6 comments on “What do you look like to me?

  1. Before I began writing this article, I was writing my impressions concerning the film X-Men: First Class.

    Oh, good. I’d been wondering what you thought of it, since one of your recent posts mentioned “the only X-Men film since 2003 that its makers don’t have to be ashamed of” or something like that. I wondered what you had against “First Class,” which I thought was quite good, both for showing us a younger, more idealistic version of Mystique, and laying the groundwork for her switch from an inclusionist to a separatist point of view, and also for going more into the relationship between Charles and Erik, and (like you say) giving us more insight into what Charles looks like to Erik, which is a lucky, passing-for-normal rich person who’s never had to deal with the kind of threats Erik has had to deal with. I didn’t think the movie was *perfect* — I commented elsewhere that I would’ve thought it was A LOT MORE AWESOME if it had explicitly woven the civil rights movement into its plot, since it was set in 1963 and all, and I was really disappointed by January Jones’s flat performance as Emma Frost, but in general I thought it was worthy of the first two. (The third, of course, we will ignore).

    • I still do not know what to make of the output of director Matthew Vaughn. There are a few shots in First Class where I wanted to ask him why he did that, but since they were very brief and mostly restrained (they were shaky-cam shots), I did not think they detracted too much from the story.

      Of course, a problem all screenwriters encounter whether they like it or not is that they end up with one or two too many characters and need to find a way of writing an arc for them that fits with all of the others. In First Class, Azazel and that other guy I cannot remember the name of (the one who throws hurricanes) suffer the worst from this effect. I also think the deleted scene in which Charles plants a suggestion in Angel’s head to make Erik look like he is in a dress and wearing a red wig was deleted for a good reason. It suggests a certain contempt of Erik, which Charles would never feel. That scream and coin kill shot towards the end of the film is much better in terms of getting that point across.

      One thing that I think makes the real X-Men films great is that they have no need to refer to anything in the real world in the explicit sense. Although First Class is set against the Cuban missile crisis, the thing is that if you were to change just a few small details in the plot, it could be happening at nearly any time.

      I think the best thing I took from First Class is the same message I have been wanting people like my mother to grok for some time now. That what a person does when they end up in a position of power is a direct reflection of what was done to them when they were not. I think it would be a great way for the next film to go if Charles had to learn to rationalise what Erik has done by knowing that although he failed to turn Erik away from this path, people had set Erik on it long before they ever met.

      January Jones‘ performance… yeah… not that great. But at least she delivered her king-hit line well.

      • I was extra disappointed that she failed to knock it out of the park since I love her so much on “Mad Men,” where she plays a character with some similarities* to Emma: a brittle, frosty affect, and upper-class New England WASP mannerisms. Her performance on that show has so many layers, I was sure she could inhabit Emma Frost just as well.

        *I don’t know if you watch “Mad Men” — it’s very unlike most of what you write about in your “Media” category, but I really like it. But other than what I’ve listed — along with a willingness to use sexuality/attractiveness to manipulate men to get what they want — the characters are vastly different. Emma Frost’s IQ is probably twice that of Betty Draper, for instance, and Emma is also a successful businesswoman and headmistress of her own School for the Gifted, while Betty is just an unfulfilled 1950s/early-60s housewife who resents her ex-husband, current husband, and adolescent daughter. The genius of “Mad Men” is that it makes you see exactly what made her that way, and makes you pity her as much as you dislike her. No one can pity Emma Frost. She’s more of a “grudgingly admire” person you hate than a person you can hate but also pity. But when I imagined January Jones as Emma Frost, I imagined Betty Draper at her most haughty, pulled-together moments, and adding a lot of subtle snark, the kind where you still aren’t sure if you’ve been insulted hours after she’s left. Also, a WAAAY more frank element of sexual display than would be thinkable in the early 1960s. So I’m still waiting for an X-movie to do justice to Emma Frost, though she has nominally figured in two of them.

        (Also, do you know about the blog Racialicious’s Chromatic Casting feature? Where they look at current and in-production movies and propose that they be redone with all- or mostly-people-of-color casts, and the casts they come up with are always AWESOME? They suggest Vanessa Williams as Emma Frost; I don’t know the actress, but their ideas usually rock, so maybe she’s the person I’ll hang my hopes on now.)

    • It happens. Sometimes when I read things online I walk away thinking “what in the hell?”. Then I come back a little later, sometimes mere minutes, read it again, and realised that the reason I reacted that way is because I missed a word or got something out of order. Embarrassing.

  2. Person-first language, when applied to autist – and possibly some others – means “All persons shall be Normal. All things which look Normal, but are in truth otherwise are to be destroyed.”. That is what they do.

Chuck shit at me here

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