‘Life’ film–defied absolutely zero scifi tropes

Everything that can go wrong in a space movie about life from Mars or other planets did go wrong in Life. The producers and writers didn’t defy any tropes with this one.

Life is truly true to its Hollywood film type/genre. Not to say that there is no hostile life the universe. Only that why does every life form that potentially exists in the universe other than human life have to be portrayed as completely hostile or completely docile?

It isn’t like white Europeans have a great track record with people from other nations, including their own. So I guess, as a film drenched in white ideologies, that it stands to reason that their enmity towards “the other” on Earth is reflected in their ideas about and portrayals of other life in the universe. Everything that is not them is a threat or it simply excites them to perceive the other as a threat and that’s the Hollywood selling point.

Your imaginations are pitiful.

Season finales that sucked–Walking Dead, Magicians

*Spoilers, of course*

Two shows I can walk away from this season with no regrets are The Walking Dead and The Magicians.

I’m not a fan of Walking Dead. I just watch it with my sister. All the conveniently interracial relationships are fetishistic and racist, like the show itself. Rick and Michonne was the last straw,  I could throw up. Out of all the things Michonne could’ve wanted in the brutal zombie apocalypse world, a crazy white man (who locked her up and held her prisoner the first time they met) happens to be is it? But there’s something I hate more than all the people hooking up at every turn:

Wasting an hour and thirty minutes of my life watching a season finale that literally did not live up to its boasts. Take note: The point of telling an audience that a main character is going to die means you tell them who it is. Don’t hype it up then purposefully fail to deliver like a snickering schoolboy that thinks he’s being clever with some ridiculous prank. Everything the producers did in the Walking Dead season finale could’ve been done in an hour with the extra thirty minutes focusing on Negan’s b.s.

Moving on to Magicians. Which was distasteful for different reasons.

Everybody’s life is horrible, no one is happy at all, the world is all crappy, no one is safe–typical contrived, pumped up on drama-driven style, Magicians is. No surprise there. But what bothered me the most was the violent attack on Julia and the disgusting semen situation. The first time Quentin got a jar from Umber didn’t bother me as much, but then its revealed that Julia was raped, its Alice who drinks the stuff…and the episode ends quickly with a rape hotline number flashing on the screen. They use a Black actor as a false god then have a woman viciously assaulted after giving herself to what she believes is an act of faith.

That said, I’ve been watching SyFy for years. No show that they produce ever lives up to its concepts. This leads me to believe that Syfy is run by a bunch of immature boys appealing to misogynist male audiences and your average graceless boy geek slowly being cut from the same cloth. Like Twilight, like Fifty Shades of Grey, if The Magician books by Lev Grossman are anything like the show, it can’t be worth reading.

*dusting off my hands*

Done with both shows. No need to go any further.

Musings on ‘Afro-Futuristic Vision #11 Utopia Sucks’

View this reply with proper spacing (its irking me that a reblog looks like this).

I think what is said here is true to an extent, and I find wisdom in it as I turn it over in my mind…

This argument, however, already assumes ideas about the world and how “nature” supposedly operates (as a dichotomy I guess this would be one of “Order” and Chaos). That’s the problem with a rigid view of all two-sided-looking things (i.e. light and dark, yin and yang, hot and cold, good and evil, god and satan, order and chaos, republicans and democrats, black and white, blah, blah etc. dichotomies). It is a rigid worldview that bows to only two forces and defines everything as one or the other then claims both things are really one force working in tandem to 1) create balance or 2) cause a lack of balance when there is too much of one of them. Its a rationalization mechanism, the trinity of rationalization, the greatest, in fact–

One that divides everything in the universe into one basket or the other. Then says the two baskets are actually one basket that carries everything.

The postulation of utopia simply as escapism, a world devoid of struggle and strife, and a reflection of people’s childish desire to “start over again” is presumptuous and strict in definition and ideology in and of itself. Accepting only war and chaos (and whatever you think is its companion is) sounds like a human mind caving under its need to rationalize the world and everything in it to minimize its own importance or existence within the world. Like passively riding the wave and leaving everything to the ocean just because you a) could drown or b) you could live when the third option is just swim to shore and see how things go from there. Crappy analogy? Sorry. In short, it seems to me to be a very human rationalization for being constantly and continuously embroiled in drama and conflict with no end and no justice. Look at the state of science fiction and general fiction in the mainstream, open up any popular book, and you will see it there: this thirst for drama and conflict that drives so much of the media with no satiation, not because its natural but because its what people expect and have been taught to expect and desire. Space fights, alien invasions, apocalypse, scientific imperialism, interstellar colonialism and Manifest Destiny.

A hurricane may occur naturally.

On the other hand, the levees breaking could’ve been prevented.

So I think the problem is not utopia itself but what the initial argument/definition of what it is as presented in the article or reflection in the first place. Because when you define it like that, it does sound immature, impossible, ridiculous, and ignorant.

Strip utopia of the limitations imposed by this interpretation of the Principle of Opposition and its definition by DjaDja (from what I understand of it), and then…

An actual Utopia just sounds boring to a civilization dominated by greedy brutes like Earth. Its not an environment for drama, mass suffering, violence, and conflict to thrive in. And in the whole of the vastness of the universe, you tryin’ to tell me that utopia, or something close to it, doesn’t exist anywhere? Not buying it.

I agree that if such a thing as utopia were to exist or does exists currently here and now, it is within afrofuturism and in the mind. The definition of utopia to me is not an absence of war, chaos, struggle, or strife but a society bent towards the opposition of evil, injustice, and extreme social disharmony. Utopia is a world where (if you must rely on a dichotomy) good has the most clout and evil wastes itself trying to dominate.

To say war and chaos is natural is to say that it is allowed. To say that it is allowed begs the question of who is allowing it. The only answer I can come up with for that is people. Therefore, its not natural, its manmade. Maybe chaos is natural but war is manmade and when DjaDja added war to the argument, it put his position in perspective for me. Human beings make order out of chaos. What order are you helping to create and maintain? Good or evil, justice or injustice?

On my own spiritual journey, I won’t pretend that I know everything. But I do know that there are at least two sides to every story, not that there are just two sides and nothing else. To state that there are only two things in the world and a balance between them just sounds cynical and defeated. I’m not even sure this made any sense because the dichotomy presented in DjaDja’s article/reflection is so heavy and trying to address it is like walking around in a great big manmade circle.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write myself a great big afrofuturistic utopia story.

The Renpet Phenomenon

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Utopia Sucks

Everyone wants to live in a society that is free from pollution, crime, unemployment and whatever else man allows to ail his soul. This form or construct of social living is called ‘Utopia’.

utopia
1550s, from Mod.L. Utopia, lit. “nowhere,” coined by Thomas More (and used as title of his book, 1516, about an imaginary island enjoying perfect legal, social, and political systems), from Gk. ou “not” + topos “place.” Extended to “any perfect place,” 1610s.
utopian
1550s, with reference to More’s fictional country; 1610s as “extravagantly ideal, impossibly visionary,” from utopia + -ian. As a noun meaning “visionary idealist” it is first recorded c.1873 (earlier in this sense was utopiast, 1854).

Has anyone stopped to think that such an ideal is somewhat childish and creates a blame game. All societies in the world are lead by government and it is government that sets the trend and standard…

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‘Doctor Who’, the Ultimate Superhero Trope

I started watching Doctor Who from the Ninth Doctor (2005), after considering it with great skepticism as a production originating from the racist capital of the whole planet.

Its strange to be tentatively writing here that I actually enjoy many aspects of it. Its a nice bit of whimsy and adventure. Other criticism withheld here for now, there are even brown people on the show (even if whiteness remains central), that’s half a step up from American television shows. I’ve even written down the things I see that I like the most in terms of sentient life forms encountered.

With that said, the biggest issue I have with the show is the Doctor himself. As important as his friends/companions/allies/lovers are made out to be, the whole of the entire universe, beginning and end, is still centered around him. Sounds like yet another huge ego boast for every guy out there that’s vicariously imagining himself to be the last Time Lord from Gallifrey.

I once pointed out how a pretty cool female character like Ryuuzetsu just had died for Naruto in Blood Prison, the fifth Naruto movie. My friend’s response was

“The show is about Naruto, not who doesn’t die for Naruto.”

And the same can be said of the Doctor. Through his companions and encounters with other sentient life forms, an effort is made to decentralize him but it seems the creators of Doctor Who always revert back to plots drenched in the mindless rhetorical worship of the Doctor as more interesting. It’s like the writers sat down and came up with the greatest white patriarchal-superhero-god complex fantasy gone completely insane that they could possibly think of. Yes, I said white–this is still true, even tho he’s from another planet.

If you think race isn’t an issue in Doctor Who, then ask yourself: How invisible would a Black Time Lord be in the white-dominated Western societies at any point in the recorded history visited in the show?

Let’s look at the entirety of Martha Jones’ time with the Doctor as his companion, especially compared to Rose Tyler.

Or ask why the Transatlantic Slave Trade and other crimes against humanity wasn’t prevented by the Doctor, who spends an annoying amount of time lecturing humans about how they need to be “better” (without ever being a little time lord faerie to the people who are victims of times when they weren’t) and championing any time period he fancies and comes across except the ones too problematic and incriminating for Britain and America to fess up to. The worst and most logical answer would be that the enslavement of Black peoples by white Europeans, is a “fixed point” in time–meaning that it was something that was “supposed” to happen. So the Doctor can save the Oods from humans but not save humans from themselves? This show is chocked full of deceptive post-racial propaganda!

All this is to say that tho The Doctor is often presented as a sentimental character, his entire existence is about power, the power he has over those around him.

In its title character, Doctor Who presents me with what I will dub the “renaissance man” superhero trope (The Ultimate Polymath Trope).  Contrary to all this white savior worship and idealism, I’d prefer to see the Doctor, as Donna Noble so aptly said to the Tenth Doctor, as “a long streak of nothing, y’know, alien nothing!“.

Among the several things I can say about ‘Stargate Atlantis’

Other than the tokenizing of People of Color, the sexism, militarism, and scientific imperialism in the entire Stargate series, the one thing that really bothered me nearing the end of Stargate Atlantis is the fact that the Atlantis Expedition really is responsible for the deaths of millions of people just as the Coalition accuses them of. They defend this by claiming that the same thing would have happened had they never set foot in the Pegasus Galaxy, then used political corruption to squirm out of any punishment, talkin’ ’bout some “that’s how the game is played” [Stargate Atlantis, Season 5, Episode 93: Inquisition].

Had they been imprisoned, executed, or otherwise punished, with the exception of Teyla Emmagan and Ronon Dex (the token exotic “coloreds” on the cast, and I use the term “coloreds” sarcastically), I don’t think I would have cared. Of course, we wouldn’t have had a show and yet…that’s the point. The ends justify the means.

That in and of itself is some classic white colonialist shit. Even in another galaxy, white imperialists are not made to pay for the damage and suffering they cause while fulfilling their own self-interests at the expense of others.

Let’s draw our attention to the Ancients/Alterans. They’ve ascended to some “higher plane” and generally outright refuse to help the races they’ve peopled the universe with but have left all these dangerous and oftentimes unlabeled and destructive experimental weapons and bio-hazards littered about. They want to take the moral high road, staring down their noses, claiming that one galaxy is so small and insignificant compared to the universe, claiming that they will not interfere with the affairs of “lower beings”. I guess humans get it from their parents….

Oh, oops, we made a mistake and screwed up your whole galaxy. But that’s cool because it would have happened eventually and you guys were too chickenshit to do anything about it anyway. You have to trade with us, because you can’t live without us.  We’ll bust in and save your savage, primitive asses with our so-so advanced technology.

Something like that,

Science Fiction Tropes I Despise

Someday I’d like to see Stargate (SG-1, or even Atlantis because Stargate Universe needs to be completely redone for reasons I’ll go into in another post) back on the air again. You know, without all the colonialism, scientific imperialism, racism and hotdoggin’/sexism.

Reviewing the Stargate series dredged up some things I seriously dislike about sci-fi as a genre. These are themes and concepts that continuously arise in much of the genre.

  1. science versus religion/belief/spirituality
  2. science versus culture/tradition
  3. science versus “magic”
  4. the “science” without the “fiction” part

These themes seem to have been played to death by scientific imperialists. The tiresomeness of these themes are perfectly and unfortunately embodied in characters such as Rodney McKay and Samantha Carter, who both have their own versions of a God complex over their vaunted scientific know-how.

One of the oldest and most revered races in the entire galaxy in the Stargate universe, the Ancients/Alterans, are only so revered because of their status as the most technologically advanced race ever encountered, so advanced that they shed their human forms and took on the form of pure energy and ascended to a higher plane of existence. To that end, even “ascending to a higher plane of existence” seems to require a white imperialist notion of intelligence; it seems that only later does a spiritual component come in as possibly necessary for ascension–the focus is still on the intelligence part. It is said in the series that the Asgard cannot ascend, much to my disappoint, because they lack some physiological necessity–their inability to ascend is even reduced to some notion of science.

Most of the Stargate series includes the SG teams judging each other and other races based off 1) what humans from Earth want from their planet for the purpose of military warfare and 2) how advanced they judge them to be based off of white Western imperialist doctrines.

I took these quotes for scientific imperialism from the intro of the Wiki article on the topic and, though I know little about Ellis Powell or John Dupre and cannot subscribe wholly to their philosophies, I tend to agree with the idea of the quotes provided, with the exception of the assumed use of the terms “men” and “man”. Scientific imperialism is:

“the sense of arbitrary and capricious domination over the bodies and souls of men,” yet he used the term “scientific imperialism” to mean “the subjection of all the developed and undeveloped powers of the earth to the mind of man.”[1]–Powell

“the tendency to push a good scientific idea far beyond the domain in which it was originally introduced, and often far beyond the domain in which it can provide much illumination […] devotees of these approaches are inclined to claim that they are in possession not just of one useful perspective on human behavior, but of the key that will open doors to the understanding of ever wider areas of human behavior.”[2]–Dupre

This is to say that I despise the scientific imperialism that is more often than not rampant in the Stargate series along with militarism. “Science” once decreed that the Sun revolved around the Earth, or that the Earth was flat. I mean, come on, it was “science” that had white people measuring the heads of my ancestors and proclaiming that we are only three-fifths of a human being (which many white people apparently still believe on a pathological level). Or that Black women have brains in their butts. The field of gynecology was furthered by if not founded on the inhumane, involuntary, and cruel experiments performed on enslaved women of my race.

Now scientists have all these other branches of science to discredit the [pseudo] sciences that make the legitimate and respected sciences look bad. They want to ignore the fact that that those embarrassments, those “sciences” belongs to them too. That is what it is, but they also go on to discredit, dismiss, and disapprove of anything and everything that they can’t prove by their own methods, including fields where, as Dupre says, are “beyond the domain in which it was originally introduced, and often far beyond the domain in which it can provide much illumination”. However, one truth still remains:

Science can be just as arbitrary as anything else more often than people like to admit–a point which is also made in the series. It too is prone to human error since it is humans that are defining it.

There are largely two types of science fiction in my experience:

A) stories that are based for the most part in scientific fact but the story itself is fiction,

or B) stories that extrapolate on scientific facts and theories and use creativity, guesswork, and imagination to present us with stories that bo th entertain us and rouse our curiosity. These are the kinds of stories that make us go “WOW, that was freakin’ cool” or “hmmm, curious” and also make us dare to face the disappointment and annoyance on our science teacher’s faces when ask if its actually possible.

Some stories claim that science and “magic” are not two different things, that’s another post for some other time tho. Some stories are more fact and some are more fiction. I like the latter, a nice balance of science and fiction, but I take it more on the fiction side since I don’t like people telling me something is impossible “based on the laws of physics”, or quantum mechanics, or whatever. All I hear is blah-blah-blah space radiation from the nuke they used to blow up the asteroid, blah-blah-blah Isaac Newton, blah-blah-blah Occam’s razor, something about the unlikelihood of xyz. I’m more interested in seeing where imagination and possibility can take us, whether its proven or not.

The point here is that so many writers ruin the the story, the feelings, and the action in science fiction by turning the genre into a time loop of petulant and intolerant arguers arrogantly asserting why Western science is just SOOOOOO much better than everything else, leaving little room for the “fiction” part and almost no room for things that science may never be able to explain (including the people who are effected by or subscribe to those things).