“Specimen”: Beauitful Men, The MCU and Female Fantasy

As I try to grow as a woman and a feminist and a writer, one of the things that I’ve been trying to pay some attention to is gendered language. I read an essay a while back that talked about the way that we discuss women’s looks verse the way we talk about men’s. Words like “beautiful” as opposed to words like “handsome.” Because of this I’ve tried really hard to use specific words when it comes to describing someone’s attractiveness whenever possible.

And lately I’ve been thinking about men who I describe as beautiful.

Not all the men I find myself attracted to would fit this descriptor. I’d say even a traditionally attractive man, like say, George Clooney is still more handsome than beautiful. The Boston Boys, as I’ve called them many time (Wahlberg, Affleck and Damon) also fit that bill. But I do kind of have a thing for pretty boys.

Specifically here, I want to talk about The MCU, though and how those men, in particular are just, beautiful. It’s a specific brand of gorgeous, they just glow, and while they’re certainly representing a male power fantasy, as nearly all superheroes do, there’s something feminine in the fantasy of these men. One of my very first posts here was about how The Avengers presents archetypes for several different fantasies for those so inclined.

Obviously, “The Chrises” are the best example of this Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and later Chris Pratt are all beautiful, if in a simple specific, WASPY way, but when you place them as Captain America, Thor and Star Lord, you’re creating three specific types, The All American Good Boy, The God and The Roguish Man Child. They are specific fantasies.

What got me thinking about this recently was of course Civil War, but specifically Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther in Civil War. I knew from 42 that Boseman was a good looking guy, but as I watched him on the big screen as T’Challa, I grabbed Aless’s arm and gasped, “He’s just so beautiful!” (Her response, a nice little pat and “yeah, hon, I know, but…movie…” Aless is a much more rational human than I am.)

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Sooo, beautiful….

So what does this have to do with feminism? Well, allowing for female sexual fantasy is a big part feminism, and allowing men to be seen as aesthetically beautiful is also a good gender parity thing. But I’m not the first person to talk about the female gaze and the Marvel movies, but it’s an important aspect that I think doesn’t get talked about enough. But I talk about this a lot in my everyday life and now I want to talk about it here too.

Because I think talking about beautiful men is important. And also fun. So that’s, that. YAY!

Game of Thrones Winner: The Door

I had to think a lot about this week’s winner, because unlike the past few weeks there wasn’t a clear winner.

I mean, I guess, Euron Greyjoy won, because of Kingsmoot! But when I really thought about it, I decided to give the win to a bit of an underdog.

Meera Reed!

Meera

Even though Hodor’s fate can be a little bit blamed on her. (Though mostly on Bran, being a ninkompoop about Past Warging) She also put a speer through the heart of that white walker and it was totally bad ass. Like, totally badass.

Runner up goes to Jorah, who finally told Dany how he felt, and then got a royal order to go seek out a cure for his greyscale. (Wept through that the whole time, by the way.) It was really a lovely scene. But also, our girl is on her way home, to a peaceful (ish) city. But without her bear body guard. And it’s very sad. But also cathartic.

Missandei and Grey Worm Watch

Didn’t do much, but they sat around while Varys and Tyrion made their “recruit the red priests and prestesses” plan. That Varys also doesn’t seem to like much. But turns out that something else happened the night that Varys got cut, and it’s kind of weird.

Sansa’s Agency Watch

So Sansa told Little Finger off and it was glorious. She’s also just totally all set to take back the North. She also sends Brienne to Riverrun, and I don’t see that ending well, because, I mean, could it be possible, after all of this time, might we see…could there possibly be Lady Stoneheart?????? Anyway, Sansa is just running around with all the agency this season. I really appreciate it.

Arya Bad Ass Watch

Arya gets her new assignment, to kill an actress who is currently performing as Cersei in a play about the events surrounding her father’s death. As Arya watches the play you see her getting disturbed and it’s actually quite the scene. But anyway, she accepts the assignment, but I think that Arya is still more Arya than a girl, because she’s questioning it.

KINGSMOOT!

Yara comes this close to winning the Iron Islands, with Theon supporting her, but then Euron shows up and ruins everything. He wins by saying that he’s going to go to Mereen and get Danerys and I somehow don’t see that working out, except that Dany does need ships…it’s awfully complicated though

Anything Other Than Me: One Tree Hill Rewwatch: Season 4: Episdoes 6-10

I told you that I’d get it done! And in getting it done, I remembered why I love watching this show and doing these posts, and now, the plan is to finish Season 4 this weekend and get back to the 1 episode a day thing. (Though probably at not on my lunch break, because good weather means walking and the weather has been delightful). Anyway, here’s this week’s post, thanks for dealing with my reshuffling.

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Season 4: Episode 6: “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”

Peyton is not dealing well with having been attacked. She’s not sleeping, she’s really timid and just being generally un-Peytony. Because if there’s one thing that I’ve come to appreciate during this rewatch, it’s that Peyton Sawyer is a badass. Anyway, Lucas is trying to break her out of her funk but when he can’t do it. So he goes to Derek, real awesome Derek, who is a marine, and the best, to ask for help. So, Derek brings Peyton to his base and teaches her to box, and during the boxing lesson we get an awesome montage of all the things that have tried to knock Peyton down. It’s pretty great. In the en he tells her that he’s leaving her alone but actually he watches her overnight, just in case she needs him.

The only thing that isn’t great about this storyline is that it really underlines how patronizing Lucas can be and how much he infantilizes Peyton. It’s pretty gross. But Lucas has never been my favorite character either.

Nathan and Haley are having money problems. Haley is really freaked out about it and so is Nathan but he’s mostly handling it by going down to the river court and shooting hoops, because and I repeat, Nathan is the most realistic character on this show. Anyway, he winds up borrowing the money from Daunte, who is a sketchy ex Raven who’s kind of stalking Nathan but also is RICK FOX! WAHHH!

Brooke is now dating Nick, who it turns out is the new English teacher, and this plot is so tired and sketchy that I really hope no one ever does it again. (Seriously, teen shows need to stop, they’ll never beat Pacey and Tamara and they should QUIT IT). Also, Mouth and Gigi decide to date, and it’s fine. Gigi is basically a stop over between Rachel and Shelly and it’s sort of a bummer, because she’s a fun little weirdo. (And they ruin her when she comes back as an adult.)

Lucas is back on the team and The Scott Brothers + Skills is an unstoppable team! They make states! Everything is awesome. (Except for the lack of money and Nathan borrowing from a lone shark, but you know OTHERWISE everything is great!)

Guys, RICK FOX!

Season 4: Episode 7: “All These Things I’ve Done”

A bit of table setting this episode, but I love it just the same. The two main stories are Brooke and Peyton based, with quick asides for Nathan and Lucas and Haley. (Can you tell that Game of Thrones is back, so I’m more used to character juggling these days?)

Peyton is skipping school because going outside gives her panic attacks. Derek confronts her about this, and while his version of “help” is “be really mean to her for no actual reason,” it winds up working. It actually makes a lot of sense. Peyton really isn’t a girl who’s been told “no,” or “sack up” a lot in her life, for all that she’s dealt with a ton of misery. So, he brings her a punching dummy and she beats it and agrees to be in her life as long as she needs him. Seriously, Derek is the best person ever.

Brooke, meanwhile, has her fashion show which is going really well. She’s having buyers approach her and the model’s are all into Mouth, who’s about to go on his first date with Gigi. Meanwhile, she’s still sleeping with the English Teacher, and ahhhhgggg I hate this plotline so much and if no teen soap ever does it again I’ll be thrilled. (It was only ever any good from a drama perspective on Dawson’s Creek anyway) Rachel gets wise and decides to end it, because it may be twisted but Rachel does have a code and she knows it’s wrong. So she calls Nick out, and he may come on to her? Or she comes on to him? But she then goes to the principal when Brooke won’t end it. Brooke denies the affair and goes to see Nick and finds him with one of the models. This plot is (mercifully) over.

Season 5: Episode 8: “Nothing Left To Say But Goodbye”

Nathan is starting to realize that he made a HUGE mistake with all of this Daunte business. He’s now being asked to throw the state championship, or Daunte will hurt Haley. Nathan is conflicted. So conflicted that when he learns he’ll be the receipient of the MVP award, and goes to Dan for help. Dan tries to help, but in the end tells Nathan that he has to lose the game to protect his family.

Brooke has a realization after breaking up with Nick that she might miss Lucas so she goes to see him and then finds that Peyton’s been sleeping over, because of her whole thing with the panic attacks and the PTSD. She freaks about this less than she thought she would, and Rachel points out that she’s not in love with Lucas anymore, so who cares?

Guys, I’ve decided that Rachel is us, we are Rachel. Also Mouth and Skills.

So Brooke asks Lucas to go with her to the senior awards banquet and he says sure and then Peyton decides (with encouragement from Derek) to ask him too, and then Lucas looks all whistfully at her and says he’s sorry but he’s going with Brooke and wouldn’t it be great if they could all be friends again and go together?

Lucas is such an idiot, but the idea of a Brooke/Lucas/Peyton triad, something that would never have occurred to me back when I first watched the show, stuck in my little bubble of heteronormativity, is very appealing, mostly because Brooke and Peyton are a better couple than either of them ever were with any guy.

Anyway, Peyton winds up going with Derek and then he gets called up and she actually handles him leaving well, because of character growth. (Seriously, I don’t know why I’m so in love with Peyton these days you guys…I hated her the first time around.)

Whitey also gets a lifetime achievement award, and makes a speech and everyone, including me, cries. Oh, and Dan and Karen are kind of dating, but it’s weird and I actually love the nuance of this story, and I’m very into Moira Kelly this watch as well.

The episode ends with Peyton telling Lucas that she’s in love with him, once it’s made absolutely clear that he and Brooke are 100% done. What will his answer be?

Season 5: Episode 9: “Some You Give Away”

“The Tree Hill Ravens are champions at last, and there’s not a dry eye in the house.”

Much like Nathan and Haley’s wedding, I believe that this episode, where the team plays in the state championship game is a nearly perfect episode of this show. It so perfectly hits on what the show does right, without any clumsy or sour notes. It’s framed around a recording of an announcer from the State Championship that Dan sat out. It’s a good device.

As the team prepares for the game, Nathan confesses to Lucas that he’s going to throw it. Lucas lectures him about it and continually gives him shit. This is one case where Lucs’s self righteousness is absolutely the right way to go. Nathan needs to be guilted right now, even though he’s also in an impossible spot. Dan tries one more time to reason with RICK FOX  but it doesn’t work out.

Haley is tutoring Rachel and it’s going pretty well, but as the girls wait for the game to start, while Brooke and Peyton bitch at each other, she starts having stomach pains. The rest of the squad rushes her to the hospital, where they band together to best the mean desk clerk, who hates them because they’re cheerleaders. Haley learns that not only is she going to be fine, but she’s going to have a boy. While they’re waiting Peyton and Brooke talk a little, and Peyton explains that she’s done trying to fight for Lucas because it’s clear he doesn’t want her.  This makes Brooke think.

Lucas and Skills decide to freeze out Nathan so that they can win without him, but at half time, when Haley tells Nathan they’re having a boy (and Whitey calls out the team for not being their best) it makes him realize how important this game is to him and he’s back in. The Ravens win and Mouth gives a rousing speech about the power of sports to unite us.

I’m in love with this speech and I think it’s actually one of the best pieces of writing from television of that decade, that frequently gets ignored. Anyway, after the win, Brooke goes to Lucas and basically tells him to go to Peyton. He does, they kiss, everyone goes to celebrate. But of course, this is Tree Hill, no happiness lasts long and because Lucas wasn’t taking his heart meds he collapses on his way to Peyton’s after the after party, and Daunte hits Haley with a car, and Nathan beats him to death? Or almost does and then Dan finishes the job? I don’t think it’s ever made clear. Oh, also, Rachel reveals that she was only getting tutored so that she can steal the test for Brooke, who’s actually failing. This plan is so needlessly convoluted.

So, the episode ends with Lucas and Haley in the hospital and everyone else crying. It’s just really, really good though.

Season 5: Episode 10: “Songs To Love And Live By”

Uggghhh, the It’s A Wonderful Life episode. The only episode worse than this one (that I remember) is the film noir episode, which thanks to Agent Carter I will probably now find adorable/sad (RIP Agent Carter…) but ugh, I was not looking forward to this one except that Keith comes back as Lucas’s Angel.

Mainly because the conceit of It’s A Wonderful Life is specific “what if I’d never been born,” so “what if I’d been a bigger dick than I am?” doesn’t really work as a take on that. Also, it’s just an excuse for Luke to learn that Dan is really the one who killed Keith rather than Jimmy, which is important, I’ll grant you but the episode is still pretty stupid. He sees a dead Peyton, a Goth Brooke and a record smashing Nathan, nothing special. In the end, he chooses to be alive.

Oh, there is a really nice moment where Peyton and Brooke ask their comatose friends to take care of the other one. Peyton asking Haley to take care of Brooke, “we can’t leave her with Rachel,” and Brooke asking Lucas to take care of Peyton. It’s really sweet. Oh, and we see the first appearance of show creator Mark Schwan as “Record Store Guy,” at least, I don’t think we’ve seen him before.

I don’t have much to say, because I really do hate this episode, which I hate to say because Keith and Lucas bickering about how Keith is a terrible spirit guide is fun, but the rest of the episode just blows. 

Overall Analysis of This Arc

I love the playoff and championship stuff and the Derek stuff. Also the Nathan and Haley stuff. Actually I just love this arc, I think it’s wonderful! I love this whole season, actually, and I’m really excited to plunge forward into more of it. I’m really excited about the Lucas and Peyton as a couple stuff, because I do like them, a lot.

Sailor Moon Crystal Check In: Cyborg Girls and Holy Grail

Sailor Moon Crystal 3

There’s a lot that goes on in this episode, but I think before we talk about anything else, we need to talk about Sailor Neptune’s earrings, which I just noticed and are the best things ever.

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So cute! Anyway the episode. After Sailor Pluto appeared she explains the whole outer senshi rebirth thing, but not before first giving Chibi-Moon a big hug, because they’re the best friends ever. Then, Sailor Moon transforms into Princess Serenity and the outers explain who they are and pledge their fealty to her. But they also make it clear that they have control of their “mission,” which no one else should know about.

Rei and Mamoru are particularly wary of the newbies, because they’re carrying the three talismans (talismen? Seriously, I don’t know what the plural is there…) and they’re supposed to bring destruction.

Thanks to a news report that Usagi’s dad is watching they learn that there might be something suspicious about Hotaru’s father, so Chibi-Usa agrees to keep her eyes open and when she goes to visit Hotaru, after being stood up at the movies, she finds out that Hotaru is a cyborg. There’s also a super creepy scene where Hotaru has a new procedure.

As for the main battle, the outer senshi begin battling the last of the Witches 5, who the professor points out have been failing miserably. It’s a cool looking battle, and she eventually casts a spell to set the inners against the outers (sad), which is even cooler looking.

The thing that stops the battle though, is something that I don’t remember from the manga and I like a lot better than what the original anime presented, the Holy Grail is summoned when the Moon Family, (Chibi-Usa, Usagi and Mamoru) combine their powers. So the Holy Grail is like a Moon Family Captain Planet, and I think that’s kind of cool.

And that ends the episode.

In other notes, the opening has really grown on me. I don’t think I’ll ever love it the way I do “Moon Pride” or even the opening from Sailor Stars which I completely adore, but it’s a beautiful melody and the image of the girls flying through the air is very arresting.

Schedule Problems

My schedule is royally messed up this week. The One Tree Hill post is not ready, and I made the decision to get caught up on The Flash rather than watch anything else, so my schedule is kind of messed up.

I’ll still do Sailor Moon tomorrow, and One Tree Hill will most likely go up on Friday, and hopefully I can pick momentum up back on that train. (been watching episodes again and I do love them. I was just resting on the huge lead I’d gotten and it caught up with me.)

I of course hadn’t taken into account that I’m going into my busy season of life at the moment, and now that Kristi is on board, Con Season will be even crazier, since she just went and bought tickets and photo ops for Philly so there’s no backing out now. (This is good, I was waffling like crazy on whether or not to go, so now I’m going, 2 days.)

Anyway, I don’t regret getting caught up on The Flash, because I do this thing where I forget how good that show is, and then it’s like “Oh yeah, The Flash is the best superhero show on TV…” the end of the season has been, funny, had decent action, and so much heart that it was worth burning my schedule to the ground to get on board. (Also, my stuff is starting to clog the DVR again, and that’s how I lost track of Legends of Tomorrow, although I’m told that isn’t much of a loss…) I still have to get caught up on Scandal and Arrow and Agents, but luckily I have a bunch of time this weekend to do just that (and get back on the OTH horse.)

I’m also hoping to get to see The Nice Guys this weekend. (Yes, that I’m diving into Con season will not distract from movie season, it’s just, movie season seems to be gearing up more slowly…also, I still need to see The Jungle Book and Keanu, which aren’t even Movie Season Qualified as they came out before the spring Marvel movie. I know that these rules are arbitrary and I made them up but they give me structure, so yeah, that’s the deal.

So, that’s why you’re not reading about the Tree Hill gang today. You’ll read about them on Friday. Sorry.

Maybe Everything That Dies, Someday Comes Back

I’ve haven’t exactly been short on praise for Atlantic City Boardwalk Con, which premiered last year and where I had an amazing time.

This year, things got even better. The show itself felt scaled down (in a good way.) and instead of heading out on my own, I was joined by two companions, or as Kristi referred to them in her post about it, padawans. (Thinking of myself as a Jedi Master, BTW is the best thing ever.) Kristi and Juli came down with me and it just multiplied the fun.

We did all three days of the con. All three days had their own flavor and a whole lot of fun. And I really can’t stress enough how important the parties are to the ACBC experience. I’ve had fun at post NYCC and Special Edition parties, but the ACBC parties just blow the others out of the water.

Friday: I was dressed as Poe and Kristi was by BB-8, Juli came as a closet cosplay Wonder Woman that was actually a huge hit. (I’ve found that creative closets always tend to draw attention. And Juli’s really did look amazing!)


After the con, we went to Margarittaville, followed by a long walk on the Boardwalk down to The Tropicana, where we danced the night away at Boogie Night’s, watched a costume contest and overall rocked it.

Saturday, dressed in our Disney Princess Finest, Me as Belle, Kristi as Jedi Sleeping Beauty and Juli as Cinderella (pre transformation), we hit a couple of panels, one on Jedi Mash-Ups, which Kristi was thrilled about and another on Wonder Woman, where we watched a Wonder Women, a new documentary about her legacy, and then had a conversation about the role of female superheroes, what they should look like, who they should be.

Then it was on to the after party to end all after parties…Bally’s Wild West, where we danced, sang, screamed, drank and made friends. I’m only just now getting my voice back after the pure fun from this night.

On Sunday we lost Kristi, which was a gigantic bummer, but we were joined by Dom! Juli and I dressed as Rogue and Jessica Jones, we wandered, we learned about making props, I croaked my way through a game of password, and won a Wonder Woman Barbie!

In a quick conversation with one of the con founders we learned that next year is going to be dedicated to The Golden and Siver Age Creators and Characters (as this year was to Wonder Woman and last year was to Kevin Smith, I guess?) I’ve wanted an excuse to do either a Golden Age Wonder Woman or Silver Age Catwoman for ages, so, I’ve got a year to get that together.

So I’m back in real life. But I’ve already got 2 more cons lined up, Wizard World Philadelphia in June and Heroes and Villains Fan Fest NY/NJ in July. We’re all still waiting on what the ticket situation for New York Comic Con is going to be, but I’m going to do my absolute best to make it work, you guys!

Game of Thrones Winner: “Book Of The Stranger”

This was a hard call, which means I’m bringing back Runners Up, which I realized last week that I hadn’t been doing this season. I’ll explain when we get there why this was a hard call (despite it seeming obvious).

Because obviously, Danerys won.

Obviously.

Dany Season 6

She won because, like the true bad ass lady she is, she made friends with the only other Dosh Khaleen under 50, convinced Jorah and Daario that they weren’t going to steal her away in the dead of night, and then, oh you know, SET THE KHALS ON FIRE and walked out of the temple, unburnt (dragon and all that), and had all of the Dorthraki kneeling before her, ready to go back to Mereen and kick the asses of the Sons of The Harpies and The Masters and then go on to take Westeros, because SHE IS THE PRINCE THAT WAS PROMISED DOUCHE NOZZLES AND GET ON BOARD!

Runner up goes, to Jon and Sansa. It’s hard for me not to give wins to Starks when things go right for them, or close to right. I was crying quite hard when they ran and hugged each other. It was beautiful when they talked about how they never should have left Winterfell. (Sansa saying that she wanted to go back and yell at herself seems, prescient, I mean, with the Bran of it all…) It was just so beautiful.

Missandei and Grey Worm Watch

They are pretty much done with Tyrion’s shenanigans, but he’s also allowing them seats at the negotiating table, when he sits down with the Masters, which is cool and which is giving Missangei, at least, a lot to think about. Neither of them like the idea of negotiating with The Masters, but in the end they back Tyrion. But I think Missandei is royally pissed about it.

Sansa’s Agency Watch

Sansa spends a good chunk of this episode convincing Jon that they need to take Winterfell back. He doesn’t want to until they receive a letter from Ramsay where he talks about how he’s going to kill them all, rape Sansa some more, etc. Then she gets her way. But she’s also not sitting back and being a pawn anymore. No, Season 6 Sansa is all about getting shit done, and it’s a thing of beauty.

Oh also, she apologizes to Jon for being THE WORST when they were kids. But he also points out that he was Mopey McEmo face, so there’s that. Whatever, Sansa was great this episode.

Arya Bad Ass Watch

No Arya this week, but her stuff for next week looks cool.

Is Jon Going To Stay Dead?

Absolutley not. I think it’s time to retire this feature! Not only is Jon not staying dead, he’s acting like himself, has all of his memories. So, that’s kind of all settled.

Bran Stark’s Excellent Adventure

No Bran this week, but Ramsay killed Osha and I’m pretty sad about it, and that’s vaguely related to Bran.

KINGSMOOT!

Theon’s home and Yara is threatened by that, but he’s promising to back her, because you know, he’s horribly traumatized and all that jazz. But also, I realize, that Sansa will most likely be Rickon’s regent when they get Winterfell back, Yara very well may rule the Iron Islands and The True Queen will soon return, which will make Westeros a weird awesome matriarchy.

GIVE US THIS, SHOW! After last season, we’ve earned it.