Surviving the “Wasteland”– Depression and Endurance in the Hunger Games

**Spoiler warning for discussion of events taking place in the Hunger Games trilogy and parts of Harry Potter. Consider yourself duly warned. **

I recently finished the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay.  I put it off for quite some time anticipating the darkness of the material.  I have never shied away from a well written drama but there are times when I have enough angst in my life that I don’t need to invite imaginary angst in as well. After seeing HG in movies, however, I knew I had to finish their story no matter how much it hurt.

So I did.  It was hard at times, the war so vivid and the pain of the characters so…recognizable. I’m sure I will sound like every other fangirl on the internet when I say that I empathized with Katniss’ mental challenges and identified with her on a potentially unnerving level.  Despite all the disaster, I found myself in a state of deep satisfaction.

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The Militarization of Femininity: Revisited

A while back, I blogged about how an image of Kristen Stewart as Snow White in armor from the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman raised my hackles.  I’m not convinced I fully articulated my point, which meandered back and forth between defending Disney princesses, supporting the actualized woman warrior, and supporting a woman’s right to a more traditional (read: archaic and sexist) lifestyle.  I think the point I wanted to make was about the contrived nature of this version of femininity and why it’s not a solution to the problem of well-rounded female characterization.

In my original post, I was mystified: “My first impression was one of disdain; the last time I checked, Snow White was not Joan of Arc.  I don’t remember her having any martial inclinations or talents nor the socio-economic status to make such a transformation possible. The last time I checked, her enemy was one vain witch, not an entire army.

My second impression was one of conflict: I should be more supportive of this …modern expression of female agency. Shouldn’t a Snow White who can wield a broadsword be more awesomely great than one who prefers to spend her time cleaning up after 7 slovenly men before she gets food poisoning and largely disappears from the narrative?

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I Open at the Close: A Review of Deathly Hallows, Part 2

“I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future – there will be books written about Harry – every child in our world will know his name.” – Professor McGonagall

If given all the space and time in the world, I’m not sure I could accurately convey what it’s like to be a die-hard Potter fan. Perhaps I’d begin with a line, a long queue wrapping around street blocks for long-awaited books or movies. This time, it’s a movie line, filled to the brim with Potter fans anxiously awaiting The End of it all. Sad, overwhelmed, fearful, excited, proud.

Perhaps your friends managed to get in line 3 hours early, happily braving the heat for the chance at great seats in a sold out showing. There were people in handmade T-shirts reading “Sirius Lives”, “All was Well”, and “My Other Car is a Firebolt”. There were people wearing House scarves in the 85 degree weather; Slytherin, to be precise (ahem). A group of 30 year olds took turns passing around a pair of round-rimmed glasses, trying them on only to find that yes, your eyesight does suck, Harry.  Perhaps a friend in a Quidditch hat had the genius notion to bring a box of Bertie Bott’s All Flavor Flavor beans. Maybe you chose the EarWax bean just for the opportunity to repeat Albus’ line regarding that particular flavor.

Maybe everyone started cheering when the line moved and like 10-year-old barbarians, you elbowed your way to the best seats in the house. Along the way, you were passed by whole families, little girls walking in with their fathers in full robes and regalia, twirling their wands and casting silent spells on the theatre. The greatest spell, however, was yet to come. Continue reading

On Being a Purist (and How I Saw the Light)

Yes, Gentle Reader. I’m the obnoxious nerd harshing on your favorite reboot.  I’m the purist who gets off on leeching every last bit of enjoyment out of your viewing experience by pointing out all the ways the new version got the canonical version wrong. I’m the geek with the exhaustive knowledge of this particular fandom and will in fact, ask William Shatner for the combination to Kirk’s safe in Episode 25*.  That this is unfortunate makes it no less true for me and for others out there. I have, however, come to a point in my life where I have seen The Light, as it were, and feel compelled to both defend and attack my own outdated position.

To begin, let me say I believe there is a place for purism in fandom.  I believe that the deep love and respect for a particular work of media or literature invites a desire to maintain the integrity of said work. Too often we’ve seen good creations butchered in countless sequels, prequels, reboots, and remakes that indicate to anyone watching that Hollywood ran out of ideas ages ago. Apparently, they prefer to send a fandom’s loyal fans running for their Xanax as their favorite show or movie gets appropriated for summer blockbuster bucks. If the people did it correctly the first time decades ago, you’d better believe that some suit somewhere believes it can be redone for a new audience.  They want to make it hip.  They want to make it cool, edgy, nu!Wave, dare I say “modern”.  Spare me.

Oftentimes, in the attempt to modernize and repackage, they completely overlook the essence of the show in favor of more cosmetic updates.  Let’s give Superman a mohawk and some “S” tattoos! That’ll work!

My “nerdrage” hackles have been raised on numerous occasions.  As a fan of comic books, disappointment comes with the territory; superheroes will always be a hot property for TV and movie studios, now especially so, and there will always be some studios who get it right (Warner Brothers/ Christopher Nolan’s Batman, Marvel Studios/Iron Man) and some studios who fail miserably (X3, Joel Schumacher’s BatmanGreen Lantern (yes, I’m predicting already that it will suck. Ryan Reynolds is NOT my Hal Jordan.  Less abs, more personality, please.)**.

See what I mean? I can’t stop myself, even now! The movie’s not even out yet and already I’ve passed judgment! To me, Ryan Reynolds lacks the depth of character and range of emotion to play Hal, a complex character who has depth far beyond the surface flyboy persona.  If some amount of purism and respect for the original subject matter does not exist, all portrayals will remain just that: a superficial simulacra, soulless and meaningless. Continue reading