Rants

When Fangirls Go Too Far

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Coriolanus1You know me. You know I’m a big fangirl, I can squee with the best of them. I’ve been to fan conventions, I have photos of myself with the cast of Supernatural and Dule Hill among others. I dream of someday attending Comic Con and interacting with my own kind (2015? Maybe?), but even I have my fangirl limits. Believe it or not, there are just some times when it’s not appropriate to act like the super-obsessed fangirl you are. And if you do, then all you accomplish is giving the rest of us a bad name.

In this week’s ‘Fanning Out’ column for Curiata.com I wrote about several of my favorite fandom actors and some of their more “high culture” performances such as Broadway and Shakespeare. A lot of my favorite actors have recently been involved in some really good live productions. For example, Tom Hiddleston recently starred in National Theatre Live’s production of Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse in London.  While few Americans had the opportunity to see it live, National Theatre Live broadcast the production in theaters across the US. I was able to see one of these broadcasts last Sunday, and it was fantastic.

One thing to keep in mind as you’re watching any of these performances – especially if you happen to be fortunate enough to see one in person – there is a line between being a fangirl and just being obnoxious. Please don’t cross that line.

The Hollow Crown aired in the United Kingdom shortly before the Summer Olympics in 2012, and in the United States back in September. It’s a four-film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry IV Pt. 1, Henry IV Pt. 2 and Henry V. Each play is a fairly faithful adaptation of Shakespeare’s work. They are beautifully filmed and the cast includes Tom Hiddleston, Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Irons, Ben Whishaw, Michelle Dockery, Joe Armstrong, Simon Russell Beale, and many others, all of whom are amazing.

I adore Tom Hiddleston just as much as the next fangirl, but if you searched The Hollow Crown on the internet while the series of films was originally airing in the UK, one would think he was the only person involved in this series, and that’s a little frustrating. I even posted a blog at the time about my irritation with Hiddleston fans. I love that the presence of actors like Hiddleston in these adaptations encourages people who may never watch Shakespeare to see them, but believe it or not there is an entire cast of brilliant actors aside from him who also made The Hollow Crown incredible; they deserve just as much credit and respect as Hiddleston.

Another thing that annoyed me about Hiddleston fans and The Hollow Crown, were all those who complained about how he wasn’t even in the first film, Richard II. Considering Richard II was wonderfully done and Ben Whishaw was absolutely brilliant as Richard II, it was a little offensive that these girls would complain because the play wasn’t rewritten to include Hiddleston’s character in all four films.

But I think what really irritated me the most was the fact that there were a large number of fans complaining about the fact that the dialogue was too old-fashioned and nobody could understand it. I had almost forgotten about this irritation until I saw Coriolanus on Sunday and there was a group of teenage girls in the audience obviously there just to see Hiddleston and they too complained about how they couldn’t understand anything that was being said.

If you’re going to see a Shakespeare performance because you love one of the actors, but know very little about Shakespeare, try to take this opportunity to learn more about the literature behind the play. Pick up a copy of the play and try to read it – No Fear makes wonderful editions with the full English version side-by-side with the original text and many of these are available to read online. Don’t just go, sit in the theater clueless and then afterward complain about how you couldn’t understand a word they were saying, and why do they have to talk that way?

One of the things that makes Shakespeare great is his use of language. If you want to see Shakespeare with modern language then watch 10 Things I Hate About You. But if you want to see real Shakespeare, starring actors like Tom Hiddleston, David Tennant, Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellan, then you’re going to have to actively listen to the dialogue on stage.

Moving away from my ranting about Shakespeare, if you happen to be one of the lucky people who gets to see your favorite celebrity in a live production, please for the love of God don’t act like an obsessed fangirl in the audience. I saw How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway starring Darren Criss and the most annoying thing in the world is having a bunch of teenaged girls behind you screaming and squealing as if this were a concert, not a Broadway production. Then, they didn’t even stay until the end of the musical, because they had to get outside and around to back of the building in case Criss came out after to greet his fans. Not only is this disrespectful to the other actors on the stage, but it’s distracting to the performers and the audience alike (as is all the screaming and trying to sneak photos during the performance).

Please be aware of your surroundings and recognize that there are some venues where it’s just not appropriate to cheer and scream “Marry Me” at the top of your lungs. Broadway and other theatrical productions being one.

There’s no reason why we can’t be ourselves and fan out all we want, but we should also be respectful of the people we’re fanning out over and their other fans. No one likes being stereotyped, and that obsessive fangirl stereotype comes from somewhere – let’s try not to perpetua­­­­te it.

A Tale of Two Series, or How Siffy Frakked up a Good Thing

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Before I get started, two disclaimers:

Disclaimer #1: This post will be entirely about the US and UK versions of the series Being Human. If you haven’t seen either and/or don’t care to, you may as well hit the back button on your browser now.

Diclaimer #2: This post will contain spoilers for the season 1 finales of both series, so if you haven’t seen one or both and do not wish to be spoiled, you may as well hit the back button on your browser now.

Oh yeah, and the following does not reflect the views of Barnes & Noble or any or all of it’s employees. These ramblings are entirely mine. (Sorry, inside joke)

Ok, now for the 3 or 4 of you who are still here with me, I will continue…

As I’m sure many of you are aware, Being Human is one of my favorite television shows in the universe. I absolutely adore everything about it (not just the hot Irish vampire). The writing, the acting, the directing, the cinematography… everything about it is terrific, and I’m sure other fans out there would agree. There isn’t much like it on television. Last night, as I was lying in my bed planning out this blog I was reminded of how much people loved Buffy when it was on the air. How a show about a vampire slayer became a metaphor for so many dealing with high school and other real life issues. Being Human is kind of like that for those of us who grew up on Buffy but are now trying to deal with other real life issues, finding jobs, apartments, fitting in as adults, etc.

Recently Siffy has been airing an American version of this series, and I gotta say I don’t love it at all. I watched the entire first season and will probably watch the second as well purely out of curiousity. I can’t help but wonder what they’re going to do next. Fans of the British series would definitely recognize pretty much every single plotline in the series, as most of them are just recycled and “Americanized” versions of the original series. Some of the best episodes of the US version were actually the ones that had little or nothing to do with the original and just explored their own storyline.

This habit of following so closely to the original has bothered me all season. It’s like watching a movie made from your favorite book; it follows the plot closely but changes all your favorite parts too much to allow you to really like it. Most of the time I just found these changes annoying or ridiculous. I mean, is it really necessary to have Bishop (Herrick) jump through a window into the apartment (burning up since he’s never been invited in) in order to stake Aidan (Mitchell), when the doorbell in the original worked just as well and was just as tense? Why must Americans make everything so much more dramatic? Like Aidan beating the crap out of Danny (Owen) to scare him off and turn himself in. I found the three of them in the original confronting him together so much more satisfying (and more unifying for the roommates).

But like I said, I always found these things more annoying and just ridiculous displays of how Americans need to make this flashier. Until the finale. In the final episode they messed with something I feel really messes with the entire integrity of the show and the dynamic of the roommates and that really bothers me.

British fans will remember how, in the finale, George asks Mitchell to allow him to take the message to Herrick for the meet. Instead of telling Herrick to meet Mitchell on top of the hopsital, he tells him to meet him in the isolation room in the basement where George spends his full moons. Mitchell and Annie realize it too late, after George has already shut himself in with the vampire and will not allow them to talk him out of it. They allow him to take this one for the team, but not after Nina runs in during the transformation, getting herself scratched by George. Then Mitchell, Nina and Annie stand by outside the room as George tears Herrick apart.

That is how it’s supposed to happen. The episode started with a flashback Mitchell rescuing George from vampires and them becoming friends, and ends with George returning the favor and doing something for Aidan. It helps to solidify that bond between them. It also enforces the unity between all three roommates (and, since Herrick was killed by a werewolf not a stake sets the stage for season 3). I think this ending was extremely important for all the characters, and it helped remind everyone that this is an ensemble cast, not the John Mitchell show. I have no doubt that Mitchell could have killed Herrick, and probably would have liked to have saved his friend from that horror, but it was a really important moment in George and Mitchell’s friendship. George needed to do this … and partly because of this he’ll need to do something much more horrible (and heartbreaking) at the end of season 3.

The Siffy version robbed us of this ending. Instead, it’s Aidan (Mitchell) and Sally (Annie) who go behind Josh’s (George) back and change the meeting place. So Josh transforms alone, except for the few minutes where Nora (Nina) tries to run in and gets herself scratched by a wolfy Josh. At some warehouse somewhere Sally and Aidan meet Bishop and after a huge fight Aidan beheads Bishop. There were a few minutes where I thought Sally was going to stake him, and that would have upset me even more.

Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like this ending robbed Josh of the chance do something for Aidan, to make themselves equal, to return the favor for Aidan saving him from those vampires two years ago. Sure, we know he would have been willing to kill Biship for Aidan, but he never got  the chance to actually do it. Also, I feel like it took the spotlight away from the three roommates as a whole and shined it directly onto Aidan as if he’s the star of the show, which he is not. It’s supposed to be about all three roommates, but I feel like it’s becoming all about him. Especially with the vamp returning at the end to take Aidan off to meet someone (though that part also gave me hope that maybe next season they’re going to go their own way and not follow the UK show so much, since I have no idea what was happening there, and there was no creepy priest interviewing Danny).

This just really irked me. I already feel like the US cast is missing the chemistry and bond that the UK cast shared, and now they have missed out on something that really helped to bond the UK characters.

Another side note; maybe it’s just that Aidan Turner (and everyone else) was so amazing in the last season of Being Human, but I felt like Sam Witwer’s performance in this episode was a little stiff, and not at all up to par with Aidan. Don’t get me wrong, I like Witwer and he’s one of the main reasons I’ve been able to keep watching (even my curiousity can only get me so far) but I felt like there was something missing from his performance that is always present in Aidan’s. I don’t know exactly what it was, some kind of deeper emotion or connection or something.

Ok, so that’s my rant about the Being Human US finale. I feel so much better now!

When the First Ammendment and Sanity Conflict

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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Ammendment has been a hot topic lately, as the Supreme Court recently decided that the Freedom of Speech clause protects people like the Westboro Baptist “Church” in their decision to picket the funerals of children and soldiers killed in action.

As someone who has many family members in various branches of the armed forces and has buried a cousin killed in Iraq, I find it disgusting that our Bill of Rights could allow something so horrible. As a former jounalism student, I understand that no court in the country is going to rule in favor of violating anyone’s First Ammendment right. Unfortunately, as long as their protests remain “peaceful” there is nothing that can be done to stop them, any more than you could stop any other form of protest.

But what about the family’s right to privacy you ask? The First Ammendment is First for a reason. Our founding fathers felt this was one of the most important things to be included in the Bill of Rights. They wanted to make sure that at no time could anyone infringe on anyone else’s freedom of religion or speech. The result being that whenever the First Ammendment comes into conflict with another ammendment, the First will win out almost every time. While most of the time we are grateful that these freedoms are protected so diligently, at times like this it’s extremely frustrating trying to understand how our government could allow such a thing to happen.

Make no mistake, I despise this so-called church just as much as the rest of the country (at least, everyone who is not a member of the insanity), and I truly wish there were a way to stop them, but with the First Ammendment on their side, there’s not a lot we can do but sit back and pray they screw up so they can be prosecuted without its protection.

One thing we can actively do is support and protect that families who are targeted by these people. And maybe if the media would stop giving them so much attention, they would eventually fade away. They’re mostly doing this for the attention. If the entire world turned its back on them, ignored them and showed them that we’re not going to let them affect us anymore, eventually their fanaticism would fade.

Of course, I keep saying the same thing about Charlie Sheen but so far the media (and America as a whole) is too fascinated watching the train wreck he calls his life to understand that maybe if he wasn’t getting all this attention he would just retreat back into his crazy life. The media and attention just adds fuel to the fire.

What Americans can’t seem to understand is that these people, whether they are members of Westboro Baptist, Charlie Sheen or some other crazy person, only have the power that we give them. And since we gave it to them we can just as easily take it away.

And I’m begging, please America, take it away.

“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

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Today is the Friday after Thanksgiving, more commonly known as Black Friday. For most Americans this marks the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season (although I know there are many of you out there who are very smart and motivated and have already finished your Christmas shopping).

According to Wikipedia, Black Friday was original a term coined by the Philadelphia police in reference to the high volume of traffic on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It was later used in reference to retailers going from being down in sales (in the red) to increasing their sales (being in the black).

Now it’s famous for being one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Those of us unfortunate enough to be working in retail during this time of year know what it can be like. And we’ve all heard the horror stories on the news about people fighting over toys and last year a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by overzealous holiday shoppers.

My question is, why? Why do we do this every year? What happened to the true meaning of Christmas? Whether you’re Christian or not, isn’t Christmas still supposed to be more about giving than receiving? About appreciating your loved ones and showing them you care? Since when did Tickle-Me Elmos, and Furbies (and what the hell is a Zhu Zhu Hamster?) become more important than family during the holiday season?

Some of you may be familiar with a little thing called Elf on a Shelf. If you’ve never heard of it, consider yourself lucky. If you’ve actually purchased one for your child, you should be ashamed of yourself. (Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong about believing in Santa, but this Elf is just downright disturbing.) For those of you who do not know, this Elf is a creepy little guy you hide all around you house every day for your kids to find, and you tell them he’s watching you and reporting to Santa at night while they are asleep. In other words, he’s a spy. But that’s not even the worst part.

During our holiday meeting for work we had to watch a training video on these stupid Elves because our company is really pushing them this year (we received over a 100 into the store in one day). You want to know what we learned from this video? That this Elf Spy is more popular than Baby Jesus. I kid you not. One woman actually said on camera that her kids enjoyed this Evil Elf more than their advent calendar. These kids are being encouraged to accept the world of commercialism way too early.

Now I know some of you are thinking that these opinions are baseless, since I do not have kids of my own. Which may be true. But one woman I work with does have kids and considered buying the Elf until she heard the above woman’s comments on the Elf. She was horrified by that admission. So it’s not just me.

I know Christmas means different things to different people; we don’t all have the same religious beliefs, but I always believed that no matter what your personal beliefs, Christmas should be a magical time of the year. It’s not supposed to be about the material things. I think it’s time we put aside all the ridiculous commercialism and put the “Peace on Earth” and “Goodwill toward Men” ideas back into Christmas.

After all, if the Grinch can learn his lesson, why can’t we?

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”