agency than a toaster, I could have even found some of this funny. Cade and Shane spend every scene they have bickering about Tessa, no matter how the conversation starts. If there were some sort of reverse Bechdel test, where they had to have a conversation that wasn’t about a woman, they would fail it miserably. But considering Tessa spends her entire time on screen screaming, being rescued, and biting her perfectly made-up lower lip in a way that’s presumably supposed to convey the sexiest possible kind of terror? No. No, no, no.

There are other female characters in this movie. The geologist, Darcy (Sophia Myles) basically spends all of her time wearing white, making her unlike every female geologist I’ve ever met. I’m still puzzled about her presence in the movie, since she seems to almost have a reason to be around (something something Transformium something) but then that is subsumed with the need for her to be manchild inventor Joshua Joyce’s (Stanley Tucci) emotional validation and tell him for no apparent reason that she is proud of him (HOW? WHY? FOR WHAT?) before vanishing without a trace for the rest of the movie. Su Yueming (Bingbing Li) has the makings of a very interesting character, actually, obviously high-powered and career driven, who saves Joyce’s ass several times. Which then plays into him going on and on about how he has the hots for her. He calls her a “my delicate flower” at one point. The only thing that saved me from flipping the goddamn table was that she looked just as done with it as I felt, and then later when he asked if she missed him she flatly said, “No.”

Between the way Su Yueming is treated and the offensively stereotyped samurai transformer (voiced by Ken Watanabe), there is rich evidence that few lessons have been learned after the complaints of racism that followed the previous movies. (Bonus: the only black characters were either effectively non-speaking parts of the evil CIA team/KSI scientists or the real estate agent at the beginning of the movie, who is run off the property by a baseball-bat-wielding Cade yelling insults about how fat she and her brother are. So that’s awesome.)

After over 1000 words, there is probably something I should say about the actual plot. But after mulling it over for nearly 24 hours, I am still unconvinced that the movie even had one. This thing was so badly paced that time dilated, as if I was falling across the event horizon of a black hole; when I went out of the theater for my first bathroom break, I checked my phone and discovered there was still an hour and fifteen minutes left, which left me longing for the simple pain of eternal spaghettification. It was an incoherent mass of purposefully knotted loose ends to set up two more movies because, as proof that we live in a godless universe of pain, this one is the start of a new trilogy. Characters fall in and out of the narrative without rhyme or reason, apparently tucked away in a closet unless needed to blow things up, leer, or be leered at.

Megatron is brought back to life because of a MacGuffin, and new Decepticons have kind of(?) been made by the humans but that’s not important right now apparently. What characterization once existed for Optimus Prime has now been completely thrown at the window after he spent most of the movie threatening to kill humans (and did kill one but he was the CIA bad guy so I suppose that’s then all right?) and saying humans weren’t worth protecting until Cade tells him to calm his shit down and soothes him with an incredibly awkward unintended pregnancy metaphor. No, really. Optimus Prime and his random collection of conflicting and incoherent motivations made me long for the nuanced and well-handled manpain of Man of Steel. Another alien race is introduced so that Optimus can rocket away at the end of the film after telling Cade, “When you look at the stars, think of one of them as my soul.”

Literally the only plot thread that did tie up was the conflict between Cade and Shane, when Cade symbolically transferred ownership of Tessa to her super creepy, twenty-year-old boyfriend.

And the dinobots? In less than 6% of the movie by my recollection. Grimlock at no point speaks, let alone declares that he is Grimlock, no bozo, or king. The existence of the dinobots is weak at best and not even visually that arresting unless you have a giant boner for seeing a Transformer on a T-rex wielding a sword. In which case, buy the movie poster and save nearly three hours of your life you can use for masturbating to your bizarre fetish instead.

Perhaps the worst, most personal insult of this movie is the fact that the soundtrack is literally only twenty minutes long. For a two hour and forty fucking minute movie. I haven’t liked any of the Transformers movies since the first one, which I thought was…okayish. But I have always loved the soundtracks. All of which have clocked in around an hour long, like most theatrical scores. They’re good writing music. So this? It’s an outrage. That sure explains why about a third of the way into the film, I felt like I was stuck in an endless loop of the background track from Tron: Legacy and couldn’t escape. I get that these movies aren’t even trying any more, but goddammit.

Seriously. Fuck this movie. It’s not even good enough for my rage pee.

(If you would like to read my progressively more badly written and incoherent notes, taken during the film, find them here. Be warned, it was dark in the theater, and I was pretty drunk by the end.)

(Also, the FAQ at io9 for this movie is quite funny. Much funnier than my enraged ranting.)

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Off the fucking chain

So this is kind of a giant excuse and an explanation. You see my first pee break in this movie, which is approximately 17 hours long and composed of jackahammers and CGI, I had to pee. And realized there was still an hour and fifteen fucking minutes fucking left in the fucking movie. Came back to my seat. Put in another order because I was not nearly drunk enough for this shit. Order card said:

refill Pibb

refill lemonade

refill iced tea

another Rocket milk shake and mexican chocolate

because f____ man how the f_____ is this movie another hour long I need more alcohol pray for me

Yes I literally wrote that (including the line instead of the full f-bomb) on my order card. The waitress grabbed it, looked it over, and whispered, “Yeah this movie is really long, isn’t it?”

So I’m kind of too drunk right now after consuming two beers and two very alcoholic (I think it was extra alcoholic because they took pity on me) shakes in a bit over two hours. Too drunk to write something to coherently express how this movie made me feel. It’s really just one giant rage pee. So I will write you your thing tomorrow, you bastards. I earned this one for charity, that’s for sure. And while I’m trying to hammer my anger into actual words rather than a primal, Nicolas-Cage-esque scream, I will scan in the ten and a half pages of hand-written notes I took which become increasingly difficult to read the drunker I get, but you’ll get the idea.

Tomorrow.

But I will leave you with a few subtitle ideas that would have been much more appropriate than Age of Extinction.

Transformers 4:

  • Longing for the Radically Feminist Days of Megan Fox
  • This Is What an Aneurysm Feels Like
  • An Overly Long and Creepy Virginity Metaphor
  • Magnets: How the Fuck do They Work?
  • A Bud Light Movie in Every Sense
  • Who the Fuck Is Grimlock?
  • Not Even Texas Deserves This
  • Fuck This Movie

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Off the fucking chain

The ruling for the Hobby Lobby case has come rolling downhill from SCOTUS, like a giant turd. (PDF here, dissents start on page 60, thank you Elise.) A couple of months ago and after a Facebook kerfuffle, I had a nice in-comment chat with a friend of mine who is a lawyer. And he explained to me why he thought the ruling would probably go the way it did today, and it made sense. Ultimately it was about the letter of the law and the way it applies, rather than the principle that has us all foaming at the mouth. You know, that whole “women are people and your boss has no business making your medical decisions” thing. Yeah. That doesn’t really matter so much.

Not a lawyer. Not going to try to rehash my very smart friend’s point. Just saying now that I am still incredibly disappointed, but thanks to Aaron, I am entirely unsurprised.

Rather than railing about SCOTUS and the way this country seems set on just fucking over women at every opportunity, I think there’s another important take home here:

Being forced to depend upon employment and the good will of your employer for your access to healthcare is a shitty, shitty system.

The reason I’ve come to believe that healthcare is a human right is because it’s about survival, and about control. Someone else controlling your healthcare, your decisions, puts them in no small measure in control of your life. Well, America is supposed to be all about “freedom.” We’re so about freedom we got freedom coming out of our goddamn ears. And there’s this unending drumbeat talking about about how freedom is destroyed by dependence on the government. Keep your government hands off my healthcare!

So tell me, what kind of freedom is it to have your healthcare in the hands of a corporation? How is having your ability to get healthcare and, it seems, even some of the decisions you make completely controlled by a corporation better? (And don’t give me that fucking line about “don’t like your job? find a new one!” have you even looked at the fucking economy for the last five years? IF you’re even lucky enough to have a job!) You don’t want to be dependent on the government, great. Why the fuck do you want to be dependent on a corporation? An entity whose sole driving force is making a profit.

When I worked for AT&T and was still in my conservative phase (yes, I did have one, I have the humiliating voting history to prove it), even then I’d get taken aback by some egregious abuse of corporate power against employees or the environment and get told: well, you can’t blame the corporation. It’s just there to make money. Just doing what it has to do to fulfill that purpose. (Which even then made me ask and deregulating that is a good thing how? But that’s another song and dance.)

But fine, if all corporations do is make money and fuck everything else, why the fuck do you think it’s a good idea to put someone who literally only gives a shit about money in charge of your health? In charge of your life?

The government ain’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But at least I can pretend I have a tiny voice, a sliver of input, a crumb of power in a democracy. Maybe YA has missed the boat, with its ceaseless totalitarian government dystopias. At this point, I’m far more concerned about the benevolence of our corporate overlords.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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