I have owned The Power since April this year but have only just got round to reading it. At first I was as excited about the concept as everyone else but it also worried me. The idea that Naomi Alderman has taken conventional gender roles and flipped them was inevitably going to interest me. However, I thought there was too much potential for this to go down a violent road that I wasn’t that keen on. I’m happy to describe myself as a feminist and think the fight for gender equality is an important and difficult struggle. I just don’t agree with the kind of militant feminism that exists in certain quarters that believes anger is the answer. I understand there has been a somewhat violent and extreme nature to the feminist movement but times have moved on. We’re not going to get real gender equality with an “eye for an eye” attitude. We don’t need to teach men what we’ve been going through by doing it to them; we just need to teach men to be better. The only people that a more aggressive fight for women’s rights is helping are the so called “meninists” who like to make out feminists hate men.
So I’ve just finished the first episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones and I have so many thoughts buzzing through my brain. Which is why I’m not trying to get an early night ahead of my 7 am start tomorrow morning. Instead I wanted to write a quick post in response to yesterday’s announcement about the new Doctor Who as there has been so much controversy. Naturally, people have a lot of feelings on the matter… but that’s hardly new. Every regeneration has had some amount of hatred. Even the amazing Peter Capaldi still has his doubters as I discovered today when a female coworker proudly proclaimed that she hated him. I really had to bite my tongue at that moment. Capaldi has suffered because of terrible writing but has done wonders with the character. His version of the Doctor is one of the best we’ve had in years but his stories haven’t served him well enough. I have nothing against Matt Smith or David Tennant but Capaldi tried to do something different with the character and I will defend him to anyone. I imagine that the people who dislike him are also the same stupid people that fail to accept that Donna was the best companion. I reckon they’re all fans of David Tennant and Billie Piper and just can’t move on. Speaking of moving on…
After the men’s finals as Wimbledon yesterday, the BBC annonced that Jodie Whittaker will take over from Peter Capaldi and become the next Doctor Who. Yes, the new Doctor is a woman and I’m pissed off. Why? Because I wanted to be the first female Doctor. But I’m not an actor and have never wanted to be so that’s fucking crazy. So, putting those jealous feelings to one side, I’ve decided I’m okay with it… but I have some provisos. As a proud feminist, I’m all for better representation of women on television and better roles for women. As a fan of pop culture, I’m also all for making sure this happens organically and not for the sake of it. I understand why people are so excited that after 50 plus years the Doctor will be played by a women but I also worry about permanently tying the news to some sort of political benchmark. It should be about making sure the transition is handled correctly. Which is where I really worry.
In my opinion, Doctor Who has been steadily declining in quality since the fourth season. That’s not to say before then was all stellar but it’s undoubtedly gone to the dogs since Russell T’s final episodes. I can barely remember anything about Matt Smith’s first two series and the first two with Capaldi were abysmal. Moffat can crank out astonishing one-off episodes but, when it came to his time as showrunner, he’s allowed a lot of shitty episodes to make their way on screen. If Jodie Whittaker’s entrance is handled that same way Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi’s were then we’re in trouble because she’ll fail to make an impression. If the switch is handled for laughs then it will play into the naysayers hands. Whittaker needs to be given a well-defined and new characterisation of this well-known character. It’s going to be tricky.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should happen. I love the idea of a female Doctor and I think Whittaker is a great actress. I’m remaining hopeful that this could be the best thing ever. Even now, as a 29 year old woman, I’m excited to see this character that I grew up watching is becoming someone I can relate to more. The image I have of Doctor Who from my childhood is Jon Pertwee’s face. Doctor Who has always been a white haired, white skinned man. Maybe this is why the show didn’t really stay with me as I grew up? Well, that and the fact that the older series were so rarely shown. When it came back in 2005 I watched it and loved it but it was always lacking. There was no really powerful female presence. I know people loved Rose but she didn’t cut it for me. Especially when she started going ga-ga over Tennant. That’s why Donna, so underrated, is my fave. She’s a genuinely strong and independent female who shows real growth. We need a female Doctor who takes after Donna.
And we do need a female Doctor. The show gets a lot of views and has a young audience. It is right that we show young people that women can take roles like this. It’s wonderful to see the reactions of young girls or parents who are rejoicing that their Doctor is a women. In the same way that we needed someone like Rey to be the hero of the new Star Wars films. It’s important and is everything this show has been about. The Doctor has never been about a specific gender but more about the ethos that has stayed with every incarnation. It’s about this good being who wants to explore and helps people along the way. The show has always been trying to encourage it’s audience into taking an interest in science and the universe around them but it’s always been a very traditional take on that world. The older male scientist and his sexy young assistant. It needed to be changed to reflect the real world.
And, no matter what the majority of angry fans are saying, there has always been room to make this work. The Doctor is an alien being who travels in time and changes his face every few years. If you can accept that but can’t accept that he can change into a woman then you really are a narrow-minded fuckwit.
I wanted to see Passengers from the moment I first saw the trailer. For one thing, Chris Pratt is looking good and I’m always happy to watch that face for an hour or two. Secondly, Michael Sheen as an android? I’m there. Especially if he really is giving up acting in favour of Welsh politics. Finally, the trailer made it out to be a super exciting suspense thriller. It seemed perfect. However, the more I saw/read about the film the more I realised that I’d definitely hate it. I still wanted to watch it though. The lure of some Pratt facetime was just too great. Although my major gripe about the film had something to do with Chris Pratt’s casting. In that I was annoyed by the significant age gap between the two stars on screen. Christ Pratt is about 37 years old whilst Jennifer Lawrence is a youthful looking 26. Now I’m not disputing that relationships occur between people with an age gap of 10 plus years but I don’t see why it had to happen. Lawrence keeps being cast in roles that should be played by an older actor despite having looking younger than her years. Is Hollywood just running out of women in their mid 30s or men in their late 20s? I know the pair make a beathtakingly beautiful couple but I just think the whole premise becomes even creepier when you consider the age gap. But maybe that’s just cynical old me?
Passengers is one of those films that looks too good to be true. It’s full of beautiful people, wearing beautiful clothes, and getting in perilous situations in beautiful locations. There had to be a catch somewhere. No film has that much emphasis on looking shiny and perfect whilst still offering up a great story. So what is the story? The film introduces us to the Avalon, a starship that is making the journey to a distant planet that is to be colonised by the 5,000 odd people on board. The journey would take 120 Earth years so everyone is in hibernation pods. Well, until an asteroid field causes damage to the ship and Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is woken up 90 years too soon. Jim, a mechanic, spends months trying to come to terms with his situation and taking as much pleasure as he can in the high-tech ship. But, it turns out, that a man can only find so much joy in basketball, competitive dance games, and robot waiters. Unable to find a way to go back into hibernation, Jim contemplates ending his life.
Well, until a twist of fate leaves him face-to-face with Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a writer who is still sleeping through the lengthy journey. To pass his time, Jim starts spending time reading Aurora’s writing, watching her Avalon video biography. and eating his lunch next to her hibernation pod. So naturally, he figures he’s in love with her. Clearly, whenever I see a person sleeping I automatically fall in love with them too. It’s super fucking awkward. Unable to forget his impending lonely life Jim wakes up Aurora from her pod and happily pretends that it happened by accident. It’s fucking crazy! And, because they are the only two humans around, Jim happily pursues the woman he condemned and the pair fall into the best relationship they can when it comes out of such limited options. Plus, basketball and dancing is great and all but sex is the best thing to fight the impending doom of waiting out your life on a spaceship. Until, Aurora finds out what Jim did and, naturally, decides he is not just the only other conscious person but the worst human being of all time.
It’s no fucking wonder that the trailers went so fucking far to erase this massive detail from all of the promotional stuff. This was being sold as a romantic space thriller but instead it’s just a fucking crazed stalker holding a pretty young girl hostage. It’s a weird premise that the writers clearly try to present as morally contemptible and we do see Jim spending a few seconds weighing up the ethics of the situation. Then we see Aurora dismiss him and part company from him. This is all perfectly normal behaviour. Well, until the film’s dismal final act. This is where the film falls down in so many ways. We have the inevitable heroic moment when Jim offers to lay down his life to save the 5,000 plus souls on board. And, apparently, that’s all it takes to take a woman from “your murdered me” to ‘I can’t live without you’. Fucking romantic.
I’m not saying that Passengers is a bad film simply because of this decision. Obviously, it’s the most worrying thing about it but, more than that, Passengers is simply a really bad story. It halfheartedly tries to make a point about ethics in extreme situations but them just ignores it for a shitty sentimental ending. It’s a film that looks amazing but lacks so much in premise that, were it not for the blatant sexism on show, would have made it a completely forgettable film. It’s always a bad sign when your watching a film that doesn’t get better than it’s opening 30 minutes when you’re basically watching a guy doing Groundhog Day in space. After that everything falls apart.
This is a film created by men to appeal to men. Women will sit there watching an unsuspecting and defenceless girl being manipulated by a seemingly nice guy and eventually succumbing to Stockholm syndrome. It’s no wonder we have such a problem with men understanding boundaries when it comes to relationships and sex in this society. Everyman Chris Pratt makes a morally disgusting and selfish choice but is eventually rewarded by getting to see Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs. Yes, I know the film makes an attempt to show how bad the decision was but it is ultimately justified when Aurora makes the decision to stay with Jim instead of going back into hibernation. What does that fucking tell people? With enough persistence and limited options then any woman will chose you over the life they intended to live? Ugh, please. Any real woman would have left that creepy piece of shit and gone to Homestead II as planned. Chris Pratt or no Chris Pratt.