Next Time, I’m Choosing the Movie

Recently, I was dragged out, kicking and screaming to see Christopher Nolan’s movie Dunkirk.

I may have mentioned before that World War II movies are not my thing. Every last gram of interest in the subject was wrung out of me in high school (During a time when Every day was a World War II Anniversary of some sort. Did you know that today is the anniversary of the day that FDR got body lice off Stalin? We have a six-hour documentary.) We won’t discuss how much of my “education” involved staring at television, but suffice it to say that I have hit my limit.

Short version? Dunkirk is basically Das Boot played in reverse with a few extra airplanes thrown in for color. Somehow, it still manages to maintain that depressing “all is futile” ending. (Okay, by overshooting a couple of good ending points, and following the characters back to where the school kid who’s accidentally killed when he hits his head on the way to Dunkirk is highlighted in the papers as the “hero” of Dunkirk. We’re all just fighting for propaganda, boys and girls.)

So, I watched the movie, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon tracking down YouTube videos of various Rolls Royce engine sounds. (‘Cause there’s a point in the film where one of the characters cheerfully ignores–doesn’t even look up– an airplane at an unknown distance and an unknown altitude because he’s just that sure… from the sound… that it’s a Merlin and not a Kestrel. I have a lousy ear, but I wouldn’t bet my life I could tell the difference.)

Have I mentioned that I love the internet?

All said and done, I didn’t hate the movie, but I wouldn’t watch it again, either.

Everyone knows the best war movies are the ones with half-naked Spartans in them.

Penthos Does Piraeus, anyone?

Doctor Who and Consent

I finally got the latest episode of Doctor Who. Thanks to Google Play, I’ve been dodging spoilers–in the internet age–on forums entirely full of science fiction fans–for four days. And I survived. But barely.

You may have noticed I don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about pop culture around here. I’m not one of those people who can name every Jefferies tube on the Enterprise, and I don’t usually have a whole lot to say beyond “Did you like it?”

I’m uncomfortable with the latest episode, and the current monster of the week’s insistence on “consent.” I’m uncomfortable with the–highly questionable–definition of “consent” the show presents.

And if there’s “more” to it, I’m not crazy about a lecture on consent being spread over two weeks so that the kids who miss part two are left with the questionable version.

So, in the beginning, the Doctor is Blind. (Pause for commentary from the Blind community, who in all likelihood are not crazy about the idea that Blindness has to be fixed for an extremely clever, time-traveling alien to save the world.)

So, the story is basically this–a short time until the end of the world, and a highly suspicious, probably evil group of aliens offers to help–if only the people in power consent to this. (And to being ruled by the aliens afterward.)

In the course of the episode, various powerful people try to consent, and are told that Fear is not consent… strategy is not consent.

The punishment for improper consent, by the way, is to be incinerated into a nifty pile of dust.’ I think we ran up a consent body count of four.

In the end, as a blind Doctor stands stymied by a combination lock, Bill–his current companion–bargains with the evil aliens to get his sight back and save the world.

As it turns out… The evil aliens say that love is consent.

Uhm… NO. That comes disturbingly close to if you loved me, you would. If you don’t consent, I will incinerate you.

I’m concerned. The truth is, that this is a badly mangled version of consent. And while it’s true that I’m mostly thinking about sexual consent (which is not stated explicitly in the show) I’m not sure this works for any other form of consent.

Imagine a hospital refusing to take a consent form because you figure that an appendectomy is the best strategy for staying alive. Gee, I’d really like to help your kid, but if you don’t consent because you love the surgeon, it doesn’t count.

And conflating love with consent is just…


You do love Uncle Humbert, don’t you? You do want to make him happy, don’t you?

I absolutely think that we should be talking about consent more often, but using the word to mean things other than consent is not helpful.

At best, it’s a modern morality table. You MUST love someone in order to consent. At worst… well, I don’t think every kid who loves Uncle Humbert needs to be told that love, in itself is consent.

Secrets and Celebrations

I have Science Fiction Double Feature stuck in my head. You know, from the Rocky Horror Picture Show? To be specific, this version.

(That’s Amanda Palmer, and she’s the first person to raise more than a million dollars via crowdfunding, if you’re interested.)

How do these things get stuck in my head? I don’t really know, but since it’s there, and since it’s not coming out any time soon, let’s talk about that.

I don’t remember the first time I heard the song, but I can tell you the context. My cousin (the pan-sexual nymphette) and her longtime partner (a garden-variety Lesbian) used to turn on a VHS of The Rocky Horror Picture Show when they decided it was time for my uncle (a homophobic mechanical engineer) to leave. TV goes on after dinner, the music starts up–and by the time Brad and Janet’s car breaks down–my uncle, his wife, and all but a few hip stragglers have cleared out.

Just like magical clockwork.

I was in college, before I was invited to straggle and finally see the rest of that movie.

And then, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was everywhere. Partially, recognizing references I might have missed, before, partially seeking it out. And partially, the company I keep.

And this song is stuck in my head.

Part of it, I admit, is that not-so-subtle wish that I had the power to make unpleasant, or undesirable people go away as easily as my cousin did. I don’t know if that would work for me.

Part of it is the on-going nostalgia trip I seem to be on right now. Where the hell is the guy who took me to the… late night…. double feature… picture… show? Well, Minnesota, the last I heard from him. South Dakota, by rumor.

I like the movie, and I like the versions with the live cast. The sense of people getting together, and playing together. I like the idea of a piece of art connecting people the way Rocky Horror does. I enjoy the idea of people coming together around a performance. And maybe… the idea that something made up, and fictional, and fantastic can really make a difference.