Tag Archives: Blatant Insubordination

Blatant Insubordination: “What’s Star Wars About?”

Captain Kirk, You haven't seen Star Wars?By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

“What’s Star Wars about?”

A young lady asked me this at work the other day without a hint of snark. She’s an outdoorsy girl without much use for movies. But still, it’s easy to just assume everybody knows what Star Wars is. You’d think people would inevitably see the original simply by virtue of being alive.

But I think that’s a geek bias seeping through. After I got this question I put the above meme (Get it?) on my Facebook. One of the comments I got read: “I’ve never seen a Star Wars movie. Thought about getting the DVD and starting from the beginning, but I’m not sure where it starts.”

I don’t push Star Wars, or anything else I love, on other people. But if people are curious about this kind of thing, I’m happy to offer my opinions. And this idea of explaining what Star Wars is about intrigues me. How do you offer a simple explanation of something that’s come to encompass so much?

Star Wars, trioFor whatever reason, when I got this question I thought of Kyle Gnepper over at Unshaven Comics. I’ve seen Kyle and the Unshaven crew a bunch of times at Chicago area comic conventions over the years. When he’s hyping a new comic series, he’s always got a one-sentence pitch to hook you in. Something to catch your interest and intrigue you. I won’t try to directly quote him for fear of butchering his words. But for instance, he might hype Unshaven’s The Samurnauts by saying: “It’s about a group of samurai astronauts led by an immortal Kung Fu warrior monkey.”

At that point you’ve got to at least look, right?

So what would a similar pitch be for Star Wars? And by Star Wars, I mean the original 1977 film. The young lady I spoke to was shocked to hear there were seven movies in all, with more on the way. But Episode IV: A New Hope is how the world at large was introduced to this strange universe, and it obviously served as the basis for everything else. That’s where newbs should start.

Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Star Wars: A New HopeI figure simplicity and conciseness is important when you begin to explain something like this. Don’t start by trying to explain who Darth Vader is, or what a Jedi is, or how the Skywalkers are all related to each other. You’ll lose them if you try to explain all that stuff.

Here’s the “Gnepperfied” Star Wars synopsis that I came up with: “It’s about a galactic dictatorship with a weapon that can destroy a planet, and the rebel heroes fighting against them.”

Some might argue it’s too simple or generic. But that’s the point, isn’t it? You lure them in with the broad strokes, and then explore the intricacies as you get closer. Once you’re past the simple explanations, you can get into how the Empire works, who the iconic characters are, etc.

On the subject of those iconic characters, I’ve recently started wearing character socks to work. Star Wars, superheroes, etc. Because, you know, that’s what cool people do. One such pair features little images of C-3PO. This girl in question sees the socks, her eyes pop and she asks: “Are those Minions on your socks?”

We can only do so much.

Click here for more Blatant Insubordination.

Image 2 from usatoday.com. Image 3 from digitalspy.com.

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Blatant Insubordination: Darwyn Cooke, Chloe Grace Moretz, X-Men in Space

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Darwyn Cooke, graphic ink cover1. Darwyn Cooke

A few days ago we lost the great Darwyn Cooke. Make no mistake about it, folks: He was great. Don’t take my word for it. Just take a look at his work. Type his name into Google Image, and you’ll see art from Batman: EgoCatwoman, The Spirit, Parker, some of his recent DC variant covers, Before Watchmen: Minutemen, and more. Seemingly everything this man drew looked iconic, timeless, and at certain points idyllic. He could do heartbreak and drama as well as anybody, but his characters also weren’t afraid to smile.

In the eyes of many (myself included), Cooke’s magnum opus was DC: The New Frontier, one of the projects he both wrote and drew. Set in the ’50s and ’60s, The New Frontier shows us a world driven to paranoia by the Cold War. The superheroes of the Golden Age have been driven into retirement. But a new generation rises to take the world into a new era, and combat a deadly extraterrestrial foe. In the process, we see the rise of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, the formation of the Justice League, Martian Manhunter learning about this strange new society, and much more. It’s a love letter to the era Cooke grew up in, and his passion is very much on display. The story was eventually made into an animated movie, and I’ve always remembered a moment from an interview Cooke gives for the DVD.  At one point he gets choked up when talking about that period in history, obviously waxing nostalgic for his childhood.

Before his work in the comic book industry, Cooke worked as a storyboard artist on both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. He even created the opening title sequence for Batman Beyond. He even created a Batman Beyond short film in celebration of The Dark Knight’s 75th anniversary. To say the least, it’s glorious.

It’s a crime that we lost one of the true greats in the industry to cancer. But what an incredible legacy Darwyn Cooke leaves behind. He was a true giant whose work will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

Chloe Grace Moretz, Captain Marvel, Glamour2. Chloe Grace Moretz as Captain Marvel

Like a lot of fans, I did a double take when I saw Chloe Grace Moritz wearing a very Captain Marvel-ish jacket on the cover of Glamour. Granted, I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything. At least not yet. She might be a little young, but she’s hardly the worst pick in the world to play Carol Danvers. I’ll say this much: She looks good in the Captain Marvel colors.

On the subject of Moretz, as I type this we’re a few days away from the release of Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Moretz plays one of the sorority girls that moves in next to Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. I’m not a huge Seth Rogen fan, but Neighbors was his best movie in quite some time. The sequel, however, feels like a contrived excuse to remake it. My token bad sequel example is always Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. This seems like it’s cut from that same cloth.

Still, it’s getting decent reviews. So maybe they can pull it off…

3. X-Men

The reviews for X-Men: Apocalypse don’t look as great as one would hope. But it may not matter much, as apparently there are already plans for another X-Men film set in the ’90s. Director Bryan Singer says they may do something with an outer space element. Meh.

Now that the crew from First Class (Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, etc) are likely done, and Hugh Jackman is probably done after the third Wolverine flick, this seems like a good opportunity to give the X-Men franchise a new jumping on point. We’ve done some cool world-building in the last few years. But I’m itching to get back to a core team of X-Men. Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Beast, etc. If you have to recast everybody, then just rip the bandaid off and do it.

X-Men #1 (1991) cover, Jim Lee

Bleeding Cool ran a story yesterday on which X-Men comic book stories could inspire the next movie. With the space idea in mind, they pitched The Dark Phoenix Saga (they noted it might have a stench on it from X-Men: The Last Stand) and The Brood Saga. Personally, I’m in favor of a more back to basics approach. If the movie has to be inspired by a particular story, my pick is Mutant Genesis, the first story in the Chris Claremont/Jim Lee run from the ’90s. Magneto creates an asylum for mutants on an asteroid called Asteroid M, which naturally creates problems. That keeps it nice and simple, doesn’t it? The X-Men vs. Magneto. And they can keep the X-Men fairly tight knight. Xavier, the five heroes I mentioned above, and maybe Rogue? Or Gambit? Maybe Colossus? Either way that leaves us with seven X-Men total. That’s the same number of Avengers we had when that franchise started. And that satisfies this alleged desire to take the franchise into space.

I give Fox a lot of credit for not giving the franchise a hard reboot. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make it a little more accessible.

Image 1 from nbcnews.com. Image 2 from newsarama.com. Image 3 from marvel.wiki.com.

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The Peanuts Movie, Charlie Brown, and Charles Schulz

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s a little surreal to see all the Peanuts publicity over the last several months. I was never much of a fan when I was a kid. But after seeing the Peanuts exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago a few years ago, I became really interested in the life of Charles Schulz. Books like Schulz and Peanuts and My Life with Charlie Brown are on my shelf, and I’ve started looking at the strip with an adult’s eyes. You start looking at it completely differently when you realize it was written by a man who, to an extent, was extremely insecure about his place in the world. That’s so odd, considering he’s one of the medium’s all-time greats. But then you look at the strips, and you see Charlie Brown say things like…

  • “I want to be a special person…I want to be needed.”
  • “They say opposites attract…She’s really something and I’m really nothing…How opposite can you get?”
  • “I’m lonely. I feel that no one really cares about me. How can I cure this loneliness?

Peanuts, depressionYou look at this kind of stuff, and you realize that Schulz was not only providing us with his own special view of the world, but he was plunging into the murky depths of his own psyche and putting his findings on the page. It sounds pretty heavy when you put it like that, but it’s true.

When you look at the strip from this perspective, it’s so weird to see Peanuts looked at like a kids franchise, even though it’s been that way for so many years. The movie seems to be at least partially capturing the essence of the Charlie Brown character, though.

Incidentally, there’s a viral marketing campaign out right now that lets people “Peanutize” themselves, i.e. create a Peanuts character that looks like them. But if you’re like me, and you look almost exactly like Charlie Brown anyway, there’s not much of a point. As the Peanuts characters are kids, there’s no way to differentiate between my character and Charlie Brown…

PeanutsCuriously, while they won’t let you give a child character facial hair, they apparently will let you give them a wedding ring. Yes, I know it’s the wrong hand. But why else would they put it in there? Maybe it’s a purity ring…

Image 1 from cowart.info.

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Force Friday, and Confessions From A Recovered Star Wars Addict

B-88 , remote control toyBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Naturally, the geek community is buzzing today about “Force Friday,” as the first crop of Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys debut in stores. If you’re real quiet, you might even be able to hear the sounds of plastic lightsabers banging together…

But I will not be participating in the retail festivities.

I love Star Wars. I’ll always love Star Wars. It’s hard not to love Star Wars. I spend a decent amount of time writing about Star Wars. And I love Star Wars fans. It’s an immensely creative fandom, filled with people from all walks of life. No matter how old you are, that universe is a still fun place to be. But Star Wars and I have a weird relationship. When I was a tween and a teen, it was pretty much all I could talk about. Nowadays, it’s sometimes rather difficult for me to talk about.

I’ve been a Star Wars geek most of my life. In fact, you might even call me a recovered addict. When I was a kid, it was all Star Wars, all the time. Posters, books, school supplies, etc. I even had all those Pepsi cans with the Phantom Menace characters on them. And of course, the toys. Hundreds and hundreds of mom and dad’s dollars spent on action figures from all the movies. Even that first Princess Leia figure from original Power of the Force line. Remember that one? Totally looked like a dude. Power of the Force Leia was Caitlyn Jenner two decades before Bruce Jenner was…

Padme Amidala, pregnant action figureAs I got older, I stopped spending mom and dad’s money and started spending my own. I even attended a midnight madness sale myself. It was a little more than a decade ago, when the first Revenge of the Sith action figures came out.

Picture this: You’re 20 years old, standing outside a Wal-Mart with dozens of other Star Wars die hards, being told that once you enter the store at these special late hours, you may only shop in the toys section. Once you enter the store, the group starts off at a brisk pace, then speeds up into a full on run as amused store clerks look on. And once we hit the displays, we got grabby. Really grabby.

I’m pretty sure I still have most of those toys. In retrospect, the most notable one was a pregnant Padme Amidala. That might have been the world’s first pregnant action figure.

But as I got into my late twenties, the collecting, and my undying love for Star Wars started to wane. I attribute that to a lot of things. I grew up, of course, and money had to go elsewhere. But I also became more cynical about the franchise, largely thanks to my exposure to Red Letter Media’s reviews of the prequels. Like a lot of fans, I’d somehow convinced myself that the prequels were good movies. I had a terrible case of what I’ve come to refer to as “prequel denial.” But if you’re any kind of open-minded person, and you watch those reviews, it’s pretty tough to argue with what Mike Stoklasa (as Mr. Plinkett) lays out. Once that illusion was broken, I started to look at Star Wars as something entirely new: A business. And business was, and still is, booming. Gradually, I got so turned off by it that I swore off buying Star Wars merchandise of any kind.

I became one of those people who was really bitter about George Lucas, and how he wasn’t the person we all thought he was. Even after he sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney and donated most of the $4 billion to education, I couldn’t help but see him as a cold, calculating businessman whose artistic soul had been corroded. I wrote a scathing column about him on the old Primary Ignition, which resulted in me being taken to task in the comments section. And rightfully so. Ironically, the pendulum had swung to the opposite end of the spectrum. I’d gone from being overly devoted to Star Wars, to being overly critical.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Han Solo, ChewbaccaStar Wars was such a huge part of my childhood. It gave me an entire universe to escape to when my own universe got a little too dark. It held such a revered spot in my heart for so long that when I finally saw it for what it truly was, blemishes and all, there was a certain pain that came with it. I nearly rejected something I’d loved for so long. It’s almost like growing up and getting to know your parents as real people, and then being uncomfortable with the fact that they’ve got flaws just like anybody else.

This brings me to The Force Awakens. This is the first Star Wars movie I’m coming into without rose-colored glasses on. As such, it’s awkward for me to talk or speculate about it with anyone. I’m so passionate about it, but at the same time I’m keeping my distance. I’m not ranting or raving about anything I’ve seen, even when it comes the classic characters. I’m letting the movie speak for itself. Ergo, I’m not buying anything from The Force Awakens until I know if it’s worth investing my hard earned money in. They’re getting a movie ticket from me. But for now, that’s it. And if that’s all I give them, somehow I think Star Wars will survive.

Still, I will always have a special place in my heart for that galaxy far, far away. That’s why, about six months ago, I bought myself a Luke Skywalker action figure from “The Black Series.” I’ve since added Han Solo, Yoda, and even Obi-Wan Kenobi circa Episode III (Ewan McGregor was the best part of those damn prequels.).

What can I say? While it’s not quite the same as it used to be, The Force is still with me.

Image 1 from gizmodo.com. Image 2 from weddingbee.com. Image 3 from geeksmash.com.

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Blatant Insubordination: HGTV, Aurora in Pink, and The Mockingbird Saga

House Hunter's InternationalBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

1. HGTV and Stress Porn

Mrs. Primary Ignition loves HGTV. She’ll often put it on while we’re in bed at night, and one or both of us is trying to doze off.

I hate HGTV. There, I said it.

If you’re a newlywed who hopes to be in the market for a house in the near future, HGTV is like stress porn. Plus, that network only seems to have one show. It’s on every time she flips to it: House Hunters International. Each episode takes a couple that wants to buy a homes, documents them being shown three locations, and then they pick one at the end.

Judging from the prices on some of these houses, and how finnicky some of the people are, this seems more like Yuppie TV than HGTV. As I write this there’s an episode on about a couple relocating to Guatemala. Words like “serenity,” “stunning,” and “paradise” are being tossed around. The first house they’re looking at is along the lake, with a bathroom overlooking three volcanoes. But the wife is worried the place might be too spacey…

I’ve actually been to Guatemala. About nine years ago I did some charity work there (Shout out to Potter’s House International.). I helped build homes for Guatemalans. They were shacks made of sheet metal. For people who lived either on or near a landfill. They dug through garbage on a daily basis.

But hey, it was still a landfill in paradise, right?

This is just proof we have too many channels…

Aurora in Pink, Pop! Vinyl2. Aurora in Pink

Last week I was tasked with buying presents for a five-year-old. She wanted some of those Pop! Vinyl figures you see everywhere, with the big black eyes. One of them was Princess Aurora from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. And she specifically had to be wearing a pink dress. The item was described to me as: “Aurora in Pink.”

Perhaps this was just a byproduct of me watching too much Craig Ferguson on YouTube, but that wording struck a chord with me. “Aurora in Pink” kind of sounds like something ladies have…doesn’t it? How the hell was supposed to go to a store and ask for that?

“Excuse me, I’m looking for Aurora in Pink.”
“You and me both, pal.”

Thankfully, Hot Topic had several in stock. Oddly enough, the other one my young friend wanted was Sadness from Inside Out. That’s another odd pairing. The discovery of Aurora in Pink isn’t normally accompanied by Sadness…is it?

Go Set A Watchman3. The Mockingbird Trilogy

Go Set A Watchman has been out for awhile now. Haven’t read it. Don’t intend to.

The backstory on that book is that it was allegedly Harper Lee’s first draft for To Kill A Mockingbird. Fittingly, many reviewers say it reads as such. The book has sparked controversy over its portrayal of an older Atticus Finch, as well as allegations of elder abuse, and the manipulation of the 89-year-old Lee to get the book published.

Earlier this year, Lee’s literary agent said the book was originally intended to be the final installment in a trilogy, with Mockingbird being the first book, and a second shorter book between them.

I’m very reluctant to accuse anybody of abusing or tricking someone who might be vulnerable. But that does sound like BS, doesn’t it? A Mockingbird trilogy? Really?

I know trilogies aren’t a new thing, and that three is a psychologically satisfying number. But considering how bereft we are of fresh ideas these days, trilogies more prevalent than ever. So much so that it’s obnoxious. Suzanne Collins just had to write three Hunger Games novels. Ditto for Veronica Roth and the Divergent series. Did we really need Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy? And in Hollywood it’s even worse. The Hobbit, The Hangover, The Matrix, Christopher Nolan’s Batman flicks, etc.

Harper LeeI refuse to believe that Harper Lee, the woman who refused to release another book for over 60 years, intended for her grand literary masterpiece to be the first in a goddamn trilogy.

Now, if the book were written and published today? Maybe. Today everybody’s looking for the next big blockbuster book series, a la Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, so they can make a bunch of movies and rake in a bunch of money. To Kill A Mockingbird would instead be The Mockingbird Saga, Part I. Think of the casting choices!

Woody Harrelson as Atticus Finch!

Robert Pattinson as Boo Radley!

Shailene Woodley as Scout Finch!

And poor Tom Robinson? Why, Kevin Hart, of course!

Image 1 from crissle.tumblr.com. Image 2 from popvinyls.com. Image 4 from forbes.com.

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Farkle is Gay, and That’s Okay!

Farkle Minkus, Girl Meets WorldBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I can’t be the only grown man watching Girl Meets World on the Disney Channel, right…? Right?

Aw c’mon…it’s got nostalgia appeal! It’s the sequel to Boy Meets World. It’s Corey and Topanga back together! And they just brought Shawn back! Oh fine, judge me.

In any event, Girl Meets World is the latest hit for the Disney Channel. As many ‘90s kids know by now, it’s about Riley Matthews, the daughter of Corey Matthews, (the main character from Boy Meets World), and her friends,as they deal with junior high problems, etc. Essentially, it’s the same formula as the old series, but GMW has an obvious legacy element to it. Characters from BMW have been known to pop up, including Stuart Minkus, the nerdy blonde kid from BMW’s first season.

10_0008_layer-9And wouldn’t you know it, our ol’ buddy Minkis has a son on Girl Meets World. Farkle Minkus, played by young Corey Fogelmanis, is a short and skinny character who doesn’t let his small stature contain his massive intelligence, or his quirky personality. He’s an extremely flamboyant character, who even has Dr. Evil-ish ambitions of conquering the world. Fogelmanis is a very likeable actor, and his performances tend to be among the highlights of the average GMW episode.

Like BMW, GMW has a flare for goofy comedy, much of which Farkle provides. But there’s always plenty of heart underneath the comedy. Almost every episode has a moral or a lesson about family, friendship, growing up, etc. As such, Disney and Girl Meets World have a really interesting and wonderful opportunity with this Farkle character…

GMW has positioned Farkle in sort of a modern day Steve Urkel role. He’s super intelligent, provides comic relief, and is a friend to the other characters. He’s talked about liking both Riley and her best friend Maya. But at the moment, he’s not a romantic interest for either of them.

latestFarkle also tends to call for very big, flamboyant performances from Fogelmanis. The nature of these performances have sparked various questions and theories from GMW fans about Farkle’s sexuality.

“Could Farkle be gay?”

“Farkle = Probably gay.”

“Farkle is obviously gay, right?”

At the risk of sounding creepy, I’ve had those same suspicions about Farkle. And to be clear, this is strictly about the character, not Fogelmanis. I can’t necessarily point to one specific thing about Farkle that sparked my suspicion. It just sort of happened.

Farkle, Girl Meets WorldInterestingly enough, the Disney Channel recently set a precedent (albeit a mild one) for gay characters on the network. Last year an episode of Good Luck Charlie revealed that a character had two lesbian mothers.

There’s been nothing on Girl Meets World that directly suggests Farkle is gay, or could even be pondering such things. But that doesn’t change the fact that Disney has an awesome opportunity here. They’ll ruffle some feathers, to be sure. But they can also do something they’ve never done before, and do it on a show with more eyes on it that your average series for young people. What’s more, GMW is a show that lends itself to this kind of talk about self discovery and growing up.

So I say let’s do it! Let’s make Farkle the Disney Channel’s first gay teenager.

It wouldn’t need to be over-sensationalized (believe me, the media would provide more than enough sensation). All we really need is one episode…

Girl Meets World, castThe show has established that Farkle gets bullied sometimes. So let’s lead in with that. Let’s have Farkle getting teased about allegedly being gay. Riley, Maya, Lucas (the show’s resident hunk and Riley’s love interest) come to the rescue. Then, later in the episode, Farkle drops the bomb.

“Guys… what they’re saying about me…it’s true.”

We wouldn’t need to dive into the mechanics of how Farkle discovered it. From where I sit, he’s known since at least the start of the series, and he’s tried to cover it up by pining for Riley and Maya.

Riley, Maya, and Lucas would naturally be a little bit shocked by Farkle’s revelation. From there, we go to Papa Corey, who talks about how it can sometimes be difficult for someone to come to terms with this kind of thing, and that lot of people have trouble accepting it. But in the end, he’s still the same Farkle he’s always been.

Farkle, Lucas, Girl Meets WorldWe close the episode with Riley, Maya, and Lucas protecting Farkle from the bullies, and Riley giving the little guy a hug. Aw heck, how about a group hug!

And that’s it. They put it out there, and they never have to touch it again if they don’t want to. The important thing is that Disney makes a statement about gay teens. And they put out a good message about Farkle’s friends accepting him for who he is.

Girl Meets World is such a great stage for this kind of thing. It’s a show with characters that millennials grew up on, and can serve to remind them of the changes they’ve brought, and can continue to bring to the world. For the kids, it’s a bold statement: If you’re gay, that’s okay. Your true friends will stand by you.

Am I hoping for too much? Maybe. Such a major change to an already-established character would be a pretty bold move for Disney.

But hey, it is 2015…

Image 1 from theillumi-nerdi.blogspot.com. Image 2 from thatsavvy.wordpress.com. Images 3, 4, and 6 from girlmeetsworld.wikia.com. Image 5 from disney.com.

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