opinion

Be Kinder: Simple Advice For All Social Media Users

The internet gives us lots of weird things to think about. A celebrity that I follow on twitter (and support in a variety of ways) is heavily pregnant with her first child. This is not, however, her first pregnancy. She was very open about an abortion she had over a decade ago as a teenager. she was also very open about a second abortion she had (under medical advise) shortly after her wedding. Today, someone commented on her twitter feed, asking why she felt she was seeing this third pregnancy through after terminating the first two.

You can imagine the twitter-storm that followed. There were a lot of comments on both side, pro- and anti-abortion. The issue, as anyone with half a head knows, is one of those big, complicated, thorny ones, akin to gay marriage, budget cuts, and he latest episode of British Bake Off. I’m not going to share any of the tweets and messages on here, partly because we can all imagine what was said, and partly because they’re not family friendly.

(Not that I think many kids read this blog. Do I have any undeerage readers? Hi Kids, if you’re there! Stay in school! Don’t do drugs! Always wear a condom!)

Right, where was I?

Actually, as the conversation evolved, the general mood wasn’t so much outrage (although there was a lot of that, of course), but sorrow. People felt sorry for the artist who was being victimised. They felt sorry for other users for whom the tweet was a “trigger.” They even (or most of all?) felt sorry for the woman who posted the anti-abortion tweet in the first place.

I also, on the same day, read Kieron Gillen’s Writer’s Notes for the latest issue of The Wicked = The Divine. It’s a brilliant series, and one that I think most people should read. In the series, twelve gods appear in human form. They speak in tongues, inspiring those who hear them. Mostly. In a weird case of art reflecting life and vice versa, this month’s issue centred on Tara, a god in human form who wants to be appreciated for more than just her divinity, and the backlash when she tried to sing a song rather than speak in tongues is predictable. Gillen cleverly represented this in a mocked-up twitter feed. In addition to praise and love, there were threats of violence, rape, and death. Again, you can imagine the kind of thing.

So today’s random bit of advice comes from a deceased fictional poop icon/ celebrity. Tara only appeared in one issue of The Wicked + The Divine, and it doesn’t look like she’ll be showing up in any more. Her final words to the audience (though not to the characters, for in-story reasons) were simple:

“Be Kinder”

And, to go further into the issue, Gillen’s notes elaborated on this even further:

The Wicked + The Divine #13

The Wicked + The Divine #13

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bbc, opinion, television

Great British Bake Off “Scandal”: Amateur VS Semi-Pro

telegraph.com

According to a Mail on Sunday report this Sunday, the latest series of Great British Bake Off is already facing a scandal after only one episode. And no, it’s not because of the painful double entendres over cracks in the Madeira cakes. It seems that the show’s first star baker, Marie Campbell, has been professionally trained. Worse, a further six contestant for the amateur baking show have been found to be “Semi-professional” because they have Instagram and Twitter accounts where they- Shock! Horror!- post photos of the cakes they have baked. Many of the creations are of a high standard, the likes of which most people wouldn’t be able to achieve. Some of them even have over a thousand followers. Gasp! The scandal of it all!

Wait, what? Clearly, the Mail on Sunday need to get a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word “semi-professional.” They also clearly need someone to teach them what Instagram is used for.Because this is what people do nowadays. This is how we act in the Age of Social Media. If you see something you like, or something that you hate, or that makes you laugh or cry or confuses you, then you put it online. Ten years ago, we would find outlets for our passions by seeking out like-minded individuals in the real world. Such is the origin, after all, of groups such as book clubs, writers’ workshops, knitting circles, and so on. WI, anyone? Today, though, we don’t need to do anything as arduous as go out into our local community. As long as we have a smartphone and decent signal, we can share out passions with the world at the tap of a button. Anyone with a passion, regardless of what that passion is, is almost inevitably part of  an online community dedicated to that activity, where they share their thoughts, creations, inspirations, and so on.

And that’s exactly what the contestants of GBBO have been doing prior to appearing on the show. Yes, their work is of a very high standard, but that’s to be expected, surely? You’re only going to take photos of the work you’re most proud of,,  after all. The Mail on Sunday seems to think it would be better if the contestants had lived as hermits prior to applying to the show, with no access to the internet and only a single pan with which to cook all their meals. It would probably also help if they had never owned a cookbook or, even better, if they were completely illiterate.

BBC

My own Instagram account (which I rarely use), contains photos of a) interesting street art in Brighton, b) the mutant vegetables that come out of our garden, and c) photos of scenery. This does not make me a semi-professional photographer, a street artist, or a gardener. They’re just things that I liked, that I found interesting, and that I thought could be shared with the world.

“Semi-professional,” by the way, means “receiving payment for an activity but not relying entirely on it for a living.” Having over a thousand followers on Instagram is not going to earn you any more money than having a hundred. Ok, so in some cases people get picked up by larger companies and paid to promote their wares, as is increasingly the case with fashion vloggers on Youtube, but those people are few and far between. Posting photos of cakes online doesn’t make you a chef, semi-professional or otherwise. Just like posting photos of a vase of flowers doesn’t make you a florist, and posting photos of a cat doesn’t make you a vet.

There is, of course, the matter of the “training” that one contestant has received. Marie Campbell, the early favourite, “gained a certificate for one weeks’ training in Paris in 1984.” One week’s training? Really? Ok, then. In 1995, when I was four, I took several weeks worth of ballet dancer. That must make me a semi-pro dancer. Oh, and I did a term of karate when I was a teenager in 2005. So I’m also a semi-pro martial artist. Not to mention that the fact that I had some of my A level photography coursework on display in a local exhibit in 2009. Add semi-professional photographer to the list.

BBC

The main bones of the attack on Campbell, though, is that she used to run a cupcake business and her own hotel. The cupcakes were never her main source of income (and really, who here hasn’t even once been tempted to try and turn a hobby into a source of a little extra cash?), while she employed a full-time chef to work in her hotel. Owning a hotel and running a kitchen are two very different things, guys.

There’s also the matter of Dorret Conway, she of the unstable gateau, who, according to the Mail, has previously “won competitions.” Really? Someone who’s passionate about baking, who had the audacity to enter what were probably just competitions at the village fête? How very dare she. Dorret will doubtless now appear on an episode of Extra Slice, fretfully waving a couple of those sad looking ribbons they give out at such events, probably stained with moulded-in jam.

Dorret Conway, BBC

Conway has also stated that “she plans to study at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.” Are you sure that’s what she said, Mail on Sunday? According to the BBC website, it is Dorret’s “dream is to go to the Cordon Bleu school in Paris.” There’s a big difference between a dream and a plan, guys. I sometimes “dream” of being among the first people living on Mars, but I’m not packing my bags or trying to sort out a Martian visa just yet. It seems more likely that Dorret actually said something like “Well, I’d like to go there for one of their short courses, if I can.”

Meanwhile, I’m going to update my CV, to make sure it accurately reflects that I am a semi-professional photographer, dancer, martial artist, musician, fencer, gardener, accountant…

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Artist’s Statement ….Part Two

A fellow Amanda Palmer follower and patron, talking about why creative people in particular feel the need to apologise for our work. We are Bigger On The Inside.

The Pale Rook

The Pale Rook

So remember that thing I applied for?

My application was successful.  I was selected to take part in a project at Scotland’s Craft Town,  the wonderful West Kilbride.   I’ve been a massive fan of the Craft Town since I first found out about it a few years ago, so I’m massively chuffed to be a part of it.  The project I’m involved in takes selected craft makers based in Scotland, at various stages of their careers and gives them specialist business mentoring and studio space for six months.   For the first time in over a decade I am being mentored rather than mentoring others, which has been quite a shock to the system.

The first meeting of the participants, organisers and business mentors involved an exercise where we had to think of things that limited our business or things that we were worried about and then we had to…

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descendants, disney, opinion, review

Disney’s The Descendants: What A Load of Bibbity Bobbity Bull

Descendants, Disney’s latest burgeoning cash cow, tells the tale of 4 children of evil, who get a chance to leave their dismal island, and go to school with the children of every Prince Charming and Fairytale Princess. The evil kids are on a mission from Maleficent (Kristin Chenoweth) to steal the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand, and free the evil parents. But along the way, they are affected by all the kindness shown to them by the good children, primarily Ben. Oh yeah, Ben is the son of Belle and the Beast, who, at 16, is about to become King. Because who better to rule a magical kingdom than the 16 year-old quarterback of the local high school?

Admittedly, having just released a film in which Angelina Jolie starred as Maleficent, recasting Kristin Chenoweth (the original Galinda in the musical Wicked) was a bit hard to swallow. However, Chenoweth’s Evil Fairy was easily the most entertaining thing in the whole film. A Disney villain should be scene-stealing, melodramatic, and get at least half of the best lines. Chenoweth manages all three, and gets one of the film’s best musical numbers to boot.

“Hold on, Darling, I’ve got to go and practice my vocal trills”

The choice of villains (and, by extension, their children) seems a little odd. Leaving aside the fact that three of the adult villains died in their original films (Come on, Disney, at least be consistent within your own larger universe), there’s also a distinct mismatch in their overall villainy levels. Maleficent tried to kill a princess, put a whole kingdom to sleep for 100 years just because she wasn’t invited to a party. Jafar attempted to enslave a kingdom. Evil Queen offed a king and queen and tried to kill their daughter and took over their kingdom. And Cruella tried to kill some dogs. I mean, come on people. One of these things is not like the others. I’m not saying that animal cruelty isn’t wrong, but we kill countless animals every year for food, clothing, protection, sport, and so on.

Spot the odd one out. And no, it’s not the only man in the group.

In fact, here’s a list of Disney villains that rank higher than Cruella in the Disney Villain Hall of Fame; Ursula (tried to conquer the whole friggin Ocean), Hades (god of the Underworld), Horned King (from The Black Cauldron, remember that?), and Yzma (but we couldn’t have a second purple madwoman running about, could we?). Also in the running would be Mim, Sha Yu, the Queen of Hearts, and Captain Hook.

And it’s not even as if Cruella’s son Carlos actually plays a large role in the plot of the film. Jay, Mal, and Evie all play a role in locating and attempting to steal the Fairy Godmother’s wand. They all have significant developments and plotlines. Carlos’ whole storyline involves him finally realising that dogs aren’t all monstrous, blood-thirsty pack animals. Because there aren’t any dogs on the Island of the Lost, inexplicably.

Other than Cruella, the character pairing I had the biggest issue with were Jafar and Jay. So Jafar was the royal vizier, a scheming, semi-aristocratic intellectual. His enemy was Aladdin, a streetwise thief. So why would Jafar’s son turn into… a streetwise thief? The fact that the middle-eastern characters also apparently run a junk shop fencing stolen goods also feels a little off. None of the other villains have jobs. Why does Jafar? Surely he would be more of a criminal mastermind, moving things behind the scenes, rather than working up front. There’s also the fact that Booboo Stewart (yes, that’s his real name) is entirely the wrong sort of Indian for the part. Just sayin’.

In fact, the way the film handles race is all kinds of messed up. In the interest of being inclusive we have a smattering of ethnic characters, including, inexplicably, a black Cruella De Ville (she’s also lost her British accent) and. There’s also a random girl in a wheelchair whose only purpose in the film is to prove that while happily ever after is for everyone, having a speaking role isn’t. And still no openly gay character, even if Carlos fits just about every gay stereotype running.

But there’s a weird kind of whitewashed normalizing going on. An early scene has Mal, the daughter of Malifecent, using her magic to give the unpopular girls makeovers. Because apparently hairdressers don’t exist in a world with magic. Speaking of magic, why is it that everyone other than Mal seems to need some form of equipment (magic wand, sceptre, mirror) to do magic, while Mal only requires a rhyming couplet. So what, they don’t teach poetry at a school for fairy tale royalty? Of course, Jane (Fairy Godmother’s daughter) isn’t satisfied with er new hair, and immediately demands a magical nose job. Because her own nose is utterly hideous.

I mean, look at it. LOOK AT IT!

Lany, the daughter of epic Chinese cultural hero Mulan, And the only Asian character is, of course, desperate for hair that is blonder, curlier… whiter. seriously, at this point I wanted to shake all of the girls in the cast.

There’s also the transformation that occurs in the character’s outfits. The costumes, I should say, are mostly fantastic, and brilliantly realised. The Evil kids start out exclusively in muted tones and jewel colours. There’s also a whole lot of secondary colours, painted leather, and fur. The Good kids, of course, where nothing but primary colours, pastels, and pink (girls only). As the plot progresses, and the Evil characters become acclimatised to their new environment, their clothing becomes progressively less punk and more preppy.

Always make sure you change everything about yourself to fit in at your new school, kids.

There’s nothing really wrong with this, of course. I shows a progression in the characters as they realise they don’t have to be evil just because their parents are. Except for Mal, of course. At the start, she’s all acid green and purple and painted leather. By the end, she’s your classic fairytale princess in a pastel pink-purple gown. It’s like dating Prince Ben (and what kind of name is Ben for a prince anyway?) has robbed her of any identity she had starting out, and there’s only room in her head for goodness and love and rainbows. Is this the cumulative effect of the twinned powers of love and magic? I accept the progression of the character from evil to good, but did it have to come at the cost of independence?

Remember, girls, you don’t need to walk or breathe as long as you get your prince.

Of course, it’s not a proper Disney film without a smattering of musical numbers. Right? Rotten to the Core, which introduced the Evil kids, was suitably entertaining, and possibly the first time I’ve experienced electro music a la Disney. Evil Like Me, performed by Mal and Malificent was, as already stated, the best number in the film. From this point on, things went pretty downhill, though. Did I Mention was easily the most painful musical number since the High School Musical franchise grated its way down our ear canals. It was just. So. Cringey.

Then we had Mal’s heart-baring If Only, in which we had the obligatory scene of the bad girl questioning her emotions and motivations. Unfortunately, the whole thing felt more than a little forced. The remix of Be Our Guest was equally uncomfortable, mostly because preppy white kids should never, ever rap. Ever. Finally, there was Set It Off, the big closer that saw all problems resolved and everyone living Happily Ever After. Except that the promising secondary couple of Evie and Dougie (Dopey’s full-sized son, don’t you know) wasn’t resolved. Although for that matter, the main couple of Mal and Prince Ben (again, seriously? Prince Ben?) never did anything as unwholesome of narratively satisfying as actually sharing a kiss. Oh, and everyone seems to have forgotten the remaining villainous adults, the whole in their prison wall, or the fact that the Fairy Godmother’s increasingly wayward daughter seems to have got off without any punishment. Apparently having a slightly large nose in a kingdom of beautiful people is punishment enough.

Of course, Disney loves a cash cow, and has already released a trailer for an animated spin-off series. And Mal made it clear at the close that things weren’t quite over yet, so there will probably be at least one more film in the series. We can only hope that this will include the children of other characters, because Mal and Ben are already feeling played out.

And am I the only one who thinks that a series set on the Island of the Lost would be just a little bit more entertaining?

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The Top 10 Fan Theories That Link Amazing Films (Part 2)

As promised, here’s the second part of my Top Ten theories linking different films and franchises together. Bet you didn’t think it could get much weirder than Kevin from Home Alone growing up to be Jigsaw, didn’t you? Well, you were wrong.

5. The Pixar Unification

Pixar

Pixar

Films Linked: Pixar Franchise

At first glance, the connections between the various Pixar films are pretty obvious. The mega-company Buy N Large appears in WALL-E, Up, and the Toy Story films. Similarly, the Pizza Planet truck appears in every Pixar film except The Incredibles.

The Pixar Unification Theory, as it is commonly known, was first proposed by Jon Negroni, who managed to draw a series of connections between every Pixar film from Toy Story (1995) to Monsters University (2013). Negroni proposed that the entire Pixar franchise is actually the tale of an epic struggle between humans, intelligent animals, and sentient machines.

The Theory posits that the sentient objects and machines in Toy Story, Cars, and WALL-E and talking animals in Bug’s Life, Up, and Ratatouille are a result of the magic performed by the Witch in Brave. The witch experiments on a variety of animals and objects over the course of the film, which is set in the Middle Ages. The animals become progressively more intelligent over the following centuries, as in Ratatouille. The same goes for the inanimate objects that the Witch enchants, which are shown first gaining sentience in the Incredibles (set in the 60s) before turning on humans in the run-up to WALL-E.

The big kicker in this theory is that the Witch in Brave is actually Boo, the little girl in Monsters Inc. The Witch is frequently seen disappearing through doors, just as the Monsters in Monsters Inc. use doors to reach children’s bedrooms.

4. The Cthulhu Evolution

Lionsgate/Columbia/Paramount/Regent

Lionsgate/Columbia/Paramount/Regent

Films Linked: Conan the Barbarian, Hellboy, Evil Dead, Cabin In The Woods

The widespread popularity of the Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos links together dozens of films. The 1982 Conan The Barbarian film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, saw Conan fighting against the Cult of the Serpent God Set, a figure originally based on the Old Ones of Lovecraft’s stories. This isn’t a surpsrise to anyone familiar with Lovercraft’s biography. His first stories were published in Weird Tales, the same pulp magazine that published Robert E. Howard’s Conan and Krull stories. As a result, the two quickly became friends and began slipping references to each other’s work in their stories.

However, Lovecraft’s creatures have gone on to appear in a broad range of horror films. The Eldritch Abominations were key (if largely unseen) in both the 1997 sci-fi film Event Horizon and the Evil Dead films (1981). Similar creatures appeared in 2004’s Hellboy, fans have highlighted the visual similarities between the Old Ones and the monster in Cloverfield (2008), and the thematic similarities between Lovecraft’s Old Ones and the Ancient Ones in 2012’s The Cabin In The Woods. Even the television series True Detective saw the protagonists hunting a killer who worships the Old Ones and is trying to open a portal to their dimension.

Because the Old Ones are said to exist outside of the normal Universe, existing independently of time and space, it has been assumed that they exist in a pocket reality that connects all of these different times and realities together. Every time anything even remotely Lovecraftian creeps into a universe, this is actually the same being, or group of beings, simply breaking into yet another reality.

3. The Leonardo Singularity

20th Century Fox/Warner Bros.

20th Century Fox/Warner Bros.

Films Linked: Titanic, The Great Gatsby, Shutter Island, Catch Me If You Can, Inception, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

Jack meets and falls in love with Rose aboard the Titanic (the Titanic, 1997). Rather than falling in love with Rose, Jack intentionally seduces her, steals from her, and then fakes his own death as the ship sinks. Arriving in America, Jack changes his name to Jay Gatsby and makes a fortune through a string of dodgy deals (The Great Gatsby, 2013). However, he remains haunted by his actions aboard the Titanic and becomes increasingly divorced from reality.

Jack realises that all of the wealth he has previously enjoyed is actually a product of his imagination and awakens as Teddy Daniels, an extremely violent patient in a mental institute (Shutter Island, 2010). This actually worsens his condition, leading to a string of fantasies in which he is an airline pilot, a lawyer, a doctor named Frank Abignale Jr (Catch Me If You Can, 2002). At this time, he becomes haunted by Tom Hanks, who represents his repressed awareness that none of his delusions are real.

Things come to a head when Teddy finally accepts that everything he has experienced so far has actually been a set of dreams within dreams (Inception, 2010). He begins actively trying to extract himself from this tangled web, creating a system of indicators that will let him know once he reaches reality. He finally awakens to discover that he is Arnie; a young man with severe developmental disabilities and a phobia of water who has created his other personas to deal with the death of his mother (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, 1993).

2. The Shining Joker Continuum

Warner Bros

Warner Bros

Films Linked: The Shining, The Dark Knight

In 1980, The Shining introduced the world to Jack Torrance, a writer and recovering alcoholic, who takes a job as an off-season caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel. Jack and his family become trapped in the hotel after a severe snowstorm. The isolation, coupled with the supernatural presences in the building, gradual drives Jack insane until he attempts to murder his wife and son, Danny.

Flash forward to 2008, and Heath Ledger’s celebrated performance as the Joker in the Dark Knight. The character gives two explanations for his disfiguring scars. Because the Joker is both insane and a pathological liar, the two versions are completely different. However, it is possible that they both contain a grain of truth. One of these origins involves his father:

“My father was a drinker and a fiend. And one night he goes off crazier than usual. Mommy gets the kitchen knife to defend herself. He doesn’t like that. Not. One. Bit.”

This is an almost perfect description of the dramatic climax of the Shining. When the Joker describes his father “taking the knife” and “coming at” him and his mother, he’s actually describing Jack Torance’s turn to madness in The Shining. The “scars” in this case aren’t physical scars, but emotional and psychological ones from being attacked by his father.

1. The E.T. Jedi Approximation

Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm

Films Linked: E.T., Star Wars Episode I

The first indication that E.T. and Star Wars are connected goes right back to 1990, when E.T. was first released. Eliot is shown to be a fan of Star Wars throughout the film, playing with a collection of Star Wars toys before E.T.’s arrival and so on. In one scene, E.T. meets a kid wearing a Yoda costume for Halloween and recognises him. He even says “Home” when they meet. For most, this just seemed like a typical cultural reference, highlighting the physical similarities between E.T. and Yoda.

But in 2001, Star Wars Episode I was released. The Senate scenes of the film included a wide variety of aliens, including some that were very clearly modeled on E.T. Again, most viewers took this as little more than an in-joke between Matt Lucas and Stephen Spielberg. But what if it’s more? Going back to E.T., we see the titular character move a variety of objects around using the power of his mind. The only logical conclusion is that E.T. is not just from the same Galaxy as Yoda, but is also a Jedi Master.

What are your favourite (and wildest) movie theories?

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film

The Top 10 Fan Theories That Link Amazing Films

This article turned out overly long, so I’ve divided it into two parts. 10-6 are below, and 5-1 will be posted later this week. Enjoy!

Saban

Saban

What if your favourite films actually took place at the same time, or in the same universe? It’s the kind of thinking that fan fiction is made of. The crew of the USS Enterprise join forces with the Rebel Alliance to fight the Empire. The Avengers take on Skynet. Elsa enrolls at the Xavier Institute. In fact, it seems as though every book, movie, or television show with a devoted fanbase has at least one theory that links it to other franchises. And, shockingly, some of these theories actually hold water.

The evidence to support these theories can vary wildly in their nature. Often there will be one character that seemingly links two films together with a shared name, similar personality, or simply being played by the same actor. Other times, it might be a scrap of dialogue, or even a repeated motif that fans use to connect one film with another. Or it could be a cheeky Easter Egg, like a prop from another franchise that catches the fans’ attention and leads to wild speculation. Before you know it, fans are creating all sorts of theories, linking one film to another until they form a vast web of interconnected titles.

But enough preamble. Let’s get started with Number Ten on our list…

10. The 2001: Star Wars Paradox

Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm

Films Linked: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars Episode I

The final scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey have gone down in history as one of the trippiest sequences in film history. And that’s saying something when compared with some of the other films released in the late 60s. First, Holman’s EVA pod is pulled into a vortex of colored light. There are glimpses of alien landscapes and distant galaxies before Holman finds himself in a lavish bedroom. The perspective then shifts rapidly as Holman is confronted by progressively older versions of himself. The EVA pod vanishes, another black monolith appears, and Bowman is transformed into an intergalactic foetus.

But what happened to the EVA pod? The answer was finally revealed in 1999’s The Phantom Menace. As Qui-Gon and Watto negotiate the purchase of a new hyperdrive they walk right past Bowman’s EVA Pods from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was unbelievable enough that a minor dealer like Watto would have the exact piece of equipment that Qui-Gon needed in the first place. But how did he get his hands on something that came from the distant future and a galaxy far, far away?

The answer lies in those pesky monoliths. The closing sequence saw Holman not only rapidly aging, but also travelling vast differences in a short space of time. The fate of Holman’s EVA pod is never explained in 2001; one moment it’s there, the next it’s gone. So it’s entirely possible that the unseen monolith-builders have the ability to travel in time, and simply dumped the Pod somewhere out of the way when they no longer needed it.

9. The Burton Progression

Warner Bros/ Buena Vista/ Disney

Warner Bros/ Buena Vista/ Disney

Films Linked: Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie, The Nightmare Before Christmas

All of Tim Burton’s Films follow the same set of characters, who are linked together in a prolonged cycle of reincarnation as they search for true love.

First we have Corpse Bride, which is set in the Victorian era and the earliest film chronologically. Victor marries Victoria at the end of the film, but remains unhappy because he still has feelings for the Bride. Victor and Victoria eventually die of old age, and the entire cast is reincarnated in the mid-20th Century world of Frankenweenie. Here, the now teenage Victor interacts with both girls, but is unable to choose between them. The characters live out their separate lives before dying for a second time.

In the afterlife, Victor becomes Jack Skeleton, and meets and falls in love with Sally. The film makes it clear from the start that Sally is a patchwork character; towards the end of the film we see her replacement being sown together from spare parts. Sally is, in reality, an amalgamation of both Victoria and the Corpse Bride that have been seen in the previous films. Sally and Jack fall in love, thus resolving the love triangle that has spilled across the different films.

The thing that ties all this together? Besides the visual and behavioral similarities between the male protagonists, take a look at their pets. Almost every film features a dog which is virtually identical in size, shape, and personality to the other films.

8. The Zordon-Thanos Imperative

Saban/ Marvel

Saban/ Marvel

Films Linked: The Avengers, Daredevil, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

We all know that Daredevil gained his abilities when he was blinded by a canister of radioactive chemicals that fell from the back of a truck. An identical scene plays out in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. After hitting the young Daredevil in the face, the radioactive canister falls into a sewer and starts mutating a group of turtles. The creators of the Ninja Turtles have gone on record as big fans of Daredevil, so the similarities are not only obvious, but intentional.

This much is established fact. As Daredevil is a Marvel character, this means TMNT exist in the same universe as the Avengers. But TMNT have also crossed over with a variety of other properties, including Power Rangers In Space. This particular version of Power Rangers established that the various villains attacking Earth in the first six seasons of Power Rangers were the agents of a villain called Dark Specter.

Going through the established connection between the different universes, it’s clear Dark Specter is really Thanos in disguise. Like Loki, Gamora, and Nebula, the different Power Rangers villains are minions of Thanos sent to retrieve the Infinity Gems. They are attacking Angel Grove because the Morphing Grid is actually one of the Gems in a different form.

7. The Jigsaw Continuation

Fox/ Lions Gate

Fox/ Lions Gate

Films Linked: Home Alone, Saw

Formulated by Jason Concepcion, this theory states that Kevin from Home Alone is actually a young Jigsaw from the Saw films. Throughout the Home Alone films, Kevin displays a variety of worrying behaviour. First, there are the anger-control issues, as seen in his relationship with his siblings and parents. Then we have Kevin’s proclivity for violent fantasies, which start out relatively minor but become progressively violent as the films progress. Finally, Kevin shows a passion for recorded media that borders on a fetish.

From that point on, the similarities between the two just keep on mounting up. Both have the same blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. Both set traps that are almost always triggered by the actions of their victims. Both use fire. A lot.

The pair also use virtually identical traps, almost all of which are triggered by the victims. The basement furnace that terrifies Kevin reappears in the dungeon of Saw II. The same film sees Kevin coat the basement stairs with tar and nails, causing on burglar to impale his foot. In Saw II, Jigsaw uses and electrified staircase with slashing blades.

Home Alone initially appears to be an innocent- if mischievous- child’s justified defence of life and property. In reality, the films tell the story of a cold-blooded and repeated attempt at double homicide. In the end, it’s clear that Kevin’s borderline-insane defence mechanisms have evolved in the intervening years to become Jigsaw’s meticulously prepared traps.

6. The Disney Convergence

Disney

Disney

Films Linked: Frozen, Tangled, Little Mermaid

Many eagle-eyed viewers spotted Rapunzel and Flynn from Tangled arriving for Elsa’s coronation towards the start of Frozen. This in itself isn’t too hard to justify. The story of Rapunzel was originally a German fairy tale, while Frozen is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, which is set in Norway. A few years before the coronation, Elsa and Anna’s parents died in a shipwreck. Although not mentioned in the film, Frozen’s directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee have confirmed that the pair were on their way to a wedding. It makes sense that they were on their way to the wedding of Flynn and Rapunzel.

But this shipwreck would have taken place somewhere off the coast of Denmark, the setting of another Christian Anderson-based Disney film, The Little Mermaid. Going on the costumes worn by characters in Frozen and the Little Mermaid, it looks as though the two films take place at about the same period. And Little Mermaid even features a sunken ship where Ariel keeps her treasures. The ship is still in fairly good condition, so it’s safe to assume that it only sank a few years earlier. This is actually the same ship that Elsa and Anna’s parents were on when they died. Tangled, Frozen, and the Little Mermaid thus not only happen in the same universe, but must have occurred at roughly the same time.

Cross-over, anyone?

Check back here tomorrow for the top Five, including the Pixar Unification and the Cthulu Evolution

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culture, film, gender, television

10 Times Famous Characters Flipped Gender

…And he’s back! Some of the more regular readers will have noticed that I’ve been absent for the last few weeks. It’s partially because I’ve been running around doing lots of other things. It looks like I might not be around that much for the forseable future. So many rods, so many fires, yadda yadda yadda. Anyway, here’s a little article I threw together for a website. They didn’t like it, so here you go.

Monolith

Monolith

From novels and comics to television and films, flipping the gender of a character is becoming an increasingly common way to breathe fresh life into an old idea or bring in a new audience. Characters are increasingly considered to be gender neutral in the early stages of planning a show or film, and it’s rare for a character’s story to be tied to their gender. In most cases, the gender of a character isn’t that important to who they are as a person, so altering it doesn’t affect them to any great extent.

Many well-known characters have changed gender several times before they reach their intended audience, most commonly on the jump from page to screen. It may be that the creators of a show, film, or book are looking to diversify their cast in order to appeal to a wider audience. Other times, the change can happen mid-production as a result of an actor becoming suddenly unavailable or a last minute change on the writer’s behalf.

While many people don’t like their favourite characters being messed with unnecessarily, altering a character’s gender often opens up new possibilities for writers and fans alike. It forces you to look at the character in a different light, to re-asses their roles and their relationships. Here are ten examples of famous characters that have had their genders altered, for better or for worse, at some point in their history. Some of them are well-known, while in other cases you may not realise that there was ever a change at all.

10. Loki

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics

In the original Norse myths, Loki is known for his shapeshifting abilities. Among other things, he has become a salmon, a seal, a fly, and a woman during his time as an ally and enemy of the gods. At only point he even gave birth to an eight-legged horse while he was disguised as a mare. Yeah, myths are weird.

Marvel Comics picked up this aspect of the character and ran with it in their comic books. In 2008 the original Loki died and was reincarnated in the body of Sif, the lover of Thor. As you can imagine, being trapped in the body of your brother’s wife caused issues all around. Loki spent several years in this form, often acting as Marvel comics’ only major female villain, before eventually returning to his original male body.

The ongoing Loki: Agent Of Asgard series has kept up with Loki’s gender-changing practices, with the character appearing as a woman in several issues. The book also confirmed that the character was both bisexual and gender-fluid. While Marvel isn’t known for sticking religiously to source material (Loki was originally the blood brother of Odin, not his adopted son), the shift in what was previously a heterosexual male character has been praised by most readers.

So far Loki hasn’t used these skills in the films, but more than a few fans would like to see Lady Loki putting in an appearance.

9. Dr Watson

CBS

CBS

One of the key elements of the Sherlock Holmes mythos is the friendship between Sherlock and Dr. Watson. For NBC’s Elementary Watson was transformed into a female character. The most obvious reason was simply to set the show apart from the other adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, particularly BBC’s Sherlock series.

Another reason for the change, however, was to disrupt the usual relationship between Sherlock and Watson. While many fans view the original relationship as a friendship which borders of the homoerotic, introducing a female companion for the detective was meant to bring Sherlock out of his comfort zone. The original stories, and subsequent adaptations, have always been pretty light on female characters, and there has always been a sense that the detective wasn’t terribly comfortable around women.

In spite of many fan’s fears, the show managed to sidestep any romantic connection between the two, posing them in a friendly professional relationship

8. M

Coumbia

Coumbia

For as long as there has been a James Bond, there has been an M telling him what to do. The original M was based on Ian Flemming’s commander in World War II, and appearances in the novels established him as an old-fashioned gentleman spy. In many ways, M an older and more experienced version of 007.

M’s role in the novels is so large that he has also been featured in the majority of the James Bond films. Like Bond, M’s character has remained a constant despite the changes to the actors playing him. While the first four incarnations of the character were men, staying true to the novel, GoldenEye cast Judi Dench in the role.

Dench’s M was introduced as an antithesis to the previously male-dominated secret service, and is thought to be based on Stella Rimington, the real-life head of MI6 between 1992 and 1996. The female M was initially cold and blunt, with a distinct dislike for Bond and the old ways he represented. The character mellowed over the next few films, developing a more maternal relationship with Bond. As a result, Dench was able to redefine the role of M several times over, introducing new facets to what had previously been a largely stagnant character.

Following her death at the end of Skyfall, a new M, once again male, took over MI6, establishing the title as an inherited one.

7. Ghostbusters

Twitter

Twitter

The third Ghostbusters film has endured a long and difficult development process, with a series of rumours, speculation, and announcements that basically went nowhere. The film was left in limbo for years largely because of the difficulty in securing the original cast. Oddly enough, the death of director Harold Ramis, rather than hampering production, actually seems to have kicked things back into action.

Paul Feig signed on to direct the film in 2014, and the project then became a reboot starring an all-female cast. The announcement that the Ghostbusters would be recreated as women caused a stir among fans to say the least. While many welcomed it as a shift away from the normally white-male dominated action-comedy, others saw the change as pandering.

As the film is still in its early stages, and has been announced as a reboot rather than a direct sequel, nobody knows how far the new gang will be based on the original cast.

6. Ripley

FOX

FOX

Ellen Ripley was one of the first female sci-fi protagonists to be treated as a hero in her own right rather than a secondary character or a love-interest. The lead in the Alien franchise, Ripley continues to be the benchmark against which other strong women, such as Furiosa and Buffy, are measured. However, the woman that most people see as the first female sci-fi hero was originally written as a man.

Early drafts of the project, originally titled Star Beast, focused on the Alien itself rather than the human characters. As a result, the crew were given largely unisex names and identified using male pronouns. Subsequent notes attached to the earliest scripts made it clear that they could be cast as either men or women depending on the strengths of the actor. As a result, Ripley had no first name and was referred to as male until Sigourney Weaver was cast in the role in the latter stages of pre-production.

5. The Doctor

BBC

BBC

The Doctor’s gender has been a constant source of debate since Dr Who returned in 2005. In particular, the question most often rears its head when a new incarnation is due to be announced. Fans have long theorised that the Time Lord could regenerate into a female body despite the fact that he has always been played by male actors. The Doctor’s Wife introduced an unseen character called the Corsair. A fellow Time Lord and friend of the Doctor, the Corsair is said to have switched genders over the course of several incarnations. Most recently, the latest incarnation of the Master was renamed as Missy, short for Mistress, because the original title no longer suited her new female form.

However, new viewers may be surprised to discover that the Doctor has already had a female incarnation in The Curse of Fatal Death, a 1999 Comic Relief parody. Over the course of the special, the Doctor managed to get through all of his remaining regenerations in the space of a few minutes before finally dying in the arms of his fiancé. Moments later, against all known laws of Time Lord science, he regenerate a thirteenth time. While the previous Doctors (played by actors including Rowan Attkinson, Richard E. Grant and Hugh Grant) were all men, the new Doctor was a woman played by Joanna Lumley.

The Doctor’s companion (and fiancé) was understandably rather disturbed and disappointed by this change. The Master, on the other hand, was rather keen on this new version of his nemesis.

4. Mr Spock

NBC

NBC

Everyone knows Mr. Spock as the second in command of the USS Enterprise, serving under James Kirk in the original Star Trek series. To this day, the character remains one of the most popular in the franchise, remembered for his emotionless, logic-driven mindset, his fighting prowess, and his trademark Vulcan salute.

The original Spock, featured in the unaired pilot of the show, was a very different character. Here, Spock featured as the youthful, and much more emotional, science officer of the Enterprise. In his place, the role of second officer was filled by a female character called Number One. Like Spock, Number One was a cold, logical, and efficient woman played by Gene Roddenberry’s second wife Majel Barrett-Roddenberry.

However, at that point the pair were dating despite the fact that Roddenberry was still married to his first wife. The NBC executives were, understandably, a little concerned that personal issues would get in the way of Majel’s role. They also didn’t seem to like the idea that the secondary protagonist of the show would be a woman. Mr. Spock was installed as the second officer of the Enterprise, keeping many of the mannerisms and backstory of Number One. Barrett, meanwhile, was given a smaller role as Nurse Chapel. Footage of Number One can still be seen in the episode The Menagerie, which re-purposed much of the footage from the unaired pilot.

3. Rafiki

Wikipedia.org

Wikipedia.org

One of the most memorable characters introduced in the Lion King was Rafiki. While the eccentric healer/priest/prophet only appeared in a few scenes, his role was vital to the story as he guided Simba towards his destiny. Oh yeah, and he was a brilliantly crazy baboon. When Julie Taymor adapted the film for Broadway, she felt that the story lacked a strong, prominent female character. Because the large cast of strong female lions that do all of the hunting weren’t enough. It was decided that Rafiki’s character would be the easiest to change without having to drastically alter the plot.

As a result, Taymor switched Rafiki’s gender to female, transforming him into a wise, crone-like figure. The Rafiki seen on stage still provides guidance and is still bat crap crazy, but actually takes on a slightly more prominent role onstage, singing The Circle of Life at the film’s opening. Because the film version has the song performed in voice-over rather than by a character, giving it to Rafiki, who has an important role to play in the opening scene, actually makes a lot of sense.

2. The Ancient One

Marvel

Marvel

A principal character in the Dr Strange comic books, the Ancient One was born in Tibet roughly 500 years ago. The character spent years amassing a wealth of magical knowledge in order to become the Sorcerer Supreme, the most powerful magic user in the world. The Ancient One accepted Dr Strange as his apprentice after Strange seeks his assistance to cure the nerve damage in his hands. Once Strange’s training is complete, the Ancient One leaves him as the protector of magic, transcending the mortal realm to become one with the universe.

At least, that’s what happened in the comics. The Marvel cinematic universe caused a stir earlier this year when they announced that the role of the Ancient One would be played by Tilda Swinton. This isn’t the first time that Swinton has played with gender in a role. She portrayed the angel Gabriel, presented as an asexual character, in Constantine. She was also the leading model for menswear brand Pringle of Scotland a few years ago. Very little is known so far about the version of the Ancient One that Swinton will be playing in the upcoming film. Presumably, the idea will be that the character is so old that s/he has reached an asexual state.

There’s been no official word yet if Swinton will have a beard for the film.

1. Prospera

Disney

Disney

Julie Taymor struck again in her 2008 adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Any actress will tell you that Shakespeare didn’t write good female parts. The most interesting roles invariably go to the male leads, such as Hamlet or Othello. So Julie Taymor decided to shake things up by casting Helen Miram as the lead role when she came to adapt one of his best-known plays, The Tempest, for film.

The original play focused on Prospero, a sorcerer and the exiled Duke of Milan. Prior to the start of the play Prospero loses control of the city and is ousted by his brother because he is more interested in his studies than ruling. In Taymor’s version, Prospera is accused her of killing her husband with witchcraft and banished because the patriarchal society couldn’t accept a female ruler. The rest of the cast, and the plot, remained unchanged.

The initial decision to make Prospero a woman was put down to Taymor simply not being interested by the male actors who auditioned for the role. A closer examination of the script revealed that changing the character was mostly a simple matter of altering the pronouns. This allowed Taymor to recreate Prospero as the female victim of a male-dominated society, adding an entirely new dimension to a centuries-old play.

As a result, the decision to change Prospero’s gender has been a godsend to Literature students the world over.

What were your favourite gender swapping incidents? Let us know in the comment section.

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