lonespark: Tiana in profile wearing tiara (Tiana)
Ana Mardoll has a fantastic post on her blog about the Beauty and the Beast story. It's the author's note to her new book, which I can't wait to read. It has me thinking about Beauty and the Beast-type stories.

The one I'm most familiar with is The Phantom of the Opera, and I was pretty well obsessed with it for years...maybe decades? My interest comes and goes, these days. That's a story that seems, when told well, to be as much about music, and genius and madness, and possibly something about ghosts, as about love, or "love..." One of my favorite versions was the miniseries that was on when I was in elementary school, starring Teri Polo and Charles Dance, with bonus Burt Lancaster. I composed, but never wrote down, fanfiction stories for it, of the Mary Sue fix-it variety.

My Character, J, was very much in the Mary Sue-as-fantasy-self mold. She was tall, and had red hair. (I am not-tall, quite short in fact, and have not-red hair, and I am fine with this now. At the time I was big for my age, and had blonde hair which I utterly despised, which could have something to do with living briefly in Thailand, but probably doesn't.) She could do f***ing everything. She could ride horses and do martial arts, and generally outrun, outsmart, outfight and out-(fill in skill here) anyone, and by anyone I mean "the male characters" since there wasn't much female competition in the media I was into. She got to save, smack some sense into, and kiss/bonk/etc. Erik.

I had that same character having adventures in other universes. Chiefly Star Trek, where she got to have a brief fling with Dr. McCoy but spent most her time just being Awesome Lt. Mary Sue. She was from the Really Cool Planet I had way too much fun making up, to the point where I just wanted to make up stories, travelogues really, about that planet and its cultural festivals, and the history of its founding, and its Vulcan community, and the popular holo-shows there, and what happened when a popular actor in one got married and his husband tried set up McCoy and Spock...(Hmmm, I guess those characters and that setting kind of bridged the gap between the Mary Sue phase and later slash fandom, as well as encompassing a period of filing-off-the-numbers exploration of fantasy and scifi concepts I'm still involved with off and on.)

Getting back to Phantom, I also actually wrote down the early chapters of fairly involved story that started off vaguely "inspired by" where the horribly disfigured (by a curse!) character courted a beautiful blonde princess who rebuffed him and ended up with her awesome kickass brunette sister. It got way More Complicated Than That quickly, partly because I love worldbuilding and partly because I realized that while a princess might reject a suitor for insufficient prettiness, there are probably seventy zillion cultural factors involved in why he would be unsuccessful, regardless of having had A Vision of his One True Love*.

So I went off worldbuilding and giving Phantom/Beast/Barbarian from The Cold Mountains Guy (henceforth known as Z) a culture, and a past. When I started doing that it became obvious that this character was my viewpoint character, the one I identified with, and the princess thing was kind of a distraction that I might get to eventually. Z was never abusive or a monster, although he killed people and hurt friends and made mistakes. I think that comes out of the fact that I felt somewhat that the Beast/Phantom isn't just a monster. But I never really wanted him to Get the Girl, either. And I guess the best I could come up with was for him to not need The Girl.

You can't have that in Beauty and the Beast, (or The Little Mermaid, which is different but similar as far as the magic part goes) unless you have someone (maybe the potential love interest?) find another way to break the spell, removing the coercion...which is a good idea. Perhaps I'll go find some fics like that and read them, or prompt some or write some or something.

*Not really.
lonespark: Toph in Dai Li uniform (Toph)
The movie The Last Airbender is different from AtLA the series in many ways. I'm a bit sympathetic to the general idea of changes. Feature films have to be different from TV series, live action has to be different from cartoons, etc. But when you are cutting or changing you should have good reasons, and those cuts and changes send messages about what you think the valuable parts of the source material are.

Here are some things that do not seem to be valued by the people who made TLA:

Female characters
Bright colors
Dialogue that is good
Fat characters
Bending that looks cool or impressive
People of color who do not need some white kids to save them
Dialogue that is not the worst dialogue in any film I can remember seeing
An Avatar State that actually conveys power and danger
Showing anything that could instead be described through an Exposition Dump of horrible dialogue

Grrr argh I don't even.

This movie is really dark. The only part I remember that seemed to have much light or color in it was when the avatar boy is remembering his childhood in the monastary. And for that to stand out as vibrant and peaceful and fun (but still kind of...dim) is awesome, but everything else is so grim and grimy and drained of color...why?

They pronounce the characters' names differently...why? (It's kind of good, though, because you can be like "Sokka wouldn't do that. But "Soak-a" totally would." "Iroh is a awesome fat guy, but his cousin "Eeeroh" looks different.")

There are some pretty cool bending effects. Firebenders (except super-awesome ones?) seem to need to have fire to do stuff, and that makes a certain amount of sense.

Aasif Manvi appears to be having fun trying to destroy the moon, so that's cool, I suppose. Also, TLA Ozai/Zhao FTW.

To be continued. Brought to you by insomnia and dialogue like "We have to show them we believe in our beliefs just as much as they believe in theirs."
lonespark: Suki in Kyoshi Warrior garb with two fans (Suki)
My kids borrowed the film The Last Airbender from the library and watched it. I know I did this to myself by watching it, but at least it was mostly free? Anyway, ha, I share with you my pain and rage.

I am having a hard time deciding whether to rant first about the HORRIBLE RACE ISSUES or the OVERALL TERRIBLENESS of the movie. I think I will go with terribleness, because it seems to me that the whitewashing bullshit just goes hand in hand with a fundamental misunderstanding of, and disrespect for, the source material.

(Is it always this way with whitewashing? I feel like it is, but maybe there are counter-examples?

I'm thinking about fantasy worlds like Earthsea or The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, where there are pale-skinned people in the story, so by whitewashing you are/would be not only sending the message that people of color are not allowed to be protagonists and heroes; you might also be planting the suspicion, in the minds of people familiar with the source material, that the whitewashed characters are actually Kargish/Arameri/etc.

But anyway, that doesn't really apply to AtLA world.)


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