Ordering Movies For Future Generations

I finally got to see Rogue One recently, and it got me thinking. I was an infant when Star Wars was released, so I only know a world where the Star Wars movies exist out of order. If you’re unfamiliar with the current state of things, storyline-wise, Rogue One tucks neatly in between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy.) Between the prequel trilogy being released second, and trying to catch up with Clone Wars (I did finally do it. Someday, I’ll even get to Rebels.) it doesn’t even faze me.

There are people who see the prequel trilogy before the original trilogy. Because that’s where we are in the collecting of Star Wars movies. And there will be kids who will start with The Phantom Menace, knowing that they’re in for a nine-movie ride, more if they choose to keep Rogue One and any other spin-offs in the marathon.

It won’t always be this way. It’s already not always this way. Those who, like me, grew up with the movies not taking place in order are asking themselves how best to introduce their own children to the Star Wars universe. It’s not uncommon to see social media posts asking for people’s opinion on this matter. No one seems to have a solid answer to the question (beyond, “Is Jar Jar Binks really what you want your child’s first Star Wars experience to be?”), so there are now people who watched the movies in numerical order (or machete order in some cases).

You can already tell the kids who watch the movies in chronological number, because they can’t understand why the movie quality degrades so severely between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, and then you get to explain to them they have things a little backwards and the original trilogy was cutting edge at its time. (Please don’t ask how many times I had this conversation while I was teaching. I stopped counting after about a hundred.)

Star Trek has a similar problem, although theirs seems to be more wrapped up in keeping track of the development of alien races. “Day of the Dove”-era Klingons were not in Star Trek VI because the producers wanted Worf’s grandfather to look more like Worf than Kang. And with “The Last Outpost” in mind, I quit watching Enterprise when the (DS9-era) Ferengi waltzed in. Continuity and the world bible be hanged, apparently!

But it also brings to mind The Chronicles of Narnia, all published before I was born. I swiped my mother’s boxed set, arranged in order of publication, and read them when I was in college. My best friend at the time had just been given an omnibus that had recently been published, and contained the books in the order they happen. We couldn’t even discuss the books because we kept trying to work by book number instead of title, and we eventually gave up.

Of course, I had the luxury of reading The Dark Elf Trilogy before I read Icewind Dale, so what do I know?

Maybe There’s Hope For the Princess Scene

Last weekend, ABC Family ran a “Princess Weekend”. As expected, there were a number of Disney princess movies, both animated and live-action, present, but there were some interesting interpretations (for a Disney-owned channel) of “princess”. Sunday’s line-up really caught my attention:

  • Bring It On: All or Nothing
  • Another Cinderella Story
  • A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song
  • Cinderella
  • The Little Mermaid

I choked on my chai as I scrolled through the list. Not even kidding. At first, because of my current adaptation project, I focused on the humor of the middle three movies. Folklorists generally agree that Disney’s Cinderella is the first time in the story’s 1300-year history that the heroine was a limp dish rag. (Actually, I think they use the words “docile” and “submissive”.) The Cinderella Story series features girls who have about as much interest in rolling over and being walked all over as cats have in not shredding furniture. Even Another Cinderella Story protagonist Mary skips out the instant her chores are completed to work on her dancing in preparation for the audition she hopes will let her move away from her current situation and to support her best friend’s budding fashion career.

It was six brilliant hours of, “We know. We know. We totally totally screwed up the character seventy years ago. But look! We’re learning!” (I admit it. I didn’t sit through all six hours. I had work to do.)

The whole Cinderella situation is funny enough, but then you add on those two end movies. People look at me funny for this, but I actually respect the Bring It On series for what it tries to accomplish. Each movie centers on a girl whose cheerleading squad gets into some sort of problem that only a cheerleading squad could get into, and then she (often by bringing her team together and employing a little teamwork and leadership) saves the day. To the series’ credit, no two girls have had the exact same problem (although the fifth movie gets dangerously close with its mashup of elements from two of the earlier movies).

But in all five movies, each girl defines herself by her cheerleading. She admits she doesn’t know who she is if she isn’t a cheerleader, so she proudly wears her pompoms on her sleeve…so to speak. The only exception is Carson, the fourth movie’s heroine. (She’s at a cheerleader camp. She would fail. But it would be entertaining to watch her try.) She has to hide her squad affiliation from her new crush because the two squads have a literal West Side Story feud going on. But even she does little to hide what she is at her core when she first meets her crush at an amusement park.

Compare that with The Little Mermaid‘s Ariel, who defines herself by her singing, but drops her voice in a heartbeat to snare a guy she’s seen once and knows nothing about. How very Disney of her… (Or would be if that weren’t actually part of the original story, but you can see how the original story appealed to Disney’s sensibilities during a time when the feminism movement hadn’t yet convinced the House of Mouse to consider knocking it off.) I openly hate the story, the movie, and the mermaid herself, so I had a field day with this Sunday afternoon.

Princess culture has become such a polarized concept, but I think there’s room (a growing space, actually) to let girls have their cake and eat it, too. Because at the end of the day, what we really need girls to be is self-reliant, ambitious, and compassionate.

Where Is Our Focus?

4Kids actually updated the Chaotic/DK section of OnDemand, so I’m happily listening to my cartoons while I slog through my morning routine. It’s funny…I had noticed early on in Dinosaur King that there was a hint of educational content not entirely dissimilar from the cartoons I grew up with. It was right around the time I’d noticed Magi-Nation‘s potential to actually live up to its E/I rating. I apparently have to dig through this blog to find it, but I’m pretty sure I’d noted the “savannah” definition before this morning.

I was watching the Harry Potter movies yesterday and thinking about this, too, but educational moments in cartoons/books/movies can happen much like they do in real life: on the spot and spontaneously. And it seems completely natural if done correctly (although TNG taught us it can look like pointless exposition if done incorrectly). Children’s media is aware of this. They just don’t always execute well. I wonder why that is…

During the movies, I saw a commercial for Disney Princesses-themed Huffy bikes. Two girls, pretending they were princesses, were off on their bikes to save their prince (a teddy bear). It wasn’t much of a rescue, but it was far more than we often get from Disney at all. But it wasn’t Disney. It was Huffy.

The Disney Princesses are under a lot of attack these days because more and more parents (and feminists) are realizing that these fictional young women have great influence over their precious little princesses, and that some of them send the wrong message (or…a message that they don’t want their angels to pick up). It makes me wonder how much influence that had on this attempt to make the Princesses more adventurous heroes. (You’ll note Mulan is hardly ever a part of the Princess phenomenon, but maybe this will be the impetus to get more parents to divorce their darling jewels from Ariel…just in time to introduce them to Bella Swan, who is really same-song-second-verse.)

No…seriously…we celebrate and put emphasis on the wrong things, and we’re just starting to see what we’re doing.

Interesting Supplementary Information

This is probably more a post for my real blog, but…well…I’m dodging the novel after adding just over 1,000 words to it (in the time span of roughly forty-five minutes, a new record for me with regards to this rewrite), and I’m accidentally introducing someone to Labyrinth. Later, I’ll get to introduce her to  Willow. (I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am not a fantasy junkie. Not at all.)

She walked in about fifteen minutes into Labyrinth and asked for a summary. I gave her one…that relied as much on information from the novel based on the movie as the first fifteen minutes of the movie themself. I’ve really had to fight to not fill in the blanks throughout the movie.

And it really is funny that the gulf is even there. The movie really focused tightly on Sarah and her maturing through her quest to rescue her brother. The novel showed what motivated Sarah, and makes the graphic novel series absolutely hilarious. It’s amazing Sarah encourages Toby’s acting given how he came into her life…but you’d never know that from just watching the movie. You’d just assume he was following in his half-sister’s footsteps.

The was a novel written for Willow, but it wasn’t nearly as interesting in the supplementary information department. In fact, the most I remember that I wish had come up somehow in the movie was Willow and Meegosh making fun of Burglekutt after the High Lord Alwin didn’t pick Willow as his apprentice. I won’t feel so compelled to add in things.

I think I may play a game for a bit, and then go back to my story. Maybe I can actually get ahead for tomorrow. That would make me happy.

Somehow…I Thought We Were Past This…

Okay…I’m slowly starting to catch up on the drama surrounding the casting of the upcoming Avatar movie…and really…honestly… Whoa!

Seriously!

The current examples aside, I remember babysitting for a family where the mother wouldn’t let the children watch Mulan because Christina Aguilera sang “Reflection” at the end. Imagine what she, and mothers like her, would do the Avatar movie if the cast wasn’t appropriately representative.

Crazy…

I don’t know…I guess somehow, I think it takes away from the message of the story. Everyone should live in peace, regardless…as long as they’re exactly like us? Yeah…no… At least…that’s not the Avatar my students forced me to watch, that I ended up falling in love with.

I hope this is just some crazy rumor…and if it’s not, I hope it gets straightened up. I couldn’t watch the movie if they screw up something like this. I just couldn’t.

Treasure Hunting

I’m sorry for the dead air last week, guys. I didn’t actually realize I hadn’t been blogging until someone started acting weirdly.

I have this problem where if I get pushed too far on the stress/anger meter, I just shut down. In high school, it manifested itself as dead silence accompanied by sign language. Now, it just manifests itself as silence.

I’ve been working a lot in my notebooks, though, so I am at least trying to get some of it out of my head…but I’m not getting the right stuff out of my head. In fact, only two people have actually heard some part of what shut me down last week, and I’m grateful to both of them for letting me explode without holding it against me. You’re both better friends than I deserve.

But TNT, in celebration of debuting the last Librarian movie tonight, is showing both Tomb Raider movies and all three Librarian movies in a row. My inner archaeologist (who is a total nut for bad archaeology movies) is in heaven right now! (And Flynn Carson is, and will forever be, my fictional crush! Squee!) And my to-do list says that I have to work on editing Jath (which still needs a real title) today.

So, I’m in for a day of bad archaeology, and I am sooooooo looking forward to it!

Odd Paternal Parental Unit Memory

I’m not sure this is a known fact, but I’m totally Daddy’s Little Girl. Have been since Day One! Mom can vouch for this.

I’m telling you this because right now I’m watching Mortal Kombat and thinking about my dad. Odd combination, right? While he enjoyed Q-Bert and Mario, Dad probably never would have liked any of the Mortal Kombat games. But he’s seen part of the movie.

When I was living in San Antonio, he and I took my car to a nearby mechanic. I think it just needed something simple like an oil change or something. The place had a lobby, so we sat in there and watched the TV. We were the only ones around, so we started checking out what was on, and he decided to let me watch Mortal Kombat because I got really excited about it when we stumbled across it. So, we’re sitting there watching it, and other people come in and start watching with us. And then this guy walks in, and just stands in front of the television. After a minute or two, he changed the channel and walked right out. So we changed it back to Mortal Kombat. And this happens a couple of times, except the last time the guy changed the channel, the owner walked over, took the remote, and handed it to me.

The guy didn’t have a clue anyone else was in the room (apparently, televisions keep changing back to the same program on their own in his world), and he didn’t come back in after the owner made a big deal about giving me the remote! Heh.

I’m not sure Dad really watched the movie that afternoon, but I like to pretend he did. And I can’t watch the movie without thinking about him.

It’s Snowing. Good Time For Movies and Popcorn!

It looks like January outside my window. I really should go take a picture of it, just to get the timestamp, but I’m feeling lazy today.

Lynette left early this morning, so she missed the snow. So it somehow seems appropriate that I should sit here and deal with part of her question. For those who’ve forgotten, her statement-masquerading-as-a-question was: Kiry’s survival pack, must have movies, books, manga and odds and ends

Since she broke manga out from books, I decided to assume that she meant movies and anime (and anything of a similar variety that doesn’t fit either categories).

Let’s start with my favorite movies, since they would have to be (and are) part of my must-haves. My favorite movie is Beauty and the Beast. The rest of that list includes: Star WarsStargateContact, and The Hunt for Red October.

What’s odd, though, is that you’ll rarely find me watching any of them (except maybe Stargate). Once something becomes a “favorite” to me, it hardly gets touched. Maybe I’m afraid of overexposing myself to it and growing to hate it. I don’t know. It’s true with my movies, though (and to a small extent affects my music, too).

My must-have (read: often watched) list changes with time and my mood. Right now, the list seems to include Monsters, Inc (which lives permanently on the list), National TreasureThe IncrediblesTMNT, and Ella Enchanted. (Oddly enough, I don’t own a single one of them. The library, On Demand, and your roommates’ movie collections are your friends!) And then of course, I’d have to have Mulan, because that (along with Descendants of Darkness) is about the only thing that stops me from beating myself up some days, and Tomb Raider, because my roommates would worry about me otherwise. *grin*

However, I don’t just watch (listen to, really) movies. For example, this morning I watched one of my favorite Yu-Gi-Oh episodes (which I do periodically), and then followed it with the most recent GX episodes (Did anyone else think of “Legendary Heroes” when watching “Turning the Page”, or was that just me?). I have been known to listen to GX while I’m working. It makes for good background noise. At the moment, I’m listening to Babylon 5, which Dustin was kind enough to hunt down for me last year, and there are days when I listen to Firefly when I work.

If I had to create a must-have list for my cartoons/TV shows, though, that list would look something like: Babylon 5Yu-Gi-OhGXAvatar (which I don’t have a single episode of), Animaniacs (which I swipe from Dustin routinely), Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesDescendants of DarknessMacross Plus, and Death Note.

Although, now that I work for Senora Psychopath, The Devil Wears Prada has found itself being watched a lot…

(I accept that I’ve probably overlooked things here, but I don’t know what else to say…)

That’s One Way to Lose Fans

There’s been this huge to-do around many of the geeky girl, feminist, and geeky girl feminists blogs this week about an interesting statement coming out of Warner Brothers. Apparently, one of the higher-ups came out and said Warner Brothers would not be making any more action movies where the lead character was female.  (If I remember correctly, Warner Brothers is the studio currently working on Wonder Woman. Without a female lead, that action movie should be very interesting. *grin*)

Naturally, the geeky girls, the feminists, and the geeky girl feminists went off. It managed to intimidate Warner Brothers enough to then come back and claim that they never said they weren’t going to make any more action movies with female leads. Apparently, they have three movies with female leads in the works for next year. You may notice, as many have, that they never actually say they have three action movies with female leads planned next year, which will neatly let them off the hook when this becomes an issue again a year from now (because you know it’s not going to die quietly).

Truthfully, there have been some action movies that have tanked over the past few years. In most cases, though, I think nearly everyone would agree that what caused the movie to tank wasn’t the fact that there was a female lead. It was the fact that either the writing was poor, or whatever material was being adapted was adapted very poorly (a complaint that covers male-led action movies, as well).

It should be interesting to watch this play out over the next year or so… Maybe in the meantime, we can come up with a way to keep action movies (original or adaptation) from sucking, regardless of the gender of the lead.

My Intro to the Big Screen

What was the first movie you remember seeing in a movie theater?
Question submitted by mainmor.

I have this really great story involving Star Wars, the first movie I remember seeing in a theater.

When I was two years old, my parents took me to see Star Wars at a drive-in called The Galaxy. I sat in my favorite nightgown in the backseat and played with my trading cards and action figures, matching them to the scenes where I could. I had a great time!

When I was twenty-two, I was in the teacher prep program at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. For the special edition release of Star Wars, I drove the two and a half hours (which was closer to two hours because i drive like a Texan) to San Antonio to watch it with my parents. The old drive-in was demolished long ago and replaced with a sit-down theater, still called The Galaxy, and this is where we went to see the special edition.

When I got back to school, people asked me how I spent my weekend. I replied, “Well, you see, long, long ago, in a Galaxy far, far away…”

To this day, Star Wars (in fact, that entire trilogy) remains one of my absolute favorite movies!