Quentin Tarantino’s Revisionist History

Over the weekend I saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is supposed to be director Quentin Tarantino’s last film (but he keeps signing on for more films). This experience was different for a few reasons namely that it was my first time going to a theater on my own and secondly that it was one of the first times in a while that I had gone to see a Tarantino feature in theaters. I’ve long since said that Tarantino is my favorite director but I skipped recent theatrical releases of his last two films; but I had a free ticket from Alamo Drafthouse to celebrate my birthday so I decided let’s see a movie and let’s see a movie that I had some mild hype for. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood centers around a mostly washed up actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his somewhat sketchy stuntman/friend (Brad Pitt) and it’s all set in the backdrop of Hollywood in the late 1960s. It’s a movie about not being as good as you used to be, an ode to cinema and film-making and a glorious, damn near mastabatory look at the late 1960s through fashion, places and making us all see that apparently you could smoke on airplanes and honestly, everywhere for that matter. As far as the movie goes: I liked it. It’s far from my favorite Tarantino but still is an enjoyable romp with some damn good action. Tarantino is nearly meta in his fetishization of feet (almost like he’s in on the joke now) and the soundtrack is solid and the shots are beautiful. But there are a few things in the movie that kept going back over in my mind and that means I’m going to spoil this movie so here’s your warning but the thought was: wow, Tarantino has a hard-on for changing history. Let’s go over Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s attempts at revisionism first. So there’s one thing about the movie that’s hard to put into words and that is the tension in this film: another character that is heavily featured is Margot Robbie’s version of Sharon Tate. For anyone who has put the pieces together of Sharon Tate, late 1960s and California then cool, you’re thinking what literally everyone else was thinking. Manson and Manson Family nonsense runs rampant through the film, it’s honestly a little distracting and it made me very anxious. At every moment I was concerned about the hippies that may be murderers and as Sharon Tate becomes a more important character I felt like watching a Death Note background character, just sort of waiting for her to be brutalized but she doesn’t. She’s okay. She survives. In fact, the two male leads of the movie kick some serious cultist ass in this weird violent fever dream of a conclusion. It was a shock for sure and it was surreal to think of a scenario where Sharon Tate walked away okay. The movie also indulges in a little bit of great white man fantasy by having Brad Pitt kick the ass of an at his prime Bruce Lee (who honestly in this movie is a bit of an asshat) which is just a little insulting but hey, power fantasy gotta power fantasy. 

In isolation, this movie is a love letter to a bygone era but if you take this movie as part of the Tarantino filmography then a pattern emerges: Tarantino hates history so much that he has to write fanfiction about it. Hot take aside, it would seem like Tarantino has a thing for revising history. Two of my favorite of his films both take a strange power fantasy approach to two of the worst times in human history: World War II and Slavery in the Antebellum South. Inglorious Basterds is entirely about Jewish-American soldiers taking revenge against Nazis and Django Unchained is the story of a black man who takes revenge against the white systems of oppression in place.  

I think this form of revisionism is fascinating because it feels a little like fanfiction. It feels like Tarantino as a director being able to comment or change an aspect of history that is shameful and subverts expectations by giving power to those who typically in those historical situations were powerless. That was what was so brilliant about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was sort of waiting for Sharon Tate to perish and especially in a post #MeToo-era, I was worried about seeing nothing but an excuse for Tarantino to work out some sexual violence against women (which he seems to enjoy) and honestly, I was happy to see a story where things turned out okay for Sharon. It’s a radical moment and one I didn’t respect to find so empowering. By taking the power away from the Manson Family, Tarantino; like he did in Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained takes away power from those who are at this stage mythological as far as terror goes.The last battle of frantic, sloppy and insane and takes away some of the legend and horror from a force so monstrous that when I said that I was listening to I Am the Walrus when I was in high school, my aunt told me that I could not listen to that song and I saw fear in her eyes for the first time in my life. 

Restraint is not something I’d expect to say about Tarantino but his choice to have a fairly happy ending at the end of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was shockingly touching and I was able to release my held breath when Sharon spoke over the intercom of her gated driveway asking if her neighbor was okay as she was not the victim of the Manson Family’s violence but her neighbor, DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton and his stuntman Cliff Booth are the recipients of that violence and they do in fact conquer over the darkness that would cloak Hollywood for decades in paranoia and fear. 

I liked this movie. This isn’t my favorite Tarantino as it is a slow burn and I am bored and want more hyperviolence but it’s good. It’s a masterclass in set up and pay off that should honestly be studied in film classes as well as some of the best character acting and cinematography I’ve seen in awhile. It’s a good film and I’m glad I saw it and I’m glad that in this reality that Sharon Tate is okay. 

Before we go, there’s one scene that to most would be a throwaway but as I talked about it with Carlos, it really ended up being poignant. In the film, Sharon Tate visits a theater where one of her movies is showing. She’s asked to pose next to a poster and sits in with the audience and watches her own feature. She smiles as people smile and comment about her performance and she laughs when the audience laughs. But in the film, it isn’t a weird Margot Robbie clone as Sharon Tate in the movie, it’s actually just the film she’s in: The Wrecking Crew. And if you think about it, if you didn’t grow up during this time or if you were a kid during this time, you may never know Sharon Tate as an actress, just as a victim. You know her as a notch in Manson’s belt, not a vibrant and brilliant and talented woman who was lost too soon and that choice to humanize the real Sharon Tate was wonderful and I cannot thank Tarantino enough for the chance to truly see Sharon Tate as she would want to be remembered: not as a victim, but as a star. 

Thoughts from Titan: Thoughts and Musings on Avengers: Infinity War Part 1

I didn’t want to do this.

I didn’t want to be this person.

But today, we’re going to do it. We’re going to talk about Avengers: Infinity War.

This will be a lot like my Black Panther musings and thoughts post. We’re just gonna spitball here a little. And I am not Promixa Midnight and Thanos does not demand my silence anymore. I have been silent long enough. I was not spared from this call to silence and this movie was relentlessly spoiled for me in several places.  

So let’s get ready. I’m going to spoil the whole damn thing.

But before we rip this movie open, let’s go over some history, shall we?

Thanos is a complicated character in Marvel history. He was at first a campy mustache-twirling villain of the Silver Age and he was more an antagonist to Spiderman and the Fantastic Four than anyone else. He wasn’t really a cosmic threat: Galactus was. Thanos’ history was ret-conned a little while ago giving us some of the more interesting aspects of his story and character. As a comic threat, Thanos may have eclipsed Galactus. He’s more charismatic, his goals for better or worse make more sense than he just exists and realistically, he’s a villain who, most of the the time, loves being a villain. He’s up there with Red Skull for me when it comes to Marvel villains and villain canon.

As far as the MCU goes; this is one of the most ambitious things done in film since the transition to color film. The MCU proper has spanned now for 10 years and the first Avengers movie is now a distant 6 year old memory. The movies have been mostly good and they range from movies that I love like Captain America: The Winter Soldier to movies that I hate with a burning passion like Avengers: Age of Ultron. As well as movies that I wish I could ignore like Ant-Man. Infinity War is the cinematic version of one of the most important comic book story lines in history and is the culmination of a decade of dedicated movie watching.

I was apprehensive when the Marvel movies starting getting cosmic. Cosmic Marvel is one of my favorites but I’m also an old comic book fan. I was worried that the cosmic stuff would alienate (puns) mainstream fans but I will say, I’m happy to see some of the most colorful and fun McGuffin devices in all of comics on screen.

With that being said let’s talk about this movie. And as I said before I’m spoiling the whole damn thing so now is your chance to back away.

Because I’m trying to be a better person, we’ll go over the positives first:

  • While I was apprehensive about how Marvel would handle the cosmic stuff for a mainstream audience, I think they did a really good job of explaining as needed weirder aspects of the Marvel canon. They did this by mostly not explaining anything at all and I think that’s one of the best ways to handle it.
  • Again, the cast is what shines as in all the Marvel movies. I don’t think anyone is a poor casting choice and even Brolin as Thanos is a delight.
  • I was really worried when Thor was appearing in this most post-Ragnarok that he’d go back to being the joyless Thor he was in the first Avengers and in any of his solo romps. I was pleasantly surprised to have back the Thor that made Ragnarok such a fun movie.
  • I wasn’t crazy about Dr. Strange as a film but I think the way this movie handles his powers happen to be some of the best I’ve ever seen or could imagine.
  • The fight sequences and battles scenes were some of the best in any Marvel movie and when the film lets these characters be as overpowered and intense as they are, it’s an absolute blast.
  • I wasn’t crazy about Spiderman: Homecoming but Tom Holland is a cinnamon roll and I worry about him and he was great in this movie.
  • T’Challa’s still great, not much has changed.
  • Gamora was always my least favorite part of the Guardians franchise: Zoe Saldana is a great actress, but she reminded me a little of Jennifer Lawrence in the X-Men franchise: just tired of being in that body paint. But Gamora absolutely shines in this movie even though I do not need literally any of the other Guardians except for Drax and Mantis.
  • The effects are pretty solid this movie but I think a lot of the budget went towards making powers and suits look good. There are some places of spotty effect work but we’ll get to that later.

I wanted to give Thanos his own paragraph. I think he deserves that.

Humanizing Thanos was the best worst decision possible. Thanos is a complicated character and we can never go back to the Thanoscopter days of comic books but giving him such an arc was strange, forced but powerful. But the problem I have with Thanos is very similar to the issue I have with Killmonger in Black Panther. His ideas in this movie are extreme but by no means insane sounding considering today’s climate both politically and socially. The Mad Titan is mad because his ideas should have never made sense but in this movie, he is almost entirely too human. You can, weirdly, empathize with a genocidal California raisin. And that’s a problem. 

Enough positive stuff; that isn’t why you’re here. Let’s talk about the parts I wasn’t so crazy about.

  • Peter Quill is still my least favorite part of any Guardians and while him being an emotional, reckless and annoying waste of space is very in character: I wanted to punch him in the mouth for ruining the flow of the film.
  • I also would love to know when and where between Guardians 1 & 2 did Gamora and Peter get to “I love you” status. The romance seemed rushed and awful considering how slow and deliberate the relationship had been up until that point.
  • Scarlet Witch is useless in this movie and if she simply vanished, I would not bat an eye. While her feelings are valid and emotional, her powers are so intense and strange that there should be zero conflict in this movie.
  • My biggest fear going into the movie was that this would be quips the film and it absolutely was. Quips and snark work in a lot of the standalone movies because it is often one offended to a room of straight men. Tony Stark is snarky and it works because Steve Rogers is so sincere and Black Widow is so tired that it works. It does not work having Star Lord and Iron Man and Spiderman and Dr. Strange all throwing quips. It emotionally undercuts how intense many of the scenes are.
  • This movie requires you having watched all the other movies. For comic book fans, that’s fine. I’m used to having to pick out every single detail but this is a lot for a mainstream fan. This movie was nothing but pay off and it matters a lot if you’ve been working through that build up for a decade but if you just started in Phase 2 or Phase 3 when many did this is an insane and punishing ride.
  • Thanos looks like an angry California Raisin. There, I said it.
  • Mark Ruffalo is one of my favorite actors to play Bruce Banner and he’s a great Hulk. He is hot garbage and waste of space in this film.
  • I checked out around giant “dwarf” Peter Dinklage.
  • Captain America is wonderful but he is a waste of space in this movie as well, really a lot of the Avengers are just not needed. This film is packed and I know it’s supposed to be but in the nature of writing, it’s hard to give each of these characters something to do.
  • If you had told me that a movie involving the Children of Thanos would end with them being mostly easily defeated by B-Tier Avengers, I would have punched you in the neck for lying.
  • The end credits scene made me swear under my breath.

And now, we’ve reached the end. Let’s talk about Death.

So many beloved characters die in a flash. Without mercy, without thought, without care. I wish I felt something. I wish I had cried. The audible gasps in the theater were enough. The countless posts on social media from friends I thought would be enough. But you know what? I felt nothing. Because here’s the thing. I am a long term comic book fan. Death means nothing. And that’s what I felt during the scenes of watching some of the characters I love more than some members of my own family fade into cold and unfeeling dust.

It felt hollow, disrespectful and cruel. For so many, comic books are a safe space. We find honor and meaning in the heroes we grew up with and facing such a existential threat and watching them fade away felt like I lost a part of myself.

But I survived Death in the Family, House of M and many more cataclysmic comic events. Hell, even by the standard set by the comic book Infinity Wars, this is tame. So why am I so upset this time around?

A lack of tension.

We know Tom Holland will be back. We know T’Challa is coming back. We know that many of these characters that vanished will return. I mourn Gamora. I even mourn Loki a little. But because of the slate of movies, I know at least a few of these characters will return and I know at least a few that are still alive as of the end of Part 1, will be gone come Part 2.

And that slap in the face is nothing more than a careful little insurance policy to make sure that my butt is back in the seat come Part 2. That is why I was so violently angry.

To put very bluntly, this is what I said in the car with Amber after seeing this movie:

Whatever bullshit they have to pull to make this all work out by Part 2, is gonna be some bullshit.

I left the theater angry, ranting, screeching but also somewhat hopeful. I cannot say this is a bad movie. I cannot say that I didn’t enjoy parts of this movie. But I can be disappointed in the cheap trick and the 3 hour long slog-fest of mindless payoff that was Avengers: Infinity War Part 1.

“But wait, Amanda!” someone I’m sure is going to say. “You’re a comic book fan, you should be used to this.” You know what, Straw Man? I am. I am used to this. But even in talking to friends about this, this level of death just feels unneeded. This was a Jason Todd level gut punch and I don’t think we deserved this as much as we did the death of Jason Todd (Rest in Power, Jason.). And knowing that children cried in theaters, that mainstream fans are confused and that long-term fans are just tired is why this whole movie exhausted me emotionally.

With a villain so overpowered, with a threat so big, it almost didn’t feel important. And I struggle to think of a movie where most of the main cast and without exaggeration, half of the people in that universe simply vanish into dust and it didn’t make me feel emotional at all; well, I think that film has a serious problem.

And now, after sitting and ranting about this movie for more hours than I like admitting, I feel mostly hollow. Do cool one-liners, fanservice beyond belief and awesome fight sequences a good movie make?

Does a plot with little sense if you haven’t invested 10 years of movie watching and/or decades of comic book reading, at times too intense violence and watching a villain “win” make a bad movie?

This movie was an emotional rollercoaster of cheering, screaming and bitter disappointment but also immense hope. With this clean slate, who knows where things can go. While my gut says this will end with some nonsense, it’s a comic book movie, it might just be fun nonsense. I know for sure I will be there to see Part 2 but whether I’ll be there happily or out of obligation is the bigger question.

 

The New Normal

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead.png

In 2016, a long-brewing storm began to stir to life.

In 2017, that storm broke ground.

In 2018, we are still in the process of coping with this deluge.


That storm that I did my best to analogize is the #MeToo movement and the wave of individuals stating that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted by people in power or celebrities.

Now, I’m not here to talk about the movement itself; I’m here to talk about its effects as someone who has been at the end of more sexual harassment than I like admitting.

Today, we’re here to talk about the storm and what it means for all of us left in its wake.

But there’s one thing that needs to be said immediately before we can go any further. 

Sexual harassment isn’t new.

This is not something that started last year, 10 years ago, or even 100 years ago. For as long as there has been the patriarchy, there has been forms of harassment. There are old rituals that were for “fertility” that now would essentially just be bride-kidnapping. Look at Lupercalia. Men in wolf skins run round and whip each other and women for the sake of fertility. Well, if a man in a wolf skin came anywhere near me now, despite me being a Classics student, I would absolutely call the police.

And as societies change, our attitudes on courting rituals changed. There is not a universal definition of rape and while many places agree loosely on what consent, there are always a few that seem to have less strict definitions on the act. Even though, universally, most understand the difference between “No” and “Yes”. 

Let’s start with what many will agree was the canary in the coal mine for all of this: Bill Cosby. Cosby was America’s black dad. He was non-threatening, intelligent and funny in a family sort of way. He seemed wholesome. He seemed like a good person.  He seemed non-threatening. We were all very wrong. Women recently began to claim that Cosby drugged and assaulted them. But many did not believe these women, there are still people that don’t believe these women despite Cosby being on trial now for his crimes. How could America’s chill black dad be a monster? Turns out, he could be a monster pretty easily and now most who read the news regularly enough know that he’s a monster and don’t question such a fast. And now we are left with this hollow shell of a reminder that someone once beloved is now nothing short of a villain.

Because let’s not mince words, one man’s flattery is another woman’s sexual harassment and that brings us back to #MeToo and the continued predation that directors, writers and producers have used to manipulate and control their actors both male and female. The stories are tragic, heartbreaking and exhausting and all of them are believable.

So what do we do now that this is our new normal?

I’d like to present an example near and dear to my heart: Quentin Tarantino.

Tarantino is…eccentric and he’s actually one of my favorite directors of all time and the creator of some of the finest films this generation has seen in my humble opinion. In a scene in Inglorious Basterds he is shown choking one of his actresses with his own bare hands because he was the only one who could do it just right. He famously berated and endangered Uma Thurman during the filming of both Kill Bill movies (some of my favorite films of all time). And even though we knew that he was a tough director and had less than ideal interactions with actresses: he was an artist. Hell, in a past life I praised him for that scene in Inglorious Basterds. It takes vision to realize that only your hands look good choking the life out of an actress.

But after Uma Thurman came out and provided a much needed humanizing voice about the actual horror that happened behind the camera. Suddenly, many of these scenes that were once praised are now tainted under a new darker lens.

And honestly, that can be said about many directors. Stanley Kubrick terrorized more than one actress during the filming of his excellent filmography. Alfred Hitchcock terrorized several of his actresses while he was making moves that would change cinema forever. But in their day, and in books, articles and interviews: that was just what it took to get the scene and they were visionaries for it. And that doesn’t even include all the microaggressions producers and directors have used to get the scene just right.

And 10, 20, 30 or more years ago: that was fine.

It was perfectly acceptable for such behavior.

One problem: it isn’t now.

So where do we go from here?

I’m not being cynical at all by saying it’s exhausting living in a world where suddenly everyone you looked up to is a monster. That is not said to minimize the allegations, they are all very valid, but as we judge older social mores by current views: how will we continue to move forward as lovers of media and hell, just as folks who lover conversation?

I’m not one that often enjoys hearing that the world is too politically correct now. To me, that’s an excuse often used by men who are out of touch and need a convenient line after they’ve said something repugnant.

I’m happy we are now in an era where a woman or man who screams “harassment” is listened to. I’m happy we are now in an era where a woman or man of color can say that they have experienced hardships because of their race. I am thrilled that LGBTQIA folks can candidly discuss the issues they face with great dignity daily.

I’m concerned that we will only continue to look on the actions of the past with harsher scrutiny. But that concern is tempered with hope. I do worry that some more nuanced things are lost in the conversation. I do worry that we may just one day become too politically correct.

But this is where we are now. Daily, more and more people come out against those who are famous and not so famous. Daily, we make steps in the right direction. Sure, sometimes those steps mean we stumble. But every single damn day we move forward so that one day, a little cosplayer will never have to face the harassment I did. We are reaching towards a day that an actress will never be preyed upon for the sake of advancing her career. We are quickly approaching that day.

And I welcome it.

 

All That is Old is New Again

juvenoia (uncountable)(neologism) The fear or hostility directed by an older generation toward a younger one, or toward youth culture in general..jpg

I was born in the glorious 90s. And because of that, I am nostalgic for the late 90s and the early to mid 2000s. And while I’ve talked before about how important being a 90s kid is to me, I wanted to talk about the generational divide and why it’s strange being stuck in a nostalgia-loop.

From television, to movies to music: it seems like we’ve been stuck in a perpetual loop that glorifies the 1980s and 1990s. And that makes sense: many of the media creatives that are major producers now were born in the 1980s: it would make sense for them to want to look back to a simpler time that meant a lot to them.

There’s this thing called a nostalgia cycle: it’s a funny sort of thing. It essentially states that the media that is popular reflects an era that’s either 10, 20, 30 or 40 years from the current year. Think of the 1990s being nostalgic for the 50s and 60s. And I’m far from the first essayist to comment on this nostalgia cycle but it’s worth mentioning because it does seem to be never-ending. But there’s one aspect of it that I think we’re missing when we talk about weaponized nostalgia: it’s been surprisingly forgetful of the past while claiming to be doing something new.

I’m writing this right before Black Panther hits theaters here in the U.S. and for many this is the first black-led superhero movie. [update: I did see Black Panther and the movie is out and successful!] To which, many and all comic book fans roll their eyes. Blade is hilariously underrated and fantastic and was a black-led superhero movie in the 1990s. Not to say that I am not excited about Black Panther nor do I hope to quell any of the hype any folks may have for this film: it is a big deal but it isn’t the first anything right now.

Similarly, almost all the music that is popular nowadays seems to sound just like music did when I was growing up. Lots of house beats, tons of 80s synth influence and way too many songs that never end and just repeat lyrics. Not to mention that fact that we have yet to seem to get rid of the girl/boy band.

I think I’m most struck by this because I have a younger cousin who stands in as the avatar straw-man of all the reasons 90s kids are at odds with Gen Z and why Baby Boomers must hate us damn millennials. When I was home for Christmas, I got to sit and watch the yearly ritual of him receiving hundreds of dollars in gifts because he is an only child like I am and thus is spoiled rotten as I was. This year, he received an outfit that I’m almost certain my elementary school classmates wore from the sunglasses to the dark khaki joggers and a very retro looking smartwatch: hell, I think it still had a calculator on it. And in a brief moment of time that was only the two of us: I could hear him reciting the lyrics to Good Morning, a song from Kanye West that I love and is now nearly 10 years old. Everything from the yuppie fashion to the questionable music choice made me think of myself when I was his age now almost 15 years ago.

I’m also very torn by how sanitized the narratives are for this new wave of nostalgia. Sure, the 90s and the 2000s were great but they weren’t perfect. We had racism, school shootings, terrorism, inequality and all the things we still have just with more Spice Girls and legitimate battles over which boy band was better. But if you look at Stranger Things, a love letter to the 1980s, you’d think the 80s was a magical time where nothing bad happened and racism wasn’t a thing and political correctness existed. But we’ve been bad about that for some time. I’m reminded of the Johnny Rocket’s franchise, which begs you to think of the 1950s as a time for sock hops and milkshakes and not Civil Rights battles and police brutality.

It’s especially troubling considering that we’ve taken nostalgia to it’s only logical place which is to make huge profits off it.  F.Y.E. just had a huge promotion selling Reptar Bars, a part of my childhood from Rugrats that I always wanted to eat but never could: they also briefly sold Reptar Cereal and while the sale went over great: it did seem out of place. I hadn’t given thought to Rugrats as a show for years: I’m pushing 30 and that was  T.V. show I watched as literal child.  There seems to be no end to the things that want to push anniversaries and the nearly endless stream of reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels and more that make it seem like all the things I knew as a child never really left.

If you asked me at 16 if I’d still be playing Pokemon, Street Fighter and still listening to Kanye West and The Killers while there would still be Star Wars movies: I would have first had a lot of questions about how time travel works and then probably say that such a thing wouldn’t make sense. One would assume that media would move on, one would assume that as technology progressed: we’d make progress and not just nicer versions of old things we loved. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was lovely getting a stylish Castlevania anime but I’d also love that energy placed into something new and original.

I’ve talked about nostalgia before when it comes to Pokemon: Sun/Moon and Pokemon: Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon and how its marketing and gameplay centered around the nostalgia of late 20-somethings like me who had been playing the games for all these years and understood and respected such callbacks. But is the game so enjoyable if you don’t know these references: my little cousin likely get through the game but he wouldn’t have the gut punch I did seeing Red and Gary show up like traveling boyfriends asking about this new Hawaii-like region. So why put them in there? If the average actual player of a Pokemon game isn’t likely to get that reference: why put it there? And that’s the issue with our current weaponized nostalgia. It isn’t done to teach, improve or just enjoy: it’s there because it’s there.

And the sad thing is:  we keep buying into it. I’m not sure if you are aware but at least here in parts of the great old United States, things are a hot hot mess: we’re using media to escape our current realities more and more as we refuse to face the current situation of an orange-tinted warmonger in office and issues like racism, homophobia, violence and the threat of terrorism, war and natural disasters. And this isn’t new: we’ve been escaping reality for as long as we could through story, substance and more but at least when I was younger: all of this was new. When I was 12 and saw InuYasha for the first time, it was radically new and different. When I was 10 and arguing with friends over which Boy Band was the best: it was because music like that hadn’t been explored in such a way. When I was 9 playing Pokemon, no game like that had been crafted and distributed for American children. And that’s what this nostalgia cycle is leaving behind: sure, the 1990s were cool and the 2000s were the best: but what made them great was innovation: we didn’t stay stuck thinking of how cool the 1950s were. We did meditate on those things briefly while still continuing to move forward.  

The Case for Gatekeepers

We build too many walls and not enough bridges. (1).png

I come from a darker era for comic book fandom and really, general nerd-kind. I remember being told over and over again that I wasn’t a real fan because I was biologically female. I was told that I couldn’t be that into comics. I was clearly just doing it for attention. I was clearly just there because I only thought the covers were pretty. And psychologically, that’s really hecking damaging. It’s frustrating having to constantly prove that you are a fan of something. I was quizzed, questioned and dismissed so many times that I just came to accept it and now that we are in a halcyon era of comic book movies and nerd acceptance but maybe… just maybe gatekeeping wasn’t so bad in places.

Let’s take a minute to go over some vocabulary. Gatekeeping is a sociology and recently appropriated fan term that essentially means more “experienced” fans act as, well, gatekeepers and use their knowledge in a certain property or fandom to keep novice or newer fans out. We see this sort of phenomena in a lot in the cringe-inducing comic book guy in most television shows. Think The Simpsons or the literal entire cast of The Big Bang Theory or literally any other popular thing. They all have the same comic book dude who can’t hold a conversation about anything real but will be mad at you if you don’t know exactly what shade of pantone pink the Star Sapphire uniforms are. The normal avatar for this sort of person is usually a white, cis, hetero male and because of that, the view of any other fan that is of color, queer, or female (or a combination of any of those things) is somehow immediately less of a fan. This is also sometimes called fan-gating but that term makes me giggle so I’m just going to use gatekeeping.

The problem is that Gatekeepers think they’re doing a good thing. They think they are protecting their beloved media and often times, they are. Comic books were not always as mainstream as they are now and the knowledge so many comic book fans had (have) was not always valued and was often a source of ridicule and persecution. I was often teased for being able to recite Etrigan’s spell from memory. (I still can, don’t judge me.)

Now, let’s be clear. I am in no way advocating for the gatekeeping of ye olden days. That gatekeeping meant to keep women, queer folks, POCs and others out of comic books, videos games and the like because it was a white man’s hobby. And while, no, that isn’t the view of every comic book fan or generalized nerd human it certainly was the driving force for many of them in the comic world in the 90s and early 2000s (when I was a young impressionable comic book reader). To this day, there are still men who insist that girls only read comics for cosplay and that POCs simply don’t read comic books (It’s almost like black people didn’t make their own comic book line or anything like that…).

Here is also where I’ll pause for all the folks who think that me being quizzed over the canonical order of the Robins in Batman is a valid thing to do as I try to purchase a comic book from a store. (Real thing that happened: ask Carlos.).

I’ll wait.

Glad to have you back. This chapter in Moon Knight was getting a little intense.

So after all that talk about how dehumanizing, exhausting, racist, sexist and miserable gatekeeping was and is…why would I possibly ever say that maybe it isn’t so bad?

Remember that statement I made about comic books and other geeky, nerdy things now coming into mainstream popularity? That was not a thing even 10 years ago (back when the first Avengers movie was barely a concept and we were all still angry at Joel Schumacher for ruining Batman.). And there were plenty of people (me included) who have now found themselves in a curious place. Suddenly, the things we love(d) are now very popular. And that means those folks that teased many of us (me included) now suddenly very en vogue. I’ve had old high school friends suddenly claim that it’s so cool they know a cosplayer: the same folks that 10 long years ago was a sore subject and the butt of many jokes towards me. Now the jock that used to make fun of me for liking The Green Lantern is very excited about Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

Now, can people change? Sure. Am I being a little petty? Always. But I think it brings up a valid point. With the influx of new fans, the conversations can be a little strained now. Now we have plenty of folks who say they know comics based on the movies but likely couldn’t tell you much beyond that. Now, casual fans are fine and I love them but most casual fans don’t claim to be experts. It’s the folks that will step to other fans and say they know comics but only do because they’ve seen Captain America: Civil War three times. In so many other fields, I am a dirty casual. I’m a casual gamer, pretty novice with RPGs and while I used to be a strong tournament contender in a few things, I’m by no means as good at Street Fighter as I used to be.

“Stay in your lane.” is a shorthand for that kind of thing I use a lot and a few of my friends have picked it up, too. When Carlos and Ricky are talking stats in Tekken, I tend to shut up and let them. If they ask about stitches, well, it’s my time to shine then.

Another aspect of gatekeeping is one close to my heart and a topic we’ve tackled before. It’s the topic of having convictions, discussions and not being reduced to name-calling when someone doesn’t agree with your ship. During many a gatekeeper’s conversation, I’ve had to defend which Lantern Corps I was in. Which Harry Potter house I was sorted into. I had to explain why I liked a comic and had to prove my knowledge of it frequently. And sure, it was demoralizing and exhausting but it made a fan with iron-clad convictions. When I was on my dear friend Heather’s show ( seriously, listen to it and enjoy several minutes of us fangirling over each other. ) we discussed this sort of phenomena and it comes down to attachment styles. Because I had to constantly fight and prove what I loved an why I was a fan: I have now been able to form secure attachments to my fandoms. Newer fans that have not had to constantly prove themselves have formed insecure attachments often times because they are not being challenged. Because of that, any challenge is perceived as a threat on their person rather than an often times valid criticism of the piece of media they wish to defend.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I wish for the same horrible experience I had as a fan to happen to newer and casual fans. No, not at all. But there is something to be said about challenging a fan. I have this problem a lot with recent film criticism where Internet critics will bash a thing from a comic book movie even though it is likely the most authentic part of the film.

There’s something to be said about being challenged from time to time. There’s something to be said about having to defend your ship. There’s something to be said about being proven right or wrong. And there’s always room for a good, spirited conversation that doesn’t devolve into racial slurs and casually calling someone a homophobe.

In the comments: I’ll be answering questions and ranting about how amazing Damien Wayne is.

Thanks for reading!

 

When an Adaptation is Just an Adaption

“Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out” ― Martin Scorsese.png

I love comic books, movies, anime and manga but I am a writer first. And as a writer, I’m always curious about what says as sacred canon and what gets changed in the process of taking something from page to film or to stage. Let’s talk about adaptations: when a cut’s right and when it ruins the entire soup.

When I was a young lass in the early days of anime serialization and broadcasting, I picked up Fullmetal Alchemist as an anime. I immediately fell in love with the characters, music and animation and have called it one of my favorites of all time on more than one occasion.. So like the good girl I was, I picked up the manga. Now, many of you may know that the anime and the manga split off dramatically from Funimation’s cut of the anime due to a rush to finish the anime and well, money. The anime broke off from the manga around volume 7. I continued with the anime and fell off with the manga because buying manga was out of the question and anime was (mostly) free and I could catch up weekly on Adult Swim. The anime’s narrative of two brothers determined to fix a mortal wrong and its relative low amount of romance and high amount of drama and science/magic was perfect for me. By the time I got the manga after the place it split: I was crestfallen. The manga more heavily focused on building up relationships and took the focus away from Edward and Alphonse and made it about literally everyone else and thus the anime adaption of the manga Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood also followed the manga’s journey to the letter. But, from fans, I get a lot of criticism for saying I prefer Funimation’s run of the original anime more than the one done by the creator of the work.

Let’s take an opposite approach to this but we’ll switch it up with comic books. Captain America: Civil War was a very popular Marvel movie. It was also a mostly offensive fanfiction that absolutely neutered the ethos, paranoia and allegories to real social and sociopolitical events in the Civil War I and II. I loved the mystery, complex morals and ambiguous questions in the first Civil War comic series and I loathed the fact that the movie chose to make the central conflict two grown men fighting over the affection and attention of another grown man. But many saw the movie as a more than acceptable part of the MCU while more than one comic book fan found themselves disappointed and angered by the choices to take down one of the most powerful storylines in Marvel history.

But let’s be honest, plenty of things that happen in books, comics and manga just…cannot be brought to the big or little screen. Let’s take a hot button issue to task: whitewashing and when it’s not actually an issue of whitewashing. Dr. Strange is another comic book and now popular movie that was written…well, in a different time. The titular character actually morphed into an “Oriental” man in the earliest run of the comic. So when the movie came out, there was a lot of criticism over the changes made in adapting from a psychedelic orientalism-centric comic book to a modern cinematic creative venture. The biggest criticism in Dr.Strange was the casting of Tilda Swinton as “The Ancient One”. Now, for those of you who have not read a comic book, The Ancient One was…made in a different time. He’s a grand Tibetan magic man with a long stereotypical moustache and speaks in a way that is…well, offensive. So the casting of Swinton and adjusting her version of The Ancient One to a Celtic magic user or great power, it actually made more sense. It wasn’t an issue of whitewashing: if the original version of The Ancient One had run, good heavens, I think that would be even more offensive. Real whitewashing comes in the form of choosing to cast American actors when there are viable options for actors of a certain race are available. Take the movie Aloha. That movie is set in Hawaii, films in Hawaii and has many characters that are said to be half-Asian. There is not a single native Hawaiian, Asian or Asian-American actor or actress in the movie. The main character is said to be half-Asian, and I can assure you, she is not. I’ve been to Hawaii, and it does not look lily white like Aloha would like moviegoers to believe. An issue of whitewashing that also took the world by storm was Iron Fist. The comic book turned Netflix series received lots of backlash over being whitewashed but while being influenced by the magical Orientalism of the 60s, the main character (or at least the main continuity’s character) has been a white man since the comic’s inception.

Censorship is another common influence when it comes to losing something in an adaptation. Gravitation is probably one of my favorite manga. It has an anime. An anime fangirls don’t like to talk about because of terrible 90s American dubbing, weird animation and clothing including shoulder pads oh and the fact that the anime completely makes a straw man out of the main issues of the manga. The themes of sexual abuse, trauma, time, mortality and mental illness are downplayed because frankly, it’s difficult to read sometimes. The panels of Yuki Eiri saying he wanted nothing more than to be as dead as his sensei are painful but when you remove all the trauma and hurt and darkness: you’re left with a saccharine sweet series that was never meant to be. It also turns complex characters into hollow shells: Yuki’s just a jerk when you don’t know all of the past events that made him the man he was. Ryuichi is just an odd fellow when you write out that he battles with mental illness and is strictly under Tohma’s control. It doesn’t rationalize or take away how awful these characters can be but it certainly helps frame the series a little better. You don’t forgive Yuki for being emotionally abusive but you can at least get what made this man the way he is.

Speaking of censorship. Should we adapt scenes that make us uncomfortable? Watchmen is a brilliantly nuanced graphic novel about what it means to be human, free will and what it really means to be a hero. The movie of the same title directed by someone I don’t want to give much credit to deals with a few of the same themes…just differently. But Watchmen has more than one uncomfortable scene that’s lifted from the pages of the graphic novel. Out of all the things that were cut because reasons: why keep the ultra-violence or almost rape scene? Why keep all of that in? I think the vitriol around those scenes was that it didn’t add anything to the narrative of the movie. It added a lot to the graphic novel and built tension, characters and helped cement storylines. While on the other hand Teen Titans: Judas Contract’s animated movie to a rather uncomfortable scene from the comics, updated it and through its clever adaptation added something that satisfied comic book fans who were aware of the scene in question while simultaneously not totally unnerving the lay comic book fan who has seen lots of comic book movies without touching a lot of actual comic books.

So when is an adaptation just an adaptation? There are plenty of movies I can say are good fun even if they violently ignore the original source material. The Spirit is a fantastically fun movie even if it looks and sounds nothing like the original comics. Grendel is one of my favorite novels (probably says a lot about me) and it couldn’t give two hoots about its original source material. Sweeney Todd was fantastically reimagined by Tim Burton and it actually made the source material dare I say, better. I think the issue is when something is lost in adapting from page to film. When Civil War was neutered for the sake of shoehorning in a subplot about how Tony Stark is secretly jealous that Steve Rogers is spending more time with his lifelong best friend. When the ethos of the source material is cut because movie directors and studios assume it won’t make money, that’s when adaptation is sick and terrible and makes me so so very angry.

So what’s your favorite adaptation? Did I leave anything out? Comment below!

Reach for the Troposphere

 

-Ambition is but avarice on stilts, and masked.-Walter Savage Landor.png

It all started with a Disney movie and a now infamous toast. During dinner with a friend at Red Lobster after a year particularly filled with death my friend and I were greeted by a far too eager waiter. He asked us what we were celebrating as I was already elbow-deep into a glass of Moscato and we simply raised our glasses as I proclaimed: “We’re the ones that lived.”. In that simple statement, we had achieved something other than just horrifying a Red Lobster waiter that so many in our lives didn’t: we survived. We had made it to another day and instead of buckling under the pressure and weight of grief and sadness, we stood there triumphant ready to gorge on cheddar bay biscuits and overpriced bottles of cheap white wine. So with that being said: let’s talk about feminism, ambition and what it means to succeed.

I grew up as a Disney kid and ergo had for the most part Disney morals. I looked up to Ariel, Jasmine and Esmeralda (for better or worse).  And to say that those films weren’t formative to me is a bit of an oversight. I absolutely remember them being important to me but not in a way that later on anime or comic books would be. But there’s a certain type of personality that Disney princesses/leading ladies have. They’re all ambitious, outgoing and want more than whatever it is that is their current world or life. Jasmine didn’t want to be a princess. Ariel wanted to have legs for some reason despite living in a bomb as hell undersea kingdom. And Pocahontas wanted someone who wasn’t so “serious”.

But what’s wrong with serious? The film Pocahontas features an entire song where the titular princess complains about how much she wants adventure and something new and rails against the absolute horrors of routine, stability and security. In any other world, this is a Malin Akerman’s Silk Spectre-level of First World Problems. What’s wrong with sturdy walls and sturdy houses? What’s wrong with staying close to home? What’s wrong with tradition? And what’s worse is that Pocahontas’ friend who rather likes her more serious suitor is somehow vilified and considered to be less than worthy of happiness because she is content with sturdy handsome walls and a sturdy handsome husband.

What’s important to remember about this was that it was Disney’s attempts to re-write some of the wrongs of past princesses. Many early Disney princesses like Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora got a lot of hate for being good for goodness sake and endlessly praised and rewarded for doing very little. The 90s era Disney princesses had to be go-getters. Mulan had to save all of China. Ariel had to rebel against her father. Jasmine had to flee to escape the horrors of being a princess. And to be fair, that’s great. That’s very motivating to some girls who want to save all of China and find out what’s around the river-bend. But what about the rest of us?

As a child who was raised by parents who worked hard but never achieved home ownership and struggled with issues of moving around, instability and insecurities about money; I rather like sturdy steady walls. I like routine. I like working. I look forward to one day settling down and being a pretty sturdy partner to an equally sturdy partner. I don’t see a woman who is married, chooses to be a stay-at-home mom or one that strives to find a relationship as any lesser of a woman for wanting those things. I am from the camp of feminism that states as long as it is her choice, it’s okay. If a woman wants to be married, then let her. She should never feel obligated to marry. That’s what feminism is. And to say that I am any less of a woman, a person or a feminist because I wouldn’t mind being married, I wouldn’t mind a home and I’m willing to accept stability and that I am somehow less ambitious for appreciating the little things is insulting and toxic.

Pocahontas, you get to run around and parkour off of waterfalls because of the men and women who strive to build sturdy houses and walls. Mulan, you can go off and save China because of the sacrifices made by your father and the rest of your family to ensure you had all the tools needed for you to succeed. Ariel is only allowed to sign evil contracts to gain legs for some reason because of the walls and empire built for her. Ambition like that is a luxury and one that many women still simply don’t have as an option for them. And even I am speaking from a place of privilege in that regard. Because of my father’s desire to build a stable home no matter how many apartments we lived in and my mom’s desire to keep a nuclear family, I am allowed to sit here and discuss with you all, my readers, the shades of ambition, success and what it means to be a good, well, anything.

There’s something to be said about accepting success in any form. As a writer, I have many other writer friends. Many of us are published in varying fashions but I never see myself as any lesser than them just because my writing doesn’t always include a by-line or because sometimes I’m more known for my poetry and blog posts than I am for novels, short stories or serious journalistic efforts. That suddenly doesn’t mean I didn’t work just as hard or that I am any less worthy of praise than they are for self-publishing or publishing under a book deal or even for blogging.

And even how we measure success is something highly subjective. I’ve gone on record a number of times saying that paneling is the most rewarding thing I have ever done and that’s true. That doesn’t overshadow my work and writing achievements; it’s just something I’m proud of. And to say that “oh, well it’s just an anime convention” as a means to diminish the power of being accepted as a panelist to a con is frankly rather childish. It’s something I enjoy and am proud of: isn’t that a measure enough of success? And that can also extend to finishing an anime, a book series, a video game, a costume or just a particularly difficult passage in a novel or story you’re working on. In addition, for those of us struggling with mental illness like depression and anxiety; measuring worth and success is a tricky metric. Sometimes, the best thing achieved in a day is getting out of bed: and there’s even bonus points for showering and getting dressed.

Be proud of attainable goals both big and small and never let a single person take that from you.

Follow your dreams and reach for the stars; and hey, if you don’t reach a star: that’s okay. Most stars are hollow bloated dying shells of their former selves anyways.

 

Take Me to the Thriller

-This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.-.png

I’m not just a writer and a pretty face. I am also a serious comic book, anime, novel and movie fan. I love the cinema. I have my favorite directors, favorite scenes and beloved scores. Movies are a topic I love to talk about and one my friends have heard me talk about quite a bit. But today, we’re here to talk about one lovely topic that writers and movie fans are all too familiar with: tension and suspense.

So here’s a little context as to why I’m writing this little piece.

As I mentioned before, I am a comic book fan, so I was excited to see Deadpool when the movie made its way to theaters after literally years of hype. I saw the movie with a friend and I liked the movie a lot! Except for one small problem: there was no tension whatsoever.

[Spoilers for lots of things ahead.]

Of course, we all know Deadpool the character: a wisecracking mercenary who cannot die. He literally cannot die. He fights and befriends Death (He actually starts to date her later on. Yes, Death’s a she and she’s apparently super hot.). He has fantastic healing powers and regeneration abilities. He’s indestructible. So when the movie comes out and has a rather generic plot line of insert bad antagonist here, in Ajax, there was no surprise in the movie. He literally cannot die. He’s gonna and he does defeat Ajax. He’s gonna and does get the girl. He’s gonna and does survive the movie for the sake of wallets and fan dreams everywhere. Which led me to the statement I made leaving the movie: it was the best most pointless movie I’ve ever seen.

And here’s what I mean by that. The movie’s great and Ryan Reynolds is amazing. It’s hilarious, dark and brilliant but there’s no tension. Even though the fight scenes are grand, it wasn’t a surprise what was going to happen and that disappoints me.

Ready for another example? Many of you may know my love of the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service and my adoration of the complex characters, great story and amazing action scenes (this movie does have one of my favorite fight sequences of all time). And to see a movie where the main character dies almost immediately stunned me absolutely and the weight of that death remained throughout the entire film and unto several rewatching ( I can recite most of the movie now.). So you can imagine my disappointment to know that this character will so quickly be returning in the sequel damn near broke my fangirl heart.

Beyond being a writer, reader and creative I am fundamentally a feeling and empathetic human being. I watch movies and read comics to vent and to experience catharsis and release. There are wonderful highs and lows to seeing a character face tension, watch suspense build and then gush with emotional release. (Stop snickering, it’s a good metaphor.)

But the immense irony for me is that despite my love of movies with suspense and tension: I am a serious comic book and anime fan, both media that are devoid of any suspension of disbelief and a total lack of tension. Anime is full of characters that refuse to die. Comic books have heroes that are created full of deus ex machina. I could list for days characters in comics and anime that annoy the heck out of me when it comes to that (and you are welcome to ask me about that). It started to lead to a cliche that my friends and I discuss quite frequently: You can’t kill the main character. And that’s very true. For instance, in the anime Naruto, the audience is faked out more often than not trying to pretend like any harm could come to the titular character. So even though the battles may be intense, they may be bloody and they may be suspenseful: it’s obvious who is going to win; normally the kid who the show is named after.

This is also probably a good time to mention that when I say I love suspense, I do not actually like horror that much. My issue with horror? A lack of common sense. Actually, watching American Horror Story: Freakshow with my friend Taylor reminded me exactly of my issues with horror. There is no situation where a terrifying clown gets to walk up to me and say nothing and I’m not running away shrieking like a pterodactyl. I’m not going to sit there and try to talk to it. I won’t ask what it’s doing. I won’t inquire if my significant other hired it. I’m running. I’m waiting in the car. I’m waiting and honking the horn waiting for my partner to get in the car so we can drive off to safety. I’m done. Suspension of disbelief are lost when a mysterious force knocks over not one but two glasses and then writes crass messages on my mirrors. So while I may love suspense and thought-provoking scenes, there’s nothing that I really enjoy about immense amounts of torture, gore and blatant attempts to get a rise out of the audience. I do though, love effects and I like seeing what is practical and what is computer generated. 

So by now, I’m assuming you must think me of some sort of masochist. A person who claims to love suspense but also loves comic books? Hear me out. I do love suspense. But I love suspense in a form that no longer exists.

We live in a binge era of media. You can watch an entire series in a day or two. When I was growing up (long long ago with the dinosaurs and Marshmallow Fruity Pebbles) we had weekly serialization. So even though I knew InuYasha wasn’t going to die, there was enough suspense that I had to wait until next week to figure out HOW he was going to survive. I may have known that Batman was going to defeat the Joker but what he had to do to make that happen would have to wait until next Saturday. Now in a world where I can watch all of Bleach in a few nights (I have no idea why I would do that), there’s really no suspense. The next episode loads in a few seconds and clearly Ichigo’s still alive so he pulled it off SOMEHOW.

And it isn’t just the death of suspension of disbelief and suspense that I miss. I also miss the era of great storytelling. I’ll use Batman again because I’m on a superhero kick and I love Batman. I grew up with Batman: The Animated Series, probably one of the best animated series of all times with some of the best writing and most splendid animation and voice acting (come down to the comments, fight me over this.) We all know that Batman would overcome the Penguin but how he did it, all the twists and turns, the fantastic humanization of a monolithic character made the episode flow so well that it almost didn’t matter that the ending was probably rushed, brimming with deus ex machina and maybe even terrible.

The storytelling and the action are some of the reasons I abandoned many Western TV shows and sold my essence to anime and manga at the tender age of 12. (Think of the scene where Ariel signs away her voice to Ursula in The Little Mermaid) but as anime began to falter and consequences stopped mattering I began to grow bored even with the bright flashes of violence and exotic charm of Eastern media. Death means nothing if it isn’t a permanent concern but a meager inconvenience. If a character dies more often than they get to smile and have lunch with their friends and family, the weight of the series is suddenly removed.

As a fan, I’m used to death not mattering but in movies especially I think death has to matter. It mattered so much when Jason Todd died. It mattered so much when Barbara was shot and crippled by the human embodiment of madness. It was remarkably poignant watching Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne struggle with the demons of parents taken too soon. But then due to the greed of movie executives and poor writers, Superman returns immediately after “sacrificing” himself to Doomsday. Captain America remarkably rises from the dead once more after a difficult fight against Hydra. None of these movies have any punch left to them after years of fake outs and fading to black. And maybe it’s another issue of pacing. We get a superhero movie just about every month now so none of the things from the last film are easily forgotten. And even though this has been superhero heavy, this goes for lots of movies. This conversation actually came up from a brief encounter with a young man at the local video store. We were commenting on a Jason Bourne movie and I said that I didn’t dislike the action but I struggled with the fact that we know there’s going to be another movie. No one’s turning down that paycheck so we know that Bourne can’t die.

When a plot is perpetuated and suspension of disbelief is destroyed for greed, then it’s the most inexcusable.

So why do I love suspense? Why do I love to be lead to the edge of my seat and left there like unceremoniously left there like the last rose petal in Beauty and the Beast? Because the product of a difficult life is loving the story of overcoming hardship. A good ending isn’t always a happy one, it’s just one that satisfies readers and watchers. What matters is earning an ending and suspense helps keep a story honest about earning its ending. When a character goes on a journey with you, through highs and lows, doesn’t it feel rewarding? Isn’t it amazing when Harry finally masters the Patronus charm? Isn’t is tragic when Bertha dies but in her death she frees Mr. Rochester? All of those moments were fantastically suspenseful and enriched the story beyond measure.

That was a heck of a post! If you want to ask me about some of my favorite suspenseful moments and cliffhangers, feel free to drop me a comment!