A lot of people hate what I love. Geekiness. Comics. Sci-fi. Mainstream music. Pepsi products. Jesus. But that’s ok. I love what I love and like what I like because it’s relevant to my interests. I’ve loved some things since I was little despite being told I was stupid for liking it. (Oh, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… Those girls in first grade could never truly understand our love…) But sometimes I love something that I’m very surprised others don’t like. Sure we have our soda preferences, and we don’t want to be branded “nerrrds” for watching Babylon 5. I can understand all that. But I was super surprised that people didn’t like The Great Gatsby which just came out.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, and Isla Fisher, Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was astounding. Imagine if Moulin Rouge stared Tyler Durden (no, not Brad Pitt, actually Tyler Durden), was covered in tinsel and set to a modern-day hip-hop soundtrack. I know, right? Wouldn’t you want to see that?! Well, apparently lots of people didn’t. Lots of people who reviewed this film didn’t think it wasn’t very good for a number of reasons. Maybe people didn’t like Lana Del Rey, but whatever. She was actually pretty amazing, thanks. So let me tell you what some people said about this movie, and I’ll tell you why you shouldn’t listen to them.
A review by Jeremy Kirk on firstshowing.net is entitled “The Great Gatsby Just Burns Too Bright for Its Own Good.” It states that narration of Nick Carraway is too direct and should have been “subtler.” Try telling that to Fitzgerald who wrote the story in the first person. Kirk then accuses Luhrmann of not being “a subtle man.” This is all good in my opinion, as The Great Gatsby didn’t take place during a subtle time or involve subtle people. Kirk also says that the “pomp and circumstance, confetti and fireworks, blaring music and dancing feet all play perfectly in line with Luhrmann’s style.” As if that didn’t perfectly describe every weekend at Jay Gatsby’s! This review continues to charge Luhrmann with making a movie too accurate, too close to the original text, and “stale.” Which is interesting since it just got done saying the whole thing was over the top.
A second negative review by Peter Travers from Rolling Stone actually said “F. Scott Fitzgerald [was] turning in his grave” because this movie was so overdone. Travers also bashes the 1974 Robert Redford version and dares the viewer to “stay awake” while watching it. Lastly Travers nitpicks several of Luhrmann’s stylistic choices like “digitally re-creating New York in Australia (for tax purposes), [shooting] in 3-D (God knows why), and [bringing] in Jay-Z to amp up the soundtrack (nothing like hip-hop to add relevance to a retro classic.” (sic) He states simply, “Nothing works.”
I bring this to your attention because most of the reviews I’ve read are negative, but they can’t tell you exactly, consistently, what was so wrong with this film. Phrases like “over the top” and “too much” describing the parties and the generic bemoaning of the soundtrack choices aren’t helpful because the authors of these articles are reviewing the individual style choices, not the overall tone of the movie. They are complaining about PARTS, not the WHOLE. But I can tell you what’s really wrong with the reviews I’ve read: They don’t know the people they’re talking about. No, I’m not talking about Baz Luhrmann or Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m talking about Jay Gatsby and his desperate longing. I’m talking about Daisy Buchanan and her faltering detached cool at the sound of Gatsby’s name. I’m talking about Tom Buchanan’s insecurities, Nick Carraway’s superiority complex, and even Myrtle Wilson’s longing to escape her dreary mechanic’s wife’s life which is so loudly echoed in the desperate throngs of partygoers who flock to Gatsby’s every weekend.
When I tell you Baz and Leo and Tobey and company got those things dead on, I mean it.
Ok, let me start out by saying not only did I read this book several times in the last 15 years, but I did my junior year high school thesis on it. Yeah, yeah, it might sound like an over-glorified book report to you, but this was a tedious 5 month journey back in time to the 1920s for me. I didn’t just read the book and jot down a few thoughts on it. I studied Fitzgerald’s life from childhood to death to fully understand not what he was writing, but why. And I came to the conclusion that Fitzgerald, for all his romanticism, was a jerkface who always thought he deserved better but then pissed away whatever he got on self-indulgence fueled by his superiority complex. Wait. Can I say pissed in this blog? Whatever, I just did.
The point is, I know this book, I know the era, and I know the spirit, the zeitgeist, the electric charge in the air! And this movie absolutely hit the mark, undeniably. And the spark wasn’t limited to the spectacular party scenes for which Gatsby is famous; it continued through the film in every little fold of clothing, every sweep of hair, every wave lapped upon shore.
Exactly who IS Gatsby? Check out a scene between Nick and Jordan to hear who some say he is.
Every bad review I’ve read has the undeniable tone of “smartypantness” spewed all over it. The authors of these negative reviews come off seeming like snooty professors who never went out past the streetlights. I can almost hear them muttering, “How droll, how very drrrrooolll,” into their brandy glasses. And I’m like, STOP, seriously! This isn’t your daddy’s Gatsby and it wasn’t meant to be! It wasn’t made to conform to your memory of a book you haven’t read since you were forced to in freshman year.
But for those who really know this book, or for those who have no emotional connection to it whatsoever, this is a perfect movie adaptation. For those who think they know “fine literature” or “the classics,” you’ll probably hate it. If you think that you’re supposed to like these characters and get mad that you don’t because you think the performers are overacting, then you don’t know the characters in the least. These are flawed people, hiding behind a facade of smiles and lovely clothes and wads of money.
The casting is spot on, and overacting is the name of the game. I usually hate Tobey Maguire. No, really, I usually do. But he was perfect as Nick. Nick is the most unreliable narrator I can think of, pre-Chuck Palahniuk. Nick Carraway is an actor, even if he is in severe denial about it. But Maguire knows it for sure, and he plays it right. And if I hear one more person whine about Leo DiCaprio ruining the film for them, I will eat the olive out of their gin martini, if you know what I mean. DiCaprio channels Robert Redford as if he was using a Ouija board. The insecure smarminess is simply brilliant. I’m impressed with Joel Edgerton’s portrayal as a polo player gone to seed and a conniving, cheating, racist ass. Tom, who no one should like as a person, is an intriguing character, and Edgerton does not play him as one-dimensionally as readers like to pretend he is. Lastly Mulligan’s Daisy is stunning and charming and heartbreaking all at once, and through her portrayal, you can really understand her whole life thus far though you only catch glimpses of if visually. You come to really love Daisy for all her flaws, even if you may not leave the theater liking her.
Now for the visuals. Ignore everyone who says that parties, the costumes, and the scenery were over the top. Ignore all of it. It’s exactly as it should have been. Jay Gatsby’s parties weren’t just to show off his money to the anonymous public who moved in droves to his mansion every weekend, they were to captivate one person, lure one person, to him. And when you watch the party scenes in full swing, you’ll feel like YOU are that one person Gatsby wants to entice. You’ll feel like you got your own personal invitation to the best, most gorgeous party in the world. The glitz and the glam and the conspicuous consumption so evident in these filmed production scenes is absolutely in step with the times Fitzgerald was writing about. Fitzgerald is rolling in his grave, you say? Nay, nay, he is doing the Charleston, and he is covered in tinsel.
You’ve got to understand how disgustingly rich Gatsby is, and he and Luhrmann show you. Yeah, it’s more extravagant than what we’d like to think rich people put on to impress their friends. But imagine Bruce Wayne didn’t have to hobnob with snobs. Pretend he had fun friends and didn’t have that whole Batman thing hanging over his head. If you had as much money as Bruce Wayne, I bet you’d have a ridiculous party with champagne bottles spewing glitter, and ginormous swings with showgirls on them, and so much liquor left over Alfred had to pour the remains in barrels just to clean up the place. At least once, anyway. Wait a minute… I think that analogy would have worked better with Tony Stark. Forget it, it’s already written and I have a deadline. Pretend there’s a picture of a sad Batman trying to party hard but no one is talking to him. I dunno, google image it.
Look, go see this movie, but don’t go expecting some kind of deep drama from the Lifetime channel. Expect something FUN, because the Roaring Twenties was fun! And expect some strain and heartache, because people love and lose and win and lose all the time, and the Roaring Twenties was no exception. And get wrapped up in Nick’s enrapturement with life on West Egg, indulge in the heavy beats of Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Andre 300, because if they’d been around in the Summer of ’22, you know they would have been headlining at Gatsby’s. Stop reading negative reviews and go see a movie that isn’t mean to copy-paste the same story you trudged through when you were fourteen. Go see an amazing rendition of a classic story set to modern moods and music that prove this tale is timeless.
Fictional women have been my friends and mentors for many years. My family was primarily matriarchal in its design, so this never seemed strange. While I adored Charles Xavier, Dumbledore, and my own grandfather, it was easily the women that taught me what it takes to be a superhero.
There’s a big hullabaloo going on ’round the interwebs regarding tropes, stereotypes, and the pigeonholing of females in games, comics, movies, etc. I don’t quite disagree with those views. In fact, a good number of them are spot on. But that doesn’t mean that these female characters are somehow harmful or, at the least, invalid. A buxom beauty can still teach us good life lessons. A femme fatale can still depart wisdom. And if you look past the bewbs that look like an eleven year old boy drew them, the fashion model wind-swept hair, and the skin tight costumes, you’ll find a capable, strong, impressive, and – dare I say it! – smart woman.
What follows is a woefully incomplete list of amazingly brilliant women I consider role models. In the comments, I encourage you to add your own thoughts. Whether originating in games, films, books, comics, or wherever, your role models have influenced your life and deserve a nod.
Take some time off before you lose yourself. One time I wrote this fanfic where Kitty was dealing with depression over how hard it is to be a noble superhero. She was consumed with how many friends they had lost, how much of themselves they had lost, to this life of superheroism. She felt extreme guilt because she wanted to walk away from it all for a while. Not leave for good, but step away and breathe. It took Wolverine to convince her that was the healthy thing to do; in order to continue, she must pause. I was very proud of this story and I actually finished it. One of three stories I’ve finished in 20 years, if I think about it…. The point is, very soon afterwards Mechanix came out and Kitty had left Excalibur, the X-Men, and went back home to Chicago to study and live her life. She changed dramatically for a while as she found herself again. She didn’t LOSE any of herself, though. She just grew. She’d been so afraid of taking a break for fear she’d STOP growing that she stagnated herself until she finally shook herself loose. Once she proved to herself she was more than the X-Men’s little sister, she became a much stronger, much more enjoyable person to be around.
Dark Helmet from Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs famously said, “So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb!” And I can’t help but think that every time Snow, or her Storybrooke counterpart Mary Margaret, lets her heart glow in the face of villainy. But yet she does it. Snow is the epitome of the phrase, “turn the other cheek.” It does often backfire along the way. But I can’t help but truly admire her unerring goodness. Spoilers, but recently she’s learned what happens when you let a little darkness in. But that’s the whole point, I think. You can’t judge a candle’s brightness without comparing the darkness around it. So to appreciate her light all the more, it must be compared to a little darkness too. Regardless of some misjudgment, Snow’s goodness comes from her belief that everyone is also good, can be good, and would be good if only given a chance. And most appropriately she learned this goodness from her mother. It isn’t flawless, it isn’t even magic. But it’s better than the alternative every time.
Raven Darkholme is a shapeshifter, so naturally I learned from her to adapt. Adapt, but never lose yourself in the process. Keep moving. Change is inevitable so embrace it. You’re either guiding the tide or washed up in it. Keep sight of your goals, but understand that your plans to achieve them may require some tweaking when roadblocks land on our tracks. Learn to use the powerfulness of loss and grief to motivate you toward greatness. And own up to your bad choices. Sure, you’re gonna do things you’re not proud of, make decisions that, as they’re happening, give you that bad feeling in your gut. But don’t pretend they’re not real. Own your choices. Mystique has made some pretty rough choices in her life, choices I don’t always agree with. But I respect her because she always has a good reason which aligns with her overall master plans.
Hermione’s best lesson to me is not to let others define you. Muggle? Know-it-all? So what if you are? Do those words make you less? Do those names make you weaker? I teach little kids about dealing with bullying for a living. When they cry that someone called them “stupid” or “wuss,” I ask them, “If I called you a chair, does that mean I can sit on you?” They always laugh because they see that names are literally just that. For everyone’s perception of you, there are 100 facets to you and your life that they don’t see or want to acknowledge. Whoever you really are will always be the truth, no matter what labels anyone sticks on you. You may be that mousey girl with her nose in a book, but when it comes down to it, you’re also that girl who hunts Horcruxes, duels Death Eaters, and chooses to fight a war instead of go into hiding. Just because someone doesn’t call you “brave” or “a hero” doesn’t mean you aren’t.
Learn the difference between being a woman and being “treated like a woman.” There isn’t a damn thing wrong with having a feminine body, or sense of style. There’s nothing wrong with being gentle, or kind, or crying when you hurt. But it’s ok to get a little steamed when someone assumes you’ve got to do those things in order to be a woman. A deviation from those characteristics makes you no less a woman. Ambition, courage, self-reliance, and the want to succeed do not in any way detract from one’s womanhood. And trusting in a man as a friend or partner doesn’t make you any less ambitious, courageous, or self-reliant either. Set your goals, pursue them, mix business with pleasure once in awhile, but stay true to your goals. No one has the right to tell you “you can’t” because you’re a woman.
Rely heavily on your friends. Yes, be self-sufficient, be self-reliant. But never forget those who love you. And if they can help you, even in little ways, then let them. There is nothing sadder than wishing someone was there to comfort you, cheer you on, or just say, “I believe in you!” Don’t push your friends away. They help make you the awesome person you are. Your friends ought to be a reflection of your ideals and virtues, but varied enough to give you new insights. No, not every word or gesture is JUST for you, perfectly befitting the situation. This isn’t a scripted event after all. But if you learn to pay close enough attention, your friends who really know you and care about you will say and do things that will inspire and motivate you. Friends are alibis, cohorts, pillows, comedians, counselors, philosophers, and cornerstones.
Don’t turn down a bucket of chicken wings, learn to drive fast, and love despite every boundary. Life is short even when you’re physically invulnerable to a semi truck being dropped on you. We’re all only here for a short time, so enjoy it often. This includes enjoying love. Despite the inability to physically touch, Rogue’s heart still worked just fine. And even though Gambit had a sketchy past, she was able to trust. Junk food, adventure, love– they’re all risky and can kill us. But that’s life. We’re all gonna die someday. So why be miserable in the meantime?
Your love is effective, and your choices can change the world. Your influence remains long after you are gone from this earth, though the people you loved, the people you touched, and the people you sacrificed for. Your choices have power, no matter how insignificant they may seem to others. Love is powerful, with far-reaching effects.
Be self reliant because you are beholden to no one. It doesn’t matter where you came from, or who claims to have made you who you are today. Our lives are full of people who influence us, change us, and move us forward. People give us chances, opportunities, and experiences we may never have achieved on our own. And we owe those who help us our genuine thanks. But we don’t owe them our bodies and souls. The greatest achievement we can aspire to is to trust in ourselves and know – really KNOW – we can take care of ourselves and then help other people along the way. And know that self-reliance doesn’t mean shutting people out, even “for their own good.”
I want to do a whole blog on Fox shows cancelled before their time, but I don’t have enough tears for such an endeavor. If you’re interested, you can find all of VR.5′s one season on Youtube. Well, Sydney taught me no matter who your family is, or who you thought they were, you still have a responsibility to yourself to be happy, healthy, and free. You are not the sum of your parents’ mistakes, and you are not liable to make up for their choices. You are in control of your own life, no matter how many people come to your door to remind you daily that you aren’t. And your mind is your own, your heart your greatest weapon. Your ambition to be free from the control of others, to survive and thrive, is stronger than their will to oppress.
Know when to ask for help because even superheroes have their limits. This was a lesson I was fully aware of but did not heed. I was an alcoholic, and I would argue I still am. And despite superpowers, Theresa Rourke (Cassidy) was a drunk too. The pressures of life get to us, burrow into us. They can even wreck us if we allow them to. But for as much stock as I put in becoming self-reliant, I fully trumpet the true fact that we can’t do everything alone. When life becomes simply too harsh and our foolishness has dug the hole even deeper, then we’ve got to say, “I need a friend. I need some help.” I know this now, and I probably knew it back then, when I was making my most foolish of decisions, but I still didn’t do it. The difference is I won’t repeat those mistakes because I’ve seen what the repercussions are.
Don’t be a supervillainess. No, not because it’s “wrong.” What does “wrong” even mean in a world full of gray areas? What I mean is, don’t be cruel, selfish, and arrogant. And to a wider extent don’t be so one-track-minded that your plans hinge solely on the theory that “It can’t possibly fail! I’m too amazing!” Villains don’t learn from their mistakes. They don’t adapt, they don’t love, they don’t ever learn. (And I would submit that the ones who do aren’t exactly your stereotypical villains to begin with. Emma Frost, I’m looking at you…) It’s good to me straight-minded in that you’ve got your eye on a prize and you power towards it. But it’s not good to be NARROW-minded and not see all the possibilities (to succeed or to fail) around you. To do so it to be a one-dimensional person without much intrigue. That’s the real stereotype I’ve learned to avoid. Don’t show up for a fight, say your catch phrases, get defeated because you were so arrogant you give away all your weaknesses, and then slink off after defeat only to plot revenge in the shadows. Rinse. Repeat. Lame. That one-sidedness is hackneyed and no one will take you seriously. So adapt, love, and learn. And for heaven’s sake, don’t give away all your weaknesses only to have your enemies defeat you. Remember, the stronger people we’ve already talked about above can always, and will always, defeat you.
Again, this list is missing so, so many influential fictional women. I honestly could go on for several more pages, but no one is THAT interested in what I think. Personally, I’d rather hear what you think! In the comments, tell us which fictional woman has inspired you. Make sure to tell us where she’s from as well. Thanks for reading!
So I have recently joined the land of Nerdfighteria, lovingly cultivated by the wonderfully talented and funny Hank & John Green. These brothers started off in 2007 with an idea to use only textless communications mostly through the use of a video blog on YouTube that is now “Raising nerdy to the power of awesome.”
I have spent the last week or so watching every single video on the Vlogbrothers Channel, after discovering it through their other channels, specifically Crash Course and the Sci Show. In addition, Hank just started a new channel, Vidthoughts, and this made me think. We’ll were Awesome (yes, with a capital A), I love these ideas, and and now as a group we are going to embrace video. We will start producing videos every Wednesday, you can see yesterday’s video below.
This is the beginning of the Very Awesome Girls Adventure into the land of Nerdfighteria, henceforth, we will be submitting our blog to their Nerdfighter projects and of course participating in this year’s Project Awesome because that’s right, it’s in our name, we are awesome!
So, of course we need your ideas for our vlog. We don’t really have a great camera right now, just a simple webcam, but please leave your ideas in the comments and we will be happy to answer your questions in our next video.