Superheroes: Female Representation and Masculinity

Screenshot of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel in ‘Avengers: Endgame’. Copyright goes to Marvel Entertainment and Disney.

Hi! It’s Annie!

The topic of female characters in superhero films has always been a rough one; but one of the most difficult topics to cover is the expected masculinity in women in major action roles. For years it’s seemed like in order for a woman to kick ass she also has to act more manly. How many times have we seen the badass character in a movie be overly tomboyish? A female character being tomboyish is in no way inherently wrong, but it becomes an issue if writers begin to restrict femininity in roles because they don’t think it’s strong. Because femininity is not and never has been weak. The severe lack of characters that have femininity as a trait in these movies shows that we still have much more work to do when it comes to depicting women in the media. Women can kick ass and be girly too and it’s something that we hardly ever see. So, I’m going to address some more recent female characters in action films that have been accused of being stripped of their femininity in order to seem more powerful. Let’s go!

Captain Marvel:

You could probably already tell by the photo above that she was going to be on here. More than any character I’ve ever seen, she has been accused the most of being written like a man. And, no, it’s not because of her new short hair or her deeper voice. A type of male character that is generally pretty popular in action films is the “strong but silent” type. They’re tough and “manly” and they generally never show emotions. This in itself is not a healthy depiction of anyone; man, woman, or nonbinary. Where Captain Marvel comes in here, is that is exactly the way she is accused of being depicted. She doesn’t really show any emotion and her main character trait is to be strong. By the end of the movie it feels a bit difficult to discern what exactly her personality is. Captain Marvel was written with a male trope in mind. And this is where we have our issue. Captain Marvel is not supposed to be a male superhero, she’s supposed to be a badass female one. She shouldn’t be written with any tropes in mind, male or female. Masculinity and femininity are just constructs and they always have been, but by trying to restrict one and make the character palatable to male audiences by using the other, Captain Marvel ended up being a blank slate of nothingness. We are told that she faces much of the sexism that women face in real life, but we never see her face much of what women face every day. Some of the scenes where she does were ultimately cut from the film. She is never criticized for being too feminine or not feminine enough as many women are. She is never questioned when she is “being too emotional”, despite the fact that when men in movies (and in real life) get angry they are seen as strong and when women get angry they are seen as hysterical. Captain Marvel never gets too angry or too emotional, she is never even a full character. The writers tiptoe around any criticism of her femininity by making it nonexistent. So what exactly is there to relate to here? Another male trope that shouldn’t even be used for male characters stuffed into a female character? Captain Marvel absolutely reeks of a female character being watered down and shoved into a recognizable box in order to make her more palatable to male audiences. We are not looking for female superheroes that are like male superheroes.

Claire “Jurassic World”:

Claire in Jurassic World was simply accused of being too masculine because of her job position and her seeming lack of caring towards her nephews. But neither of these things are in any way masculine. A woman being the equivalent to the CEO of a company is not a masculine thing; women are intelligent and should also have those jobs. Women are also allowed to not like kids or not have a instinct for taking care of children. Where Claire succeeds here is that she’s allowed to have feminine characteristics without being labeled as weak, and she’s also not stuffed with masculine stereotypes in order to be seen as strong. Growing up as a woman you are constantly asked by everyone whether you are girly or tomboyish; but no one is exactly one or the other. Claire realistically displays both masculine and feminine traits. Claire does not mind getting her hands dirty when it counts but she’s also not going to stand there and not show any emotion. Claire gets angry several times throughout the film and in no way are we told that she’s any lesser for it by the narrative. I do have to admit here that seeing her run in heels away from a dinosaur is a bit ridiculous, but in the end it doesn’t have much to do with her overall character. She is smarter than everyone else in the room and she is not shoved full of gendered tropes. And that’s partly to do with Bryce Dallas Howard. She was actually the one that forced the writers of ‘The Mandalorian’ to let Cara Dune be an actual woman rather than a stereotype (and hopefully any future female characters will benefit from that now that Cara Dune has been rightly taken off the show). Claire succeeds because she’s strong without being demure or sexless.

Again, talking about masculinity and femininity in movies is tough because they are both constructs that are being redefined every day as society continues to move forward. But, as I said, everyone is a mash of both. Men have been stripped of any and all feminine traits for decades now, and now that women are being given the spotlight we are seeing the same thing with them. Feminine traits are not something that should be stripped off of any character. They are not inherently weak traits. Being feminine is just as strong as being masculine and we need our media to reflect this. Saying that a woman is strong now because you’ve made her a giant masculine stereotype is absolutely ridiculous. And in most cases, stripping a character (of any gender identity) of femininity leaves them without a well-rounded personality. Showing emotion is, for some odd reason, seen as a feminine trait and any character that doesn’t show emotion is not relatable. It’s plain and simple.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Theatre: Why ‘Hadestown’ Is So Good

Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney as Eurydice and Orpheus in ‘Hadestown’. Copyright goes to Hadestown, The Musical.

Hey! Hallie here!

Up until now I haven’t talked about Theatre at all. Which is actually weird for me because I have a college degree in Theatre. Musicals have always captured my interest more than straight plays. They can convey deep emotions and have a spectacle to them that plays hardly ever have. However, over the years a lot of musicals have followed a very old-fashioned way of thinking. Predominantly white casts are common, women sing songs that ask them to hit near-impossible notes, and men are still writing the majority of shows that make it to Broadway. Then ‘Hadestown’ came along. ‘Hadestown’ captures attention with their New Orleans-style set, jazzy folk songs, and interesting characters. It’s absolutely my favorite musical of all time and It’s worth exploring why this musical stands out amongst all the others that were brought to the Broadway stage. Let’s start with some background on the story.

Original Story:

‘Hadestown’ is a retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice from Greek mythology. In the original story, Orpheus is the son of the god Apollo and the muse Calliope. Because of his heritage, the music he created was so beautiful that no one could resist it. He falls in love with, and marries, a beautiful woman named Eurydice. However, after being married for some time, she gets bitten by a snake and dies. Orpheus uses his music to make his sorrow known to the gods, and with the protection of the gods he manages to journey down to the Underworld without dying. His skills with his lyre win over every creature of the underworld. So much so that when he presents himself in front of Hades and Persephone, Hades agrees to give him a chance to escape the underworld with Eurydice. Hades tells Orpheus that Eurydice must follow him out of the underworld, with the catch that Orpheus can’t turn around to look at her until they have escaped. Of course, Orpheus begins to believe Hades tricked him and turns around, trapping Eurydice in the underworld. This story has been brought to the stage before, but none of the retellings have done as many important things with the story as ‘Hadestown’ has.

Characters:

Orpheus: Orpheus isn’t an amazing musician with heroic characteristics and very few flaws in ‘Hadestown’. Orpheus is a young boy who doesn’t know much about the world. He’s a talented musician and his genuine hopefulness in dark situations draw others to him. But he’s really awkward and often needs Hermes to look after him. Initially he comes off too strong when talking to Eurydice and he falls in love with her very quickly. When they finally decide to start a relationship, he ignores her when she’s suffering in favor of the song he’s working on. His love for her is genuine, though. He completely understands why she chose to go with Hades to the underworld and even feels guilty for ignoring her. He decides to go after her without hesitation, and unlike the original story, he doesn’t have the divine protection of the gods. He also doesn’t instantly win over Hades. Orpheus has to rally the other souls in the underworld against Hades and complete a song to repair the relationship between Hades and Persephone, in order to earn the chance to free Eurydice. And he still fails. All the work he had to do to free Eurydice makes him distrust Hades, and the once na├»ve boy becomes so skeptical of the people around him, and so worried about Eurydice, that he turns around.

Eurydice: As you can tell from the story above, Eurydice isn’t a very active character in the original mythology. Her main role is to be pretty, die, and make the tragedy of the story more potent. ‘Hadestown’ introduces an entirely new character with Eurydice. She’s only known poverty for most of her life and is initially skeptical of Orpheus’ life, apparently free of hard work. Eventually she is won over by his idealistic view of the world, but when he spends a harsh winter working on a song that won’t ultimately provide warmth or food for either of them, she becomes frustrated. When Hades offers to take her to a place where she won’t have to worry about poverty, she finds it difficult to turn down. She isn’t happy to accept. She knows she’s leaving Orpheus behind. But ultimately her fear of an unstable life and likely a miserable death causes her to choose to follow Hades. Eurydice is active in this story by choosing to go to the underworld herself. She does regret the decision after realizing what working under Hades is really like, but she stands by her reasoning. She doesn’t hate Orpheus for turning around, either. At the end of the story she has already accepted the fate she chose for herself.

Hades: Hades is much harsher in ‘Hadestown’ than he is in the original tale. From the beginning of the musical characters speak about longer, harsher, winters as a result of Hades’ reluctance to let Persephone leave the underworld for the warmer seasons. He’s also a tyrant who overworks all the souls in the underworld in order to build factories that will bring himself and Persephone more wealth and comfort. However, he doesn’t do these things because he’s cruel. He doesn’t want to part with Persephone for half the year because he fears that her time away has caused her to love him less. The wealth and comfort he wants are meant to be gifts for Persephone to prove his love. He simply doesn’t understand that these things are harming other people and causing Persephone to distance herself from him. He becomes angry at Persephone for ignoring him, brings Eurydice to the underworld in an effort to make Persephone jealous, and feels threatened when Orpheus begins rallying the souls of the underworld, including Persephone, to his cause. It isn’t until Orpheus completes a song reminding Hades that he’s been ignoring Persephone in his efforts to please her, that Hades realizes that he’s been wrong. He allows Orpheus and Eurydice to leave, but with the same task that Orpheus is given in the original mythology. In the musical Hades openly admits that if he and Persephone were to switch places with Orpheus and Eurydice, Hades himself would turn around. However, he has to balance his compassion with the reality that the rest of the souls shouldn’t be able to easily leave the underworld.

Persephone: Persephone, once again a very small presence in the original story, is probably the most entertaining character in ‘Hadestown’. She spends most of the musical drunk as a way of escaping how miserable her life has become. She enjoys coming to the living world to deliver Spring, but she hates how stifling and boring the underworld is. She also hates how harshly her husband has been treating the souls of the underworld, and the way he disregards the suffering of living humans when he keeps her in the underworld for too long. She argues with Hades frequently and even opens a speakeasy for the souls of the underworld, offering them sensations from the living world that they have missed since their death. Persephone becomes even more vocal about her opinions once Orpheus arrives in the underworld. She’s instantly angry at Hades for not letting Orpheus and Eurydice leave immediately after they arrived and openly admonishes him for being self-centered. She doesn’t hate Hades, though. She’s obviously very depressed about the strain in their marriage and becomes emotional when Hades decides to make amends. Persephone doesn’t completely forgive Hades, but she does appreciate the opportunity to put down the alcohol and work with him to create a healthier relationship.

Hermes: Hermes is a character brought into the musical to be a narrator. And he’s a very fun narrator. His only role in the story is to watch over Orpheus and to tell him how to get to the underworld. However, he sets the stage for many of the scenes throughout the musical. He also helps drive home the theme of the musical. Despite it’s sad ending, Hermes always praises Orpheus’ idealistic and hopeful nature. He points out that the reason the story is worth telling every time, despite it’s tragic end, is the hope that it will have a better ending next time. Despite the ways things are, there’s a hope that it can all be changed. Hermes presents himself to the audience as a teacher and a friend. And with all the dramatic flair he brings to the stage, you couldn’t ask for a better narrator.

What ‘Hadestown’ Did Differently:

Aside from boasting a diverse cast, it also brought a female writer-director team to the front of Broadway. Anais Mitchell wrote the music, and it’s very obvious the music was written by a woman. In shows like ‘Wicked’ the music written for women is ridiculously high. So high that many Elphaba’s have talked about vocal issues caused by the show. ‘Hadestown’ has beautiful music written for women that sits at a comfortable spot for both of it’s female leads. Meanwhile, Rachel Chavkin has used her strong influence on ‘Hadestown’ to demand that more women and POC get to take their directed pieces to Broadway as well. Between the strong female characters these two built from initially miniscule appearances, to the inclusion of POC leads, dancers, and musicians, the show they’ve created tells a very clear message. The world as it is can be dark, but we all have the imaginations to envision the world as it could be and take steps to make it better.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Twins in Media (Round 2): Dipper and Mabel vs. Thing 1 and Thing 2

Art of Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss’s ‘The Cat in the Hat’. Copyright goes to the Seuss estate.

Hi! It’s Annie!

And we continue the second round of twins in media! This time, if you’ve read some of my past posts, you’ll know that the winner for this pairing is probably really obvious. To be completely honest, I would say the exact same thing about them. But I’m at the beginning of writing this, so you never know what happens! Though I’m not sure a whole lot will change. Both of these portrayals of twins exist in mediums made for kids for the most part, so both of these can potentially affect views of twins from a young age. With all that on their shoulders, let’s see who did the best job!

Audience Perspective:

Dipper and Mabel: Dipper and Mabel spend plenty of the plot both together and separated; but they are the main characters so they do get a lot of plot. That’s really good because we follow them both in what are essentially growing up plotlines. We see them develop crushes and figure out more about themselves and their friends as they solve mysteries together. Those plotlines are not always together and are actually pretty often explored apart from each other. In that way they have become separate main characters that are equally explored. Dipper and Mabel are seen by audiences as individuals just as much, if not more, than they are seen as twins or siblings. The fact that they are twins comes secondarily to the fact that they are individuals, and this effects the way the audience perceives them too. If I were to say that Mabel was my favorite character from ‘Gravity Falls’, people would not automatically assume that I relate to her or favor her because she is a twin and I am also a twin. It’s not an automatic jump that would happen as much as other portrayals. And that’s actually a good thing! The only thing I have to mention here is that there is a small portion of the audience that, for some weird reason, decided to ship Dipper and Mabel together. That’s disgusting and please reevaluate. I know a lot of people say that they are fictional characters so people can do what they want. I am not of this mindset. They are fictional characters based off of the author and his twin sister; and even if they weren’t, I don’t think that any form of incest is ever ok to normalize in any way.

Thing 1 and Thing 2: Thing 1 and Thing 2 have possibly been one of the portrayals of twins that have effected audience perspectives of twins in real life the most. I know I’ve said this before, but you really can’t get through life without being compared to these two if you are a twin. I do find the question “So are you Thing 1 or Thing 2?” a little absurd considering the two are interchangeable. Because they are. It’s almost questionable whether or not they were actually written to be twins. My personal opinion is that they weren’t and they ended up this way because of audience perspective. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are two weird creatures that appear to wreak havoc and then disappear. They don’t have separate storylines and they are always doing the exact same thing with each other. They don’t appear for much of the story and often, they don’t have dialogue. They are more plot devices than characters. Yet, still, for some reason people insist on comparing twins to these two all the time. I still can’t quite figure out what the connection is between these two and twins. But I’m definitely taking points off for being compared to them so much throughout my life. It does get annoying eventually.

Winner: Dipper and Mabel by far take this. I think it’s definitely a win for twin portrayals that a pair of twins actually written by a twin received the amount of popularity that they did. Because of this they are written as completely different characters and are seen by audiences as completely different characters. Dipper and Mabel are one of the only portrayals of twins in media that are seen individually by audiences. That’s both sad and an absolutely amazing step forwards.

Twin Perspective:

Dipper and Mabel: Like I said above, these two were characters I was really happy to see. Even if I wasn’t too much into ‘Gravity Falls’. They don’t really fall too much into tropes, if they even do at all, and they are treated individually by everyone in the show and the fandom. They have different friends, some of the same friends, different interests, some of the same interests, and different relationships with everyone in the show. They are portrayed like actual siblings. They are not complete opposites or exactly the same, because most people aren’t. They also have a super healthy sibling relationship where they are always there for each other. A lot of times in media siblings are pitted against each other, and it’s refreshing to not see that here. Most of my problems with them come from the fandoms shipping, but that is not the fault of the character writing or the show at all. I do have to point out here that it is and always has been easier to get good representation of twins of opposite genders rather than twins of the same gender. If we could get more twin representation like this for twins of the same gender too, that would be great. But obviously, if some people in the fandom are any indication, there are still plenty of people out there who will fetishize twins no matter their gender.

Thing 1 and Thing 2: Other than being a bit annoyed about how much I’ve been compared to them, there’s nothing inherently wrong with them. I only say that because, like I said before, there’s really no proof that they are twins or even human beings at all. They’re called “things” so I’m not sure calling them humans would be accurate. They are fun characters who pop up and then disappear. They don’t have a plot. They are an example of the mischievous twins trope if you want to look at them as twins at all. They play pranks all the time, and that’s something we better described in other posts if you want to check out Fred and George or Hikaru and Kaoru. They are painted as being a bit villainous, but they aren’t pitted against each other so there’s no evil twin plot here. Sometimes they feel more like pets than anything else. I don’t really know what they are. The biggest issue here is, again, the audience deciding to compare these two to twins for some reason. Part of this was probably marketing as the Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts became more popular. The comparison just feels wrong.

Winner: Dipper and Mabel again. They are individuals, actual humans, and twins. Dipper and Mabel are what I want most other portrayals of twins to end up looking like. I would especially like this for twin portrayals of the same gender because those are the ones that end up feeling like alien races rather than human beings and are massively fetishized. But again, if you ship Dipper and Mabel please notice that you are fetishizing twins and stop. Please.

Winner: It’s pretty obvious; Dipper and Mabel are definitely the winners here. It isn’t flattering to compare twins or really anyone to characters that are called “things”. Especially when they weren’t even really written to be twins in the first place. Dipper and Mabel show audiences that twins are individuals first and foremost. We do not speak at the same time or share a hive mind. We are very different people who naturally have some similar interests because we grew up in the same household and watched the same things. Dipper and Mabel are best friends and very supportive of each other; but that doesn’t overtake everything else about their characters. All twins should be written this way.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: Rolling Quartz

Promotional photo for the single “Blaze”. (From left to right) Areum, Iree, Yeongeun, Jayoung, and Hyunjung. Copyright goes to Rolling Star Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

For the past few weeks we’ve been exploring different Korean music groups that have stolen our attention. All of the groups we’ve explored have fit easily into the K-Pop genre and have been established for more than a year. However, at the end of last month Rolling Quarts released their debut single, and they’ve been growing in popularity since. This group doesn’t really fit into the K-Pop genre, they can be identified as K-Indie or K-Rock, but they’re already being noticed by K-Pop and Rock fans alike, especially those who have been supporting groups like Dreamcatcher. This post will be a bit shorter considering they only have one song officially released so far. They also haven’t released much official information about the members. However, they are definitely a group worth keeping an eye on.

Members:

Iree- Lead Guitarist. She’s a proud cat owner and can speak three languages. She’s also a fan of ‘Overwatch’ and ‘Pokemon’. My sister’s bias.

Areum- Bassist. She has several tattoos she proudly shows off, which is something we don’t see nearly enough in girl groups. She also enjoys ‘Mario Kart’. My bias.

Jayoung- Main Vocalist. She’s a vocal trainer and sometimes takes over the keyboard during performances. She enjoys drawing, often in the style of a favorite franchise of hers, ‘Sailor Moon’, and also owns a dog.

Yeongeun- Drummer. She’s studied drums throughout high school and college. She’s one of the most trained members of the group.

Hyunjung- Lead Guitarist and Maknae. She’s also open about her tattoos!

As you can see, aside from a few random facts we know very little about this group. We know Yongeun and Jayoung are Dreamcatcher fans if the covers they’ve done on their separate YouTube channels are any indication. We also know those two went to school together. Initially Jayoung, Yongeun, and Hyunjung were a trio called Rose Quartz. Iree and Areum were part of a band called Rolling Girls. Putting the two names together gave them their current name: Rolling Quartz.

Music:

So far “Blaze” and the instrumental for the song are the only songs they’ve released. The single was released December 30th, so they’re pretty new to releasing official music. However, there are several covers on the Rolling Quartz official YouTube channel. Their most popular is their rock cover of BTS’s “Dynamite”, but I would also recommend their cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”. They went with the Halsey arrangement of the song, which is another rock group that covered the song, and the arrangement suits the group very well. There are other original songs on YouTube that the group have released as Demos. These songs are “Delight” and “Rock and Roll Paradise”. They’re both really good and I highly recommend checking these songs out as well. They have shot music videos for “Blaze”, “Delight”, and their cover of “Misery Business” by Paramore. There are also several concerts on their channel that are free to watch. Another concert is planned for Sunday as a thank you to their fans, adorably named Diadems.

I wish we had more information on this group, but we don’t as of now. It is absolutely significant to see women taking on the rock genre in Korea. Dreamcatcher is already considered gutsy to turn away from the most popular themes for girl groups in K-Pop to go for a darker theme that better fits their rock sound. Now we have a full rock band with talented women taking over all the instruments. And they’re being noticed for it. Rolling Quartz has already performed on M Countdown, one of the biggest music shows in Korea. With just one song they’re making waves and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Disney: ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ is Underrated

Screenshot from ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’. Copyright of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Hi! It’s Annie!

“You threw off my groove!” ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ has been around for a while now and is definitely one of my favorite Disney films. It’s not every day that you see Disney dip it’s toes into a buddy film style comedy, which is exactly what happened with this brilliant movie. It’s definitely something that’s been gaining more and more recognition and now has a pretty big cult following, but unfortunately it is still one of the least known and least watched Disney films. That’s really unfortunate because I am absolutely sure that this film, which was an accident, would be one of the most popular Disney films if more people knew about it. Could you imagine a water ride based off of Yzma’s lair at Disneyland? That would be amazing. But for those of you who still haven’t checked out this movie, and even for those of you who have, these are some amazing facts along with some of the bright points of this movie that will hopefully sell you on it, or sell you on it even more.

History:

This movie was, at first, taken extremely seriously. It was, as it still is, based off of Incan culture and mythology and was originally going to be called ‘Kingdom of the Sun’. The movie was supposed to star David Spade (yes, he’s still here) as a spoiled prince and Owen Wilson as a peasant. Originally, the plot was that the prince’s life was in danger so he would have to switch lives with the peasant until they could find out who was trying to kill him. Though the animators were very excited about this idea, it quickly became too complicated too fast with not enough plot to connect the story points. One of the lead animators was on a plane explaining the movie to the woman next to him and by the time it took him to explain the plot, the plane had already landed. That’s when he knew the plot just wouldn’t work. The team was divided in order to come up with another plot within just a few months so that they could save the movie, and one of the teams decided to drop the seriousness of the movie on a whim.

Kuzco:

Kuzco is my favorite character and he basically carries this movie. David Spade’s witty dialogue keeps the movie both funny and flowing. I couldn’t imagine this character any other way, but I was really surprised when I learned that David Spade was always going to play this role. Even when the movie wasn’t a comedy. The writers never had any other person in mind for the spoiled prince and now I can better see why. Kuzco is one of the only things about the movie that didn’t change from the original concept. In a way, he was always supposed to be like this. But really, I couldn’t imagine him in any other type of movie. Much of his funny dialogue comes from the other characters also being funny and Kuzco really needed a more serious character to even him out. We wouldn’t have gotten that as well with another character. But I’m not sure we would have gotten lines like; “Llama face!” or “It’s my birthday gift to me! I’m so happy!” if this movie hadn’t been changed to a comedy. And, of course, who could forget; “Let me guess, you have a great personality.”?

Pacha:

As I said before, Pacha was originally supposed to be played by Owen Wilson. Weird, right? Well, the dynamic was supposed to be very different. But when the animators started going in the more comedic route they realized that the Pacha they created would no longer work in the story. One of the animators realized that this new version of Pacha needed to be almost a father figure for Kuzco. After this realization, there was no one else in mind for the role other than John Goodman. Pacha is definitely not the most interesting character in the movie, but he really needs to be there because Kuzco, Yzma, and Kronk are so insane and ridiculous. One of the best parts of his character is his heartwarming nature. And who could forget about his amazing family? His wife and kids are badasses who easily outsmart Yzma and Kronk. Even if the mechanics of that door to the closet don’t really make any sense. But it’s made of a nice carved mahogany, so I can forgive it.

Yzma:

Originally a more evil character, Yzma was supposed to raise an army of the dead and spread darkness in the world because she wanted youth and beauty. One of the falling points of the original plot was this. Because those things don’t necessarily make sense or connect together. Why would bringing darkness help her achieve youth and beauty? Does she want to spread darkness or does she want to be be beautiful again? Eartha Kitt was also one of the actors on board very early on, even though the animators originally wanted Barbara Streisand. She had an amazing song called ‘Snuff Out the Light’ that you can hear if you look it up on Youtube. But when they told Eartha Kitt that they were going to make a comedy instead, she was delighted rather than disappointed. Yzma’s character was changed to have a ridiculous secret lab as well as lines such as “Hah! You really should have though of that before you became peasants!”. Yzma is one of the best parts of the movie. Especially as a cat. That also speaks to the ridiculousness of the movie. One day in the writer’s room they were pondering the final battle and trying to figure out how Yzma would rejoin it after she falls. One of the animators suddenly pitched that a trampoline should be accidentally delivered and she would fly back up using that trampoline. They were already creating a movie that was comedic and ridiculous, so why not?

Kronk:

Kronk wasn’t originally going to be in the movie. Just like Kuzco needed Pacha, one of the animators was convinced that Yzma also needed a foil character by her side. Nobody was convinced and eventually they held a meeting where they told him to save this new bodyguard character he had created. This was where the spinach puffs and Kronk’s love of cooking was pitched, and that was what saved the character. Much like many of the others, there was only one person considered for this role. The absolute sweetheart with a deep voice, Patrick Warburton. While many of the animators just wanted and expected Kronk to be dumb, Patrick Warburton developed a sense of empathy for Kronk. He also improvised Kronk’s theme music that he sings while trying to get rid of Kuzco and created Kronk’s sweeter side. Patrick Warburton really breathed life into his character. I quote Kronk all the time and even themed a look after him for Dapper Day at Disneyland. You can’t help but love him and his spinach puffs.

This movie is so quotable and so loveable I’m genuinely surprised it’s taken this long for people to notice it. It’s a favorite movie for my family, so we really do watch it all the time. Hopefully, if you haven’t, this has inspired you to watch this movie as well! If you have watched it, you can always watch it again! This is another Disney film that’s a comfort movie for me, so it won’t be long before I watch it again myself.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Marvel: ‘WandaVision’ Episode 5 Review

Screenshot of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany from episode 5 of ‘WandaVision’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

Episode 5 of ‘WandaVision’ is out and there’s so much to talk about. This was probably the best episode so far. As I haven’t found any major problems with the last few episodes, I’m going to change the categories from ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ to ‘What I Like’ and ‘What I Have Questions About’. If I start having problems with the plot I might bring my original categories back, but as of now I’m loving the show and I have more questions than objections. With that out of the way, I can’t really say anything I want to about this episode without spoiling it, so I’m just going to jump right into this. SPOILERS ahead.

What I Like:

Wanda: Wanda is constantly growing as a character as the episodes progress and I love seeing more layers get peeled back. In this episode we explored even more of her grief, and a bit of guilt over creating her alternate reality. As her sons were aging up completely out of her control, especially to avoid difficult issues, she had to attempt to explain to them why life should be lived naturally instead of using supernatural powers to change what they dislike. This was especially potent when they were attempting to convince Wanda to bring their dog back to life. Wanda was forced into a position where she had to convince her sons that bringing their dog back to life was wrong while wrestling with her own guilt over bringing Vision back to life. On top of that, we got to see Wanda leave Westview and turn back into the Scarlet Witch, accent and all. She threatened SWORD, but also expressed that she would leave them alone if they did the same to her. She simply wants to live her fantasy and deny her harsh reality. She’s absolutely solidified herself as a villainous presence, but they did it right. Instead of showing her as crazy, like some of the SWORD operatives believe, Monica Rambeau’s understanding of Wanda invites the audience to sympathize with her.

Vision: We now have full confirmation that Vision isn’t being controlled by Wanda. He was brought back to life by her, but his slow suspicions about the reality he’s living in aren’t something Wanda can just erase. In fact, at one point Wanda sends Vision off to work on a Saturday to attempt to make him forget a few mishaps that occurred with Agnes. However, Vision discovers a message from SWORD at his job and immediately disconnects one of his colleagues from Wanda’s powers. He is very apparently disturbed by the man’s cries for help. This all comes together in a giant argument at the end of the episode where Vision becomes so angry at Wanda for keeping hostages that he begins to use his abilities. Wanda claims he isn’t acting like himself but Vision counters that he doesn’t remember who he is. Vision is clearly against everything Wanda’s doing and I’m excited to see what he’ll do to stand up to Wanda. It’s possible Vision could be one of the people fighting Wanda at the end of all this.

Agnes: Agnes specifically had a few interesting moments in this episode. Whereas before Agnes was more hesitant to say anything revealing in front of Vision, in this episode Agnes fully stops to ask Wanda if she wants Agnes to redo a scene because of an awkward pause. Afterwards Agnes doesn’t bat an eye at Wanda using her powers or the boys aging in seconds despite Vision’s sudden alarm. The only point where Agnes seems thrown off is when Billy and Tommy ask Wanda to bring their dog back to life. She seems completely surprised that Wanda has this kind of ability. Considering Agnes is not what she seems, this could mean that Agnes is making a notable observation about Wanda’s abilities. Specifically that bringing people back from the dead isn’t something Wanda’s capable of.

SWORD: Monica Rambeau was the star of the SWORD storyline once again. With the director of SWORD so obviously ready to kill Wanda and wash his hands of the entire situation, Monica is the refreshing voice of reason. This episode Darcy and Jimmy took a backseat to Monica’s discovery of how Wanda is creating an alternate reality from pre-existing things. Still, the two were fun to see helping out in the background. And considering there’s a level of, possibly inadvertent, trust between Monica and Wanda, she will definitely play a large role in the episodes coming up.

Quicksilver: This is the thing everyone’s talking about. Evan Peters is back at Pietro (not Peter) Maximoff! As for why he’s there or what role he’ll play, we aren’t sure. But his design doesn’t imply that he’s simply taking over the role Aaron Taylor-Johnson played. His design is straight out of the X-Men movies, with an 80’s twist for the episode, of course. Evan Peters is definitely the best version of Quicksilver and I’m so happy he’s back.

What I Have Questions About:

What really happened when Wanda retrieved Vision’s body?: The footage of Wanda stealing the body from SWORD was very short and didn’t show much. Plus, the audience already assumed that Wanda must have stolen Vision’s body from somewhere. This footage, especially shown so late in the game, feels like it means something. It feels like it’s a possible way to bridge the gap between the funeral in ‘Endgame’, where Wanda seems mostly fine, and the events of ‘WandaVision’.

What’s With Quicksilver?: Is this the Quicksilver from X-Men? Is this just Pietro now played by Evan Peters? Is this the first time the MCU is acknowledging the Multiverse? I’m so interested in seeing what they’re actually going to do with Evan Peters version of the character.

Is Wanda the Only Villain?: As I referenced before, Wanda, and the people around her, don’t seem completely aware of how Wanda has the ability to raise someone from the dead. This could mean that she isn’t completely responsible for raising Vision, and somebody else could be influencing Wanda’s actions. I know that Wanda is likely the main villain here, but there could be someone else behind the scenes as well.

Those are all my thoughts on this week’s episode of ‘WandaVision’! I was initially against Wanda as the villain, but they’re navigating the exploration of her psyche very well. Now I’m interested to see who is going to be powerful enough to stop Wanda. With a Doctor Strange movie coming up in her future, she won’t be permanently gone by the end of this. I also hope Evan Peter’s reappearance isn’t short lived. I would love more content with his version of Quicksilver.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: ATEEZ

Promotional photoshoot of (from left) Song Mingi, Choi San, Kang Yeosang, Kim Hongjoong, Jung Wooyoung, Jeong Yunho, Choi Jongho, and Park Seonghwa. Copyright goes to KQ Etertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Let’s go further down the rabbit hole of K-pop groups I’m obsessed with! When it comes to K-pop there are currently four groups that I consider myself part of the fandom for. Those groups are BTS, ATEEZ, Everglow and Rolling Quartz. Of these I have only briefly mentioned ATEEZ, so I figured I should get on writing a post just for them. As I said when I first mentioned them; my introduction to this group was their performance at the 2019 MAMA’s when they performed a ‘Wonderland’ mashup that included a variety of covers of other songs. One of those songs was BTS’s ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’, which definitely caught my attention. Especially because Jimin and Hobi’s reactions to their performance were beyond adorable. The thing is, I thought that this performance was just a mashup of covers. When I heard the ‘Wonderland’ bits of it, I naively wondered what the original song was like and whether or not it was as good as this. Then I realized it was their own song, and I’ve been slowly becoming more obsessed with these boys and their music since then. Their songs are earworms and I generally have at least one of them stuck in my head every day. Anyways, let’s get more into the band and what they’re like!

The Members:

Hongjoong: Because I’ve started including this, I’ll mention here that he’s my sister’s bias. Hongjoong is the second eldest of the team, but is also the leader. The rest of the group often tease him for being strict, but overall he seems pretty loose and laid back. But he’s definitely the leader of the group, he generally has most situations in his control. He’s definitely got some David Bowie vibes going on sometimes, which is really high praise from me. He is also incredibly sweet with the fans and has the absolute best fashion sense. Not only that, but he’s the composer for most of the songs for this group, so he’s also insanely creatively talented. Hongjoong is also incredibly supportive of the LGBTQ community among so many other amazing communities and organizations. He is one of the lead rappers of the group.

Seonghwa: The eldest of this group. He’s the major caretaker and sweetheart in the group. He’s constantly worrying about the other members and checking up on their health. He’s also known for cleaning. When you see him off stage he can be a bit quiet but it’s just because he’s making sure everyone else has their say. The truly insane part about him is his stage presence. This group has a line known as the “demon line” because of how creepy and attractive they can look on stage. They’re really known for their stage presence. The members in the demon line are Hongjoong, Seonghwa, and San. Seonghwa is one of the last people you would expect to be a part of this line, but he looks like an entirely different person on stage. He is a vocalist in the group.

Yunho: He’s a large puppy dog and one of the funniest members of the group. Yunho seems to be able to have a good time in any situation. He’s always amused by something. He also is one of the most noticeable members on stage because of his height. And also his stage presence, really there is no member of this band who doesn’t have as much stage presence as the others. He’s well known for teasing the other members, but it’s all in good fun! He’s just really fun to watch. He’s another vocalist.

Yeosang: The main visual of the group. Yeosang is known for looking so handsome that he looks almost like a statue. He’s generally pretty quiet when they’re all sat together talking, but even then it’s hard to not look at him. There is a grace to him in whatever he does. That gracefulness is also present in his dancing, so he’s also difficult to take your eye off of in performances. He seriously looks very unreal. His role in the group is a performer as he’s definitely more of a visual than anything else in the group. That’s definitely not a bad thing though! He owns the stage!

San: It probably surprises no one to say that he’s my bias. Another member of the demon line which is, again, unexpected. San is a badass, but he also sleeps with about a dozen stuffed animals and takes one specific one everywhere with him. Super relatable. But you don’t expect his stage performance after knowing this about him. The other thing about San is that he’s probably the best dancer in the group. Even so, he’s not the lead dancer. It’s become a thing with people coming into this fandom to be really surprised when they figure out that San is not considered one of the lead dancers. He’s another one who is known for being sweet to the fans. ATEEZ met fans on the Youtube ‘React’ channel and he snuck up behind a girl who `had him as her bias so that when she turned around he was practically nose to nose with her. It was adorable! He’s another vocalist.

Mingi: He acts all cool but he’s also a big sweetheart. He’s also quite possibly the biggest dork in the group in the absolute best way. He’s always messing around, teasing the other members, and generally keeping the energy up. When ATEEZ won one of their first awards he just started jumping up and down as high as he could. He’s also super tall and has a deep voice when they perform which gives him an almost intimidating energy on stage. He is currently on a break for his mental health and I really hope he gets better soon! I’m glad he’s taking this time for himself though; mental health is incredibly important. He’s another lead rapper.

Wooyoung: Even though he’s second youngest in the group, he definitely seems like the maknae. He has this really cute and playful vibe around him. He’s often teased for being well-liked, which makes sense because it feels impossible to not like him. He and Yeosang used to be BigHit trainees, and Wooyoung still has an immense love for BTS that he’s very vocal about. Also relatable. He especially loves Jimin. His duality is also insane because his cuteness turns into complete badassery on stage. Did I mention that he’s cute? Because he is really cute. He’s another vocalist for the group.

Jongho: Who gave this man permission to sound like that? There are very few vocalists in Kpop as well rounded and unique sounding as Jongho. It is not hard to pick his voice out of a song. He can also sing just about anything and make it sound good. He will convince you that his voice is well suited for any song. In ATEEZ’s most recent variety show he was given the request to sing ‘Fancy’ by Twice. If you thought he wouldn’t be able to pull it off, you are very wrong. He’s also super buff and strong, which the other members tease him about. He is the only member of ATEEZ who knows how to tie a tie. He’s the lead vocalist, if it wasn’t already obvious.

This is another one of those groups where you can’t help but love every member. They all have insane charms. Not only that, but they are all great at their roles in the group. There is not a weak singer or rapper among them. Your bias will change depending on who’s on screen while they’re performing because they are all so dynamic.

Variety Shows:

Because I wasn’t as familiar with these yet, I didn’t include them in my variety shows post. I especially like ‘ATEEZ Holdings’ and ‘ATEEZ Fever Road’. The first of those is still ongoing and has only released two episodes. One of them is a spy episode and is hilarious to watch, even if it was kind of obvious to me and my sister who the spies were. But we do have an overhead view that the boys didn’t have and it was still fun to watch them try to solve it. The premise of that one is that they are all part of a company where they work in an office. My absolute favorite is the second one that I mentioned. They literally play a Jumanji style game with high stakes including some members being “kidnapped” and taken to separate locations. More importantly, it features Wooyoung in a giant polar bear suit. I love the personal variety shows, so I was glad to add these to the list of those type of shows that I like along with ‘Run BTS’ and ‘Everglow Land’. They used to have a variety-like show before they debuted when they were calling themselves ‘KQ Fellaz’. In that they go to Universal Studios Hollywood which is a place that I go a lot because I live in L.A. Now I’m going to go back there and just think of ATEEZ.

My Recommendations:

So many. Firstly, you have to listen to ‘Wonderland’ on it’s own and watch their performance of it in the mashup at the 2019 MAMA’s. I would also strongly recommend watching their Halloween performance of it, which is everything you would ever want in a Halloween performance of anything. Along with that, I recommend listening to ‘HALA HALA’, ‘THANXX’ and ‘Inception’. Please watch their performance of ‘Inception’ and ‘Answer’ at the 2020 MAMA’s too. King Hongjoong. That’s all I have to say.

Now, go listen to them if you haven’t! They are beyond amazing and deserve so much love. They are the rookie group that has no idea they are a rookie group because they are already that good. Hopefully their fanbase will just continue to grow!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Twins in Media (Round 2):Luke and Leia vs. Jacob and Evie Frye

Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill in ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’. Copyright goes to Lucasfilm Ltd. and Walt Disney Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

We’re back with a bit of a late entry to round two of Twins in Media. This time we’re putting some of our action/adventure twins up against each other. With the field narrowed, that means Luke and Leia from the Star Wars franchise are going to be battling it out against Jacob and Evie Frye from the Assassins Creed franchise. As usual, the goal is to see which set of twins is the best portrayal of real twins. This one is going to be tough because I gave both of these twins high praise in my previous posts. However, each of them also have major problems that could absolutely lose them the round. Let’s see which franchise writes their twin characters the best!

Audience Perspective:

Luke and Leia: First off, these two get their own storylines right away. There really isn’t any plotline that pairs them together just because they’re siblings. Most of the time that’s because the characters themselves don’t know that they’re siblings. Nor do the audience. And it’s very likely the writers didn’t know they were siblings either. To be honest, there isn’t anything in the first few movies to indicate that the two are related. I’m completely on the team that believes George Lucas decided on this story aspect late in the original trilogy. Which is nice, in a way, because that means Luke and Leia avoid a lot of twin tropes. However, this also lead to some awkward moments. Like Luke attempting to tell Han to back off in the first movie because Luke had a crush on his sister. Gross. Leia also kisses Luke in the second movie to convince Han that she isn’t interested in him. Which is even more disgusting. Putting aside the slight hinting at incest, these two are pretty good. They care for each other but don’t rely on one another. They each have individual, personal journeys. Leia is attempting to balance her position as general with her growing feelings for Han. Meanwhile, on a completely different planet, Luke is learning how to become a Jedi and maturing because of it. When their paths converge they have the same goal, defeating the Empire, but they go about it different ways. Leia is focused on taking down the Empire’s forces while Luke is focused on the eventual altercation he has to have with his father. They are each able to grow as individuals and the audience easily sees them as two separate entities.

Jacob and Evie Frye: These two also have a nice balance between individual storylines and plot points that cause their stories to converge. The nature of ‘Assassins Creed: Syndicate’ is that the player has to spend an equal amount of time playing with both Jacob and Evie. Because of this, each character has a separate storyline for the player to enjoy as they’re playing with each character. There are definitely some missions where the character you aren’t playing as will pop up, but these become fewer as the game goes on. Mostly because the two main characters begin fighting. In the game Evie and Jacob have the same goal, which is to free the surrounding area from Templar reign. However, Evie would rather focus her efforts on recapturing and studying the Piece of Eden the Templar’s posses, which is the most valuable possession the Templars have. Jacob, on the other hand, would rather antagonize and assassinate the Templars causing the major problems. This creates conflict between them, so while both of them must help each other because it’s their job to do so, they often prefer to go off on their own. This leads to a story about Evie gaining as much intel on the Templars as possible while befriending, and eventually gaining romantic feelings for, her colleague, Henry Green. At the same time, Jacob uses his charms to get more information on his targets and suddenly finds himself trusting the wrong people and having to redefine his morals. The game allows each character to be complete without the other, but still prioritizes exploring their sibling relationship, especially through their fights.

Winner: This has to go to Jacob and Evie. These two are noticeably lacking in any incestuous undertones. They also have more in the way of exploring their sibling relationship. Luke and Leia spend nearly no time exploring, or even discussing, their sibling relationship. Jacob and Evie go from being best friends to constantly annoying one another. As the game goes on, their relationship repairs and they realize how much they value each other. On top of that, these two get separate storylines while the game acknowledges that they’re twins. It’s far more impressive to see media writing twin characters as individuals when they actually establish their characters as twins, as opposed to waiting until the last minute to reveal their twin characters are related.

Twin Perspective:

Luke and Leia: I already mentioned above that it doesn’t seem like these two were written to be twins at all. They avoid every single trope. There really isn’t much to talk about here. They could fall into the Twincest trope, but it isn’t because of a genuine attraction to each other. Luke has what’s portrayed as a childish and momentary crush on Leia in the first movie. If anything, his momentary interest is used to further Han’s interest in Leia. Afterwards it’s never mentioned again. And Leia definitely only kisses Luke because she’s angry at Han. These moments are more disturbingly awkward than completely damning. Aside from this they could also be considered for the Twin Telepathy trope. This because of the moment at the end of the second film where Leia is able to sense Luke on Bespin. But this moment comes before the two are revealed to be twins, and it’s only used to show that Leia is also strong with the force. In the end, neither of these tropes really apply to them. Their biggest problem is that they never act like more than good friends. They simply weren’t written like siblings.

Jacob and Evie: These two have one major trope they suffer from. That would be the Opposites trope. Jacob is seen as brash and reckless. Evie is calculating and reasonable. Even the skill trees used in the game make them seem like opposites. Evie’s skills all rely on stealth while Jacob’s rely on brute strength. In reality twins aren’t opposites. There are plenty of differences and commonalities between us, just like there are with any set of siblings. What does kind of save them from completely falling to this trope is the fact that they are both very obviously interested in the same things. They are both Assassins who enjoy their jobs. They both got into the business together and made a name for themselves together. Throughout the game they make many mutual friends on top of the people they create relationships with separately. It’s an excellent balance that creates much needed similarities between the characters. There’s also something that can be said about these two fighting throughout the entire game, which media seems to like a lot when portraying sibling relationships (See Thor and Loki). But this isn’t a gripe with how the game portrays twins specifically.

Winner: Luke and Leia. They literally suffer from no tropes. There’s some really awkward parts of their story I don’t love talking about, but, in the end, they’re written without any major issue for me to complain about. They don’t even suffer from the Opposites trope, despite their wildly different personalities. There isn’t anything that specifically goes out of it’s way to make these two seem like complete opposites, and they pretty obviously befriend the same people and devote themselves to the same cause almost immediately. They have different ways of approaching their relationships and responsibilities, which is realistic and never goes so far as to become a trope.

Winner: One group won each category so this is down to the finer details. And looking back, Jacob and Evie Frye win this one. They win for one major reason; They’re actually written like siblings. Despite suffering from a major trope, they at least have a story that allows them to be individuals while still exploring their relationship as twins. Luke and Leia don’t have this at all. While this does mean that Luke and Leia suffer from less tropes, it also means they’re less relatable to twins and siblings in general. Also, Jacob and Evie don’t kiss each other. I would like to point out that both of the sets of twins for this battle were opposite-sex twins. This is worth mentioning because opposite-sex twins always get more individuality than any same-sex twins in media. Eventually I would like to see same-sex twins written with the same care, even if they do look more similar than twins of different genders.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: Variety Shows

Opening image for ‘Run BTS’ starring Jeon Jungkook (Jungkook), Min Yoongi (SUGA), Kim Taehyung (V), Park Jimin (Jimin), Kim Namjoon (RM), Jung Hoseok (J-HOPE), and Kim Seokjin (Jin). Copyright goes to BigHit Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I have said probably too many times that K-pop is what has been getting me through quarantine for the most part. Part of that has been watching variety shows starring my favorite groups. Getting to see your favorite K-pop stars go out and do fun things is transportive in a way and also generally hilarious and fun to watch. If you are incredibly lucky, your group will have their own variety show given to them by their company rather than them just going on a variety show. But this is actually a fairly new way of going about entertainment involving K-pop idols in variety shows. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a regular thing for idol groups soon. People want to see idols in natural environments and get to know them personally. But until every idol group has a show, I want to look at some examples of variety shows that give you that personal experience that we all love. These are all ones that I have watched and liked, so also consider them recommendations!

Run BTS:

This is an obvious one and an example of an idol group having their own variety show given to them by the company. I’ve done an entire post about this show including a long list of my favorite episodes if you’re looking for recommendations. This show is one of the longest running variety shows of this type and they never really seem to run out of ideas. Or maybe they do and I don’t notice because it’s fun to watch the boys do literally anything. In this show you can see them play mystery games where a few of them are the spy, escape from escape rooms, play sports really badly, go to water parks and amusement parks, and just have fun in general. There are no hosts or MC’s beyond the members themselves, so the entire show just consists of them all interacting with each other. By the end of the show you really feel like you know a little more about the boys and their personalities. The most recent episode made me cry because of how sweet and close the maknae line is. It’s very heartwarming. This is the show that has more or less paved the way for other groups to have personal shows. Because who wouldn’t want to have a show as successful as Run BTS?

Everglow Land and Secret 48:

This is an example of a fairly new group that was given their own variety show by their company. Everglow Land, unlike Run BTS, has only five parts. The girls start out in an amusement park, then move to a haunted house, a scavenger hunt around Seoul, a “deserted” island, and finally a cozy house where they must carry out missions. This must have gained the traction that YeHua Entertainment was looking for because they have now launched a show called ‘Secret 48’ for the group. Though it is unclear if this is made to be a variety show or more like a vacation show such as ‘BTS in the SOOP’. It almost feels like a combination of both. Though this show seems to only show the girls on vacation in their adorable campers and will probably not continue after that like their original show; it’s ongoing and fun to watch. The issue here is that sometimes the episodes don’t feel as dynamic as episodes of ‘Run BTS’. In the first episode of Everglow Land at the amusement park, the girls have to pay for the rides with their energy. It’s a cute concept, but it doesn’t quite hold up when almost all of their missions end up being jump-roping. The places are big, but sometimes the missions feel like they could have used more thought. But they are just starting out while ‘Run BTS’ is more of a seasoned show.

Idol Picnic:

Recently, my favorite girl group Dreamcatcher was on this show, so of course I had to watch it! I fell in love with the concept immediately. This show is not a personal variety show for any one group, but is an example of a variety show that several groups go on. The hosts are Ji Sukjin and Lee Seungyoon, the “uncles” of the show. The point of it is for the idol groups to divide up and choose an uncle who will then take their smaller group on an adventure. Most of the members generally have the opportunity to spend time with each uncle and at the end the group chooses which uncle has given them the best experience. In the Dreamcatcher episode they took the respective groups to a mud flat, a pepper garden, a public beach and cafe`, and a private beach with motor bikes. They ended the day out with a more personal talk with the entire group. It was really fun to watch, but I do have to mention that I questioned the safety of the girls while they were on this show because it was filmed at the time of quarantine. Three of the girls were taken to a very busy public beach and I really questioned how this show was even able to do this. Most of the people at the beach weren’t even masked. But the girls at the private beach ran around safely and even filmed a music video. It was a cute show to watch and I loved seeing Dreamcatcher in an environment like this. I just wish this show and more shows like it would take more precautions.

Idol House:

Idol House is another example of a variety show that groups just go on and isn’t personal to any one group. The fun thing about this one is that there are no MC’s. The only thing there is to watch are the groups hanging out and interacting with each other. This also makes this show much safer to film during quarantine. The idol groups are all sent into this isolated “house” where they have various missions to complete. The best of which comes from a lying competition where the members each have to out-lie each other. This generally leads to a lot of laughs and hilarity. I personally really like seeing variety shows where the groups are only interacting with each other, so giving several groups the opportunity to do this on a variety show is a really appealing idea to me. So far I’ve only watched the Dreamcatcher one but I’ve been getting more into ATEEZ, so that one’s next!

There you go! Some examples of really good variety shows that are more built to show the personalities of the members of a group. More and more shows of this type are coming out. Especially, as I said before, the singular ones created by the company of a group. But all of these are really great ways to laugh and spend some downtime. I always like watching other people go places if I can’t, so these are definitely up my alley. Hopefully you’ve found something on here interesting enough to enjoy yourself!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Comfort Movies: ‘Groundhog Day’

Screenshot of Andie MacDowell and Bill Murray in 1993’s ‘Groundhog Day’. Copyright goes to Columbia Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

It’s Groundhog Day so I’m going to push off the weekly Twins in Media post to talk about this amazing movie. I feel like watching this movie every year on February 2nd is a tradition for many families, so I don’t really have to explain how great this movie is. But if you haven’t watched it, go do that right now. Harold Ramis is a brilliant director and script writer, and Bill Murray is undoubtedly perfect for this role. Turning a character from completely dislikable to completely likable isn’t a task just any actor can undertake, and Bill Murray has done it in so many movies that he’s a pro at it. In honor of this movie, I’m going to go through my favorite fun facts about it and it’s production. SPOILERS ahead, if you care about that sort of thing for this movie.

The Buildings In Rome:

If you’ve watched this movie in most of it’s released forms, you’ll find that Phil brings two very strange things up to Rita when he’s first attempting to date her. In the scene where he orders her favorite drink, sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist, he mentions to her that the drink reminds him of how the sun hits the buildings in Rome. When he’s sitting down with Rita at a restaurant later on, he enthusiastically comments about how he wishes everyone could live up in the mountains instead of focusing on their careers. In previous cuts of the movie, including the one released to theatres, Rita mentions all of those things to Phil in his previous attempts at dating her. The decision to shorten the scene by cutting those parts was made for the movie’s release. Some versions will have these extra bits, so if you’re one of the people who has seen them, consider yourself lucky.

How Long Phil Relived Groundhog Day:

This has been long debated. Harold Ramis revealed that Danny Rubin, another writer for the movie, initially planned for Phil to be stuck in Groundhog Day for ten thousand years. As for the final script, Harold Ramis commented that it was more likely that Phil relived Groundhog Day for ten years. Many fans have been skeptical of this number considering how good Phil is at the various hobbies he picks up throughout the movie, such as piano and ice sculpting. Those who have attempted to calculate exactly how much time Phil would need to develop these skills, along with everything else he does in the movie, have estimated that he was stuck reliving Groundhog Day for thirty to forty years. Either way it sounds like Hell.

The Beginning of the Movie:

The original idea for the movie’s beginning was written by Danny Rubin. In it, Phil is already stuck in Groundhog Day. Danny Rubin desired the audience to come into the movie wondering how Phil knew what was going to happen before it actually happened. This way the mystery could unfold as the movie went on. Harold Ramis promised to keep this idea, but ultimately decided against it. The beginning of the movie we see now, with all of our main characters working inside the news station, was filmed very last minute. This beginning wasn’t decided on until the editing process, causing the company to call everyone back to shoot the scene so it could be edited in later.

The (Temporary) End of Harold Ramis and Bill Marray’s Friendship

Harold Ramis and Bill Murray had worked together multiple times before ‘Groundhog Day’. Harold Ramis directed ‘Caddyshack’, which Bill Murray was in. The two starred together in ‘Stripes’, which Harold Ramis also co-wrote. And, of course, both played major roles in the ‘Ghostbusters’ franchise. These weren’t the only projects the two worked on, either. They both considered each other good friends. Harold Ramis was hoping for the same friendliness between them when he began to envision Bill Murray for the role of Phil. However, Bill Murray went through a bad divorce during the filming of ‘Groundhog Day’. He was consistently late to set and would throw temper tantrums, arguing with Harold Ramis over directing and writing choices. He’d push Ramis to change the film to something darker rather than the comedy Ramis wanted. Bill Murray would also obsessively call Harold Ramis about the movie, even in the middle of the night, to discuss the plot. Eventually Ramis became tired of these issues and sent writer Danny Rubin to help work out the issues Murray was having. Bill Murray took this move badly and swore he’d never work with Harold Ramis again. Many speculated that part of this overreaction was due to Bill Murray feeling that Harold Ramis was dictating his career, since the two had done so many successful things together. Either way, the two didn’t talk for many years afterwards. Harold Ramis spoke often about wishing to be friends again but Bill Murray refused to comment. However, on Harold Ramis’ deathbed, the two finally made up.

Harold Ramis is one of the directors, actors, and screenwriters who made my childhood. I miss him pretty often, especially when I re-watch movies like ‘Groundhog Day’. But the movie is brilliant, and I’m grateful for his contributions to cinema every time I watch it. Bill Murray is a brilliant comic actor, but it’s pretty clear from various stories told about him that he isn’t necessarily the most civil person. But there’s no doubt the Harold Ramis could take the craziest of actors and turn a film set into a collaborative and creative space. And there were very few people who he could work with as well as he could work with Bill Murray. There are various reasons I like to watch ‘Groundhog Day’, but the most prominent one is the sheer amount of talent from the people working on it. From Andie MacDowell’s easily likable Rita to Stephen Tobolowsky’s hilarious Ned, there’s no person who worked on this film who shouldn’t be praised for their contributions.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie