A Tale Of Two Fucks

In the trailer for Titansthe upcoming superhero show on the streaming DC Universe service, a frankly murderous 20something Robin, when asked where Batman is, growls “Fuck Batman.”

If you’ve ever wanted to hear the Boy Wonder drop the f-bomb, promises Titans, we got you covered. The moment has already stirred up some controversy and some fun on Twitter, which is saying something since the trailer also includes Dove – a character who represents peace and non-violence – inflicting gruesome violence on someone. And, as mentioned above, Robin the Boy Wonder going all Punisher on some street thugs.

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Why I’m Sitting Out The DC Universe Service

Today DC announced the main details for its new streaming movies/TV/comic service, DC Universe.  The anchor of the service will be four new TV series, and they’ll also have all your favorite old DC shows, movies and cartoons. The new shows are Titansan incongruously R-rated version of Teen TitansDoom PatrolSwamp Thing and a fourth, to be announced this week, show.

I won’t be getting the service, despite its reasonable price ($7.99 a month, $75 paid yearly). It’s not because the trailer for Titans is a try-hard grim n’ gritty embarrassment (“Fuck Batman,” Robin intones into the camera before SHOOTING a bunch of alleyway thugs to death). It’s not because I don’t actually need a service that has Legends of the Super Friends on demand 24/7. It isn’t even because I’m unemployed and shouldn’t be spending my limited dollars on something like this.

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Call Me By Muad’Dib

I’m a huge fan of DuneI think Frank Herbert’s book is the greatest scifi novel ever written, and every time I dive back in I am transported to a wholly alien yet wholly understandable world. It has a depth of emotion and politics and spirituality that is unmatched in any other work of the fantastic. Even though it has been adapted into a bad movie and a mediocre TV series, even though there are a zillion bad sequels written by Herbert’s son, even though Dune was strip-mined for Star Warseach reading of the book opens new avenues of understanding for me. This story never gets old.

Hell, I have a Dune tattoo, a huge one, featuring the Litany Against Fear (that’s a little hack, but the design is really extraordinary, incorporating a hand doing the karana mudra (a Hindu and Buddhist hand gesture intended to dispel negative emotions), surrounded by Tibetan-style flames, representing the trial of the Gom Jabbar.

So for me any Dune news is so exciting that I will break my usual ‘this isn’t a news blog’ rule to write about it. Maybe you’re gonna see a bunch of Dune shit on this blog going forward.

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I Love Kelly Marie Tran And Rose Tico

Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (and, I’m assuming, upcoming Star Wars movies as well) deleted her Instagram this week. There’s a lot of speculation that she did it because of unrelenting abuse from toxic (male) Star Wars fans who hate her character in a seriously obsessive, unhealthy and unpleasant way. As far as I know she hasn’t confirmed this; some people say Daisy Ridley deleted her Insta because she was getting harassed, but she has said she did it because she was addicted and needed to take her life back.

But let’s assume that Tran deleted because of the abuse. I spent the last couple of days wanting to write at length about how broken fandom is (something I’ve written about in the past) but a friend rightfully called me out on sinking into despair the last few days, and focusing on what’s wrong only leads to more despair. So I want to focus on what’s right: Rose Tico.

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Brandpocalypse Now

The sequel to Wreck-It RalphRalph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, has released a trailer and it is… something else.

Obviously judgment on this movie should be withheld until the movie is seen; the original Wreck-It Ralph was a very charming film with some knowing and fun pop culture references. But the trailer for the new film makes it seem as if the references have been turned up to 11, and this time around it’s a full-on branding free-for-all.

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We Live On Krypton

There’s a lot of Krypton retcon happening these days.

Let’s start with the world of comics, since there’s big news there: Brian Michael Bendis, one of the most Marvel-associated writers of the past few decades, has jumped ship to DC. After redefining Spider-Man and inventing Jessica Jones he was tempted away by the chance to write Superman, and who can blame him?

His first issue is out this week, Man of Steel #1, the beginning of a weekly Superman saga. The issue itself is… fine? In true Bendis fashion the whole issue feels like a prologue, or like the first five pages of a more complete comic book, but he loves that decompressed storytelling, so we get three pages of Superman meeting a new fire chief. It also introduces a new villain to the Superman mythos, one who seems to have a connection to the destruction of Krypton.

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The Tragedy Of Han Solo

This contains spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Fans complain that The Last Jedi did Luke Skywalker dirty, but I think that the end of Luke’s story tracks really nicely. Luke was never one for the hard work – he was always imagining some other life for himself. When he was on Tatooine he wanted to join the academy, when he was on Dagobah he wanted to go be in the fight. These were the times in his life when he needed to hunker down and do the hard work, the unglamorous work, and his instinct was to take off and find something more romantic and exciting. What’s more romantic and exciting for a holy man than fucking off and becoming a mystical hermit? When his new academy failed, Luke didn’t decide to put in the hard work of trying again (or tracking down Kylo Ren), but rather disappeared to a small island to live out his monastic fantasies. And for Luke to feel like a failure is perfectly in character – look at how quickly he quits on Dagobah. Luke’s first instinct is to give up.

Now Han Solo on the other hand… that’s a character who got done dirty, and I think Solo: A Star Wars Story makes his end even sadder and his final days even more pathetic. I never liked what JJ Abrams did to Han in The Force Awakens, but now it feels downright disrespectful.

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Droids Are People Too: The Life And Metaphysics Of L3-37

This contains spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Droids are sentient. We’ve known this since 1977, when we first met R2D2 and C3P0 and saw them make decisions as the Tantive IV was being boarded. It became clearer on Tatooine, where R5D4 faked a blown motivator to keep the two friends together, and it was quite clear when we learned about restraining bolts, devices intended to keep droids from making their own choices.

As the Star Wars saga has gone on we have seen that droids have rich emotional lives. R2D2 seems to shut down in response to Luke going missing. K2SO has a deep camaraderie with Andor. C3P0 suffers from what seems to be generalized anxiety disorder. And yet every character in the saga treats droids, at best, like pets. Most of the time, though, they’re treated like slaves. 3P0 especially is consistently dragged into situations that he does not want to be in, fighting for a cause that has no bearing on his existence.

Enter L3-37. Lando Calrissian’s droid co-pilot, L3 is a robot who is, in the parlance of the modern era, becoming woke. When we meet L3 in Solo: A Star Wars Story she is already sickened by the way droids are treated in the STAR WARS universe, and we see her trying to break up a bot battle in a seedy cantina. She appeals to the droids in the ring, and she threatens the referee. “You’re being exploited!” she cries (I’m paraphrasing here), a sentiment familiar to many marginalized groups over history. Droids are not allowed in that bar… except to fight for the death.

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It’s Your Fault (But It’s Not Your Fault It’s Your Fault)

Some spoilers for the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season three finale are contained within. 

Everything you do is your fault. You did it. But the trick is to understand that it isn’t your fault that it’s your fault. That’s where it gets complicated.

Let me explain what I mean through pop culture.

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The Post-Humanist, Biocentric Films Of Darren Aronofsky

Humanism is your religion. Even if you’re an atheist, you’re probably a humanist. It’s the basis for most of our society, truly rising to prominence since the Enlightenment. It’s a secular philosophy, one that forwards rationality and critical thinking over divinity and supernatural beings. It is a philosophy that places humans at the apex of all things, and makes us responsible for our own greatness and our own destinies.

But how is that a religion? If you follow the reasoning of Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens (and I do, and I think you should read this book), a religion is “a system of human norms and values that is founded on a belief in a superhuman order.”

Note the word superhuman here. This doesn’t mean supernatural, and it doesn’t mean Spider-Man. It means order that is not mandated by humans, that is above humans. Under Harari’s definition Communism is a religion, and I love his reasoning:

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