Arnold Schwarzenegger has been in the news lately, what with his divorce and his illegitimate spawnenegger love child, but it all started with the hint of a possible Terminator 5. Maybe, Terminator 5 was all part of an elaborate smoke screen: Don’t look at my politics, don’t look at my marriage, don’t look at many children I may or may not be the father of, look at this totally awesome movie about robots from the future. And guess what… it worked because I’m sitting here thinking, “From the future, you say?”
Terminator 5 can go one of two ways: awful awful (which is the maximum awful allowed by law) or awful fun (which is still awful but in a way that makes one smile). I being a fan of bad puns and stupid catch phrases am hopeful for awful fun. However, as eager as I am for Arnold’s subtle acting touches, I do have one minor problem with Schwarzenegger returning to the Terminator role: Why are robots getting old?
That’s kind of a problem. Killing machines in walkers is kind of a design flaw that the filmmakers will need to sort out. And while Schwarzenegger certainly looks good for his age, he doesn’t look that good. There’s only so much that Vaseline lenses and digital face-lifts can do. At some point the storytellers will have to explain why this robot is so elderly. It’s sort of like in old school Schwarzenegger films themselves when the movie has to explain why this guy is just so god damn Austrian: he’s a barbarian, he was raised on an exotic private Island, he was frozen trying to save his wife, he’s Russian, he’s German, he’s an amnesiac spy on mars, he’s a robot. Now they have to find some plausible explanation for an aging machine. Solving this mystery is probably the thing that will set the tone for the whole movie.
The T-800’s are made with an organic covering, which can sweat, smell, bleed, and presumably age. Aging robots are perfect for infiltration, you could put a Terminator in a sleeper cell for years without anyone noticing. And is Skynet really that concerned about the age of organic skin coverings when they’re sending these things out under heavy laser fire? How many robots are they really expecting to return with skin intact? So, Arnold would still play a T-800, just not a T-800 fresh off the assembly line. This is a Terminator who’s been around the block, seen the world, run with the bulls, backpacked through Europe. This is a Terminator that’s moved out his parents’ basement and works 9-to-5, but it’s just until his music career takes off.
Schwarzeneggerbot 800 has gotten older because of some sort of minor malfunction in his robotic skin graft. Any sort of malfunction will do. Maybe, it’s just bad skin; Abe Vigoda was all that was left in their Terminator skin vats. Maybe, whatever doodad that regulates skin is broken, or the slider that controls skin age in his CPU was set incorrectly. Just some simple, stupid reason that can be explained in some throw away piece of dialogue.
Both natural aging and skin malfunction are a little boring to me though. If you’re going to terminate a movie franchise, let’s just terminate the shit out of it.
Operation Shady Acres
Terminator 5, or Terminator: Operation Shady Acres, involves Arnold infiltrating an old age home. A terminator has to blend with his scenery, and what better way to sneak into a nursing home than with an old ass robot. You know something’s up if a young muscly guy in sunglasses is running around an old age home with a shotgun, but a robot with liver spots and a cane is just another patient. Picture this: Ed Asner is a cantankerous John Connor fed up with the hullabaloo of time travel and waiting for Judgment Day. Schwarzenegger plays his old T-800 friend who teaches him how to live again, while John teaches the Terminator what it truly means to be alive.
Or NIMH's Real Secret
So, you know how much us middle class, white, male Americans love our stereotypes. Here's what I've got so far:
Asian, runs a blog called "Wolf Gnards," which blatantly references key genital features of the canis lupus, and nerdy... furry much?
Good points all. I do talk about werewolf gnards and their consistencies an awful lot. Do they have them? What happens to their pants? So and so forth. And maybe I've mentioned nude cartoon ducks once or twice, but who hasn't? However, I'm not sure if these are topics that I necessarily want to write about, but these are things that the world needs to know about. Call me a humanitarian if you will, but I'm not in this for the glory.
However, I'm not sure Furries are Asian. While there may be some relation to cosplay and Kemono (Japanese beast humans), I think we'll find that Furry fans have very white and suburban roots (much like yourself!). Furry attraction has more related to Looney Toons than anime. Besides the obvious references to Fritz the Cat or Omaha the Cat Dancer, or even Howard the Duck, one of the most prevalent establishing influences is The Secret of NIMH.
I never thought about it much, but there is something very alluring about Mrs. Brisby. Maybe, it's the sweet voice of Elizabeth Hartman, or maybe it's her little mouse eyes (I hope it's not her little mouse eyes). The real secret of NIMH is Mrs. Brisby's cloaked sexuality. Mrs. Brisby was perhaps the first woman a kid growing up in the 80's saw naked. I've talked about it a little bit in my article on cartoon animals with pants, but Mrs. Brisby represents that oddity in cartoon nudity: she's 100% clothed with only a little red cape on. Even though you can see most of everything underneath the cape, it doesn't count as nudity unless she removes the cape. When Mrs. Brisby loses her red cape and is captured by the Fitzgibbon's son as his pet, a strange thing happens: Mrs. Brisby both becomes an ordinary mouse and a naked woman. This scene in particular has some S&M undertones, as well as some of injection scenes with the rats of NIMH.
For a certain age group, Mrs. Brisby was one of the first times a character was recognizably nude on screen. Whereas other funny animal characters like Bugs Bunny are always nude and therefore clothed in their nudity, Mrs. Brisby actually became nude. The other famous nudist cartoon of that time was, of course, those kinky cats of Thundera, the Thundercats.
So, one hand you have the counterculture influence of Fritz the Cat, but the other side is young adults who came into their own sexuality in the era of Saturday morning cartoons. And these two sides meet in Fur. Is it right? Is it wrong? Who knows? But it is a very American concept, these are western ideas of sexuality merging together. Walk tall, Riley, because this is your sexual history, don't let anyone take that way from you.
A lot of hubbub has been made of this J. Crew ad that has a kid with pink nail polish on his toes. The argument is being made that J. Crew is pushing the boundaries of gender identity, and some have gone as far to say that J. Crew is somehow promoting transgender lifestyles (Oh, silly old, Fox News bear). If you think about it, it really is in the best interest for one of the blandest, most conservative clothing companies to promote transgendered children. Because what do angry parents cover up their transgendered children with... lots of clothing. And what kind of clothing... the blandest, most conservative clothing they can find. Win, win... they promote a liberal agenda and milk conservative sales in the process.
Maybe, it's just me, but it's kind of a stretch to say they're sending out some sort of subliminal message about gender roles through the color of nail polish. The biggest problem I have with this is colors have no gender. Any gender role that is applied to a color is something we as a society have applied to that color. And these societal norms and values have a tendency to change over time. Pink used to be a masculine color in American society. 100 years ago pink was the color associated with baby boys, and at the very least was considered a gender neutral color. It wasn't until the 50's when the color pink heavily entered French fashion that pink took on a more feminine undertone. This being the case, I don't think it's anything particularly gender bending about pink nail polish. It's just a kid with any of his favorite crayon colors on his toes. And how do know that's it's about the color and not the nail polish itself? Maybe, he wants to be goth? We don't know.
I think the bigger question is what's up with his shirt? This is what they're actually selling. It's interesting that French fashion helped changed gender roles 60 years ago because that shirt is awfully French looking. Is J. Crew really trying to say something about France? This is the same exact shirt popular with ol' timey French sailors and baguette salesmen from Paris to Marseille. Are they trying to promote sex in every port? Bread? Underage wine drinking? Amelie? I don't know, but that kid is a beret and a pencil thin mustache away from being a famous painter. And is that what J. Crew is trying to say? I see that shirt and I just want to paint and be all kinds of artistic. Are they trying to turn our children into French Impressionists? Visible brush strokes, unmixed colors, capturing the natural changing qualities of light? Is this how we want our children raised? No sir, this is America and if they're going to be any sort of Impressionists it is going to be Freedom Impressionists. But why would J. Crew want to create a generation of French Impressionists? Well, what happens when you paint? You get paint on your clothes, you ruin them, and you have to buy more clothes. You're sly, Mr. Crew, but I'm onto you.
Or is this something about sailors? Are they trying to get our children to join the Navy? Has the United States Navy paid J. Crew to create fashionable nautical friendly attire to inspire our children to enlist 15 to 20 years from now. Or is J. Crew still trying to promote gender ambiguity, not through nail polish, but through sailor suits. Striped shirt = sailor = Navy = In the Navy = Village People = mustaches = gay sex. Is that what you're up to J. Crew!? Is it!? IS IT!?
Most likely. I can't see how it's not.
If J. Crew is trying to send some sort of message, French Impressionism and any of this is just as likely as transgendered lifestyles.
When Joseph Gordon-Levitt was first announced as being in Christopher Nolan's third Batman film the rumor mill immediately spouted tails of Gordon-Levitt being the new Robin. It's since been announced that he'll be playing Alberto Falcone, whether this is just a smoke screen or the real deal is yet to be seen. Then Juno Temple was rumored to be a female Robin based on her character description of “a street-smart Gotham girl” reminiscent of Frank Miller's Carrie Kelley in The Dark Knight Returns. Both rumors have been met with mixed reviews. Nolan has been fairly dead set about Robin never being in a Batman film he's directing, and I think the fan community has largely been in support of this.
Few people are willing to say good things about Robin. Even fewer people want to see a modern, realistic Batman standing next to a boy in red and green tights. Why do we resit Robin? Is it just some sort of deep seated homophobic impulse left over from Fredric Wertham? It seems after he mentioned the gay overtones of their relationship that's all we've been able to think about. Are we saying that a man and boy can't sit in a cave together or a roof top together without something inappropriate happening? What does this say about roofers or chimney sweeps?
And because we're so worried about what it would look like and the questions that might arise, we've tried to annex Robin from films and Batman history in general. Tim Burton avoided Robin. Christopher Nolan has vowed against Robin. And, of course, all our worst S&M, rubber nippled Robin nightmares were realized in Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin fiasco. But this isn't how it has to be, there can be a place for Robin in motion pictures. In fact, Robin is integral to the Batman story
Batman needs a Sidekick
Unlike some superheroes, Batman actually needs a sidekick. Flash doesn't need a Kid Flash, Aquaman doesn't need an Aqualad, but Batman needs a Robin. You see Batman doesn't have superpowers—he can't run faster than a speeding bullet or talk to fish—but the world doesn't know he doesn't have superpowers. The average criminal doesn't know that he's just a man, to them he's the GODDAMN BATMAN. To that cowardly lot, he's a supernatural being on par with Superman. And to pull that off Batman needs help. I like to think of Robin as a magician's assistant. Batman needs someone setting booby traps, throwing batarangs, lighting smoke bombs, creating distractions, and generally watching his very mortal back.
The Batman Mythos
Batman debuted in May 1939, Robin made his first appearance in April of 1940... meaning Batman spent 11 months by himself. A Robin has been with Batman for 71 years of storylines, he's been a lone vigilante for 11 months. Robin haters will argue that Batman has always been a lone avenger and him being alone is him getting back to his roots, but he's almost never been alone. This is a story of hero and his sidekick. Batman's mythology doesn't stop at vengeance, vengeance is just the beginning. Batman's tragedy isn't the death of his parents or the life of vengeance he chose, Batman's tragedy is he enlists a partner to keep the cycle alive. His legacy isn't getting revenge for his parents, but the lives of thousands of Boy Wonders who will follow in his footsteps.
Robin keeps Batman grounded, and this actually doesn't help their questionable sexuality. Batman doesn't have an iconic love interest. Oh, he gets a couple of smooches here and there, but there's no Lois Lane waiting for him to come home at night. But let's face it, he's too busy knocking skulls together to ever come home at night. So, Batman doesn't have a typical damsel in distress or someone to champion for. But he does have Robin. Robin is someone for him to care about and to fight for. Fighting for some faceless society or concept is one thing, fighting for a real, live human being is another. Of course, he has Alfred, but do you put up your best fight for an old man with one foot in the grave or a young boy full of life? Without Robin, Batman is a homicidal maniac, with Robin he's a champion for justice. Without Robin, Batman's just The Punisher, and while I like The Punisher, he sure as hell ain't Batman.
Batman is a Symbol
This is probably the most important reason to include Robin in the new Batman films. Nolan's version of Batman keeps coming back to the theme of symbol. Batman is a symbol for justice, Batman is a symbol for Gotham City. As a symbol, as Batman, Bruce Wayne is bigger than a man. Except he's still a man. We know this, and he knows this. A man that could die at any time: shot by any thug, stabbed by any goon, slipped in any shower. To be this powerful, everlasting symbol for Gotham City, Batman cannot die. Which means Bruce needs a backup—a break in case of emergency Batman—he needs someone to take his place should anything happen. He needs Robin.
Are we going to let our own sexual hangups ruin an iconic relationship? Are we so uptight that a man and a nubile young boy cannot dress up in colorful costumes and frolic to all hours of the night? Robin can be more than just a Boy Wonder, but a symbol for tolerance and understanding.
Actually, maybe, Batman and Robin are a little gay.
I had fun at Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo this year, perhaps, more fun than San Diego. It should be said though that I'm not huge on conventions (or gathers or public) mostly because I'm not very big on signatures or dropping large wades of cash on said signatures. If a signature from a celebrity is just a symbol meaning you were in this place at that time and met this person than the signature is worthless because you were there. A signature doesn't validate the meeting, the experience does. All of this meaning, Robert Picardo's signature is worthless... ipso facto, you're worthless, Picardo. I'm kidding, of course, Robert Picardo is wonderful and his surprisingly forceful minions are equally enjoyable.
But back to C2E2, I liked it better because it was a little more laid back. I just liked my big booming spectacles to be relaxed. San Diego Comic-Con was my first convention, which is not really your convention starter set. That's like the first time you've had sex being with a Vietnamese prostitute: Comic-Con is dirty and confusing with a couple of okay moments but mostly not, and don't touch me there, and you walk away somewhat mostly scarred. C2E2 was the girl next door: sweet and familiar, a little frumpy, but a bit of a wild cat that you can't discount. The best part of C2E2 was that I could breathe and there was room to move. The ability to move should never be under appreciated. Orderly lines, accessible booths and panels, these are all good things. The only problem was once you got there, there wasn't much to see. C2E2 was billed as a 3 day event, but there was really only about 1 and quarter days worth of fun.
The main problem was it's mostly comics, which I know shouldn't be surprising at a comic convention, but it was supposed to be Comics and Entertainment. It was really COMICS with a very special appearance by entertainment. And they're growing the other aspects, and from what I heard it was even a more lopsided comics to entertainment battle last year. So, it should continue to get bigger and grander and all encompassing as the years go on. But is that a good thing?
The bigger a convention is, the more fun it will be. Sorry to say, lads, but bigger sometimes is better. It will attract bigger celebrities and companies will pay more money to pimp out their booths. But with better booths and a better breed of celebrities, also, come more conventioneers, longer lines, and a general sardine feeling. With the rate C2E2 has expanded, it will be probably be the perfect comic convention next year, however, this will quickly be consumed by all the will be C2E2 of two years from now, which will result in C2E2 either becoming self aware or a black hole.
In conclusion, did I have fun? Yes. Could I have had more fun? Probably. Did I want to have more fun? Not really.
Other things I enjoyed:
- Knowing my way around town
- Not sleeping in a motel
- Getting a Press Pass
- A ton of free comics at Archaia
- Katie Cook's mini pet paintings
- Lonely Robot Comics (they drew costume covers)
- Mjolnir (By the Hammer of Thor, this list is getting long)
- Missing work
- They didn't let me spectate at the Geek Speed Dating... but I would have enjoyed it if they did.
- And did I mention sleeping in my own bed?
I'm still a little upset that Corey Haim was snubbed at the Academy Awards. It just stings that they could over look perhaps the greatest Corey of our time. I've always been a vehement Haim supporter. I believe the downfall of the Coreys can be tracked back to inverting the Corey/Corey dynamic from Haim/Feldmen to Feldman/Haim. Or it was the drugs. Probably the drugs. However, this shouldn't prevent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from appreciating the lasting mark Haim left on society.
Namely the Douche Grin.
The douche grin tells the world that yeah, you're a douche, and you know you're douche, and you know that I know that you are douche, and that's what's charming about you. It's not entirely unrelated to the Dreamworks face, the Douche smile works a little differently. The Dreamworks face is more like, “What? You want me to save the day? But I'm lovable goof, not a hero.” Which is great for the loser protagonist that has to rise to the occasion in an animated romp. The Haim smile is more like, “I got your daughter pregnant, but, at least, the Feldog didn't get her pregnant, right?” Which is great for the loser protagonist that still needs to be liked by the audience in a teen comedy.
It's sort of like telling the audience even though the character's not a good person, he doesn't mean to be that way, and he really just likes to party and what's the harm in partying. And Corey Haim invented this smile. It's like the gift from the gods. He's a douche smile machine, the uniform precision alone is something to be admired.
As you can see it's sort of a smirk, definitely a hint of mouth breathing though, and almost a perfect triangle. The secret of a good douche grin is hitting that three point triangle: smugness, bewilderment, and disgust. It says: I hate you, I'm better than you, but I really don't know why. The level of confusion in a douche grin almost borders on the stoner smile, but that's its saving grace: A smile that says I'm so clueless that I can't really be a bad person. Haim was a master of making his almost innocent in a Bart Simpson/Denise the Menace sort of way. A grin like this can make the audience believe the “bad boy” villain has some sort of soul, or the underdog hero who has never done anything right has something worth rooting for. Every douche grin after owes a dept to Haim and that's why it was shame it wasn't appreciated by the Academy.