Unfortunately, Required Reading: Episode 20: This is Not a Guide to Murdering Birds

Join hosts Amanda and Tori in a heartfelt and timely discussion on Harper Lee’s famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, while day-drinking whiskey in mason jars.

The Channels I Stopped Watching

Youtube is a fixture in my media diet. Before I sold my soul to Hulu Live, Youtube and Netflix were my only sources of video entertainment. With Youtube being such an important part of my media consumption, it would only make sense that my tastes would change. So I briefly wanted to talk about a few of the channels I recently unsubscribed from. 

To start, let’s talk about the types of channels I do like. Honestly, I love video essays and media criticism. Lindsay Ellis is one of my favorites. I love everything ContraPoints does. I love Dan Olson, Patrick H. Wilhems, Entertain the Elk, Super EyePatch Wolf and Screen Junkies. I love thoughtful discussions on media, social issues and more. I also like channels that teach me things like Crash Course, Religion for Breakfast, It’s Okay to be Smart and The Brain Scoop. There are the mindless entertainment channels like those that sait my lust for information and gossip about drag queens and I love makeup tutorials and cooking videos. I keep up with a few news channels like Vox and Vice and I follow some video game content and some mangatubers because of course I do. My media diet is, I suppose, fairly varied but also very me if you were to take a peak at those I subscribe to. Comics, food, travel, politics, drag queens, media and more. My Youtube feed is a simulacrum of me. And like more digital facsimiles, that image has in fact changed over time.

The first big channel I left was CinemaSins. Now, for those of you who don’t know, CinemaSins is a channel of mostly dude bros who like to write sin counts for movies, television shows and more based on tiny little nitpicks and an utter lack of knowledge. They claim to be cinephiles but they’re mostly just annoying men who think they know best. I did used to like their podcast more because it seemed to be less about dumb nitpick comments and more about movie theater stories but the channel just got to me. Honestly, I was pretty done when they dinged Avengers Age of Ultron for the absolutely stupid reason of “Well, if Tony Stark has the Hulkbuster armor, why doesn’t he just use that?” literally read any comic. Look at any comic. There’s an answer. And while normally I have no issue with bad faith criticism as entertainment, the problem is that CinemaSins has a platform, millions of viewers and many of those viewers just don’t have the tools to realize that this is not real media criticism. Look at modern movie reviews. Look at literally anyone who thinks all that being a review is having a camera and “opinions” and you’ll see the poisonous influence and dumbing down of media that CinemaSins has perpetuated and made standard. It frankly makes me sick as someone who criticizes media and is a student of writing, communications and media studies. And CinemaSins will say that this is satire and not to be taken serious but if you read the comments, you can see people are clearly taking this stuff seriously. It’s just careless and in a world where carelessness seems to run rampant, I rather enjoy thoughtful criticism of movies. If you’re looking for a good alternative, Screen Junkies is a great group of intelligent, diverse and thoughtful reviewers and though not all of their videos are the best, I find their criticism valid and entertaining. 

Next up is another media review channel and for long time followers of my blog, you may know where I’m going with this. I used to love The Nostalgia Critic. And while I could never fault those who found the persona of the Internet grating, I mostly found the mix of reviewing newer properties and older properties with a humorous, sarcastic lens with a shocking amount of heart in places. I used to really like the mix of reviews that fell under the brand that was Channel Awesome. I used to like Channel Awesome. Now, I’m not here to discuss the litany of claims against the Walker brothers, the CEO of Channel Awesome, their horrible employees and the frankly unsafe and illegal conditions that their reunion movies were made under. I’m not here to discuss the fact that a rape scene was written into a script as a joke. I’m not here to discuss that. What finally got me to turn was their absolutely tone deaf response to a multi-page released document that clearly outlines every atrocity with the needed receipts. Victim blaming, deflection and gaslighting are things I just can’t support. It ended up tainting videos that I really enjoyed. I like Nostalgia Critic when he was thoughtful and admitted that things could be bad but still be fun. They were what I always sort of wanted from CinemaSins, admitting it’s a nitpick but then accepting it because for the people in the back: movies don’t always make sense, and that’s okay.  But after the whole fiasco, it was easier than I thought to delete the Nostalgia Critic from my life. 

Similarly, Screen Junkies faced a whole fiasco as we discovered their lead creator was a trash pile but it was Screen Junkies’ quick and prompt response that saved that relationship for me. It was handled, the bad man was fired, discussions were had out in the open and things moved on. 

I’m sure I’ve unsubscribed to plenty more channels, mostly due to changing beliefs, changes in closeness or affiliation and similar reasons and I’m sure I’ll add more channels to the list of things I watch on a regular basis. It’s curious as well that the channels I mostly follow and have the most ire with are media criticism based channels. I think that may be one of the most concerning part about the death of discourse has been the death of valid criticism and that lack of thought, that lack of reason, that lack of tact honestly is why I’m so frustrated by modern…well, existence. We should hold our media accountable. We should be able to argue our points. We should be able to accept criticism. 

So those are the channels I’ve recently unsubscribed from. If you have any suggestions for channels I should follow: let me know in the comments below. 

Losing Jim Henson (Again)


Jim Henson passed away when I was a child. And by child I mean I was actually not even born yet, though he did pass away in the same year I was born. Needless to say, I didn’t have a cultural memory of Jim Henson as a person. I had/have memories of his work (of course I do) but I have no memory of Henson the man. Some of my friends that are older than me seemed all to think that his death was sudden and tragic and I did my best to empathize with that feeling. At the time, I had not really lost a cultural icon that felt similar. Most of the celebrities that passed away while I was in high school or college were sudden, sure, but not shocking or surprising. Hell, some of them were memetic like Billy Mays’ sudden passing. It wasn’t until adulthood that I started to lose figures that truly meant something to me culturally, while Monkey Punch’s death comes to mind, really the big one is probably Stan Lee. 

But Stan Lee was old. Every time I saw his name in the headlines that weren’t attached to a Marvel movie cameo, I assumed it was Uncle Stan’s time to go. It didn’t hit me until I saw Into the Spiderverse and his cameo featured him selling the costume of his favorite character to young Miles Morales saying that the costume always fits, eventually; dear reader, I cried then. Stan Lee helped give form to some of my favorite characters, concepts and ideas. Stan Lee was my childhood and his death, though somewhat expected, was trying. I couldn’t imagine losing him at the height of his power and suddenly. Which brings us back to Henson. 

It was actually an episode of Epic Rap Battles of History that pitted the two (Stan Lee and Jim Henson) together that made me really think about his passing. A lot of Lee’s verses to Henson are about his sudden death and the impact it left on young minds everywhere (at the time of the episode’s release, Stan Lee was still alive) and while I could continue to accept that logic for the sake of the rap battle, I still didn’t give much thought to the death of Jim Henson. 

I mostly knew of Henson’s work from The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth and of course Sesame Street and the Muppets but my relationship with those works mostly fled me as I entered my teen years. Shockingly, the show I most recall of his from my childhood was Fraggle Rock, a show I was convinced I made up in a 90s based fever dream only to be reminded that many children watched that show during its television reign. I remembered the show for its heart, desire to teach children to not be little trash goblins and its fun view of the world which by the 1990s felt already nearly too absurdist to be real. But I rarely thought of the man behind the puppets. I did for some of Henson’s contemporaries like Frank Oz and his work in bringing Yoda to life but I had no memory or attachment to Henson. He was just the guy whose name appeared in the credits of some of the shows I watched as a kid. He was a man, he was an important man but during my childhood, he was mostly a name or a vague myth. 

But one day, while scrolling through my Youtube feed, I came across a mini-series done by a channel I already have an immense amount of respect: DefunctLand. DefunctLand mostly covered the history of theme parks, amusement parks and more but also covers the shows we (mostly millennials) loved as children and didn’t realize ended terribly or due to awful reasons. The very popular Youtube channel decided to do an entire mini-series on Jim Henson’s life, work and impact which would, inevitably, end with his death. The series was well-researched and well-thought and I found myself loving Henson’s work in a way I didn’t know was possible. Seeing how much time he spent caring for the puppets and those he chose to work with and their immense talent, I was able to gain a whole new respect for this man not just as a myth but as a genius. I got to re-learn my love of his puppetry and his insistence that this was not just for children, and even more so, learn about some of his failures. Getting to hear about his successes, his influences, his family and history; I’m not giving the mini-series justice so literally just watch it. But there was a looming sort of dread as the series progressed: the series would end and that would mean Henson would die. I found myself on sort of pins and needles as episodes ticked down. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t emotionally ready. I spent weeks learning about this cultural monolith and I would have to bury him as so many did already decades ago.  

The last episode of the mini-series was Henson’s funeral and his death. The editing of the episode was heartfelt and the video snippets from the funeral which was a televised event made me feel like I was there. The fact that so many of the puppets he made and pioneered were there and their actors were present doing their best to be there despite their grief was moving. Big Bird was there and the actor inside this almost impossible looking suit was clearly straining to sing “It’s Not Easy Being Green” through sadness and tears just broke me because I had never given thought to Big Bird crying, yet alone, the actor inside that costume crying. The service was moving and having it intercut with some of the final moments of Henson’s private and public life made for an experience that left me crying on my sofa. 

I felt those feelings of those who were kids and watched their hero die. I felt those emotions, the sadness, the loss of potential, all of it. I lamented what work we could have seen from him. I missed him. I felt for him as a person for the first time. I felt for his family on a personal level since I also lost my father young. I wondered about how he would feel about a whole generation of people loving his work the way we do. I wondered about all of those things. How he changed our media landscape, taught children to empathize, encouraged us all to be kind and did so with such humor. 

I knew of Jim Henson as a ghost, a legend, I never had to grieve him as a man. 

The mini-series DefunctLand did was marvelous, heartfelt and spectacular. I learned a lot, cried a lot and appreciated felt puppets more than I thought was possible. I never thought I would have to mourn the loss of someone I knew really knew or never met, but it is possible.

Unfortunately, Required Reading: Episode 19: Romeo and Juliet is Not a Love Story

Join hosts Amanda and Tori on a not so romantic adventure through William Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy: Romeo and Juliet. Come for the discourse, stay for the frank discussions about young, dumb romantic love and why Mercutio is the best character ever written.

Sunshine Blogger Award 2019

Firstly, I’d like to thank Bloom Reviews for nominating me. I’m honored and flattered. Since essentially everyone I’d like to nominate was nominated with me, I suppose I luck out a little bit. But for the sake of being a good sport, I’ll answer the questions!

What was the scariest movie or show you’ve ever watched?

  • I don’t scare easily because I’m usually just N O P E but Paranormal Caught on Camera or pretty much anything that deals with ghosts or hauntings or the paranormal. I don’t deal well with cryptids, aliens, ghosts or the like as much as I am fascinated with them.

Are there certain genres of TV shows or books that you stay away from or hate reading? Why?

  • I don’t much care for romance or YA. It just bores me and since my back story reads like a comic book protag, most cookie-cutter stories are just a slog of a lack of problems and a lack of depth.

Who was your first celebrity/character crush and why?

  • First Crush in Anime was probably Lord Sesshomaru or Master Naraku from InuYasha as far as celebrities…Ryan Phillipe. First celebrity female crush is Eva Mendez

What was one show your parents hated you watching but you watched anyways?

  • Probably Cow and Chicken or something like that. My parents let me watch pretty much anything. My aunts disliked me watching anime of any kind.

I’ve recently gotten addicted to podcasts, do you have any recommendations for podcasts or other talk shows you enjoy listening to?

  • I’m going to go ahead and say my podcast: Unfortunately, Required Reading but I’ll also say: Lore, What You Missed In History Class, Welcome to Night Vale and The Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know.

I’m currently relaxing on vacation right now. What’s your favorite summertime or beach read?

  • An Illustrated History of the Marquis de Sade.

It’s starting to get towards the end of summer. What’s one aspect of this season that you look forward to the most? Vacation? A certain event? Warmth?

  • Summer is usually time for me to go to convention but I do like going to the sea and mostly getting to celebrate my birthday.

Conversely, Fall is pretty much upon us. What’s one thing about the season you’re really looking forward to?

  • A lack of sun.

Tell me about the style of your blog and why you picked the color, banner, and subject matter that you did.

  • I chose the sakura blossoms because of what they mean to Japan. Japanese culture and anime have always been huge influences on me. The colors are a mix of my struggle to embrace the fact that I quite like girly things while also in my real life being somewhat gender neutral. The subject matter fits in my name. It’s me, actually. Which means it’s all the things I love: anime, film, comics, feminism, representation and more.

What about blogging drew you to make your own blog?

  • The freedom to write whatever I want.

Is there anything about content creators in particular or contention creation in general that you find annoying or frustrating?

  • I think finding the balance between giving people who do love what I do a way to support me monetarily while not feeling like a shill or a cheap writing prostitute. I don’t mind the idea of accepting Ko-Fi donations but things like Patreon make me feel a bit uneasy likely because I feel a bit lacking as a creator.