The ’90s Nostalgia Project: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, S2E1 and E2


What it says on the tin.  Let’s go.

  • HELLOOOOOOOOO AGAIN, let’s livetweet some ! next up is S2E1, “When She Was Bad”
  • and just from the Netflix preview, looks like Buffy’s been traumatized by her near-death experience. fun fun fun
  • THANKS, SHOW, for reminding me that the Master looked like a swarm of flying spiders when he died, I REALLY appreciate that
  • bawww, who’s Willow swapping movie quotes with–oh. hi, Xander. 😒
  • the heck are you holding, Xander?
  • “well yeah if you’re always scissors” — I JUST SPAT BREADCRUMBS
  • how is it that this show was making killer gay jokes before any character was canonically gay?
  • “please, I’m so over her”
  • can somebody develop a special Xander-muting app
  • if only there was pensive piano music in real life for these sorts of situations
  • OH SH
  • confirmed, Buffy basically brings the vampire party with her wherever she goes
  • “hi guys.” —
  • lawd I missed this theme song
  • Buffcakes didn’t get bangs per se but she like……….. spiritually got bangs, if that makes any sense
  • JOYCE 😍
  • lovely little interlude from Cordelia there… I’m consoling myself with thoughts of her future character development
  • sup, Quark
  • this high school might be above a literal hellhole but god, at least these students get to go outside between classes
  • someone should set up Principal Quark and Agatha Trunchbull on a blind date. they’d either get along like a house on fire or kill each other
  • and either way, it’d be entertaining as hell. 😈
  • same tbh
  • “Yo, G-Man, what’s up?”
    never speak again, Xander
  • oh wait nvm Buffy did get bangs, I just didn’t see them in the dark
  • I am super in favor of this library gymnastics bit
  • I can totally see the prosthetics line on this bald vampire’s head
  • oh lawl never mind it’s one of Buffy’s dreams, she unmasked Giles and he’s the Masted
  • THE MASTER. god dang it
  • when you try your best but you don’t succeed
  • I’m amazed at how coherent Buffy’s dreams are, honestly
  • Xander and Willow were so thoroughly in character
  • except for the part where they stood by as the Master strangled Buffy, I mean
  • oh god why is her bedroom window open.
  • oop. Angel is why.
  • “mind if I come in?”
    dude you’re already in her bedroom.
  • “how are you?”
  • awwwww, a lovely bit of star-crossed lovers angst.
  • “did you guys hear that Cibo Matto is going to be at the Bronze tonight?” Xander says, as if there isn’t a poster for that event behind him
  • holy god did *everybody* get bangs over break? (well, except Willow, that is)
  • ah yes, a hint of that wonderful Cordelia character development
  • WILLOW FOR GOD’S SAKE you cannot seriously be trying the ice-cream-on-nose trick again
  • oh wonderful, gravedigging. I bet I know exactly who the Anointed One and his lackeys are digging up.
  • because what’s scarier than a vampire who’s also a zombie?
  • Buffy striding into the Bronze accompanied by some moody synthwave
  • oh dear god Buffy do not do this
  • do not toy with Xander like this, it’s still a jerkish thing to do and it’ll make him even more insufferable
  • is that backup singer even singing at all?
  • I for real want that dress tho
  • this is so weird and I am so uncomfortable
  • Xander looks downright miserable tbh
  • BUFFY. GIRLFRIEND. get tf out of there. treat yourself to a pedicure or something, sheesh.
  • wait tho, Cordelia is swooping in with the advice of the year
  • OH GOD
  • how did I become so protective of Cordelia Chase so fast, good lord
  • oh NO NO NO Jenny got kidnapped along with Cordelia
  • (@ self: don’t get attached, gosh darn it)
  • cut to the next day and Willow just casually talking, very very loudly, about possession in the middle of the lunchroom
  • no one on this show is the least bit subtle: the show
  • “a bitka?”
    literal lol’ing
  • for real, though, I’m a little miffed that nobody’s considering the possibility of PTSD
  • oh nvm Giles is considering it. good on ya
  • “there’s some things I can just smell. it’s like a sixth sense.” “that would be one of the five.” y’all I am DECEASED
  • yeah, uh, I’m with Willow on this one. Buffcakes, you are definitely walking into a trap.
  • you are very easily distracted, Buffy
  • crying girl, definitely a trap
  • you know, I actually suspected they were after the rest of the Scoobies right when Giles first said “nearest”
  • damn, why does the library always have to get wrecked
  • huh, they left Xander behind. I mean I would too but why did the vamps do it?
  • Buffy definitely just brought a whole new meaning to shoving religion down people’s throats
  • oh great, the four kidnapped people are strung up like chickens over the Master’s bones.
  • dude, Giles, you’re tall enough to touch the bones, GRAB THEM. MAKE ‘EM PUT THE SKELETON BACK TOGETHER
  • or wait, I guess Giles isn’t even conscious.
  • why is nobody focused on destroying the Master’s skeleton, that would throw a wrench in people’s plans right away
  • holy… did she just stake one vamp with the butt end of a torch and burn another with the fire end?
  • god, that is so efficient and I love it
  • oh okay here we go, NOW somebody thinks to smash the Master into bits
  • oh god this is so emotional and I love it
  • Xander that shirt is hideous
  • seriously
  • oh great, that little snot-nosed mid is still alive.
  • KID. good lord.
  • let’s go for another one, shall we?

S2E2, “Some Assembly Required”

  • Buffy are you literally sitting on a headstone
  • I’ll give Angel this, he is much better at hiding jealousy than Xander is
  • seriously, Buff, don’t bring just one stake, that’s a recipe for trouble
  • “what do you mean, he’s just a kid? does that mean I’m just a kid too?”
    well, uh, when you put it that way
  • “whoever was buried here didn’t rise from this grave. she was dragged from it.”
    cue the opening of London Bridge
  • Buffy and Xander tag-teasing Giles is adding years to my lifespan though
  • I’m always so fascinated by how the ordinary, the bystanders, are grieved or not grieved in shows like this
  • Sunnydale can’t be that big and yet Xander didn’t know of Meredith, someone his own age
  • and then there were the boys found dead in the school lounge at the end of season 1, too
  • Cordelia was certainly shaken by their deaths, as was Willow, but somehow life for the rest of the school goes on — how?
  • it must shape the fabric of a town, this constant loss, the fact that it’s always grief o’clock somewhere, but is that ever really explored?
  • do off-camera parents deny this grief because they’re so painfully used to it by this point? do their children dream of escaping Sunnydale?
  • do families move here and then immediately nope the hell out?
  • do kids who go to college elsewhere joke about the violent hellhole they grew up in and then wonder how much of a joke it was?
  • whew okay pensive interlude aside, back to the snark
  • oh great, weirdo with camera taking surprise pictures of people. we’ve got ourselves a regular Colin Creevey here
  • “I don’t think anyone should have to do anything educational in school if they don’t want to” – Cordelia over here sounding like Betsy DeVos
  • gotta hand it to this Chris guy for consistently calling out Creepy Eric. I bet Chris is gonna die.
  • the poster boy for meninism
  • (apologies to whichever actor that is.)
  • wait is Chris Cordelia’s ex from long ago?
  • gotta hand it to Cordy, at least she’s attempting to deal with her own issues, even if it’s in her typical Cordyish way
  • hold up, so Sunnydale is a big enough town that there’s another high school fairly close by?
  • I’m still trying to figure this world out. it’s a little baffling.
  • Xander literally just quipped about the “cross-town body competition” I can’t
  • this show has such a weird relationship with death and grief
  • lawllllllll Buffy and Willow making the men do all the gravedigging here
  • ohhhhhhhh, Cordy dated Chris’s older brother, that’s what happened
  • and of course the brother died.
  • “rock-climbing.” sure, Willow
  • oh I have a very bad feeling about this sudden cut to Cordelia.
  • oh man I thought for sure it’d be one of the body snatchers but no, it’s Angel
  • and of course Cordelia finds a severed hand in the dumpster she was hiding in because honestly what else would you expect from Sunnydale
  • meanwhile the rest of the Scoobies found empty graves, wunderbar
  • Cordelia is lowkey cuddling Angel and I’m like…………. is this foreshadowing
  • I don’t remember from my long-ago Wikipedia dive — are they a Thing in Angel?
  • anyway. Angel just described some Jack the Ripper shenans so that’s charming
  • in fairness to Cordelia, after an ordeal like hers, I’d feel better with a vampire accompanying me home too
  • oh, hello, Chris and his mom.
  • this is one hell of a sympathetic antagonist
  • the mom is watching her dead son’s old football videos I’m emotional
  • woohoo locker search party
  • oh now that is creepy.
  • the Barbiedook
  • that may well be the most dreadful pun I’ve ever made
  • “how’s my baby?” Eric, you little Frankenstein groupie, if you don’t shut the entire hell up right this instant…
  • I already hated “My Girl” but gosh dang
  • okay Xander I hate that you’re basically IRL subtweeting Buffy right now but you do have a good point about people desiring the unattainable
  • even though I’m sure you don’t realize it
  • honestly though Xander would 100% be that person whose Twitter is entirely subtweets
  • GILES. hon you look like a lost schoolgirl
  • “ask her to bless your laptop” — Buffy that even sounds weird coming from *you*
  • though “technopagan” sounds fly as hell
  • HE LITERALLY JUST “don’t leave me”-ED I CAN’T
  • oh he already used the word “indecorous,” this is going to go swimmingly
  • it’s okay, Giles, I’d be flustered if I were asking Jenny out too
  • mmhmm, Giles, I’m sure you have so much fun at football games
  • Jenny is Getting It Done and I am weak
  • that hairdo is also making me weak lbr
  • “that went well. I think.”
    Giles you literally didn’t even do anything
  • “huh, I found them attractive enough”
  • Chris is all eeehhhhhhh about committing murder despite the fact that he’s Frankensteining a girl
  • or “Igoring” might be another appropriate term
  • OH DANG, Chris’s brother is DEFINITELY​ NOT DEAD
  • or, uh, not super dead at any rate
  • dude looks like a baseball
  • he doesn’t want to be alone — oh my god this is raising so many interesting questions about Adam and Eve mythology
  • lawd this is messed up
  • does Darryl or whatever his name is not remember he dated Cordelia? or does Eric just not know?
  • “I think anyone who cuts dead girls into little pieces doesn’t get the benefit of any doubt” — Z-SNAPPING IT OUT FOR BUFFY
  • Buffy is not here for Chris apologism and I love it
  • oh yeah, Chris, the six different NO ENTRY signs to your Frankencellar are definitely going to quash all curiosity
  • bracing myself for a jump scare
  • I hate this from-behind camera angle so much
  • OH GOD Darryl almost sneaking up on Buffy but her not noticing and getting away is almost worse than a jumpscare
  • oh boy, Cordelia is putting on makeup when Chris approaches. filed under “definitely significant”
  • yeah, Chris, what ARE you doing in what I can only assume is the girls’ locker room
  • I’m so impressed that Cordelia knows the word “apex,” genuinely
  • Eric you predatory piece of [redacted]
  • good lord this football game is taking me back
  • whaddaya want to bet Darryl’s going to steal someone’s uniform and go out on the field
  • or not.
  • wonderful timing for that touchdown, boys. not.
  • Eric lowkey sneaking around the back while Buffy talks to Darryl
  • also I’m amazed, Xander can actually be useful for once
  • holy mother of god Xander definitely just Fast-and-Furioused Cordelia’s stretcher straight through the flames
  • the boy does have his very occasional uses
  • also Buffy is kicking an awful lot and I’m like… hon that’s a recipe for getting your leg grabbed and getting yanked onto your rear
  • Chris swooping in at the eleventh hour to try to dissuade Darryl
  • oh that is disturbing, Darryl died for the second time bc he was literally so thirsty he decided he’d rather cuddle a headless corpse
  • phwhooosh
  • OH AND OF COURSE XANDER’S BIG TAKEAWAY IS THAT EVERYONE ELSE IS “PAIRED OFF” go home and watch reruns of Baywatch you perv
  • here’s an idea, Xander, Chris isn’t “paired off” with anyone
  • what the SNOT, XANDER
  • see, this is one of many many MANY reasons why you’re still single
  • @ anyone pls tell me the Character Transmogrifier comes for this fool eventually
  • he is the least self-aware character ever
  • “I don’t love Xander”
    “yeah, but he’s in your life. he gets to be there when I can’t.”
    uh, anybody else get a possessive vibe from this?
  • chill out, Angel, yeesh
  • and they mosey through the graveyard right next to Darryl’s grave, and turns out I’ve been spelling his name wrong this whole time
  • also it just occurred to me that I was livetweeting an episode about a dude who came back from the dead. happy Easter, folks.

The ’90s Nostalgia Project: Whitney Livetweets the Buffy S1 Finale


Once again, y’all are going to get a livetweet masterpost rather than a Canada update, because I’ve been swamped with work.  Here, then, is my livetweet of “Prophecy Girl”:

  • yall I know it’s a ridiculous time of night to be doing this but guess what??? more Buffy livetweeting!!!
  • only one ep tonight, that’s all I got time for, but still
  • tonight I’m tackling the S1 finale whoo boy
  • k so apparently Buffy and Angel have already smooched, duly noted
  • wait who’s this tiny kid
  • also Giles is looking for a super particular vampire almanac and Angel’s like “I’ll interlibrary loan it for you bro”
  • (and that’s what I missed on Buffy!)
  • we open on the Bronze, and tbh I’m having to suspend so much disbelief about this club being a real thing
  • vampires, sure. teenagers who actually go to a legit club?? does that happen????
  • oh christ who’s Xander confessing his undying love to
  • oh god poor Willow
  • (although……… Willow, babe, ilu but WHY are you wearing that dog collar like I know this is the ’90s but sheeeeeesh)
  • “what’s Buffy doing?” besides avoiding your unimpressive self, you mean?
  • k why does that vampire growl like the tiger noise at every Broken Arrow football game ever
  • is this episode the origin story of man door hand hook whatever?
  • those punching noises sounded weirdly hollow
  • wait whoa does Giles literally live at the school
  • um pls tell me that at some point in the series, characters reading to themselves backfires hardcore and they accidentally summon a demon
  • don’t worry, Giles, I’m sure that vibration is just due to the crapton of fault lines in California
  • (side note, where in California *is* Sunnydale?)
  • oh ok that’s actually one doozy of an earthquake
  • good lord is the Master always this melodramatic or does he just have the world’s worst case of cabin fever
  • brief theme song interlude
  • Gilesssssssss you are a mess
  • ugh hang on my wifi went out again, pls hold for technical difficulties
  • I choose to believe that Willow is purposely sabotaging Xander by being an exceptionally bad liar here
  • lord I can smell the secondhand embarrassment a mile away. I need to take a moment, hang on
  • right I’ve got some chips and very garlicky salsa, let’s endure this scene
  • oh my god he’s gonna say the mating thing isn’t he.
  • when you know you’re about to screw up royally but you just can’t stop yourself from running your mouth
  • ok he didn’t say the mating thing. thank god.
  • “Willow’s not looking to date you. Or if it is, she’s playing it pretty close to the chest.” oh m y g o d
  • I Cannot Believe the first gay joke on this show was from f***ing XANDER
  • relatable
  • “look, I’m sorry, I don’t handle rejection well” – I’m screaming???? did he actually just say that????????
  • god in heaven I do not understand how Buffy didn’t smack him down right then and there
  • oh this is agony
  • ugh pls miss me with the sad piano music
  • oh my god an actual phone with a cord! just like the one we still have at home
  • does she always open conversations by lovingly dragging people omg I adore her already
  • god, I didn’t realize till just now how Not A Thing the phrase “surfing the net” is anymore
  • Cordelia what are you going to do to Willow
  • a bit of subliminal messaging here
  • also Willow’s puppy eyes have me WEAK
  • yay creepy choir echoes
  • oh SH
  • LITERAL CRICKETS IN THE BACKGROUND when Buffy overhears the prophecy, I’m dead y’all
  • Buffy oh my god I’m emotional
  • she just went all ending-of-Order-of-the-Phoenix on him I
  • *wailing*
  • k now you can *not* miss me with the sad piano music
  • uh, no, my room totally doesn’t look a thing like this why would you possibly think that
  • (ARGH the lengths I go to in order to keep my reflection out of these but my nose still made it in)
  • oh hi Joyce, my favorite TV mom
  • ok but this Cordelia bit is actually uncomfortably
  • I’m just gonna guess they’ll walk in and the boys will be gruesomely dead
  • oh wow that is one hell of a shot
  • why is Buffy like the only person who has ever looked good in an empire-waist dress
  • that’s honestly not even fair
  • give her a damn hug ya monster
  • it’s such a shame because I know what happens to Jenny and I’m trying not to get attached but damn it
  • “Buffy’s not going to face the Master, I am.” uh?
  • armed with what, Giles, your stellar fashion sense? or do you actually know how to use those swords for something other than paper cutting?
  • omg my bby’s embracing her destiny and going to h*ck up monsters I’m so proud
  • ok but do we have this iconic Slayer to blame for the preponderance of ballgowns on YA book covers? genuine question
  • Buffy, don’t trust the damn kid, remember The Shining?
  • same, Jenny
  • the eternal Dealing With Xander Harris face
  • is that thing like…………. a trident AND a crossbow?
  • this conversation between Angel and Xander feels like the literal entire reason the Bechdel Test was developed
  • it’s like not even a Bechdel Test fail……….. it’s more like a reverse Bechdel pass
  • and honestly I’m not here for it, k, let’s move on
  • how did Angel not sense the giant cross before Xander shoved it in his face?
  • “at the end of the day, I pretty much think you’re a vampire.”
  • “you’re in love with her.”
    “aren’t you?”
  • please let this scene be over soon oh my god
  • man, I can’t imagine how much faster this research process would go with Google Maps and ProQuest
  • good move, Buffy, waiting till the kid is out of sight to move
  • “thanks for having me” – ICONIQUE
  • dude looks like an overgrown finger who spent too much time under a bandaid
  • there was no way to avoid the reflection in that one, lawl
  • “oh good, the feeble banter portion of the fight” – brb mad that I didn’t come up with that line first
  • am I really witnessing a vampire No Homo between Angel and Xander rn I swear to god
  • I mean I’m sure everybody thought prom was going to be a metaphorical agonizing bloodbath anyway
  • god help me now I really want a Grand Theft Auto/Walking Dead crossover video game
  • for real though I feel like Joel Schumacher took all of his aesthetic inspiration from this episode and none of the feminism
  • also I paused the video at the exact right moment and I can’t stop laughing
  • oh great
  • if either one of those patriarchal MFs is the one to “save” Buffy I’m gonna riot
  • oh my god no no no NO NOT THE ICKY CPR TROPE DEAR GOD
  • Xander do you actually know CPR
  • ugh yeah Xander’s CPR was what resuscitated her end me now pls
  • course, the flip side is that she just punched a giant hole in the school so now the vamps can come in easier. goooooooood job
  • Giles over [here] like “I know they did not just do that”
  • they’re building a barricade and I know this is not the time to snicker about Les Mis but just watch me
  • oh god the bite.
  • walk walk fashion baby
  • I love the super literal take on “game face”
  • ok no but biting a vampire back is literally the funniest thing I can possibly think of for a vampire story I can’t even deal rn
  • wait did the Sarlacc just burst out of the library floor or what
  • the Master over here clapping like Nicole Kidman at the Oscars
  • “I may be dead but I’m still pretty” – HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
  • I can’t believe Buffy dusted the Master in eight words
  • I can’t believe Buffy Summers invented the clapback
  • I can’t believe she just clapped him back to the bottom level of hell wow truly
  • Giles over here turning into Paul Bunyan
  • oh dear god why is it that the Master has to look like a literal horde of spiders when he kicks it
  • whoa okay WHY are they just leaving the creepy skeleton in the middle of the library why aren’t they torching that MF
  • dancing to the ending theme music like
  • OKIE DOKE FOLKS that’s all for tonight. the livetweet post should be up sometime tomorrow or Tuesday. sweet dreams, babies~

I’ll be livetweeting more Buffy, starting with season 2, later this week!  Till then…

Canada, weeks 16 and 17 and sort of 18


GUYYYYYYSSSSSSSSSS I AM SO SORRY THIS IS SUCH A LONG TIME IN COMING.  I swear there are several good reasons for this:

  • I got sick pretty much right as I got into Pearson on January 6th, and I subsequently dragged myself through customs and baggage claim and all the way back to Hamilton while running a fever.  I’d gotten a flu shot the day before, and I’m pretty sure it just straight-up gave me the flu.  So not fair.
  • My first week back was just kinda slow, in part because I was kicking whatever bug I’d picked up.
  • I was going to have a post up last week, but my poor long-suffering computer Majel’s wifi is shot to hell, which I spent a good four days last week figuring out.  Till I can get ahold of a wireless USB doohickey that actually works, which won’t be till sometime next week, I’m pretty much confined to the multimedia lab if I want to get anything done.  Siiiiighhhhhhhhhhhhh

Anyway.  All that to say:  I’m back, ish.  I may not have enough material for another post by next Monday, but I swear I won’t go two and a half weeks without updating y’all ever again. ❤

The Yoplait video is online and miraculously not embarrassing.  If for some reason you haven’t heard the story of how Yoplait punked me, here you go.

Women’s March on Toronto:  I went to the march with my friends Charlotte and Robyn, where we were among a crowd of 60,000.  The group pretty much shut down University Avenue for a solid hour.  The energy was fantastic, and I saw so many incredible signs, including a lot of signs evoking Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia.  I wish Carrie could have seen it.  I bet she would have been thrilled.

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The TTC:  Yeah, it took me this long to brave the TTC.  I only used the subway on Saturday, but it was actually a lot of fun.  I felt like it was back in London again.  (Side note, does anybody know if the TTC actually uses the same fonts as the Tube?  It looked like it, but I’m not sure.)


Other Toronto sights:

I finally found bean with bacon soup!  I hadn’t seen the stuff at all since moving up here, until one fateful Sunday trip to Food Basics:

A histrionic reaction?  Perhaps, but what can I say–I missed that stuff. ❤

Lindy hop till ya drop:  I’m officially learning swing dancing!  McMaster offers several dance classes through the Pulse Fitness Centre, and the lindy hop class works perfectly with my schedule.  I’m learning the lead part, which is extra fun.

Snakes and Lattes:  So after finding the coffee shop listed below, through an extremely fortuitous series of events, I ended up striking a conversation with four super nice girls in a Shoppers* and joining them for board games at Snakes and Lattes.  I’d wanted to go there for ages, but given that it’s a board game café, it’s not necessarily the kind of place you just hit up by yourself.  But I ended up having so much fun playing Cards Against Humanity and some trivia card game that for the life of me I cannot recall the name of with these wonderful people I’d just met.  I have the best Toronto mojo, y’all.  It’s unreal.

*Shoppers Drug Mart, for all you non-Canadians.  Basically like CVS or Walgreens.

Action items:  This is a new section–I figure I might as well make these posts useful.  So here are just a couple suggestions, off the top of my head, for stuff you can do to aid the #resistance.  I’ll include a couple action items in each week’s blog post from here on out.

  • Swing Left is an organization dedicated to connecting volunteers with House districts only narrowly won in their last election.  The site will help you find your closest swing district and get you on the mailing list for volunteering opportunities.  I’ve already signed up to help IA-03 (that and a district in Kansas were my two closest swing districts, haaaaaaaaaa).
  • CALL YOUR REPS!  The linked article specifically refers to defeating the ACA repeal, but it contains a lot of good advice for touching bases with your elected representatives in general.  I know, it’s nerve-wracking.  I stumbled through the first time I called Bridenstine’s office.  But there are multiple sites that will give you call scripts, just a Google away.
  • Along those lines, read Indivisible.
  • Follow Sarah Kendzior and Celeste Pewter on Twitter.  Sarah, a freelance journalist, literally got her PhD studying authoritarian regimes, so she knows what she’s talking about.  Celeste has been a fount of important Congressional news and useful advice and action items.

K, now back to our regularly scheduled rapid-fire travel blogging.

Coffee:  Dave on Twitter (I’m sorry, I don’t remember your handle!!) recommended Empire Espresso to me, so after the Women’s March, I went in search of the place.  It’s a tiny little coffee shop–not much room to really settle down and read or anything–but the Nutella latte I got was lovely, and the interior is still really cute.

Food:  I had brunch with Charlotte at Over Easy before the March.  The Bloor Street location is pretty small, and it was quite busy when I arrived, but the food was nonetheless wonderful.  I had the smoked salmon platter, which was basically like the lox bagel at Einstein Brothers, except I had to construct the bagel myself.  Deeeeeee-lish.

Books:  I’ve been reading a lot of Kurt Vonnegut lately.  It’s therapeutic.  I’ve been recommending A Man Without a Country to pretty much everybody, and at the moment I’m working my way through Palm Sunday.

I’ve also been reading Richard II.  Despite taking four different Shakespeare or Shakespeare-related classes at OU, I can’t say I’ve ever had a favorite history play, but now Richard II may be it.  It starts out intense and it hasn’t let up for a second.  Every time I think someone, just one person in the whole ensemble, might be in the moral right, they do something shady.  I’m riveted.


That’s all I’ve got for now!  I’ll be back with more news from the Great White North soon!

Radiant as the Sun: Beauty in The Hunger Games


Look at me blogging two times in one week…

This semester is pretty much going to kill me–in a fun, I’m actually-doing-what-I-want-with-my-life kind of way, but still–so I’m finally starting this thing where I adapt old college papers into blog posts.  This analysis of beauty culture in The Hunger Games is about half of a paper I wrote for Dr. Ehrhardt’s Beauty in American Literature and Culture class my junior year of college.  I’ve mucked about with quite a bit of the phrasing and tossed the MLA citations to make it sound less stilted and formal, as well as adding a few observations I really wish I’d thought of back when I was writing the paper.  I’ll post the second part, on Divergent‘s surprisingly cool body positivity arc, next week.

So:  The Hunger Games.  Is it a super rad critique of reality TV and what could be called schadenfreude culture?  Definitely.  I’m sure other people have written beautifully about those subjects.  The scope of this half-paper, though, is pretty narrow, so today I’ll just be talking about how beauty and body image are presented and treated in THG.  The basic idea is that ultimately, THG doesn’t present a particularly healthy view of beauty, casting beautification as solely the domain of the shallow upper-class.  A few more social factors play into the beauty culture of THG, though, most prominently class/wealth but also race.  I’ll analyze all of that in depth here.

First off, I’ll tackle the link between beauty and class.  Beauty as defined by the Capitol is the clearest marker of social class.  Suzanne Collins makes this clear within the first few pages of the book, when Katniss encounters the mayor’s daughter, Madge Undersee.  Madge wears a pin that Katniss describes as “real gold. Beautifully crafted. It could keep a family in bread for months.”  Unlike Madge, Katniss comes from a poor working-class family, so she naturally thinks of anything luxurious in terms of utility.  It’s extra telling that she compares Madge’s riches to food, given that she also mentioned three pages ago that her family still goes to bed hungry.

On the other extreme of Panem’s class spectrum, you’ve got the people of the Capitol.  When they aren’t watching teenagers murder each other, these people chase beauty in all its Technicolor glory.  Effie Trinket is perhaps the most memorable Capitol citizen, thanks to the movies*:


But let’s not forget Katniss’s team of stylists, either.  A quick rundown:

  • Venia, who has “aqua hair and gold tattoos above her eyebrows”
  • Octavia, “a plump woman whose entire body has been dyed a pale shade of pea green”
  • Flavius, who has “orange corkscrew locks” and wears purple lipstick

These are the people in whose hands Katniss moves from simply ogling wealth to embodying it.  They “[turn] my skin to glowing satin” and “[paint] flame designs on my twenty perfect nails,” for starters.  An obvious connotation of both “glowing” and fire is light, and electricity by association.  Katniss mentions earlier that in her home district, the citizens get very little electricity, if any.  Light of any sort is a luxury for her–as is satin, for that matter. Even her fingernails and toenails become art, something for which someone as poor as Katniss normally has no time.  By far her most literal embodiment of wealth and luxury, though, comes when her stylists “cover my entire body in a powder that makes me shimmer in gold dust.”

It’s also worth mentioning at this juncture that Peeta Mellark serves as a sort of social stepping-stone between Katniss and the people of the Capitol.  He’s a member of District 12’s merchant class, as opposed to the mining class.  He admits to Katniss at one point that he frosts the cakes for his family’s bakery–“fancy cakes with flowers and pretty things painted in frosting.”  **He’s the middle of the seesaw, in a sense; he works, but his work is art.  Furthermore, his art is not just impermanent but also somewhat necessary for others’ sustenance, unlike Octavia’s skin dye or Venia’s tattoos.  The fact that his art can disappear spurs the creation of more art on his part, and necessitates that he continue working.  He may be a rung above Katniss on the social ladder, but he’s still kind of stuck where he is.  He’s still forced to fight for his life in the book’s eponymous Hunger Games.**

In response to all the Capitol’s excesses, Katniss embraces simplicity wherever she can find it.  At the beginning of the novel, Katniss admires the dress her mother gives her for Reaping Day, “a soft blue thing with matching shoes.”  This dress can be nothing fancy, given her family’s socioeconomic status, but she calls it “lovely” anyway. Later, when she meets her primary stylist Cinna in the Capitol, Katniss is “taken aback by how normal he looks,” because the other stylists she remembers from previous Hunger Games are “so dyed, stenciled, and surgically altered they’re grotesque.”  Cinna does wear “metallic gold eyeliner,” in an intriguing connection to Katniss’s later gold-powder-bath.  It’s scant at best, though, and Katniss subsequently singles that look out for praise.  Cinna takes a similarly minimalist approach with Katniss when he prettifies her for the Games’ opening ceremonies, and she acknowledges that she looks “more attractive but utterly recognizable.”  Peeta is the one who says outright that he doesn’t want the Games to “turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not,” but Katniss demonstrates a similar desire through her rejection of the Capitol’s beauty norms.

Speaking of monsters, the connections between notions of beauty and notions of humanity run deep in the novel.  The denizens of the Capitol view beautification as an integral part of being human. Before Katniss gets to see Cinna, her stylists have to fix what they call “obvious problems,” i.e. “ridding my body of hair.”  The process of being “stripped of the stuff” makes Katniss feel “like a plucked bird, ready for roasting.”  The way she phrases all of this indicates she is acted upon rather than acting of her own accord. She is powerless in this situation, a fact further reinforced when she compares herself to a bird, a nonhuman entity treated as prey.  Flavius unwittingly feeds into this when he tries to give Katniss a compliment, telling her that she “almost look[s] like a human being now!” and thereby implying that she was less than human before they stripped her of her body hair, before they forced their ideals of beauty on her.  (Also, side note, this scene is highly worth considering alongside American ideals of hairless women.  It’s no accident that Collins is lumping this in with the dystopian aspects of Panem.)

However, Katniss sees beautification as a dehumanizing and undignified act, one that suppresses her individuality and replaces her with someone she can’t recognize as herself.  In preparation for her TV interview, “they erase my face” and erase her by extension. When Katniss finally sees the results of her extensive makeover in the mirror, she calls herself a “creature”–not even a person, but a creature, a beast–and says the bedazzled humanoid she sees must be from “another world.”  Upon rewatching her interview, she denounces the girl she sees on television, “a silly girl spinning in a sparkling dress,” as “frilly and shallow, twirling and giggling.” The prep team has transformed her outwardly into a walking display case for all manner of gems and sparkles and other indulgences.  At the novel’s end, when Katniss takes off one last coating of makeup, she sees it as “transforming back into myself.”  She views cosmetics, and in a larger sense everything else she had to don in the Capitol, as ultimately disingenuous.

No analysis of beauty in The Hunger Games, though, would be complete without addressing the racial issues brought up in the book.  Katniss idealizes her sister and mother, saying that “Prim’s face is fresh as a raindrop” and “my mother was very beautiful once, too.”  She reveals later that her mother and Prim have “light hair and blue eyes” and “always look out of place” in their part of District 12. Katniss, in contrast, has “straight black hair, olive skin,” and gray eyes, much like the majority of families in this part of the district. Her mother, she explains, was a member of the same merchant class as Peeta and his family before she got married, as opposed to the coal-miner class.  The unmistakable implication is that Katniss’s mother is white and Prim is white-passing, and that Katniss is a woman of color, or at the very least racialized as nonwhite.  Katniss consistently denies that she is beautiful, even when Cinna is through with her.  She characterizes herself as “radiant as the sun,” but she prefaces that statement with a disclaimer that “I am not pretty. I am not beautiful.”  Furthermore, the astronomical implications of the sun tie into her comment about her reflection seeming to come from “another world.”  Though Katniss disavows the cosmetics culture she encounters in the Capitol, she seems unable to find beauty in herself even in her most natural state, which points to a strong, ingrained link in Katniss’s mind between light skin and beauty.

With all that said, there is one really cool thing about the beauty culture of Panem:  in the Capitol, makeup isn’t gendered.  Flavius wears purple lipstick, Cinna wears the aforementioned gold eyeliner, and Caesar Flickerman matches his eyeshadow and lipstick to his hair color, whatever wild hue that may be.  Peeta has his own stylist as well, as do all the other tributes.  That’s not something you see every day, in our Western society or in other books.  It’s a shame, then, that Katniss dismisses all makeup and beautification wholesale, because that’s one aspect of a dystopian society that our world would actually do well to emulate.

That about covers it!  I’ll be back next week with another update from Canada and the second part of this series, on Divergent.  Stay tuned!


*And in today’s example of Boy Howdy Did People Ever Miss the Point of These Books, here’s a screenshot of the Google image result that gave me this particular picture:


Of course we’ve turned Effie into Pinterest fodder.  Of course.

**Man, I wish I’d thought of this back when I wrote the paper, because that is a cool thought and now I want to explore it further.  Maybe after I take this class on neoliberal capitalism?

Mary Super: Power Fantasies and the Supergirl Pilot


Hiya, me again!  Your friendly neighborhood overanalyzer, here to overanalyze everything!

I’m still getting all my thoughts in order in re: the other fafillion essays I’d like to write on Civil War (and also the response I want to make to a really thoughtful comment someone posted–dear commenter, I promise I’m not ignoring you, my life is just completely ridiculous right now!).  In the meantime, to celebrate Supergirl getting a second season against all the financial odds, here’s a thing I wrote back in September, after watching the pilot episode.  I haven’t had time to watch any of the show since then, or any of my other shows for that matter (like I said, my life is ridiculous), but I’m definitely planning to catch up once I get a moment to breathe.  I hope y’all enjoy it!


So, the Supergirl pilot.  I’d like to start out by saying that overall I liked it a lot.  Did it feel kind of rushed?  Yes, but such is the nature of a pilot episode, I think.  Did the no-homo moment between Kara and Wynn on the rooftop irk me?  Absolutely.  Are there enough women of color and/or queer women on the show?  God no.  But man, is it refreshing to have a superheroine in a practical outfit who just really, really enjoys being a hero.

With all that said, I’d like to address what I think has been one of the biggest talking points about the entire episode:  that feminism exchange between Kara and her boss Cat.

Kara: [on discovering that Cat dubbed her “Supergirl”] “Supergirl”? We can’t name her that!

Cat: We didn’t.

Kara: Right, I’m sorry. It’s just, uh… A female superhero. Shouldn’t she be called Super… woman?

Cat: I’m sorry, darling, I just can’t hear you over the loud color of your cheap pants.

Kara: If we call her “Supergirl,” something less than what she is, doesn’t that make us guilty of, of being anti-feminist? Didn’t you say she’s the hero?

Cat: I’m the hero. I stuck a label on the side of the girl. I branded her. She will forever be linked to CatCo, to the Tribune, to me. And what do you think is so bad about “girl?” Huh? I’m a girl. And your boss, and powerful, and rich, and hot and smart. So if you perceive “Supergirl” as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?

On the surface, this conversation is really frustrating on a feminist level.  Kara’s perfectly valid concern that the name Supergirl infantilizes her is sort of glossed over.  But Cat’s response, while on some level patronizing and missing-the-point, actually brings up something really interesting, something I think the writers touched on but didn’t explore in enough depth (please, subsequent episodes, prove me wrong here):  the nature of power fantasies versus self-insert fantasies and how that relates to both gender and maturity.

Say what you will about the corn-fed Kansas boy, but Superman is basically the epitome of a power fantasy.  Who among us hasn’t wished they were that strong and near-invincible?  Clark/Superman is a man, darn it, and he’s drawn as even more than that, as this ridiculously powerful, godlike creature.  I mean, look:

If this were a gif, his cape would be rippling in the wind, but that perfectly curled forelock wouldn’t move an inch.

Now, Supergirl, on the other hand:  remember that line from the waitress in the diner where our baddie of the week was very much not eating?

WAITRESS:  Sorry about that, sir.  Can you believe it?  A female hero.  Nice for my daughter to have someone like that to look up to.

The entire point of Supergirl seems to be that she’s more relatable, like Cat said and like the waitress confirmed, but the terms “man” and “girl” play into that in fascinating ways.

Going to get a little bit personal here for a moment:  I’m 22 years old, but even so, “woman” is a label I’m having real trouble accepting for myself, because heretofore it’s been defined for me as something I’m not, or at least that I’m not just yet.  Something more advanced, that I can only rightly claim after I rack up an indeterminate yet large number of Adult Achievement Points.  And I really don’t think I’m the only one feeling this way–I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen or heard other people my age say things like “who let me be an adult?”

In light of this ongoing cultural joke, I’m starting to think that even the words “man” and “woman” have become their own power fantasy words in a way.  And while people my age (by which I basically mean millennials) might like Superman and his ilk just fine, the new connotations of these words associated with adulthood and general life-together-ness make it harder for us to identify with them.  My peers and I may fantasize about being Big Strong Adults who can pay the rent with no trouble, mow the lawn, cook rice without burning it even a little, and overall keep it together, but we also don’t feel like we have the right to claim that sort of fantasy for ourselves.  We can’t ultimately bring ourselves to put our feet in those shoes.

Which means that a more self-insert-oriented character, a character like Kara, is that much more accessible, and her super-moniker absolutely plays into that.  The thing about Kara is that she’s still very much young and inexperienced, but she can still friggin’ fly.  Characters like her are great for people who don’t feel like they can claim an adult identity or the power associated with it, because characters like her still get stuff done.

In a nutshell:  self-inserts make power fantasies more accessible.

Furthermore, I think that’s the crux of the Mary Sue trope, and of modern fanfiction’s origins in general–the use of the original character as an accessible entry point, this completely ordinary, recognizable girl who happens to be privy to a whole other fantastical world, or who possesses magical or otherwise extraordinary powers.  It’s a way of bringing the super to the normal.


There you have it!  Not sure what’ll be coming down the pipeline next–maybe more Civil War ruminations, maybe more Northanger Abbey (because golly, I still haven’t finished that, have I?).  But regardless, I’ll be back soon with more overanalyzing!

“Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter”: Peggy Carter Versus the Patriarchy


both gifs via tumblr user thekillianjones

“I know my value” is perhaps the best-known, most-quoted line from Marvel’s Agent Carter, and with good reason:  it’s short, bold, and fist-pumpingly feminist.  But thus far, I haven’t seen anybody point out two of the most interesting undercurrents of this quote, and of this whole conversation between Peggy and Daniel Sousa.  There are a lot of layers to what Peggy’s saying here, but I believe two crucial layers are these:  (1) Peggy is specifically yet subtly rebuking Daniel, and (2) Peggy is rejecting the patriarchal power structure of the SSR, while previously she had been trying to work within it.

A Game of Friendzones

The first time we hear Daniel Sousa speak, he’s sticking up for Peggy amidst yet another round of sexist ridicule from their other coworkers.  “You owe the lady an apology,” he said.  I know I can’t have been the only one immediately endeared to him because of that, but right after that, Peggy sets up the fundamental difference in values that defines their dynamic by telling him not to stick up for her.  She can take care of herself, and she tells him as much.  Throughout the show, Daniel persists in sticking his neck out for/generally trying to ally himself with Peggy, seeing them as similarly marginalized within the SSR.  She clearly doesn’t return the sentiment, though, given that she refuses to tell anyone in the SSR about her secret mission for Howard Stark.  Even in episode 3, when she and Jarvis tip the SSR off about the ship with Howard’s stolen gadgets, she says she can “just about stomach” the idea of Sousa taking credit for it – not the most enthusiastic of endorsements.  This tension comes to a head when Peggy’s secret mission is exposed.  Daniel is angrier than we’ve ever seen him on screen while interrogating Peggy, something that seems out of character until we consider how he’s thought of his and Peggy’s relationship up till this point.  He’s obviously crushing on her, yes, but he’s also seen them as allies, the two scapegoats and laughingstocks of the SSR, and he’s acted accordingly.  Both the romantic and platonic mindsets intertwine to make Peggy’s revelation an extremely personal slight in his eyes.

His big mistake, though, is in thinking that she owes him something in return – romantically or otherwise.

Viewed in this light, “I know my value” begins to sound a lot like this:  I don’t need Jack Thompson’s approval, but I also don’t need yours, Daniel Sousa.  I value myself, and while I appreciate you sticking up for me, my self-esteem does not live or die by you.  You being a decent person does not mean I owe you something, and don’t you forget that.  It’s rather like that one oft-quoted aphorism (side note, I looked for a source for this, and I haven’t found one yet):  Women are not vending machines you put Kindness Coins into until sex falls out.  This interpretation is further reinforced by the fact that two seconds later, Peggy turns down Daniel’s offer of a drink.  She doesn’t owe him groveling kindness, unswerving loyalty, or a drink.

Something’s Rotten in Denmark

In a larger sense, though, this line is the culmination of Peggy’s patriarchy-battling arc of this season.  She’s moved from working within the system to rejecting it entirely.  Despite the fact that in order to do anything exciting at all, she literally has to take a mission outside of the SSR, Peggy is still determined to climb up the corporate ladder (so to speak).  In episode 3, she almost exposes all her sneaking-about herself when she finds Howard’s gadgets, claiming “I will call them in, and they will respect me.”  Later, in episode 5, when Jarvis insists yet again that her coworkers don’t/won’t treat her right, she retorts, “I expect I will make them.”  Though she’s previously tried to ward off Daniel’s attempts to garner respect for her, she’s still hung up on making the SSR work for her, finding a place for herself within its power structure.

By episode eight, though, she’s moved from thinking of her workplace situation in hegemonic terms to rejecting that power structure entirely.  She doesn’t need to depend on the SSR for respect or appreciation, nor can she – she has to work outside the system rather than trying to make the system work for her.  That’s something Daniel still doesn’t necessarily understand (yes, he’s disabled, but he’s still a man, and the rest of the SSR respects him more than they do Peggy).  He’s indignant about Jack taking all the credit for stopping Dr. Fennhoff, because he’s effectively where Peggy was five episodes ago.  He’s focused on getting his due reward through the system, because as far as he knows, that’s the only way to get rewarded.  Peggy knows better now, though.


This line and this whole scene are really great in a lot of subtle and sorely underappreciated ways, and also I need season 2 now.

Beautiful Objects: Fathers, Daughters, and 2013 Animated Movies


So it looks like Hotel Transylvania is getting a sequel.  I’ll be honest:  every reminder of that simple fact sets my teeth on edge.  Heck, my teeth are on edge right now just from writing this.

But why? you might be asking.  Well, as it so happens, I’ve just rediscovered a thing I wrote back in 2013 about this precise subject!  I’ve cleaned it up a little bit and gif-ified it.  Here goes:

In a nutshell, movies like Hotel Transylvania and The Croods infantilize their teenage female characters by sympathizing unduly with their overbearing and at times creepy fathers.

Hotel Transylvania, I’d say, is the more egregious example of the two. The entire movie was basically Dracula and Johnny running around, getting into trouble, and discussing Mavis without her actually being present. Drac in particular made a concerted effort to keep Mavis in the dark about everything… in multiple senses of the word, actually, if you’ll forgive the vampire pun.

source: findsomethingtofightfor

For goodness’ sake, he specifically creates a fake town of scary humans so that Mavis would be tricked into thinking the human world was really as bad as he’d always made it out to be.  And it works, too.  She runs back to Daddy’s castle and Daddy’s loving arms, and Drac is satisfied.

source: giphy

That is an unbelievably low, manipulative thing for Drac to do.  But the film doesn’t focus nearly as much as it should on how wrong that is. Instead, we get an entire movie’s worth of borderline-fawning character development for Drac.  “Oh nooooo, my tiny helpless baby girl might have her own ideas!  What a tragedy!”

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 6.54.26 PM

This might have been more forgivable if Mavis had gotten just as much character development, but her agency throughout most of the movie is blatantly disregarded. She’s just kind of clueless (not of her own volition, either, like I mentioned), and the movie and all its characters seem far more concerned with Drac’s feelings than hers. Good grief, people, if this is going to be a story about a girl gaining agency and becoming a full-fledged adult (which it REALLY should have been), then she needs to be the frickin’ heart and soul of that story.

source: btvs-reaction-gifs

The Croods is in this same vein, but the theme of a father losing power over his daughter is sort of a sub-theme of the larger story: a set-in-his-ways patriarch falling in the face of change. That doesn’t excuse, however, the crappy way this film handled the Eep/Guy romance, and just Eep in general.

source: candacedoesgifs.


For one thing, all Eep’s character development (which really wasn’t much, compared to Grug’s) was related somehow to the men in her life – her repressed-emotion relationship with her dad, her obvious crush on Guy, her bickering relationship with her brother. I can’t recall one scene in the movie where Eep had a quality conversation with her mom or grandma, or even where she played with Sandy or something.


Regarding Eep/Guy, it felt as if Guy and Grug were competing to be the dominant man in Eep’s eyes, which is weird and creepy on a lot of levels. Another disturbing thing is that Grug’s systematic denial of Eep’s agency was often played for laughs – I’m thinking in particular of the scene where Grug shoves Guy-trapped-in-a-log away from Eep and sleeps between them. Just from the way that’s framed, you can tell that’s meant to be funny, but to me it was literally the exact opposite of funny.

source: Pinterest

Yes, the entire concept of the movie is kind of that Grug is really overbearing. But he still gets much more quality character development than Eep does, and that sucks.


But you know what?  Epic actually had a far healthier model of a father-daughter relationship than either of the above movies.


This one, in case you had no idea what I was talking about.

I won’t deny that it had its own problems – the fridging of the only black character, the subsequent damsel-in-distress-ness of that seed-fetus-thing, and the repeated apparently-comedic come-ons from those two slugs come to mind immediately.


Seriously, whose idea was it to kill off Beyoncé’s character?!

But Professor Bomba was the farthest thing from overbearing when it came to his daughter M.K. He assumed at the beginning that M.K. would be all too willing to help him research his mysterious forest creatures, but (1) that seems to have stemmed more from a scientist’s obsession than anything, and (2) once M.K. told him she wasn’t interested, he backed right off.

source: wbpictures

M.K. is never fridged, either – her disappearance definitely advances Bomba’s character development, but it also facilitates her doing her own thing, having her own adventure. That’s something neither Mavis nor Eep really gets to do. The fact that Bomba was right about the Leafmen’s existence does imply a sort of father-knows-best attitude, but that’s mitigated in a sense by the presence of scientific inquiry rather than just a deep-seated and ill-supported belief. Furthermore, Bomba is shown to be perfectly fine with M.K. and Nod’s relationship – no overbearing-ness here.

Now that is how you dad.


Somehow, though, I doubt ol’ Drac Attack is going to learn that before movie #2.


And with that…

Screen shot 2014-11-07 at 10.45.35 PM

P.S. Speaking of Drac Attack, I swear I’ll get around to finishing Dracula soon!  I’ve been toiling away at job applications lately, but I’ll try to go back to livetweeting this weekend.