by Victor LaValle (originally published in Love letters from the New York Times Style Magazine, 14 February 2019)
The writer Victor LaValle reflects on the power of the Oscar-nominated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and its young hero.
My kids think you’re great, but I’m the one who loves you. I’m 47, my son is 7 and my daughter is 5, but at the end of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” I’m the only family member who sat there in tears. In the movie you look like a teenager, but in reality you’re barely 8 years old. Back in 2011 two folks at Marvel Comics — the artist Sara Pichelli and the writer Brian Michael Bendis — created you. In the sea of Caucasity that was (and still is) the comic book industry, you were long overdue. I know this is all a bit meta, but that history was rolling through my brain when the movie ended. Meanwhile my son and daughter were too busy pretending to turn invisible or web-sling across the Magic Johnson Theater lobby to notice. I watched them playing and thought about myself at their ages. I know, I know, nothing is duller than listening to an adult talk about how things were “back in the day.” I’m going to do it anyway so go ahead and pre-roll your eyes. Continue reading “How Miles Morales Changed the Spider-Verse”
by Mya Nunnally (published 22 Sept 2017 in BookRiot)
As the title subtly suggests, I have a theory about the narrator of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless classic, The Great Gatsby. This theory is one I’m sure some will totally disregard, saying I’m reading too deep into things that aren’t there (which, if I am, I do so not alone, for there is an entire essay written about Fitzgerald’s use of the color yellow). Or perhaps some stuffy old English professor might blanch at the suggestion that one of the most beloved novels of all time has a queer protagonist.
To me, it’s painfully obvious that Nick Carraway is queer. But my gaydar has been finely tuned by years of searching for the gay characters in books and movies and television shows in order to find some semblance of representation. So, for those of us who didn’t see the signs, or who were taught the novel by someone who refused to, I’ll offer evidence. Continue reading “Nick Carraway is Queer and in Love with Jay Gatsby”
by Natalie Standiford, originally published by the New York Times, 13 January 2012
“I am not a mathematician, but I know this,” says Hazel Grace Lancaster, the narrator of “The Fault in Our Stars,” the latest novel by John Green, a Michael L. Printz medalist and author of several best-selling novels for young adults. “There are infinite numbers between zero and one. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others.” The trouble, she says, is, “I want more numbers than I’m likely to get.”
This is a problem faced by the heroines in both “The Fault in Our Stars” and “The Probability of Miracles,” two young adult novels about 16-year-old girls who have cancer: their days are numbered. At the outset, the two books are remarkably similar. Both begin by bluntly describing the harsh realities of life as a cancer patient through the wry sensibility of a smart, sarcastic teenage girl. They are both surprisingly funny and entertaining, given the subject matter, and both are at heart teenage love stories. About halfway through, though, “The Probability of Miracles” veers off in one direction — toward the miracles of the title — while “The Fault in Our Stars” stays the course of tragic realism. And that’s where the difference lies.
by Adrienne Lafrance, originally published in The Atlantic, 18 December 2015
When Luke Skywalker first encounters Yoda, it’s on a swampy planet in The Empire Strikes Back. At first, Luke doesn’t realize the long-eared, wrinkly green creature is, in fact, the one he’s seeking.
“I’m looking for someone,” Luke says.
“Looking?” Yoda replies. “Found someone, you have, I would say, hmmm?”
There’s a narrative effect to the way Yoda speaks. To an English speaker, anyway, the way he orders his sentences sounds vaguely riddle-like, which adds to his mystique.
But what’s actually going on with Yoda, linguistically? Continue reading “An Unusual Way of Speaking, Yoda Has”
by Regina Lizik, originally posted at Nerd Bastards, 9 February 2015
What happened and what’s going on is that this is the most beautiful hour of television you are likely to ever see. It’s about the hesitation of living and the hesitation of letting go. In one harrowing hour, we watch Tyreese struggle with whether or not to lay down his burden. By now, you all know the choice he makes, and if you don’t, I suggest you avoid this article and the entire internet until you watch the mid-season premiere.
The first few minutes are a disjointed montage of scenes and lens flare effects. We see someone digging a grave, we see the sky, Maggie and Noah crying, Judith crying, the group at a funeral, people running, pictures of Noah’s brothers before the outbreak, the prison guard tower. We also see images of a car accident and a zombie trapped in one of the vehicles, as well as small painting of a cottage. The final two shots of the opening are the most disturbing: Meeka, smiling, turns to the camera and says “It’s better now,” while a smiling Lizzie sits behind her. The last shot is the small painting with blood pouring onto it. Continue reading “TV Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ S5E9 — “What Happened and What’s Going On””
by Linda Holmes, originally published by NPR, 25 November 2013
This weekend, Catching Fire, the second chapter of the Hunger Games film adaptations, raked in enormous piles of dough — with over $160 million in one weekend, it’s the biggest November opening ever. Ever. (Take that, Twilightsequels.) Much has been said, and rightly so, about Katniss Everdeen and the way she challenges a lot of traditional narratives about girls. She carries a bow, she fights, she kills, she survives, she’s emotionally unavailable, she’d rather act than talk, and … did we mention she kills?
But one of the most unusual things about Katniss isn’t the way she defies typical gender roles for heroines, but the way Peeta, her arena partner and one of her two love interests, defies typical Hollywood versions of gender roles for boyfriends. Continue reading “What Really Makes Katniss Stand Out? Peeta, Her Movie Girlfriend”
by Roxane Gay, originally published at The Rumpus, 12 April, 2012
I am always interested in the representations of strength in women, where that strength comes from, how it is called upon when it is needed most, and what it costs for a woman to be strong.
All too often, representations of a woman’s strength overlook that cost.
The Hunger Games, released in 2008, is the first book in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Catching Fire and Mockingjay, the next two books, were released in 2009 and 2010. The franchise was an instant success. More than 2.9 million copies of the books are in print. There are more than twenty foreign editions. The Hunger Games was on the New York Times bestseller list for 100 weeks. There are special editions. There is merchandise including a Katniss Barbie, which Katniss would absolutely hate. In March 2012, the movie was released and thus far has earned nearly $460 million worldwide. I am part of the problem. I have seen the movie four times and have plans to see it again. Continue reading “What We Hunger For”