Television is past its golden age, but that doesn’t mean it won’t circle back again.
As the internet squeals over Game of Thrones and the end of Mad Men, going wild on Thursday nights for Scandal and quivering with delight over upfronts, many are carrying on about how U.S. television is in a ‘golden age.’ I’m not as convinced, however—there’s a great deal to suggest, in fact, that we’ve passed our golden age and moved on to a dubious and somewhat sad decline, listlessly flopping along the airwaves while we wait for a revival.
Boy Meets Girl is a a landmark moment for television in general and UK television in particular.
The words ‘transgender character’ and ‘comedy’ in the same sentence are enough to make most trans people twitch. Comedies typically use transgender characters as the butts of jokes and ‘hilarious’ comments about their gender identity and role in the world, echoing the transphobia of the real world and contributing to the further dehumanisation of trans people&emdash;especially trans women. To add insult to injury, such roles are typically played by cis actors, underscoring social attitudes about gender identity by illustrating that film and TV producers can’t even be bothered to think of trans people as human beings with distinct identities; the trans community is evidently filled with people dressing up and pretending to be people they’re not.
Through their patient, cinema vérité style, the directors give us a glimpse into a world where aloha – “love, honor and respect for all” – is not just a catchy word or an abstract idea, but truly a way of life.
Mark your calendars and set your DVRs. If orange is the new black, then Hawaii is the new cool state. Premiering Monday, May 4th on PBS’s Independent Lens is Kumu Hina, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson’s uplifting portrait of gender and cultural empowerment in the Pacific. This enthralling documentary follows titular subject Kumu (“Teacher”) Hina Wong-Kalu, a married woman and dedicated cultural mentor at a native Hawaiian school who also happens to be māhū – or what the west would call a transgender person. As we watch Hina ready her all-male hula troop (which includes one kickass sixth-grader, born female but an out-and-proud māhū) for their year-end performance, and struggle in her relationship with a heterosexual, cisgender Tongan man, what emerges is something extraordinary. Through their patient, cinema vérité style, Hamer and Wilson give us a glimpse into a world where aloha – “love, honor and respect for all” – is not just a catchy word or an abstract idea, but truly a way of life.
By writing from the view of the soul of the animal, Dovey delivers a cumulatively powerful statement on both animals and humans.
Australia’s newest literary prize, the Stella Award (for writing by women) was bestowed on debut novelist Emily Bitto less than a month ago, for her novel about two children growing up as part of a diffuse artists’ colony, The Strays. I hear tell that The Strays is a very good book; it’s certainly on my never-diminishing to-be-read list. Thus far, though, it’s another of the works longlisted from the prize that has most captivated my attention: Ceridwen Dovey’s intriguing, sometimes demanding, but very rewarding Only the Animals.
“Age of Ultron” is a mythical creation, mutated from the thousands of Marvel comic books, cartoons and films that interlock and overwrite one another.
During the end credits of “Avengers Age of Ultron” the camera swoops majestically around a marble statue of our heroes battling against Ultron and his countless facets. Heroic music rises and swells as the all-star cast names grace the screen like the warrior poets of legend. The Avengers then (and all superheroes by proxy) are our consumer, downloadable friendly Greek heroes, flawed but not in the kill your father, sleep with your mother and gauge your own eyes out with pins kinda flawed. Just tainted enough to make parents buy their kids duvet covers whilst keeping the geeks just the right side of happy that their favourite comic book characters haven’t been totally fucked up and ruined.
I for one won’t miss Shepherd and his smarm.
Shonda Rhimes has been breaking hearts on US television for over a decade, and the talented showrunner, writer, producer, and director doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon. Last week marked what may have been her most epic, brutal, and ruthless move yet when she killed off Doctor Derek Shepherd, AKA “McDreamy,” Ellen Pompeo’s co-star on Grey’s Anatomy. The show may be Rhimes’ flagship and the production that turned her first into a rising star and then into a key member of the Hollywood establishment, making history in an industry that’s difficult for women of colour to crack, but she wasn’t afraid to shake things up. The decision to kill off a main character over howls of protest from fans was a bold one, but also a fitting one for a production that was slowly starting to stale.
(T)ERROR is an eye-opening look at one place where our war on terror, taxpayer dollars are going.
Executive produced by Eugene Jarecki (“The House I Live In,” “Why We Fight”), and winner of the 2015 Sundance Special Jury Prize for Break Out First Feature, co-directors Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s (T)ERROR is an eye-opening look at one place where our war on terror, taxpayer dollars are going – namely to guys like the doc’s main subject Saeed “Shariff” Torres, a sixtysomething FBI informant and onetime Black Panther. Though the flick has the distinction of being “the first documentary to place filmmakers on the ground during an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation,” what’s most notable about (T)ERROR is not the dubious tactics Shariff uses to befriend an (American) Taliban-loving target. No, it’s the way the Bureau itself has created a sinister system, one in which down on their luck dudes like Shariff are lured then entrapped in a disturbing economic cycle, building case after case just to get to the next payday.
The procedural doesn’t have to be inherently dull, but it often is.
As US television moves towards May sweeps, the inevitable discussion over bubble shows is beginning to percolate through gossip sites and trade magazines. Everyone wants to know which shows are in, which ones are out, and which are poised to go either way—and some networks seem to enjoy dangling it over our heads for as long as possible while they wait for ratings, advertisers, and focus groups to weigh in.
This is another America where The Motor City hovers somewhere between Hurricane Katrina and the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
The “Lost River” of the title of Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut is actually a submerged series of towns deliberately drowned to make a reservoir and pump new life into Detroit’s doppelganger city sometime back in the 50s or 60s. Locals talk in hushed tones about an evil spell cast when the last town faced the manmade deluge. Only when something from the town is returned to the surface will the curse be broken.
Where is Game of Thrones going? Can we expect the show to be able to keep up with the incredible tangle that it has backed itself into?
Conspiracies wrapped in conspiracies, wrapped in feather comforter investments, because winter is coming—and it may be too big to fail. Game of Thrones slammed back onto US televisions this week in a record ratings opener for the programme, which is opening its fifth season. That’s in part because HBO is providing such a myriad of viewing options that it’s suddenly become extremely easy to catch an episode on a television, any other device, or at any time; the network is finally stepping up to the savvy set and offering a subscription for cord-cutters, and it was a smart move.
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