Goodness that movie was fun. If you haven’t already seen it, I’d heartily recommend it. There’s a lot to like.
I’m not even sure where to start. How about “heartwarming British comedy about saving a shoe factory by producing boots for drag queens”? I think that hits all the requisite notes without divulging any relevant details. There’s a good deal of gendered pressure and expectations in here that rings especially true of the 2000’s to me… which is funny because I know that it’s still around and still real. I guess it seems like there’s more awareness of other options these days than it felt like there was at that time? Or maybe I’m more aware of other options now than I was then. I don’t feel like I’m being especially clear with my words, and I’m just going to move on.
One of the things that I think I liked most about the movie is that, while the movie tries to be about Charlie Price, straight white guy, it really feels easy to me to read it as being about Chiwetel Ejiofor’s drag queen Lola — a focus that I think is made especially clear with the dance sequence on the boardwalk during the opening credits. I quite like Ejiofor in general, and I’m very happy with him in this movie.
After spending so much time last semester reading Truby’s book on the anatomy of stories (and specifically movies) I had fun looking at the film for the elements of structure he describes. It was a pleasant change from his obsession with Sunset Boulevard, which I’m now both curious about and very reluctant to watch.
Finally, yes, I’m still semi-feverish: I veer into fever at the drop of a hat, even if I don’t spend all of my time there now. And the random onset of fatigue is exciting and annoying. Nothing quite like knowing that you could hit a wall at any given moment to make you reluctant to go anywhere. I’ll do my best to keep up with posts, but I expect that my schedule will continue to be slippery while I’m sorting out my mono symptoms.
Having just finished reading Maelstrom, I’m officially downgrading this series from “potentially profoundly interesting” to “some variety of popcorn lit.” You know, the stuff that you’ll compulsively eat without thinking too hard about it: sometimes it’s exactly what you’re looking for, but more often it’s just there and you don’t bother to stop yourself. This series is alt-history tech-bootstrapping military fiction with a very particular set of idealized social dynamics, and as of now it doesn’t look like it will stretch beyond that. I’m not saying that it’s bad; popcorn lit is definitionally good enough that I’ll pick it up and breeze through it simply for the pleasure of reading it, provided I’m in the right mood. But it also hasn’t lived up to my hopes of offering more introspection on any of its various conflicts, or breaking further from its genre precedents in an interesting fashion.
I should note that it’s hard for most novels to make it past my popcorn lit category, and the category itself encompasses an almost unhelpfully wide spread of books; furthermore, I can’t pretend to be better than that myself, as I doubt any of my own short stories would qualify as anything but popcorn lit.
I won’t say that the series can’t ever be anything but popcorn lit. Some of the future books may deliver answers to the niggling contentions I’m sharing with you here. But thus far my hopes for what I’ll call “deeper” material have not been met. Specifically, I want Anderson to go deeper into examining the cultural conflicts inherent between the Americans and their various allies, and I especially want him to include the perspective of Lemurians who truly don’t have specified gender roles or gender/sex expectations. It seems like he’s introduced the Lemurians (the cat-/lemur-like creatures with whom the Americans allied in the first book) as being without specific gender roles, but when we’re treated to the perspective of a Lemurian there are a number of basic social operating assumptions that appear to be based in a society more similar to our own, one which certainly embraces a number of implicitly gender- or sex-based values. If Anderson wants to write the human perspectives in his book with those value assumptions in place, that’s ok by me, even if I don’t like it. But much like my love for and disappointment with the use of Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, I find it frustrating that Anderson should introduce an ostensibly gender- and sex- blind culture and then not do them the justice of writing from a gender- and sex-blind perspective. I have to give Taylor Anderson credit for trying, and it seems like he might not be aware of how he’s failing to deliver here, but that doesn’t make it un-frustrating.