Tag Archive: Pop Culture

“All of the great artists get censored!” – Linda (voiced by John Roberts)

“Bob’s Burger” is an animated series created by Loren Bouchard and premiered on television in 2011. It centers on the misadventures of the Hamburger restaurant owning Bob and his family. The family consists of his wife Linda, who is perky and peculiar, and their three children: the continually exaggerating Gene, the socially awkward Tina and the sly, mischievous Louise. “Bob’s Burger” is packed with great lines and quirky dialogue, and finds its way to dealing with impressive subjects from time to time. The show is also pleasant in its interesting depiction of a working-class family; “Bob’s Burger” is not a “down-to-earth” realistic but does portray the plight of this class’s persistent economic trouble, which is important and appreciable to represent. And it is firmly refreshing to see a show that is which is finally female-friendly (i.e. free of overly sexists jokes) in this genre (naturally excluding the “Simpsons”).

Left to right: Louise, Bob, Gene, Tina and Linda

Left to right: Louise, Bob, Gene, Tina and Linda

In “Bob’s Burgers” first season, the eight episode “Art Crawl” tackled the issue of censorship. More specifically the episode was about censoring art, as well as has some amusing musings about cultural assumptions about art itself.

The episode begins with Bob walking around the neighborhood with his kids as they check out the neighborhoods annual street event focused on art. The event is an “Art crawl”, where people display their indolently done paintings. Bob points out quickly that he does not want the children to think that the Art crawl represents what real art is meant to be or obtain. Considering how artist and art have at times been the punching bag for mainstream comedy, it’s pleasant to have Bob make a sincere defense of art. Tina then suggests that they visit a museum to learn more about Art. This is met with strong protest from Bob and her siblings (this is met with the idea of a “art visit” is going to far). Already in the first four minutes of the episode lazy and stereotypical attitudes towards Art, especially mirrored in television culture, are confronted and parodied. Bob points out the “art festival” is a profoundly narrow idea about what Art both is and entails. The scene defends art as a cultural form, stating that it is much better than many may believe, yet uses a singular relatable scenario as showing Bob falling into the common and routine avoidance of culture.


The show also plays with the myth of the unstable and conceited artist as well. Gayle, Linda’s extremely insecure and erratic sister whose art the family is not allowed to critic, is a an embodiment of this trope (it is mentioned that she had eaten lipstick to become “red inside”).

Linda's sister, Gayle

Linda’s sister, Gayle

However, the idea of the unstable artist is also satirized. The youngest child of the family, Louise (voiced by the always awesome Kristen Schaal ) sees the potential in making money in the “Art Crawl” phenomena and tries to get her siblings Gene and Tina to make street art for her. However her siblings express themselves as “true” artists, to which Louise then decides that she must cut off her brother’s ear, in reference to a supposed action done by Van Gogh. This highlights how people focus on outsized legends and absurd stories to constantly create the odd mythical presence of the mad artist which alienates these workers in Art from the normal working class. The constant mystification art, and the creation of art, to the point that art and artists are viewed more as characters from ridiculous melodramas instead of being engaged with as serious creators of our visual culture.


However the most prominent theme of the episode is censorship. Other popular cartoons have dealt with censorship before, for instance “The Simpsons” episode “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge” and the two-part “South Park” episode “Cartoon Wars” (which was later discussed again in the episodes “200” and “201”). These two previous shows dealt with censorship through fictional controversies, i.e. with the Simpsons cartoon violence and with South Park the representation of the prophet Mohammed. In both of these cases the object of controversy was not a product made by a family member. In “Bob’s Burger” this is the case.

Gayle, Linda’s sister, visits the family for a while and hangs her new paintings around the walls of Bob’s restaurant in tandem with the neighborhood Art Crawl event. To Bob’s horror, Gayle has devoted all of her works to the depiction of various animal’s anuses. Bob surmises, quite correctly in fact, that the paintings will have a negative effect on the customers eating in his establishment. Bob makes the case strongly to his wife, Linda that she has to tell her sister that Gayle has to take down the paintings. When she refuses, Bob comes up with a scheme to take down the paintings without Linda noticing. He also decides to come clean with Gayle and state that he just doesn’t want the paintings hung on the walls of his restaurant. This plan quickly changes after Edith, the elderly woman who runs the “Art Crawl” event, shows up to complain about Gayle’s paintings. Bob explains that the paintings have been removed, to which Edith than replies: “Good, they were indecent” adding “I won’t allow them to be shown”. Bob becomes furious after hearing Edith state that she won’t allow people to see this art given her own interpretation of what art should be available, and therefore hangs all of the paintings back up. Bob’s actions are strikingly similar to an old saying: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, that Voltaire among others have used when defending freedom of Speech and expression. Bob absolutely hates Gayle’s paintings but will not let her work be censored by authoritarian personas. He decides to make a stand since he feels that someone has tried to rob him and others of their choice to express themselves. Edith continues to protest against the paintings while Bob tells Gayle to paint more. Bob fights back against censorship by encouraging more provocative art. So Bob takes his protest against censorship a step further – he not only will defend Gayle, but encourage her as well. Bob takes the idea of defending a person’s right to express themselves freely, but also encourage them to express themselves in a way he doesn’t like.


The Episode “Art Crawl” takes an interesting turn on censorship when the family discovers one morning that the paintings have been vandalized. The animals have been given pink underwear as a cover up. Bob assumes the person responsible is Edith and heads over to her store. There he confronts Edith and vandalizes her artworks in revenge (by giving all of the paintings in her shop “anuses”), only to find out later that it was his wife Linda who vandalized the paintings, since she was so disgusted by them. While Edith wanted to censor the paintings, Linda is the one who actually takes to vandalism to censor. The family pays Edith for the damage caused and Linda realizes that she should have perhaps just honestly told her sister her opinion of the paintings. The episode portrays the vandalism as an act of censorship, which it is. Edith praised the vandalism act but did not do it herself. Linda did because she could not express her dislike. Naturally, it is harder to critic art when someone close to you is the creator, but it is pointed out that Linda should have just voiced her opinion. Once again the importance of expressing one’s self is highlighted. It is also stated that Bob’s anger was understandable, but his action of changing Edith’s paintings was over the top, since he also does a form of censorship by editing Edith’s paintings against her will.


“Art Crawl” illustrates the measures a person will go to fight against censorship. Bob can’t stand people bossing others about their expression. It rings a truth about censorship in the real world; to defend freedom of speech, people must sometimes defend things they despises themselves. “Art Crawl” strongly defends freedom of speech, realizing that we will not always like everything culture produces, but censorship is not, nor is ever, the answer.


Superhero films are at a height of popularity at the moment, with many superhero movies launching huge franchises. The most successful ones so far have been Nolan’s “Dark Knight”- trilogy and Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” and many of the myriad of film adaptations of this comic book genre go on to get cinematic sequels. Often when a sequel is a particularly big flop, there will be an attempt to start a new franchise by re-telling the Hero’s tale on the big screen. In other words, a re-boot is made. Case in point was with Marvel Comic’s Spiderman.

Sam Raimi directed Spiderman’s debut film, “Spiderman” (2002) which held an enormous charm with its straightforward, effortless, and humorous storyline intertwined with a romantic tone and carried through with a stable of charismatic actors. Of special note was the pivot point of Tobey Maguire as the masked hero. The first of the Raimi interpreted Spiderman franchise was followed by “Spiderman 2” (2004) which was an interesting exploration of the cost of being a hero which pursued and elaborated the darker logic of the first film while never losing its own sense of charm and wit. The third Spiderman film however fell prey to a “upmanship” mentality regarding its own trajectory of films and became a total catastrophe, having too many plotlines and undeveloped characters, including an infamously inane dance scene (which everyone has made fun of, so I won’t comment on it!) performed by the main character.

This year has been witness to the reforming of this floundering series with the release and re-booted consideration of the hero with the film “The Amazing Spiderman”, directed by Marc Webb.

The film details Spiderman’s path to becoming a superhero with the same classic structure featured in the comics: Peter Parker, an outcast nerdy teenage boy, is bitten by a rather unusual spider and therefore gains powers such as the astonishing ability to stick to any surface, a pre-natural super strength, a intuitive sense of his surroundings, an extraordinary sense of balance, etc. Peter at first uses his newly acquired powers for his own personal amusement and benefit, but after his beloved Uncle Ben dies at the hands of a criminal (who Peter could have stopped during a previous crime) Peter rethinks his attitude to his powers and, after some growing up, which is a staple for this genre, becomes the mask vigilante Spiderman.

The new filmic incarnation of the Spiderman tale, following the original comic book title where the character was granted his own franchise, is called the “The Amazing Spiderman” and, with the logic of the reboot, infuses the story with some few alterations to Peter Parkers narrative in order to rejuvenate the tale and bring the franchise back from the Spiderman 3 pitfall.

“The Amazing Spiderman” stars Andrew Garfield, who is utterly fantastic as Peter and Spiderman. Garfield puts everything he has into this role, which results in a deliciously engaging performance. As Peter Parker he perfectly embodies the complex nature of teenage years: he’s insecure, he’s irritating, he’s wrapped up in his own world, and he’s sympathetic and adorable, all at once. As the masked vigilante, “The Amazing Spiderman” tones up the snarky and wisecracking nature of Spiderman a lot more than Tobey Maguire’s interpretation; this seems more true to the comics and the general ambiance of the character. In this adaption, Peter also invents the spider-like super-webs weapon (instead of just shooting them out of his wrist which is a feature of Spiderman as portrayed in Sam Ramie’s films) which animates the character with more of a academic and scientific inclination and gives foundation to narrative flows within the story line.

Tobey Maguire’s Peter was more sweet and kind, than the manifestation of Garfield’s character, but feels less connected with the reality of complexity the environs of New York entails and the weight of criminality infesting the city. In Raimi’s films, Spiderman’s sense of humor comes from his small comments of how much trouble he always finds himself in, not as a wisecracking hero, while Garfield uses this aspect of the “spidey” character to confront evil and violence in the only rational way (i.e. laughing). All of this is a construction of Maguire to play Spiderman as a pivot to tone up the heroic aspects of the masked vigilante while Garfield’s tone is to pull the characterization away from the heroic to the normal . Since Toby Maguire was in fact so good at doing a heroic and believable individual, one thrust into the role, but ascending to it requirements , it seems impossible for anyone to overshadow his performance. But Garfield succeeds, and succeeds well.

Garfield is what makes this movie work, since the viewer truly wants to see what happens to this charming young man. It’s good that the protagonist is engaging in “The Amazing Spiderman”, since neither the villain nor the love interest is. The villain is the one-armed scientist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Dr. Connors is using the genetic code of lizard’s regenerative capacities to re-create limbs on mice, hoping to be able to do the same on humans some day. After a series of complex tragic events (which I won’t go into here), he is forced to take an untested doze of the genetic mutations and turns himself unwittingly into The Lizard, which affects his body leaving his mind intact. Ifans tries his best, and actually there is a lot of potential in this villain. The writing and acting does capture the sorrow and desperation of Dr. Connor’s character, but never really depicts Dr. Connor as a person who would willingly hurt someone. His character is depicted as continually nice and, even as a Monster Lizard, as overtly rational and humane, making us wonder why he would become the villain we find in the Narrative.

In The Lizards first scene, you see him cause destruction on a bridge while trying to stop a massive humanitarian and criminal act and only causes the damage due to his lack of understanding regarding his strength. In the scene, the writing gives a good explanation for his actions. However, near the end of the film, The Lizard makes some very extreme decisions and seeks out to do horrible things to the entire city. This diversion to criminality veers drastically from the logic of the character we have been presented with, since Dr. Connor is shown to be a man of science whose major ambition is to help others, and he has never shown any dislike for humans or human nature in anyway. When The Lizard becomes a real villain, it is not believable or has any credibility at all. Needless to say this lack is fatal flaw for the development of a villain, let alone a super-villain.

Also Emma Stone was pretty boring as Gwen Stacy. Ms. Stone is trying her best, but her character just wasn’t interesting.

But no doubt the worst part of this film is the scene where Peter first starts to realize he has superpowers. After being bitten by a genetically mutated spider, Peter travels back home, sleeping on the subway. After some hassle, Peter accidentally spills some beer on a woman’s shirt. He attempts an apology by saying sorry and laying his hand on her shoulder. However, due to his now emerging spider superpowers, he can’t peel his hand of off the woman’s shoulder. In a panicked state he yanks his hand forcefully away from the woman along with ripping off the woman’s blouse. The men around the scene proceed to attack Peter, only for him to discover more powers by jumping to the ceiling and beating the men senseless. The problem is that even if the men were being violent, Peter did from their point of view rip a woman’s clothing off without her permission – something that in all reason made them quite upset and willing to protect the woman. Even if from the audience’s point of view, Peter ripped a woman’s clothing off by accident, his action was none the less a form of aggressive behavior or at least a crime though accidental. In either way, the writers had decided to write in a scene where Peter commits a sexual assault. The scene plays out like an accident, but there is no going around the fact that the writers thought a good introduction to Peter’s superpowers was having him rip a blouse of an unwilling woman. Not to mention the fact that the scene is mostly played for laughs. The scene gives off the vibe that the writers don’t mind exploiting major problems that many women have to face, such as sexual harassment and assault, for the sake of developing the protagonist’s fate.

The scene is also bizarrely infantile. Even if we can forego the strangely aggressive vibe of the scene, we are still left with the first presentation of the Spiderpowers as making it able to gawk at a scantly clothed woman. Considering how “The Amazing Spiderman” was meant to be a more adult and serious take on the Spiderman character, a scene like this contradicts that statement.

So while some parts of the film felt like they were written under infantile motivations, other scenes were done with much tenderness and cleverness. Spiderman’s first heroic act consists of him saving a small child from dying from the horrible traffic accidents the Lizard caused. The scene follows the classical element of having the little boy trapped in the car as a representation for vulnerability, which leads to Spiderman’s (who’s previously used his powers for selfish reasons) change of heart. What’s new is that the writers not only have Spiderman use his powers to save the child, but Spiderman also uses psychological encouragement to make the boy braver and therefore easier to save. The scene is fairly emotional and exciting. It is puzzling to see such a contrast to the scene where Spiderman first discovers his powers. While the scene in the subway felt juvenile and offensive, the rescue of the child is captivating and thrilling. The contrast is extreme, which bakes the question of how the writers could zigzag like this.

Some other complaints worth mentioning are the depiction of Aunt May (Sally Field). Her role was ridiculously down played, making it almost seem like her and Peter had no connection. This is unfortunate, since, after uncle Ben’s death, the two are suppose to become very close and Aunt May is the loving caretaker Peter needs and loves. In Sam Raimi’s films, and what I have understood from some comics I’ve looked at, Aunt May is suppose to be very sweet and kind, but also a little tough. In “The Amazing Spiderman”, the audience does get the feel that Aunt May is sweet, but her tough side is totally ignored. The result is then a very bland overly kind caretaker typecast, instead of the interesting full-blooded character.

Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field)

It is also worth mentioning that the school bully at Peter’s High School is made into a more three dimensional person, in this version of the Spiderman film canon, instead of the classic brute, which is a magnificent plus to the film. Also Denis Leary as Gwen’s father and police chief did a solid performance.

This film was good, but had an assortment of titanic problems. However, a sequel will be much anticipated.

“Juno” (2007) is a movie directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, who won an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay”. Since its release “Juno” has been well loved both by critics as well as by audiences. “Juno” has been seen as a witty comedy with a great female lead. However, despite the universal love this film has received, I didn’t enjoy “Juno” at all while watching it. The movie just seemed repulsive and creepy, instead of being charmingly witty. In this post, I will explain why. As a warning, it should be pointed out that this post will include spoilers.

Director Jason Reitman

The films protagonist is the sixteen year old Juno (Ellen Page), who has become pregnant after having unprotected sex (of course) with her best friend, Paulie. She first decides to abort the child, only to reconsider this option and choose, instead, to give up the baby for adoption. After some searching, she finds the upscale yuppie couple Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman), to whom she decides to give the baby up to when the time comes. The viewers of this film follow of the life of the expecting Juno in High School and at home.

The troubling nature of “Juno” is not the idea and plot point of unplanned pregnancy or adoption, but rather how these subjects are depicted. On top of the problems with the portrayal of the unwanted pregnancy, Juno as a protagonist isn’t a particularly likeable character (or at least to me and my inclinations she is not). Juno’s normal operating social sense seems to hover in the area of the quintessentially arrogant and emotionally distant, and throughout the entirety of the film we witness Juno endlessly looking down upon everyone unlucky enough to find themselves in her proximity, hiding behind an irritating sarcastic attitude, and engaged in a unremitting (and supposedly) hipster banter. Amazingly Paulie, the best friend and coordinated parent, is the main focus of this bad behavior (a verbal abuse which persistently puts him down and always in the midst of the public gaze) and is in generally so poorly treated by Juno that the claim of a strong friendship between these two would seem to be more than highly improbable. A primary example is illustrated in a scene between these two where an argument is taking place and we find the always “funny” Juno loudly yelling out in the public arena of the High School (Gymnasium for the European readers): “I took your virginity!”. If “Juno” would have at any point been realistic, the film would have depicted the awful and large amount of bullying Paulie would have been subjected to after this dreadful and malicious outburst of Juno.

Before the above scene of this public humiliation and question of virginity, we find the socially questionable Juno insisting to the much put upon Paulie that he should begin to hang out with other girls, regardless for his attachment or fondness for them. Yet by the end of the film, we find the subtly (which those who use the verbal) abusive Juno suddenly declaring her love for Paulie and the two end up dating. Considering how Juno, nearly for the entire film, verbally ill-treated Paulie, it’s hard to believe that the two of them could ever become a happy, healthy couple.

Juno as a character is suppose to be comedic and funny, but not once did I laugh at her witticism and verbal play which, instead of enlightening and exploring, wallows in the realm of overt narcissism and oblivious snobbishness. In fact, Juno’s personality cannot help but remind the audience of the persona of the penultimate bully, which makes it impossible to sympathize with her as a leading character.

However, the movies major flaw is the outrageously backwards depiction of the environment and servers working within Women’s Health Care Clinic’s (Translation for the movie is: Abortion clinic). Juno, after learning she’s pregnant, heads off to get an abortion. When arriving at the clinic, she meets a classmate outside of the clinic protesting and chanting: “All babies want to be born!”. One can wonder if the writer purposefully gave the protesting girl a nonsensical slogan, due to the fact that abortions are performed on fetuses that haven’t yet developed self-consciousness and therefore cannot want anything. However the audience is actually expected to sympathize with the protesting girl, as it turns out when she tells Juno that her baby by now has developed “finger nails” in hopes of getting Juno to change her mind, a statement the film regards as words of wisdom. The information of the now existing fingernails does in fact make Juno reconsider her decision.

The way the movie “Juno” deals with anti-abortion protesters is, to say the least, simplistic and simple-minded. Having only one protestor at the clinic having a “peaceful” conversation with Juno is fairly far off of the actual practice of the anti abortion protesters who operate in the horrendous realm of heckling and harassing of the women who find themselves in need of the services of a abortion clinic. If the film would have bothered to be more realistic, Juno’s classmate would have been accompanied by an unseemly horde of hostile campaigners blaring: “Murderer! Murderer! You’re killing your baby!” while using physical proximity to intimidate the already emotionally frail seekers of the service.

When Juno gets into the clinic, she at once is handed papers to fill-out by the clinics clerk. At the same instance Juno is also handed a condom by the clerk, hoping to encourage the use of the condom (Juno is there for an unwanted pregnancy!), notes that the condom leaves a nice smell after sex, something the clerk indicates that she knows from using the same brand herself. On receiving the condom from the clerk Juno dons a look of disgust to her face, indicating that the audience is suppose to view the clerk woman as a bit unseemly, and definitely crossing some line of “good taste”, for handing this young girl, with the unwanted pregnancy, free birth control. While I’ll agree that the clerk perhaps made Juno uncomfortable by telling a little too much about her own intimate life, it’s still hard not to interpret the clerks actions as anything other than extraordinarily reasonable and even pedagogically correct (teaching often uses the personal to create bonds for learning). Since Juno has shown up to abort a child she does not want, the clerk can assume Juno doesn’t feel ready to be a parent yet wants to be sexually active, so she gives her a condom and tries to further encourage Juno to use it remarking on the condoms nice smell. The Clerk is fulfilling the mandate of all Women’s Health Centers and Abortion Clinics by informing women on the importance of Birth control in order to insure that women won’t have to be constantly facing the challenge of unwanted pregnancies. The films decision to depict the Clerk, and therefore everything about the abortion clinic, as out-of bounds, and even a bit disgusting, seem to paint the mandate of sexual education as moderately nasty and even disrespectful. As a result, Juno comes off as infantile while the clerk seems like someone trying to help and professionally working to ensure the moral mandates and proper educational operations of the Clinic.

The scene ends with Juno retreating from the clinic and deciding to give the child away instead of aborting it.

The worst part of this film is not, however, this bizarre depiction of the clinic, but the conversation Juno has with her female friend directly afterwards. Juno informs her friend how the clerk freaked her out by doing the horrible and unforgivable act of trying to inform her of birth control, highlighting how the clerk giving her a condom was too much for her to handle, on top of the whole situation being wholly uncomfortable for the sadly put-upon Juno (at this point of the film, I felt really bad for the unfortunate clerk who had to put up with Juno for a few minutes – truly, the clerk is the tragic heroine of this film!). While the film tries to portray Juno as a smart young woman, the lines that Juno delivers just make her look like the stereotypically naïve and shallow “valley girl-type” going “eew, gross!” at everything around her instead of a smart responsible nerdy girl. Since the audience is supposed to sympathize with Juno, it is clear that the viewer, in some odd and backwards world of sympathy, is actually meant to concur that what happened in the abortion clinic as revolting and vulgar.

“Juno” could have worked as a film if the theme would have been about choice. Instead, the film very strongly demonizes the very idea of abortion and the act of providing young people with birth control and education, through the metaphor of the Clinic, by means of the actions of the films protagonist being fundamentally and childishly squeamish and ignorantly rejecting of information. The thing is that if you ridicule and portray some of the several options regarding an unwanted pregnancy (such as abortion) as perverse, than the film is no longer about choice, but propaganda for the anti-choice movement.

“Planned Parenthood” and abortion clinics provide an important service for women who feel like they aren’t ready to have children. Having abortion as an option for females everywhere is a right and gives women power over their bodies and lives. Since “Juno’s” depiction of the Women’s Health Clinic was so negative, the viewer can only assume that the film wants to send the message that when faced with unwanted pregnancy, one should automatically erase abortion as an option. As an added bonus, Juno’s disgust with getting a condom even makes it seem that the film finds the idea of being responsible with sex as a comical and “yucky” idea.

So how is one to enjoy the film “Juno”? As a movie tract promoting verbal bullying and devaluing sexual education (and control), whilst moving towards the creation of a morality play of anti-choice. And in the end what we are left with here is but a basic anti-feminist stance couched in the refinement of a young and hip female protagonist.

For another negative review of Juno, read Ezra Steads insightful article.

“What a massive responsibility, being a moral creature” – R, the zombie protagonist of Marion’s “Warm Bodies”

Isaac Marion’s debut self-published novel “Warm Bodies” is a horror romance novel, or as Seattle Post Intelligencer referred to it: “a zombie romance”. While most of the plot does focus on a potential growing love between a human woman and a male zombie, there are other themes featured in the novel, such as morality, art vs. practical work, what measure is human or non-human and what it means to live a life without depth. “Warm Bodies” is despite its themes a pretty light, fun read with decent characterization and solid characters.

The protagonist of the novel is R, an easy-going zombie who can barely speak and occasionally eats humans when hungry. In the first chapter the reader is introduced to his life by learning of his friend, the sexually vivacious M, and witnessing him getting married to a nameless zombie woman he has known for a few hours and the following day adopting two zombie children, all the while wondering in ghostly airports and empty eerie lands, preying on the helpless humans in this bleak landscape. Already from the first chapter Marion paints an ever familiar scenario which is played with: that being the chaotic and near dead world where zombies are constant killing machines. But from the very first page, Marion turns all expectations on their head by giving R, one of the undead killing machines and protagonist of this tale, a distinctively robust human side and positing the post-dead M as a foil of fine comic relief. R tries to improve his speaking abilities and speculates on what his life may have been before the era of the reanimated dead. He frets over having two unplanned children, due to his suspicion of whether he can take care for them or not. R is a zombie no doubt, but instead of being mindless he is quite relatable.

Nicholas Hoult in the upcoming film adaption of “Warm Bodies” (in 2013)

The Zombie’ obsession of eating brains is also explained with the fact that by devouring human brains, they inherit and live through the human’s memories. M, for instance, enjoys eating young women’s brains since he finds their memories especially titillating.

After R devours a suicidal teenager’s brains, he also consumes the teenager’s memories and most importantly his intense feelings of love for another teenager, Julie. R becomes so wrapped up in the experience that he at once becomes obsessed with Julie. He finds a way to take the frightened Julie back to his home, there to protect and hide her from his ravenous zombie friends.

The novel is told entirely from R’s point of view, where he laments on his inability to feel anything. The zombies are shown as creatures that despite forming marriages and families, very rarely get attached to anything, harboring only thinly vacuous emotions. After devouring the melancholy teenager, R is introduced to an entirely different world filled with high and powerful emotions, filled with deep relationships, which motivates him to starts a desperately search for a world he lost once he became a zombie. Through R Marion cleverly illustrates a host of questions revolving around what it means to be human and what matters in life. R after this human meal and the memories foisted upon him by it becomes fairly unhappy with his state as an undead once he is reintroduced to the vast emotions humans are capable of. He desperately wants something else than the motivation to survive and eat, but how he will be able to attend these new wishes is the question.

An Image used in “Warm Bodies”

Even if “Warm Bodies” is described as a romance novel, the love story between R and Julie isn’t just a romance played straight. It is never really clear whether R really falls in love with Julie, or if he is just clinging to her because she’s his ticket to becoming more humane. She is a clear motivation, but R even wonders himself if he is really fond of Julie or if she just symbolizes something that R wants to become a part of. This makes his motivations ambiguous, which nicely subverts the all too common and overly romanticized “love stories” between a human women and non-human men in modern days written in the realms of the paranormal fiction.

Through the memories R devours the reader is also introduced to the post-apocalyptic lives of the humans, where it is constantly discussed what is useful in a nearly-dead society and what isn’t. Debates of whether literature and gardening is worth anything in the post-apocalyptic world appear various times in the flashbacks and intellectual meanderings which R has throughout the novel. Not surprisingly Marion sides with the arguments for art in a desperate world, but with good reason: it is made clear that humans should always express themselves, since documenting ourselves as well as expressing our human selves is one of the finest traits we have, along with the capability to form meaningful relationships. So “Warm Bodies” straight out states that culture is what makes humans human. As Marion, through his character, states: “Writing isn’t letters on paper. It’s communication. It’s memory.” The fact that culture is human memory and individual memory seems even more important while reading through the barrenness R feels (since he has no memory of who he was) and even the zombie’s nature of compressed and secondarily acquired memories cannot fill this vacuum of experience.

Despite some interesting elements, the novel has also quite a few problematic plotlines. For instance, the main female lead Julie is cast in a typical distressed damsel trope with her existence hinging continually in the need of the male protagonist. Though one may give this some leeway as, granted, it may be justified by her being human and surrounded by zombies.

The ending of “Warm Bodies”, additionally, comes across as forced and felt very contrived, especially given the strength of the beginning of the novel. There won’t be any spoilers in this post, but rest assured that the novel’s characters go through mayor changes which sources are never explained properly. With Rules of the reanimated and undead clearly set up within the novel there is suddenly a dramatic suspension of the internal consistency of these rules. This sudden suspension seems to be only so the novel can achieve a happy ending. Needless to say this is unsatisfactory to the lineage of the novel and ruins what has developed before.

All and all, for those who want to read a horror novel within the realm of the zombie apocalypse that is a little different, “Warm Bodies” is a fast and highly entertaining read.

Isaac Marion

“Valentine’s Day is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap” – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Ah, the 14th of February! The day is slowly, but surely, coming upon us with all that it entails with its meanderings and commercially tinted vocabulary of love. Usually we are fed the most mundane and conservative of loves: predominately focused on the heterosexual, circulating around the material gift as its expression, and, usually, one sex seen as passively accepting the honors of the day. Not to mention the holiday’s neglect of love that isn’t “successful”; i.e. the holiday’s depiction of romance that is blissfully ignorant of the times when love falls far short of happy endings. Valentine’s Day uplifts the beautiful, harmonic side of love, which no doubt is important. On the other hand, the sad and dark parts of love are a major part of romance and relationships. Therefore, it is my pleasure to contemplate those most unhappy of love tales which I invite the curious reader of this post to watch, read, or listen to on Valentine’s Day.
(Note: I will talk about the tragic parts of the tales and stories of love and betrayal, so this post will harbor the most conclusive of spoilers).

The series “Powerpuff Girls” was a children’s cartoon about three kinder garden aged girls with superpowers which ran for six seasons from the years 1998 to 2004. The episodes were filled with irony and amusing reconstructions on the superhero and the story-telling around them. The series was also a delightful blending of action and cuteness, featuring very bold and strong heroines who never drifted far from their adventurous and comical personalities: Blossom-the intelligent, but slightly vain leader, Bubbles-who’s naïve and passive-aggressive, and Buttercup-the rough and tumble tomboy (who despite being a tomboy always wears a dress). Most of the episodes concentrated on the girls solving the mysteries, and actively fighting crime and the criminal. Still the episode “Buttercrush” which aired on season one as its fourth episode, found the tough and unsentimental Buttercup embroiled in her first crush. She falls for Ace, a bully and mean leader of a criminal gang, who manipulates Buttercup by sweet-talking himself and his gang out of trouble. After successfully getting Buttercup to believe he returns her affections, Ace sets out a plan to use the situation as a chance to kill off Blossom and Bubbles. However, Buttercup finds out about Ace’s plan and doesn’t take to the attempted murder of her sisters kindly.

“Buttercrush” portrays two different types of love. Firstly we are presented with Buttercup’s blind infatuation with the bad guy Ace, which is exploitive and manipulative. This theme is extremely universal, for haven’t we all sometimes been taken advantaged of due to our emotions blinding us? The second form of love is that which we find between siblings. This love is demonstrated by Buttercups ultimate loyalty to her sisters and her sisters understanding and forgiveness to their sister’s misguided crush. The girls share an unconditional love to each other, which strength saves Buttercup from the deceitful Ace. Even if it is sad to see Buttercup get her heart shattered, it is still extremely touching to see how important the bond with her sisters is to Buttercup. Bad love and good love, both demonstrated in this fine episode!

Greek Mythology is known and regarded for its near soap-opera like tales of the gods and god-like creatures. When I was young, I read all the myths I could come across, and at the age of ten I read the myth of “Apollo and Daphne”, which details Apollo’s first love. Humorously, it was the first love story I enjoyed (and the only one I would enjoy till recent years), so much that I read it out loud to the grownups around me. In the legend, Apollo enrages Eros by claiming he’s too much of a boy to handle his arrows. Eros decides to prove Apollo wrong, so he shoots one golden arrow into Apollo and one blunt dart into the nymph Daphne. Thus Apollo falls violently in love with Daphne despite Daphne not wanting anything to do with Apollo. This leads to Apollo obsessively chasing Daphne, begging her to marry him. While Daphne sees Apollo as an ultimate terror, Apollo can’t stop thinking about how wonderful Daphne is, even when she runs from him. The nymph tries to escape Apollo multiple times, and in her most desperate hour pleads the earth goddess Gaea to destroy her beauty. She is then transformed into a tree. However, Apollo loves Daphne even in this form, and concludes: “Since you cannot be my wife, you shall become my tree”. The love sick god takes the tree to his heavenly garden where he intends to keep it eternally. After his last soliloquy of love he embraces the plant.

“Apollo and Daphne”, famous statue by Bernini

This legend is an intense take on obsession, unrequited love and despair. Daphne is a woman who can’t escape her stalker and not even as a tree finds freedom. Apollo is a lost, immature man struck with feelings he can’t handle. The ending is bittersweet in the realization that Apollo didn’t love Daphne for her looks, but for who she was and how she expressed her being. Daphne having her beauty destroyed couldn’t alter the feelings which Apollo felt for her. Even though we find the stalker Apollo as unsettling in the extreme in this story, we still find ourselves oddly moved by the tragedy which unfolds. Apollo, as immature in his emotions, doesn’t have the means to handle unrequited love and reacts to it as a child would, making his actions sympathetically tragic in hindsight, while still overdone and horrific in his refusal to accept her wishes (no means no). In short this could also be a cautionary tale of what happens when you refuse to take no for an answer. If you can get your hands on a collection of Ancient Greek legends, make sure to read this tale of woe.

“Futurama” is an animated series created by Matt Groening. The series centers on Philip J. Fry, a delivery boy who is accidently frozen in 1999 and thawed out in the year 2999. There he befriends a scoundrel robot named Bender, a warrior-spirited Cyclops named Leela and starts working for an absent minded professor Farnsworth, who is Fry’s last living relative. Due to Fry’s situation, many episodes explored the things Fry had left behind back in his 1999. The most famous, or infamous as some would say, was “Jurassic Bark” (season four, episode seven). Fry uncovers the remains of his late dog and learns that 29th century science will be able to resurrect his beloved pet, Seymour. Fry is thrilled, but his best friend Bender grows painfully jealous, disliking the fact that Fry is paying more attention to Seymour’s remains then he is to their mutual friendship. The plot portrays Bender’s jealousy leading to near disaster, but Bender redeems himself in the end, learning to sympathize with Fry’s wishes. The episode at that point seems upbeat and will end happily, until Fry learns that his dog died at the age of fifteen. He then decides not to resurrect Seymour. The last scene takes the viewers back to the 21th century. Seymour is shown patiently waiting for Fry, year after year, in summer sun and in pouring rain. He dies of old age while still contemplating the return of his human friend Fry. Fry’s decision to leave the past as it is and not resurrect the long dead friend makes the episode a complete downer, since Seymour will now never get to be with Fry again.

“Jurassic Bark” is perhaps the saddest episode from “Futurama”, and as one of the most powerful and touching one we find in the series. Bender learns to become a better friend to Fry, which is an uplifting plot point. However Seymour’s love for Fry is devastating, and he uncompromisingly waits for his owner to return to him in a past without mercy. Fry will never return, and love and loyalty is depicted in a dark, bitter light. This episode is a must see. However, a fair warning is that you should have many boxes of tissues beside you while watching this utterly depressing, striking episode.

“Pokémon” is a Japanese children’s Anime show which takes place in a world filled with so-called pocket monsters. People in this world collect these creatures by “catching them”, maintaining them in small magical globes and then training them to fight each other (i.e. this world is a member’s of PETA worst nightmare). Ash, the show’s star, is a young boy who travels this world finding and pursuing a multitude of adventures with his favorite Pokémon, Pikachu, and his two friends, the feisty Misty and the caring Brock. The team of friends is constantly chased by Team Rocket, a criminal trio who steal Pokémon’s from others. The members are Jesse and James, and the talking Pokémon Meowth. Meowth is a cat-like creature, who is the only one of his species who can speak and walks on two feet. This is a mystery many characters in the show ponder about aloud, but it’s not until the seventy-second episode, “Go West, Young Meowth!” that an explanation for this phenomena is given. Team Rocket decides to go to Hollywood, which awakens painful memories in Meowth, causing him to reveal his past to the viewers. Turns out Meowth started out as a hungry homeless Pokémon, who couldn’t talk and walked on four paws. After seeing a block-buster film, Meowth decides to traveled to Hollywood in search of glamorous food, ending up in a thieving league of other Meowths and a Persian (another cat-like Pokémon). Finally having and abundance and grand access to food, he comes to longed for love as well. His craving for love is fulfilled in his becoming smitten with Meowsie, a female version of a Meowth. His love will never be returned since, as she is more than boldly willing to tell him, she is rich and he is not, and she values beyond measure her rich owner who will give her constant love in the guise of expensive gifts. Meowth becomes determined to win the love of his heart through making himself as human-like as possible to emulate the owner and master of Meowsie. Throughout a torturous process, Meowth learns to talk and walk like a human. Yet, Despite this massive effort, Meowsie still turns him down, telling him, in no uncertain terms, that though he has achieved these behaviors, he is a street-cat. Meowth leaves the pain of unreturned love to seek out riches, hoping he then would finally win Meowsies heart. After this past is revealed in the story, Meowth finds himself returning to Hollywood with Team Rocket, where he meets his lost love Meowsie again, only to find that his ex-love has been abandoned by her owner and need to be with Meowht’s old criminal gang to survive. Meowht promises Meowsie to help her leave the gang and he fights in order to gain her freedom from the gang, only to have Meowsie reject him again and stay with Persian. Meowth, at last, realizes he’ll never win Meowsie’s heart and is shown at the end of the episode devastated.

This episode is the only Pokémon episode I’ve re-watched since my early childhood, and it made a bigger impact on me now than when I was seven. The episode brings up a painful, yet solid truth about love: sometimes you will make great sacrifices and deeds for the one you love; only to find rejection and denial. All the pain and forfeit will be for nothing. This happens to everyone at least once in their lifetime. It’s nearly shocking how honestly Pokémon is able to portray this fact, considering the love martyr being a talking cat-like creature. The issue of class is also brought up nicely. A strong recommendation for anyone who has sometimes felt used!

Ang Lee is a Taiwanese-born director who has made a number of great films, many which have love as a major theme. He’s two most famous films are “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000) and “Brokeback Mountain” (2005). The Latter is an adaption of the short story written by Annie Proulx, and follows the literary works plot to the letter. The film stars Health Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, who do stunning portrayals of star-crossed lovers in the 60’s Wyoming, capturing all the heartfelt wonder of two guys who, despite loving each other, never really get to be together. The film is beautifully shot, the characters are complex and the ending brutal. Few romantic films are this well done. Proulx’s short story is also a great read for those who haven’t examined it yet, too.

Nancy Sinatra’s song “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” is a beautiful song about falling for your friend in early childhood, only to be horribly abused and abandoned by that friend once you’ve grown up. Listen to the song below. (The Clip features the lyrics!).

Kraftwerk’s song “Sexobject” deals with feeling emotionally neglected and used. View video below.

Jack Off Jill’s song “Vivica” depicts friendship, abuse and repressed feelings. Lyrics and song exist below.

These sagas of woe and misfortune all depict harsh realities that come with loving another person, despite the stories varying from cartoons to mythology to grittier down-to earth films and songs. All of these tales are exquisitely interesting takes on love, friendship and devotion, and all are handled with care and marvel.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Take Care/ Maaretta

What can you say about Detective stories and novels? That they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere had Sir Arthur Conan Doyle not invented his iconic character Sherlock Holmes, that’s for sure. The first detective story of the modern genre type was written by Edgar Allen Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, in 1841.* And even if the detective and its archetypical form of narrative detective structure as formulated in Poe’s short story was an inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his character Holmes is by far the one that set in motion the beloved rules which became the detective story: a strong, outstanding personality, the importance of details, the use of deductive reasoning applied to the material of the world, the righting of social (and personal) injustice, and a loyal (and documenting) sidekick.

Edgar Allen Poe

Sherlock Holmes is the most recognizable detective in Literature. He is well-known and loved for his wit, ability to notice minor details that crack cases wide open and his love for lingering around in his morning robe, as well as smoking a pipe. Sir Conan Doyle’s detective stories also featured Holmes’ loyal friend Dr. Watson, who provided the narration for all but a few of the stories, and who has become one of the most famous of sidekicks. Among the famous and infamous characters which line the hall of fame of personalities which inhabit the Holmesian canon are the characters Irene Adler, an actress who is the only one to outsmart Holmes, and Holmes’ archenemy Professor James Moriarty. These two particular characters find glad residence at the heart of Sherlock Holmes Fandom and discussion, and have been portrayed in various films by various actors. In fact, they too have found themselves being re-invented countless number of times along with the principles of the case Holmes and Watson.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The two most recent and popular re-inventions of the Sherlockian Genre are Guy Ritchie’s two “Sherlock Holmes” action packed films starring Robert Downey Jr. and, now, BBC’s modernization “Sherlock”, a Television series created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Both of these adaptions are pretty well done as well as being interesting interpretations of Sir Conan Doyle’s creation. Ritchie’s films move more towards the comedic while BBC’s series land a bit more in the realm of the dramatic. In this post I will analyze how both these Adaptations’ portray their re-invented characters, as well as their tone in the story telling.

Portrait for Strand Magazine, by Sidney Paget (where the famous “detective hat” first appears!)

Let’s start with the chief anti-hero himself: Sherlock Holmes. In “Sherlock”, he’s portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, who represents Holmes as a very cold personage who is often beyond the merely cruelly blunt. He openly shows great delight in murder cases, especially very elaborate ones, like serial killings. Holmes in “Sherlock” seems to not care for many people, except for very few friends. And even towards his friends he can be, what can only be labeled, a jerk. The interpretation of Holmes in “Sherlock” is a quite brutal one; He is often mean, but always is largely talented. Downey Jr.’s Holmes is portrayed less as mean spirited, but lacking and devoid of social skills. He is largely obsessive, but more affectionate towards Watson in this version. His erratic behavior is more bizarre than cruel, and Ritchie uses the peculiar personality for laughs. However, even Downey Jr’s version of Holmes can come off as rude at times, but it does feel less malicious than Cumberbatch’s version. Both Holmes are shown to be experts at detection though attention to details and extraordinary fighters.

The Holmes which gets more character development is Cumberbatch’s. During the first season of “Sherlock”, Cumberbatch depicts Holmes as not caring about anyone besides Watson and seemingly doesn’t care about the murder victims whose cases he is attempting to solve. However, in the last episode of season one, he is briefly shown panicking when a child is endangered by Moriarty and his detection solution (which he has counted on to save the child) is shown to be lacking a key point. In the second season, Holmes apologizes to people he says vicious things to and shows more concern for his friends. Even committing himself to heroic sacrifice to protect those close to him.

Moffat’s Sherlock Holmes

Downey Jr’s character doesn’t develop much in either film, be it “Sherlock Holmes” from 2009 or “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” from 2011. The only change we see is his growing acceptance of Mary, Watson’s fiancée/wife. So, in terms of a character, Cumberbatch’s Holmes is more interesting as well as probably how Holmes is suppose to come across in Sir Conan Doyle’s stories. But Downey Jr. depiction in Guy Ritchie’s films is hilarious and often lightly and springingly entertaining. Both Downey Jr. and Cumberbatch bring their obvious talents to the character of Holmes and believe in the passion of their roles and its spirit. So my conclusion is that Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the detective is more serious and complicated, therefore more superior to Downey Jr’s. But both make excellent Homes.

Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes

The two versions of Watson also differ greatly from one another. In the Guy Ritchie’s version, Watson (Jude Law) is a soon to be married man who grows impatient with Holmes and the wild situations Holmes sucks him into. In the BBC version, John (as he mostly goes by, played by Martin Freeman) is fiercely loyal and quite enjoys the “adventures” Holmes gets him into. The BBC version of Watson as character additionally functions as a conscience for Sherlock, calling him out when he is rude or insensitive. John, in both versions of the characterization also dislikes Holmes butting in on his dates and mating habits, for example where Freeman objects to Holmes showing up on a date he has with a fellow doctor (“Watson: Actually I’ve got a date. Holmes: What? Watson: It’s where two people who like each other go out and have fun.”) in “the Blind Banker” or Law’s Watson who shows a marked distain of Holmes intervening on his honeymoon trip in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”. While Freemans Watson is more serious, Law’s portrayal of Watson is quite snarky, often throwing sarcastic comments here and there, for the purpose of creating comedy. Law’s line deliveries are quite good and I specifically enjoyed the scene in Ritchie’s first “Sherlock Holmes” film, where after getting thrown in prison Watson says: “I’ve been analyzing why I do all the things you ask me too. And my conclusion is: I’m psychologically disturbed”. This remark while being funny on its face also becomes a meta-comment on the Sherlockian writings which have questioned Watson’s strange unstoppable loyalty in the original stories, making a pretty funny reference to a second tier of literature about the writings of Doyle in the Sherlockian stories (Both series use the “Sherlockian Writings” from the Sherlock Groups to make in jokes to this faction of the Holmes Fandom).

Guy Ritchie’s Watson

Freeman’s version of Watson is, like with Cumberbatch’s version of Holmes, more dramatic and played more seriously. It is also made more clear in “Sherlock” why John and Holmes are such close friends: he is shown to be one of the rare people who truly thinks Sherlock’s gift in crime solving are amazing, vocalizing it pretty honestly, which flatters Sherlock. He’s also a fan of adventure, like Holmes, which makes it easy for them to bond. This makes the friendship between the two men seem more understandable and deep. The friendship is depicted more through bickering in Guy Ritchie’s films, with a few very tender moments. All and all, I find John from the BBC’s “Sherlock” to be a more interesting Watson, since he functions as both a faithful sidekick as well as a voice of reason, while Law’s more of a conflicted friend who becomes a devoted helper in solving crimes when needed.

BBC’s Watson

I will be blatantly honest and say that I’m not fond of either Guy Ritchie’s re-interpretation of Irene Adler, nor Steven Moffat’s. In Guy Ritchie’s films, Irene Adler is a spy for Moriarty who does do some impressive manipulation, but is just suddenly (spoiler!) killed by Moriarty in “A Game Of Shadows”. I wouldn’t have minded Ritchie killing Adler off if she would have died while putting up a fight. Instead, she’s declared too weak by Moriarty since she’s in love with Holmes, and dies by getting “poisoned” by an extreme form of tuberculosis.

Guy Ritchie’s Irene Adler

In “Sherlock”, Adler is introduced in the second seasons premiere episode “A Scandal in Belgravia”, where she’s over sexualized and is ultimately de-powered by needing Sherlock to save her. As Jane Clare Jones wrote at the Guardian: “Not-so-subtly channeling the spirit of the predatory femme fatal, Adler’s power became, in Moffat’s hands, less a matter of brains, and more a matter of knowing ´what men like´ and how to give it to them”. Jones’ whole article really spells out perfectly what was wrong about this characterization of Adler, so do read the essay on it here.

Strangely, both versions of Irene Adler are weakened by their attraction to Holmes, making it seem like all powerful women can be weakened through (superficial) emotion. Also, both Adler’s are somehow working with or helping out Moriarty, which is peculiar since the two characters never even met in the original stories. But none the less, it was nice that the BBC version hired a woman, Lara Pulver, around her forties (“Older”, as known in cinema and TV) to play Adler. And Rachel McAdams was pretty energetic in the 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes”.

BBC’s Irene Adler

Professor James Moriarty is perhaps one of the earliest archenemies to appear in fiction. Andrew Scott, who portrayed Moriarty in the BBC adaption, and Jared Harris, who plays Moriarty in Guy Ritchie’s films, had a difficult task: to live up to all the expectations from viewers. Now, Harris did an excellent job on portraying a sophisticated, intellectual villain who does pretty gritty stuff. He is convincing. However, he doesn’t come off as memorable as the deadly and controlling Moriarty. Scott’s first performance as Moriarty in the episode BBC “The Great Game”, the final episode in season one, was far too flamboyant and giggling to be truly frightening (and a bit of overacting further diminished the feeling). But, come “The Reichenbach Fall”, the finale of season two, Scott changes his performance tremendously. He depicted Moriarty as being wildly intelligent and Machiavellian, but bratty, arrogant and childish as well. His combination of the different character traits blended well. Not to mention making him quite unsettling, as well as probably what a person like Moriarty would be like. A criminal mastermind, but immature – which are a pretty scary combination. Harris, as the deadly and devious Moriarty, had the misfortune of starring in the second film in Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” franchise, which previous film had already featured a memorable and great villain, Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who had a noxious charisma.

Guy Ritchie’s Moriarty

Considering how Moriarty, the archenemy of Sherlock Holmes, ends up in the shadow of another villain in Ritchie’s franchise, one can say Harris ends up a little weaker in comparison to Scotts. Scott was a wonderful surprise in “The Reichenbach Falls”, being the perfect deadly brat.

Moffat’s Moriarty

And lastly, on both franchises on a whole. Guy Ritchie’s both films are highly entertaining and a lot of fun to watch. BBC’s “Sherlock” is also entertaining, but a lot grittier and darker in tone (though “A Game Of Shadows” did have nasty bits as well). As the BBC is practically the Shakespeare of Television, it’s pretty obvious why, with its archetype-characters and the historical nature of the literature Holmes springs from, this adaption becomes firmly the better of the two.

In the Moffat-BBC version of this canon the characters are more fleshed out and complex, the writings more interesting and perhaps more alike the original stories. But all is not lost for Ritchie. The 2009’s film “Sherlock Holmes” did follow the tradition from the original stories in that Holmes gets to prove that the “supernatural phenomena” happening in the film aren’t really supernatural in the least and can be explained through reason and a insistence in the actuality of the lived world. This was a common theme in the original stories, for example in “The Hound of The Baskerville” and “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire”. Ritchie’s films also had some nice scenes where Holmes figures out how to win fights through wit and thought. The Ritchie movies would have done well, and served the humanistic traits of the character and stories better, to highlight the scientific methods Holmes is known for using to solve cases. Oddly enough (as well) during “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” Ritchie seem to be implying that the world his Sherlock Holmes was living in was (some form of) the perfect world; Watson and Holmes, for instance, dance a waltz together in a major Ballroom scene among politicians and diplomats. The year is supposedly 1891, But not a comment is made about this behavior (remember Oscar Wilde had been convicted and sent to prison in 1895 for the “Love that dare not speak its name”). So when Moriarty makes a speech about humans natural desire for conflict and fights, I felt like saying: “No, Moriarty, you’re the only one who’s mean in this universe. Everybody else is perfectly fine”. The point being that films, while taking place in the 19th century, are neither terribly nor historically accurate in this regard and the dance would have meet, at the least, with revulsion by the crowded participants of the dance. Yet this may be a mote point and the film doesn’t have to meet this historical standard since Ritchie’s take on both Sherlock films is in the sphere of the action comedy. Within this Genre who can argue with the Ritchie take? Both films are satisfying in this regard and are funny with good fight scenes and become, in this way, more than decent Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

The BBC/Moffat series “Sherlock”, in distinction to the Ritchie interpretation, is a lot more similar to the original stories, with Sherlock’s wits and talents, his interest in science and logic, his humanity and glaring faults, being a driving force in the series. The murders are a lot nastier and gruesome in the BBC outing and cleave more to Doyle’s sense of the uncanny which permeates the crimes that inspire Holmes’s interest. The Series characters, as well, have a sense of identity to the ones peopling Sir Conan Doyle’s works, even if the character of Sherlock is made a bit crueler and lacking in humanitarian compassion in this adaption than is found in Doyle’s writings. So in my humble opinion, this adaption of Sherlock Holmes is the better of the two.

Re-inventing Sherlock Holmes seems to be hip right now, which should be meet with no surprise. Holmes is a historically significant character for not only literature, but other Medias as well. His and Watson’s friendship is an interesting portrayal of team work and loyalty, Holmes’ skeptical attitude towards supernatural things is still one which should be grappled with in a world which forgoes reason for hate, and accurate subject for our consideration is given us in the Bravery of Watson and the Contemplation of Holmes. What better means to explore ourselves than through a Holmes as a character one can interpret in different ways and so make us wonder what might make us worthwhile.

Ritchie’s and BBC’s interpretations are both interesting takes on the character and now that the doorway has been newly opened to reconsider the dual character of Watson and Holmes it only remains to see what other adaptations will emerge next?


*Poe was to write three stories informing the structure of the Detective Story and following the adventures of the “deductive” detective, C. Auguste Dupin. The most famous of these three tales is Poe’s, “The Purloined Letter”, a story which shares some slight similarities of tropes and narrative structure with “A Scandal in Bohemia” in which Irene Adler makes her famous appearance.

Christmas is on the way, so I decided to do a post with a theme for the holiday. A common thing for the holiday’s is one will write about their favorite films centering on Christmas, but I tend to enjoy such subject mattered cartoon shorts slightly more. Thus this article will feature some of my favorite cartoon Christmas specials and an explanation of why I am fond of these particular shorts. Most of these are episodes from shows I enjoy watching, but not all.

“For Whom The Sleigh Bell Tolls” from “American Dad!” – This is a pretty much hit and miss show, sliding between brilliance and dullness from episode to episode. But I can’t deny that this episode has everything I would like to see more often in a Christmas centered episode: bizarre re-telling of Christmas traditions, adventure, light social commentary, and, of course, a lesson on the importance of family union. It starts off with the father of the shows main family, Stan Smith, giving his fourteen year old son Steve a gun behind his wife Francine’s back. While practicing shooting, Steve accidently kills a man he assumes to be a mall Santa. Stan convinces his son to not tell anyone about the incident, and after Francine discovers what has happened, the whole family together buries the dead man in the woods, hoping they can put the horrific accident behind them. However, they soon receive threatening letters, and after discovering the unmarked grave to be empty, the Smiths realize the man they thought Steve killed was the real Santa Claus and he’s out for revenge…
The story in its self is already surrealistically hilarious and the animation is actually pretty good, as well as the final showdown between Santa and the Smiths being a very entertaining, and visually ironic, action sequence. The twist of Santa being a crazed vendetta seeking individual is particularly delightful in a perverse sense and sends the narrative in odd and satisfying directions. There’s also a very good subplot of how Stan has to learn to accept his daughter Hayley’s new husband as being a part of the family, as well as Hayley’s new husband (his name is Jeff) divining a direction and means to respond to Stan’s mean spirited behavior. Francine is a delightful combination of a wise as well as a bit of an amoral person, and it’s darkly, painfully funny to see how Steve develops from a nerdy innocent young boy into a gun nut. Not only one of the best animated Christmas centered episodes, but also one of “American Dad’s” best episodes.

“Depth Takes A Holiday” from “Daria” – This choice may come off as way cheat to some, but Christmas is a pretty major driving factor in the only fantasy based episode from the show. The Plot centers around the unlikely event of Daria suddenly encountering Cupid, the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and a Leprechaun, the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day on her way home. They tell Daria that Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day have all left the Island of Holidays, the resident home for all Holidays. However, since the recent runaways were the three most popular holidays, the natural order of both the High School like Island as well as the normal world have gone berserk and it’s up to Daria and her friend Jane to convince Christmas and the other popular holidays to return to their home – otherwise the world can kiss Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day good bye.
The best thing about this episode is that it not only is a good episode to watch on Christmas, but it also serves as a good Halloween, Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick ’s Day’s episode (not to mention Guy Fawkes Day). I also like how Daria, the heroine of the episode, keeps her trademark deadpan sarcastic attitude throughout the episode no matter how weird things become (or where ever she finds herself). The whole tone of the episode is pretty cynical as well, as the major threat portrayed with a world lacking Christmas and Halloween is only the decrease of shoppers for candy and presents ( Which Daria and Jane point out is not necessarily a horrible effect for the condition in which our world finds itself). Having a whole episode about Holidays and making it entirely skeptic about the often optimistic philosophies people have about Holidays is pretty brave and a rare move and the critique of consumerism is laid out by Daria and Jane early on in the episode. Absurd and sardonically comical, this is episode is a good watch for any holiday season.

“She of Little Faith” from “The Simpsons” – This episode from the Simpsons is mostly known for the canon decision of making Lisa, the eight-year old girl in the family, a Buddhist. Lisa grows concerned that the church has grown too materialistic for her, which leads her to find a new faith in Buddhism. While this decision makes Lisa very happy, her family as well as the rest of the members of the church are greatly displeased with her new way of life, and therefore attempt to make Lisa convert back to Christianity by using Christmas as bait. As one could guess, Lisa doesn’t respond to this plan coolly…
While Christmas originally is a Christian holiday, it has become more and more of a holiday many non-Christian people could celebrate as well (I myself celebrate it despite being very much an atheist!). This episode gently and beguilingly highlight the manner in which different beliefs can come together in the spirit of fellowship and kindness which the holiday entails and which the episode “She of Little Faith” brilliantly does by focusing on Buddhism. The Episode is an open song to tolerance as a main theme which we can all free to embrace. The episode’s end is touching in how Lisa resolves her conflict with her family, showing how everyone can have a nice holiday after they decide the most important thing is love and compassion, not who you pray to (or if you pray at all).

“A Huey Freeman Christmas” from “The Boondocks” – Here’s another somewhat cynical Christmas special, but it does also feature some of the sweetest moments in the series. Huey, a ten year old who is much wiser than his young years, gets the chance to direct as well as write his School’s Christmas Play. Huey dismisses the opportunity first since he “doesn’t give a damn about Christmas”. However, after his grandfather ignores his attempt to explain the actual history of the Christmas holiday, Huey becomes determined to make the school play so people will see his vision of the holiday. He soon becomes rather obsessed with the project, causing him to lose sleep, alienates those around him, becomes a bit of “fatcat” and in the end faces an absurd charge of racism from the school staff regarding his wish to cast Jesus as black (But he is from the Middle East, Huey points out to no avail). Meanwhile, his younger troublemaking brother Riley terrorizes Mall Santa’s, as well as their neighbor Jazmine who is a devout Santa worshipper (confusing the story of Jesus with Santa’s to hilarious effect in the episode).
The episode has very sad moments, but surprisingly has quite happy and side-splittingly funny moments as well. The beginning features Jazmine having a dream of preaching the word of Santa in a gospel church, which is cute in its portrayal of childlike innocence and confusion and makes a mocking comment on fairy tales told to children. Huey’s idealism butts heads with the adult world he lives in rather roughly, but he strongly stands his ground, as his character often does in the show. It is always inspiring to watch. Robert, Huey’s and Riley’s grandfather, is shown in a rare tender moment in the episode when he tenderly carries the sleeping Huey to bed, which is a mere second long scene in the show, but still summons a “aw” from the audience. Over all, it is also honest in its portrayal of how life doesn’t always work out as we would like it to. (However, most of the characters get a happy ending, especially one of Huey’s nicer teacher’s who attempts to embrace, though a bit naively, tolerance and multiculturalism).

“A Very Special Family Guy Freakin´ Christmas” from “Family Guy” – The plot of this episode centers on the Griffith family getting ready for the Holiday, with the mother Lois doing most of the work. Peter, her husband, is not helping out much and causes disaster after disaster. Lois tries to be reasonable and level headed, but, finally, after only wanting to clean up one of the disasters thrown at her, and realizing she has no paper towels to help her grapple with the mess, Lois experiences the ultimate meltdown in one of the best freak-outs ever animated.
This episode is a pretty goofy and over the top but is a spot on depiction of all the stress and disasters Christmases, and the holidays, can sometimes contain. Poor Lois truly puts everything into these two special days (which she thinks is a time of good cheer and union), trying to make things joyous even when they take a turn for the very worst. the episode is hilarious, while addressing how unfairly all the responsibility was given to Lois to handle. This makes the ending, where things turn out for the worst for Lois but good for the rest of the family, quite bittersweet. While I do think “Family Guy” as a show can be pretty bad at times (The Series started strong n the first three seasons, but has taken a bit of a dive since), this episode is still very good and pretty unusual with it’s not quite jolly ending.

The Stress Got to Lois

“How the Grinch stole Christmas!” (1966) – This is one of the most famous short animated films ever to be made. Based on a book by Dr. Seuss, the short is directed by Chuck Jones (and animated in the classic Chuck Jones style!) and Ben Washam, as well as the entire script being read by Boris Karloff. Karloff’s voice is capturing, as well as the rhymes and lines used in the story being memorable. There’s also the main characters theme song, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” which is an classic and iconic “the Villain Sucks” song.
The Story centers on the tale of the Grinch, a green creature who lives up in the mountains alone. He dislikes everything about Christmas, and therefore comes up with the plan to steal Christmas from the “Who’s down in “Whoville”. This short is referenced a lot in other Christmas specials, so if you haven’t seen this special yet, you should for the “education” (for instance, it is referenced in episodes of the Simpsons, PJ’s, South Park, and on and on).

“Woodland Critter Christmas” from “South Park” – Absurdity and winter wonder has never been mixed as magnificently as in this South Park episode! Stan, one of the four young protagonists in the series, comes across a group of cliché-like cute talking animals and gets dragged into helping them with various tasks after the female porcupine becomes pregnant despite being a virgin. The animals tell Stan that their savior is on the way. However, he must kill a mountain lion that is known to eat their savior. Stan does so, only to realize that the pregnant porcupine is not pregnant with a seed from god, but from Satan, thus making it possible for the anti-Christ to be born…
“South Park” has made a lot of great Christmas episodes, this being perhaps the funniest one. Stan’s reaction to everything happening around him is great, the twist at the near end of the episode is pretty surprising and it is packed with rich jokes. It’s also a fun deconstruction of cuteness, making the sweet cuddly Disneyesque animals malevolence and demonic wouldbe destroyers of the world. And one shouldn’t miss out on how the day is saved at the end of the episode. Just a pure enjoyable Christmas special.

So there are my favorite animated shorts with the upcoming holiday’s theme. Hope you all have a nice Christmas/Holiday Season which is upon us!

And lastly here are a couple honorable mentions of Christmas/Holiday Specials which you should see when the chance arises:

“Marge Be Not Proud” (The Simpsons) – A beautiful, beautiful depiction of Mother-Son relationships during the holiday.

“Red Sleigh Down” (South Park) – Camp, camp and more excellent camp all the way through!

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

Today is Halloween, one of the most awesome and cool holidays in the entire year. Unfortunately, I had classes today, so I had to celebrate one day earlier. I had a small party/movie night with my friend Miss Magic Girl. I dressed up this year and went as Scarecrow, the batman villain. My costume was a bit of a mixture of the “Batman Begins” version as well as the re-designed version from “Batman: the animated series”.

I wore my own home-made burlap mask! Here’s some lovely photos:

Since I love all versions of the batman villain Scarecrow, here’s a hilarious clip of the “Batman: the animated series” version, voiced by Henry Polic II. In this scene, the villain has just been re-captured and sent to the insane asylum Arkham Asylum, where he shows off his craziest side, while also having his “Pet The Dog”-moment:

And for Halloween, here’s a video that has the lyrics (but no pictures, sorry for that! Found this on Youtube so…) to Black Sabbath’s song “NIB”, the best song about the devil there is!:

And “Our Favorite Martians” song, “Club Villain”:

And for one hell of a scary visual experience, here’s music video to Marilyn Manson’s song “The Beautiful People” (contains highly disturbing images):

Out of curiosity, what did you guys do on Halloween? Did you dress up? Who/what did you dress up as?

Take Care!/ Maaretta

“Family Guy” is a pretty unique animated show that awakes many different emotions in me– some very good, some very bad. The show is a true, surrealistic rollercoaster. I enjoyed the shows first couple of seasons, but honestly have hated the last couple of seasons, due to repetitive nasty hits at overweight women and badly written characters. I digress though.

The series centers on the Family Griffith, who is contain of Peter, the usually dimwitted, politically incorrect, child-like, and spiteful main star, his phenomenally beautiful wife Lois, and their three children. The oldest is the outcast, brutally bullied teenage daughter Meg, the early teen Chris who like his father is a bit slow, and the evil genius infant Stewie. The family also has, of course, a pet: the talking, wise human-like dog Brian, who this post will be about.

Brian, despite being the pet of the family, functioned as the voice of reason for the earlier years of the show. He was portrayed as a liberal, reasonable and unhappily in love with Lois as well as a bit of a drinker, though intermittently. Brian was shown on several occasions as being critical of religion, but it wasn’t until the seventh season, in the episode “Not all dogs go to heaven”, when the series finally “outed” Brian as an atheist. In the Episode, Brian, due to Meg’s sudden conversion to Christianity and attempt push to bring Brian into the “flock” of her church (and their form of Christianity), gently laughs and states: “You’re barking up the wrong tree, Meg. I’m an atheist”. When watching this episode, I was at first blush overjoyed at first at this radical act (seeing how being non-religious is still taboo on TV), but then began to reconsider what this act would mean and my first hesitations seem born out after the show’s recent episodes featuring Brian as the main protagonist which show character flaws wildly out of synch even for this genre. I cannot but wonder: is Brian really a positive portrayal of atheism? Or does his character just re-enforce negative stereotypes or images of us non-believers?

***Spoilers may be below!***

Let’s first look at how the writers of “Family Guy” talk about the experience of being an atheist in the States. “Not all dogs go to heaven” was a brilliant episode in this case, showing all the prejudice Brian meets after Meg gossips to the whole town about his atheism. Brian is not allowed to go to from such divergent venues as liquor stores to libraries, and is ridiculed on TV for being “worse than Hitler”. Admittedly, some of the discrimination may seem exaggerated; however there is something unsettlingly true in the depiction as well. To some religious folks, not believing in god is the worst possible sin, making us even worse than serial killers or mass murderers (especially if the criminals happen to believe in god). This is a pretty extreme belief and actively held by some, and which is portrayed comically in “Family Guy” when the intensely religious News-People announce Brian to be by far worse than Hitler.

Brian also gets brutally (yet only verbally) attacked by Lois and Peter after his confession. Lois states: “We believe in god in this family!” which showed how sometimes even people close to non-believers can be unsympathetic and dismissive to a theoretical structure struggled to be achieved. Brian gives even in to this pressure to “believe” temporarily, pretending to have “found god”, since he can’t take the peer pressure. But after witnessing Meg burning books about science (since she feels they are contrary to the “statements of God”) Brian gives a harsh talk to Meg, crushing her belief. The speech is devastating to Meg, since Brian points out some painful things to Meg about her life and how that is really what has spawned her beliefs. To this Brian then gives a more hopeful, comforting speech. The whole episode, in my opinion, is a perfect way of telling not only what it can sometimes feel like to be an atheist, as one can in a cartoon, but also is good in showing that Brian is a caring person, crushing the stereotype of the heartless cold atheist.

Meg trying to convert Brian

Brian was portrayed in a positive light during most of the output of the show. He had his flaws, but always came through with reason, compassion, and self-reflection underlying his thoughts and actions. It was in Season Eight where Brian started to become decidedly more odd and began a run of doing questionable things with little intellectual nuance or moral underpinnings. Take as an example of this the Episode “Brian writes a bestseller”, from Season Nine. In this episode Brian is depressed over his published novel doing so poorly, stating to Stewie that only trash literature and phony self-help books make it big. To prove his point he writes one himself and publishes it. It becomes a bestseller, making Brian famous and rich, sweaping him away to the hinterlands of fame, recognition and media adulation, and making him along the way into an arrogant, megalomaniac and mean spirited person. He comes to treat those around him as mere props to his existence (including Stewie who has facilitated his empty rise) and who seem to be considered by him now mere objects to satisfy his random and arbitrary desires. In particular harsh scenes, Brian is shown yelling at Stewie and verbally abusing him for anything that annoys him. This, in a number of painful scenes brings Stewie to tears and self doubt over his supposed lack of abilities to gratify the chance cravings of Brian.

The episode’s climax comes when Brian is invited onto “Real Time with Bill Maher”, a real show hosted by one of Americas most famous non-believers. Maher trashes the book heavily, making Brian confess that he wrote the best seller in a day, and that he doesn’t really believe in anything written in the book. Maher then tells Brian that he is the lowest of the low, since if one is going to bullshit; they should have the “honesty to stand by their bullshit”. Brian, coming somewhat back to his normal self after the harsh critique returns home where he talks a little to Stewie saying that he knows the book was dumb and his behavior inappropriate in extreme.
However, even at this point of the narrative – where a reasonable lesson has been learn and self-reflection is re-imposed by the awareness of the emptiness of his fame – Brian openly admits he will not apologize to Stewie for mistreating him. Here Brian is made into a truly horrible person, who not only doesn’t apologize after treating someone so poorly, but also a person who is actually so arrogant he refuses to learn from mistakes.

Brian at this juncture of the show (and others which are embed in these later seasons, and which can be recounted, but will merely “add” to the direction being taken in this case episode presented here) is made into such a terrible person that it is quiet imperative to reconsidered whether it is good his character is one of the few out-ted atheist characters on TV or not. Since there are so few atheist protagonists around, it is important that at least some of the more famous ones would not strengthen the stereotype that we’re morally-vacuous, empty-elitists, and intellectually-devious self-gratifies which no genuine concern for others beyond the narrowest of evil self-interest who wish to contaminate and spoil. Brian, in this episode, in bodied the stereotype to a max.

Brian was also shown to perhaps not truly stand for any of the opinions he’s expressed in the show, since he abandoned them all in the episode “Excellence in Broadcasting”. Brian, in the episode, becomes a republican and so conservative, he actually tries to go and waterboard – torture – a Democrat (the” supposedly” more left-leaning, worker-supporting party in the United States). Lois pinpoints in the episode that Brian has a need to go against the stream, to always have the more “unpopular” opinion. If that is the case, and Brian really gets all his opinions that way, does that mean he is only an atheist since they are a minority? Not only does this make Brian seem childish, but makes everything he said in previous episodes unimportant. So it is impossible to take his atheism seriously.

There was also the misfortune of Brian actually trying to force Lois to kiss him (maybe even more) in “Play it again, Brian”, a episode from season six. This act of creepiness and slight (though significant) violence towards a woman was before he was outed as an atheist (in a later season), which in a way makes him a lost case as a “model” for an acceptable and representative non-believer from the start.

I want to like Brian’s character. Aside from Dr. House from “House” (who is a total stereotype of the mean, miserable atheist) and Dr. Temperance Brennan from “Bones”, Brian is one of the most mainstream portrayals of atheist in popular culture. Yet his character was made so completely unlikeable and unreliable in the later seasons of the show, it feels like a disfavor for non-religious people that Brian was ever made a openly atheist character.
Seth Macfarlane, the creator of “Family Guy” and voice talent of Brian, also made his other characters, Haylee Smith and Roger the alien from “American Dad!”, atheist. But even these characters don’t really do much for the atheist community. Haylee is bland and hardly does anything memorable, and Roger is a sociopath who seems able to be anything which can temporary satisfaction.

What is lacking from popular culture is an atheist character that is portrayed as likeable. Few Medias have done this.
Daria Morgendorffer, from the animated series “Daria”, was done well, and somewhat outed as an atheist in the last season. Also Mal from “Firefly” was a good atheist character: anti-hero who despite some flaws was a good person. However, these shows have been cancelled or are off the air now. I was hopeful Brian would be the next Daria or Mal, but no such luck. Seems like we atheists have to wait a little longer for a more positive depiction.

A legendary musical, loved by nearly everyone, the film “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) was directed by Victor Fleming and starred Judy Garland. It was based on the novel with the same title by L. Frank Baum. The novel “Wizard of Oz” was followed by thirteen more books, all about the Land of Oz.

Dorothy is a young girl who lives in Kansas with her aunt Emily (nicknamed “Aunty Em”) and her uncle Henry, who own their own farm. After Dorothy’s dog, Toto, has caused a stir with the mean but powerful townswoman Miss Glutch Dorothy is at risk of losing her beloved pet. To protect Toto from being put down, Dorothy runs away from home. However, she quickly decides to return home since she worries that her aunt might become sick with worry. Unfortunately, as Dorothy heads home, a tornado heads towards her home. Dorothy’s aunt and uncle must go into their storm shelter without knowledge of Dorothy’s return. Dorothy arrives to the home to the farm, runs into the house just as the tornado reaches the farm. After getting a hit on the head, Dorothy passes out for a short while. When she wakes up she realizes that her house has been lifted into the air by the tornado. It lands, and when Dorothy steps outside of her house, she discovers that she is in a whole new world, Oz. Much to her bad luck, her house also landed on an evil witch, killing her. This causes Dorothy to make a dangerous enemy, The Wicked Witch of the West, who was sisters with the dead witch. But Dorothy also is promised protection from Glinda, the Good witch of the North. Glinda is also the one who advices Dorothy to go and see the Wizard of Oz if she wants to get back home to Kansas. Dorothy sets out on a grand adventure, finding loyal friends in a talking scarecrow looking for a brain, a tin man looking for a heart and a lion hoping to gain courage.

Oz, as any fictional fantasy land, has a lot of interesting political and social issues that could be analyzed and interoperated in different ways. Especially regarding the witches in Oz. Glinda as well as the Wicked Witch of the West seems to be matriarchal leaders. The same goes for the other witch that never shows up in the film. The witches seem to be the most powerful beings in Oz and most followed and worshipped than any of the males in Oz.

As matriarchs, just like with any leaders, the witches can be good or bad leaders. The witch who gets killed in the beginning, The Wicked Witch of the East, is told to have ruled mercilessly over Munchkin land. When Dorothy accidently kills her, the Munchkins (little people dressed in bright colors) celebrate by singing and dancing and making sure “she’s really, sincerely dead”. This could be seen as an oppressed nation celebrating the death of a cruel dictator. The Wicked Witch of the East was clearly a powerful ruler, which is illustrated by the major party which is thrown by the Munchkins after they are finally freed from her reign of terror. The Munchkins however never really tell Dorothy of what the witch did that was so terrible, which makes their celebration of a person’s death seems a little bit strange and creepy. But if we consider that the Wicked Witch of the East was a malevolent dictator and that the munchkins had live in fear, their behavior becomes somewhat understandable. The Wicked witch of the East was clearly the matriarch of Munchkin Land. The ones in charge of Munchkin land after the Witch, however, are all men. So when the evil matriarch is overthrown, patriarchs take over. This raises the question if the Munchkins were just unhappy a woman was in charged or not. It is a possibility, even if unlikely, since the male leaders of Munchkin land has no problems listening to Glindas advice.

As for The Wicked Witch of the West, she controls a whole army of flying monkeys and green men. It is revealed at the end of the film, after the Wicked Witch of the West is accidently killed by Dorothy. The men serving under the Wicked Witch are overjoyed by her death, just like the Munchkins. The matriarch they were under is gone, so they automatically hail the person who overthrew their previous leader: Dorothy. Dorothy would become the next matriarch if she wished, but prefers to go home to Kansas. Unlike with the munchkins, the audience can easily understand why the men are happy that the Wicked Witch is dead. The audience sees the Witch order them around, trying to kill other people, and threatening innocent people. Considering the fact that the men had to serve under her, it is understandable why they would be happy she’s gone. The fact that they “hail” Dorothy, meaning that they see her as a possible leader, erases the idea that they wanted a male leader instead. These men don’t care if the leader is a man or a woman, they just don’t want to be bossed around to do crummy jobs.

Glinda the good witch is an absolute matriarch. She is the first to talk to Dorothy in Munchkin Land, showing political power over the mayor of Munchkin Land. When she appears in Emerald City, everyone bows down to her as if she were a god. While the Wizard as admired and respected, when he was in public no one in Emerald City bowed to him. But as soon as Glinda arrives, the people of Emerald City become completely silent and drop to their knees. Glinda is worshipped, while the Wizard was just strongly admired and respected. Glinda is the true leader of Emerald City, even if she rarely makes an appearance.

The last interesting thing about Oz, in the terms whether it is a matriarchal land or not, is the Wizard. As it turns out in the end, the Wizard does not poses any real magic powers, but by visual effects fools the people of Emerald City that he does. The three witches of Oz, though, all have real powers, which makes them the most powerful rulers of Oz. So the people with the most power in Oz are the witches, and therefore run the show, are women. The men in Oz may have political power to a certain degree, but in the end it is the witches that are the all powerful ones.

The ending of “The Wizard of Oz” suggests that Oz was all just a dream that Dorothy had after getting a hit on the head. This is an interesting aspect regarding how Dorothy sees the world. It is shown at the beginning of the film that Aunty Em seems to be the one giving orders at the farm, advicing the men working there what to do. When Miss Glutch appears, she mostly talks to Dorothy’s aunt. The two women are obviously used to making the important decisions. This translates into Dorothy’s dream as one good, powerful witch and one bad, powerful witch. Dorothy is accustomed to a matriarchal life, so she dreams of a matriarchal land.

My theory of Oz would be that it is a matriarchal society. What do you guys think?