2016 Retrospective: Pop Culture Edition

For someone who really enjoys visual media and serialized storytelling, I don’t actually watch that many movies or get into that many TV shows. I think that this is probably because I feel things so strongly that it’s difficult for my to spread my enthusiasm out. When I like something, I really, really like it, and all I can do is focus on that one thing for however long. There is not any space in my brain and in my heart for other media.

These was an incredibly great year for me pop culture wise. Even though I’m mostly at odds with the majority opinion on the first two of these things, here are the TV/Movie events that occupied a lot of my time and thought process over the last year.

Batman vs. Superman
My love for this movie/utter bewilderment and downright frustration with the hate leveled at this movie are well documented here, here, here and here, so I’ll try not to get too much into it here. Suffice to say that  I have spent years of my life waiting for this movie. I mean, not this movie in particular, but what this movie represents – a serious, sobering look at what it means to be a superhero. This movie tackled issues that I have wanted from my superheroes stories for years and have never gotten to my satisfaction. Mainly – what is the responsibility of a hero? What are the ramifications of being a superhero? What do we ask and expect from our heroes, and can any of them ever really live up to that? What does it mean for the people who must live in the same world as that hero, and how do we come to terms with the fact that real life gods live among us?

And most of all, I wanted a superhero story that wasn’t about ‘good guys’ whose goodness is taken for granted. I don’t want stories where the narrative excuses away poor decision making. I don’t want static characters. I want real conflict. I want character arcs. I want substance.

And you want this in a superhero movie? Someone out there might be asking.

Yes.

We deserve better superhero stories that are as strong as the characters.  We deserve a higher level of storytelling. And that’s what I got in this movie and it was wonderful.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
A little over a year ago, I posted this on Twitter:
screenshot-2017-01-08-at-7-32-59-pm

This sounds like hyperbole, but in terms of television – it really is the reason that I try not to devote too much time into shows if they aren’t going well. I know people who will stick with a show to the bitter end for, well, whatever reason. Gilmore Girls is the reason I can’t/won’t do this. If shows were relationships, Gilmore Girls would be the one that ruined me for all future ones.

Out of all my many fandoms, Gilmore Girls might stand out as being the one I loved in a way that I can never love again. That show was on during a formative time of my upbringing and I shared it with two of the most important women in my life – my sister and my best friend. Every week for six years, I sat down for an hour and watched this show. Then, I went online – on TwoP and FanForum – and read recaps and reviews and meta and fan theories every day until the next episode aired. I loved this show so much. This show was my first real love in terms of television. It was the first show that really felt like mine.

And then it fucked me over. After six years, I had to suffer through the worst seventh season ever. After five years of build up, I had to watch everything I had been waiting for come crashing down in one 12 episode stint.

I was bitter for years.

Nine years, in fact.

And now?

Now I don’t have to be bitter any more. Because the revival was everything that I wanted. It resolved everything I wanted to resolve. IT LET LUKE AND LORELAI GET MARRIED. SIXTEEN YEARS AND I FINALLY GOT TO SEE THEM GET MARRIED.

It also stayed true to its own brand of storytelling and didn’t pander to what fans wanted. As much as I enjoy the fandom/creator interaction available through social media, I also feel like it makes fans really, really entitled and dilutes the storytelling process. I feel like creatives feel an added layer of pressure from the fans because of that blurring of the fourth wall, so much so that half the time it feels like shows become nothing but a way for writers to pander to their most vocal parts of their audience.

There was pandering in this revival. But it was superficial callbacks here and there. The meat of the story – especially with Rory’s story – was so painfully true to the narrative that ASP has wanted to tell all these years. She told the story as she wanted to tell it, which I like and appreciate. It also made the revival feel more authentic and necessary, an actual show with one last story to tell rather than just a way to make a little bit more money. I laughed, I cried (I cried a lot and constantly), and at the end of the day I was completely satisfied with what we got and just so grateful that we got it.

I don’t have to be bitter any more! My trust issues are healed. My heart can love again.

The 100/The Kabby Fandom
I’m no stranger to fandom. I’ve been involved in many – Buffy, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Gilmore Girls – over the last decade and a half or so. But I’ve always been mostly a lurker, content to spend my time reading meta and fanfic and mostly staying out of fanwars (or flame wars, as they were called once upon a time).

But this year, I decided to go out on a limb and actually become a part of a fandom. Way back in March, I wrote my first fic for Kabby fandom. And, surprise, surprise – people actually liked it. People read a story that I wrote and they thought it was good enough to like and reblog and comment on. And to ask me to write more.

Literally 50+ stories and hundreds of thousands of words later, and I actually find myself part of a community. There are people I’ve never met who I consider my friends. There are people who read my writing and write the nicest things in the tags and who ask me about my day and how I’m doing and care about what’s going on in my life – even though they’ve never met me! And I get to share in this experience of watching a television show with dozens of other people who feel about it exactly as I do! Who don’t find my enthusiasm off putting or weird. Who care about my opinions and share their own.

It’s been such a wonderful experience not only getting to know everyone, but getting to share my writing and build confidence and practice. Season four starts in less than a month and I can’t wait to share the upcoming season with these lovely people.

 

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