Still Star-Crossed Review

FHubs and I watch The Bachelor(ette) and mock it mercilessly. The producer’s pick for this season is just ridiculous. Immediately after the latest episode, ABC aired a new melodrama, Still Star-Crossed. It’s about what happens after Romeo and Juliet die.

There was definitely some inevitable creative license. The nurse is now Juliet’s cousin, Rosaline, set into servitude along with her sister by a bitchy AF Lady Capulet. In case we had any doubts about what kind of character Lady Capulet is, we first meet her when she’s arguing with her husband about what a saint she is for letting her nieces stay and serve them. Both Livia want escape but in different ways. Rosaline dreams of being her own master and joining a nunnery while her sister Livia desperately wants to marry for love.

Another bit of creative license is Prince Escalus, who is roughly the same age as our protagonists having just succeeded his dead father. Our dear leader now must rule over people who have been playing politics longer than he’s been alive.

Because the actions of the Capulets (old money) and Montagues (new money), Verona is poised to fall to the Medici army, advancing Papal states, or any number of other outside forces. To encourage peace, a law is passed that anyone who commits murder shall be put to death without trial. This helps the new version of events dovetail with the original ending where the sole heirs to both houses die.

In an effort to force peace, Escalus degrees that Rosaline will marry Bevolio, an established womanizer. This is an interesting choice since Escalus is not impartial on the matter. We get a teaser of the inevitable drama to come.

This show feels like it will devolve into a poor man’s Game of Thrones by episode four. The sets and costumes won’t be as elaborate, the sex barely there or unrealistic, and the consequences won’t be as dire. The city may fall into new hands but the world isn’t doomed by magical ice zombies. It could be interesting but I suspect it will just be a vaguely literary variant on any standard melodrama. Check it out if you’re curious but don’t set your hopes too high.

Strong Female Characters

One of my casual challenges involves a work with a strong female character. This term has become problematic in recent years because so many creators misinterpret what it’s supposed to mean. Too many see it as:

Strong Female Character – A character who is physically or emotionally strong (tough/badass) that happens to be female. Generally underwritten AF with minimal development over the course of the story. See Halle Berry’s Catwoman or any woman who is the mediocre hero’s ‘prize.’

This has become the new ‘Nice Guy’ or ‘Good Christian.’ Pro-Tip: If you have to tell people you are a ‘NG’ or ‘GC,’ you’re probably not. If you feel compelled to tell people you wrote a ‘SFC’ and expect praise for it, you probably failed. Hard.

What it used to mean and should mean is a female character who is well written, well developed, experiences change in as her story goes on, and exists separately from the male hero. Badassery is entirely optional. Think Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. Her character is an intelligent and capable lawyer who is doing her best to take down the mob on her own terms. Any of the women on Firefly have their own personalities, skills, and motivations. They aren’t there to further someone else’s story or be someone’s prize.

Gamora toes a very fine line on which type of SFC she is. She has her own relationship with her sister and her own motivations but she’s also Quill’s love interest. It wasn’t until the second movie we also got more women on screen in the GotG franchise so it’s easy for her to feel a bit like a token. We get Quill’s backstory but don’t know details about what Gamora went through or where she came from. She’s a badass but needs more development and history for her character to be strongly written.

I just finished The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. There are three strong female characters in this book: Melanie, Ms. Justineau, and Dr. Caldwell. All of these women get POV time, have a mission, are well written, and are disinterested in other people’s bullshit. This is one of many reasons this book is fantastic and deserves a read (4.5/5). All female characters should be so well-written. Carey has some great SFC and gets it right in every sense of the word.

When looking at women in fiction, don’t just ask if she’s strong or a badass. Ask what her story is and does it matter in the context of main story line. Is she a person or a plot device? It’s not enough to just get representation; we need to get it right.

Music Monday: April Fool’s

Since April Fool’s just passed, today’s playlist is devoted to hit songs that started as jokes.

Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon
90’s Music by Kimbra
Girls by Beyonce
Loser by Beck
Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum
Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealers Wheel
I Am the Walrus by The Beatles
Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye by Steam
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet by Bachman Turner Overdrive
Fight for Your Right by Beastie Boys

It’s Time

Lately, I’ve been thinking about authors and musicians who need to get their butt in gear and start giving their fans more of their awesome work.

Haim – The last time they came out with new music was in 2013. They blew up when they came out but it’s been 4 years. They lost relevancy after 2 years of nothing. It’s a group of talented women and we need more girl power this year.

J. Courtney Sullivan – She hasn’t made anything new since 2013. Commencement was great. The Engagements was one of the best books from that year (IMHO). It’s time for some more awesome female powered fiction.

Jasper Fforde – Thursday Next ended on a cliffhanger for the next book. Shades of Grey (published in 2009) is an amazing world with so much potential. I get the Dragonslayer series is making you money but FFS Forde, give the adults something! You’ve given us nothing by YA since 2012 and the best you’ve got is a Shades of Grey prequel in 2018? No! We deserve better and it’s time to deliver.

George R. R. Martin – I have no desire to read these books but I am very over hearing about everyone else who wants to finish the damn series. Put down the carbs and finish the damn books man!

Taylor Swift – Once a predictable record making machine, she’s off schedule with nothing but a few additions to her 2014 release 1989 and a new song for the Fifty Shades of Groan movie. Her last album was her best IMHO and she’s had two failed relationships since then. We know you’ve got the material. Put down the social media, stop achieving squad goals, and record some tunes please.

Katy Perry – I know she said she doesn’t want to rush this record but with her Hillary support, Trump take over, failed relationship with John Mayer, new relationship with Orlando Bloom, she’s got ample material to work with. Prism was released over 3 years ago and her Olympic single didn’t do well. I love her latest single and hope there’s more like it coming in 2017.

Within Temptation – One of the few bands I’ve seen in concert more than once, I’ve loved everything they’ve put out. Their lasts album, Hydra, was great but it came out in 2014. I think it’s time for more female fronted metal.

Music Monday: They Made Music? Part 1

Kicking off the final month of summer is a list of celebrities you didn’t know recorded and released music. Some you may know but I guarantee there’s at least one person on this list you didn’t know could/tried to sing.

Hugh Laurie
Scarlett Johansson
Michael Cera
Katey Sagal
As Bad As I Am by Hollywood Vampires (Johnny Depp)
Robert Pattinson
Bruce Willis
William Shatner
Naomi Campbell
Tyra Banks
Clint Eastwood
Joey Lawrence

Music Monday: Pokémon Go

Since Pokémon Go has taken over the world, I thought I’d dedicate this Monday’s playlist to it. Some are songs I think go with the new game and others are from the soundtrack from the first movie. Yes, I had the CD. I was young and like bubblegum pop.

Pokémon Theme by Lindsey Stirling
I Know Places by Taylor Swift
Running with the Wolves by Aurora
Born to be Wild by J2
Catch Me If You Can by Angela Via
Jellyhead by Crush
Lullaby by Mandah
Victorious by Panic! at the Disco
Bug Hunt (Noisia Remix) by Skrillex
Ready Aim Fire by Imagine Dragons
Pokémon Theme by Daniel Tidwell

Beautiful Men and Brilliant Women

I think Jenny Slate is brilliant. She’s an outspoken feminist who takes on topics most people are afraid to touch. I enjoyed her film Obvious Child and how it dealt with the realities of dating and abortion. She’s also hilarious.

When I saw she was dating Chris Evans AKA Captain America, I was thrilled. Chris Evans is your standard issue action hero heartthrob. A lot of women would give their left boob to go on one date with him. Jenny Slate gets to date the guy she would have crushed on in 7th grade.

What makes me happy about this is that Slate, while attractive, is ordinary looking. You could find any number of women at a bar in New York who look like her. It’s her writing, humor, and intelligence that makes her remarkable. Out of all the gorgeous women Evans could have, he chose the smart and funny one.

I have no idea if it will work out in the long run but I always root for celebrity loves. It’s hard enough finding someone you like without all those added pressures. Some are speculating it’s a publicity stunt for their movie coming out next year. Even if it is, Evans is helping send a powerful message to young men.

You could see the tide turn when George Clooney married Amal Amauddin. These gorgeous men didn’t pick the hottest woman in the room but the woman who was smart, intelligent, and interesting. They opted for someone who would challenge them instead of a sycophant.

We internalize what we see so the young men who see celebrities they admire choosing women who are smart and interesting. While these woman are also beautiful, that’s not what sets them apart. It will increase the likelihood that those young men will date someone who is clever or interesting. They’ll see women as equals instead of something there for their viewing and mating pleasure. For that, I am grateful. Celebrity men, please keep dating intelligent and interesting women.