Tag Archives: movies & tv

Feminism in Studio Ghibli

This video from The Mary Sue gets into some of the reasons why I adore Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s films. In particular, the way their films handle villains is something I both love to watch and struggle to emulate in my own stories.

A good villain is hard to make, and the nuanced characters who need to be outsmarted and won over, rather than killed, have become my (often out of reach) ideal.

Teamwork: Skipping Town

At the risk of being repetitive, I’m talking about cars again. It’s just–Do you ever just want to outrun your own life? I go on errands and, when it is time to head home, I want to take the wrong on-ramp. I want to head in the general direction of Away. With speed. Don’t care what I’m leaving behind. Don’t care that I don’t have a scram bag. I just want to run.

The truth is, I can’t. Not just because I have pets and people who depend on me. Not just because I have things in my life that I don’t want to leave behind. Not permanently, anyway. Outrunning my life would involve work. It would involve skills and resources I don’t have. (I have a book on the subject. Possibly I’ve thought about this too much. It–it was research, okay?)

Point is, if I was going to do something like this, I would need help. This is a teamwork post, so help is a thing we can have. I had something of an embarrassment of riches on this one. Lots of my favorite fandoms have someone skipping town at one point or another. Buffy runs off at the end of Season 2 and makes a go of it as Anne. Spider and the filthy assistants of Transmetropolitan spend half the series operating on the run, living underground. But there’s one choice that I think wins on volume of experience, if nothing else.

The Brothers Winchester.

I am a late arrival to the Supernatural fandom but oh, how I love it. (For the love of puppies, do not spoil me for anything! Though, I already understand that everyone dies repeatedly, all hearts are broken, go cry into your beer, so maybe I’m spoiled enough.) The neurotic, obsessive, walk-through-fire dedication between Sam and Dean (and others at various times) hits me right in my teamwork weak spot.

(An Aside: I am aware that Supernatural does a lot of not-so-attractive things as well. It screws up on a regular basis with regards to gender and race and sexuality. If queer baiting were an Olympic sport, they could bait for the U.S. team. I like the show in spite of this crap and I happily engage with these issues in the spirit of “goddamn it, my chocolate cake did not require that layer of shit you just frosted it with.” This, however, is not the post for that discussion. [For posts on that discussion, see 98% of Tumblr.])

There is something else, though, that appeals to me about the show’s premise. That something is…fraud. That sounds terrible, but look: the boys use fake names, fake credit cards, fake government credentials. They juggle money and phone numbers and identities. They know how to get the resources they need, get out of jail, and get the job done. They don’t live like kings, but they have regular access to indoor plumbing and pie. That is more than I would manage if dumped on the streets with only a pocketful of money and my wits. And when the job is done? They get in the car and get out of town. Skipping town is as reliable an element of the show as death, manpain, and things with too many teeth.

Yes, yes, the show makes life difficult both because of and in spite of those helpful little shortcuts. Accounts get frozen, identities are compromised, roots are cut off before they can form. Life is deeply unpleasant for them in a lot of ways. One of the chief pleasures of fiction, though, is to deal with someone else’s problems for a while instead of your own.

What I want, more than anything right now, is to have the ability to pack up everything that matters to me into a vehicle and run away from all my problems. I want to cheat the system and wander the country and live with a heart on wheels. Because that is as far away from my real-world situation as I can get.

I won’t do it. Neither my ethics nor my skill set would allow me to. But in fiction, I can pretend.

So. The whole “clearing your name” thing last time didn’t work so well. You’re in jail or hiding in somebody’s basement or up a tree. Nobody believes you’re innocent, the Powers That Be are closing in, and all hope looks lost. Who do you go to who will believe in your innocence (or, alternatively, have a questionable moral compass and/or lack of respect for the law) enough to risk life and limb to get you the hell out of Dodge? Who has the shady contacts to set you up with a new life in the Great Away from Here?

Teamwork: Self-Aware Transportation

The family car has been whining at me today. When I slow down or back up or turn or look at it funny, the oil light comes on with a sad little ding. It just received new oil a couple weeks ago. It has now received more new oil. I don’t really know what its issue is and it is bothering me.

You know how new parents freak out a little (a lot, let’s be honest here) when their baby cries for no discernible reason? You know that feeling of wishing for a Babelfish, universal translator, or mind-reading abilities to know what is going on with them? That’s how I feel when my technology acts up. Why are you crying, car? Are you sick? Hurt? Unhappy? Bored? Do you want a wash? Do you want to take a road trip? Use your words!

So, because I am a geek, I got to thinking about self-aware transportation. This is a pretty popular trope; clearly, I am not the only person who wishes their car would talk to them. There are cars that turn into other things, and there are things that turn into cars. There are cars that fly, turn invisible, and rescue their owners.

I approve of all of this. My car, my first car, which is decidedly not the family car because only I get to drive my baby, is a ’68 VW Beetle. Green. Persnickety, but ultimately dependable. Fond of rock, but annoyed by my Japanese metal bands. She’s got personality, okay? This is a car I talk to and who comes pretty close to talking back to me. Teamwork, right there.



It should come as no particular surprise, then, that my choice for talking car teammate is Bumblebee of the Transformers franchise. For those of you only familiar with the more recent live-action movies, and not with the eighties cartoon and toy line, Bee started out as a yellow Beetle. Since my exposure to Transformers more or less coincided with my receiving my car at sixteen, you can see why I’m imprinted on the model so strongly. My commentary on any episode of Transformers pretty much consisted of “Beeeee” said in increasingly concerned and loving tones.

That being said, I do love the live-action version as well. While the Camaro isn’t really my thing (as much as any gorgeous car can be not-my-thing), I love that Bee makes use of the radio as a prosthetic voice. I’m not sure most people think of it in those terms, but I like that one of the lead characters in a science fiction movie is shown living with a physical disability. (And that Bee’s storyline does not revolve primarily around undoing that disability. *cough* Avatar. *cough*) Also, it means that Bee constantly quotes movies and songs and commercials and, well, it’s possible that I have always annoyed my family by communicating almost entirely through the same methods and materials.

What would your choice be? Have you had a car or other mode of transportation that seemed particularly alive? Has this been a source of delight or frustration? (“No, baby, we are not listening to The Doors today. Yes, you still have to start for me. Baby. Seriously. Come on.”)

Teamwork: Squashing Enemies

(No real spoilers ahead, but some vague discussion of content, if that’s something you’re concerned about.)

I saw Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters today. I enjoy a good-bad action movie, especially a fantasy-themed one. I found this one to be a little too fast and heavy on the violence–I dislike it when it starts to verge into brutality, rather than fisticuffs. Also, the big battle scene seemed like a gallery of nonconforming female bodies and the fun ways to kill them, which, you know, doesn’t fill me with joy. But it was a fun kind of stupid, for the most part.

It also got me thinking about teamwork–my personal fantasy football-type team of tropes and character types and which fictional characters I would most like to have filling the spots. So. Squashing your enemies. The troll in H&G is swell and it is pretty damn satisfying to watch him pulp some unpleasant fellows. I’m all for fighting my own battles, but sometimes you need an ally who can just stomp the other side flat.

For my enemy-squashing teammate, I would have to go with the Hulk, as he appears in The Avengers. Indestructible, excellent at squashing things, and loyal to teammates such that I’m not likely to get squashed as well. (This is why Godzilla would be a poor choice–full points for squashiness, negative about a million for damage from friendly fire.) I’d keep a second choice open for Fezzik from The Princess Bride, because he is a complete delight, but he’s not invulnerable and I would worry.

Any other suggestions?