EDITOR’S NOTE: We end each year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in. Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2016 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.
To directly quote my co-writer, “**** this year” has been an increasingly common sentiment as the days tick by, but even given the relentless, overwhelming flood of bad news that 2016 has embodied what’s particularly depressing to consider is how little some things have changed. It’s also telling that in spite of us collectively writing more blog posts than last year I’m left feeling like I wrote less, and that what was written is generally of a lower quality as well.
With that in mind and given the handful of bright spots I managed to find I decided to address this year and my coverage of it a little differently by using the “sandwich approach”. Instead of being presented in chronological order below are two positive aspects to 2016 that bookend what amounts to one singular, continuous problem, and one that I take very personally.
There’s something beautiful about the way a team can run like a well-oiled machine, each of its separate components working in unison to efficiently accomplish a shared goal. While not always my experience with Overwatch those moments, especially when with friends, have been highlights of my year.
With this post I took a closer look at Blizzard’s latest FPS that, since the time of this post being written, has grown the number of playable female characters to roughly 50%, and its place as part of a growing push in video games to expand beyond the male-only titles of the past.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was a high point of 2015, a Netflix-exclusive sitcom with an unassailably positive young woman at its core. It even took up one of my slots in my last year in review post, where I praised them for including an Asian love interest while scrutinizing how much they truly valued the verisimilitude needed to portray them correctly.
One tragedy of 2016 is that I was never able to make it past the third episode of its second season, the reason being that Tina Fey et al. created twenty-some minutes of television that dragged those who value Asian American representation before running them over with a steamroller, and then putting it in reverse. Friends assure me that it gets better, but how could it not after falling to such great depths? Continue reading →
While it is ultimately a conflict, more often than not this takes the form of ideas and criticism being slung back and forth across the trenches. To be heard is a minor success, but to be actually understood is victory.
Within this conversation it’s undoubtedly artists, especially those who have garnered celebrity status, who have the most powerful voices.
As it was meant to call attention to and ridicule the outrageous fact that a national sports team is named after an ethnic slur the response was out of line. It was a classic case of [obvious] satire being taken the wrong way, but by inadvertently contributing to what has been dubbed “a fake year of outrage’ this person’s misstep resulted in others who campaign for better representation and the like being worse than silenced, which is to say, ignored.
Despite calling out from what is ostensibly the same side, the misstep of a single loud voice meant that others were unheard.
The exchange between artist and critic is rarely ever an even one, and only becomes more difficult given the sensitivity surrounding such personal creative endeavours.
Lena Dunham is the star and creator of HBO’s Girls, and received enough disapproval about the lack of diversity in a show set in New York City that she was asked about it by NPR. She responded that “[she takes] that criticism very seriously,” and that very same year had Donald Glover playing Hannah’s Black boyfriend on the show.
While the presence of Sandy on the dramedy was a beneficial one, with arguments between the two capturing the tension that can be present in interracial relationships [including such exchanges as: “I never thought about the fact that you were black once.” / “That’s insane. You should, because that’s what I am.”], Glover’s character faltered in that he was very much a response to criticism. Continue reading →
1) Bring Them Back to School 2) Have a Little Class 3) Have Mercy on Ben Chang 4) Where Are We Going? 5) We Should See Other People
If you want to elaborate on them ever so slightly-
GORDON: Alright. While Evan and I do differ slightly on what we’d like to see the show bring back, these ARE the fundamentals here.
The whole reason we first started watching was because we, like the target demographic, were either in college, about to go to college, or just graduated from college and were looking back with fond memories- forgetting the ulcers that Statistics classes gave you.
EVAN: I loathed Stats.
GORDON: Point is- it’s all about the college- put the characters back in classes, and back on campus.
Chang, of course, was one of the most mesmerizing characters in there; mysterious, inscrutable. The fact that he’s been reduced to a punching-bag who makes cameos every once in a while is just wrong. It’s like using the Venus de Milo as a door-stopper.
And of course, if we could actually see the characters progress, that’d be nice.
Troy, if I recall correctly, was dealing with the loss of his jock status.
EVAN: Way back in Season 1, though. They haven’t touched on his and Annie’s high school statuses in ages.
GORDON: Not at all.
And last but not least, it’d be cool to see some other characters. There’re only so many Starburns jokes out there. Remember that one teacher that Jeff was into?
That gal actually added to the show- she wasn’t some prop to set up jokes.
EVAN: As we talked about, way back, the show requires direction. What happened in Season 3, exactly?
EVAN: All the characters started moving out of their dorms and such, and there was this big outward push. Something which, I think it’s fair to say, we didn’t expect to see until Season 4. They started to remove themselves from Greendale, which again we mentioned weakened the show.
GORDON: Exactly what year are these people, anyways? They finished freshman year, but after that I don’t think I ever saw ’em in class again.
EVAN: Heh. Seriously, though, this final thirteen-episode season is their final year. They’re going to be graduating, finally on that thirteenth episode.
GORDON: Really? Dang. It’s a shame so much was just… wasted.
EVAN: How about this: Let’s talk about what they did right in Season 3, and what we hope to see in Season 4. Just because, well, there were some solid episodes in there somewhere.
GORDON: Such as?
EVAN: “Remedial Chaos Theory.” Third episode of the season.
GORDON: I’m gonna have to disagree with you on that one. Solid writing- but not good writing for the show.
EVAN: “Studies in Modern Movement,” seventh, and “Regional Holiday Music,” the episode right before their hiatus.
GORDON: I hated the musical one- but that’s no surprise. And what was “Modern Movement,” again?
EVAN: The one where Annie moves in with Abed and Troy. It ends with a weird medley of Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” as it pans between every character.
GORDON: I think you’re forgetting what a scatter-brained episode that was. Great individual jokes- but really poorly stitched together.
EVAN: I’m going to have to disagree with you. I’ve rewatched it a few times, and it holds up. It’s pretty good throughout.
GORDON: Well, we’ll have to settle on that.
But even if those all were as good as you recall- that is one freaking shoddy record. Plus, they barely even touched on Greendale Community College. That’s like… “Hey, that’s a great story about food- but this is a murder mystery show.” It just doesn’t fit.
EVAN: And for those who might argue that-
GORDON: Let’s not do this, dude. The Community fans, they’re rabid, “ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD” kind of people.
EVAN: Looking forward to that gif.
GORDON: I don’t think I’ve seen this much undeserved adoration since Taylor Swift started her campaign to destroy feminism.
EVAN: Whoa, I love “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
GORDON: Every time you play that song, a feminist gets cancer.
EVAN: It’ll be your turn eventually.
Anyway. In terms of Community, there’s no better place to gauge the show’s popularity than my favourite [heh- Canadians spell weird, -G] place for TV reviews, the AV Club. The lowest grade the show got last season was a B.
GORDON: Which shows what lousy reviewers they have for that show (that’s right, come get me). Look- the show’s bad. It’s been bad for a while now, and the occasional bit of unrelated humor isn’t enough to redeem it. Back when the show supposedly got axed, I was happy. For once- just once- I saw it happen to a series that (I thought) deserved it.
Ok, we’ll do this- what would you want to see in the upcoming season?
EVAN: I would like to see . . . huh. That’s a good question.
I’d like to see a kickin’ [that’s what the cool kids are saying thse days] prof for History 101, their final class together. I want to see closure as they graduate and are forced to move on with their lives. I mean, man, we graduated like what, four months ago? People have to move on. Even if it does suck.
GORDON: With the debacle of the past couple seasons, simple truth of the matter is that what made the characters compelling in the first place can’t be resurrected- if the show’s gonna go out with a bang, new motives need to be brought in.
Specifically- I want Chang to get his job back. And I want Tina Fey as the history prof.
EVAN: Ooh. Impossible, but good.
GORDON: Well- perfect world, here.
EVAN: I think Troy actually working towards a career is good. I mean, his whole air con repairman thing from last season; he knows where he could be headed. Jeff wants to become a lawyer again. What about everyone else?
GORDON: Shirley and her financial independence.
EVAN: There’s a lot of potential here as far as what they want, where they want to go.
GORDON: I was actually surprised that her story was the only one that really lasted.
Abed? Poor guy doesn’t have much left in him.
EVAN: Abed could- I don’t know. Write for TV?
GORDON: Become a film prof?
EVAN: It’s hard to tell, considering the manchildren him and Troy have been reduced to.
GORDON: And as we like ending on high notes that’ll be it for us here at the CWR.
EVAN: We talked a little about what we liked about Community in the past, and what we hope to see in the future, and in spite of anything we said we’ll be watching “History 101” alongside all of you in two more days.
GORDON: As usual, be sure to vote for next week’s discussion topic below.
EVAN: And thanks for reading.
EDIT: We were way off with this, and apparently the first episode lands Friday, October 19th. Our bad.