black girl blogs · reviews · tv reviews

Snowpiercer: The Long Game

For the third episode of Snowpiercer’s second season, the train loses speed for a bit to clear a curve but the passengers problems aboard are gaining more momentum. Melanie’s going on a suicide mission in the hopes it’ll create a better world for Alex. Layton struggles to be the revolutionary he promised his people while protecting the entire train from Wilford. Rounding out the episode, Bess Till attempts to threaten the Brakemen of Snowpiercer and Josie gets more done from her hospital bed than lowkey Layton has done since the battle ended. And while we don’t know much about the crew on Big Alice we know one important thing: they’re hungry. Starving people can be talked into anything.

To start off, Mr. Wilford is either a genius or he’s the best villain to exist in a long time. It seems to be a bit of both honestly. The episode opens with him giving his perspective of how things are going on the newly sealed together trains. To him, this is all apart of the plan especially now that Melanie is practically getting rid of herself. He won’t have to kill her or brainwash her daughter into doing it. Layton is pretty much a non-factor to him, a nobody that happened to outsmart Melanie but will never be ahead of him. It’s a win win situation all around for Wilford. And that’s only because he’s put the fear of God in the Big Alice passengers, maybe it’s more accurate to say he’s put the fear of himself in them. While Wilford eats luxury breakfasts of eggs and toast, only sharing with Alex, the passengers of Big Alice go without. To Wilford it’s for good reason, if he keeps them all at a certain point between death and life they’ll hang on his every word, follow his every command, die for him under the false narrative of honor and respect. To which they all do. Except for Alex.

Melanie’s daughter is still a bit of a mystery. In “A Great Odyssey”, Alex spends a majority of the episode trying to stamp down her growing soft spot for her mother. She’s been waiting seven years to basically tell her mother she was the worst and she hates her, but the more time they spend together the more Alex starts to see that maybe the woman who birthed her isn’t as bad as Wilford made her out to be. Maybe it’s Wilford that is the one in the wrong. However with her closeness to the man, it’s easy for him to notice the change of demeanor in his protégé. And he’s not having that, he can’t lose this game this early one. So makes a move by having Alex be the one to drive the trains through the mountains and around the curve without derailing them. He gave all that power to a teenager, and it cracked something inside of her. It pushed a wedge between her and Wilford that he either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care about. If things keep going the way they are, it may be Alex who solves our Mr. Wilford problem.

Enough about Big Alice though, it’s the passengers of Snowpiercer that really had major breakthroughs in episode three. Starting with Bess Till and Roche as they chase down whoever is responsible for maiming Lights. Taking the woman’s thumb and pinky which only left her the three fingers in the middle was a clear indication that whoever did it is on Wilford’s side. For the rest of Lights’ life she’ll only be able to raise her in praise of the trains true creators. And that disturbs Till, it makes her angry, so she vows to find whoever did this to Lights. She’s even already got a few hunches, including some of Snowpiercer’s own who could be acting on Wilford’s half. Passengers like the Breachmen. They’ve been true Wilford supporters for the seven long years the train has been circling the earth, and the dedication to him only grew after learning of Melanie’s deception. They didn’t even fight during the recent revolution, they just stayed in their quarters working out. They’re so sure that Wilford will come out of this the winner, they don’t need to fight. They’re content to wait.

Questioning the Breachmen is one thing but it’s the inner turmoil of Bess Till that most interesting. Since she broke up with her second class girlfriend, she’s been sleeping in the office where Roche has his meals. She isn’t willing to talk about her situation though, she just wants to track down the perpetrator. But just because she isn’t willingly to talk doesn’t mean there aren’t people who don’t understand her. In the last episode she met with one of the religious pastors named Logan, Till simply wanted to know if he knew anything about the assault but it seems she’s actually found some kind of friend, guide or at the very least a ear to listen. While he knows next to nothing about her, Pastor Logan wants to help Till through the storm that’s inside her. He can see the way she’s barely holding it together. If she lets him, the friendship will be one of the most interesting and unique we’ve seen yet.

As the chaos continues, Andre has a thousand problems of his own. The democracy he hoped for Snowpiercer is pretty much a thing of the past, no matter how much he believes that they can still build that kind of society after they finish dealing with Wilford. Josie is alive and that alone has sent him spiraling, he’s not more in a love triangle than he was in the first season. And on top of that, he’s got this weird observation game going on with Wilford himself. The two men are locked in a battle of wits almost, Wilford hadn’t expected Layton to be as smart as he is. It catches the man off guard when Layton shows up with the offer to supplement all of Big Alice’s diet. Meanwhile Layton isn’t realizing that every interaction he has with Wilford puts him further in danger. To Layton, Wilford is just a man. Which is a fair assessment but perhaps a blinded one. Wilford is just a man but he’s a man with more power than Layton has. And power is important, especially when it comes to the easily influenced passengers. There’s also the fact the two men haven’t actually met face to face, there’s always a great bit of distance between them. The longer they play this game with each other, the bigger of an explosion it’ll be when they are finally within an arms length of each other.

However the growing dislike between Layton and Wilford would be the best part of the show if it wasn’t for one thing. The way the show continues to avoid the topic of racism. It’s hard to believe that all of Wilford’s snips, quips and verbal punches toward Layton are just because he’s the one in charge. Many of the things Wilford says to Layton have underlying racist tones to them, but it’s never addressed. Not even by Andre himself, which makes it all the more frustrating. Even something as simple as Andre walking back from the makeshift border mumbling about Wilford being a racist asshole would have gone a long way in the grand scale of things. It’s almost like the show is afraid of racism, afraid to get it wrong or afraid to get it too right I’m not sure. But it’s becoming an elephant in the room to me. That’s not saying it won’t be added in later down the season line or in season three but for now, it seems like a gigantic neon light that everyone is ignoring.

The MVP of the episode however, is Josie. While I wasn’t her biggest fan in season one, Josie is the kind of woman character that the show needs. Till is great at what she does but she won’t go against Layton the way Josie will. Zarah won’t get in Layton’s ear and tell him when he’s fucking up, but Josie will. And Miss Audrey well, she’s drowning her own issues to the point she’s turning into a drunk. So she can have a pass. But the other women, in a sensed don’t compare to Josie. She’s strong in a way that the others aren’t. She’s determined in a way that not even Layton is. We haven’t seen much of her but in the short time she’s been awake Josie has managed to drag Layton for filth and declare her revenge upon Melanie. She’s going to get things done, even if she has to do them by herself. I’m really hoping that season three is going to have a Josie vs Melanie feel the way this season is building the Wilford vs Layton tension.

Now that we’re away from the premiere and settling into the story of the second season, Snowpiercer is turning up the dials. Every minute of the episodes feel so far like waiting for a long impending doom, Melanie getting off the train is bad enough but the dread that Wilford’s mere presence gives is almost bone chilling. Which is very impressive for a TV show about a train that travels the globe and never stops. I’m still endlessly excited to see where this show takes it characters and how it’s going to continue to explain itself.

Snowpiercer airs Monday nights on TNT

-Danyi

P.S. if you made it to the end and enjoyed what you read buy me some lunch please! Cashapp: $danyi13

asexuality · black girl blogs · black women

The “Normal” Asexual

I’m old enough (barely), to remember a time before social media. I remember when the computer was in the family room, everyone had their own account on it and no one could call the house if you were on the internet. I remember spending most of my time on the computer playing pinball and drawing badly in “Paint”. And I most certainly remember a time when the only thing a cellphone did was make calls and send texts. Now though, cellphones are computers. Everything I used to do on the desktop in the living room, I can now do on my phone without having to leave my bed. The little girl in me who more often than not would pick playing outside over time on the computer, is still to this day flabbergasted.

I like my smartphone. I do. I literally have no excuse to not know something or at least teach myself something, because Google is always in my back pocket. However, social media is where I start to become weary of that heavy electronic device I take everywhere. At first, social media seemed great. A way to connect and keep track of my friends, without having to bug them with constant texts. Amazing. As I get older however, I’ve watched social media take a turn for the worse. I’ve watched it turn people into their worse.

Social media is tricky. It puts a screen between you and the person you’re trying to communicate with. For people with anxiety or those who have a hard time with confrontation, this is a good thing. It gives them that little bit of confidence to say what they have to say. But it also gives people who only have confidence when hidden, a chance to be mean. And more than anything, it leaves tons of room for misunderstandings.

I like to post pictures. And here recently, I enjoy making and posting videos as well. I love the idea of capturing a moment forever, because once a moment is over it can’t ever be truly replicated. So pictures and videos are a way to hold those moments and memories. Hence, I really like Snapchat as an app. I like seeing the world through other people’s eyes, I like seeing the pictures of what they find interesting enough to post. But because humans are the way we are, Snapchat is not viewed as a simple app for pictures. People use it to cheat on their partners, with the pictures disappearing after 24 hours it’s hard to catch a dick pic being sent. The app alerts you when someone screenshots you so racy messages can be sent in comfort, without fear of secretly being screenshot and leaked. It’s a lot, but only because humans make it so. I try to keep my Snapchat as simple as possible, I post pictures and videos of what interest me. My snaps still get taken out of context all the time though. Especially the ones surrounding my asexuality.

I made a point to make sure that it’s known on my social media that I’m asexual. I post my articles about it with links on my Snapchat all the time. I post text posts about how irritating it is when men don’t respect my sexuality on my Snapchat. More than 98% of the time, I am the only person in my snaps. It’s not something I actively think about doing and it’s not me trying to shove asexuality down my followers throats, it’s just the way I am. I want people to be aware so that they can stop themselves from asking me awkward questions. I want to help raise awareness to asexuality and normalize it. Which is one of the biggest goals I have, I want to normalize asexuality. Because there’s this phrase that I’m starting to hear the more comfortable I become: “You’re pretty normal for an asexual”. It’s not always exactly like that, the wording definitely changes but it’s always some variation of that. If it’s not you’re pretty normal then it’s “you aren’t like other asexuals”. And that bothers me.

I held a friend of mines hand in one of my snaps last week. For about five seconds we held hands and swung them back and forth. Nearly every male who follows me, sent me a message about it. Most were polite enough, a few ending up getting blocked but they all were asking the same variation of one question: Aren’t You Asexual? And it pissed me off. The hand I was holding in my snap belonged to a guy, and we were holding hands really tightly. He and I went to highschool together, we’re very good friends. I considered sleeping with him some years ago. I don’t want to sleep with him now. But absolutely none of that matters. We live in a world now where any type of physical contact between two adults is seen as sexual. No matter what. It’s a stereotype that is put upon us all even when not everyone has that same mindset. So even though I’ve known this guy for years and if we were going to sleep together we would have already, the five second video of us holding hands is all people need to question my sexuality.

It’s almost as if asexuals are expected to never acknowledge the existence of another human being. And if we do, we’re no longer what we say we are. Which is both impossible and ridiculous. There’s a difference between acknowledging a nice face and wanting to have that face in your personal space. But society can’t seem to separate the two. I’m not sure how or in what way it can be explained for people to understand. I’m even less sure that it should even have to be explained in the first place.

Not only does the question itself and the implications behind it bother me, the way people say it also irritates me as well. When someone says to me “you aren’t like other asexuals” in whatever form, they always sound as if they are praising me. Like a dog that’s successfully completed a trick. A pat on the head for being myself and managing to fit in the box that they have labeled as normal. I’m a “normal” asexual because while I may not want to have sex (they’re sure I’ll change my mind soon), I still must somewhere deep inside be interested in people. Since I can recognize a good looking person when I see one. In order for my sexuality to be accepted, people have to pick it apart and slather one little part in compliments hoping it overshadows the things they don’t understand or like about my sexuality as a whole.

Why am I a “normal” asexual for acknowledging other humans and why has social media given people the confidence to comment on things that aren’t any of their business? Both of these questions have been on my mind for longer than just the latest hand holding snap. Because there seems to be no clear answer, even when asked. People should have never thought it was okay to question my asexuality just because they saw me holding a guy’s hand on Snapchat. They shouldn’t think it’s alright for them to try and put my bisexuality front and center in the hopes it means I have actual sex. Just so that they can find some kind of comfort in my sexuality.

They don’t realize, it’s not my job to make people comfortable while in my presence.

-Danyi

Movie Reviews · reviews · Uncategorized

Sorry To Bother You- The Movie We Need To Talk About

I like weird things. Weird movies, weird shows, weird books and even weird clothes. If it’s different, to me, I’m more than likely going to at least give it a chance. There are some things that get a little too weird for me but more often than not I back things that others side-eyed. I used to think being called weird was an insult, I used to think that I needed to hide my nerdiness and never talk about what I liked in a group of people. Now though, in my mid 20’s, being weird is the next cool trend and people are clamoring over themselves to try and earn the crown of “Most Weird”. I’ve watched people flock to shows and movies, claiming them to be the outstanding kind of weird. Most of them aren’t but it’s interesting to watch people suddenly want to be weird. There is something good that has come out of this trend though. Black people are finally getting to showcase our weirdness and we’re getting to be loud and proud while we do it. And it’s a beautiful thing.

When I was in college, a classmate introduced me to a band called The Coup. Their frontman, Boots Riley, had a different way about rapping that really spoke to me. The Coup had just realized their newest album “Sorry To Bother You” when they were brought to my attention. And I played the album out over late night study sessions and bus rides to campus. As time passed though the album was shifted from my regular rotation to being occasionally played and finally just being something that would play in the background when I shuffled all songs on my phone. So imagine my surprise when, years later, it’s announced that Boots Riley had written and directed a film titled “Sorry To Bother You”. I freaked out. Then I saw the trailer and freaked out again. From the trailer alone I could tell that this movie was going to be my kind of weird.

Sorry To Bother You tells the story of Cassius Green, a young man who’s slowly sinking in an “alt reality” where the world relies on capitalism to keep it afloat. He and his girlfriend Detroit, whose art is as stunning as she is, live in his uncle’s garage. Detroit works as a sign twirler while Cassius has just been hired as a telemarketer for RegalView. They may be poor but they’re happy. And they’re trying their best to keep away from the rapidly growing trend known as “Worry Free Homes”, a place where people work 14 hours a day and are packed together like sardines. But it’s marketed as a happy, almost retreat, like community where no one has worry about debt ever again. At RegalView, the goal is to call as many people as you can and sell encyclopedias to them. The more you sell, the more you’re paid. However, Cassius quickly learns that more often than not, the clients are going to hang up on him. And with this job being a commissions only one, his paychecks aren’t going to be as much as he wants them to be if they’re anything at all.

Eventually, an older black man named Langston takes pity on Cassius and tells him that if he wants to make any money he’ll have to start using his white voice. Cassius dismisses this at first, a push back against conforming to the man. However, Langston explains that what we consider a “white voice” isn’t really about the person being white. It’s about sounding like you’ve got everything under control, you have no worries and you’re just as successful as the person you’re talking to. And after he takes a call and demonstrates, Cassius realizes that he just might be onto something.

Just when Cassius is starting to get the hang of being a telemarketer that actually makes sales, he is pulled into a completely opposite direction when his friends on the call floor decide they’ve had enough. Led by the resilient and persistent Squeeze, the workers stage a protest during peak call times. They want to be paid for the work they do and not just used like mules to keep the company going. Both Detroit and Cassius’s best friend Sal are down to demand change but Cassius himself is hesitant because he knows that the bosses upstairs are watching him. He needs to be promoted to Power Caller, to keep his uncle from losing his house but he also doesn’t want to go against his friends and girlfriend.

When he is promoted, Cassius is given a taste of what life is like when people are actually paid for the work they do. He gets to see what it’s like to not have to struggle to live. But he also discovers what prices he must pay for this life, what immoral things he has to turn a blind eye to and the kind of person he has to become if he wants to do well in this new world. And it’s not until Cassius is invited to the owner of the company, Steve Lift’s annual party does he realize that maybe he’s working for truly evil people.

For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go much further into detail about what happens in the movie. However, I do want to look at some of the things that I took away from this movie and why I think it’s really important for everyone to see it.

To me, Sorry To Bother You, is one of the most profound movies I’ve ever seen. Its stance on capitalism is loud and clear, with the Worry Free Homes and the RegalView job being commission only instead of by the hour. The movie gives us a clear picture of what we will be like as a society soon. Some would even say we’re already there and STBY is just showing us how everything will play out. The Worry Free Homes are a glorified version of prisons and they are presented in a way that makes them seem far less toxic than they are. On the TV, the people who in the Homes are happy to be there. Happy to be doing the work and happy to literally be worry free. But because of their presentation, people don’t question the ethics. There’s a resistance, of course, a group named Left Eye spends a majority of their time defacing Worry Free adds and aiding protestors when they hold their rallies. However, society as a whole doesn’t care and isn’t outraged enough for anything to be done. So Worry Free Homes continue to be an okay thing. I wouldn’t call this much of stretch from our world today. We rely heavily on public outrage for things to get done and more often than not if you want something changed you’re more likely to be successful if you take the issue to Twitter than you are if you take it to Congress or the Government. Even when Cassius finally thinks he’s found a way to take down Worry Free and by extension of them RegalView, he learns that people only care if you have an answer to the problem. No one wants to help solve problems that don’t affect them directly.

Another theme that Sorry To Bother You focuses on is the idea that black people are often seen as mules. We are worked harder and longer than most and often the work ends up not mattering because the goal post continues to be moved or isn’t even for us to score goals in the first place. What I mean by this is, at first Cassius wanted to be promoted just so he could save his uncle’s home and not have to struggle anymore. That’s all he really wanted. When the higher-ups suddenly took an interest in him, he was moved up and looked at as someone who could build a bridge between two worlds. He was moved up because he’s a black man who is going against what other black people and people of color are doing. It did not escape me that Cassius and his boss Mr. Blank were the only black Power Callers. They were the “we’re clearly diverse” hill that RegalView would die on in case they ever needed to defend themselves for what they were doing. Cassius is good at being a telemarketer but it wasn’t just his skills that got him an invite to Steve Lift’s party, a familiar setting that black people in the workforce often find themselves in.

There are little things scattered throughout the movie that I enjoyed and also show us just how ridiculous but alarming things have become. From the most popular show on the air being about people beating each other up to the elaborate code that a Power Callers have to us in their elevator and even Cassius’s broke down bucket car. They may seem like an exaggeration but when you stop and think about it, they really aren’t. Society as a whole has changed into something that is quickly becoming toxic and if we continue to ignore it, we’ll only get worse.

It’s important that people see this movie because not only is it massively entertaining, it’s a movie that has something to say. It may say it weirdly and it may make a lot of people extremely uncomfortable but the message STBY is trying to get out is one we all need to hear. I’ve seen the movie three times now and each time the audience reactions are different. Everyone takes it differently, I was in one show where a person got up and left while at another everyone clapped when the credits rolled. It’s bringing up things that society wants us to ignore and just be okay with, and Sorry To Bother You is here to say fuck that. We need to pay more attention to what is happening and stop hiding behind good presentation and promises of a better life. Because the “better life” has a rule printed in the finest of fonts that it can only be given to a few.

I only have one worry about Sorry To Bother You, and that is, that the “shocking” visual revelation in the third act will overpower the messages the movie conveyed. I fear that people only take away from the movie the end result and not how the movie got to that end in the first place. The revelation is very shocking, don’t get me wrong but what’s even more shocking is the people only want to talk about that. It’s being called this years’ “Get Out” and that alone tells me that many people missed the memo. They can’t comprehend that this movie is nothing like Get Out, but because both films deal with race they think the two must be considered the same. Get Out was one thing, Sorry To Bother You is something completely different. They are not mutually exclusive. We can praise STBY without comparing it to any other film because honestly there is no other film like it. Boots Riley has created a space where weirdness can have a home but the weirdness isn’t exempt from real life problems. And I think that’s wonderful.

The cast makes the movie all the better. Lakeith Stanfield is quickly becoming the actor to watch and his embodiment of Cassius Green is fantastic. Tessa Thompson has us all falling in love with her soft-spoken but highly radical Detroit. While Steven Yeun gives Squeeze a ton of heart and makes you want to join the resistance just to make him proud. Armie Hammer and Omari Hardwick play the roles of the villains beautifully. Hammer’s Steve Lift is absolutely insane but his presentation and constant cheery attitude lets him get away with pretty much everything. While Hardwick’s Mr. Blank was one of my favorite things about the movie, he’s a villain in the sense that we don’t know much about him but his support of Steve Lift tells us he’s in this for himself. I only wish we could have gotten to see more of Cassius’s uncle Surge because I love Terry Crews.

I recommend that everyone see this movie. Especially in a theater with others so that you can have this transformative experience with other people. I hope that it’s successful and Boots Riley is able to make more films, he’s clearly got a lot to say about things we need hear. Sorry To Bother You isn’t ahead of its time, rather it’s arrived right when we need it.

-Danyi

tv reviews

My Ode to Dr. Cassandra Railly

I started watching 12 Monkeys because of Aaron Stanford, he’s my favorite actor probably of all time. I never really cared for the movie, it’s a good time travel story but I was a kid when it came out. So a 12 Monkeys tv show didn’t really hold much significance to me besides my favorite actor was going to be a time traveler. That’s all I needed to be on board.

I liked the characters well enough. James Cole, I have a love/dislike relationship with. I don’t hate him, he just tests my patience a lot. Katarina Jones is a level of badass I aspire to be but suspect I won’t ever reach because I don’t have the accent to pull it off. And Jennifer Goines dreams of galaxies while the rest of us can barely comprehend stars. But it’s Dr. Cassandra Railly that has irreversibly burrowed a spot deep in my heart. She is everything, I’ve ever wanted in a female character.

Too often, women characters on tv are barely two dimensional, let alone three. Female characters usually are A) the love interest B) the “protagonist” that can only get things done with help from a man C) the reason behind a man’s pain or D) a complete and total bitch. Sometimes they can be all of the above, but it’s rare. And almost never are they all of those things plus more. We’ve come far in the world of television but for some reason, many shows still lack a quality, fleshed out, well-written female characters.

Dr. Cassandra Railly or Cassie for short is a rare kind of female character. Not only does she get to be all of those things I mentioned above but she soars beyond them and leaves those stereotypes in the dust. And I love her more than any other tv woman I’ve come across. So this is my love letter to Dr. Cassandra Railly and her fantastic character development.

In the beginning, Cassie wasn’t really on my radar. I appreciated her taking charge and telling Cole to shut up and listen but other than that I didn’t have much interest in her. It wasn’t until after “The Red Forest” did I start to notice little things about Cassie. The way she clammed up at certain things or her logical way of looking at the problems on hand. However, I also noticed a change in Cassie. Most chalked it up to her being traumatized from being kidnapped but I think her first time drinking the red forest tea truly did awaken something in her. She hasn’t been the same since then and for some reason, it was only noticed by everyone else in season two. Not only is Cassie smart, but she’s intelligent. A lot don’t know that those are two completely different traits and smart doesn’t always mean intelligent.

Cassie is how I like to think that I would handle a random man kidnapping me and telling me he’s from the future. The disbelief at first, the cautious agreement to help and finally the complete dedication to saving the world even if it means that I’ll be hurt in the end. Cassie keeps her feelings close to her and she’s not good at expressing them. She sticks to her medical science and the things she knows are fact and concrete. Feelings are never concrete so I don’t blame Cassie for being wary of them. What makes it so great though is that she’s allowed to do these things. She’s allowed to take the time she needs to be ready for a relationship, she’s not rushed into it for the sake of developing the man.

After “The Red Forest” Cassie’s change was so subtle that many missed it. I even missed it. It wasn’t until the end of the first season did I realize that the Cassie we started out with is not the Cassie we have now. But the change was so quiet, so small that her shooting Ramse was truly a shocking moment. No one saw it coming. And that, to me, is true character development. I think that we weren’t meant to notice Cassie’s change the first time around. The focus of stopping the Army of the 12 Monkeys was too intense. We only seemed to care about what Cole was going to do next. We missed the way Cassie was quietly struggling. It started with her not wanting to share what happened and what she saw with Aaron Marker. After he and Cole rescued her from the Army and she was back home, Cassie shut Aaron out. Which at the time I was overjoyed about. I never liked Marker, the way he dismissed Cassie and left her. But I really wish she had of least shared with him how much the red tea had gotten into her head. I wish Cassie hadn’t been suffering so silently while everyone else worried about the virus and the army.

Even before Cassie shot Ramse, there were always the signs that something a little deeper was going on with Cassie. Another example is when she seemed unbothered by Marker’s passing. Sure Cole found her crying in the coffee shop bathroom but Cassie was supposedly in love and going to marry Marker, so her brushing away her tears and demanding they continue on with the mission is odd. It just didn’t seem odd then because the show has us so focused on the mission and what needs to be done. Silently, Cassie slipped into the beginning of her development. She quietly built an arc in the series for herself.

Cassie went to unwavering lengths to help Cole in season one, from coercing a young Jones to help them out to tracking down a young Cole and convincing his father to help them. Cassie even defied government orders. Cole spends a lot of time dying and being in pain during season one. It’s up to Cassie and at times Marker, to fight against the army. Something that they don’t seem to get as much credit for as they should. Cassie even risks jail time and treason while Cole is in Chechnya with the case holding the virus in it. I always found it insulting how everything Cole did was praised and yet anything Cassie did was viewed as just assistance to Cole.

Season one Cassie was a set up for some seriously intense character development in season two. It’s the type of development a writer dreams about achieving. Cassie’s journey is her own, her reactions, her fears, her decisions. Everything that Cassie is in season two is almost a direct reaction to season one.

To put it plainly, season two Cassie is an absolute badass. She was thrust into a horrible situation that she couldn’t escape from and she adapted amazingly. It may seem hard for people to imagine but going from a comfortable, safe life to a post-apocalypse world is damaging. It’s traumatic. If Cassie hadn’t changed then I think the show would have greatly suffered for it.

Character development can make or break a show. The point of character development is to humanize a character in the story you’re trying to tell. Writers develop characters, give them story arcs and flaws to make them human. They make them relatable and they craft them so that the audience will care. If the audience doesn’t care about a character, then the story suffers.

Male characters, usually are always given thorough character development. Even if that development is bad. They take priority because in most cases it’s the male character whose story is being told. Female characters are put on the back burner. Or they’re slapped with the label of love interest and the only real acknowledgment they get is when the male lead decides he wants to be with them. It’s a small box with not much wiggle room but it’s a box that’s held for years on end. Female-driven stories are just beginning to be told regularly and the development of the characters still has a long way to go.

To me, 12 Monkeys is one of the first shows to break out of that box and give its women characters not only room to grow, but room to make mistakes and be human. The show gives Cassie, Jones, and Jennifer the chance to react like the humans they are and have emotional responses that are relatable. For a long time, women characters were only given hardships if it meant that those hardships would somehow affect the male. They never had their own problems to deal with and consequences that applied only to them. It’s nice to see there finally be a change. Cassie has had some of the best character development of any female character on tv. She’s got her own personal issues going on while dealing with the world ending and those issues aren’t put on the back burner.

I was excited about Cassie’s development, I was overjoyed about it. Then I got online, then I saw the weird hate that was being spewed in Cassie’s direction. Just like all other shows that have fandoms, if the show or the characters aren’t going in the direction people want, they begin to trash it. There’s a thin line in fandom that many fans cross constantly. I’m unsure if fans think the internet is a safeguard that gives them permission to be mean or if they think that the character they’re trashing isn’t played by a real person with feelings. Either way, when fandom starts trashing talking, things get ugly quick. And things got ugly during S2 of 12 Monkeys. I understand why the fandom was upset about Cassie, however, I find it to be a bit overdramatic. From the sounds of it, many were upset just because Cassie spoke harshly to Cole. She was called out of character even though this snippy Cassie has been here since she told Cole to shut up in S1E2. Cassie wasn’t out of character at all, she just wasn’t behaving the way fans thought she should. Her actions weren’t feeding into the ship fans were desperately wanting to happen. Shipping usually causes a lot of discourse in fandoms, with many ships in shows and/or films causing arguments deemed “ship wars” and keyboard battles that can last for months and even years. Fans can become obsessive in negative ways. They can become obsessed with the idea of two characters being in love. They obsess over the way the characters love each other. It’s fine for the most part but it causes problems when fans start to think they know characters better than the people who created them.

Cassie’s hate upsets me because in the day and age of all women claiming to be feminist, or claiming that they want better for women, the moment she didn’t fall at Cole’s feet and kiss on him, people started calling her a bitch. Any time she snipped at Cole or said something wasn’t in a cheery happy tone, fans trashed her. It’s strange and upsetting to me the way women will throw each other under the bus in the hopes of looking good for a man. Cole is a grown man, he literally can handle himself and he was never upset at Cassie for being hardened in S2. The fans projected their feelings of being angry at Cassie onto Cole, saying that he deserved better and that was Cassie was out of character because they thought him loving her was more important than the trauma Cassie had faced. Her pain meant nothing. It was upsetting and shocking. As for the male fans, because I know something will be said if I don’t address them too, it seems they were taking Cassie’s words personally as if they were the ones she was directly talking too. Again, weird.

I cannot fault people for behaving in the ways we were conditioned to behave. It’s all too common for women to be expected to just go along with whatever the man says and or does. She has to quietly be angry at him but still smile at him and kiss him because of the “wonderful” thing called love. She has to suffer in silence because a man admiring her is more important. It’s the way we were raised but it’s not the way we have to continue to be. I defended Cassie every single time someone said something negative about her. Most of the fandom disliked me for my constant defense of her and I ended up having to step away from the fandom because my defense of Cassie was taken as hate for Cole. Which is a whole other problem by itself. I do not hate Cole, I just think he has dumb moments. I critique him because he’s supposed to be saving the world. If he’s gonna do that he needs to get it together. However, because Cole is the lead of the show and because of the way we as a society are conditioned to behave, fans will excuse everything he does no matter what. They also excuse his behavior and actions because Aaron Stanford is handsome, which in turn makes Cole handsome. It’s weird but it’s expected and it’s routine. The second season of the show is spectacular but the fandom treatment of our female lead blew the air out of a lot of my excitement. It got better once the season was over and news of the third picked up steam but yet a whole three years later and I still find myself having to stick up for Cassie and explain simple character development because people automatically think if a woman isn’t smiling in a man’s face she’s being a bitch. And to be perfectly honest, there is nothing wrong with being a bitch. If you need to be a bitch to people to keep yourself safe, then by all means, be that bitch.

Cassie has saved Cole’s life many times over. She’s saved Hannah. She saved Deacon. She saved Jennifer. All Cassie wanted to do was save people and stop the Army of the 12 Monkeys. She had a mission that needed completing and she dedicated herself to that. I wish people were able to be more thoughtful and put themselves in Cassie’s shoes. This man who kidnapped you brings in this unbelievable idea that time travel is real and he needs your help to save the world. You agree to help and your life is turned upside down, friends start dying, you have to go on the run, you’re tortured, you’re shot, you’re sent to the post-apocalyptic world where everyone is dead and nowhere is safe. Yet people want you to remain the same throughout all of it. They want you to focus on only how handsome a man is and how often you two kiss. It’s weird, right? It’s unrealistic and it’s boring.

Cassie developed even further in S3, she became a mother. As if a switch had been flipped, suddenly people were back to loving her. Part of me thinks it’s only because she was having Cole’s child but I’m trying to have more faith in people. Now, she’s given even more reason to be vengeful as her child is taken away from her and she only sees him twice more, when he’s a kid and when he’s a grown man. However this time around, her vengefulness is seen as inspiring and great. Her need to find and protect her son was apparently the Cassie fans had been waiting for all along, even tho she hasn’t changed from her S2 self, her focus just shifted. I find it odd how Cassie was suddenly meaningful again because she had a kid. It’s an unconscious belief in many that women are only worth something if they’re being loved by a man or if they have a child. Or rather, it’s the only way they can be of relevance. Cassie is meaningful because she’s Cassie, not because Cole loves her and not because she is Athan’s mom. She’s a full person with emotions and ideas. However, most only look at 12 Monkeys as something to entertain them, I find myself looking at it as a learning experience. A goal of mine is to someday, hopefully soon, write for tv. So I spend a lot of time looking at a show through the lens of a writer. It probably drastically changes my opinion of things compared to those who only watch to be entertained.

As a writer, the development of the women characters on 12 Monkeys is really fantastic. All of the women are fleshed out and given something to do. They each have a purpose, they have believable stories and understandable reactions. And that’s really important to me. Before when I wrote, I used to write very much like a man would. Making all the important characters male except for that one female love interest. The men made all the decisions, the women followed them. It’s a habit I’ve been working hard to break out of. Now I pay more attention to the way the women characters of a show are treated. There’s a lot of room for improvement on most shows, there’s a lot of room for women characters to be given more to do. These days, there should be no women characters that are sold as the lead of a show but in actuality are only plot devices. There’s a difference between giving your audience the idea of a strong woman and actually producing a character that is a well-rounded lead who also happens to be a woman.

From an audience standpoint, Cassie should go down as one of the best female characters on tv in a long time. Her kindness, her heart, and her determination are just a few of the characteristics that make her the fully grounded person she is. Cassie’s dedication to making things right, no matter the cost is often downplayed in favor of Cole’s dedication when they both should be praised for the efforts and sacrifices they’ve had to make over the last three seasons. Out of all the characters, Cassie and Cole have given up the most. They can’t even really be in love and be happy because the circumstances around them demand something different. They really are star-crossed lovers in a galaxy that isn’t supposed to exist. It hasn’t escaped me that Cole and Cassie’s happiness was built outside of time, meaning it could have lasted forever. But in order to stop The Witness and the Army of the 12 Monkeys, nothing can exist outside of time. Not even a love as strong as Cole and Cassie.

I’m protective of Cassie because I see myself in her, I’ve always been the one to put a goal above my personal feelings. In turn, I’m also super protective of Amanda Schull. I think she’s an incredible actress and the life she breathed into Cassie has been absolutely amazing. I’m not sure anyone else would have been able to make me care so much about Cassie the way Amanda has. She’s beautiful inside and out and kills every scene that Cassie is in. I’d love to see more shows in the next few years that model their female characters after the ones written in 12 Monkeys.

A good female character could be designed after any of the 12 Monkeys women; Cassie, Jennifer, Jones or Olivia, they’re each vastly different and amazing all the same. They’re rounded and fleshed out fully, they make you care about the show Terry Matalas and his crew have created. My praise for the show cannot get any higher, I’ve loved it from the start and I’m incredibly sad about it ending. But I’m also happy it’s been given the chance to end and not snatched away from the audience before the whole story could be told. Whether or not I believe in fate, I’m glad to be placed in a cycle where this show and Dr. Cassandra Railly exists.

-Danyi

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BiAce: It’s A Thing

For a while, I thought I was exclusively into men, then for two years, I thought I was I was only into women. Fast forward a bit, I find that physically I’m into no one but I do like the way certain faces look, both male and female. And that was confusing at first. We’re conditioned to associate the acknowledgment of a nice face to sexual attraction. It’s a part of the heteronormativity that is taught to us and projected onto us from the time we are born until we die. I’m still working on convincing my friends and family that you can like someone’s face and never want them to be anywhere near you. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Bisexuality in its own right is a complicated sexuality that’s often misunderstood and misrepresented. For a long time, it was believed that if you claimed to like both men and women you were just a greedy, promiscuous person. Even now, bisexual people have been painted as confused or a traitor to one sexuality. And when we get represented in the media and/or pop culture, it’s almost never accurate. If we end up deciding on a partner in the story, our sexuality label is shifted to fit the narrative. When a bisexual girl ends up with a male partner she’s deemed suddenly straight and if she ends up with a girl, her label is changed to a lesbian. Usually, these changes aren’t made by the person they apply to but by the people who are uncomfortable with their bisexual label. I never truly understood why bisexuality makes some people uncomfortable nor the assumptions placed on people who identified this way. It was hurtful to hear from a girl that she wouldn’t date me because there was the apparent chance I could leave her for a guy, I found it strange she didn’t worry about me leaving her for another girl. And when it comes to men, I was disgusted to find they automatically assume that a bisexual girl is into threesomes as if all we’re good for is kissing on another girl in front of them.

Now to add another label onto my bisexuality, one in which representation is almost nonexistent seems like just asking for punishment. However, at this point in my life, I identify more with being asexual than I do with my bisexuality. Meaning, for now, my bisexuality is just me recognizing that both men and women are beautiful. While my asexuality is the one that gets more of my thoughts and attention. I’m more asexual than bisexual but that’s only because so many conversations end up revolving around sex. Usually, when asked I will tell someone I’m asexual or ace before I say that I’m bisexual. Not because I’m ashamed or anything but because stating that I’m bisexual gives the impression that I’m interested in sex with both men and women when I’m absolutely not. When asked, if I come right out and say I’m ace it can avoid having to explain, usually in great detail, that I like someone’s face but I don’t want to sleep with them.

In addition to asexuality not really being believed still, it’s also near unheard of for black women to be asexual. We are out there, I’ve been meeting more and more online recently but society as a whole and the media have only ever looked at black women as hypersexualized creatures. So for there to be some of us out there who want nothing to do with sex at all, it can be even more challenging to get ones’ point across. I’ve been told to my face by men both in my family and outside of it, that my asexuality was the result of a “who hurt you” situation. And while someone did hurt me and traumatized me, one of the reasons he did it was because I wasn’t into sex in the first place. He had been hypersexualizing me for so long that when I finally got the courage to speak up and say no, my words fell on deaf ears.

These days, when I allow someone to become a friend and I acknowledge liking the way a person’s face looks I undoubtedly get asked the ultimate question “Wait, aren’t you asexual?”.

And with that question comes the doubts and assumptions. It can be seen on people’s face when you’re trying to explain to them, which in turn makes me clam up and not want to say anything at all. That comes off as suspicious to the other person and now we are on a downward spiral of is asexuality real and if I’m asexual how can I also be bisexual? It’s a conversation I’ve had more times than I’d like to admit, more times than I ever should have tolerated. Back when I was just starting to wrap my mind around the term asexuality it used to embarrass me to have to explain what it meant to people. To be given that dead stare and have regret bubble up from my stomach as I tried to quickly explain what the word meant as a whole and what it means for me personally.

It’s hard to identify as either sexuality honestly, it’s something that I’ve been giving serious thought to for the better half of three years. I’ve worked through several confusing situations and conversations. I’ve discussed it over and over both with myself and other people. I’ve thought about it and I’ve cried about it. I’ve driven myself almost crazy thinking about whether or not me being both asexual and bisexual is a valid thing. Because it can be argued that being both bisexual and asexual isn’t valid since the definition of bisexual is being sexually attracted to two genders. I think though, that with the way sexuality fluctuates and changes, sexualities cannot have just one permanent meaning anymore. Everyone is different, everyone feels things differently and they shouldn’t be confined or made to stick with a society accepted definition. Barriers can be set around the definition sure but to look at someone and say you aren’t valid because you don’t fully feel something the way I way feel it, is ridiculous and obnoxious to me.

In the midst of this, there is a label called Ace Biromantic and I’m sure after posting this I’ll get asked why I don’t identify with that. To honest before it’s all said and done I probably will, but I don’t know enough about it just yet to be comfortable with placing that label on myself. I know that Biromantic means someone who can be romantically involved with someone but not sexually. So it’s a kind of asexuality really. However, I’m not entirely sure I even want to deal with someone romantically. I’m comfortable with being by myself in all corners. I don’t particularly like romance, I find most romantic gestures corny and embarrassing. So while Biromantic is something I’ve considered and am still considering, right now it’s not for me.

I’m past the point of explaining myself to others. I’m over it. In today’s society where so many of us are different, I shouldn’t have to explain why the way I feel is valid. Straight people never have to explain why they are straight. So I’ve decided to try and adopt that type of confidence for myself. My feelings about my sexuality are valid, I don’t need outside approval on this. For too long I thought I did and in seeking that approval I was only hurting myself. My need to have strangers look at me and say “you’re valid” was causing damage to my mind. That constant question of is the way I feel ok made life suffocating and I don’t want to ever feel like that again. So I’ve decided I’m not going to.

Saying is always easier than doing but when it comes to this, it’s something I’ve really done my best to follow through with. I can’t waste time arguing over labels and if something is valid or not. I don’t want my life to revolve around my sexuality. Even now when I write about it, I hope to enlight and create a safe space for myself but I never want it to be the only safe space I have. There’s so much more to life than who you choose to have in your bed and what you choose to do with them there. So I’m actively doing my best to know when to draw the line.

I don’t mind questions, I don’t mind conversations but usually, people think that because you’ve answered one question you will answer them all. They think that because your sexuality is different from theirs, that they can discuss it as like they’re studying for a school test. It’s weird.

And it’s rude.

-Danyi