5 Questions About That Netflix Will Smith Thing

Bright is an original made-for-Netflix film about Will Smith being Will Smith, opposite an orc, fighting fantasy evil. The film’s about as good as any cynical, world-weary person would expect. Which is to say, it’s not all that great. The argument I’ve mostly been hearing about the film is whether it’s good enough to finish. 

I have some other concerns.

Does anyone else miss the titular songs in movies that describe the movie? Like Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” about the Ninja Turtles? Mc Hammer’s “Addams Family Groove“? Run DMC’s “Ghostbusters II Rap“? Will Smith’s very own “Men In Black” and “Wild Wild West“?

Listen, I know that Will Smith is probably still reeling from Wild Wild West, but he needs to recover. Writing another rap anthem for his blockbusters is immersion therapy.

Is Will Smith ever not a cop? He is an officer of the law/government in his biggest movies and series: Bad BoysMen In Black, Independence Day, I Robot, I am Legend, Bright, and — of course — Wild Wild West. Plus possibly some of his other movies I haven’t seen.

So, like… is racism… bad? In this film, humans constantly shit all over orcs (metaphorically). It’s weird to watch a person of color act racist. Shouldn’t he be more compassionate? Maybe the orcs were the slaves instead? 

Contemporary race/class structures among humans do still seem to exist.

For example, there is a Latinx gang we meet. They are a slapdash collection of uncomfortable-to-watch Chicano tropes. It’s fairly clear that, at the very least, these particular people are in a position to choose this unsavory life. So humans still have some sort of disparity within them.

But the orcs are still the worst.

While I was watching the movie, I was like “how the fuck is racism still a thing in this universe?” Then remembered that, in the real world, humans are shitty to other humans. So there’s that.

People are racist, maaaaaaan.

Was this written by a committee of 13-year-olds? The two legs that the plot stands on are: 1) Racism Is Bad; and 2) Violence Is Fun. The plot is so simple that it feels like a few young teens on Adderall came up with it.

“I want a bunch of shit to blow the fuck up,” Mike said.

“I think there should be magic,” Joe said. “Like, sexy, backflipping elves.”

“But, like, an underlying message, maybe about racism being bad?” Ella said.

“Can Will Smith do a rap?” Joe said.

“I don’t think he does that any more,” Mike said. “Don’t worry. We’ll include a gratuitous strip club scene. Tits.”

“And one of the cops is a centaur,” Ella said.

What now? Despite being torn asunder by critics, Netflix has ordered a sequel.

We can only hope the cop centaur gets a bigger role.

5 Favorite Books I Read in 2017

2017 wasn’t the year of the novel. Though I read many, I didn’t find any that spoke deeply to my heart. Instead, it was a year dominated by essays and short stories by women. If those genres are on your TBR list, here are my picks:

2 short story collections: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, and At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson.

Both of these stories feature otherworldly magical realism, unsettling elements, and lush prose. They’re stories you can chomp on and swallow whole.

2 essay collections: Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran, and Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style by Cintra Wilson.

Both talk about larger societal issues — capitalism, feminism, self-expression — via the lenses of pop culture and fashion, respectively. Both authors have compelling, personable styles.

Nonfiction: The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton.

This is a great beginner’s introduction to how humans interact with their architecture. What it means, how it feels, why people construct buildings the way people do. It definitely gives me a leg up on understanding the basics (the very basics) of architectural types and theory.

The books I’m looking forward to in 2018 are here. Fingers crossed for another great year of reading!

5 Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2018

2017 was a shitshow; but I firmly believe that 2018 is going to be My Year.

I don’t have any compelling reasons to believe this, but I do have a TBR (to-be-read) list, which is close enough.

Florida by Lauren Groff (June 5, 2018)
Groff has an electric writing style, and she turns her attention in this story collection to Florida. I loved Monsters of Templeton and Delicate Edible Birds. I hope this book is somewhere between that and Swamplandia!, another book set in Florida that I adored.

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (January 23, 2018)
An alternative history novel that integrates the Radium Girls and the death of Topsy the elephant at the hands of Edison? I’ll meet you there.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (January 9, 2018)
Four siblings meet a psychic that tells them the exact dates of their deaths. How does this influence their lives? Will they, in fact, die on those dates? The pre-reviews say this is a page-turner.

The Infinite Future by Tom Wirkus (January 16, 2018)
This story’s about an obsessive librarian, a down-at-heel author, and a disgraced historian who are trying to hunt down an elusive author and his final work. Apparently the second half of the book is the elusive work itself, which entwines with the main plot in clever ways.

The Sea Beast Takes A Lover: Stories by Michael Andreasen (February 27, 2018)
The title was enough for me. If you somehow require more, note that the stories allegedly include “mermaids, prophetic dancing bears, exploding children, and distraught time travelers.”

What’re you interested in reading in 2018?

5 Types of Horror Villains That Don’t Disappoint

The undead are notoriously difficult to manage. It’s why they’re such tempting subjects to explore creatively.

There are tons of horror movies — many depicting creatures from other worlds, but most focusing on our own dead, back to harm us.

The sad thing about all these movies is that most of them are fucking terrible.

Continue reading 5 Types of Horror Villains That Don’t Disappoint

5 (Non-Spoiler) Thoughts I Had While Watching Split

I don’t want to post any spoilers, but I am happy to announce that M Night Shyamalan has finally released a film that isn’t crap.

Which is awesome, because I feel like Shyamalan has so many great ideas… that never quite pan out in real-movie plot situations. I want Shymalan to succeed. He just… usually doesn’t for me.

Split stars James McAvoy (Professor X in the X-Men prequels) as a man with multiple personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls. Can they escape?

As I was watching this movie, I had the following 5 (non-spoiler) thoughts:

1. Apparently there’s nothing that can keep me from crushing on James McAvoy.

His character’s personalities include a pederast with OCD, a 9-year-old-boy, a gay fashion designer, and a very prim woman (above).

As each horror the character committed unfolded — and he’s definitely the antagonist — I thought “is this the final straw?”

It was never the final straw. The final straw may not exist.

2. Is Split Personality Disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder) really a thing?

I couldn’t remember. Turns out no one’s 100% sure, and it’s, for the most part, not taken very seriously. This article does a nice job of talking about it. [Above graphic by Diana Dihaze.]

3. Teenage girls are the worst.

The protagonist (foreground) spends time locked in a room with two girls from her class (background). Their stupidity is profoundly well-written. They have this chipper “we can fix it!” gung-ho attitude toward their abduction that feels like an Oprah episode. Don’t worry: the main character tells them to stuff a sock in it.

4. Was The Happening really a thing?

It’s a movie about plants emitting a deadly toxin — then abruptly stopping for no reason.

How could the same writer/director make such varying films?

5. What’s the consensus on Shyamalan now? Am I going to get judged for liking this movie?

Split was interesting, surprising, and oddly funny. Definitely my favorite of his movies since 6th Sense — which was almost 2 decades ago.

Is he setting me up for more disappointment, or has he gotten his groove back?

Did any of you see the movie, Internet?