Amoeblog

Only Superman Forgives: Man of Steel (2013)

Posted by Charles Reece, July 1, 2013 12:50pm | Post a Comment
man of steel mondo poster mark ansin

I was recently working my way through Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four and it struck me how explicit the reference to the destruction of New York was made during the proceeding alien invasion storyline. Sue Storm (the super-mom of the group) demands that her fellow heroes move the battle with the invading Kree from the city's skyline to the ocean (why the ruler of the oceans, Prince Namor, has no problem with this is, I guess, because he's all googly eyed over Sue). And after the battle, the superheroes are shown helping rebuild the damaged city. This kind of real world destruction was so unimportant to superhero comics in the past that it became a central joke for a miniseries made back in the 80s called Damage Control about who actually does all the cleaning up. That's what the terrorists did to us, made it impossible to imagine a fantasy where real people aren't being hurt by collateral fallout from cataclysmic battles between superpowered beings.

Contrariwise, Slavoj Zizek has suggested 9/11 was a soporific, that it placed us in slumberland where American fantasies could take hold once again ("virtualization," he called it). The terrorists gave us real nefarious villains to which we could be safely opposed. The prominent media reaction, as he took it, like that of the typical superhero narrative, dehistoricized the attacks, setting them in the perpetual present of an endless comic book (or Hollywoodian virtual) world, where the action becomes one of pure villainy for villainy's sake, motivated by nothing but pure evil ("they hate our freedom," etc.). As Dan Hassler-Forest puts it in his book, Capitalist Superheroes:

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Happy Birthday Wah Ming Chang -- Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 21, 2013 03:13pm | Post a Comment
Wah Chang

Wah Chang
was a Chinese-American artist and prop designer. Today he’s most recognized for his iconic designs on the television series Star Trek. He was born on this day in 1917 and with that in mind, it being Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, me planning on going to see the Star Trek Into Darkness tonight, and The Wrath of Khan on in the background, now seems like a good time to reflect on his genius.


EARLY LIFE

Wah Ming Chang (鄭華明) was born 2 August, Wah Chang as a child1917 in Honolulu, when Hawai’i was still a territory. His father, Dai Song Chang, owned an art store and framing gallery. The Chang family moved to San Francisco in 1919 and the parents opened Ho Ho Tea Room on 315 Sutter Street, which quickly became a popular hangout for artists and bohemians. Wah’s mother, Fai Sue, was an artist and graduate of the California School of Arts and Crafts. As a young child, Wah also displayed a talent for art and at seven, he began a tutelage under artist Blanding Sloan. Wah had his first solo gallery show when he was just nine years old. His mother passed away when he was eleven and his father moved to Europe, leaving the child with Sloan and his wife, Mildred Taylor. Taylor, was a feminist writer, organizer and lecturer who in the 1920s displayed a strikingly non-stereotypical interest in East Asian cultures. Taylor introduced Wah to puppet-making, a skill which he would employ when he eventually began working in film.

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Are You Ready for William Shatner's Birthday?

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, March 19, 2013 08:49pm | Post a Comment

william shatner birthdayThis Friday marks a special milestone for the Universe as we know it, as March 22nd will be William Shatner's 82nd birthday.

Best known as Star Trek's Captain James T. Kirk, The Shat has since worked his way into the very fiber of our pop culture and continues to be an active contributor to Earthlings via TV, film, numerous autobiographies, and  -- of course -- the Internet. If you've been following his Twitter feed, then you've certainly seen this gem of a bucket list, posted today:

 

shatner bucket list

 

If anyone is going to punch a shark, it's going to be The Shat!

In honor of the great man's birthday, The Vortex Room in San Francisco is hosting a special William Shatner Birthday Tribute Night full of Shatner rarities, burlesque dancers, and a special screening of  1958's Screeming Mimi, a strip-tease murder mystery with Anita Ekberg and Gypsy Rose Lee, in 16mm projection! The burlesque talent for the evening will be provided by Szandora LaVey, Laika Fox, The Indra, Mistress Pon-Farr, and your Mistress of Ceremonies, Odessa Lil. Find out more and RSVP on the Facebook HERE!

william shatner birthday san francisco burlesque szandora lavey indra laika fox odessa lil mistress pon-farr

(For which you're cordially invited, mofo.)

Posted by Job O Brother, November 10, 2011 11:48am | Post a Comment


victorians
"Excuse me, but is this vegan?"

I drank too much wine last night. I ate too much cake, and too much food in general. I stayed up too late and had too much caffeine. So how come the amount of fun I had was just right?

The boyfriend and I threw a small dinner party last night. Because I love to cook, I enjoy the preparation of dinner parties sometimes more than the event itself (which wasn’t the case last night, but I’ll admit I’ve sweated over a meal for days only to provide it to its intended guests, then wished I could hide upstairs with some hummus and carrot sticks and original Star Trek.)

star trek food
Catering provided by Play-doh


Last night’s meal consisted of curried vegetable pasties, asparagus with nutmeg hollandaise, and a raspberry-chocolate flourless cake with homemade whipped cream. Naked ladies dancing with abandon beneath a decaying Sun*. I was most proud of the cake. You know how sometimes you’ll taste a dessert and you immediately feel that you’re doing something so wrong but it feels so right? I guess the word is sinful. You’re stomach screams “This is blasphemy!” but your taste-buds whimper, “Do it again…!” (If you’re interested, I’ve included the recipe below.)

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Even Aliens Do It: Monsters (2010)

Posted by Charles Reece, November 7, 2010 11:45pm | Post a Comment
war of the worlds book cover gorey

Most alien invasion movies deal with the central idea in H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, a radical change in perspective. His Martians look upon us as we might look at microbes through a microscope. Humans are made to face the question of what our cumulative history (moral, social, etc.) amounts to in the presence of a superior, celestial other. Wells suggests there's hope for us, that we're not so insignificant, by having the Martians taken down by bacteria, which were no more significant to us than we were to the invaders. As it turned out, we should've had more respect for bacteria.


An optimistic response to our diminished ontological status would be Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek universe, where Earthlings get over their petty (in the cosmological sense) differences to work together in establishing our species' significance in an ever expanding world. The success of Earthlings in the Federation is because liberal humanism is taken to be an absolute, superior to all the alien moral alternatives found in the universe (Vulcans might be our intellectual superiors, but they don't possess our heart and good old common sense). The wish fulfilled here is that humans overcome all our cultural, socially constructed differences to prove the importance of what unites us, presumedly biology and whatever inalienable rights obtain therefrom (again, liberal humanism).


The more pessimistic spin is seen in Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still, which involves a representative, Klaatu, from a council of master races (not unlike the Federation) coming to Earth with a warning: do what you want to each other, but should you try any of that human-all-too-human bullshit with us as you travel into space, we have the technology to annihilate you. If we're to be united, it'll be through negation, all of us being fundamentally different from the other, causing us to cuddle together in fear. A similar togetherness led Earth to attack the bug planet in Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers, the bugs not possessing the technological power of Klaatu.

district 9 poster

Even more cynical is Neill Blompkamp's District 9 that suggests if there is a unifying human instinct, it's bigotry. The alien arrival doesn't fundamentally alter class and racial divisions, but instead proves shit rolls down hill. The aliens are restricted to the poorest area where they're subjected to discrimination from the most discriminated of humans. Although biological alteration of the protagonist results in his empathizing with the alien plight, it's not biology per se that's the basis for moral insight (as it is in Star Trek), but rather being socially reconstituted as other in the eyes of his (formerly) fellow humans, particularly those from his bourgeois background.

monsters poster

Gareth Edwards' Monsters applies a similar socio-historical determination to extraterrestrial reception as District 9, where the invaders aren't seen as transcendent beings that defy our categories, but are instead reduced to extant concepts of class, nation-state boundaries and otherness. The octopoid aliens (a cross between those in The War of the Worlds and Watchmen) are quarantined in Mexico along with the majority of Mexicans. Fulfilling the Minuteman Project, there's a Great Wall now separating Central from North America. Regardless of the terror and destruction being inflicted on the resident population by the giant octopuses, the only immigrants allowed into the States are the wealthy. An interesting enough premise, but nothing much is made of it except as backstory for yet another bourgeois coupling.

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