Comfort Entertainment: Are We Really Going to Defend Shatner Right Now?

Screenshot of George Takei as Hikaru Sulu from ‘Star Trek: The Original Series’. Copyright goes to Paramount Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

I didn’t expect to come back to Star Trek so fast but here we are. As most people know, William Shatner was recently sent up to space via Jefferey Bezos and his new interest in sending rich people to space. As is typical with trips like this, Shatner and his party spent only a few minutes just above Earth before coming back. However, not so typical is the fact that William Shatner is ninety years old, the oldest person to endure the trip to space. There were split reactions to this whole endeavor. One was the understandable continued frustration over rich people getting the complete privilege of entering space without any real reason. The other was gratification over sending such a huge icon in Sci-fi, and such a huge influence in the public’s interest in space travel, to the exact place an entire generation always pictured him inhabiting. George Takei’s take on this subject was a bit different from both of these. I’ll get into exactly what he said in a moment, but it started an entire twitter war with fans taking either Takei or Shatner’s side. I’ve been vocal about how much I dislike Shatner. And I’ll also talk about that in a bit. But this entire argument is ridiculous even without Shatner’s character coming into question. With it included? I can’t even begin to imagine why people are defending him.

What George Takei Actually Said:

What seems to be going around most is the headline that George Takei referred to Shatner as an “unfit specimen”. News sites are spinning this as a complete attack on Shatner’s character and many people are taking direct offense at just this quote taken out of context. What George Takei actually was trying to communicate, was his interest in the result of sending a ninety-year-old to space. He claimed that whatever space is like for regularly fit individuals, Shatner, who cannot be considered fit mainly because of his age, would demonstrate how less fit individuals would fare during a trip to space. Therefore, an “unfit specimen” to study. It was a blatant jab at Shatner’s age, but most people expressed some level of concern over how the trip to space would affect William Shatner. I’m not saying George Takei was expressing concern here. He famously hasn’t gotten along with Shatner and there was certainly a bit of humor in the way he referred to Shatner’s age. But he wasn’t attacking him either.

Why George Takei is Right to Dislike Shatner:

This is where my title comes from. I don’t know if Shatner’s defenders are individuals who don’t care about the way Shatner has treated others, toxic fans who claim the many, many, reports of his behavior are lies because it isn’t in line with the actor and character they idolize, or fans who don’t know much about Shatner at all. The point is, Shatner doesn’t get along with most people he works with. And most of the cast of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series’ came away with pretty poor opinions of him. Nichelle Nichols, a long time friend of Takei, nearly quit the series with many reporting that Shatner’s ego contributed to her difficult time on set. After all, it heavily contributed to both George Takei and James Doohan’s hard experience on set. Shatner frequently demanded that others scenes be cut or their lines given to him. This resulted in a much smaller role for Takei specifically in some of the Star Trek films, while Doohan had various lines throughout the series given to Shatner at Shatner’s request. Even Leonard Nimoy went through this behavior from him, sometimes more than either Takei or Doohan. It’s well known that Shatner became extremely jealous once Spock was established as the most popular of the characters on the show. And he didn’t just steal his lines, though that would have been enough. He also hid the bike Nimoy used to get around set and refused to let a photographer do a piece on Nimoy, resulting in Nimoy threatening not to get in makeup until the photographer was let in and the near shutdown of production for the entire day. Nimoy and Shatner did become close friends at some point after all this ended, but they didn’t speak for the five years before Nimoy died and Shatner didn’t show up to his funeral.

Shatner has also been pretty famously creepy on set with his women co-stars. Kristine Alley, most famous among Star Trek fans for her role in ‘Wrath of Kahn’, reported both inappropriate advances on his part and has a well-known story about how Shatner hired her an acting tutor because he felt she wasn’t good enough. Even Deforest Kelley and Walter Koenig, who didn’t report issues with Shatner, expressed complete awareness of his childishness. And if you think this behavior is all in the past, think again. J.J. Abrams tried to give Shatner a role in his recent reboot movies, but had to end negotiations because Shatner wanted the story to focus largely on himself. Of course, with Takei specifically there’s more examples of animosity outside of Star Trek. Shatner frequently plays the victim, calling Takei’s public dislike of him “psychosis”, which is ironic considering that this is Shatner expressing public dislike of Takei. Takei fires right back, saying Shatner brings up his past feuds for attention. Shatner also publicly complained that he wasn’t invited to Takei’s wedding, which Takei denies. A lot of this situation specifically is a he-said-she-said situation, but given the fact that most people, including the Star Trek cast, have had bad experiences with Shatner, I know who I’m more inclined to believe.

As for Takei, he’s been outspoken about LGBTQ+ issues, the struggles minorities face, and achieving equality for all of us. William Shatner got in a twitter feud with a bunch of trans people because he didn’t like being called cisgender. I don’t know either of these two personally. But I do believe that actions speak louder than words and all the actions I’ve seen from Shatner have left me deeply unimpressed. As for Takei, love him or hate him he stands up for some very important causes. I don’t see any world where I would rather defend Shatner over Takei. I don’t understand why this is even a debate.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

BTS: Happy Jimin Day!!!

Photo of Park Jimin at the ‘Sowoozoo’ concert. Copyright goes to Hybe And BTS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Yay! It’s Jimin Day! This amazing man has been my bias for so incredibly long and I get the immense pleasure of writing about Jimin’s birthday right after I got to write about my bias wrecker, Namjoon’s, birthday. Jimin has been with me through so much now. And still he’s been with me through so much continued stress. This man is a constant comfort to me and a constant comfort to so many. I still cry when I hear ‘Promise’. I’m glad to see that we’re all doing really well in celebrating Jimin’s birthday, but he is a member of the maknae line so that’s to be expected. But I want to go over some of his more meaningful and comforting moments for me, both small and large. Even some behind the scenes stuff! So let’s go through some of the stuff that really solidify this man as my bias each day!

Jimin Birthday Incident:

Can we talk about about when BTS was performing overseas during Jimin’s birthday? Because that entire scenario was adorable. And absolutely entirely appropriate to talk about during Jimin’s birthday. On that day, all of the other members secretly decided to learn “Happy Birthday” in another language just to surprise Jimin. And when Jimin heard it he immediately wondered why he hadn’t heard the song or practiced this, so he tried to sing along. Only to realize half way through that it was “Happy Birthday” and they were singing it for him. He proceeded to laugh at himself and then do a lap around the entire stage. His bewilderment at the fact that they were singing to him is adorable and something that still lives rent free in my brain.

Three Cute Faces:

I couldn’t do this post without talking about the ‘Run BTS’ from today. After all, it is the last episode they will be doing for a while and we don’t know when it’ll be coming back. This most recent episode recapped a bunch of the most famous moments from all the ‘Run BTS’ episodes. (Which makes me think it won’t be back for a while.) Including the photo episode where they had to time their jumps in order to take a photo based on a prompt. In their revisit of this game Jimin was wearing a hoodie with two black pom-poms on the bottom, which made it look like he was wearing three mics. But even better, they were required to do easy mini games to get more food for dinner. Jimin chose an aegyo game where he built up on one cute face until it was almost unbearably adorable. I don’t think there is a single person out there who can resist the Jimin pout.

Jimin’s Love For ARMY:

For this I’m specifically going to talk about a moment at the ‘Map of the Soul: ONE’ concert that has recently been expanded upon by the behind the scenes for the concert that was just released. Jimin throughout the behind the scenes footage talked about how much he missed ARMY and how he had much less energy without us there to perform for. You could tell that the lack of ARMY discouraged him more with every single rehearsal, but he still talked about his troubles with a smile as he usually does. I think we all know by now that he actually cried at the end of the first day of the concert. I’m not going to delve into that too much because I feel like that’s a very private moment for Jimin. But afterwards he revealed the cause for his emotion, which was that he didn’t know the footage of ARMY on the walls was live. And actually getting to see ARMY live was overwhelming for him and made him miss us even more. I hope he knows that we miss him a lot too!

Jimin With TXT:

Since late 2019 we’ve been getting more and more footage of BTS with TXT, which I absolutely love. We know that BTS are people that TXT look up to massively and they also serve as mentors for TXT because they’re in the same company. I personally love both groups and think that they shouldn’t be compared as much as they are. TXT are their own group and are not trying to be like BTS, but I digress. Anyways, in one adorable clip, TXT attended a BTS concert and then surprised BTS afterwards backstage. While many of the members were giving the members of TXT advice, Jimin was more concerned about their seating arrangements. Evidently, TXT were sitting in one of the top boxes of the stadium and Jimin just kept asking them if the weather was comfortable and if they were too cold up there. It makes me smile every time I see it. Jimin also cleared up a vocal practice room early so that TXT could use it. I love hearing about how much BTS looks out for the members of TXT.

Jimin and ‘Serendipity’:

Jimin has had a lot of solo songs, and I love every single one of them. His performances are insane and his songs have amazing vocals, dances, and are definitely earworms. More recently, I rewatched the concerts where he performed ‘Serendipity’ and this performance sticks out for me for several reasons. Firstly, the video that accompanied this solo song before the performance was amazing and so very Jimin. It depicted Jimin with a beautiful sky blue background wearing beautifully flowing clothing that moved with him as he danced. And adorableness with a pastel yellow blanket. The performance itself is just Jimin also. It’s a flowy but regal costume for his dance, lighthearted with bubbles, and it suits his amazing light vocals perfectly. The pastel look in the photoshoots with his pastel pink hair makes it look all the more colorful. It’s definitely one of my favorite Jimin looks and concepts.

Jimin and Littles:

I have to mention this because it’s adorable. Jimin went viral around Christmas a couple years ago for carrying around a little girl they were performing with. The photos that released of both of them smiling and laughing still succeed in making my day better. On top of that, when going on an American show, Jimin met two younger fans. He was bewildered because the little girl he met, who immediately hugged him, asked him if he was ok. Which was a question that he didn’t understand why she was asking him. But he thought it was adorable nonetheless and actually got on her level to give her a big hug. Most recently, both he and Tae worked with child actors for the “Permission To Dance” MV who got down on their knees every time Tae and Jimin also tried to get on their level. Both found this very cute and just accepted it. Seeing Jimin with kids is always cute. And really the same goes for dogs. Jimin is known for jumping around with dogs. He’s got the kids and puppies thing covered.

I love Jimin so much and I can’t wait to actually see him in person for the concert. I still can’t believe that is actually happening. That I’m seeing one of my far-off comfort people is insane to me. That I’m seeing seven of them is even more unbelievable. Jimin is one of the reasons I smile every time I pull up almost any app on my phone. So a very happy birthday to our Jiminie! I hope your day is amazing and I can’t wait to see you from afar at the concert!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Comfort Entertainment: The Series That Made Me Love ‘Star Trek’

Promotional image of (Top) Nana Visitor, Alexander Siddig, Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Terry Farrell, (Bottom) Colm Meaney, Cirroc Lofton, and Armin Shimerman for ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’. Copyright goes to Paramount Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’ve only just started mentioning Star Trek on this blog and I’m a bit sad about that. It’s one of the best geeky franchises ever created. Not only has the series massively impacted Sci-Fi as an entire genre, but its focus on deep societal and humanitarian issues make it immensely important to media in general. There’s so much I love about Star Trek, so why hasn’t it come up very often on this blog? The honest answer would be that I actually haven’t been a fan of Star Trek for very long. My parents both liked ‘The Next Generation’ series, so I did grow up watching the odd episode now and then, but it wasn’t something we often watched in my house. When I started college I watched a full season of ‘The Next Generation’, but between my busy schedule and some of the truly awful episodes in the first season, I decided to put Star Trek down for a while. (Aside from the J.J. Abrams movies which are a completely different beast.) Now I’m back to the franchise and more committed than ever to exploring the Star Trek content available to me. But it wasn’t ‘The Next Generation’, or even ‘The Original Series’ that sold me on Star Trek. It was their darker, crazier cousin, ‘Deep Space Nine’. So here’s a huge appreciation post on why this series in particular made me fall in love with Star Trek.

The Captain:

Every Star Trek series needs a good captain to succeed. The captain essentially takes the role of the main character. While Star Trek is an ensemble show, and fans will most certainly find favorite characters among the rest of the cast, the captain is tasked with anchoring in the audience for the majority of the episodes. This means that they need to be both relatable and respectable. Sisko did all of that for me from his first appearance. When I had attempted to watch ‘The Next Generation’ and ‘The Original Series’ for the first time, I hadn’t been able to relate to either Picard or Kirk very well. Picard was somewhat stiff and already so knowledgable at the beginning of the series that I felt it hard to relate to him. Kirk was a bit of a pompous jerk and William Shatner’s acting didn’t help matters much. (If you like William Shatner, I apologize for the amount of times I’m likely going to trash him on this blog. To put it simply, I don’t like him much as an actor or as a person.) Sisko started out his series with a grudge against Picard for something that Picard really wasn’t responsible for and a somewhat bad attitude over his assignment at Deep Space Nine. I clicked with him immediately. Sisko was introduced with relatable qualities. Namely, flaws and emotional trauma. Not only did these things make me feel for him, but I respected him too. Despite his constant struggle with the recent death of his wife, he was completely civil and competent in completing his job. He also spent his entire first two-parter trying to explain the existence of humans to beings we’d later come to know as “The Prophets” in order to create a mutual understanding between them and humans. Not only was this endeavor noble, but he even took some time to explain the emotional moments of his past to them, both baring his soul to the audience and demonstrating incredible grace despite all of his flaws. And Sisko continued to do those things throughout all of ‘Deep Space Nine’. He didn’t always make the best decisions. But he was a good man with a good heart. That alone made Benjamin Sisko great.

The Representation:

We can talk about all kinds of representation on this show. Benjamin Sisko was the first Black captain Star Trek had ever had. The show succeeded at not frequently patting themselves on the back for this move while also acknowledging the difficulties faced by the Black community with the character. Star Trek is supposed to show an idealistic future society where racism, sexism, and anything of that kind has been done away with long ago. But Sisko did have a few episodes where he was forced to acknowledge the hardships the Black community face, most often when the plot called for him to interact with past timelines. And Avery Brooks, the actor who played Sisko, had a lot of say in the exploration of these themes. The show did an excellent job of keeping this idealistic society the main focus while still holding up a mirror to the society of today. Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax were the first women in Star Trek who had full character arcs that weren’t riddled with stereotypes. In ‘The Original Series’ women were treated pretty poorly, as most women were in shows at that time, and in ‘The Next Generation’ even Marina Sirtis and Gates McFadden, the actresses who played Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher, have expressed how lacking the writing for their characters were.

This wasn’t present at all with the two women leading ‘Deep Space Nine’. Kira Nerys was the first female main character in Star Trek to take the position of second in command. She also wasn’t to be messed with. She would throw a punch if someone insulted her, talk about her time as a rebellion leader during the war her planet endured, and loudly speak out for her people and her religion. Jadzia Dax also more than held her own. With multiple lifetimes of experience in her head due to the Dax symbiont, she was more intelligent than most of her peers, as well as hilariously sarcastic and tough enough to stand her ground against any Klingon she encountered. Jadzia also added more representation by both having a major female love interest in one of her episodes and, as a result of being a man in her past lifetime, frequently reintroducing her name and pronouns to old friends. This aspect of her character struck a chord with many queer individuals who had experienced similar situations. And on top of all that, while the series itself didn’t go through with this, we did get a good amount of cast and crew supporting a queer relationship between the characters of Julian Bashir and Elim Garak. Star Trek has always been known for trying to represent as many types of people as it can, but this series really did take it to an entirely new level.

The Morality:

Star Trek has always done a really good job of exploring the morality of its characters. While the characters we follow in every series are indisputably the good guys, Star Trek still finds a way to challenge their values and morals through complicated situations. In ‘Deep Space Nine’, the complicated situation is an ongoing war that encompasses multiple seasons. Nothing is simple in war, and the writers make a point of that in every episode. Sisko, our flawed hero, constantly has to face the decision between sticking to his morals or making the call that he knows will save more lives. Garak, a former spy guilty of war crimes, frequently demonstrates that he wants to redeem himself while still falling into old habits. Worf must balance his loyalty to his people with his loyalty to Star Fleet in nearly every episode where the war is discussed. Kira, especially towards the end of the last season, is tasked with putting aside her prejudices against the people who invaded her home world in order to ensure victory. Even Julian Bashir, who is established as being one of the most decent men in all of Deep Space Nine, finds himself making decisions that aren’t very becoming of a doctor in order to gain vital information. These storylines not only explore human morality and the things we hold important in dire situations, but also the beliefs and flaws of the characters. The character building in this series is genuinely almost unmatched.

These are only a handful of things I love about ‘Deep Space Nine’. As a viewer who admittedly focuses on characters more than anything else in the media I consume, I stuck to mostly the aspects of the show that involve the characters. But there’s so much more I love about this show. The location, a space station next to two planets that don’t get along, lends itself to some excellent world building. The show discusses topics that Star Trek didn’t venture far into before, such as religion and faith. Going back to the characters, the show develops character relationships with a strength that its predecessors lacked. I absolutely recommend this show. But I’m not done with my watch through of Star Trek content. While ‘Deep Space Nine’ might be my favorite piece of Star Trek media, there’s plenty I’ll address in later posts!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

BTS: ‘Permission to Dance’ LA Concert Tickets

Screenshot of (from left) Kim Taehyung (V), Min Yoongi (Suga), Kim Seokjin (Jin), Jeon Jungkook, Kim Namjoon (RM), Park Jimin, and Jung Hoseok (J-Hope) in the concert announcement video. Copyright goes to HYBE and BTS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

The last few days have been hectic and I highly doubt that we’ve seen the end of it. Congratulations to all of you who got tickets for the four days at the end of November and beginning of December to see BTS in LA. I am very happy to report that my sister and I will be there on the very last day of the concert! (AHHHHHH!!!!) But as happy as I am to get these tickets, this entire process was a mess. And as BTS fans, we all expect getting tickets for them to be a mess at this point. Due to their popularity growing exponentially over quarantine, we all knew it would be even more of a mess than usual. Especially because there’s only four days of the concert and it’s only in Los Angeles. But this took it to a completely new level. And we need to talk about why a lot of fans who didn’t get tickets for the concert should have and why Ticketmaster is completely to blame for this. Before I start this, I want to offer my sincere condolences to those ARMY who didn’t get tickets. Once they go on tour again, which will most likely be in 2022, everyone will have much better of a chance of seeing them!

MOT7 Presale:

The major thing to talk about here is the two days of presale that were offered to ARMY who had previously bought tickets for BTS’s ‘Map of the Soul 7’ concert. Every person who had bought a ticket for that tour was given a code to get into two days of presale for the LA concert that were especially for them. This announcement immediately resulted in some very understandable controversy. It was clear that this would be the only thing meant to try and fix things with the fans with previous tour tickets, and considering there’s only four concerts in LA, there will be many people who can’t attend the LA concert because of where they live. Travel still can be risky right now anyways. Many fans were hoping there would be a presale day for previous ticket holders for the next tour, which would more accurately cover all the fans who had tickets. And I wish this was what had happened as well. But instead they were only given codes for this specific concert. And then came the day of the presales, which were complete messes. The first day of presale felt incredibly difficult for everyone, but a few people were snagging good seats and many ARMY just wondered if this was how getting tickets for BTS would be now. This was quickly revealed to be not the case when the second presale day came around. Most fans didn’t get any tickets at all, and the ones who did were only able to get tickets at the top of the arena after hours of waiting and Ticketmaster crashing. Also there were no VIP tickets or soundcheck tickets available for the second presale day.

ARMY Membership Presale:

This was the presale that my sister and I were a part of. And anyone can tell you that it wasn’t nearly as difficult to get tickets this day as it was the previous two days. There were still fans who couldn’t get tickets on this day, but there were actually quite a lot who were able to. My sister and I both got into the presale on this day and so did one of our family members. In the end, only my sister’s got in at a decent time and we were able to get really good tickets after only fifteen minutes of the sale. But most of the people who received a code for the first two presale dates were not able to get into this presale. Most of them were put in the final presale that happened today. It was almost as if getting the code was more of a setback than a benefit. Most of the people with those previous ticket codes, especially the ones put in the second day of the presale, would have been much better off if they had gotten into the ARMY presale.

Verified Fan Presale:

This wasn’t much of a presale. Ticketmaster already stated that after the several days of presales, there probably wouldn’t be any tickets left for general sale due to the high volume of demand for this concert. But what Ticketmaster didn’t say is that this practically went for today’s presale too. There were barely any tickets left for anything. There were days today that were only selling singular tickets. No tickets in groups. Today definitely didn’t feel like a presale, in fact it was barely a sale to begin with. And people who are hoping for general sale tickets definitely aren’t going to get them off of Ticketmaster. Speaking of which…

Ticketmaster Past Controversy:

Ticketmaster has been sued by fans and artists alike for under the table ticket sales. Specifically to third party sellers, who sell the tickets for three times the price. Ticketmaster usually gets a cut of those sales as well. And this is a practice they still haven’t changed despite the fact that they’ve been called out on it multiple times before. If you are looking at getting tickets from a third party seller, which I will not blame you for, just be careful who you’re buying it from. Generally it’s a better idea to go after resales from ARMY on Ticketmaster. Not all ARMY’s on Twitter are legitimately selling tickets. So be extremely careful when it comes to buying tickets now. I’m not saying not to do it, because I know that it would be in consideration for me if I hadn’t gotten tickets, but please be careful. Try to buy them from an ARMY you can trust and, if not, just know that you are going to be paying insane amounts for this concert if you get anything.

ARMY Blame:

I predicted this beforehand when I covered the first time news came out that the BTS tour from 2020 was officially cancelled. A lot of fans who had MOTS7 tickets are very understandably upset, especially after this giant mess. Many of them are turning their anger towards newer ARMYs who got tickets. And even some who are already blaming Ticketmaster are saying that ARMYs who didn’t have MOTS7 tickets shouldn’t have gotten into this concert. I think both of these ideas are extremely misled. It is completely fine to be angry. And yes, Ticketmaster deserves every bit of your anger. But the ARMYs who have been waiting to get into this concert too, don’t. We aren’t going to go around telling ARMY that they didn’t deserve to get tickets. In fact, any ARMY who was able to score tickets is a win for us because it means one more ticket that scalpers didn’t get their hands on. I’m still up in the air on my opinions on ARMYs who bought tickets for multiple days. That does feel unfair considering the people who only wanted to attend one day. That is kind of like a double edged sword, because on one hand it’s another ticket that scalpers couldn’t get their hands on but it also might be a ticket preventing as many ARMYs as possible from going. Either way, now is not the time to turn on each other or tell people that they don’t deserve something. That’s just a low blow anyways. Every ARMY deserves to go to this concert. I have the deepest sympathy for you if you didn’t get in. To be honest, I never expected to see BTS live never mind get into this concert. But I will not support guilt-tripping people who got into this concert who really really wanted it. Let’s try and focus our energy on calling out Ticketmaster.

I am still baffled that I got into this concert at all. I thought with the new onslaught of ARMY, and especially with this concert only being four days, I would never see BTS. Especially not in LA, because California is already a more difficult place to get concert tickets in general. But that’s where I live so that’s where I would have had to get tickets anyways. It still hasn’t hit me yet that I’m going to see them, but I know once it does I’m probably going to be a sobbing mess. Congratulations to all of you who also got tickets! I can’t wait to be with you all! And to those of you who didn’t get tickets, I’m once again going to say that I’m sorry. I hope you get in next time and your anger is completely valid. Just please don’t direct it at undeserving ARMY.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Marvel: ‘What If?’ Final Review

Screenshot of Gamora and T’Challa from Marvel’s ‘What If?’ on Disney+. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

We’re finally to the last three episodes! An announcement for season two has already been made with the promise of following more characters, but I honestly haven’t decided if I’m going to review those yet. However, these episodes were much better than my opinions of the last few! The concepts explored here were fun and interesting, and we finally got to see all the episodes connect in the finale. So here’s your SPOILER warning for my last review for season one!

‘What if… Thor Were an Only Child?’:

This episode was one of the least serious episodes in this entire series. It was really written just to have fun with a singular concept. Thor having become so irresponsible that he enters Earth as that one college jock that lives for frat parties. Evidently they decided that the only thing that could turn Thor into this version of himself is a lack of Loki’s tendency to err on the side of caution. And a lack of Loki in general. However, I’d say this title is a bit misleading. Loki’s lack of connection to Thor doesn’t have any major impact on the story. And Loki is still present, just as a frost giant without much intelligence. Essentially, connecting the concept of Loki not being Thor’s brother to Thor throwing a giant party is a bit of a stretch. But it doesn’t hinder the story. It’s fun to see so many people, including various Guardians and the Grandmaster, get in on Thor’s party. Maria Hill’s reaction to Jane and Darcy getting wrapped up in the party despite the fact that they were the ones to alert SHIELD of danger, is priceless. And Darcy marrying Howard the Duck might just be the best part of the entire episode. But, of course, Thor’s messing up Earth with his huge party so Maria Hill calls in Captain Marvel. I can’t say Carol is acting very much like herself here. She’s simply stern and that’s about it. While Carol tries to beat up Thor multiple times, Jane is encouraged to go tell on Thor to his mom. It’s ultimately Frigga who ends the entire thing by announcing to Thor that she’s coming down to Earth to make sure he isn’t making trouble. Which, naturally, forces Thor to clean up before she arrives. Nothing majorly interesting happens in this episode, but I liked it anyway. With series like “What If…?”, not all scenarios have to be profound. Some can just be amusing.

‘What If… Ultron Won?’:

This episode is mostly setup for the finale. We’re introduced to the idea that Ultron was actually able to get his organic body, who turned into Vision in the MCU, and that victory was enough for him to wipe out the majority of the Avengers. This opening pretty strictly follows the “all or most of the Avengers have died” setup we’ve seen in a few episodes already, but it doesn’t ruin the concept. The only surviving Avengers are Natasha and Clint, who have spent quite a bit of time fighting though Ultron’s robot army in an attempt to find a way to stop him. Meanwhile, Ultron destroys nearly all of civilization, manages to run into Thanos, and makes everything worse by killing him and getting the rest of the Infinity Stones. I thought it was kind of hilarious that Ultron was able to kill Thanos by just cutting him in half with the mind stone. As if Vision could have done that in ‘Infinity War’ and saved everyone a lot of time. Anyways, the Infinity Stones elevate Ultron to a higher level of understanding and awareness. I was expecting the Watcher to get dragged into the story, but watching Ultron turn around and approach the Watcher was chilling. The Watcher retreats to check up on Natasha and Clint in the hopes of seeing them succeed in their efforts to get rid of Ultron. The scene that occurs after this proves two things. Clint’s defeatist attitude isn’t all that endearing and Natasha is SO MUCH better in ‘What If…?’. Natasha’s sarcasm is charming, but beyond this Natasha is capable and no longer overly sexualized. In this episode alone she kicks ass with Steve’s shield, makes all of the plans to destroy Ultron, and renews the Watcher’s faith in humanity after Clint nearly disappoints him. She’s truly the standout here. The end of the episode sees Natasha team up with Zola to try to infect Ultron with Zola’s computer program. It leads to Clint’s death, which isn’t all that sad considering how frustrating he was throughout the entire episode. As that happens, Ultron nearly kills the Watcher while challenging him to intervene. So he does. He contacts the only other person who’s become aware of his existence, Stephen Strange, and decides to get his hands dirty.

‘What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?’:

This finale starts out pretty well, though I do have some gripes about Peggy’s introduction. It starts with the opening sequence from ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, which comes off as more cringe-worthy than fun. That said, I laughed when T’Challa was introduced by saving poor Peter Quill who works at a Dairy Queen, from his god-like father. We also finally get to see Gamora! This version of Gamora apparently teamed up with Tony and single-handedly killed Thanos. I really wish we could have had a whole episode about this, but it’s still a nice concept. Thor is taken by the Watcher literally kicking and screaming, and Killmonger is here too. For some reason. They’re all brought to Stephen Strange and the Watcher establishes them as the Guardians of the Multiverse. Their plan to defeat Ultron is to use a very convenient device Gamora has that destroys Infinity Stones. It seems a bit too convenient, but just wait! It is. After the group meets up with Natasha, they try to use the device on Ultron. It fails because it was made to destroy the Infinity Stones in Gamora’s universe only. The fight that they discover this in is, let’s be honest, mostly being done by Stephen Strange. Strange uses a really strong protection spell to make all of our heroes impervious to any and all damage, meanwhile he packs a punch with all of the different horrific beasts he consumed in his solo episode. It’s Natasha who ends it all, though, by vaulting herself up to Ultron while Stephen’s distracting him and infecting him with the virus she obtained last episode. And then Killmonger makes the unsurprising decision to just take the Infinity Stones for himself. Which lasts all of five seconds. Is it just me, or did the ‘What If…?’ series make Killmonger seem like an annoying nuisance? None of the interesting parts of his character seem to be intact. Stephen is the villain/anti-hero of interest here. Despite the horrible things he’s done, and his horrible episode, Stephen fights the darkness within him, literally, in every scene. And It’s Stephen who sacrifices himself and becomes a Watcher to end the scramble for the Infinity Stones. The episode ends with the Watcher promising to defend the multiverse. He’s definitely broken his oath now.

That’s it! While I didn’t like everything these episodes did, I really liked them overall! Party Thor was a nice break from the more serious themes before we dove into the last two episodes. I loved the redemption arc they created for Stephen Strange as well as the friendship between Peggy and Natasha. And Natasha herself was so well done in every episode she was in. But Gamora’s concept, while good, was all but wasted and everything interesting about Killmonger didn’t seem to be present in these episodes. Just like the rest of the season, there were some high highs and low lows. But the point was to enjoy some random concepts that couldn’t be done in the MCU, and for the most part, I did.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop: ATEEZ ‘Deja Vu’ vs. ‘Eternal Sunshine’

Promotional image of the ‘Deja Vu’ music video. (From left) Choi Jongho, Kang Yeosang, Jeong Yunho, Choi San, Kim Hongjoong, Jung Wooyoung, Song Mingi, and Park Seonghwa.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Before the release of ‘Fever Part. 3’ there was a huge battle on the internet, promoted by ATEEZ of course, that pitted the song teasers for “Deja Vu” and “Eternal Sunshine” against each other. This war between songs was said by KQ to be the deciding factor of which of the two songs would become the title track of ‘Fever Part 3’. We had everything from celebrity voting to fan voting, until we finally saw the result of all the polls, which was “Deja Vu”. Personally, “Deja Vu” is one of my favorite songs that they’ve ever done so I was rooting for that one. But we were asked to choose over only a couple clips. We only recently received the full amount of content for both songs; which includes both the song and the respective music video for each song. So did “Deja Vu” still win out for me in the end?

Song:

ATEEZ as a group is well acquainted with more lighthearted tracks, such as “Wave”, and more dance heavy tracks, such as “THANXX”. ATEEZ has brilliantly tackled many genres of music over their surprisingly short career so far. They seriously have the knowledge and experience of a group that has been in the game for far longer. When I first heard the clip for “Eternal Sunshine”, I was immediately sold. It sounded a bit like some of their other lighthearted music and I always love what they bring to the table with those. When I first heard “Deja Vu”, I was utterly shocked. The transition between the slower nature of the verses and the faster and hard hitting nature of the chorus was not something I had heard before. In fact, I don’t think many of us have heard anything like that song before. There was something about it that immediately packed a punch while also soothing you at the same time. In any other case it might sound like an odd combo. But ATEEZ are the Kings of trying something brand new and immediately mastering it. Now that both songs are out, was “Deja Vu” as shocking to me in its entirety? Yeah! In the initial snippet we got of “Deja Vu” (that I played so many times before the actual song came out that it’s not even funny), we get the quick raps delivered by Mingi and Hongjoong at the end of the song. In the actual song we saw a lot more rap than I was expecting. It added even more of an unexpected nature to it that I loved. “Eternal Sunshine” blew me away with vocals specifically. There were high notes hit that I wasn’t initially expecting from the song. But I was not able to get over the pleasantly shocking nature of “Deja Vu”, so my vote still has to go with the voted title track. This round goes to “Deja Vu”.

Music Videos:

The MV for “Deja Vu” came out quite a few weeks before the MV for “Eternal Sunshine” was released. In fact “Eternal Sunshine” came out a day ago compared to the three weeks that “Deja Vu” has already been out. So you know I had already been streaming that “Deja Vu” MV nonstop. And can you blame me? This one started out with all of them underground in black leather and then ended with them in the rain. Not to mention this choreography is some of the best, most intense, and smooth looking choreography that they’ve ever done. Each scene highlights them perfectly. Hongjoong looks like the perfect smooth Peter Pan with his orange hair leading the group, and everyone else is also showing off some of their best looks. It’s a MV that’s difficult to look away from. Then yesterday the MV for “Eternal Sunshine” was released, and this has to be one of the cutest MV’s I’ve ever seen for anything. In it we get pairings off of several members. Mingi and Jongho have a lot of fun in a sky blue area. Yunho and Yeosang ride the subway together. San and Wooyoung appear together on a court (and then fly together afterwards). Seonghwa and Hongjoong appear separately in their more solo shots, with Seonghwa in a car and Hongjoong being hilariously dragged across the floor of a subway. They all appear together often too, and they all just look so happy. The image of Yunho and Mingi hugging in the MV was one of the major things that went viral. (I seriously will never be able to express how glad I am to have Mingi back.) Between these two MV’s, I really don’t think I can choose one. They are both so different and amazing in their own ways. This round is a tie.

Aesthetic:

We have to talk about the aesthetics because neither of them are a stranger to ATEEZ. We see them tackle almost an equal amount of dark and light concepts. These were particularly noticeable though, especially because their aesthetics were part of what was used to pit the songs against each other. In general, I usually prefer dark concepts by a small margin. Very small. Because I always love the cuteness of the lighter concepts too! But I actually bought the blue “Fever Part. 3” album, which is the photo book that contains the dark concept pictures for “Deja Vu”. I also want to mention (in utter disbelief) that I pulled both Yunho photo cards. I never pull my bias for any other group but for some reason I always pull Yunho for ATEEZ. That aside, I love the pictures for the photo book and my heart has to go with these looks. The photoshoot in water worked so well for this aesthetic. But the looks for “Eternal Sunshine” are also amazing! I love the large hats and the brightly colored jackets. And that sky blue aesthetic is one that I always love. For me, I personally see ATEEZ as the masters of that darker and more hardcore aesthetic. So, I think I’m also going to have to give this round to “Deja Vu”.

TMA:

I would add performances into the mix too, but we haven’t seen a lot when it comes to performances for “Eternal Sunshine” yet. We’ve had a couple performances, but mostly we’ve gotten “Deja Vu”. Though now that the MV for “Eternal Sunshine” is out, we can expect a lot more of that coming up soon. Some people are theorizing that we may even see stages for “ROCKY” soon, which I would also love. But for now I’ve been binge watching their amazing performances and fan-cams from “Deja Vu” stages. And also, my attention has been completely stolen by their performance at TMA. Mostly because it hit me while I was watching the performance that this was the first time that we saw Mingi perform “I’m the One” and I completely lost it over that. After that though, they had an amazing performance of “Eternal Sunshine” that they performed all in black and still managed to perfectly pull off the lighthearted nature of that song. And then they did a seamless transition into “Deja Vu”. It feels impossible to connect those two songs, but they did it. I have to say, you don’t see many groups out there who feel the need to have a transition piece between songs, but now that’s what I want every group to do after seeing ATEEZ pull it off so well. This felt like one piece to me because of the transition, so once again this round is a tie. I can’t choose one. And they won an “Artist of the Year” award!

So “Deja Vu” did win this for me, but I think literally every song on this album is a win. ATEEZ couldn’t fail with what they prepared for this comeback. Between both their most recent projects, what we saw from ATEEZ on ‘Kingdom’ and now this, I am personally both excited and not ready for what they will inevitably release next. I’m never ready. They always find some way to completely surprise me and leave me with my jaw on the floor. And they only seem to get better and better. At this rate they’ll surpass everyone. And I will be there every step of the way.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Superheroes: Trying to get LGBTQ+ Representation in Geek Media

Screenshot of Meng’er Zhang, Simu Liu, and Awkwafina from ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’ve been wanting to make a post about this subject for a while. I’ve talked about LGBTQ+ representation in multiple forms of entertainment, but the way geek entertainment has specifically either addressed or avoided this issue is interesting to me. And now we have yet another ship that’s become so popular, the director of ‘Shang-Chi’ himself is answering questions about it. I’ll be honest here and say that I haven’t seen ‘Shang-Chi’ yet. I was very vocal about getting out to see this movie if you could, but I live in a very conservative area where I find a lot less comfort going to the movie theater during our still shaky pandemic situation. But even though I still have to wait to see this movie, I know that many fans came out of it with a specific interest in the chemistry between the characters of Katy and Xialing. Recently, Destin Daniel Cretton, the film’s director, said in an interview that he wouldn’t be opposed to exploring that relationship in the future. He also cited multiple reasons as to why Shang-Chi and Katy’s relationship is important as a platonic friendship between a man and a woman, rightfully shutting down the people who don’t realize that pushing a male lead and a female lead into a random relationship is both unnecessary and frustrating. In other words, he refused the toxic idea that men and women can’t be friends by giving us hope for a possible LGBTQ+ relationship in the MCU in the future. But we all know that Marvel has had a rough past with giving us any representation of this kind. So has Disney. And many other forms of geeky media. So let’s explore some of the biggest LGBTQ+ ships in some of my favorite fandoms and why this community is still struggling for representation.

Marvel:

This conversation was brought up by Shang-Chi, so it’s only fair that I dive into the representation we’ve seen from Marvel. Or lack thereof. The only character that we have confirmed as a non-heterosexual individual in the MCU is Loki. But, famously, this whole situation didn’t go over well. For those who don’t know, in the Disney+ series ‘Loki’, Loki admitted to a woman variant of himself, Sylvie, that he was bisexual. However, this topic only came up in a throw away line about him dating “princesses or princes” before the series paired him up with Sylvie. It shouldn’t be difficult to gather that giving the LGBTQ+ community one small line and then putting Loki into a straight-passing relationship is not good representation. Of course, many bisexual people are in straight-passing relationships. But the point of representation is to demonstrate multiple types of relationships on screen, not simply the ones that involve a man and a woman falling in love. As for what fans have wanted in the MCU, we can sum most of it up to one word. Stucky. Steve and Bucky is by far the biggest LGBTQ+ ship in the entire MCU. And, of course, it’s popularity has lead to creatives and actors alike answering questions about it. But I can’t say any of it has really given fans hope. All of the creatives asked about it have sidestepped the question by saying they appreciate all of the adaptations fans have of Steve and Bucky’s relationship because it means they succeeded in creating a believably close relationship between them. Chris Evans has said that he wasn’t necessarily playing romance but he has no issue with fans seeing a romantic connection between Steve and Bucky. Sebastian Stan has made similar comments. So we haven’t really had anything LGBTQ+ related truly supported by either cast or creatives until ‘Loki’ and ‘Shang-Chi’. We can only hope that Destin Daniel Cretton manages to do better than ‘Loki’ and give the LGBTQ+ genuinely good representation in the MCU.

Star Wars:

Here we step into yet another mess. Star Wars has, of course, had a history of LGBTQ+ ships within its fandom. But none of these really made it into such a level of popularity that the cast and crew were forced to address them. That is, until ‘The Force Awakens’ came out. From there fans could easily see chemistry between the characters of Finn and Poe. And so could the actors. Fans of the supposed relationship between Poe and Finn were almost instantly supported by Oscar Isaac, who frequently spoke about how much he enjoyed the chemistry between Finn and Poe and how he attempted to play into it as an actor. While John Boyega wasn’t as talkative about the relationship, he made it clear that he supported it. When the third movie rolled around, it seemed that both the fans, actors, and some creatives were making enough noise that a relationship might actually be possible between the two. But then Poe got a potential love interest in the form of a randomly introduced woman from his past and Finn doubled down on his unrequited feelings for Rey. The only thing given to the LGBTQ+ community was two women kissing in the background of one of the final scenes. It’s more than Marvel has done, but it’s still abysmal. When Oscar Isaac was asked about this development after the third movie came out, he was very clearly unhappy. He noted that he had pushed for the Finn and Poe ship to be explored in the third movie, but blamed execs for being too cowardly to move forward with it. Fortunately for the fans, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega still cheekily hint at a relationship between their characters when the topic of Star Wars comes up. Unlike in Marvel, Star Wars LGBTQ+ fans have some support. But, much like Marvel, no actual representation at this point. Not even in the animated series, where a relationship between Ahsoka and Trace was hinted at but never actually realized. Do better Disney.

Star Trek:

Here you’re probably expecting me to talk about Kirk and Spock. They are, after all, one of the most popular LGBTQ+ ships in any fandom ever. But really, there isn’t a ton to talk about. The fans shipping Kirk and Spock were by no means ignored. However, at the time the original series was airing, even a hint at an LGBTQ+ relationship would have gotten them off the air. They already had a hard enough time airing an interracial kiss, which was possible thanks to William Shatner making an uncharacteristically awesome move by crossing his eyes during every take they did without the kiss between Kirk and Uhura. By the time ‘The Next Generation’ was coming around though, series creator Gene Roddenberry promised in public interviews that audiences would see LGBTQ+ relationships in Star Trek. He even had one of the writers, who was part of the community, pen a script for the series that would focus on the problems the LGBTQ+ community faced at the time. But then Rick Berman stepped onto the scene and he shut down every attempt to show this kind of representation. Which leads me to the actual ship I’ll be talking about here. Julian Bashir and Elim Garak from ‘Deep Space Nine’. This relationship was supported by almost everyone. The script writer for most of the episodes, Ira Steven Behr wanted to explore the relationship. Andrew Robinson, who played Garak, was clear that he meant for Garak to have feelings for Bashir. Alexander Siddig, who played Bashir, supported the couple as well. But once Rick Berman got the hint that a good chunk of the cast and crew were actively trying to make this relationship happen, he demanded that the characters of Garak and Bashir appear in less episodes together. Fortunately for the LGBTQ+ community, the character of Jadzia Dax did get a few female love interests during the series. And now Star Trek is way ahead of pretty much everyone else with both relationships between queer characters and representation for trans individuals. But you have to wonder what would have happened if Bashir and Garak had been allowed to be a couple back in the nineties, when Star Trek was more firmly in the public eye. At least Alexander Siddig and Andrew Robinson took the whole situation into their own hands and read aloud a fan-made script that solidifies the character’s relationship.

That’s all I’m going to talk about for now. There are tons more examples of LGBTQ+ representation struggles in geeky fandoms. Far too many for me to talk about here. I sincerely hope that Star Trek isn’t the only piece of media we see explore these themes. I love Star Trek, and I will absolutely dedicate a post to it at a later date, but I can’t say the new series are majorly popular. Not even among fans. So while the LGBTQ+ relationships are nice to see in a franchise as big as Star Trek, I want to see LGBTQ+ representation in media that reaches even more people. It’s long past time we see more diversity in the types of people and relationships we see in pop culture. As Oscar Isaac said, the entire problem is cowardly execs. And that cowardice should have been left behind a long time ago.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop: New Idol Mistreatment Debates

Jeong Yunho on ‘City Fisherman’. Copyright goes to Channel A and ATEEZ.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I feel like the mistreatment of idols is always a source of news, but I always think that it’s worth talking about. While some of the time it can be overprotective fans infantilizing idols, sometimes it can be pretty important examples of how K-Pop idols are sometimes treated poorly. Recently there have been quite a few of these mistreatment allegations placed on the behalf of my favorite groups, so it’s really difficult for me not to talk about them. Because some of them definitely made me angry for regular reasons while others made me angry for others too. So before I really get into this, I also want to mention that there will be an important announcement about the future of this blog at the end of the post. Don’t worry, it’s not really bad news!

‘My Universe’ MV and Jin:

The ‘My Universe’ music video came out last night and it’s absolutely amazing. I already loved the teaser photo with the members of BTS dressed as characters from a sci-fi movie I wish actually existed, but the wardrobe wasn’t even the best part. I loved the story about connecting far-off places with music despite it being outlawed. (I’m always a sucker for these storylines- see ATEEZ’s ‘Rhythm Ta’ performance on ‘Kingdom’.) I also really liked the design of the aliens and the creative usage of another fictional band to aid Coldplay And BTS. Despite the fact that the music video had plenty of things to talk about and dissect, there were two major things that blew up about it. First, and more lighthearted, was that part where Hobi was flirting with an alien. We haven’t really seen Hobi do anything like this in a music video before and I thought it was hilarious how much it blew up. Hobi stole that entire MV for me. But you can argue that most of the members got equal screen time- except for maybe Jin. This debate started when the song came out because we could only clearly hear Jin a couple times in the song. But I’ve talked about the line distribution debate before and my opinion hasn’t changed. BTS decides their own line distribution, so we need to respect their decisions. I did kind of agree that Jin appeared far too little in the music video. I will argue that most of the shots of BTS were group ones, but everyone else got longer singular shots than Jin. I think they should have found a way to give Jin more time on screen, even if he didn’t have many lines. It felt like Jin flashed on screen and then was gone, and he deserves more than that. But blaming BTS or Coldplay for this is absolutely ridiculous.

Jungkook and Advertisement:

This one is absolutely ridiculous for so many reasons. Jungkook was discovered to be the director of his brother’s fashion company, which people already knew that Jungkook has recently been wearing a lot of pieces from. Because Jungkook was not clear about being in a position of power in this company, people started accusing him of false advertising. Or advertising without disclosing that he was trying to promote the clothing. But this argument, obviously, doesn’t make any sense. Jungkook was wearing the clothes, yes, but he never drew attention to them or started talking about how amazing they were. Is he not allowed to wear those clothes even if he likes them without telling everyone where they’re from every time he wears them? Jungkook wore the clothes, he never advertised them. I was with the rest of ARMY on this one, but not completely. Many people defending Jungkook in this situation were massively infantilizing Jungkook. Saying that Jungkook was too young to deal with this or inferring that he wouldn’t be able to handle it. If you were one of those people who was saying things like this, you’re infantilizing him. We don’t get to decide his capabilities. He’s an adult. And we’re all fully capable of defending him while treating him as a twenty-four year old instead of as a five year old.

‘City Fisherman’ and Yunho:

This happened a little bit ago, so you might be surprised that I’m just talking about it now. The reason for that is because the situation kind of developed slowly and we didn’t have much definitive proof until recently. Semi-recently, Yunho of ATEEZ was on the fishing show ‘City Fisherman’ as well as several other idols. Yunho was commended pretty early on for his apparent hidden skills in fishing (He did so well!) and an absolutely adorable moment where a butterfly settled on him and didn’t seem to want to leave. (Me too butterfly. Me too.) But as time passed after the show, more and more fans began to complain about a specific part of the show. At first people weren’t updating videos so nobody could confirm if the story was real. But more recently we’ve started getting more of the actual clips. Specifically one where Yunho was cooking for some of the older mentors on the show. Another team was getting their soup cooked much more quickly, prompting many of the older men to complain to Yunho about how slow it was taking. They also referred to Yunho as a “slave” and kept complaining to the point where Yunho began to look unhappy and stressed. Anyone who’s even semi familiar with Yunho knows that getting him to stop smiling is often difficult. So this was a little alarming. One of the mentors began assuring Yunho that it wasn’t his fault and that the gas in their outdoor stove was faulty and to blame for the slow cook time. But he seemed to be the only one attempting to help. This is not the first of this kind of complaints we’ve seen from shows like this. In fact, complaints like this are one reason why idols have stopped appearing on so many variety shows and their companies create specific shows for them instead. The most known example of an idol being treated badly by variety show hosts was when Jungkook bought food for the entire cast of the show and many of the hosts baselessly accused him of bringing them leftovers. This happened years ago and it’s still talked about.

Most people know by now that Yunho is known for being kind to staff. A staff member not long ago credited Yunho for her not giving up on her job, because he showed her kindness and cheered her on when she was having technical difficulties on a set. Yunho also was commended for running around during this fishing show specifically to help several people. The fact that he was treated so badly definitely does not seem like some sort of behind the scenes beef, and appears to just be the egos of the variety show hosts. Which, as I said before, does not seem to be uncommon. I just hope that these hosts know that without these idols they may not have jobs. And if they continue to treat idols like this, then they probably won’t. Idols are already abandoning variety shows for their own projects after the success of ‘Run BTS’. Yunho being treated like this is nothing short of idiotic. Obviously, Yunho’s my bias in ATEEZ which is one of my favorite musical groups, so I’m very angry about this. But I think this further opens a pretty big conversation about the way many variety show hosts, and even interviewers (especially in America), seem to look down on idols. Hopefully something about this will change soon. Whether that means variety show hosts learning from their mistakes or variety shows being completely replaced with idol specific ones.

The mistreatment of idols is always something that feels pretty disheartening to look at. But I hope that people will find hope in that we’re talking about this now more than it has ever gotten public interest. Talking about this more and more is bound to change some things. The hosts who ignored Jungkook were even apologetic and respectful to Jungkook recently because of the fans continuing to talk about the mistreatment. While we need to be careful not to further trash people for acts in the far past that they’ve apologized for, it’s nice to think that maybe we can get idols more respect in the industry by talking about recent or untouched events. And with that, here’s the announcement for the blog! Because of exciting new prospects in the lives of both my sister and I, we will be slowing down our posts. There will still be new content and we have plenty of old content as well for you to revisit! But, for now, we’re going down to posting every other day instead of every day. So it won’t be much of a change! We hope you’ll stick with us through this change and we promise that we’ll continue to post well-thought and really fun posts! Thank you!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Comfort Entertainment: A New Perspective on’Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’

Screenshot of Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, and Matthew Broderick from ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’. Copyright goes to Paramount Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ is one of those movies that every 80s fan has seen at least once. It’s a classic movie that’s constantly referenced in pop culture. The movie earns all that hype too! It initially comes across as a regular 80s teen movie, and to be fair, the plot doesn’t really dispute this. It matches plenty of similar 80s movie plots where teens skip class to go out and do something crazy. But this movie perfects that idea and gives us plenty more to enjoy. Fourth wall breaking has never been as excellently done as it was in this movie. Not many protagonists are nearly as charming as Ferris Bueller. And not many crazy teen movies capture teens in a way that’s actually relatable to most teenagers. I obviously love this movie, but my opinions on the events and characters in the movie have changed over time. So without any further delay, let’s go through some of the things I noticed the last time I watched ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’.

Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane Aren’t Just Rowdy Teens:

The three main characters in this film can seem pretty irresponsible. They skip class during their final year of high school without caring at all about what they’re missing, they break rules put in place to keep them safe, and they wave away all repercussions as though they won’t face any. Their actions paint them as rowdy and uncontrollable. But, as the movie goes on, it becomes clear that isn’t true. Cameron is such a goody-two-shoes that he makes himself sick trying to live up to his father’s expectations of him. Sloane reveals that she’s actually expecting commitment from Ferris, even marriage, not just a high-school fling. And Ferris, who is definitely the least responsible of the group, makes it clear that the reason he’s crafting the huge plan is because he knows that life is going to mess up his relationship with his friends immediately after he graduates. He speaks to the audience multiple times about the fact that he might not even be able to see Cameron anymore once he goes off to college. This level of maturity proves that all of these characters are more than they seem. And this is why they’re so relatable to teens. So many adults are willing to take these characters at face value. To brush them off as funny troublemakers and move on. But all teens can relate to the dread they feel when they’re asked to step out of a comfortable space, like high school, and figure out what they want to do with their lives. I’ve completed college and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. So now, watching this movie again, I look at scenes like the one where Cameron and Sloane confide in each other that they aren’t really interested in pursuing anything and I find something painfully real in it. These characters are breaking the rules in order to cope with an uncertain future. And that angle is much more mature than many credit Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane for being.

Ferris Is THAT Friend:

I won’t go as far as to say that Ferris is a bad friend. He genuinely cares about both Cameron and Sloane and he frequently makes it his mission to ensure they’re having fun. That said, he’s absolutely the annoying friend. The one who constantly needs something, even if it’s not something you want to agree to. Sure, Cameron needs some time to enjoy himself outside of the time he spends sick because of his father, but Ferris forced Cameron to stress himself out even more in order to join in on all the fun. Cameron had to make a fake call to Rooney as Sloane’s father to get her out of school, give Ferris his father’s prized car for the day, and had to fight off feeling sick the entire time. And it was Cameron who ultimately had to suffer the most for their day out. Cameron was the only one who couldn’t hide the evidence of their wrongdoing because of the destruction of his father’s car. Some of the repercussions were brought on by Cameron, but it was Ferris who instigated the situation against Cameron’s will. As for Sloane, Ferris constantly seeks her attention, but he also seeks the attention of other women he meets in the movie. Sloane knows that Ferris is devoted to her, but she’s also frequently asked to support and aid Ferris in his hijinks while he flirts with other women. Ferris’ charms always win his friends back in the end, but he’s indisputably an annoying friend.

Jeanie Has a Right to be Frustrated:

Given the fact that I just spent plenty of time criticizing Ferris for being annoying, you’re probably thinking I’m going to highlight how annoying Ferris is as a brother too, right? Actually, no. To be honest, we get a lot more of Ferris as a friend in this movie than we get Ferris as a brother. But, if not for Ferris, Jeanie definitely has a right to be frustrated because of the way everyone else treats her. Namely her parents. Just look at the way her parents treat Ferris as opposed to her. Jeanie doesn’t skip school. She isn’t that much of a troublemaker. But her parents dote over Ferris, who is a huge mischief maker, while never giving her the time of day. When Ferris claims he’s sick in a very over-the-top manner that Jeanie can see through immediately, his parents don’t question it for a second. When Rooney calls Ferris’ mother to tell her that he’s been absent nine days, she adamantly denies it as if it’s an impossibility. When Jeanie finds an intruder (Rooney) in her house and calls the cops, her mom doesn’t believe her. The police even tell her mother that, though they couldn’t find evidence of an intruder, Jeanie was still obviously shaken up. But her mother refuses to hear any of her excuses and scolds her all the way home for preventing her from closing a major deal at work. Jeanie is clearly tired of trying so hard to get people to like her, including her parents, when it always seems like Ferris wins by default. It’s this exact thing that draws her towards Charlie Sheen’s bad boy when she meets him at the police station. And yet, despite everything Jeanie has to deal with, she still decides to let that resentment surrounding Ferris go. At the end of the film she saves him from Rooney and helps him complete his ruse. I’d say all of that makes her a pretty understandable character.

Those are only a handful of the things I’ve come to appreciate going through this movie again. I love this movie even more every time I watch it. It set a precedent for involving the audience in the story while also directly connecting us to the message of the film. The events of the movie are incredible and insane, but they task every audience member, of any age, to ask themselves a realistic question. Are we stopping to enjoy our lives? Are we taking breaks from our responsibilities to pursue the things that we can truly appreciate and enjoy? They’re important questions and nothing has made me want to answer them more than ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

International Dramas: Part-Time Idol

Promotional image of (from left) Hwang Seungeon, Kwon Young Deuk, Kim Heejung, Lee Suhyun, and Kwon Hyun Bin. Copyright goes to SBS and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I’ve been on the look out for dramas that address K-Pop as a topic, and have slowly been making my way through the ones on Netflix. So when this popped up and I realized that it was only five episodes that were each thirty minutes long, I decided to give it a shot. It’s more like the length of a movie than an entire series, but it is separated into several episodes. And this does cover the story of a co-ed K-Pop group, from each member being chosen to their eventual debut at the end. And it wasn’t what I was expecting. I still can’t say completely how I feel about this drama. On one hand it was a cute lighthearted drama about a group of friends, but there were also times where it got insanely cheesy and ridiculous. It’s also not a serious look behind the scenes at K-Pop. Without further ado, I’m just going to get into it! This is your MAJOR SPOILER WARNING!! if you’re thinking about just going to watch it first, I would recommend it. It won’t take much of your time and I found it to be entertaining enough.

Summary:

A former popular K-Pop producer barges back into the K-Pop scene with the intention of making the next big group. But his training methods and reasons for choosing members are widely questioned, causing the company to attempt to stop the debut of the group. Meanwhile, each member of the group must learn to overcome their worst fears and flaws in order to debut. Sooah must overcome stage fright, Suhyun has difficulty hitting high notes due to anxiety and low self esteem, Hyunbin is fame obsessed with no real talent, Heejung has a bad temper, and Youngdeuk is a former trainee who has given up on his hopes of debuting.

The Good:

Sooah- I loved her energy right off the bat. The moment you see the pink streaks in her hair you know that she’s going to be the energizer of the group. She is shown to be incredibly sweet and considerate as well as the peace maker of the group. I think my favorite moments with her were when she was bonding with Heejung. Heejung begins believing that her losing her temper is never valid, so Sooah telling her that she would also be angry in similar situations helps her out a lot. And she’s grateful when the others help her with her stage fright. She even chose the group over money despite her poor prospects. She’s centered less than some of the others in the group, but I enjoyed watching her.

Suhyun- I think she has the most characterization of anyone else in the group. She was originally part of a group with her brother but when her brother went to enlist in the army, she found herself completely alone in her singing career. This caused her to lose her self esteem. She’s the quietest of the group, but she’s also incredibly observant of everyone else. She’s the makane of the group, which comes across well, but she’s also possibly the smartest person there. And she definitely has the most rehearsed talent. When the plot follows a singular member, it often follows her. And she’s extremely layered, so she’s always really fun to follow in the story.

Hyunbin- This was a character that I was annoyed with at first. He comes off extremely self-obsessed and believes he’s a wonderful singer and dancer when he’s actually horrendous at both. At first it’s difficult to understand why Taekyung chooses him to be a part of the group when he has such a big ego. But later, you realize that he may not be as self-obsessed as he appears. He wants fame, but mostly because he likes people. And it’s his passion that gets many of the members through difficult or embarrassing situations. Even if he isn’t the brightest tool in the shed.

Heejung- For someone so unreasonable with her temper, she often becomes the voice of reason. That is, when she’s not on the verge of beating up Hyunbin. When it happens that the company sabotages their music video, Heejung is the one who finds a way to make do with what they have. She also often has the best opinions when it comes to group decisions. She suggests they create hip-hop music while the rest suggest some much less popular and more odd genres. Her general music knowledge as well as her calm advice in difficult situations makes her stand out.

Youngdeuk- He comes in much later in the series than everyone else, but the group doesn’t feel complete until he shows up. First off, none off them are particularly good at dancing until Taekyung pulls him in as a dance captain and choreographer. It’s only when he too shows that he can go too far in practice that Taekyung reveals that he’s the next member of the group. He’s definitely the most experienced and the most mature of everyone else, as well as one of the only members who cooks. He feels like a needed member of the team.

The Romance- I actually really loved the small and cute romance between Suhyun and Hyunbin. She’s often too shy to speak, while he doesn’t know when to be quiet. They both learn from each other as well as care for each other and it was frankly adorable every time they were on screen together. Despite the short nature of the show, their romance didn’t at all feel forced. I wasn’t expecting a romance in this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. They were both so cute!

The Bonding- Over the course of the show it really feels like they all become close. Bonding between characters is actually what the show focuses on the most, which makes the characterization and the bond between them feel that much more realistic. I especially liked when Taekyung left the group to their own devices because you could really see how the members worked as a team. A group doesn’t work unless the members are in sync, and the show spends much of its time making sure that they are.

The Music- It sounded like legitimate K-Pop music and I have to give it props for that.

The Bad:

Taekyung- He was the producer and he felt pretty inconsistent. There were times where the show showed you how kind and wise he was and you couldn’t help but like him. But other times he was nothing but the butt of the joke or he felt as though he was intruding on the bonding of other characters. I barely put him in this category, but he wasn’t my favorite over-all.

The Humor- I once again have to ask- who is this humor for? The comedy felt like it was for five year olds when the show itself seemed to be attempting to appeal to youth in their teens and twenties. I definitely appreciated the more serious or general bonding scenes over the comedic ones for just this reason. I cringed almost every time a character made a joke because it always was painfully unfunny. It was almost as if whoever wrote the jokes were accusing their audience of being immature. It just didn’t fit.

The Cheese- Sometimes I like some cheese in my shows. But sometimes this show got overly ridiculous way too quickly. The entire series of scenes that introduce Taekyung as a character just made me cringe the entire time. If it was a bit more well placed, I might have been able to stand it, but it always seemed to occur out of nowhere without warning. And this drama is packed with sometimes cheesily delivered messages about friendship or perseverance. If you watch this drama you definitely have to be prepared to cringe. And because of that, this drama also doesn’t realistically cover K-Pop or many of the struggles involved with it behind the scenes. I wished they had at least attempted a more serious subject.

The Treatment- There were several things that Taekyung forced the idols to do that I really questioned. Especially because the conversation about the treatment of idols by their companies is becoming more and more of a topic of interest, specifically because of how specific companies handled Covid. In the show Taekyung forced the group to go through an absolutely cruel boot camp. And it was supposed to be comedic, but to me it just made me wonder about the morality of Taekyung. There’s also a point in time where Taekyung leaves for the day, so the group decides they should take the day off because they haven’t had one yet. And he threatens to fire them when he comes back. The drama treated his actions as justified, which made the situation worse. Mistreatment is never justifiable. It almost ruined the character of Taekyung for me. There’s a reason he’s my least favorite main character.

The Dancing- They needed more practice in that. Sometimes the dancing looked amazing, but specifically their debut performance at the end felt way out of sync. It almost made me wonder if they filmed the debut performance really early on in the process. It made an otherwise fun looking performance feel a little messy.

The Acting- This is where I had some of the most issues. Many of the people hired for this project were idols, and for good reason. It seems like the initial idea was to make this an actual idol group. Some of the idols used their real names as the characters because of this. I’m not sure if this just never came to fruition or if it’s still in the works. Considering there’s no word on any of this, my guess is that the idea was abandoned. Being an idol first and foremost doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a bad actor. Though I didn’t like ‘Imitation’ as a show for the most part, I thought the idols did a great job acting! But here, the acting often felt pretty wooden. It’s probably one of my biggest gripes with the show.

As you can tell, I really liked the characters in the show and I loved the synopsis. It was not a realistic view of a K-Pop group necessarily, but it was still entertaining. Just don’t expect it to get into many actual serious subjects and also expect it to be chock full of cringe. Personally, I have a soft spot for shows and movies that focus on the gradual bonding of a group of people. And this show has all that lighthearted fun, even if it is not the best drama I’ve seen by a long shot. If you’re looking for something quick, lighthearted, and fun, then this definitely covers that! But if you’re looking for a realistic look at K-Pop or the next great K-Drama to become obsessed with, then maybe skip this one.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie