Twins in Media: Janice and Jessica

Screenshot from ‘The Suite Life on Deck’ starring Rebecca Rosso, Camilla Rosso, and Cole Sprouse. Copyright goes to It’s a Laugh Productions and Disney Channel.

Hi! It’s Annie!

We’re really going to dive into nostalgia for this week’s Twins in Media posts. ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’ was one of those shows my sister and I watched a lot when we were younger. I mean, it was one of those shows that most kids at the time watched a lot. This show followed two brothers who would eventually become one of the most popular representations of twins in media. So why not start with Zack and Cody if you’re the one posting first? Wouldn’t that make more sense? You may be right, but I have serious beef with Janice and Jessica. Why? This portrayal made me cry. If you were looking for one of us to absolutely trash a portrayal of twins in media, strap in folks. I’m not going to go easy on these two.

The Bad (Almost All of It):

  • Female twin fetishization. This is one of the most noticeable portrayals of this in media, but it’s everywhere. Let me set the stage for you. My sister and I are six or seven when we’re watching an episode of ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’ and are very excited to finally see female twins on the show. The show then reveals that Zack is attracted to both girls and, upon realizing that they are different people, forces Cody to go on a double date with him. When Cody proves to be too nervous and anxious, Zack decides to take them both out. Throughout the course of the episode they find Cody to be more sensitive and by the end of the episode both show interest in Cody instead. My sister and I look at each other as the episode ends and six year old me immediately bursts into tears. My Mom, hearing the commotion, rushes over to see what’s wrong only for me to wail at her about how I didn’t want to be dating the same boy as my sister when we grew up. I hope you see the problem here. Janice and Jessica are twins portrayed as the exact same character in two bodies, and for some reason this has convinced audiences to allow television and media to portray these relationships as somehow monogamous even when they obviously are not. This is definitely not the only example of this. Ever watched ‘Supernatural’? How many times has Dean Winchester talked about his conquests being twins? Ever watched ‘The Umbrella Academy’? There was a throw away line where Klaus also mentioned having twins as a conquest. Ever watched anything ‘Star Trek’ ever? If you know anything about Captain Kirk, I don’t have to say anything more here. These are only a few examples. Notice how it happens to women more than men? This is because the fetishization of female twins is part of a bigger conversation about the continued fetishization of women in media in general. Not to say that male twins don’t get fetishized, because they definitely do. People seem to like the idea of having two people for the price of one; which will NEVER HAPPEN. There will never be a situation where there are any two human beings for the price of one. But, it does happen significantly more to women. If you think that people know the difference between reality and media and this has not effected the way my sister and I have been treated, guess again. I had a classmate in college heavily hint at me that they would be interested in a threesome the minute they found out I had a twin sister. I have said this before, and I will say it again. If you wouldn’t do it with your sibling; WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU THINK WE WOULD BE INTERESTED? We never have and never will be two for the price of one. We haven’t ever been interested in the same guy! Twins are still two different people with different tastes. We are also not sexual objects for television shows to continuously portray as conquests. Stop fetishizing us and portraying us as the same person.
  • Synchronized twins. Both of us have already talked about this a lot in other posts and I addressed it a little above, so I’ll only touch on this trope. They say the exact same things and they are portrayed as having the same mindset. Everything you might think you would find is present here. They basically are portrayed as having a shared brain, and I’m just emotionally exhausted by seeing so much of this trope.
  • Same person in two bodies. I’ve also touched on this a little already. They are two of the worst portrayed twins in media simply for basically being written as the same character. They really have no distinguishable personality traits. There is no telling them apart because there’s nothing different about them. Even if you spent time seeing which actress was which character, it wouldn’t matter. Because Janice and Jessica are interchangeable. There are no differences here and it’s so depressing to see. They might as well be aliens operating under a hive brain. There are no human beings to be found in this twin portrayal.

The Good (There’s Something Good?):

  • Different relationships. I have to give some credit where it’s due, but not much. When ‘Suite Life on Deck’ came out the writers seemed to recognize their mistake in making both girls be interested in the same guy. They at least had the two date Zack and Cody respectively instead of having them both date the same guy. But I will give very little credit here because they barely showed up in the sequel show and they still acted like the exact same person. This doesn’t even begin to apologize for what they did with these two at the beginning of the show.
  • Different actresses. The absolute best thing I can say about Janice and Jessica is that they were portrayed by actual twins and not the same person. It’s always nice to see twins, or even just two vaguely similar looking actors, play twins rather than just one person. It helps distinguish the two enough to make audiences look at them more like two different human beings in most cases. Unfortunately, these actresses weren’t enough to save the writing of their characters.

So, are Janice and Jessica a good representation of twins in media or not?

You probably didn’t even ask this question after reading the rest of this article. The obvious answer is NO. They are, in fact, some of the worst twins I have ever seen in media in my life. They are great examples of some of the worst parts of media portraying twins. In fact, they also set women in media in general back. You really have to ask yourself; how could a show with twins as their main characters screw up so much? Zack and Cody are sort of opposites, which isn’t good, but they aren’t presented as some sort of hive mind creature. Why is it that once they introduced a pair of female twins, they had to pull out all of the tropes as well as sexism? The fact that these two exist make me both depressed and angry. They also made six year old me depressed and angry. If anyone ever wants proof that twins are fetishized or treated unfairly in media, I would point them directly to Janice and Jessica. They are absolutely awful and a great example of just how far media has to go on this topic and on the topic of fetishizing women in media. Because, I hate to say it, but when it comes to this, media hasn’t gotten much better since Janice and Jessica regularly appeared on our television screens.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Netflix Shows: Why ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ Shouldn’t Have Been Cancelled

Screenshot of the characters Deet and Hup from ‘Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’. Copyright of The Jim Henson Company and Netflix.

Hey! Hallie here!

For us fans of Jim Henson and the recent continuation of ‘The Dark Crystal’ story, we got two major pieces of news for ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ within the last twenty-four hours. Unfortunately, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: The show won an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program. The bad news: Netflix cancelled this show immediately afterwards. Considering the epic story season one was weaving was no where near completed, there’s a lot to be sad about. Who knows how this show will continue. Maybe they’ll be able to continue on another streaming platform. Maybe they’ll continue in future books and comics. All we know now is Netflix is really missing out. Let’s go through what Netflix is missing out on. Light SPOILERS ahead.

The Puppets: This is probably the most obviously impressive of the visual elements used in the show. The puppets are gorgeously made and are capable of so many expressions that it’s really easy to forget that they’re puppets entirely. Nearly every part of every puppet is able to move independently from the rest of the structure, which means movement is anything but limited. The amount of people working a singular puppet would probably surprise you. Not only that, but the designs of the puppets are so well done. Gelflings are eerily human-like and unique depending on where they’re from. Skeksis are giant puppets that get more revolting and disturbing the longer you look at them. And let’s be honest, Hup is one of the cutest things any of us will ever see in our lives. The Jim Henson Company remains the best of the best when it comes to puppets and it’s a shame their artwork is being disregarded by Netflix.

The Story: ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ introduced itself as a prequel to the cult classic ‘The Dark Crystal’. Fans of the original movie knew right away that the story of the show would be deep and horrifying. After all, ‘The Dark Crystal’ starts out with most of the good guys, the Gelfling, having been completely wiped out by the Skeksis. Introducing a prequel where all the main characters represent the different Gelfling Clans means that, by the end of the story, a lot of characters are going to die. This is a kids show everyone. The story even kicks off with a major character getting the essence drained out of her. That thing that scarred all of us as kids. As we follow all of the main characters, first in their separate journeys and then as they converge, we begin to root for them. With the season ending with the first major battle in the Gelfling/Skeksis war, the story was already promising bigger things. It’s sad we won’t be able to see it all. At least for now.

The Creepiness: One of the best things about ‘The Dark Crystal’ in general is that it’s barely a children’s franchise. The characters are cute and there’s nothing explicit about any part of the story. Then we get to the Skeksis and their plan to thrive off of the essence of all of the cute characters by putting them in front of a giant, purple crystal and letting it drain them of everything cute. We get to watch as this happens too. There’s no cutting away, there’s no curing the effects, there’s only the unsettling sight of cute Podlings shriveling up. Not to mention, the Skeksis themselves are giant and disturbing. The sounds The Chamberlain makes are enough to give you nightmares. Despite it’s bright colors and brighter main characters, there’s something truly dark and unsettling about ‘The Dark Crystal’. ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ doesn’t pull it’s punches either. It finds interesting things to do with the creepy aesthetic while reminding everyone watching that life can be ugly. Nothing will ever be able to capture these separate moods as well as this show can.

The Lore: There’s a lot of lore that goes along with the original ‘The Dark Crystal’. It was a collaboration with George Lucas, and as such there was a lot of sci-fi and fantasy elements to unpack throughout the film. The Netflix show only deepened the lore. (There was even a character named Lore.) The Gelfling clans were given specific statuses within Thra. While some lived poorly, in swamps or underground, some Gelfling clans had monarchies. The Skeksis are shown before the Skeksis Emperor died. As such, the show introduces how the Skeksis operated during his rule and how many schemes to overthrow him were occurring in the background. Along with this we get the Skeksis and Mystic duo, skekGra and urGoh, give us an entire visual representation, with the help of Hup, showing us how Skeksis and Mystics were separated from one being into two. This was something we knew from the first movie, but seeing two halves of the same whole living together adds an entire other level to the audiences understanding of these two races. We all know it would have played into later events if it was given the chance.

This is only a handful of the things that drew fans towards The Jim Henson Company’s masterpiece. It’s upsetting that we won’t be able to see more of it for now. Hopefully the story will be able to finish without Netflix streaming the show. Whether or not we get to see the end of Brea, Deet, and Rian’s story, the fans won’t forget what we were given. It went beyond anyone’s imagining of what a Netflix show could be and remains a worthy addition to ‘The Dark Crystal’ franchise. Above all, it was worthy of many more seasons than just one.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Disney: Beauty and the Beast Conversations

Screenshot from Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991) starring Paige O’Hara and Robby Benson. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Feature Animation.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Now that we’ve written a thousand posts on BTS, which I have thoroughly enjoyed, I feel we should take a break to acknowledge one of my favorite movies and all of the conversations surrounding it. This movie was one of those movies that formed me as a child. Little me was so excited to learn to read, I pretended to read before I actually could. When I first sat down to watch this movie I was sucked into it as soon as the opening theme started playing. As soon as I saw Belle, dressed in blue and yelling right back at the Beast, a character who looked like me and had a love for books, I immediately became attached. All these years later, I still love the movie to bits. Of course, because of that I’ve seen so many controversies and conspiracy theories emerge surrounding this movie. Let’s be honest, we’ve all heard at least some of these. Some of them I found really funny, others made me raise a very quizzical eyebrow; but there’s so much I want to address so let’s get into it!

Stockholm Syndrome:

I’m pretty sure everyone’s heard this one at this point. For those out there who don’t know what this is, Stockholm Syndrome is when a hostage develops personality traits of and an attachment to their captor. Yes, this movie does feature the Beast keeping Belle as a hostage; but I have several arguments against this idea. Belle never develops personality traits of the Beast, if anything it is the other way around. The Beast changed because of Belle, not the other way around. Also, Belle is never even sympathetic towards the Beast during her time as a captive. I would argue that once Belle saves the Beast after escaping from the castle, she is no longer a hostage. They both know that she could leave at any point. It is only when she has a level of freedom back that the romance in this story begins. I’m not going to say that everything about this storyline is great. Despite this being one of my favorite movies of all time, I will still definitely acknowledge that we need to stop using stories that romanticize kidnappers. It’s really messed up and definitely NOT a good starting point for love at all. This isn’t great, but I’m not quite sure that Stockholm Syndrome applies here.

Beastiality:

I trust I don’t have to explain what this one is, but I’m not going to give an explanation even if I was asked. This is probably the most talked about controversial topic after Stockholm Syndrome, and I get why people are raising eyebrows. Still, I’m not quite sold on this one either. Belle doesn’t fall in love with an animal. At no point in this movie is the Beast completely an animal. Nor does Belle think he is. He is a cursed human that is admittedly very hairy, but human nonetheless. I mean, it doesn’t help that the Beast was never given a name. The fans sort of adopted the name Adam after a small-time game cited that as his name; but the game wasn’t even created by a Disney company. Still, there really isn’t enough here to call this beastiality.

Gaston is the Real Hero:

NOPE. No thanks. Not today. Not ever. Did we forget about that scene in the movie where Gaston warns Belle against reading because he believes women shouldn’t THINK? Or the part where he tries to forcibly kiss Belle? Or the part where he implies all a woman is good for is having children? Yes, in the end it makes sense for him to go after the Beast, because he did hold a person hostage and it is weird that Belle is now claiming to love her captor. But he does this for all the wrong reasons! He never has actual concern for Belle or her family; he states several times in the movie that he only wants to marry Belle because she’s pretty. He never listens to anything she has to say about anything, never mind what she has to say about the idea of marrying him. When he goes after the Beast, it isn’t because he actually views the Beast as a threat to the village or Belle. He goes after the Beast to get back at Belle for refusing to marry him. He even sends her father to the asylum, which were more than awful places back when the story takes place. In no world is Gaston even a semblance of noble and he definitely isn’t heroic.

The Enchantress Cursed a Child:

This..um…yeah… it did happen and it’s pretty messed up. The Beast is cursed until his twenty-first birthday and Lumiere says that the household has been cursed for ten years. That means the enchantress asked an eleven year old if she could stay in his house and he said no. Which more than makes sense for an eleven year old child who probably grew up knowing not to let strangers into his house. Maybe he was a spoiled brat but, again, he was ELEVEN. This poor kid! The recent and pretty useless live action remake in 2017 tried to fix this mistake by taking out the twenty-first birthday rule on the rose and keeping the castle eternally in the winter day in which it was cursed so that the Beast wouldn’t age. This technically does fix the issue of the original movie, but it isn’t in the original movie. I mean, either way it was pretty messed up for the enchantress to curse the entire house over one person, but at least this means that the enchantress was a bit better in one version.

LeFou:

There are so many problems with this one and they mostly have to do with Disney as a company. It has been a long held idea that LeFou is actually gay because of the way he acts around Gaston, which is something I can definitely see. Really, once it’s pointed out to you, it’s hard not to see that the guy who composed an entire song about a guy he follows around like a puppy is probably gay. The issue is that Disney tried to confirm this in the 2017 version and didn’t commit. Disney has done this with a lot of their recent movies; promising the LGBTQ+ community representation and then backing out last minute or having things happen in the background instead of actually featuring a LGBTQ+ couple. The worst part is, they do this because they’re worried they won’t get money from other more conservative countries. So it’s a money issue for a company that is already drowning in money. What they did with LeFou was a tease at best and a giant example of just how far Hollywood, and the world, still has to go at worst. LeFou should have been openly gay, but that is not what happened.

This movie definitely has issues, and my perception of the story has changed over the years because of some of these topics. Belle and the Beast used to be one of my favorite fictional couples because of the message of not judging a book by it’s cover. I still love Belle, but my perception of them as a couple has definitely gone downhill. Really, if you want a better, healthier, example of not judging a book by it’s cover in a Disney film I would seriously recommend looking at Tarzan and Jane from their respective Disney movie instead. Jane is also such a relatable and well written character without having too many of the princess tropes if you’re looking for that. This movie is still really good and still holds so much magic for me, but I think it’s good to acknowledge some of the problematic things in the media you really like. It helps all of us create new stories that reflect modern ideas. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is one of those things that keeps coming up in conversations like this, sometimes it doesn’t necessarily deserve it, but I’m glad that we can add things like this to bigger conversations.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: How I Somehow Ended Up in ARMY

Screenshot of BTS reacting to the ‘Dynamite’ music video on the BANGTANTV YouTube channel. From left to right, Kim Taehyung (V), Min Yoongi (Suga), Kim Seokjin (Jin), Park Jimin (Jimin), Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), Kim Namjoon (RM), and Jeon Jungkook (Jungkook). Copyright goes to BTS, their social media, and Big Hit Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

So apparently this blog is just going to be a BTS stan blog for a little while. But let’s be honest, we all need a bit of the serotonin right now. To start this out, if you read my original introduction post you know BTS wasn’t on the list of bands I like. It was on Annie’s though, and she’s been the sole poster of BTS content on this blog. Obviously this is about to change. Because as much as I resisted, I now have 36 BTS songs downloaded on my phone and counting. Plus I’m now the biggest trash for my bias, Jung Hoseok. So what the hell changed? How does someone go from listening to mostly 80’s rock and My Chemical Romance to listening to BTS? Let’s go through it!

The release of the “Idol” MV: This was the first time BTS caught my attention. All of a sudden everyone was talking about the same thing no matter which social media platform you were using. The first thing I saw when I pulled up YouTube was seven guys sitting in chairs in front of an orange background. Soon afterwards there were parodies and talk-show appearances that made it to the top of Most Viewed. I watched all of them, mostly out of curiosity, and I felt instant respect for them. RM, or Namjoon, was a really well spoken guy, and even though he was the only one who could speak English fluently, the other guys were so enthusiastic to add to the conversation that I couldn’t help but feel their excitement whenever Jimin or J-Hope cut in. So why didn’t I join ARMY then? It was simply because “Idol” was the only song I’d heard from them, and it wasn’t really my thing. Given the things I usually listen to, you can probably guess why. I don’t listen to pop. But they did keep my tentative interest after “Idol”.

The 2019/2020 “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve”: Yes, after “Idol” they didn’t really catch my eye until New Years this year. The reason was simple. Their music wasn’t my taste. It wasn’t something worth continuing to look into. After all, it was music for tweens and teens. But on January first, while my family was waiting for the ball to drop amidst some idle chatter, BTS came on screen. I was initially hesitant. I had seen many a teenage girl-beloved artist perform on New Years, and I hadn’t enjoyed most of those performances. What instantly struck me was, once again, how polite they were. As I observed them standing behind the show’s host, their general joyfulness was intoxicating. They were standing there politely, not lounging around or ignoring the camera, but still enjoying themselves and the atmosphere. I almost wished I was there with them. As much as I wanted to disregard them, I just couldn’t bring myself to.

The Teen Girl Conversation on TikTok: I joined TikTok right when quarantine hit. What else was I going to do with my time? I quickly followed a lot of media critiquing creators, because that’s what I love, and among them I found a conversation starting about teenage girls and the things they like. This conversation was initially aimed at BTS and Twilight, but it became so much more. Everyone was starting to talk about the general acceptance of bashing media teenage girls like. Through this I realized that I had internalized the idea that media and music teenage girls like are generally not quality. As someone who was a tween who loved the Jonas Brothers, I remember the people who would scoff at my mention of them. In turn, when One Direction came around, I scoffed at them. There’s this idea that a group of male creators who create pop songs are now a ‘boy band’ and their only demographic can be girls in their tweens and teens who don’t have taste. While ‘boy band’ is accurate, why is this title not given to My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy? It’s because that music doesn’t fit anyone’s idea of a group of guys surrounded by screaming, underage, fangirls. As I became aware of all of this, I also became aware that I appreciated BTS as artists and there was no reason for me to brush them off.

BLM: BLM is a movement I am hugely supportive of. So when we got news that not only was ARMY fiercely protecting the movement by spamming rival organizations with BTS memes, but that BTS donated one million dollars to BLM, I was seriously impressed. It was more than a lot of celebrities I knew were doing, especially at a time where I was struggling with MCR’s lack of comments at the beginning of the whole situation. I will forever be thankful for BTS stepping up and helping out the minute they had the opportunity to do so.

My Sister’s Obsession: It’s really hard to stay out of a fandom when someone who’s opinion you trust starts to love something so obsessively that it’s the only thing they’ll listen to. Towards the beginning of quarantine my sister started listening to whatever BTS songs she could get her hands on. That’s when I was introduced to “Blood, Sweat & Tears”. She had me watch the music video and it was gorgeous. To top it off, I really liked the song. I wasn’t completely sold that it was my type of music, but I knew that I would return to at least the one song. She bought some merch and I began to question whether or not I should as well. I started listening to a few songs, some that I liked and some that I didn’t really connect to, and I became conflicted. I learned all their names, started watching behind the scenes videos, and started a months long game of looking up BTS merch, deciding against it, then looking it up again. I was hesitant. I still don’t know why I was hesitant, but I was.

“Dynamite”: This song came at a time where most of us really needed it. It became yet another song I very much enjoyed and I definitely wasn’t the only one. 2020 has hit all of us hard, and here was a genuinely happy song that everyone could get behind. It helped me through a very difficult period for my mental health and I couldn’t help but love it for that.

The MMA 2019 Performance of “Dionysus”: My sister, knowing I was slowly but surely drifting into ARMY, rushed into my room a few weeks later with a request. She told me that BTS’ performance of “Dionysus” was the most epic thing she had ever seen on stage, and if I didn’t watch anything else, I should watch that. So I did. And now I’m in ARMY. Literally, that’s all it took to push me over. It was SO good. The dancing, the spectacle, the singing, the rapping. It was nothing like anything I’d seen before. After I watched it, I instantly started listening to BTS songs in mass and downloading them on my phone. I’m still in the process of this, but I’m getting there. “Dionysus” is definitely the song I listen to the most.

That’s it! Now I’m in ARMY and I don’t regret it for a second. For starters, everyone is so welcoming. I’m so used to seeing gate-keeping everywhere, that I wasn’t prepared to click on BTS music videos and see all the top comments be from people like me who had only joined ARMY a few days ago. The support they received was unbelievable. ARMY is so incredibly kind and lovely, and the boys’ love of the fans is indisputable. Throughout my entire journey becoming part of ARMY, through all my wrongful suspicions and conflictions, I never though I’d feel such a sense of belonging here. If you’re like me and you’re afraid to join, don’t be! Take your time! We’ll all be here to welcome you with open arms!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-pop and K-dramas: Top Ten BTS Songs

From left to right; Kim Seokjin (Jin), Park Jimin (Jimin), Min Yoongi (Suga), Jeon Jungkook (Jungkook), Kim Taehyung (V), Kim Namjoon (RM), and Jung Hoseok (J-Hope). Copyright goes to BTS, their social media accounts, and Big Hit Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I am officially BTS trash now, so luckily that means I won’t shut up about them. Well, lucky for you, not so much for my family. That means so much more BTS content as I get deeper and deeper into their performances while becoming a bigger part of ARMY. Now that I have listened to almost everything they have ever put out, I have compiled my own list of my personal favorite songs. Hopefully, if you are a baby ARMY, like I was not too long ago, you can find some recommendations or places to start using this list. I want to point out that this list was extremely difficult for me to make and leaving literally any of their songs out pains me. I’m not sure many of these I actually like more than the others, and my favorites list is always changing, but this will be at least some of my favorites. (Not just by BTS; these are actually some of my favorite songs to ever exist.)

10. Dynamite

This is the song that has most recently taken over everyone’s brains. Whether the music video now lives rent free in your brain or you just can’t get the song out of your head; I would be surprised if there’s a single person out there that hasn’t heard this song. What’s more amazing, this song was made specifically for all the people currently suffering through quarantine due to Covid 19. This song was the necessary boost of serotonin that everyone needed, and they knew we all needed it because they needed it too. They said themselves that this song was about coming together through all of this, and the amount of fun that they had while filming this music video helped us all to do just that. Not to mention their remote performances of this song have been amazing. If you haven’t checked out the absolute adorable performance of this on ‘America’s Got Talent’, what are you still doing here? The 70’s vibe and the absolute joy that comes from this video and song will warm your heart without fail.

9. Airplane pt. 2

This song just hits different and I’m not sure why. It largely seems to have Spanish influences, and many artists have done things like that before; but I honestly have never heard it done so successfully. There’s something about this song that completely takes the listener away from reality and transports them to someplace entirely different. This is the kind of song that makes you want to get up and dance. Not only that, but this song has the absolute smoothest transitions between each vocalist and I will forever wonder how they were able to accomplish this song sounding so effortlessly smooth. That’s the defining word for this song; smooth. If you want to be transported by music, (Which, really who doesn’t?) just go and listen to this song.

8. I Need U

Definitely one of their older songs, but that doesn’t make it any less good. The amount of emotion this song has just in vocals alone will completely blow you away when you’re listening to it, and that’s not even considering the music video. This music video is very different than most of the stuff they put out, and you’ll be surprised to see just how different it is. It gets DARK. This music video features themes of crime and murder among other things. While the boys generally act as themselves in music videos, this is one of their pieces where they each are acting a part. If you love these boys at all it can be really hard to watch, because they all act their heart out in it and each person plays a character in a really messed up situation. The song is sweet and sad while also maintaining a badass theme. If you were ever on the fence about whether or not to go and listen to their older stuff, go and do it!

7. UGH!

If I’m including a list of their basic songs, I’ve got to also highlight the individual lines. This is exclusively a rap line song and it is absolutely unbelievable. It highlights each individual rapper in a way that no other BTS song does unless you’re looking at their solo releases. One of the many many things that sold me on this band was Yoongi’s ability when it comes to rapping (see ‘Daechwita’ under his other name; ‘Agust D’) and that definitely stands out in this song. But damn are they all so good at what they do! In fact, I might even say that Hobi might just be the standout in this particular song. No matter what, they all go hard in this song and it was more than we all deserve. If you’re ever just angry and you need a song to hype you up, this is the one.

6. House of Cards

This is one of the exclusively vocal line songs. It absolutely kills me. This is one of those songs where whatever is happening instrumentally almost doesn’t even matter. The background music is only there to provide a background for the vocal line of this band tearing your heart out. If anyone ever questions whether or not anyone in this band can even sing, just play them this song. If they still have the same opinion, you know they are absolutely insane. It highlights each of their vocals amazingly while also giving us an example of how well they can harmonize. There is a point in this song where Jimin and Jungkook are harmonizing, and it is some of the best vocal work I’ve heard in any song ever. If you want to hear exceptionally good singing, this is the song for you.

5. Filter

A Jimin solo song being high up on this list is really unsurprising for me given how much I love his vocals. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every solo song I’ve heard from BTS; but this is genuinely my favorite. I’m probably biased (no pun intended). This one isn’t actually one I’ve seen talked about a lot. When I first joined ARMY I knew about ‘Lie’ and ‘Serendipity’ which I liked a lot, but I had never heard of this one until it came up after another song I was listening to. This song feels a bit more dance-y than the other vocalist solo songs, which generally isn’t my thing. I don’t know what about this song sky-rocketed it to become one of my favorite songs ever created. There’s something about it that feels so genuine and it shows off Jimin’s vocals so well! If you like Jimin’s vocals at all, I would recommend listening to any of his solo songs. Really, that goes for every single member of BTS.

4. Magic Shop

This is another one I don’t hear talked about as often. It’s difficult to describe this song as anything but beautiful. This is going to be a weird comparison; but listening to this song had the same feeling for me of hearing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ at Disneyland. It’s this feeling of coming home and experiencing something so new and different you worry that you’ll never experience it again. Something about finding this song somehow told me that this was what being an ARMY was. Of course, everyone is going to have that feeling about different BTS songs; but it is clear that this song holds up to it’s name. Listening to this song is, indeed, like experiencing a little bit of magic.

3. Spring Day

Namjoon once said that if you’re going to introduce someone to BTS, start them with this one. He also called it a masterpiece. There is no doubt in my mind that he was completely correct on both of those points. Even the music video feels like a piece of artwork. Every once in a while, I will stumble upon a piece of music that is so beautiful it feels like staring at a particularly beautiful painting at an art museum. This was that for me. (Are you sick of my weird comparisons yet?) This is an example of what music should be like. It causes it’s listener to feel so many emotions at once while still having this fresh feeling that makes you hope for the future. I admire BTS for creating so many songs that help you to feel again no matter where you are in your life.

2. Dionysus

If you ever want to hear a song that is probably the definition of badass, this is it. Congratulations! You’ve found it! This song stands on it’s own listening to it by itself, but I’m going to tell you right now that you are going to miss out if you don’t watch a live performance of this song. I would specifically look up their performance at the 2019 MMA’s. Their performance in it’s entirety is over half an hour long and definitely worth watching every minute of; but everyone needs to at least see them perform this one at the very end. It is extravagant, giant in scale, and the most badass thing you will ever witness in your life. I went into this one knowing that it would be good (I mean, it’s BTS!), but I came out of it with my jaw on the floor and the feeling that I would never see anything that epic ever again. If you listened to this song and were on the fence about it, watch the performance and then watch it become one of your favorite BTS songs.

1. Blood Sweat & Tears

This will most likely forever be my favorite BTS song just because this is what introduced me to them. I have determinedly stayed away from becoming too involved in celebrity fandoms, and then BTS came along and I didn’t even have to be dragged into ARMY. I saw this music video and basically just said, “alright”. This is another one of their badass songs, but the music video is like watching a small movie. They don’t even have to say anything regarding the plot for you to realize that you’re watching one of the best things you’ll ever see. This song made me intimidated of almost all of them, and I can guarantee the music video will put you in awe of every single member of this band. Then you watch them in interviews and on other shows and you realize that none of them are the least bit intimidating. It just makes this even more impressive and makes you love it that much more.

It pained me to leave out songs like ‘Pied Piper’, ‘Your eyes tell’, ‘We are Bulletproof; the Eternal’ (I cried so much during that song), ‘Run’, and ‘DNA’. Also make sure to look up songs like ‘Ddang’ and ‘Tony Montana’, which haven’t been released on many albums. At least not yet. I hope you aren’t too sick of all of my weird comparisons, but this band is one of the best things I’ve ever found. I’m not a huge pop fan and actually haven’t ever been. I don’t know what it is about K-pop in general, but also BTS, that means so much more to me and feels so much more meaningful as a whole. Do not let prejudice against a specific type of music or uncertainty stop you from checking them out if you haven’t been sold yet or have been attempting to keep yourself from looking them up (as I had before I was convinced to watch my first MV). I will warn you; you will fall very hard for them very fast. But you should also know that they are more than worth it.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Video Games: We Need to Talk About Hogwarts Legacy

Screenshot of the upcoming “Hogwarts Legacy”. Copyright of WB Games.

Hey! Hallie here!

This is a geek blog that has not only spoken on “Harry Potter” before, but involves two people who were obsessed with “Harry Potter” more than anything else for nearly half our lives. When I was sorted into Gryffindor it changed my life. I started believing I was brave enough to go after things I was too scared to do before. I’m also a huge supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and have been absolutely horrified by J.K. Rowling’s recent comments about the Trans community. And yeah, looking back at the books, there’s harmful stereotyping ingrained into many of the characters, and it goes far beyond the portrayal of twins. I can’t say I didn’t brush off my suspicion of characters like Cho Chang when I first read the books, and I regret not recognizing how blatantly racist her portrayal was. However, I’m also a giant video game fan and “Hogwarts Legacy” has been my dream game for many, many, years. So am I going to buy it? No. Absolutely not. I’m going to go through why in a second, but this topic is already so debated that I already know some of my points are going to be controversial. These are all my opinions. I’m absolutely up for a civil debate, but if talking about why I don’t think anyone should buy this game is going to trigger you, feel free to leave.

The Timing of the Announcement: I have a feeling this was purposeful and it’s both a very frustrating and very smart plan at the same time. The same week J.K. Rowling’s transphobia made it back into the news, we got the announcement for this game. If you haven’t heard the most recent news, early reviews for J.K. Rowling’s book under the name Robert Galbraith have come out. They aren’t pretty. It’s not simply that the book is bad, but that it depicts a man dressing up as a woman in order to murder people. Given her past comments about Trans women being untrustworthy, it’s absolutely unsurprising that she wrote something like this. It’s more revolting that she could be this blatant and disturbing. Only a few days after this topic became a popular conversation on most social media platforms, “Hogwarts Legacy” was announced. This is smart in the way that pretty much everyone is talking about “Harry Potter” right now. It’s also disturbing in how obviously insensitive this ploy is. Warner Brothers isn’t giving this time to die down so her transphobia is distanced from the game. (Although it never should be. Regardless of the creative team, Rowling will still profit off of this.) Instead they’re using it to keep their new game in the news. I can admire a smart tactic when I see one, but I can also hate it for how slimy it is.

Warner Brothers Comments: Almost immediately after “Hogwarts Legacy” began to come under fire, Warner Brothers released a statement ensuring that Rowling was not directly involved with the game. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that she wasn’t consulted at any point or that the game isn’t heavily influenced by her. In fact, Warner Brothers also stated that she was the foundation behind all writing in the Wizarding World. And regardless of what she did or didn’t contribute to the game, Warner Brothers is right. “Harry Potter” is J.K. Rowling’s baby and no matter what happens, she will have a hand in everything that comes out of the franchise. Warner Brothers can wave off her involvement all they want, but that won’t eliminate the fact that she will profit off of anything made under the name of “Harry Potter”.

The “Other Developers of the Game” Argument: So many people are talking about this. I’ve seen so many variations of, “I know I shouldn’t support Rowling, but what about everyone else who worked on the game?”. Yes, a lot of creative work went into “Hogwarts Legacy” and many of the people who worked on this game do not share the opinions of Rowling. But keep in mind, this is true of every boycott ever. Boycotting a company because of one person in a powerful position is also harming the other people who work for the same company. Does that mean we should stop boycotting overall? No! Boycotting is a form of peaceful protest and it’s made a difference on more that one occasion. I can’t promise that this game won’t make money, or that boycotting it will deal such a blow to Rowling that she’ll make a change, but it is important. I’ll get more into the importance of this below. As for the realism of this argument…uhhhh. Most of the game designers are being payed through salaries. This is way too big of a company to give them royalties as compensation.

Will Boycotting Hurt Rowling at All?: There’s no way to tell. “Harry Potter” is still a giant franchise and we can’t say this game won’t make money. In fact boycotting may not make a difference at all. But it’s important to stand with the Trans community at this time. Asking yourself what standing against “Hogwarts Legacy” is going to change is, obviously, not going to change anything. We have to start somewhere, and the best place to start is supporting the people who are hurting the most in this situation. Buying this game will only further the side that is standing against the Trans community.

Buying the Game and Donating to Trans Organizations: I saw a few influencers propose this solution to wanting the game. Whatever money they spend on the game, they would equal in the amount they donated to a Trans supporting organization. This, once again, accomplishes nothing. Giving money to both sides isn’t picking a side, and it most certainly isn’t standing with the Trans community. Why not put all of that money towards supporting a Trans organization? If everyone who wanted this game and also wanted to support the Trans community spent all the money they would have used to pay for the game on donating to a Trans organization, that would be making a statement. Giving money to both sides makes no statement at all.

Those are the main topics I’ve seen debated and I wanted to throw my two cents in. Like I said, I’ve been a “Harry Potter” fan for a long time. It changed my life in many ways, and I bonded with most of my friends over “Harry Potter”. I can’t begin to explain to you how heartbreaking I find this situation. And you should in no way hate on people who still like this series. In fact, I’ve seen many people in the Trans community re-claiming “Harry Potter” and I fully support this idea. But I don’t support J.K. Rowling. If you don’t support her either, if you don’t want to stand for her comments on Trans people, the answer is simple. Stop giving her money. Buy books or movies second hand. Stop going to “Fantastic Beasts” movies when they come out. Stop buying official “Harry Potter” merchandise. And most definitely do not purchase “Hogwarts Legacy” when it’s released.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Twins in Media: Wanda and Pietro Maximoff

Screenshot from ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Welcome back to our weekly posts covering twins in media! This week, we decided to go with some of the current most popular portrayals of twins in movies. Wanda and Pietro are definitely that. I will say that they are slightly different in the movie than they are in the comic books, but I haven’t read much of the comics so my information there is pretty limited. But I will say that these two had a huge impact on me. The idea of twins as superheroes has always been popular. We’ve already talked a little bit about twin telepathy in other posts, but the idea of this supernatural connection between twins spurred them into becoming regular additions to comic books and other superhero stories. What surprised me about these two was not that they were there in the first place, but that they are twin superheroes who aren’t like how twin superheroes are generally portrayed. Let’s get into it! And for the few people who haven’t seen this movie, this has major SPOILERS.

The Bad:

  • One twin must die. This is one of the most common twin tropes and I will never not hate it. It is definitely safe to say that this is one of my least favorite twin tropes. Even if what people predict comes true and Pietro suddenly comes back to life in ‘WandaVision’, that will not erase that this was the trope they went with in this movie. Often writers will feel that both twins surviving a war-like situation is “too obvious” or even claim that it’s unrealistic even though a pair of siblings that aren’t twins generally have more of a chance of both surviving a piece of fiction. Even worse, some writers will feel that because they are twins, one is somehow expendable. This happens way too much. The idea that there’s two of us so one is expendable is an idea that basically means you don’t care about our individuality. You don’t see us as two different people. We are somehow each a half of a whole to you. The other reason this is used is to further the story of one of the twins by giving them the easiest trauma you can find. Taking the other twin away. This is just lazy writing in general. There are so many other things you can do, there are even other people in each singular twin’s life that you can look into for that. Why do they always choose the twin? The fact that Pietro has never been talked about in a movie since is proof that this was lazy writing to push Wanda forward. This trope is still used so much and is still widely accepted, which makes me disappointed at best. I’m honestly also just sick of all the death jokes I get as the older twin, because I get a lot of those considering that the older twin is generally the one that dies.
  • Over familiar. This happens a lot, especially with twins that have different genders. Why are they always standing so close together and grabbing each other’s faces? Do you generally do that a lot with your siblings? There are two reasons as to why I think this happens. Firstly, the writers want to show that their relationship is somehow deeper and stronger than regular siblings. I hate to break it to you, but that isn’t necessarily true. We are just like any other siblings that are somewhat close in age. Most of the time we get along, but sometimes we fight and we aren’t always on the same wavelength. We have the same kind of bond that any close siblings no matter their age would have. The second reason is the normalization of twincest in most media when you have a pair of twins with different genders. This can show itself in situations like a pair of twins kissing drunkenly in a comedy movie (it happens more than you think), or in situations like this where they show a relationship that almost looks to the watcher like the characters are bridging on a romantic relationship. All of this needs to go. Until you portray all twins like regular siblings, your portrayal of twins is going to be wrong.
  • Twin testing. This is one of the biggest examples of twin testing and I can’t say I know exactly how to feel about it. For those who don’t know, twin testing was a major part of World War II. Germans would pull aside twins in concentration camps or in transportation to concentration camps and do horrifying experiments on them. Many did not survive the testing. Things like this are why my sister and I make the posts we do. The stigma and fascination with twins has often left us treated as less than human or as some sort of experiment or circus act. I put this in bad, because this was put into the story for plot and definitely not necessarily handled with care.
  • Same-sex fraternal erasure. This doesn’t necessarily have to do with them, but does include all fraternal twins in media. Let me ask you a question; how many twins have you seen in media that are fraternal and the same gender? If your answer was none, I am not the least bit surprised. I have even met people who thought that all fraternal twins had to be different genders because of this. All identical twins will be the same gender, but not all fraternal twins will be different genders. My sister and I are fraternal, though we look alike so we are most often confused for being identical, and are living proof that that’s not true.
  • Twins of different genders. This is similar to the one above and is more of a general thing about fraternal twins. Twins of different genders are more likely to be portrayed as having different personalities. It’s great that there are twins that are getting that, but this needs to be extended to all portrayals of twins.

The Good:

  • Different personalities. Of course I have to say this. Wanda and Pietro are way different without having to be opposites or exactly the same. They’re just different. Wanda is more responsible, pays attention to detail, and is more introverted. Pietro is consistently sarcastic and sassy. He’s not afraid to go up to a girl he likes and give her a dress (That was such a cute deleted scene!) or tell people to move their asses. They are characters that compliment each other without being extreme caricatures. They are equally lovable and have very different relationships with each of the other Avengers. Take Clint Barton for example. Wanda is like Hawkeye’s daughter in a way and is someone he looks after. Pietro is like his annoying little brother. Different personalities and different relationships with people make these two stand out to me.
  • No twin telepathy. They had a pair of superhero twins. They could have given them unnecessary super powers to try and further connect them for the audience. They didn’t and I respect that. Like their personalities, their super powers aren’t exactly the same or exact opposites of each other. Pietro has super speed and Wanda can control energy and the world around her with her mind. Different but not extreme, once again. The fact that their super powers do not themselves suggest that the characters are twins is amazing.
  • No birth separation. Often times in media when a pair of twins is separated, it means they are more likely to have different personalities. These two have separate personalities despite them having lived in the same household for their entire lives up until the point the movie starts. They have a close relationship while still being different people. Most twins aren’t separated at birth, so this is important.
  • Realistic sibling relationship. Other than the overly touchy parts of this relationship, this is actually an extremely good representation of a sibling relationship. They fight sometimes, they tease each other so much, and they have a genuinely caring relationship. Wanda at one point gives Pietro orders and he teases her about him being older than her. This is one of the most realistic sibling interactions I’ve seen in anything ever. It’s not portrayed like him being older means anything, it’s just used as a teasing point between the siblings. They worry about each other and argue because of their worry sometimes. They rely on each other when they’re confronting someone else. Pietro throws Wanda a jacket he knows she’ll like. Also, not all of the closeness is bad, just the fact that there’s too much of it. If one of them is scared or worried about the other, they’ll stand closer to them. Things like that are realistic because you would do that with any person you’re close with. I would say that most of this relationship feels realistic.

So, are Wanda and Pietro good representations of twins in media or not?

I want to say yes, but that’s difficult. In this movie, the acting in the portrayal of the two are great. Some of their sibling relationship moments in this film are the most realistic and relatable that I’ve seen. The issue is that their characters are built up on so many bad tropes and they even added a major one on for this movie. Pietro doesn’t die in the comics. They are an excellent example of twins that could have been amazing, but the writers got way too caught up in tropes to actually let them thrive. So once again, I have to answer with yes and no. They could have been some of the best I’ve ever seen in media but they, like media in general when it comes to twin representation, have a long way to go.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Twins in Media: Luke and Leia

Screenshot from “Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope” featuring Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. Copyright of Lucasfilm Limited.

Hey! Hallie here!

We’re back around to our weekly “Twins in Media” posts and starting out with a really popular representation of twins. Luke and Leia are probably the most popular twins in media right now. What’s funny about them, though, is most people don’t really think about the fact that they’re twins other than to comment on how gross the kiss was. (Very.) There’s a debate on whether or not their status as twins was planned from the beginning, or thrown in later to prevent fans from liking Leia with Luke more than Leia with Han. I’ll weigh in on that in a second because it’s absolutely crucial to this analysis. Still, there’s no denying that Lucas has since doubled down on the twin label. So let’s start unpacking some of these tropes and see how well these two fare.

The Dark Side:

  • Separated at birth. Wow this trope comes up a lot. Luke and Leia are basically the definition of this trope. Leia lived as royalty on Alderaan while Luke lived as a farmer on Tatooine. Leia spent her teenage years serving as a diplomat for her planet while Luke went to Tosche Station to pick up power converters. There isn’t really any similarities between them. I’ve mentioned my love/hate relationship with this trope before. While it allows twin characters to be two very different people, it usually falls under one of two extremes. Either the twins have too much in common because “fate”, or the twins have absolutely nothing in common to demonstrate how different they are. Leia and Luke could do with having more in common than just the Force. Real siblings have some likes, dislikes, and traits in common while maintaining their individuality, and twins are no different.
  • Twin telepathy. Okay, this one is a bit complicated. When Leia and Luke discover that they’re related, their Force connection becomes way stronger than it was in the first two movies. This could be seen as twin telepathy, which is absolutely a harmful trope. It furthers the idea that twins are single minded and that they share the same thoughts and ideas. The amount of times I fight with my sister would prove otherwise. However, it should be noted that Leia could feel Luke’s presence at the end of “Empire Strikes Back”, before they were confirmed to be twins, and a lot of their abilities seem to be more of a demonstration of the Force rather than a commentary on twins. So this is absolutely a loose addition to this list.
  • Twincest. Let’s all take a moment to gag at the kiss that happens in “Empire Strikes Back”. It will come up again later, I assure you. Done? Ok. Let’s move on.

The Light Side:

  • Different lives. This is all of the good that comes from their separation. They have different adoptive families which they had very different relationships with. (Before they all died, that is.) They have the same friends but they have different relationships with them. It’s kind of nice to see these two trapped in a scenario where they’re devoting their lives for the same cause. It forces them to stick together, to go through many of the same experiences, and still demonstrate how different they are and their separate goals within the Rebel Alliance.
  • The separate actors. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher look nothing alike. That still makes them a more realistic representation of twins than Lindsay Lohan in “The Parent Trap”. Why? Because, even if it’s difficult to notice, all forms of twins differ in appearance. One actor playing two roles doesn’t allow for differences. Some twins do look nothing alike. Especially fraternal twins, which Luke and Leia most definitely are. The fact that they cast these roles as individuals rather than as twins makes me appreciate these very different actors in these roles. Even though it’s likely no one, including George Lucas, knew that Luke and Leia were going to be twins when they were casting.
  • The overall lack of preparation. Here we go. This is the conversation we really need to have about these two. I am of the opinion that Luke and Leia being twins was a late addition to the story. Given how they were portrayed, I don’t think it was planned from the beginning. There was not even slight hinting that the two were siblings during the first half of the original trilogy. Not to mention the kiss in “Empire Strikes Back”, which I would really like to believe was written without their status as siblings in mind. The first possible hint we get is at the end of “Empire Strikes Back”, when Leia senses Luke is in danger and is able to help Lando navigate the Millennium Falcon underneath him to rescue him. I think it could be argued that this scene was only meant to demonstrate her Force ability and nothing more. After all, we do get Yoda hinting that there is another potential Jedi they can count on if Luke fails, which is later revealed to be Leia. We can go back and forth on whether or not Leia having the Force in the first place shows that she’s related to Luke, but my point is there was no written preparation or hinting in the first half of their story that these two were related. So why did I put this total lack of preparation as a positive? Because the narrative built them up as individuals before the twin reveal. They were written as separate, fully-fleshed out characters, making them stronger as siblings. That’s why there are hardly any tropes to be spoken of here. A lack of stereotypes and tropes is always a good thing in my book.

So are they a good representation of twins?

I’d say so! They’re twins who are portrayed as normal siblings. They have separate likes and dislikes. They live different lives even though they have some similar goals and friends. However, I would like to point something major out. Twins should be written this way on purpose, not simply on accident. I want to see twins who are twins from the beginning and are still separate characters. Luke and Leia are great, but they almost don’t feel like twins at all. The Force is really all that connects them and it would be nice to see twins in media who are connected by much more and are still different. But I digress. Anyway, I’m a huge fan of these two and I hope some of the things they accomplish can help twin representation become even better in the future.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Book Adaptations: Little Women

Screenshot from ‘Little Women’ (2019) starring (from left) Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, and Eliza Scanlen. Copyright of Columbia Pictures.

Hi! It’s Annie!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m definitely a classic literature fan. ‘Little Women’ was one of those books that I would just pick up for fun as a kid because, even if I forgot a book and was staying at a relative’s house, they would always have a copy of ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott for me to read. I didn’t quite understand just how impactful this book was for many of my friends too until I heard someone call themselves a Jo girl, and then my perspective on this novel changed. Just like ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen, this novel was ahead of it’s time in the depiction of women as they really think and act, rather than how men have always written us to think and act. This was one of the only books on my school reading lists that meant something to me and changed me, and it’s like that for many of the women that I know too. This novel was one of the starting points that made me start to consider how women are portrayed in media. For this too I have seen multiple adaptations, and hopefully I’ll be able to provide some insight on what adaptations to watch and what adaptations are better to skip.

Little Women (1933):

Katherine Hepburn stars as Jo in this version of ‘Little Women’ and, as much as I love Katherine Hepburn, there is really nothing memorable about this adaptation. It focuses so much on Jo that the other sisters feel very sidelined and nobody in this movie feels well cast. Jo is here to be pretty instead of smart and all the other girls feel like they fill similar roles. This one isn’t that worth watching.

Little Women (1949):

This movie adaptation is probably most known for starring the late, great, Elizabeth Taylor as Amy March. There is nothing inherently wrong with this portrayal of ‘Little Women’. It sticks pretty close to the book and leaves out what most film portrayals leave out because of only having so much time. So, why is this one of the worst film adaptations of ‘Little Women’? It’s entirely to do with old Hollywood acting and romance styles. None of the girls really feel spunky or fiery (though they try to make them that), they are all portrayed how Hollywood portrayed women at the time. The biggest example of this, and probably the most painful to watch in this movie, is Jo. This version of Jo is nothing like the Jo you’ve read about and fallen in love with. The best way I can describe this is by saying her character is very watered down. Where Jo normally gets angry in the novel, she cries instead in this version. It almost feels as if they were trying to make the character more palatable for male audiences. This isn’t a horrible movie by any means, but it hurts so much to see Jo portrayed like this.

Little Women (1994):

This is one of the best adaptations of the novel. Before the 2019 version came out, this was THE version of ‘Little Women’ to watch. This stars Winona Ryder as Jo, and she is definitely one the best actresses to play the character. Jo does not feel here as though she is watered down or a caricature of a “fiery woman”. She is a real life human being and exactly the character you fell in love with. Christian Bale is also in this movie as a very charming Laurie. Everything you felt was important in the novel is in here and the girls are all themselves. Also, the chemistry between the sisters in this movie is excellent and only makes the movie feel so much more believable. This is among the must-watches when it comes to adaptations of the classic novel.

Little Women PBS Series (2018):

If you liked Maya Hawke as Robin in ‘Stranger Things’, you will love her here as Jo. This PBS series is incredibly well-cast and the most detailed and close to the novel of the adaptations out there. Partly because this is a series instead of just one singular movie. The only place that this version of ‘Little Women’ does suffer, is actually how close it is to the book. Many of the adaptations to come out more recently change a few things about the book or the sisters to make it somewhat more relatable and modern. This does not do any of that. Despite this feeling less modern, you might appreciate that it stays so close to the novel. That’s entirely up to you, but it is worth a watch if you can get access to it. If not, there are better adaptations to watch.

Little Women (2018):

DON’T. This incredibly bad adaptation starring Lea Thompson and Sarah Davenport is a modern retelling of ‘Little Women’ apparently for a modern audience. I generally find modern adaptations of novels like this to be pretty bad with only a few exceptions. (One of them can be found in my ‘Pride and Prejudice’ adaptation post.) This movie is definitely not an exception to this. None of the characters feel true to the original novel, the sisters have no chemistry to the point where you wonder if the cast ever bonded on set, and the sheer amount of out-of-character moments in this movie is horrifying. In the confession scene between Jo and Laurie in this movie, Laurie non-consensually kisses Jo after she has already rejected him. If you ever wondered if there would be any version of the story to make charming Laurie completely dislikable, this movie is your answer. This movie advertises that it is for a modern audience, but tries to force you to like a character who non-consensually kisses the main character. How modern! This was created in 2018. Do yourself a favor and skip it.

Little Women (2019):

Please forgive me as I rant about what is by far the best adaptation on this list. This was directed by Greta Gerwig (A female director! Yay!) and is just the right mix of modern ideas and the original work. This is the version that Louisa May Alcott would love, but I’ll get more into that later. Saoirse Ronan is an inspiring version of Jo that represents what we all loved about the character while also providing an amazing insight into the mind of a modern woman. However, the stand out of this movie may just be Florence Pugh as Amy. If you were anything like me, you didn’t like Amy when you first read the book. I’ve always been very into writing, and when Amy burned Jo’s manuscripts I could not help but be angry right there with Jo. Amy is completely likable in this version and even one of the best characters. Not only that, but this movie leaves it up to your imagination if Jo ended up married or not. This is important because Louisa May Alcott never wanted Jo to be married. The book was written based off of her and her sisters, she was Jo, and she was not interested in men. Evidence suggests that Alcott was actually more interested in women. She was forced to marry Jo off in the books to make them more “publishable” and she absolutely refused to marry Jo off to her best friend Laurie, hence Bhaer. This movie keeps true to what Alcott originally wanted. I personally believe that this movie is one of the best for female representation in media in general. Everyone should watch this movie at least once. Lines such as;

“Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it! But I’m so lonely.”-Jo

and

“I’m just a woman. And as a woman, there’s no way for me to make my own money. Not enough to earn a living or to support my family, and if I had my own money, which I don’t, that money would belong to my husband the moment we got married. And if we had children they would be his, not mine. They would be his property, so don’t sit there and tell me that marriage isn’t an economic proposition, because it is. It may not be for you, but it most certainly is for me.”-Amy

are so incredibly relatable and heartbreaking that I cried several times in this movie.

If you want to see a good version of the novel or even if you want to see a good movie for women in media in general, this is a great watch. This is a must watch for everyone no matter what your opinion on ‘Little Women’ is.

There are so many versions of this already, but I honestly believe that this story will continue to grow and change as the years go by. It already has more than most other classic novels. It always has and always will have something relatable for everyone. I like to think I’m a Jo girl, but I am often the Meg in my friend groups. But the brilliance is that any sister you relate to is ok! Every single woman in ‘Little Women’ feels real and is an incredible role model and will continue to be for years to come. This story deserves all of the love it’s gotten over the years and I love seeing all the versions of it as it continues to live on.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Book Adaptations: Why You NEED to Read “The Princess Bride”

Screenshot from “The Princess Bride” 1987. From left to right, Mandy Patinkin (Inigo), Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), and Andre the Giant (Fezzik). Copyright of Act III Communications.

Hey! Hallie here!

I think it’s safe to say that “The Princess Bride” has shaped most of quarantine so far. Early on we got short, silly, videos of famous actors acting out different scenes from the comfort of their own homes. We have the promise of these scenes all coming together on Quibi soon. (Does anyone even use Quibi though?) Also, as I’m typing this, a virtual script reading of the original movie, starring most of the original cast, is underway in support of the Wisconsin Democrats. I love “The Princess Bride” and I never miss an opportunity to re-watch the movie, especially now when I have a lot of free time on my hands. But recently I came to a shocking realization. There are people who don’t even know “The Princess Bride” was based off of a book. A REALLY good book. So if you haven’t read the book, or didn’t even know the book was a thing, here’s some reasons why you should pick it up right now.

The Same Writer: The late William Goldman is the genius writer responsible for both the original book and the screenplay of the movie. For that reason you won’t miss anything you love from the movie when you read the book. It’s all there, plus more witty dialogue and absolutely hilarious descriptions that you miss when watching the movie. Did you ever think it was weird that at the end of “The Princess Bride” the grandfather reads about all the kisses ranked most passionate? Well that’s because, in the book, there’s a ranking for EVERYTHING. It’s a gimmick that gets so ridiculous you can’t help but laugh. That is just one of many examples of the amazing writing style you miss when you don’t read the book.

The Other Storyline: This is probably the most surprising to people who first open “The Princess Bride”. No, I’m not talking about some small sub-plot. I’m talking about a completely different storyline that runs adjacent to the story of Buttercup, Westley, and Prince Humperdinck. The movie hints at this storyline with the sick boy lying in bed while the grandfather reads “The Princess Bride” to him. In the book however, there’s so much more to it. Your first hint that something is different is that Goldman’s name isn’t the only one on the book. The name of S. Morgenstern appears on every book, with the promise of an abridged version done by William Goldman inside. Does that mean S. Morgenstern is the author? No. S. Morgenstern is a fictitious author, and inside the book you’ll find several introductions and side notes written by William Goldman as a fictitious version of himself. He has several stories to share, including his retelling of how he was introduced to “The Princess Bride”, his father read the book to him while he was sick, and the story of how he tried to get his son obsessed with the book only to realize that chapter two was filled with historical familial records. He even details his own trip to the Cliffs of Insanity. While these are very much fake events, some events read truer, like his time on the movie set that he added into later editions of the book. There are small notes from William Goldman throughout the entire book, and they’re gleefully enjoyable whether true or not.

Character Backstories: In the movie the most complete character backstory we get is Westley’s. Part of this is because his time among pirates and the way he became the Dread Pirate Roberts is explained by Westley himself in the fire swamp. Our other three main characters, Buttercup, Inigo, and Fezzik, all get more backstory in the book. The beginning of the book shows Buttercup’s life, her parents, and the moment that Count Rugen, the six-fingered man, discovered her. The event even ends with her embarrassing first confession of love to Westley. After Westley leaves and she hears news of his death, it doesn’t leave Buttercup’s depression up to the reader to imagine. The book follows Buttercup through every emotion as she loves and loses Westley, and it adds something interesting to her character. As for Inigo and Fezzik, the book actually pauses before each of their fights with Westley to talk about their childhoods. You learn so much more about Inigo’s father and Fezzik’s rough entrance into the world of professional fighting. There’s so much more to learn about the characters, and the book definitely provides answers to questions you may have asked yourself after the movie.

Fezzik: My favorite character in “The Princess Bride” movie has always been Inigo. So when I finished the book and realized Fezzik was my favorite character, I was kind of surprised. Fezzik is great in both versions, don’t get me wrong, but Fezzik is also a largely silent character. That’s where the book has leverage over the movie. The pieces of the book told from Fezzik’s point of view give you insight into his mind. Not only is he more intelligent than Vizzini gives him credit for, he’s also the voice of reason between himself and Inigo. Inigo is quick to go off the rails when something doesn’t go his way, while Fezzik remains calm and collected most of the time. It’s upsetting to discover this adorable character has been holding back his intelligence because he’s been told his entire life that his size is his only feature worth noticing. The movie made me like Fezzik, but the book made me love him, and I think everyone should take the chance to fall in love with this character. (Fun fact: Fezzik was William Goldman’s favorite character as well.)

“Buttercup’s Baby”: “Buttercup’s Baby” was the supposed sequel to “The Princess Bride”. William Goldman expressed both disinterest in writing the full sequel, and then, later on, hinted that he might have written some of it. Given his reputation for joking around, and his untimely death, we’ll never know how serious he was about this sequel. Regardless, the first few chapters of the sequel can be found in the back of the book. It gives you a little bit of insight into what the characters might have been doing at the end of the story, plus even more Fezzik. Also, naturally, some action and chaos. It’s not exactly the happiest of stories, it ends on a cliffhanger, but there’s also a few hilarious and interesting pieces of information given about “Buttercup’s Baby” early on in the book. All I’ll say is there’s a giant bird and a whole lot of William Goldman’s fictional trip to Florin.

And there you have it! Hopefully I’ve convinced you to pick up the book next time you’re in a “The Princess Bride” mood. Which is always. You should always be in the mood for “The Princess Bride”. Let’s be honest, you’ve already watched the movie a million times. Who hasn’t? So go read the book now. You won’t regret it, I promise! Also, when you finish, be sure to give a silent thanks to William Goldman. Not only did he write this amazing story, he also spent YEARS fighting to maintain the rights to it so that he could get the movie made exactly the way he knew it deserved to be made. I think we can all agree it payed off.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie