K-Pop: Songs I’m Currently Obsessed With

Professional shot of Leedo of ‘ONEUS’. Copyright goes to ONEUS and RBW.

Hi! It’s Annie!

It’s been difficult for me to find new K-Pop news to talk about considering my brain has been filled with nothing but thoughts of the upcoming BTS concert. I can’t even begin to express how excited I am! But, recently, I was playing a random K-Pop playlist on my phone when I came across a couple songs that I hadn’t heard before. And now I’m absolutely obsessed. Not to mention some songs from the regular groups I mention that just keep playing over and over again in my head. So, in the interest of actually talking about some of the songs currently haunting me (and in the hopes that I could possibly introduce you guys to some songs or groups you haven’t heard of before), here are the songs that are currently on my mind all the time.

“No diggity” by ONEUS:

I know what you might be thinking. There’s already a song called “No Diggity” and it’s definitely not from a K-Pop group. And I can assure you, this isn’t that song and it isn’t even a cover of it. This is a completely different, and in my opinion, a far superior song. Its Korean name actually means more along the lines of “unable to be refuted”, which is a much more clear explanation of what the song is. I very recently heard this one, and I haven’t been able to listen to any other song for days. It’s just so addictive. From the first background beats, to the dark rap of Leedo, to the chorus that’s so catchy it’ll be stuck in your head for days. And the MV is bright, colorful, and even more of a joy to watch. I seriously can’t get over this choreography either. I also love that it’s not just another song about money or fame. The “get your hands off of her” theming that almost coincides with a love song at the same time is pretty unique. Though it isn’t a song with a heartfelt message, it is a badass love theme that’s unusually more hype than most songs about love. And I love it. The song makes for both a great listen and a badass performance. And “Twilight” is also an amazing song, especially for the harmonies, if you’re looking for another song by them after all of that. Because I know I definitely was. Just so you know, I’m definitely listening to “No diggity” on repeat as I type this.

“Drink It” by THE BOYZ:

I had heard of this group before, purely through ‘Kingdom’ which I was watching for the ATEEZ performances. But I hadn’t looked too much into them until I heard this song on a playlist recently. This song immediately caught my attention for its catchiness and now this is yet another song that’s stuck in my head. This one is definitely a bit more on the “sexy” side in both choreography and lyric meaning but it mostly caught my attention for the catchy chorus and the amazing vocals. I liked their music from what I watched of ‘Kingdom’, but this is definitely my favorite of their projects that I’ve seen. This is a bit more vocals focused, which I love and I also love the mysterious aesthetic of the song. I also have to say, the rap pieces interchanged with whispering really makes some of the verses. Over-all it’s a great all around song and I love listening to it.

“Voice” by LOONA:

I kept hearing about LOONA, but I didn’t look too much into them. I think I heard a couple of their songs and then moved on. But when I also heard this song recently on a playlist, I listened to it twice afterwards. This is a pretty typical love song all things considered, but what I like about it is how gentle the song feels. There’s just something super cute about the idea of someone’s voice drawing you into waking. I also can’t say enough about the vocals in the song. The song is definitely more about showcasing vocals than anything else and it does it really well. I have to say, Chuu really stood out to me the first time I heard the song, but the seamless transition between the vocals really made me love all of their voices by the end. And, yes, this is absolutely another song that will get stuck in your head. It’s a nice song that manages to be both exciting and calming at the same time.

“Rhythm Ta” by ATEEZ:

I could choose so many ATEEZ songs that I’m currently obsessed with. Recently while driving to and from work I listen to a lot of ATEEZ, because their music distracts me enough to calm me down. And really I could name any song here. I’ve been listening to “Deja Vu” in particular ever since it came out. But I kind of want to draw more attention to one of their cover songs that I listen to a lot, especially because we’ve already done a few posts about “Deja Vu”. “Rhythm Ta” is a song that was originally made and performed by the group iKON and ATEEZ’s version is practically unrecognizable. The song feels darker and grittier, and that’s not just because they did a dark revolution theme with their performance. The song is completely in a lower register. The song feels much more ATEEZ, which in general is pretty badass and always exciting. If you haven’t checked out the performances for any of the groups on the last ‘Kingdom: Legendary War’, I highly recommend it. We also have a post about it here on our blog!

“Nilili Mambo”- Block B:

It has come to my attention that I have not yet talked about Block B on this blog and I am very sorry for that. Block B is freaking amazing. I feel like you’ve probably heard “Nilili Mambo” even if you don’t think you have. For a long time it was all over TikTok, and I know I didn’t think I had heard it until I was made aware that this was the song that was everywhere. It has an amazing melody as well as amazing pirate vibes that eventually inspired ATEEZ. Right now I’m also kind of obsessed with “Jackpot” which has a really fun carnival theme to it that comes across in both the MV and the song itself. These are both songs where you watch the MV and you immediately understand what the theming is going to be just off of the vibes of the song.

“Blood, Sweat, and Tears” by BTS:

Obviously I had heard this song before and most of you probably have as well. But BTS recently performed this for the online concert and I freaked out. I didn’t watch much of the online concert. If you’re wondering why my sister and I didn’t have a post about that concert, it’s because we’re trying to go to the LA concert as unprepared and ready to be surprised as possible. But I couldn’t help but hear that this was part of the setlist, and this has been one of my favorite BTS songs since I began stanning them. In fact, this was the song that fully brought me into ARMY. So the prospect of possibly getting to see this live is insane to me. We’ll have to see if it’s part of the LA concert setlist, but I think I will melt if they actually perform this. I can’t wait to see if they do, but until then I will be listening to this song on repeat and trying not to cry.

I always love hearing new groups and finding more amazing K-Pop to download on my phone. And now I’m freaking out over it all more than usual with the BTS concert on the horizon and the possibility of ATEEZ going on tour soon. I’m going to be fully immersed in K-Pop for a while. So I definitely think I could do with more variety on my playlist while I listen to only K-Pop for the foreseeable future. And I think in the future it looks like I’ll be listening to little more ONEUS. Damn, there are so many talented artists in this industry!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

BTS: Things to Keep in Mind for the Concert

Still of Kim Namjoon (RM), Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), Kim Taehyung (V), Jeon Jungkook, Min Yoongi (Suga), Park Jimin, and Kim Seokjin (Jin) performing. Copyright goes to the Hybe Corporation and BTS.

Hey! Hallie here!

The ‘Permission to Dance’ concert is just a few weeks away and more and more ARMYs are starting to realize that this is actually happening. It’s just starting to hit me and I’m still not sure I’ll be able to fully convince myself that it’s happening until the concert starts. Either way, this realization is leading to a lot more research. We can theorize about guest performers and what each day of the concert will be like, but I’m thinking more about practical research. Such as venue rules, parking, concert etiquette, and even concert outfits. I’ve seen a lot of advice and important information floating around, so I figured I’d make my own compilation of this information for people who, like me, have no idea what’s going on. I also want to address some misconceptions about the concert that are stressing some ARMYs out right now. So let’s get into this!

ARMY Bombs:

For anyone who doesn’t know, almost every K-Pop group has a light stick. Light sticks aren’t uncommon at concerts in general, but K-Pop groups have official light sticks with unique designs specific to each group. BTS’s light sticks are called ARMY Bombs. As the name suggests, they have a round appearance and a round attachment at the top of the stick that make them appear similar to a bomb. While this might seem like a bit of a…violent choice for BTS, it was very much in line with their “Bulletproof Boy Scouts” identity when they first debuted. Either way, the design is cute and you’ll probably want one for this concert. They light up in various patterns throughout each performance and provide you the only means of becoming part of the “purple ocean”. These light sticks aren’t free. They sell them at the concert venue if you so wish, but be warned that concert merchandise lines will be extremely long. If you want to avoid that, you’ll need to buy a light stick immediately. If you wait any longer than now, you will not be able to order a light stick on time for the concert. Also, my recommendation is you buy only off of Weverse. Not only is Weverse shipping fairly quick, but doing so will ensure that you don’t accidentally buy a fake ARMY bomb. As for making sure that your ARMY bomb syncs up to the concert on the day of the event, there are two things you can do. If past concerts are any indication, there should be a station at the concert that will be solely for providing batteries for ARMY Bombs and syncing them up to the concert. The other thing you can do is download the free app ‘BTS Official Light Stick’. This app should sync your ARMY Bomb up to the concert once the event occurs. Be sure to get your ARMY Bomb!

Bags:

I thought this was well established, but I have still seen a few people recommending accessorizing concert outfits with cute colored backpacks or regular bags. These types of bags WILL NOT be allowed in the venue. If you intend to carry around a good number of items, you MUST purchase a clear bag before the day of the concert. The specificities of these bags are up on the SoFi Stadium website. Essentially they have to be a clear material and they can’t exceed 12″x 6″x 12″. If you look on Amazon alone, you’ll find plenty of companies selling clear bags with the express purpose of meeting these specific requirements. It won’t be hard to find one, just be sure to grab one.

COVID Policy:

Many fans know this by now, but I feel like I should reiterate it. Unless you’re under twelve years old, you have to be fully vaccinated, or at least have had a negative COVID test done within the last 72 hours before the concert, to be able to get into the venue. Also note that you must be fully vaccinated, not partially. Which includes the two weeks of quarantine before the last vaccination shot takes effect. All of that also means you need to bring proof of your vaccination or your negative test. Be sure to bring your vaccination card, a photo I.D. for those eighteen years or older to prove your identity, and a mask to wear for the event. Masks are required at this venue.

Parking:

I’ve seen more and more people confess to what I did while purchasing tickets for this concert. We all skipped right over the page for reserving parking, didn’t we? Unless you want to walk several miles to the venue, you will have to reserve your parking at one of the parking lots around SoFi Stadium. To do this, go to the website ParkWhiz. There’s also an app if you would rather download that. This website is specifically mentioned by SoFi Stadium as the website they work with to sell parking reservations. Parking is a bit pricy, but if you want any spot at all, and you want to make sure you don’t get scammed, get a reservation from ParkWhiz.

Concert Outfits:

Yes, everyone wants to look awesome at this concert. But keep a few things in mind. This concert is in late November, early December. This concert will also be at night. Make sure to dress warmly. Also, don’t wear something that’s going to be extremely uncomfortable for the entire duration of the concert. Most of us will probably be standing and dancing the whole time. You can still look cute, but wear clothing and shoes that will be comfortable to move in.

Fan Chants:

I’ve seen too many ARMYs stressing out on every single social media I own about fan chants. Some are stressed about memorizing the chants. Some are stressed about abandoning the chant in favor of singing along. And some are afraid they’ll be judged by other ARMYs if they don’t go along with the chants. And to be honest, I don’t really blame them for being concerned. Infuriatingly, a good chunk of ARMYs have claimed that those who don’t learn fan chants are “disappointments” that will ruin the concert experience for the members. Others have even gone so far as to threaten other ARMYs. If you don’t have the time to remember the fan chants or if you’re concerned you’ll forget them, please know that you aren’t a disappointment and you won’t be letting down the members. As long as you are fully demonstrating your support for them while they’re performing, they’ll appreciate you. Whether that means you’re participating in the fan chants, singing along, or just scream crying (You know who you are). Don’t let other ARMYs ruin the fun of this experience for you.

That’s all the major helpful information I’ve gathered so far. If you have any other questions, SoFi Stadium has a pretty detailed page of instructions that will likely answer some of those questions. If you find no help there, seek out other ARMYs! Plenty have been putting in research so they can inform other ARMYs of what they’ve found. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re a bit lost. And don’t stress out too much! We’re all going to the concert to enjoy our time together with BTS. This is an amazing, happy experience! Don’t let anything bring that down for you!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Superheroes: Power Rangers-The Best Five Series

Promotional photo of ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ (1993). Copyright goes to Saban.

Hi! It’s Annie!

If you’ve been on this blog before, you might know that I actually had a previous post covering this exact topic. Recently I’ve been rewatching different series of ‘Power Rangers’ and I discovered that my opinions regarding my last list have definitely changed. So, this is the new list! I’ve been watching ‘Power Rangers’ my entire life. I’m seriously not kidding. I grew up with it and continued to watch various series as I grew up. It’s always been one of my favorite shows of all time and it’s something that I still go to occasionally for a comfort watch. And I think after a lot of thinking and review, I finally compiled what I think is my list for my top five series. These are the series that I think overall had the best plot, characters, and overall something special that was unique to that series specifically that made it stand out.

5. Power Rangers Ninja Storm

This is the series that started out Disney’s run with the Power Rangers, and I think this was an amazing start. ‘Power Rangers’ has always been a series that changed series by series with things such as comedy and audience marketing. Of course, it has always been for families. But some series took themselves more seriously than others. This marks one of the series that famously did not take itself too seriously. In fact, there were times where it almost felt like a parody. Set in California, this is the most California you will ever find in possibly any show ever. Shane, the red ranger, is a skateboarder. Dustin, the yellow, is a dirt bike rider. And finally Tori, the blue, is a surfer. This is complete with all the California teenager lingo, plenty of trips to the beach, and a lot of time spent in a multi-purpose sports shop. Any ridiculous villains were treated as such and the show definitely leant more on the side of comedy than not. But I think it’s important to point out that, despite the comedy, the series took itself very seriously when it came to character development. Each ranger got their own series of focus episodes where the show explored who they are as people as well as their insecurities. Dustin was one of my favorite characters because the series acknowledged his naivety and positive nature by also showing how easy he was to trust and had him learn from his mistakes. Cam was my favorite character because, aside from his amazing sassy remarks, he proved himself through his own character growth throughout the series before he even became a ranger. It made his achievement of becoming a ranger all the more satisfying to watch. This series also included the very first female blue ranger, Tori, who was consistently treated as the smartest member of the team. And this series is one of the best when it comes to diversity. It seems as though every ranger on this team is of a different race and class. Definitely a powerful start to the Disney era.

4. Power Rangers Jungle Fury

I feel like to most this probably seems like an unusual pick, and I do understand why. ‘Jungle Fury’ doesn’t necessarily deal with the most unique stories of the series released and it also isn’t overtly comedic based. But this series succeeded the most when it comes to demonstration of martial arts, aesthetic, and side character build up. Seriously, this may be the series with the best side characters. This takes place for the most part in a dojo and then in a pizza place. And while the pizza place may sound odd, it actually brought the entire show together for me. I always love seeing a good hang-out spot in a show that becomes the safe haven for the characters, and ‘Jungle Karma Pizza’ is that place. You get to see Power Rangers in customer service jobs, which isn’t a usual thing, and you get to see them bond through cute moments such as flour fights. And the overall feel of the world, including the addition of animal spirits, makes you want to just jump into the world and figure out what your own animal spirit is and what color ranger you’d end up becoming. But this show shines, once again, in character development. Casey, the red ranger, starts out as more unexperienced than the others and must actually learn and train to live up to his ranger status. And unlike most Power Rangers series, this doesn’t just take one episode. Theo, the blue, is really amazing at what he does, but he’s also a huge control freak. Lily, the yellow, is incredibly compassionate and that often results in her attempting to clean up other people’s messes by herself without asking for help. But the real characters that shine for me here, could quite possibly be RJ and Fran. Fran is not a ranger, but she’s one of the support characters that runs the pizza shop while they’re gone. She becomes a needed member of the team and absolutely lovable on top of all that. RJ is one of the best Power Rangers to ever exist. He’s actually the mentor character. RJ struggles with issues with his Dad and a lack of closeness that the series explores as well as issues in controlling his own animal spirit. He’s also crazy, wacky, and just overall lovable. And on top of that, he’s the only Power Ranger ever to use a martial arts style that primarily uses elbows and knees. (This series is a master at showing off several martial arts styles in beautiful ways.) If you watch this series for nothing else, watch it for RJ. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

3. Power Rangers Dino Thunder

This was the second series that Disney tried, and this is the one that actually picked up. And part of that might, admittedly, have to do with the presence of Tommy Oliver. Or, as he’s know in this series, Dr. O. If you’ve ever wanted to see the most popular Power Ranger in the history of the series go from High School ranger, to High School teacher and mentor, then this series is definitely for you. In my opinion, Tommy is one of the parts of this that makes this series dominate. He was a natural leader before, and it is clear that he is also a natural mentor here. His skills as a former Power Ranger allow him to relate to his students more than any mentor before him. When Conner, the red ranger, almost quits because saving the world is interfering with his personal goals, Tommy is the first to understand and to tell Conner that he understands. I feel like with most mentors, there’s a certain amount of pressure that they put on the future rangers into taking up the power and defending the world. Because of Tommy’s understanding, he never pressured any of them into anything. He’s THE understanding teacher that everyone wants. And seeing him morph again after a couple episodes and finally take up another color feels so satisfying. But there’s more to love about this series than just Dr. O. The characters in this one feel possibly the most realistic of any characters from any other series. Conner is a jock, but he’s not depicted as a stereotype. His struggles and insecurities are just as relatable. Ethan, the blue ranger, is a geek and a computer whiz, but he’s sarcastic and not a stereotype either. And Kira, the yellow ranger, is a badass who tells off Conner for calling her “babe” in the very first episode. When Trent comes in later, he’s an artsy student who’s introverted-ness is portrayed as relatable. In fact, I think one of the things I love about this team is that they’re all introverts for the most part, including Dr. O. Which is generally not a thing in this franchise. Also, Hayley is a gem and her cafe makes for quite possibly my favorite hang-out spot in any series of ‘Power Rangers’.

2. Power Rangers RPM

Ok, this is one of the few series that had a less than spectacular theme song. But don’t write it off just yet. Once you get past the cheesy theme and into the show, you’ll quickly realize that you have just sat down for one of the most unique takes on ‘Power Rangers’ you will ever see. RPM is the series that came right at the end of the Disney era. The writers were gearing up to make yet another family friendly series in this franchise when Disney came in and said that they were done making ‘Power Rangers’ and it didn’t matter how good the next series was going to be. Eventually all the writers in that room would have to move on to different jobs. So instead of half-assing a series, everyone involved in the creation of it decided they would do the exact opposite. They were going to go all out on a series that was much darker than they had ever tackled before. What was Disney going to do? Fire them? And so came the most gritty take in this franchise’s arsenal. Though it’s still a family show, I would wait to show some younger kids until they’re just a little older. This series takes place in an apocalyptic world where a computer virus has destroyed most of the planet and there’s only one city left standing. There to protect the city are the RPM Rangers. Scott, the red ranger, is a former airforce pilot whose brother died trying to get rid of the virus. Flynn “I’M SCOTTISH” McAllistair, the blue ranger, is a Scottish hero with a penchant for saving lives who tries to make his poor father proud. Summer, the yellow ranger, is a former rich snob who changed her ways when her butler died attempting to save her life. Definitely not the usual backstories. On top of this, you have Dillon and Ziggy, the best characters in the entire series and the black and green rangers respectively. When we first meet them they both end up in jail pretty quickly. Dillon is a tortured tough guy who just so happens to be a part cyborg with a serious case of amnesia. In a turn of events, Ziggy becomes his best friend. Ziggy is my favorite. He’s a former cartel member (yes, you read cartel correctly) who stole from the cartel he worked for to give medical supplies to an orphanage. He’s also pretty bumbling and absolutely hilarious. He asks all the important questions, like what the explosions behind them when they morph are. This series also has a young female mentor. Hell yeah! This take on ‘Power Rangers’ isn’t exactly dark enough to be fully gritty, but it’s one of the most unique takes on the series with some of the most interesting plot twists and character arcs.

  1. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

You can’t beat the original. This is the series that started it all, and recently there has been a more heated debate over whether this should actually be called the best series of this franchise. Specifically because of how old it is and some of the stereotyping in the first season. I would argue that this series wins just based off of the sheer amount of content. All of the series that you see listed above had one season. This series had three. And while some of the Nickelodeon shows have since tried to tackle the multi-season format, this is definitely the only multiple season ‘Power Rangers’ series that is good for all of its seasons. The first season did have trouble with stereotyping though. Jason, the red ranger, was a stereotypical jock. Billy, the blue, was the bullied geek with glasses. Trini, the yellow, was the athletic all-rounder girl. Kimberly, the pink, was a girly girl with a valley girl way of speaking. And Zack, the black, was an artsy dancer. But I would say that the series stops relying on these stereotypes about halfway through season one. After that each character gets developed based off of their own merits. Though, I do have to say, I feel like the only character that gets amazing character development in the first season is Tommy. Tommy’s green ranger storyline as well as the introduction of Tommy’s amazing martial arts really set him up as a character. And his anti-hero to hero plot line is still regarded as revolutionary for television. I think that the second season really picked up on character development. Between the addition of the new rangers, Adam, Aisha, and Rocky, and Tommy becoming the white ranger, we got many more character moments to go off of. Billy actually became one of the most capable rangers on the team. Adam was one of the first superhero men on television to be depicted as manly because of his sensitivity and not despite it. And Aisha really lead the way for clearing out some story for both her and Kimberly. Of course, Tommy continued to revolutionize with his character arcs. I want to shout out ‘Power Rangers Zeo’ which is known for being essentially a fourth season of ‘Mighty Morphin’ with different suits. And I absolutely love both Kat and Tanya. I will always love so many other series of ‘Power Rangers’. But this is what started it all and made the franchise into what it is today. And, in fact, it actually impacted all television, not just other series of ‘Power Rangers’. It was one of the first television series to fully depict young people as fully capable, which is something film and television still struggle with.

I absolute love ‘Power Rangers’ and my love only grows the more I watch it. It’s just something that I know I’ll always carry with me along with my other favorite films and shows of all time. But of course, all of these are my opinions. I feel like every series of ‘Power Rangers’ is amazing in its own way. And even though the new series aren’t picking up as much, I at least hope that people will continue to watch and appreciate the old series.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Books: The Hermione/Draco Ship Needs to Die

Screenshot of Emma Watson as Hermione from ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’. Copyright goes to Warner Bros. Pictures and Heyday Films.

Hey! Hallie here!

I haven’t spoken much about Harry Potter on this blog recently, but it’s influence on my life hasn’t changed at all since I last wrote about this series. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see Hermione trending on Twitter all day today. That is, until I saw exactly why she was trending. For no reason I can really tell, a bunch of Hermione/Draco shippers converged onto Twitter to talk about why they should have gotten together in the Harry Potter series. And, as it always has, this started a giant debate over whether or not this couple would have been cute or catastrophically awful. I tend to lean heavily on the “catastrophically awful” side of this argument, and for very good reason. However, before I get into all the reasons why this particular ship leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I want to say that I’m not trying to shame those who do support this ship. Some people like the idea of this couple simply because of how attractive they find Tom Felton, while others like this couple because they like certain relationship dynamics they find they can easily project onto Hermione and Draco. None of these are morally wrong or condemnable. But there are several very strong reasons as to why Hermione and Draco should never have been explored in the actual books and movies.

Mistreatment of Women:

This is a bit of a dramatic start, but it’s important to point out. For a long while there, and still a bit today, we romanticized men treating women horribly at the beginning of a romance. I’m not talking about enemies-to-lovers romance tropes. Enemies-to-lovers is a trope that involves both people involved being equally insulting to one another. In fact, though I don’t necessarily like these two together either, I’d say Hermione and Ron fit this dynamic better than Hermione and Draco do. Hermione and Ron in both the books and movies hurl insults at one another all the time without one feeling more vicious than the other. They also prove that, though they have many criticisms of one another, there are lines they simply will not cross. Ron actually proves himself most when Draco’s involved, arguing with him and sometimes getting provoked to violence while defending Hermione. Draco, on the other hand, is simply awful to Hermione in a way that goes beyond mutual distaste. He calls her wizard slurs, jokes about her untimely murder in multiple books, and goes beyond insulting her to insult her family as well. Bullying of this caliber is traumatizing to most individuals. Sadly, relationships like this have been romanticized in pop culture many times. Harley Quinn and the Joker are a great example of a romanticized relationship that is disturbing because of the way the woman is being treated. The Joker threatens Harley frequently and has even physically assaulted her. Kylo Ren and Rey are also an example to a point. While I don’t feel that this entire relationship fits into the toxic dynamic I’m talking about here, a lot of people romanticized the first lengthy scene the two shared. This scene was a torture scene, and yet multiple fans referred to it as “sexy”. We need to stop romanticizing relationships where the woman is being treated poorly while the man takes a position of power. It’s disturbing in every instance, including in Hermione and Draco’s case.

Wizard Racism:

Here’s another weighty argument. I’m a white woman. My opinions on this particular argument aren’t going to be anywhere near as informed as those that multiple Black women have given. Still, we need to talk about it. What Draco calls Hermione frequently throughout the books is meant to be a slur. The misguided and ridiculous author of the Harry Potter series often argued that her attempt at representation in the series wasn’t accomplished by putting multiple characters of multiple backgrounds and ethnicities in her books, but by mirroring real-life racism through the idea of blood purity. In the books, those who consider themselves “Pure-Bloods” look down upon and mock Muggle-Borns because they have “tainted” blood and do not have a long line of magic users in their family. Of course, this idea of “representation” accomplished nothing aside from giving us another white person’s take on what it’s like to be racially discriminated against when they could have avoided the topic all together. However, in the Hermione/Draco dynamic you can’t ignore that the term “mudblood”, meaning dirty blood, was written into the story to further this parallel by writing in a made up slur. No one who has been called a racial slur has found themselves suddenly attracted to the person hurling such a horrible word at them. There is no excuse for hurling a slur at someone on purpose while knowing that it will harm them. Even less if the person saying said slur is doing so in order to highlight their own superiority. Draco calls Hermione a mudblood more than he calls her by her own name and he always does it in order to point out how much better he and his family are. Once again, this goes beyond regular arguments and even most bullying. It isn’t forgivable and certainly isn’t a good start for a relationship.

The Bad Boy:

A lot of the love for Draco, and this ship by extension, comes from the love of the “bad boy”. A broody guy who needs someone to help him appreciate life. Often times a guy who has been through a lot of past trauma so that the relationship can be based off of the growth of said character due to his romantic partner. The bad boy trope isn’t inherently bad. Especially recently, we’ve seen a lot of characters like this experience positive changes well before a romance even starts. But Draco most definitely falls into the toxic side of the bad boy trope. He’s morally questionable, never changes as the series progresses, and is only hinted at possibly changing in the future. If Draco were to change, as most people assume a bad boy to do at some point in their story, he proves that he has no major interest in it through the events of Harry Potter. Which makes throwing him together with Hermione and expecting her to change him even more toxic. In situations like this I always enjoy bringing up the new song ‘Heathers : The Musical’ brought in semi-recently. The song is called “I Say No” and it serves the purpose of the main character, Veronica, telling her “bad boy” boyfriend, J.D., that she isn’t responsible for changing him and that she isn’t qualified to sort out his past trauma for him. All of this applies to ships like Hermione/Draco. Draco isn’t a good guy and he isn’t willing to change his ways in any of the books. The best thing he does is refuse to give Harry away in the seventh book, but one moment of decency doesn’t equal a genuine attempt to be better. And deciding that Hermione would be a good fit for him because she might be able to change his ways is toxic in of itself. The bad boy trope isn’t attractive at all if it relies on the woman doing all the work to make the man better.

I could go on and on about why I dislike this relationship, but I’ll stop here. Once again, I’m not saying that everyone who likes the Hermione/Draco ship is problematic. Many people who do like this couple prefer to write and read fanfiction that portrays their relationship as much less toxic than the books do. That’s fine. What does rub me the wrong way though, is the idea that Hermione and Draco should have gotten together in the books and movies as they are now. With all the horrible things Draco did to Hermione still intact. That’s very obviously problematic. With the steps we’re currently seeing taken to portray more healthy relationships in media, we absolutely don’t need a relationship like Hermione/Draco floating around.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Superheroes: ‘Critical Role’ Vox Machina vs. The Mighty Nein

Promotional image of ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ to premiere on Amazon Prime. Copyright goes to ‘Critical Role’.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Despite all the time I’ve written on this blog, I still haven’t talked about ‘Critical Role’ even though I’m actually a pretty big fan of it. And you could definitely say that it’s currently in its prime. With the beginning of campaign three just started (alongside a possible new addition to the team) and ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ set to stream on Amazon Prime soon, they’re really pushing forward into the main stream. Which is great! It makes Dungeons and Dragons as a game seem less like a taboo thing and more like something anyone can enjoy. For me, who actually enjoys Dungeons and Dragons, the fact that they are able to do this is wonderful. Though I do understand how ‘Critical Role’ might be difficult to get into considering each campaign has over a hundred episodes and each episode is usually over four hours long. Though I’ve watched most of both full campaigns, I can’t say I’ve had the time to watch them all. But I do have my opinions on each of the already released campaigns. I think both campaigns are amazing and all of the characters are also amazing! I don’t have a clear favorite. But I do have slight favorites for which character each regular player has played so far. This isn’t a criticism, just me having fun. All opinions are welcome and keep in mind that I love all of the players and all of their characters! So without further ado- let’s just get into it!

Travis Willingham (Grog vs Fjord):

I should jump in right now and say that I’m mostly going to be talking about the character development and role playing side of these characters. And when it comes to both of them, I thing Travis did an excellent job. Grog was one of the main comic relief characters in Vox Machina and he truly was hilarious. Due to his misunderstandings of some situations and his general bluntness, Grog was always a very loud and amusing addition to the group. But he also had a heart of gold. One of the most prevalent parts of his character was Grog’s friendship with Pike. The biggest member of the team being best friends with the smallest member of the team was already an adorable concept. But that mixed with Travis’s real life friendship with Ashely only made everything that much more adorable. Fjord was an interesting addition to the mix when it came to The Mighty Nein. In comparison to Grog’s brute force, Fjord was usually more tactical. Fjord became the impromptu leader of the group, something I doubt that Travis expected after playing Grog who never aided in any decisions regarding over-all group plans. It was entirely because Fjord was intelligent and Grog wasn’t intelligent in the usual way. Because of this I think we got to see Travis explore many types of character development he hadn’t been able to before. Such as romance. (Which I completely get because that can be awkward for me as well, but I think it was funny that he was uncomfortable even though his own wife was playing his love interest.) Over-all, I think we got to see Travis do more as Fjord. So, as much as I absolutely love Grog…

Winner: Fjord

Laura Bailey (Vex’ahlia vs Jester):

Laura Bailey also quickly proved herself to be one of the most hilarious players. Though from Vex, who came off as very posh, it was a pleasantly unexpected source of comedy. Vex is a very elegant character who seemed to only surround herself with more elegance as the campaign went on. Such as when she was eventually named by Percy the Grand Mistress of the Grey Hunt. Her shiny new title went well with many of Vex’s other likes. Which were shiny things. She was the cunning bargainer of the group. And her closeness with her twin brother and eventual romance with Percy was able to show the audience a more caring side of her. But there is something about Jester that is just so Laura. Jester is adorable and funny without meaning to be most of the time. She’s the type of character that can just say anything and get away with it. And if she pouts at you then she’ll probably get her way. I think I would judge correctly if I said that Jester is one of the most immediately loved characters in all of ‘Critical Role’ just because of how fun she is. Jester was actually one of the first characters from this that I fell in love with, because I actually came in around the second campaign. Jester has her own bubbly aesthetic to her and her accent just makes her all the more adorable and hilarious. It’s hard to imagine someone coming out of campaign two not liking Jester.

Winner: Jester

Taliesin Jaffe (Percy vs Mollymauk/Caduceus):

This might be one of the most difficult for me, because Taliesin is masterful about creating his characters. The dice also love him. He’s the master of natural twenties. I don’t know how he does it, but I think with just Percy alone Taliesin became the king of rolling in D&D. And you can tell that Taliesin and his characters have a fan following from the moment you join the fandom. Percy was one of the most popular members of Vox Machina and for good reason. Not only was he a badass in battle, but he was also a badass in every other aspect of his life. Percy was loveably sarcastic, extremely intelligent, and also the master of comebacks. He’s also one of the most complex characters in the campaign. Between his revenge and half possession, Percy isn’t always the most moral of the group. Meaning that he had a massive character arc surrounding how he learned to put aside his revenge and focus more on morals. Molly was barely in the second campaign and he quickly gained a fanbase due to his mysterious past and charming persona. Taliesin had quite a challenge in creating a character that would be so loved after Molly, and he really did succeed with Caduceus. Caduceus not only had an amazing nature aesthetic but he also was very wise and pleasantly calm. Often the voice of reason and comfort for the entire group, Caduceus is one of those characters that you want to be friends with. The popularity of each of these characters is amazing, but Percy’s insane character arc still hasn’t been topped in my eyes.

Winner: Percy

Liam O’Brien (Vax’ildan vs Caleb):

The hipster Dad of the group, Liam seems like he would prefer playing calm characters with happy childhoods. But he’s the master of angsty characters. Vax’ildan is a sly character with a charm about him and a heart of gold. One of my favorite lines from campaign one is “do not go far from me”, which he says to his sister, which attests to the surprisingly gentle nature of the assassin of the group. Both of Liam’s characters are also openly bisexual. Vax had romances with both Gilmore and Keyleth, both of which proved to be very tender moments of the campaign. The duality of Vax is amazing, and it was very difficult to see him go. Especially after the connection he had already built up with Keyleth. Caleb was even more complicated. He was a German sounding character who dressed a little homeless and had an absolute love of knowledge. His romance with Essek, who also had difficulties with his past and morals, was even more lovable. It was really difficult not to love Caleb. Despite his past and angst over morality, he was also one of the most adorably soft spoken but intelligent members of campaign two. I once again absolutely love both characters, but I think I have to go with the adorable awkwardness and gentility of the homeless looking wizard.

Winner: Caleb

Marisha Ray (Keyleth vs Beau):

A lot of people have loud opinions about Marisha’s characters, and I have no idea why this is such an issue. I’ve always loved all of Marisha’s characters and the way she’s played all of them. Each character has a delightfully vibrant and bright life that I think only Marisha could bring to a character. So, this is no exception when I say I love all of the characters in ‘Critical Role’. Keyleth is adorable. She’s an intelligent character who starts out pretty naive but also one of the most empathetic voices in Vox Machina. There’s nothing better than Keyleth talking to the sun tree and Marisha’s animal noises when Keyleth transforms into an animal. Beau is very different from Keyleth in every way. Instead of the shyness you get from Keyleth, Beau comes off as confident from the very beginning. Beau is often calm and collected and definitely not afraid to crack a joke. While Marisha discovered that playing a monk could be difficult, she took it in stride and made Beau confident and able despite her mistakes. But Keyleth was so relatable to me and that’s why Marisha created Keyleth. To be relatable to herself so that she would be comforted in doing something she never had before.

Winner: Keyleth

Sam Riegel (Scanlan vs Nott):

Sam is the comedic genius at the table. There’s no disputing that. Between his T-shirts of funny photos of either himself or other people at the table and his giant tankards of water; it is clear that this man knows comedy. So it’s no surprise that there’s always some sort of giant troll in every character he makes. No other person in the world has probably made Mathew Mercer facepalm this much. Scanlan is a bard who constantly comes up with the absolute worst/best songs to get everyone else at the table laughing. Scanlan also has a flip side, with an unexpected storyline featuring his daughter and even Scanlan leaving for a while. Sam always makes his characters complex on top of the comedy. Nott was unbelievable when she was first introduced. Sam was playing a tiny female goblin. It was hilarious. But Nott proved to be so much more than that. Nott became Jester’s best friend, she was a mother and a wife, and Sam knew how to play that side of her too. Of course, all of that along with “Nott the Best Detective Agency” which was a genius bit of improv. As much as I love Nott and all her craziness, I can’t get over Scanlan’s songs though. I still miss them.

Winner: Scanlan

Ashley Johnson (Pike vs Yasha):

I kind of feel like this battle is very not fair. Ashley was understandably not present for much of campaign two and even quite a bit of campaign one. But Pike was already a developed character, whereas Yasha wasn’t as much. Both characters are still great and I’m so glad we got what we could of Ashley. But I think Ashley also had her own opinions regarding this. Ashley had a hard time connecting to Yasha for quite a while. You could tell that Ashley was much more comfortable with her portrayal of Pike. Pike was lovable, wise, moralistic, and hilariously best friends with Grog. Pike also dealt with Scanlan in a way that nobody else could. Whenever Pike showed up it was a joy because everyone knew that they all needed Pike. Yasha was more reserved, but in a very interesting way. Losing Molly took a toll on her, but she was eventually able to bounce back as one of the main sources of muscle in the group. Ashley breathes life into each session she’s a part of and it’s always a joy to see her characters. But Pike is a comfort to everyone, including Ashley herself. One of the reasons why I love Fearne in campaign three is because it feels as though Ashley is in her element again.

Winner: Pike

Of course, I would be remiss without mentioning Mathew Mercer and his amazing stories and NPCs. He’s a genius and none of these characters would have arcs or be brought to life without him. I’ve watched some of the new campaign and I already love it. Between FGC who is already cute and makes me laugh, to Fearne who is unexpectedly violent, to Orym the humble halfling, to Laudna who is delightfully creepy, to Imogen who is cool and collected, to Ashton who is delightfully sassy, to the characters who we aren’t sure if they’ll stay yet. Such as Bertrand Bell who is a funny familiar face and Dorian who is relatably anxious all the time. (I hope Robbie Daymond stays because I am a huge fan of his!) I actually watched Exandria Unlimited (and died laughing at Orym pretending to be a toddler) so I automatically loved the familiar faces. I love everything these amazing voice actors do, obviously, so I can’t wait to see what they do next. And I can’t wait to see other voice actors guest on the show and to see D&D continue to be more of an accepted hobby because of this show.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

BTS: 2022 Season’s Greetings

Screenshot of Jung Hoseok (J-Hope) in the ‘Star Turned Villain’ concept for ‘2022 Season’s Greetings’. Copyright goes to BTS and the Hybe Corporation.

Hey! Hallie here!

Yesterday we were gifted with a first look at two different photoshoots set to be part of BTS’s ‘2022 Season’s Greetings’. It’s all everyone has been talking about for the last twenty four hours, and with very good reason. Both concepts are amazing looks we don’t get to see these boys in often. Especially because both looks are darker in theme than what BTS has been going for lately. There’s really so much to gush about, so let’s just get right into these concepts!

‘Star/Idol Turned Villain’:

These villain concepts made for the perfect reveal on Halloween. Each member has a different costume that matches the type of villain they’re portraying for the photoshoot. First we have Namjoon as a mad scientist. This pretty obviously matches Namjoon’s personality. The only “plain” part of this outfit are his clear goggles. His white lab coat is covered in multicolored words and patterns with ‘Persona’ seen written on both his sleeves. His red tie is similarly messy, in a very charming way, with letters of varying sizes and teddy bears taking up the pattern. This whole look, including the chalkboard in the back, is very clearly a call back to “PERSONA”. Jin’s next with the shadow hacker character. This character came out of nowhere for some, but Jin’s obsession with video games made this a bit more obvious to me. Either way, it’s a really cool look on Jin. We don’t get to see too much of his outfit from anything released so far, thought the baggy black ensemble really serves the careless look they’re going for. But really, I’m in love with just the messy hair and glasses look alone. Next is Yoongi as the gray pianist. A lot of people weren’t really sure what this character idea even means. I think they were trying to go for the tortured/obsessed artist feel, but it definitely isn’t an obvious pick for a villain. Pairing Yoongi with a piano wins, regardless. You can never go wrong with a good puffed sleeve look underneath a black vest. I also liked the green paint splatter details on the sleeves. Closing off the Hyung line is Hobi as a “mystic strategist”. He’s a pirate. This one was a pleasant surprise. The look walks the line between modern and old fashioned. He has a typical bandana around his head that is sometimes covered with a black pirate hat. He also has an extremely gorgeous red and black coat with striking gold buttons. But along with this we see a more modern black, floral pattern on his button-up shirt. The black tie he wears and gold chains attached to his jacket also feel more modern. And topping it all off is the most adorable scar I’ve ever seen.

Onto the Maknae line starting with Jimin! The villain for Jimin is called “alley cat”. It’s essentially an elegant thief. Some are comparing the concept to Catwoman, which is pretty accurate. We get it all here. A really nice suit with a black sweater instead of a black tie which, in my opinion, makes the whole look sleeker. We get some gorgeous necklaces and chains to emphasize the glam theme of the look. And we get some short, black, leather gloves. It all looks gorgeous on Jimin. Taehyung is a “fate reader” or a fortune teller. This isn’t typically a villain personality, but I don’t see why it can’t be! And wow, Taehyung looks really good in this. Firstly, we have to talk about his black hooded robe. It’s floor-length, with gorgeous gold embroidery that turns more intricate, with tons of beads, when it gets to his shoulders. But that’s not all. When he takes his hood off, we also get to see him in a gold and purple crown with some sparkle going down his eye as well. It’s breathtaking. Finally, Jungkook is shown last as the “action-taker”. This villain role is pretty much just the “bad boy”. Between the black leather and the motorcycle, it’s pretty clear this villain concept isn’t that much of a frightening one. But it’s still really fun. We get more scarring here, like we saw on Hobi, but we also get a full black, leather harness. The harnesses are always, always dangerous to behold. I also really like that this black shirt, seeming to be of mostly sweater material, only has one sleeve. It makes the shirt visually interesting. Even more interesting, the sleeve is tied together and turns into a leather material as it goes farther down. And, of course, who can forget those leather pants? These looks are all top-tier. I’ll be watching this promo video over and over from now on.

Rock Style:

For this look we’ve only seen a few photos, but all of them are badass. This rock style leans more towards the punk rock feel. It’s graphic t-shirts, patterned pants and jackets, chokers, and guy-liner. What more could you ask for? Namjoon and Taehyung both have acid-washed pieces. Namjoon’s leather jacket makes the texture of the acid-washed piece stand out while Tae’s seems to accent the distressed look of his shirt. Jin also has an eye-catching leather jacket, his with two white patches on the sleeves that match the scrawl on his shirt. Meanwhile, Jungkook’s shirt takes distressed to a new level with an organized pattern of squares cut out of it. Plaid patterns always add to any punk look, and I’m especially appreciative of Jimin’s plaid pants paired with the texture of his red shoes, which look like it might be suede, as well as Hobi’s plaid jacket, which I would personally like to steal for my own wardrobe. Lastly, I really want to take a moment to appreciate Yoongi’s beret with all the pins lining the rim. It’s the coolest beret I’ve ever seen. I love this punk theme and I love that they went for a darker theme this time around.

And that’s it for what we’ve seen of the ‘2022 Season’s Greetings’ so far! I can’t wait to see the rest of it when it comes out. It all looks incredible so far. I’m pretty obviously biased toward the villains concept because character concepts always manage to make for my favorite photoshoots. But the punk look is a style that’s inspired my own wardrobe and I love seeing the boys in it. Starting out 2022 with both of these photoshoots makes me very curious for what we’ll see them do next year.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Superheroes: My Favorite ‘Mighty Morphin’ Rangers

Screenshot of Jason David Frank as Tommy Oliver in ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’. Copyright of Saban.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Recently I’ve been going down the nostalgia train that is the amazing ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’. Because my mental health has severely needed an old comfort. If you’re familiar with ‘Mighty Morphin’, you know that the series went through several rangers. The colors changed hands, for the most part, generally once in the series. And though I love all the rangers, I thought I would talk about my favorites to wear those iconic colors and why I love these characters so much. It’s really a difficult choice between all the characters, but I think the importance of each character was determined in the way the team changed. Because the group dynamic was definitely different if even one character was gone or different. So I’ll inevitably also be talking about some of the relationships between characters. And, yes, that includes some of the relationships that you’re already thinking. So, with all that out of the way, let’s just get into it!

Tommy (Green vs White):

So, with both the Green and White rangers I think it’s pretty clear that there was only one person who took both of those titles. At least in the ‘Mighty Morphin’ series. So, I’m instead going to compare Tommy’s time as both ranger colors. When Tommy wore the Green Ranger suit, half the time he was evil. But I think we can all agree that Tommy had one of the best redeemed hero arcs of the time. I would argue that he still has one of the best redeemed hero arcs. Tommy was a formidable villain, which was why Rita chose him in the first place. Anyone could see that his martial arts skills matched Jason, if not surpassed him altogether. I think the fact that Tommy alone during this period could reasonably take on all five other rangers is proof enough of this. Tommy’s evil nature didn’t last long though, and in the end they were able to break him out of Rita’s spell. But Tommy’s powers as the Green Ranger were never the same after that. He eventually lost them, and for a while we didn’t see much of Tommy. Which was a shame. In reality, Jason David Frank had signed up to do a different show and they were going to cast an entirely different sixth ranger. This idea didn’t last long with fan pushback, and Jason David Frank agreed to return. This time as the White Ranger and the leader of the group. (Which Austin St. John may or may not have known about but all of that’s a lot of drama I’m not going to get into.) Tommy was a natural leader right off the bat though and his powers were restored. And there’s a certain level of badassery with every Tommy color, but I think white was when we saw the best of Tommy. And let’s be real, seeing him descend in the White Ranger suit was iconic. I have a soft spot for the Green Ranger, but I think the White Ranger steals this round for me.

Winner: White Ranger

Red Ranger (Jason vs Rocky):

Now we’re actually getting into characters. Jason was the original leader and was originally conceptualized as a pretty stereotypical jock. But that’s not how he came across to audiences. Jason was absolutely the person there who was more of leader. He was already a martial arts teacher and took care of kids, and he also demonstrated a level of bravery and understanding for the danger of the situation that the other rangers didn’t have as immediately as he did. Jason is one of those characters where he comes on screen and you feel like everything is going to be ok. I mean, just look at how many times he’s saved Tommy. Jason even had to be dragged away from saving Tommy once so that he could, well, save Tommy. (It’s a long story). Rocky is a character that I also really like. But I definitely don’t think he was given as much depth as Jason right off the bat. Even though Rocky was in for multiple seasons (including Zeo) he felt like the forgotten member of the team often. So much to the point that his personal stories often felt shallow and I couldn’t really determine what his hobbies were. Most of the time he was the dumb one, in contrast to Jason’s cool intellect in tight spots. I liked Rocky, but the writing was unkind to him in both content and dialogue. In particular, some of his jabs at Billy weren’t very funny. Jason over-all seemed to have much more respect for everyone around him.

Winner: Jason

Blue Ranger (Billy):

There is no Blue Ranger other than Billy. And there’s also no other colors that Billy takes on. So this is just Billy appreciation, because Billy has always been one of my favorite rangers. If you haven’t watched the season two episode of ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ titled ‘Opposites Attract’, I highly recommend you go watch it. It’s a Billy-centric episode. And while the romance plot wasn’t my favorite, there’s a scene in it where Billy takes on a hoard of villains completely by himself in one of the best choreographed fight scenes in the entire show in my opinion. Billy is intelligent, incredibly kind, and one of the most badass rangers. Billy deserves more love. I know he already has a lot of fans, but I feel like he often falls by the wayside in comparison to Tommy, Jason, and Kimberly. Billy is a badass. There’s nothing else to say.

Winner: Billy wins at life.

Yellow Ranger (Trini vs Aisha):

Obviously, another set of characters that I absolutely love. Trini was an overall kind person and an environmentalist. She was constantly ready to kick ass and take names, but help someone else out of the way first. Trini was also one of the most observant members of her team, sometimes discovering weaknesses of monsters that other characters hadn’t even noticed yet. But it was hard not to notice that she was often eclipsed by Kimberly. Especially because they were always seen together in earlier episodes of the show. And most of the time scenes with them together highlighted Kimberly more than Trini rather than giving them a more equal share of the spotlight. Aisha didn’t have this problem. It was as if, with the addition of the new female character, the writers knew that they couldn’t pair the female characters forever. Especially because Aisha was introduced as being best friends with two other members of the team. Adam and Rocky. Aisha was often better able to make herself heard over everyone else, and her personality always shone through storylines that didn’t even focus on her because of that. Trini and Aisha were both inspirational in their own ways. In the end, I think Aisha was able to take more screen time for herself than Trini was afforded.

Winner: Aisha

Black Ranger (Zack vs Adam):

Once again, I love both of these characters so much. This one kind of pains me at the same time I have to admit that I’m biased. Adam has been one of my favorite Power Rangers since I was a kid. But the original Black Ranger was Zack, and he was amazing at it. The mix of dance and martial arts was something that translated to the screen beautifully. It was fun to see! Zack had an amazing energy that the team needed, he made things more lighthearted when things got too dark for the other members. But there’s something about the way Adam was written that always gets me. Adam was written to be sensitive. Which is not something you often see in male characters at that time and it was brought out of his character naturally. Adam’s character dealt the most directly with feelings of insecurity and because of that he later helped other characters with their own feelings of insecurity. I know it’s a little unfair to bring up ‘Power Rangers Zeo’ (which has my favorite theme song of any ‘Power Rangers’) because that’s not the series we’re talking about. But I have to bring up when he encouraged Tanya to break up with her boyfriend because her boyfriend was angry at her for being better at baseball than he was. And then telling Tanya that she deserved better. I think we all need an Adam in our lives. Anyone would benefit from having a friend with that much support and empathy. And, let’s face it, it’s Johnny Yong Bosch.

Winner: Adam

Pink Ranger (Kimberly vs Kat):

This is a debate that often sparks controversy and overall hatred. Especially towards Kat. Which I find incredibly unfounded, I personally love both characters. But a lot of the infighting came because of Tommy, unfortunately. And I really don’t like the idea of two female characters being pitted against each other because of a man, but that’s what a lot of people still do. Many people hate Kat for “stealing Tommy”. I’ve even heard fan theories that Kat wrote the break up letter to Tommy that Kimberly sent, which is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard. I love this show, but it is still a children’s show. I think the writers intentions were pretty clear and they were because they wanted Tommy in a romance (for some reason) and they knew that Amy Jo Johnson wasn’t going to come back. Anyways, I digress. Kimberly started out as a very stereotypical valley girl, and that made it difficult for me to connect with her at first. Between the pink and Beverly Hills lingo, it felt like I was watching ‘Mean Girls’. After only a few episodes, this let up. Kimberly started being much more relatable and she even had an amazing talent for making other people feel comfortable. Kimberly wasn’t demure, which was awesome. She was outspoken and empathetic. Kat was a bit more quiet than Kimberly, but she packed just as much empathy. Kat also often took leadership initiative in later episodes. But I think Kimberly was definitely given more time to shine. Especially if you consider how much the writers tried to force Kat into Kimberly’s positions, such as Tommy’s girlfriend, which even Kat’s actress has complained about. Kimberly, in the end, was more well-rounded as a character.

Winner: Kimberly

I know a lot of people aren’t going to agree with me on any of these. Or at least very few. I know that not choosing all the original members isn’t going to be looked on very kindly. But this is just my personal opinion! I invite you to have your own opinions, that’s part of what fandom is all about! I personally love ‘Power Rangers’! It’s always been one of my favorite shows of all time and it was probably the main show I grew up watching. Revisiting it has really made me relax and get into a better mindset. And of course, it’s always nice to see Tommy again. And if you’re dressing up as a Power Ranger for Halloween this year; hell yeah!! I hope you all have an amazing and safe Halloween!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Halloween: Ranking the Characters in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Screenshot of Nell Campbell, Patricia Quinn, Tim Curry, and Richard O’Brien from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. Copyright goes to Twentieth Century Fox.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’m back! This past week has been really hectic but, at least for now, it seems like we’ll be going back to a regular posting schedule! To start this regular schedule up again I’m going straight into talking about Halloween. It feels like this month just started but Halloween is just a few days away! As part of my regular watch-list for this time of year, I recently rewatched ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. Rocky Horror is one of those things that you have to watch a few times to really absorb. The first time you watch it, especially if you go in blind, it’s completely insane. And the plot only seems to get weirder with every song. But that weirdness and unpredictability is exactly what makes the film so likable. The characters are just as unpredictable as the plot. Between major character developing moments and crazy reveals, you can’t really fully understand any of the characters until the very last moment of the film. Including the extra scenes in the stage production, there’s even more characterization to explore here. So with all that in mind, let’s go through this cast of miscreants and see which characters prove themselves most interesting and most entertaining! (SPOILERS if you haven’t seen this movie. Go fix that immediately.)

11. The Usherette. The Usherette is a pretty obvious pick for last place. She isn’t even in the movie, instead being replaced by the lips of our Magenta, Patricia Quinn. Interestingly, the voice isn’t even Patricia Quinn’s. It belongs to Rocky Horror creator and Riff Raff actor, Richard O’Brien. The Usherette is traditionally played by the same actress that plays Magenta. Patricia Quinn played Magenta and the Usherette in the stage production of Rocky Horror and evidently she wanted to do the same for the movie. However, Richard O’Brien didn’t feel the Usherette was necessary to introduce the audiences to the film and decided to drop the character all together. It’s hard to argue with the creator on this one. While the Usherette is a delight to watch on stage, she doesn’t have a character and ultimately isn’t important.

10. Dr. Everett Scott. Dr. Scott gets to go on the bottom of this list for being one of the most immoral characters on screen while being surrounded by characters who have murdered another person within the last 24 hours. Dr. Scott is first introduced as an upstanding guy. He was a former teacher of our heroes Brad and Janet, and left such a lasting impression on them that they maintain their friendship with him. He’s the person they’re going to visit when they wind up breaking down in front of Frank-N-Furter’s mansion. He’s also studying UFO’s, putting him in the unique position of being Frank-N-Furter’s rival as Frank’s both another doctor and an alien. About halfway through the movie Dr. Scott shows up to come to Brad and Janet’s aid as well as reveal that Eddie, the rock singer who Frank-N-Furter experimented on, is his nephew. Not that it’s that big of a deal because he doesn’t apparently think very highly of Eddie and his life decisions. None of this really shows his true colors as much as his reaction to Riff Raff going on a killing spree at the end of the stories events, though. He lacks any empathy for Frank-N-Furter, Columbia, or Rocky when they die, and even praises Riff Raff for killing them. They might not be the best people, but condoning murder isn’t cool.

9. Narrator. The Narrator doesn’t have much of a character or a personality. However, the Narrator gets a leg up over the Usherette because the Narrator sticks around longer, and in most stage productions, is a celebrity cameo. Richard O’Brien himself has been a narrator for the show. You can’t really beat that.

8. Eddie. Eddie only makes a short appearance in the film and in the stage production. His background is extremely interesting, however. The film doesn’t state much of his story, but we do get plenty from the stage production. From what we know, Frank-N-Furter kidnapped Eddie at some point because he found him attractive. Eddie wasn’t all that interested though, instead taking the attention of Columbia whom he did find attractive. Frank-N-Furter became enraged at Eddie for both taking Columbia’s attention away from him and for choosing Columbia over him. As a result, he took out half of Eddie’s brain and used it to create Rocky in the hopes of creating a being that would actually like him. When Eddie appears in the story he emerges from a freezer with a large scar on his head, proof that he was being kept to serve a purpose in the creation of Rocky. Eddie does sing “Hot Patootie”, which is one of the best songs in the entire musical, but his appearance doesn’t last long. The attention he gets from his dynamic performance during the song makes Frank-N-Furter so jealous that he hacks him up with a chainsaw immediately afterwards. Then Frank-N-Furter feeds him to his dinner guests. Poor Eddie.

7. Rocky. Here we start getting controversial. The rest of the characters are so heavily featured and so widely loved that it’s hard to rank them. But I’m placing Rocky here because, once again, we see a lack of personality here. It isn’t really his fault. He’s born during the events of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and isn’t allowed to do much other than have sex with various characters. He even sings about this dilemma in “Rose Tint My World”. It doesn’t help that he was portrayed by a model who couldn’t act in the film. In the stage production we get to see a little bit more of a personality. He seems to connect with Eddie immediately after he wakes up, which is a nice nod to the fact that he shares Eddie’s brain. He also develops a bit more of a petulant attitude towards Frank-N-Furter. But ultimately he still isn’t allowed to do much. His best moment occurs during his death, which is a lot more heart-wrenching in the stage adaptation. In the film he dies while trying to carry Frank-N-Furter’s body to safety, which is sad enough. In the stage production he attempts to attack Riff Raff in order to avenge Frank-N-Furter’s death, is shot before he can make it over to him, and uses the last of his strength to crawl over to Frank-N-Furter before he dies. Regardless of how controlled Rocky felt, he still cared about Frank-N-Furter.

6. Magenta. I like Magenta a lot, but she’s pretty much the ultimate background character. She’s one of the main aliens from Transylvania, one of Frank-N-Furter’s closest confidants, and Riff Raff’s sister. All of that means she gets to get in on a lot of the major plot points. She’s also extremely charismatic. In every single version of Rocky Horror, it’s very hard to tear your eyes away from her when she’s on screen. She still doesn’t get much plot or time to herself, though. She’s just there to be another crazy member of Frank-N-Furter’s team until the big alien reveal at the end. I do very much like that she’s shown to be more moral than her brother. She doesn’t help him kill Rocky, Frank-N-Furter, or Columbia at the end of the story’s events. She even seems confused and slightly disappointed in Riff Raff for doing so. Unfortunately, this is the biggest character moment we get for her.

5. Janet. One of our main characters and one of the characters with the largest amount of character development in the show. The only reason why she’s here is because I like all of the other characters more than her by a very slight margin. Janet is introduced as boring. That’s kind of the point. She’s a goody two shoes who is content to get married and live a normal, predictable life. It’s her time at Frank-N-Furter’s mansion that changes her mind on all this. At first she’s extremely wary of the mansion’s inhabitants and she’s even more eager to run away than Brad is. However, by the end of it, she seems to appreciate her time there even more than Brad does. It is a bit hard to ignore the fact that she spends most of her time during ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ cheating on Brad. Not that Brad doesn’t do the same, but I’ll get back to that in a second. But Janet has a kind heart that she extends to everyone, even Frank-N-Furter after he becomes angry at her for sleeping with Rocky. Where parts of her personality come off as unbearable when she’s first introduced, you grow to appreciate them as the movie goes on.

4. Brad. I placed Brad above Janet mostly because of the stage production. Brad is similar to Janet in a lot of ways. He starts out the show as boring and his positive attitude comes off as obnoxious. In fact, it’s even more positive than Janet’s. Of the two of them, he’s the one that tries to remain pleasant and optimistic when they are first introduced to the rest of the characters. However, just like Janet, his boring nature and obliviousness is quickly done away with in Frank-N-Furter’s mansion. What I like specifically about Brad, though, is that he shows a little more conflict about the situation. In the stage production he gets an entire solo song to himself after he discovers that Janet slept with Rocky. In the song he contemplates the fact that he and Janet might already be growing apart after just being engaged. And yet, somehow, he comes to the conclusion that the fact that he still cares for her means that there is hope for their relationship. Just like Janet, his bright personality turns into a character strength by the end of the story. However, unlike Janet, it feels very satisfying to see it tested before he prevails at the end.

3. Riff Raff. Riff Raff serves as a background character for much of the film, but his persistent appearances are even more prominent than Magentas. Part of his commanding presence in the movie has everything to do with Richard O’Brien and his tremendous voice. But really, every production of Rocky Horror seems to cast someone amazing as Riff Raff. If you need proof, just look up Riff Raff’s final song in the show. The notes some of these actors hit are insane. Like Magenta, Riff Raff isn’t much more than simply obedient to Frank-N-Furter for most of the story. (He is brutally whipped at points in the stage production though, so you can’t really blame him for hating his situation.) But later it’s revealed that, evidently, Riff Raff is the second in command amongst the alien group. When their planet discovers what Frank-N-Furter has been doing, likely because Riff Raff told on him, they make Riff Raff the new commander. He uses that power to send all of the aliens back to Transylvania. But not before killing Frank-N-Furter, along with Columbia and Rocky who are completely innocent. When Magenta asks him why he does this he very defensively protests that they never liked him, betraying his frustration at his treatment and his overall insecurities. But he does let everyone else go and even apologizes to Dr. Scott about Eddie’s death. He’s more complex than he seems.

2. Columbia. I’ve just recently developed an appreciation for Columbia. At first glance she seemed uninterestingly straightforward. Columbia is the stereotypical groupie. She finds someone that she likes and she becomes so obsessed with them that she devotes her life to them. But Columbia isn’t stupid and she doesn’t blindly follow Frank-N-Furter either. She first followed Frank-N-Furter because she was in love with him and she felt betrayed when he abandoned her for Eddie. Then she became infatuated with Eddie and started what she believed to be a much more serious relationship with him. She remains faithful to Eddie after he’s frozen, and even mourns him after his death. She’s also clear that she can’t forgive Frank-N-Furter for killing Eddie, though she can’t let Frank-N-Furter go either. As he continues to go on harming others, Columbia is the only one of his followers to speak up. She chastises him for using the people around him and finally breaks the stereotype by coming to realize that her obsession has become unhealthy and that she needs to leave. It’s an empowering moment for her character that’s only dampened by the fact that she gets frozen for it. At the end of the movie she’s the first casualty, putting herself in front of Riff Raff to try to save Frank-N-Furter. Not only does it prove her love for him and her selflessness, but Frank-N-Furter’s reaction in the stage production proves he cared for her too. Columbia is deceptively less straightforward than most of the characters in Rocky Horror.

1.Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Obviously. Frank’s easily the most eye-catching character. In the movie he’s played by Tim Curry. Just try to take your eyes off of Tim Curry in that corset. But other productions have proved that, while Tim Curry is the gold standard, it’s the character himself who really draws the eye. The character is seductive, confident, complicated, and contradictory. He’s supposed to be leading a legion of aliens in a project of some sort, but Frank really only wants to make some mischief and have fun. All of it is seeped in a desire to feel wanted. He invites loyalty because it makes him feel important. This is why he becomes angry at Eddie for dating Columbia even though he never loved her. The fact that Columbia’s affections could change indicates to him that he’s perhaps not as likable as he intended. Similarly, Eddie’s betrayal deeply hurts him. So much so that it results in his decision to create a man who will truly care about him. All of this makes his anger towards Rocky and Janet halfway through the story much more understandable. Rocky’s betrayal is just another betrayal that makes him feel insecure. He never truly realizes that the reason why he experiences so many betrayals is because he never does anything to win anyone’s trust or devotion in the first place. However, despite the fact that he doesn’t care so much about doing things for others as long as things are done for him, he still cares for those around him. He even grows to care for Brad and Janet by the end of the story, growing from his experience with them as they have grown from their experience with him. There’s a lot to like about the complexities in this character. But let’s be honest, Frank won the minute Tim Curry performed “Sweet Transvestite”.

And that’s my list! A lot of this was really close. ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ has a small cast of characters, but each character is a pretty strong one. A lot of my decisions ended up coming down to extra information from the stage production simply because of how entertaining all of the characters are to watch. But Tim Curry wins. As he always does. We’ll probably have one more post before Halloween so be sure to stay tuned for that!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Video Games: Female Gamers and Support

Screenshot of Mercy from ‘Overwatch’. Copyright goes to Blizzard Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Ok, so I know this is really weird. Usually Hallie and I switch off but, as I’ve been saying lately, unfortunately our schedules got really crazy lately due to a massive change. It’s not anything bad, it just means posting for this blog might be more sporadic than we though just for a little while. We’re going to try and get back on track as soon as we possibly can. But for now, you may see a little more from me or a little more from Hallie every once in a while. Anyways, I’ve been on TikTok a little less lately, but every time I’m on there the song “No Mercy” by ‘The Living Tombstone’ seems to have made a comeback. And it keeps getting stuck in my head. The song itself is just about toxic players in RPGs, but the song made me think about female gamers in support roles and the way female gamers are treated in general. So, as a female support RPG gamer, I’m going to go into why women shouldn’t be forced into support positions and why you need to treat the women who play support positions so much better than you probably are now.

Support Isn’t Popular:

Don’t get me wrong, I love playing support roles. But it’s no secret that playing anything healing based in gaming isn’t popular. And really it never has been. The reason why I like playing support roles personally is because I grew up playing support in almost all forms of gaming. My sister has always been the bigger gamer of the two of us, so I would either watch her play or if there was a second player role I would play that. And second player was usually a magic or support related position. I developed a love for playing that during that time, but my sister definitely didn’t. My sister was always the type of gamer who really liked getting up close and personal with opponents. And there are a lot of gamers like that! In fact, in TTRPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons, finding people willing to play healing positions is notoriously difficult. Overwatch made playing healing support characters more popular with the addition of Mercy, who became a fan favorite mainly due to her accent and design. Which is great! But it doesn’t change the fact that this is only one character, and she’s by no means the most popular character to play in Overwatch. Mercy was a start in getting people more interested in support, but that doesn’t mean that people love that position now. I have several female gamers in my friend group, and of all of us I’m the only one who plays support. Hopefully, that puts things into sharper perspective.

Men as Support:

Women most notoriously play support roles, because they are notoriously more interested in them. For ages several types of media have pushed the idea that support positions are positions for women. Media coverage like this has historically made it seem as though men in these positions are too feminine, which is why less men play them. Which is an issue in itself. And if a woman wants to play a support role, that’s fine. But a lot of female Overwatch players complained about men attempting to assign them Mercy. And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened in an RPG setting. Some male gamers just assume that women will play support for them. And when the men themselves are asked to play support, they give a million excuses as to why they can’t. When Overwatch was more of a big thing, men gave the excuse that Mercy was the best support and that they didn’t want to play her because she was a woman. But for some reason, those same players had no issues playing Widowmaker. If you are a male gamer and you want someone on your team to play support badly, maybe consider playing it yourself. Don’t just assume that the woman on your team is going to take up that role.

Women as Support:

You would think that all male gamers would treat women who main support roles well. I mean, we are doing what they want us to be doing, right? Yes, but most of the men who force women into support roles or view women as more likely for support roles also have a very specific view of support roles, also perpetuated by media. For ages, women healing men in movies or television was somehow spun as a romantic thing. So often times, men will assume female gamers are hitting on them by healing their characters. When in reality, we’re just doing our jobs within our positions. On other occasions, female gamers can be caught in situations that make them uncomfortable. I occasionally play Dungeons and Dragons and when I do, I usually play support. Mostly Clerics. On one occasion I found my character in a love triangle that made me uncomfortable because my character’s healing was seen as something romantic. At the time I didn’t know how to communicate that I was uncomfortable. And eventually I felt uncomfortable healing within the game because every time I used this ability with male characters it was viewed as romantic. When in reality, I just wanted to do my job as support. Obviously, every person deserves to be treated with respect. And this is just another example of how sometimes female gamers aren’t treated with the respect that they deserve. Playing a support role does not always exempt women from being treated with less respect.

Obviously, not all male gamers treat female gamers horribly. But there are enough that sometimes make things, like playing RPGs especially, extremely difficult or uncomfortable for women. Just treat us with respect. Women become gamers for the same reason as men, because they’re interested in gaming, not to find a boyfriend. Do not assume we are hitting on you for doing our jobs. And also, do not try and force the women in your team to play support unless they are actually interested in it. So next time you get angry at a female gamer for not wanting to play a cleric or Mercy or some other support character, try and stop yourself. Because you can bet that they get that a lot and are probably tired of it. If you really want someone to play support, consider doing it yourself.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Disney: ‘Once Upon A Time’ Couples

Screenshot of Emilie de Ravin and Robert Carlyle in ‘Once Upon A Time’. Copyright goes to Disney and ABC.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I once again am going to apologize for the sporadic posting schedule. Everything is really hectic right now, but we’re still going to post whenever we can! This blog is a sense of normalcy for us with everything happening right now. So I’m really glad to be back! Recently I’ve been looking for some easy watching to relax to after my busy schedule, and somehow ‘Once Upon A Time’ came back onto my radar. This was one of my favorite shows until it wasn’t. That is to say, this was an absolutely excellent show until it really wasn’t. I actually really loved the first three seasons and still return to them sometimes, but everything after that was pretty bad. But just because the entire series took a nosedive, doesn’t mean the first three seasons are any less good. And it feels like this is a realization that a lot of people have come to recently. The Halloween costume planning for the Evil Queen, or Regina Mills, has upped significantly in the past few years. But what caught my eye upon my rewatch of some of my favorite episodes, were the depictions of some of the couples in ‘Once Upon A Time’ and how different they are from their Disney counterparts. So I’m going to go through some of them and talk about why I like (or dislike) their depiction of their counterparts.

Snow White and Prince Charming:

I feel like even people who didn’t watch this show, knew about this couple. That’s because Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas, the actors who played these roles, fell in love on set and actually got married. Their marriage upped ratings, because people wanted to see the footage of them actually falling in love. And that’s exactly what you feel like you’re watching. There have been very few television couples with as much chemistry. I always prefer the adaptations of Snow White where Snow is some sort of badass huntress and has much more agency than the original material implied. This is definitely one of those adaptations. In fact, when she meets Charming it’s more on fighting terms than anything else. I find it really interesting that this version of the Prince from Snow White is referred to as Charming. Usually that’s a Cinderella thing, but I digress. Either way their relationship is a pretty slow build to one of the strongest relationships in the entire series. If not the strongest. And the slow build gives it an equally as strong foundation.

Belle and Rumplestiltskin:

This is probably the most interesting couple in the series to me. That’s because of how much I absolutely love ‘Beauty and the Beast’. It’s one of my favorite stories of all time, not to mention that it’s my favorite Disney film. It’s one of the only original fairytales written by a woman and it was written by her for the purpose of imagining a world where women weren’t subjected to arranged marriages. In that vein, this couple could be seen either way. On one hand it gives Belle a lot more agency in her choice to go and live with the Beast (or in this case, Rumplestiltskin) in his castle forever. Belle doesn’t have much in the way of prior connections. Her father is a King who has forced her into an arranged marriage and is far too controlling and Gaston is the husband she’s expected to marry. When she hears Rumplestiltskin’s offer of peace for her kingdom in return for her becoming the caretaker of his castle, she willingly decides to go. Somewhat out of heroism but somewhat out of wanting to get out of her situation. On the other hand, the relationship can be rather manipulative and toxic. I actually really liked the marrying of the stories between Rumplestiltskin and the Beast. The Crocodile thing that came later wasn’t necessarily my favorite. Rumple shouldn’t be four different characters. I did like this one though. It made sense in the context of the show and actually created a fresh and interesting take on the tale that I wasn’t expecting. And for a while they were fairly cute. Some people have argued that the age gap looks awful. I would argue that there’s actually a similar age gap between Killian and Emma, the major issue for people here is more appearance based and the age gaps between the actors. Either way, I actually liked this couple for the first few seasons. And then it became incredibly toxic and kind of annoying. Both Rumple and Belle were some of my favorite characters for a while and it’s a shame that the show treated them in this way. But I at least liked some of the beginning of their relationship. “Skin Deep” is still one of my favorite episodes of the entire series.

Killian and Emma:

Making the pirate character extremely attractive has been a thing since the release of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies. And Killian has become one of the best examples of this. Considering the way we’ve all seen Captain Hook before, I don’t think any of us ever thought that we would ever consider him attractive. Killian Jones changes that. And Emma has the most agency in the entire show. But I think what’s best about this couple, is that it feels the most realistic. Killian and Emma both try to ignore specific feelings or they’re unsure of what the other feels for much of the series. And I think the way they get together comes off extremely organically. The show makes a point to build trust between them first. And it’s adorable to see Killian finally realize that he can be happy with just this. In a way he becomes the anti-Rumple. Of course, the Dark One storyline with him and Emma completely messed things up. But this is another couple I liked for a while before everything took a nosedive.

Aladdin and Jasmine:

They don’t come in until later, but there was a portion of time of me watching this series where this portrayal of Aladdin was the only thing keeping me watching. I love the sarcastic and nonchalant depiction of Aladdin. Jasmine, however, was completely botched. Every time she approached Aladdin it was because she wanted something from him. When Aladdin finally reunites with Jasmine, because he believes that she loves him, she briefly hugs him before telling him that she needs him to do something for her. She even tells him that the entire reason she was looking for him was so that he could help save her kingdom. Ouch. Imagine not seeing someone very close to you for years and the minute you see them again they greet you for a couple seconds and then immediately ask for a favor. This couple was done so horrifically it’s insane. At least they didn’t do what they did to Meg from ‘Hercules’. Like completely strip this character of any and all personality. But this depiction is still pretty awful. I really feel bad for Aladdin. He deserves better.

I actually mostly liked the couples in this show for a long while. But I feel like this show also messed up literally everything at one point. I don’t think there’s a single character that they didn’t run into the ground. So, personally, I prefer to see them all as I thought of them when I liked the series. And you can bet that if I start actually rewatching instead of episode hopping, I’m stopping after season three. But some of this is really cute and there’s a reason I return to it every once in a while.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie