Saturday, May 28, 2016

KP EBE - Can we talk about the fact that this is a comedy? (Theme Post)

Table of Contents:
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Ok, so, since the last time I did a Kim Possible Episode by Episode post I fell down and simultaneously sprained my ankle and gave myself a concussion, spent a month avoiding extended screen time (as would be required to do more Kim Possible decon), came back with a notebook full of stuff, including random tangents, that I still haven't managed to get onto Stealing Commas, graduated from university, and most recently watched Captain America: Civil War and realized that there is so much to talk about that I'm going to need an entire series of posts to deal with it.

So, it's been a while.  And right now the temperature is at, "OH MY FUCKING GOD!  It's not even summer yet.  What the hell is this!?  Is this Hell?"  (Note that if I had a semicolon-exclamation point I would totally have used it to couple the first two sentences.)

Oh, also, primary computer is in for repairs.  Again.  Because it was never really fully fixed after the last time (but I was so happy to have it back I didn't make a fuss) and then it got much, much worse.

So, it's been a while and I'm not going to do a decon of the next section of Attack of the Killer BeBes right not.  There is, however, something that's been kicking around in my mind.

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Something that I haven't talked about before is how big of a deal Kim Possible was.  I'm not talking about the impressive ratings or the cross cultural appeal or the fanatically loyal fanbase.  No, I mean how big of a deal it was for (The) Disney Channel.

The Disney Channel started in 1983.  Disney Television Animation Started in 1984 and their first animated TV series hit the airwaves the next year.  You'd think that there'd be some kind of connection there but the fact of the matter is that The Disney Channel didn't have an animated original series until 2001 (by which point it had been rebranded as just Disney Channel without the "The") and that wasn't made by Disney Television Animation.  In fact it wasn't even for Disney.  It was created for Nickelodeon (owned by Disney arch-rival Viacom) but Nick passed on it and Disney Channel picked it up.

Kim Possible, which hit the airwaves the following year (2002), was the second Disney Channel animated original series but the first Disney Channel animated original series produced in-house by Disney Television Animation.

It was, thus, in many ways their flagship animated series.  Kim Possible was what Disney made by itself for itself and marked the dawn of fully-Disney Disney Channel animated original series.

Disney asked for an animated original series sometime around the changing from 19XX to 2000.  The pitch series bible for Kim Possible was done in the year 2000 (which is the first firm date we have) and while changes were made between then and the actual production of the show, the core of the idea remained unchanged.

Kim Possible was thus the flagship animated show on the flagship Disney TV channel and can be therefore construed as the message, insofar as a there is one, that Disney TV was pushing.

That matters.  I don't want to understate the importance of it, but I don't want to overstate it either.  So here's a caveat:

It's not what Disney as a whole was pushing because Disney Channels Worldwide (what Disney Channel is the flagship of) is a subsidiary of Disney–ABC Television Group, which is a subsidiary of Disney Media Networks, which is a division of The Walt Disney Company,  So it's a part of a part of a part of the whole.

Kim Possible was not a major thing for the vast and eldritch entity that is the Disney as a whole.  Not even close.  It was a major deal for Disney animated TV.

It is, in in broad overview, a show where a girl does awesome things and the audience laughs.

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How Kim Possible came about is usually told in an extremely context-less fashion.

Generally something like this:
In an elevator one creator said something like, "Kim Possible: She can do anything," and the other responded with, "Her sidekick is Ron Stoppable: he can't do anything."  The entire show was quickly figured out from that basis, down to the point that it would end with Kim and Ron getting together as a romantic couple. 
The fact that both of the creators are both fathers of daughters played a huge role in the development because they wanted a role model for their daughters.
This leads to various questions like, "Do they usually say character names and descriptions out of the blue in elevators?  At what point, and why, did they decide it would be a comedy?  Why did they decide that?  What kind of a role model did they want for their daughters?  What made them decide Kim and Ron should be cartoon protagonists instead of, say, video game characters?"

I can't answer all of these questions, but I found an interview that had a lot of the answers I wanted in it and it gives us some context.

Before I get to that, though, Schooly and McCorkle are people who do animated series, so that's the answer to why cartoon protagonists.  Onto the interview:

The creators are Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle.  the interview was with McCorkle, so the words are his.  If it becomes necessary to quote the interviewer I'll put that in bold
We got the request that the people at Disney Channel were looking for a show that showed ordinary kids in extraordinary circumstances. Bob and I were on our way back from lunch and I just turned to him and said: “Kim Possible: she can do anything.” And then Bob said: “Ron Stoppable, he can’t.” And then we came up with almost the entire show.
So important things to take from this in no particular order:
  • They knew that Disney was looking for a show and the random elevator outburst was a result of them trying to come up with such a show.
  • What Disney was looking for was "ordinary kids in extraordinary circumstances"; no suggestion of comedy there.  In fact, most things that fit that description are probably straight drama.
  • They did indeed start with the names and omni-abilities/lack of ability.
The names suggest a show that doesn't take itself too seriously, though they don't demand it be comedy. Ron's character description makes him seem to be the the plucky comic relief (plucky because he'd give up otherwise, comic relief because he still doesn't succeed) but again doesn't suggest the entire show would be comedy.  (In fact, comic relief characters tend to appear in otherwise serious works, hence the "relief" part of "comic relief".)

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I'm going to take a moment out here to preemptively shoot down any claims that animated series implies comedy in itself.

Before Disney Television Animation made Kim Possible for Disney Channel they made many and varied other TV series and while many of them could serve as examples the one I want to call to your attention right now is Gargoyles.

Gargoyles was definitely not a comedy (except possibly in the "everything that isn't a tragedy") sense of the world and featured a strong female lead.  The main human character was Elisa Maza, an NYPD officer.

The show was kind of low on female characters, and Elisa herself was an ordinary human in a world of superhuman beings, gods, conspiracies, and David Trope-Namer Xanthos, but the show still demonstrate that you could have a badass person of color female lead in a serious animated series with plenty of action.

Elisa Maza was allowed to be a female action hero without us having to laugh.  Eliza Maza was allowed to be the daughter of a native father and an African American of Nigerian decent without being pushed out of the spotlight in favor of some white girl.

So five years after Eliza Maza we get Kim Possible.  Kim is unconstrained by the laws of physics and so can kick butt single handed in a way Eliza never could, but when Kim's doing it we're supposed to be laughing. (Plus she's an upper middle class white girl.)

I want us to think about that.

Disney Channel having their flagship animated series be about a female action hero who, while midriff baring, isn't sexualized seems like a pretty good thing, and is,  but it's still comedy.

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One more thing before we get the creator's answer to my question of, "Why comedy?"

Beyond the "We came up with the entire show in two sentences in an elevator" narrative the other big thing that gets brought up about the creation of Kim Possible is that both Schooley and McCorkle are fathers of daughters.  They made the show with their daughters in mind.

Here's McCorkle on that aspect of things:
And also because we’re both fathers with daughters and when we were growing up we had heroes – James Bond or Captain Kirk or the like. We had these guys who were larger-than life characters, and when you were playing, you were pretending you were them. 
So we thought, why shouldn’t our daughters have the same thing, a character that they can pretend to be?
So Disney Channel was looking for a show with ordinary kids in extraordinary circumstances, McCorkle and Schooley decided that the leads would be a hyper-competent girl (what happened to ordinary?) and an incompetent boy, and they want the show to provide a female character for their daughters that will be like James Bond and Captain Kirk were for them.

We still haven't gotten to the question of, "Why comedy?" because, even considering The Trouble with Tribbles and some of the more absurdest moments of Bond, Captain Kirk and James Bond are not comedic heroes.

So what happened?

Same interview:
What role does humour play in this series?
It’s primarily a comedy series and it’s definitely parodying a lot of the conventions of the James Bond movies and things like that.
Ok... so your whole, "Our daughters should have a hero like James Bond was to us," thing made you make something that was primarily comedy and a parody of James Bond.

Because having a female Bond parody will totally be as good as having a female Bond.

Do explain, dusty old interview transcript that cannot hear my prompting.
We found that boys tend to really like action shows, just action, but girls want to see characters and a little more relationships. And the one thing we found what unites boys and girls is, everybody likes to laugh, so we felt that if we could do a show that had some adventure, some relationships and humour throughout, then we would appeal to a wider audience and more kids would like it. And so far we’re good!
I question how much of that is just an issue of what's out there.  If girls want a show with girls/women (not just a token girl/woman) featured prominently in it then it's probably going to be about relationships.  If boys want a show with boys/men, they're probably going to land on action.

If one controls for the difference in offerings, then I have a feeling that the results of any survey are going to be: The data is so fucked up that we can't pull any coherent results from it.  Please --for the love of God-- make more relationship shows heavily featuring males and action shows heavily featuring females so that we can have non-fucked up data on which to base our conclusions.  Because sometimes the underlying data is so skewed that you can't control for confounding variables without making more data-points yourself.  (Which is what experiments are all about.)

But back to the reasoning, not the uncited findings upon which said reasoning is based.  It seems to go something like this:

We want to make a female action hero for our daughters, but that'll only attract boys and not girls, so we'll have to add in relationships, but that might turn off boys just as girls might be turned off by the action, and so we're going to make comedy the keystone on which everything is based.

Does the reasoning in the previous poly-compound sentence make sense to you?  Because it seems fucked all the hell up to me.

Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable could have done anything.  That's kind of the point.  Kim can do anything.  She didn't need to put that omni-ability to use saving the world from Bond-like villains.

The reason that she goes up against Bond-like villains is that McCorkle and Schooley wanted their daughters to have a Bond-like character whom they could pretend to be without pretending they'd switched genders.  But rather than just make the show provide the kind of female character they thought was lacking in media, they then went back to the same reasoning that has prevented such characters from being made in the past (girls don't like action) and tried to slip it through the gendered preconceptions by covering it in comedy.

There is a very serious problem here.  They wanted to give girls an action hero but were afraid they'd turn girls off if they gave them an action hero and as a result they decided to make it a comedy because everyone, even girls watching an action hero show, likes to laugh.

Ruminate.

They wanted an action-hero-girl for their daughters, but thought that the only way to do an action-hero-girl was in comedy.  They didn't think action-hero-girl would work if it was played straight.

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So we've gone through the how and the why and a large tangent into, "Hey, there was an acton-hero-woman, if on a lower less superhuman scale, made by the same company years earlier," and reached the thing we started with: Kim Possible is a comedy.

Kim may dodge energy rays and kick butt, but she's doing it in the context of:

Drakken: Did you get it?
Shego: I got it.  Don't know why you'd want it,~ but I got it.
Drakken: My plan will reveal itself in due course, Shego.
Drakken: *to himself* Who wants to build a robot tick. I do! I do!
Shego: Uh,... Doctor Drakken, you know you said that out loud, don't you?
Drakken: Blast!

And while I didn't quote it in the decon of that episode, the plot was to get back at the people who laughed at him in gym class.

Or she's fighting inside a building that is not cheese covered but actually made of cheese.  Or:


Monkey Fist: So, now you know my secret.
*Monkey Fists posture and expression change*
Monkey Fist: Which you will take to your graves.
Ron: How can you be sure?  I mean a lot can happen in the next sixty or seventy years.
*Monkey Fist approaches Ron and grunts*
Ron: Oh.  Gotcha.

Or she's trying to stop someone who is going to shut down the internet using the barcode on an expired can of Vienna sausages unless everyone on earth gives him one dollar.

Or whatever the plot of the week is, because it's never going to be all that serious.  And if her villains are laughable then what does it say about her that she has to give her all to beat them?

Yeah, Kim can kick ass and take names, some of the time, but this is all in a comedy.

And I really wish people would realize that when ancient audiences we're laughing at the Lysistrata they were a bunch of misogynistic jerks who were laughing at the idea that women could do something intelligent and meaningful as much as they were laughing about the making fun of foreign accents and the actors running around with giant erect phalluses strapped onto them.

Comedy can be subversive, but it can also just be laughable.

If the only way that we can get a show about a female action hero is to have it be comedy, that says something about us.  It says something about the culture, the creators, the consumers, and so much more.

Since I'm in touch with the fan fiction community I'd like to point out that in most of the fan fic ... it's not comedy.  In the fan fiction Kim is an action hero full stop.  A world saver, no subverting details.  Kim is serious business, not someone whose escapades we laugh at.

That seems to be what people take out of the show, and that's good, but that's not what's in the show because the show is comedy.

In the show Kim doesn't face peril that makes us worry, she faces absurd that makes us laugh.  She doesn't face scary villains, she faces laughable goofs.

The show itself seems to be saying, "A female action hero?  That's funny."

And I think we really need to bear that in mind.

Which is not to say that I dislike the humor.  In fact, some of it is very much in my style leading to that time a joke from the original was mistaken for my own.

Or consider this:

Kim: Wade, can you hack into the Global Justice spy satellites?
Wade: In my sleep.
Kim: Then take a nap and scan for Drakken.

That's so very much me that I've been making variations on that joke since I was a small child.  The one I remember most, which is kind of far afield, was bowling.  I'd brag that I could make this difficult split in my sleep.  When I failed I'd say, "Unfortunately, I'm awake."  Not exactly the height of humor, but I was a kid and it's the sort of joke I made.

Then Kim Possible does it years later.

So, to an extent, I'm in tune with the humor of the show and that's part of what I like about it.  But.  But, but, but... we have to remember that the humor wasn't something that wasn't taking place in the larger context of an action series, the humor was the core.  This was a comedy, and Kim saving the world was something that was funny.

It didn't have to be.  It was.

I wanted to take some time to make note of that and then drive the point home with excessive force.

Girl saves the world.  We laugh.

If this were just one in a universe of "Girl saves the world" shows, many of which played it straight, then there would be no problem.  But it was made because people recognized a lack of such shows and in that context ... we laugh.

For all that we can talk about the show being empowering (and there were and are plenty of girls who felt empowered) it's a comedy.  Yes, we get our female hero, but we're not supposed to take her seriously and when she saves the day we're supposed to laugh instead of cheer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Captain America: People who value Truth, Justice, and Freedom vs. People who value Slavery, Murder, and the Nuremberg defense

I was going to have one post.  That was impossible.  There is too much.

This is part one of what will be a series of posts on the movie Captain America: Civil War; if you want a glimpse of things to come, please do click over to this post which gives just that in a disorganized fashion, but numbered so that it has an appearance of organization.

Spoilers for Captain America: Civil War abound.

This post is about the lack of moral balance between the two sides.

I was going to try to do a brief "what should have been here instead" but, no, there is too much.  We'll save that for another post.  Here's the background for you:

- - -

Tony making Ultron pretty well screwed over Sokovia in the previous Avengers movie and a bit of collateral damage at the beginning of this movie* led to the Sokovia Accords, henceforth referred to as "the Accords", which said, basically, that superheroes need to either sign on saying that they'll take orders from a committee put together by a coalition of 117 countries or, if they don't sign on, never help anyone again without becoming an outlaw.

* Wanda tried to throw a suicide bomber out of range, as someone who lacks superpowers might try to throw a live grenade away from a crowd, but while she saved the people that would have been killed (ordinary Nigerians on a crowded street in Lagos) it just ended up killing different people (affluent foreigners in a building.)

Tony, after having an unplanned-on-his-part meeting that really, really, really looks like it was staged with the mother of someone who died in Sokovia wants to drown his guilt by having the Avengers sign onto the accords (which wouldn't really affect him because he's stopped doing field work.)

Steve is worried about two things.  1 They could be ordered to do something that shouldn't be done.  (See the previous Captain America movie and "Project Insight".)  2 They could be ordered not to do something they should (if they hadn't gotten clearance to go into Sokovia at the end of Age of Ultron then the human race, and a lot of other speices, would be extinct.)

Then, when the accords are being signed and the Avengers are already split over which side to be on, someone blows up the summit.  Bucky was framed, poorly, and everyone decided to run with that.  The Black Panther's father was killed.

- - -

Background over, the two sides take shape:

We have Tony's pro-Accords anti-Bucky side and Steve's side.  Lets talk about who is on which side, why if applicable, and what they do in the movie.

Tony's Side

Tony Stark / Iron Man

First off, Tony returns to field work so he can lead this side and beat up his so-called friends.

This marks, at least, the second time that Tony has quit retirement.

First off, Tony's reason for being on this side is, "I can't be trusted without someone to tell me when I'm wrong therefore no one can be trusted, and we need a law outlawing me doing the things I'm accustomed to doing so that I won't do them and anyone who disagrees with me is totally (morally) wrong."

This comes with a side helping of, "I'm always right, but today I'm super right because I've just realized that I was wrong yesterday so that means I'm ever righter than I was then, and back then I was completely convinced I was right."

There are shades, of "We need a law against X because I don't want to do it but lack the self control to stop myself without there being a law," and also, "My liberal guilt is more important than other people."

And that's before he starts doing bad things.

The first thing he does is determine that Wanda can no longer be considered a house guest and reclassifies her as a slave.  She's not allowed to leave the premises unless it's to do work for him.  He doesn't tell her this and so she gets the illusion of being free until she tries to go to the store to buy spices because the slave slop wasn't the best.

When Tony finally gets around to mentioning this to anyone other than the one enforcing Wanda's captivity, that person is rightfully outraged.  Tony, on the other hand, thinks that ...

Hang on, I have to look up a quotation written by a horrible person.

Tony thinks that Wanda is a young spoilt girl whining about being kept in luxury by an older man who's concerned with her safety and the safety of others.  Well, he would if he cared enough to realize that she was opposed to her captivity.  He actually hasn't paid attention and just assumes that the luxury will make the lack of freedom palatable.

There's a reason that in my summation/preview post I directly referenced Fury Road.  No, Wanda isn't being held as a sex slave, but the thing is ... the movie wasn't specifically anti-sex-slavery, it was anti-slavery in general which made it anti-sex-slavery by default because the slaves who discussed their slavery the most happened to be sex slaves.

I kind of wish that I'd flipped it though, had Wanda be against it without commentary and Clint be the one to add in "I've seen Fury Road."  Oh well, what's posted is posted.

That's enough to make Tony horrible, right?  We don't need anything more, right?  There's no way he would do more terrible things, right?

No.

Tony recruits a child soldier (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) by saying, basically, "I know what you've been doing and I'll out you to your [closest thing you have to a mother] if you don't do it with me."

That sounds creepy, and the fact that Tony spends much of this sequence as someone who has a creepy interest in Aunt May as a sexual object means there's not anything we could do to make it worse, is there?

Well, yes.  In case the threat of outting weren't ringing alarm bells in the audience's minds, the scene repeatedly uses the symbolism of Tony pulling Peter's Spider-Man suit out of the closet and Peter shoving it back into the closet.

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Vision / doesn't have another name

His involvement consists almost entirely of keeping Wanda captive on Tony's orders.  Tony has ordered, and Vision doesn't disagree, that Wanda should now only be allowed out when her former colleague/current captor wishes it.  For the safety of others.

She's dangerous, that's why she must be kept in captivity.

This is the guy who can lift the hammer of Thor and he doesn't see a problem with keeping an innocent person captive.  Mind you, Marvel Odin is the one who put the enchantment on it so it's presumably his version of "Worthy" and Marvel Odin is pretty fucked up.

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James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine

Rhody is barely in this movie because having three black superheroes is way too much in a movie with eight white ones and one red one.  (The red one is played by a white guy, obviously.)

Insofar as he is in the movie he takes a "just following orders" approach.

Rhodes is used to being in a command structure where he's given orders, the orders are obeyed, and if he fucks up he gets court martialed.  He knows the system doesn't work because he spent Iron Man III being given bad orders, going around the world, kicking in or blowing up doors, and then saying, "Oops, sorry, I was told that there were terrorists here, I'll just be going now.  Sorry if I caused anyone to have a heart attack."  But that's not important.  He's used to the system, he's comfortable in the system, and unlike Cap and crew he wasn't there when the system tried to implement a one world surveillance and assassination state.

Which is to say, Rhodes has seen the system be incompetent, but he's not really up to date on the fact that it's actively evil and will order you to bring about the mass murder of innocent people if given half a chance.

He also wasn't in on the whole keeping Wanda captive thing (that was a Tony and Vision deal.)

He's got to be the moral center of the team because he actually believes in the oversight that this fight is nominally about and he's not doing anything evil on the side.  The trouble is, as noted, he's barely in the movie.

Also his reasoning, in as much as it can be worked out from his not-very-big role really is that Rhodes is just following orders.  That's why he's on the side he's on.

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Natasha Romanov / The Black Widow

From a narrative perspective instead of a moral one, the worst of the lot is Natasha.  She's on the wrong side.  I don't mean the morally wrong side here, but that too, I mean that she should, in character and for Watsonian reasons, be on the other side.  Instead she seems to be on the "We know these people are villains, right?  Please tell me we can all agree that they're not heroes anymore" side simply because each side needed a token woman.

She seriously comes out and says that she's completely against the whole thing and is only doing it to try to keep the team together.  Given that the team broke up before things came to blows, she no longer had reason to do what she found repugnant, and yet that's what she did until the fighting was over and all that remained was the question, "Do I really want to let the guy in front of me murder a probably-innocent man in front of the friend I and probably-innocent man share when doing so may well end the world?"

So Natasha is on Tony's side because we needed a token woman (and one woman per side because otherwise they might talk to each other and we can't fucking have that, now can we?)

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T'Challa / The Black Panther

T'Challa spends much of the movie with his judgement clouded.  His father was murdered in front of him in spectacular fashion and I don't think we can blame him for not thinking completely rationally after that happened.

Also, this is very much his origin story.  He starts off so consumed by the need for vengeance that he isn't even paying attention to whether or not he's trying to murder the person who actually killed his father.  By the end he'll confront the person who really did kill his father, have the person completely at his mercy, and indeed not have to do anything at all in order for the person to die, and decide that Justice is better than vengeance, save the person (from himself) and hand him over to the legal system.

This is a character with an arc.

But while he's on Team Tony he's still in need of growth, his position on the accords is, "I think they should apply to other people, but I'm fucking invading Romania because I've got a score to settle, damn it," and he's out for blood.

While he's on Team Tony, in other words, his primary motivation is the desire to commit (a retribution) murder, and he's in a state of mind where the accords, which he would normally support, can go fuck themselves.

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Peter Parker / Spider-Man

Peter is there because he'll be outed and/or doxxed (depending on how you look at it) and thus won't be able to keep things in the closet anymore unless he obeys Tony's whims.  That said, he shows a notable lack of curiosity.  He never really tries to be sure that he's fighting for the right side, in fact it's possible to read his character as actively trying to avoid finding out.

Tony owns him.  Tony also has a carrot and a stick.  In addition to the blackmail, Tony is also bribing Peter.  Peter, in spite of living in an immense apartment, is so poor he's reduced to dumpster diving for basic electronics and his suit is ... lackluster at best.  Tony offers money, an amazing suit, and such.

Peter likely doesn't want to know if he's fighting on the wrong side because then what Tony provides is ill gotten gains and he has to choose between his morals and being outed.

To kind of drive this home, Peter gives a speech that might as well have come out of Steve's mouth because their ideals and beliefs seem to be point for point identical.

From a Doyalist perspective people expect Spider Man to be on Tony's side because he took off his mask and revealed his secret identity in support of that side in the comics.  From a Watsonian perspective, though, he's there because he's being blackmailed and he really doesn't seem to want to know who is right and who is wrong.

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Steve's Side

Steve Rodgers / Captain America

With the Accords Steve is afraid of two things.  One is that they can be ordered to stay out of places they should be in.  If it weren't for the fact that Marvel doesn't have the movie rights to The Fantastic Four I would very much expect Doctor Doom and Latveria to come up.  Dr. D is never going to authorize the Avengers coming into Latveria to stop him, but Steve has repeatedly met schemes where you have to go to them because if you wait for them to come to you you'll be dead, or worse.

The first two Captain America movies involved things that could not be stopped without going to the source.  In the last Avengers movie Ultron was going to wipe out the human race without ever stepping foot outside of Sokovia.

If Steve can be ordered not to go places then . . .
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
And yes, that's totally an American imperialist view to take.  In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though, it's very true.

You can't wait for the Red Skull to take off on in his plane and enter your airspace.  You can't wait for the Insight helicarriers to leave DC, and as for Ultron: he was going to end the human race without ever leaving the spot where he'd set up shop.

His other fear is that they could be ordered to do things that are morally wrong.  Steve may embody American imperialism, but he's also afraid of it.

He worries that the Avengers won't be allowed to intervene in Rwanda in 1994 but they will be ordered to in Chile in 1973.

Not that he would necessarily get those references, but he's never been naive about the people at the top.  When he found out that Shield was making weapons of mass destruction, lying, and generally destabilizing everything his response was, "Things haven't changed a bit."

When he finds out that the people given orders can't be trusted he isn't surprised, he's weary, a tad snarky, and a lot pissed off.  But not surprised.

In World War II he worked with a rag tag group of people pulled from every ethnic background based, largely, on randomly bumping into Hydra.  The example I've used before is that he may have met members of the 442nd Infantry Regiment and learned from them what life was like back in the US for Japanese Americans.

He definitely worked with black soldiers.  He probably worked with gay soldiers.  He may be Captain America but he' got cause to not really trust America to get things right.

As for some sort of council overseen by members of various nations . . . that was Shield.  That was Project Insight the grand, "We'll be able to assassinate people millions at a time," project.

Steve has great faith in the goodness to be found in individual human beings but the institutions he's seen have all turned out to be rotten and he's not ready to give the keys to another one.

Mind you all of this goes up in a ball of fire because Bucky is framed, badly for terrorism resulting in mass murder.

At that point the moral positions become more along the lines of:

You gave a shoot on sight order based on the flimsiest evidence in the history of law enforcement!?

Why are you trying so hard to kill an innocent man?

What the fuck do you mean he's not going to get a lawyer?

Do human rights mean nothing to you people?

You know, I was ready to surrender and give in to your side until I found out that you were holding Wanda captive.

The entire world is in danger and you're still hung up on being pissed off that you didn't get to kill an innocent man?

Fuck it.  I'm solving this myself and preventing your scapegoat-murder at the same damned time.  Who's with me?

-

Sam Wilson / Falcon

Sam's initially somewhat leery of the accords but he didn't kick into high gear until Bucky was badly framed at which point he was very much on the same page as Steve:

Killing an innocent person isn't really going to solve anything.

What the fuck no lawyer?

Stop shooting at me assholes.

We're trying to save the world, you're trying to do horrible things to an innocent person; my conscience is pretty damned clear.

-

Wanda Maximov / Scarlet Witch

I hadn't made up my mind on the accords and then suddenly I was a prisoner who couldn't even get paprika.  It may not be the best foundation on which to take a moral stand on the issue of whether or not to murder some guy 'never met named "Bucky", but I'm totally siding with the non-murderers who set me free over the would-be-murderers who wanted to keep me captive.

-

Clint Barton / Hawkeye

The other side was holding Wanda in captivity.  That was pretty much all I needed to know.

-

Scott Lang / Ant-Man

Is there any coffee? What day is it?

-

Random brain-stopped-working-and-I-need-to-finish-this summation:

Not everyone on Steve's side has positions that were thought out in fullness.  Tony using Vision to hold Wanda captive, for example, doesn't mean that he's wrong about the accords or about Bucky.*

That said when we compare their actions and motivations to those of the Tony's crew ... it's kind of lopsided.

The movie makers even seem to recognize this because, with all the logos and ethos on Steve's side, they tried to pile the pathos on Tony's side.

-

* Though, let's be honest, no one who isn't going through origin-story-severe levels of emotional trauma is stupid enough to actually believe Bucky was guilty of the bombing.  Anyone --save those who lost loved ones and were still in brain overriding sad-mad mode-- who said they thought he did it was either lying or being willfully ignorant.

There's really no way to determine which because painting Bucky as guilty served the political agenda of everyone who was after Bucky.  Except for Natasha.  Natasha had absolutely no reason to do any of the things she did in the movie and was in the amazingly screwed up position of "token woman whose character and motivations can be ignored when we need a token."

-

Original summations of each position:

This is what I wrote before in a hurried preview version of what more or less ended up being this post:
Tony: I've come to realize that I can't be trusted not to do X, therefore there should be a law against X. All who oppose me in this endeavor are moral degenerates. If you'll excuse me I have to make sure that Vision knows Wanda is my slave, not my guest, and then I'm going to recruit a child soldier by threatening to out him to his mother-figure. This will involve me repeatedly pulling what he wants kept in the closet out of the closet so that there's no way you can miss the overtones.

Vision: I make sure Mr. Stark's slaves don't leave the property unless he allows them to. I see no moral problem with this.

Rhodey: I'm just following orders. (He's clearly the moral heart of the team since ... yeah.)

Natasha: I actually came out and said that I don't want to be on this side. The only reason I'm here is because "Team Evil" needs a token female character.

Peter: Look, I don't want to know who's right and who's wrong. I'm being blackmailed by a creepy guy who seems to want to have sex with the woman who raised me. I actually gave a speech in which I said that morally I agree with everything the other side stands for.

T'Challa: I'm here to murder someone, but don't worry, this is my pseudo-origin story so I'll learn to be a better person by the end of it and not murder the person who killed my father. My initial position on the Accords is that they should apply to others but as soon as I've got a vendetta, screw everything they say. That said, remember that I grow and change unlike the other people on this team.

While on the other side we have:
Steve: This will seriously harm our ability to do good things and YOU'RE TRYING TO KILL AN INNOCENT MAN. Also, no lawyer? What happened to due process?

Sam: I'm with Steve on this, every part of what he just said.

Wanda: I'm a human being, not an object. I saw Fury Road, damn it.

Clint: Wanda's a human being, not an object.

Scott: Is there any coffee? What day is it?

Not saying that Cap's team is composed of angels, but there's a clear right side here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tripartite words

Consider:
insofar
whatsoever
hithertofore
nonetheless
nevertheless
Triple compounds.  That awesome feature of the English language what says, "It's just "awe" plus "some", that's kind of bland, don't you think?  Can't we get another word in there somehow?" and, for a brief shining moment, remembers its Germanic roots.

Some things that you might think are triple compounds aren't.  "Notwithstanding" was never three words, for example.  The "with" was a prefix instead of a a standalone.

Regardless, these words are fun and I'd like to know all of them but don't know how one would go about looking it up so I'm just going to ask you to share the tripartite words you know.

Please, in the comments, share the tripartite words you know.

Untangling Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I have so much to say about Captain America: Civil War, but I mentioned at Amarie's that while Civil War had attempted to do two movies at once the previous movie had attempted to do "like nine".

Not really nine, more like seven.  I've talked about it in passing multiple times, the ones I can link to offhand are a comment here and a comment at Amarie's.

Anyway, I've been thinking about doing post untangling the movie for a while, in the manner of of Disentangling Jurassic World where I separated out the various plots of Jurassic World and ended up with a seven movie sequence.

As with the Jurassic World post, this isn't me saying what the film makers should have done.  My opinion on that is simple: pick one movie that you want to make --one story you want to tell-- and put your effort into doing it right.

This is instead about the theoretical exercise of separating out the tangled ball too-much-plot they tried to cram into a single movie and seeing what it would look like if each movie worth of plot were given an actual movie.

This is a table of contents, not what I'd actually call things:

* * *
1 Captain America: Agent of Shield [top]

When the movie starts we see Cap and Natasha go on a mission together where they already work as a great team in spite of being given different objectives and not being able to completely trust one another.

While the MCU might have problems with too much plot, or the wrong plot, or, "Oh my God, what the fuck is this?" it's actually very good at narrative parsimony.  Part of this is the quality of actors.  The the number emotions that Hiddleston is able to pack, with sincerity, into a couple of wordless seconds as Thor talks to him in Avengers was the subject to a youtube video that shows it in slow motion basically made the argument that every frame was packed with meaning.

While as far as I know no such videos have been made of Winter Soldier (though, in spite of knowing of no such thing, it would kind of surprise me if there aren't any) we get the same thing going on.

We also get it in choreography not on youtube but on tumblr someone went frame by frame for a scene from the initial mission in Winter Soldier in which Steve, super soldier who can pick people up and run to safety with them no problem, bodily moves Natasha out of harm's way and, while they're in motion, Natasha shoots one of the bad guys.  First off, that's the sort of thing that only superheroes can pull off.  Second, that's the kind of thing that only superheroes who work really well together can pull off.

But the mission had cause for dissension and conflict and such and we never really got to see Steve/Cap, the one who is new to being an agent of sheild, and Natasha/Black Widow, the one who's been doing this for a while, have a striaght forward fighting the good fight and stopping the bad guys mission.

This movie would be just that.

Steve is settling into his role as someone working for Shield against threats the world doesn't know exist instead of working for the military against hyper-Nazis.

Hes getting to know Sam Wilson (not Falcon, not in this movie) and Sharon Carter (but doesn't know she's an agent yet) while he and Natasha save the world from whatever.

That's enough for a movie.

* * *
2 Captain America: Project Insight [top]

This is basically what Captain America: The Winter soldier was but they, for some reason, felt the need to shove in an attempted coup against Nick Fury, the computer-ghost of Zola, Hydra infiltration, Shield turning against itself, the Winter Soldier, every privacy concern about the internet given form and malevolence, the kitchen sink, and a few other things.

Take that extraneous shit out and just make the movie that it would have been without distractions.

Shield's Project Insight is designed to simultaneously destroy privacy and kill anyone who's a threat without any legal proceedings or hint of justice.

The other things can be dealt with elsewhere.  Shield (for whatever convoluted infiltrated by people that put their faith in a computer program designed by someone who was dead at the time reasons) has gone so far across the line that they can't even see the line anymore because it's over the horizon, and possibly several major geological features like mountain ranges, oceans, and so forth.

Shield needs to be stopped before Insight goes live.  Steve, Natasha, and Sam (who is Falcon in this movie) face off against Shield.  This is basically the movie that we have once you cut out the distractions and focus on telling the one story and telling it right.

* * *
3 Shield: A question of Leadership [top]

The attempted coup against Nick Fury was an unnecessary distraction in the actual second Captain America movie, but it's a good plot to have in general.  It' action.  It's spy thriller.  It's fun and explosions with ... probably not Chiwetel Ejiofor, but nothing is perfect.

A rouge element within Shield is trying to take out Fury and this movie is about that.

At this point Steve and Natasha are probably jaded on Shield and Sam was never a part of it to begin with, but it shouldn't be that hard to recruit them.

Fury or Hill says this, pronouns as appropriate: They're not trying to kill me/him because I/he tried to launch Project Insight; they're trying to kill me/him because I/he failed.

We got a fair dose of this in the Winter Soldier, but it was mashed in with so much else that ... yeah.

A big question is whether Fury should fake his death here (and try to rule from the shadows) or whether it should be saved for later.

* * *
- Marvel: Hackers [top]

On watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier . . . well, this was a while ago.  I think that Lonespark was the one who said that she wanted to see Robert Redford from Sneakers stop Robert Redford from The Winter Soldier and I was the one who agreed.

So much of what was put into the movie was the sort of thing that cried out for the team from Sneakers, for computer wizes, for hackers, for people who live online, dream in code, and know all the flaws in Hollywood portrayals of hacking, and have a first edition copy of Neuromancer they got by illicitly rerouting a shipment of old paperbacks via hacking into UPS's servers.

So I'm just throwing this in there: Maria Hill forms a team of computer people and such with the task of finding out what was really behind the attempt to unseat Fury and violently change the leadership of Shield because their regular investigations are all hitting dead ends well before the trail should end.

They've stopped the people who actually did things, but not the ones who gave the orders.

The only thing that they've found out is that the whole thing seems to be somehow tied up in a thing that doesn't officially exist called the "Zola Algorithm".

The TV series runs alongside the the remaining movies and involves simultaneously investigating and opposing this unknown threat that seems to be everywhere and know everything.

At times it feels like their opponent has access to every piece of information that was ever electronically recorded by anyone or anything.  While they find plots to stop they're generally not able to piece things together into any kind of coherent larger picture.

Other than being targets of the shadowy bad guys, what do a a TV anchor in Cairo, the Under Secretary of Defense, a high school valedictorian in Iowa City, a scientist named Bruce Banner, and a (former?) surgeon named Stephen Strange have in common?

Also, they totally get hired by Hank Pym to clandestinely remove some vital components from the files of his old Ultron Project because letting anyone revive it, as one Mister Stark has been considering, would be a really bad idea.

Yeah, blatant foreshadowing that has nothing to do with what's actually suggested by Winter Soldier but, but a) movie seven is entirely based on needing to shoehorn some awesome in to make Avengers: Age of Ultron make sense, and b) it doesn't make sense to have Ant Man without his connection to Ultron.

Artistic liberties.

* * *
4 Captain America: The Winter Soldier [top]

Bucky finally gets a movie where his name actually belongs in the title.  While Hill's team is investigating via electronic means, Steve and Natasha are experiencing a real problem trying to do an investigation of their own: every time they seem to have a lead, the lead ends up dead.

It doesn't take long to realize that someone is killing the people who might be able to give them the information they want.  It takes a bit longer to realize that that person is the Winter Soldier, and longer still to realize that the Winter Soldier is Bucky.

The whole movie is about trying to stop/recover Bucky so that they can a) not have a mind controlled assassin out there and b) get some damned answers.

* * *
5 Hydra: Electronic Echos [top]

The team from the TV show has worked out that the Zola Algorithim, whatever it was/is, was developed by/at ----- which heroes are sent to investigate.

What they uncover is a standard evil science thing:

"Sir, we could get results just as good, without compromizing our morals and violating every human rights thing ever, if we used this method that would only take six weeks longer."
"THAT'S SIX WHOLE WEEKS!  Science will not be delayed.  Now prove your loyalty by doing an experiment that involves doing unethical things to unwilling human subjects."

Part of the difficulty, though, is that while they can find labs and shut them down (with the requisite fight scenes and explosions) they're unable to find the person in charge.

Eventually they realize that this is because the person in charge is Zola, who had his consciousness transferred to computer when his body was dying.  There is no physical person in charge to find.

Movie about bringing down Zola's network.  It's not quite Hydra because he was always more in it for the science that ignored ethics than any direct loyalty to Hydra.

The movie does let them realize that Hydra still exists, and finally learn that Zola's algorithm is a computer program he made for Hydra.

* * *
6 Shield: Internecine [top]

With the revelation that they've been infiltrated by Hydra, Shield should, honestly, have more internal conflict than one scene in a control room while everything else is shunted into the spinning series in such a way as to have Agent Coulson sell someone to someone else so the someone else can torture the sold person for shits and giggles in order to gain a modicum of improvement in political standing.

Seriously, why in FUCK would anyone consider doing such a thing?

Shield needs to be at war with itself and it shouldn't be quite as simple as Good Guys vs. Hydra because, remember, Shield itself (Hydra and non-Hydra alike), in the form of their upper echelons and everyone working directly on the project, was in support of Project Insight.  Some non-Hydra people would be thinking more or less what Fury had been thinking: things are spinning out of control and we need to get our hands dirtier if we want to protect people.  They'd align with the Hydra side of things and might not seriously believe all of the Hydra talk.

A paramilitary pseudo-intelligence semi-clandestine agency goes to war with itself when they have technology on a level that includes aircraft carriers that can fly.

That's enough to do an entire series of movies, TV shows, books, comics, video games, tie in merchandise, radio shows, plays, and so forth.  I'm suggesting that we cut it down to one movie containing the main action-movie-type points.

Though there's a political element too.  Covering that as well would probably be too much for one movie, though.

The movie ends with Shield, the whole thing, being shut down and the major players in the evil side (the ones who didn't go to ground) being arrested.  The good people find jobs elsewhere, Natasha testifies before congress.

This movie would heavily use Cap, Natasha, Sharon Carter, Sam, probably Clint (Hawkeye), definitely Maria Hill, Nick Fury who is operating from the shadows and pretending to be dead for all or most of this, and, um, people.  Evil Robert Redford would likely be involved.

This is the movie that ends with Steve and Sam going off to find Bucky.  They think the immediate problem has been dealt with, and they're ready to go off on that personal mission.

* * *
7 Maria Hill: Getting My Boat Back [top]

With Shield shut down at the end of the last movie the helicarrier is in limbo.

Meanwhile the people in the Marvel: Hackers TV show have found out that --since they proved what a threat they were by sending heroes after Zola which simultaneously let them learn what the fuck the Algorithm actually was and revealed that Hydra was still a thing thus instigating the collapse of Shield which had been the thing most able to conceal Hydra activities-- they can't operate anywhere for long without the algorithm locating their base and sending people after them.

Thus Hill decides that what they really need is a mobile base of operations that's invisible.

And so we have a heist movie about stealing the Shield helicarrier.

That's it.  Movies have been made about stealing things far less cool.

Yeah, this isn't really suggested by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it's kind of needed for the helicarrier showing up in Avengers: Age of Ultron to not be an asspull and it makes sense to fit in here since this is when it would be up for grabs and because it could serve as a base for Marvel: Hackers which was suggested, but lamentably not followed up on, by the movie.

Hill, the people from the TV show Marvel: Hackers and anyone else on a team Hill would hand pick, steal the coolest boat around which happens to be the only flying aircraft carrier on earth since the Project Insight ones were blown up in movie two.

* * *
8 Hydra: Open War [top]

Hydra returning could be a movie in itself separate and apart from Shield going to war with itself or any of the others and, in light of Age of Ultron, it kind of needs to be.

You see Age of Ultron begins with the Avengers already assembled and functioning as a well oiled machine.  This is a problem given the question posed at the end of the first Avengers movie:
Sir, how does it work now? They've gone their separate ways, some pretty extremely far. We get into a situation like this again, what happens then?
We need that answered.  They start Age of Ultron all back together and taking down the very last Hydra base.

So, given Age of Ultron it's vital that the "Hydra has returned, what do we do?" movie that was crammed into the actual Captain America: The Winter Soldier be done, and be done in a way that gives the answer: we assemble the Avengers.

It probably begins with Steve and Sam being called back by someone (Hill or Natasha) which annoys them because they were pretty sure they were getting pretty close to catching up with Bucky.  Then, as things go on, they end up calling on more and more of the Avengers.

Since they've likely noticed that Loki's scepter is one of the things that went missing from Sheild they'd call on Jane Foster and Erik Selvig for help which is how Thor would end up coming to earth for this mission.  That might also be what brings back Bruce and Tony since they set up a thing to find the scepter before.

Since Natasha and Clint would be involved almost by default, that could explain how everyone got together right there.

The movie can't end with them taking down the last Hydra base that contains the Scepter because that was in the beginning of Age of Ultron, but it could end with them completely breaking Hydra and someone commenting, "It's not quite over, we still don't have the scepter."

Maybe a line about how they're still having no luck on the electronic front because damn is the "Algorithm" powerful and capable of stopping their attempts to break Hydra's electronic network.  (This could even involve asides between Tony and Bruce about how if Zola could do it they ought to be able to do it thus continuing to foreshadow Ultron.)

* * *
9 Hackers: The Algorithm [top]

The team from the TV series have been making progress in the TV series and have been able to trace and isolate the key components of the Zola Algorithm which, honestly, isn't the best named thing.  Sure, algorithms exist to solve problems, but the problem of "Identifying, tracking, and eliminating threats to Hydra's interests" is such a complex and ill defined problem that what we're talking about is a really advanced AI and you don't use the term "algorithim" to describe that, but one could argue that it's a name and a person named "Melissa" probably isn't a honey bee and ... how did this sentence even begin?

Right.  Ok:

The team from the TV series have been making progress in the TV series and have been able to trace and isolate key components of the Zola Algorithm so that it can now be effectively stopped if we just have a big impressive movie.

Note that in the actual Captain America: The Winter Soldier the algorithm was never dealt with and thus it's presumably being used to hire hit people to kill of present and future heroes because doing things one at a time might be slower than Project Insight but it's better (for a Hydra version of "better") than nothing.

What's it been doing?
Jasper Sitwell:  Zola'a algorithm is a program for choosing Insight's targets.
   
Steve Rogers:   What targets?
   
Jasper Sitwell:  You! A TV anchor in Cairo, the Under Secretary of Defense, a high school valedictorian in Iowa City, Bruce Banner, Stephen Strange, anyone who's a threat to HYDRA. Now, or in the future.
   
Steve Rogers:   In the future? How could it know?
   
Jasper Sitwell:  How could it not? The 21st century is a digital book. Zola told HYDRA how to read it. Your bank records, medical histories, voting patterns, emails, phone calls, your damn SAT scores! Zola's algorithm evaluates people's past to predict their future.
   
Steve Rogers:   And what then?
   
Jasper Sitwell:  Oh, my God. Pierce is gonna kill me.
   
Steve Rogers:   What then?
   
Jasper Sitwell:  Then the Insight helicarriers scratch people off the list. A few million at a time.
Anyway, it was set up in the actual movie, it's basically Sneakers with a more sinister bad guy than Ben Kingsley, and we should have gotten that movie.

The Algorithm is basically Ultron with clear goals, a lack of neuroses, no fixation on having a physical body, and no idiot ball.  A formidable foe indeed, especially since it would be able to come up with a plan better than, "I'll create a massive robot army all linked to my hive mind," since that's just begging to to lose.  The Algorithm, recall, was never detected, it was fallible humans who let the secret slip.  Unleashing robot hordes upon Sokovia is unsubtle, easy to detect, and the sort of thing that gets you destroyed in a way that involves explosions and Avengers.

This movie is about beating it.

This movie also sets up the battle shown in Avengers: Age of Ultron because without the Algorithm providing cover they can finally locate the last remaining Hydra stronghold.

* * *

With that we're finally done with the many and various movies that Captain America: The Winter Soldier tried to be.

The problem with the actual movie should be kind of clear: you can't do all of that in a single move and have it come out well.

The Shield Civil War was reduced to, basically, one scene.  Pre-Civil-War coup against Fury got, I think, three.  Zola's electronic ghost?  One scene.  The Algorithm?  It was mentioned in a small part of one scene and received all of three lines, you can see them above, I even included an extra fourth line because the conversation isn't done without it looping back around to Project Insight.  Working for Sheild?  One quick mission at the start as set up and it sours Steve on Shield in general.  The Winter Soldier of the title?  He didn't even need to be in the movie.  Take him out and replace him with generic assassin and the movie is almost entirely unchanged.  Dealing with the still extant Hydra?  Doesn't really come up except for a scene at the end where they're arrested without incident because it would totally be that easy (sarcasm, if you didn't catch it).  The fact that the movie cried out for a Sneakers-esque computer team?  Not even touched.

Looting the cool tech? Nowhere in there even though there ought to have been people diving into the Potomac to steal bits of the insight helicarriers to begin their careers as heroes, villains, or just people who make impossible technology in their garage.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Captain America: Civil War, a preview post so there will be something here while I'm still writing the actual posts

This is just me reposting a comment I made at Amarie's, originally there was going to be some structure or sense behind the numbers, then there wasn't.

Here it is, in all its unedited glory:

* * *

Preview of the posts I'm going to be writing about it, note that it won't be one post per point below

1 The movie we were promised at the end of the previous Captain America was Steve and Sam on a road trip to find Bucky with possible help from Natasha. This is especially sensible because Sam's job and vocation is helping soldiers who have had traumatic experiences which Bucky very much is. Where the fuck is that movie?

2 The final fight of this movie, which the villain's entire plan leads up to, hinges on Tony being an asshole, but that doesn't mean that Tony needed to have a huge role in the movie. He could have spent the movie following newly surfaced clues on his parents' murder. Cut to him for like a minute at most as he gets one step closer and then, at the very end, his quest leads him to the same spot as Steve and Bucky.

3 This was two movies (which is an improvement over the last Captain America movie when they tried to cram in like nine) and neither of them was really a Captain America movie. The Avengers splitting up over the Fictional Country Accords is clearly an Avengers movie. Bucky being framed bringing the two sides of the split into conflict is actually the backdrop for a Black Panther movie in which T'Challa grows as a character and he first steps foot outside of Wakanda as the Black Panther.

4 Apparently only villains care about natives. Tony ends up thinking they need oversight because of an American in Sokovia, the oversight actually becomes a thing because of Wakandans in Nigeria. No one on the good side gave a crap about the Sokovians or the Nigerians. That seems to be the message.

5 This should have been morally complex. The leader of the accord side --who should have been Maria Hill, not Tony-- should have made the argument that cops without oversight are dangerous and scary things and justice requires people who can keep the enforcers in line. This is true and important because, for fuck's sake, the cops are out of control and the Avengers are cops on a grand scale. Steve should have made the "Yeah, but.." argument which he kind of did with "They could order us to do bad things" (see Captain America II in which the "good" guys and the bad guys both agree that a giant surveillance and assassination system is wonderful, but disagree on who should pick the targets) and "They could order us not to do good things" which, if they'd waited to get an "Ok" for Sokovia the first time then the [worse Nazis than the Nazis] would rule the world and if they'd waited the second time then the human race would be extinct.

In either case having to go through a normal chain of command would have ended life as we know it and possibly life in general. That's what superhero movies are about for fuck's sake. If the police were up to the task then Peter Parker could focus on his school work. If the regular allies were up to the task then Captain America wouldn't have been needed. Super-villains exist because without them superheroes would be dangerous vigilantes but with them they're necessary. They become even more necessary when the powers that be aren't outmatched but instead actively evil.

And on that note:

6 Doctor Doom. Marvel doesn't have the movie rights to The Fantastic Four so they can't use Doctor Doom in spite of him being their character, but things would have worked so much better if Steve could have just said, "Latveria." pause because that should be enough. Continuation for those who don't understand, "They'll never approve us intervening, but if we don't then Doctor Doom will be unstoppable before he sets foot into our jurisdiction." Or, failing that:

7 "117 countries." How many of those countries have committed genocide? How many of them have stood by and let genocide happen? There's Steve's "Order us to do bad things; order us not to do good things," argument. Hell, Steve may be Captain America, but his wartime service could have caused him to come into direct contact with the 442nd Infantry Regiment who might have mentioned what the US was doing to their families back home (and had been doing to them before they were allowed to join up.)

8 Bucky wasn't just framed; he was framed really badly. The Winter Solider doesn't blow shit up. He shoots people, he chokes people, he fights people one on one, but a car bomb? No. Before the previous Captain America movie no one, save Natasha, seriously believed he existed and that's simply not possible if he's the sort to do things as open as blowing up a UN summit.

Everyone should have known he was innocent with the possible exception of T'Challa who had very good reason to have less than perfect judgement right then.

In fact, the movie works best if the villain and the Accords side are working together. How did someone who's son was in the empty building Tony collapsed in Sakovia get alone time with Tony to tell Tony about her son when there's an entire crowd of people who know more about the building who would like to see him just as much? Why push the story that an enhanced human (Bucky) is responsible when the evidence is crap?

Because both the people behind the accords and the nominal villain want to bring down the Avengers. Ross wants them imprisoned (chasing down exceptional individuals is kind of his thing), Zemo wants them dead, but the early stages of both goals are identical and it's probable that neither side talked about their endgame.

9 Can I go on about how morally unbalanced this is?

Tony: I've come to realize that I can't be trusted not to do X, therefore there should be a law against X. All who oppose me in this endeavor are moral degenerates. If you'll excuse me I have to make sure that Vision knows Wanda is my slave, not my guest, and then I'm going to recruit a child soldier by threatening to out him to his mother-figure. This will involve me repeatedly pulling what he wants kept in the closet out of the closet so that there's no way you can miss the overtones.

Vision: I make sure Mr. Stark's slaves don't leave the property unless he allows them to. I see no moral problem with this.

Rhodey: I'm just following orders. (He's clearly the moral heart of the team since ... yeah.)

Natasha: I actually came out and said that I don't want to be on this side. The only reason I'm here is because "Team Evil" needs a token female character.

Peter: Look, I don't want to know who's right and who's wrong. I'm being blackmailed by a creepy guy who seems to want to have sex with the woman who raised me. I actually gave a speech in which I said that morally I agree with everything the other side stands for.

T'Challa: I'm here to murder someone, but don't worry, this is my pseudo-origin story so I'll learn to be a better person by the end of it and not murder the person who killed my father. My initial position on the Accords is that they should apply to others but as soon as I've got a vendetta, screw everything they say. That said, remember that I grow and change unlike the other people on this team.

While on the other side we have:
Steve: This will seriously harm our ability to do good things and YOU'RE TRYING TO KILL AN INNOCENT MAN. Also, no lawyer? What happened to due process?

Sam: I'm with Steve on this, every part of what he just said.

Wanda: I'm a human being, not an object. I saw Fury Road, damn it.

Clint: Wanda's a human being, not an object.

Scott: Is there any coffee? What day is it?

Not saying that Cap's team is composed of angels, but there's a clear right side here. Not the least of which because this whole thing is being overseen by...

10 "Ross" is a name that we might associate with, "Why the fuck isn't she in this movie?" but in the case of Civil War it's the other Ross. Her dad. The villain. Bruce/Hulk's villain. A movie about Ross interring enhanced people ought to be Bruce/Hulk's movie.

11 You know why this fucked up movie exists? After Iron Man III, a movie with so many good bits that it made the crap the movie was primarily composed of hurt even more than if it had just been only bad, RDJ wasn't contracted to do anything else but the remaining Avengers story (which will be split in half) and the people running the MCU wanted him in another movie because he draws bigger numbers in the US. Not that his movies make more money overall, it's just in the US where there's a notable difference.

So they wrote a movie that would so depend upon Tony and Iron Man that they could go to RDJ and say, "We've got this movie that we want to make --script's done, we're scouting locations-- but it will only work if you're in it. *puppy dog pout* Please?

They weren't even trying to make a good movie. They were trying to create a thing that required RDJ.

12 Tony's position basically boils down to: Hey, you know what? I've realized that I've been wrong all these years. But now that I've realized it I'm right and you're wrong. Everyone still has to do what I say.

He's the guy who always thinks he's right. Every time he realizes he was wrong before then ... hey, that just makes him even more right now because he's righter than he was back then.

13 You put Bucky, a traumatized soldier, and Sam, someone who works with traumatized solider, together and didn't make any use of that?
You put Bucky, someone who had is his mind fucked with, on the same side as Wanda, someone who can do impossible things with minds, and didn't have her at least try to help?

14 Vision can pick up the hammer of Thor because he's totally worthy, but he doesn't see the problem with "It's fine for you to leave to do work for us, but you're not actually a free person. You're our captive here. Deal with it"?

15 There are three black superheroes in this movie. They're all male.

In fact, Given that Wanda's been whitewashed ... is it impossible to be a minority and a female in the hero biz?

---

Proposed better way:

Captain America 2 had a different name because Bucky was barely in that movie and the movie wouldn't have changed much if you took him out.

Third CA movie is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Steve and Sam go out to find Bucky.

In Avengers: Civil War, the team fractures over the question of the Sokovia accords. Steve leads one faction, Hill leads the other. While they fight, the movie ends with all of them teaming up to free the captured members of the Steve-side from Ross' secret prison where the inmates have no rights because, whatever your position on superhero oversight, prisons with no human rights are bullshit.

The Black Panther -- T'Challa gets drawn into the middle of this fucked up feud when Bucky is framed for murdering his father. The movie has the two sides of the Avengers fighting each other again because of the flashpoint that is Bucky, but that's the backdrop for T'Challa's story.

Future movies: X years ago a super hero team was sent to prison for a crime they didn't commit. These people promptly escaped from maximum security prison. Today, still wanted by the government, they ... yeah, I'm not going to be able to work in the entire the A-Team opening monologue, but it seemed to fit.

Important point is this: future movies follow Captain America, Falcon, Black Widow (because she ought to be on that side), the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Antman (individually, and in groups) as outlaw heroes.

They do crime for great justice.

-

Probably wrote too much already.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Updates on various things

I missed my usual financial update and money begging thing.  So, there are no looming catastrophes at the moment, however... I still haven't heard back from the SSA, they're dragging their heels to no end.  If memory serves they did the same thing last time and eventually so much time had passed I assumed that they must have had nothing to report and then boom they screwed up the entire passed year of my life so the fact that all catastrophes were supposed to be over and I was never going to need to beg for help again kind of went down the drain.

I saw Captain America: Civil War which would have made sense if they'd called it How the Black Panther left Wakanda but instead they seemed fixated on making it Avengers 2.5: This makes no sense, and only fictional dead people matter.  The fourth Captain America movie will doubtless be Captain America: He's not even in this movie; don't pretend to be surprised.

I think I'm going to have to split my post about that into multiple parts because if it were really just one post worth of stuff it'd be done by now.

I also got around to watching Age of Ultron, in which no time period constituting an age passed and they never addressed how old Ultron was thus making the title a complete non sequitur.  I did this in case there was something in it that made Captain America: Civil War make sense.  There wasn't, but I have a better understanding of the movie now because it really was an Avengers movie, not a Captain America one (and should have been a Black Panther one.)

So posts on all of that coming, maybe.  I've not forgotten that I said that there would be more Lynnverse and more Life After and yet not delivered on that.

Um . . . Stuff.  If I weren't so in debt I really should buy a washing machine because fucking hell is this absurd.  If not for frequent trips to see Lonespark, who has a washing machine, I'd have been wearing dirty clothes exclusively for almost a year now.

Primary computer was never fully fixed, it just took me a while to realize it.  The USB ports are borked, semi-boked, and not borked (there are only three) which it can take a while to notice if you default to the not borked one and rarely use more than one at once.  That's not why It's going to be sent in for repairs though.  It's not charging right.  That's bad, thus it needs to be sent in for repairs.

I think that might, possibly, cover everything.  But I make no promises.  I often forget things.

[Added:]

Oh, also, getting some weird traffic.  Starting on the 16th I've been getting visits that are way over my usual traffic.  Usual traffic is generally in the two to twenty per hour (page views, not visitors) with occasional spikes into the sixties of seventies.

About once every five hours since it started I'll a hundred and forty page views, give or take, in a single minute.  The page views are distributed: one per post.  If not for the fact that viewing that many pages in a minute (or the semi-regularness of one every 5ish hours which doesn't allow for sleep) I'd think someone were doing an archive crawl.

As is . . . not sure.  I suppose someone could be archiving the site.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

At long last, I have graduated.

So, yeah, that's a thing that happened.  And took ... ok, time passes in strange ways during graduation cermonies.  To the outside world some hours pass, but those who survive them know that they actually last for several years.

Anyway, two bachelor's degrees.  One in Mathematics.  The other in Classics.  Probably earned enough credits to have three degrees but my university has no rules about earning more than two degrees in a single run and my non-degree credits were so unfocused I didn't even get a minor (I think I was close to twelve or some such.)

Long time readers are probably aware that part of the reason that I was at university so long was that I originally could have graduated well before I had an antidepressant that worked so without school I'd have stayed inside all the time, never interacted with people, and had little to no fun stuff in my life.

One of the teachers that helped me the most during that time was laid off without cause via voicemail on Halloween the year before last.  After the evil people did the job of destroying all hope at the university they . . . well they left.  Job done.  They moved on.

And then an interesting thing happened.  The new regime seems to be, you know, a decent one.  What was the first thing I heard of them doing.  Well before it was official, called the worst kept secret in Maine, I learned that they were offering said teacher (buy her translation of Catullus, by the way (no, I don't get anything if you do)) a job.  A good job.  A powerful job.

Not in a classroom, which is unfortunate because she's fucking awesome in the classroom, but given that they made her Provost . . . well, she's always used her power for good, but now she actually has power.

So, I could have gone with the Math people or the "Self Designed because you didn't design it yourself but we refuse to call your department a department" people.  I went with the second because I knew I wanted Classics to be listed first (even though I earned it second, hence the listing above.)

When the person who was handing out the degrees --which are actually degree holder that say, "Your grades aren't in and, since we assume you needed to pass your most recent classes to graduate because only Chris Witham is stupid enough to stick around here well after earning graduation because of desire and attempts at self improvement, we're not totally sure you earned a degree yet so we'll mail the real thing later,"-- heard "Classics" said person handed "degree" to Jeannine, sitting at this point because the provost only stands for PHDs and Masters, she handed it to me, and then there was hugging.

So, that went well.  Mind you my mother, the only one recording didn't actually get that part, because she was doing the whole, "To hell with the video I'm shooting, I'll cheer and lose all sight of everything." thing.  Which is too bad.

But, yeah, I'm graduated now.

-

Also the person representing the Board of Trustees was one of only two who did his job in the darkest days, and made a powerful, if losing, argument that they as a board should actually do their jobs.  The Student speaker was one who is part of "Students for USM-Future" an organization founded in the dark days with the aim of fighting the dying of the light.

So the soulless assholes weren't on display, instead there were good people.  That's always nice.