This week I’m talking about some of my [current] favorite things (beyond whiskers on kittens– though, to be honest, I prefer dem footsies). I have some exciting (well I think so) posts planned for the next few weeks, but in an attempt to get back to posting more regularly, I’m doing something a little mellower: my current favorites and why I like them.
Fair warning: this is a little bit rambling.
As a kid, I was a HUGE snob about this. I felt it was betraying the creator’s vision. I no longer feel that way for a range of reasons, not least of all the fact that characters are often rewritten by different artists and storytellers. Comic books are a prime example of different people writing different stories with not always different continuities.
It’s one of my favorite things and has been for a while for a few reasons.
- First, it’s not limited by ability to publish or financial constraints. You don’t need a literary agent or to worry about selling copies.
- Second, sometimes authors will do things with the characters that are better or more interesting than canon. For example, last week I wrote about the implied romance between Steve Rogers/Captain America and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier. It’s currently the most popular relationship to write fanfiction about. Another example is the Dragon Ball franchise, which ran in print from 1984-1995 and on screen from 1986-1997. It was recently revived in 2013 to… mixed reviews. To put it mildly, I am not thrilled with the choices the creator has made with the characters. I’ve read a number of fanfictions that do a lot more interesting things with the characters and the world established by the franchise.
- Third, with sites like Archive Of Our Own, it’s easy to find exactly what you’re in the mood for. You search and browse through characters, relationships, tags; and now you can also exclude things you are not interested in. I don’t have to browse scanning titles and book jackets. I already have an idea what I’m going to get, beyond a simple description.
- Fourth, this has to do with artistry. Some of the stories are amazingly well written. For new writers, it can be like riding a bike with training wheels. You can hone your craft without worrying about plot elements or character. Like artists/
fanartists, there are communities. In these communities, it’s possible to make some money, either for yourself or for charity. There are also groups that will come together specifically for charity or to make a statement.
That’s just a few quick reasons why fanfiction is one of my favorite things. I’ve even tried my hand at writing them, which I’d compare to playing with action figures/dolls. It’s freeing to be able to make such expressions as an adult.
2. The Masked Singer
This show is so dumb! It’s ridiculous and I love it. I don’t watch a lot of reality TV, and I’ve never been a huge fan of singing competition shows, but this show adds some really fun elements that make you more invested and the show more fun.
The premise is this: twelve celebrities sing wearing costumes that hide their identities. A panel of judges (and the audience) tries to decide who is behind the mask, but each week someone is eliminated based on who the audience wants to keep seeing. Once eliminated, their identity is revealed.
What’s been fun is that I actually know most of the songs. Rather than be concerned with what’s popular, it’s a choice made by the contestant. I also love a good mystery! I’ve actually been right about a couple of them, which was super exciting; it’s a nice little reward for the audience. The costumes are also gorgeous. They are completely crazy, designed to hide as much about the celebrity as possible. You have to appreciate the artistry that went into these intense costumes.
The downsides are that the musical numbers are not always the most interesting, but I can usually get into it if I recognize the song. Then there are the judges. The show is presented by Nick Cannon, and judged by Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger, and Robin Thicke. I generally enjoy the judges commentary and interactions, but I have a lot of issues with Jenny McCarthy. She is part of why the anti-vaccine movement is so strong and, while I can appreciate her commentary, I hate that she’s on there.
Overall, it’s not really a show you sit down to watch, so much as something you watch when you’re wrapping gifts or crocheting dolls. It doesn’t require much focus, aside from the clues, if you want to see if you can guess who’s inside the mascot suit.
3. The Marvel Cinematic Universe
When I was little, Star Wars was super popular. Even before the prequels, I grew up on those films. I learned later, as I got older, that there was all this extended universe stuff mostly books. Later, cartoons were made. I feel like the MCU is like that, but a little more consistent.
The thing about comic book canon is that there is already so much of it. The standard, main continuity in Marvel is called Earth-616, so that should tell you something. The movies have their own continuity, but Marvel did something brilliant; not only are the movies all connected, but so are the TV shows. Because Disney is the distributor, it has allowed for media in theaters, online, and on cable and network television. While I love the world that has been created, its what they are doing that has me the most excited. There are even tie-in comics and books!
Above, I mentioned how and why I like fanfiction, citing a specific Marvel pairing. While I enjoy the work of fanfiction writers and like the worlds and scenarios they create, I’m never not going to be excited by what Marvel is doing. It’s brilliant marketing and storytelling and I love it. There’s other TV shows and spin-offs in the works, too.
I don’t know if I can adequately express why I get so excited by this, but one way of looking at it is this: these are projects being written/filmed/produced all around the same time and often with different people working on each project, but they still have come together for a singular continuity. I doubt there’s some kind of show bible, but in the last 10 years, I feel like they’ve created the kind of interconnected content that Star Wars and Doctor Who could have, were they to expand, but already have in some ways just due to sheer amount.
I love the MCU from a lot of different perspectives: as an English teacher interested in plot and character development, as a film/tv student interested in plot and character plus the industry and surrounding politics, as a long time fan of superheroes. I think there’s a lot Marvel could do to improve; for example, more female-led projects (one area where DC DEFINITELY has them beat!), and content directed towards audiences beyond the PG-13 rating. R-rated films like Fox’s Deadpool and Logan, yes, but also it would be nice to see content created in the other direction. Now that Disney has purchased Fox, we’ll see if they continue with R-ratings, something rumored to be the case for the Black Widow movie, but I think from a commercial perspective, it would be a wide move. Disney is all about pure, family entertainment, but I think if they could diversify they could be the option that has something for everyone.