Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I know I just posted a blog, but I wrote most of that yesterday and now I want to talk about something else.

1. body switching for sex.

Some Stargate fans are in an outcry because of the dark storylines SGU will appear to take. In S1E16, "Sabotage," the crew of the Destiny needs a certain scientist in order to fix something on the ship. They use the long-range communication device, previously seen in SG-1, that switches two participants' bodies, to switch Camile Wray (an IOA representative and lesbian, played by Ming-Na) and a brilliant quadriplegic scientist, Eleanor Perry. It has been revealed from the producers that Eleanor Perry has heterosexual sex with a Destiny crewmember while inside Camile Wray's body.

A group of fans (best represented HERE) hold that opinion that having sex while in someone else's body without their permission is rape. They also believe that this topic should be excluded from Stargate in its entirety.

Let's assume for a second that this situation is rape. The show is definitely not promoting it, and is only asking questions. These fans are concerned that the show will ignore the moral dilemma of using someone's body for sex and not punish the characters for what they've done. The Stargate writers are much, much more mature than that, something of which I'm surprised these fans aren't aware of. The writers have proven time and time again that they can do dark storylines that ask questions - granted, never this dark. Will they necessarily answer the questions proposed? No, probably not in this instance. In my opinion, that is up to the viewer.

To get my opinion into the open, I do not believe this situation is rape in the slightest.

Rape, also referred to as sexual assault, is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or without sexual penetration of another person without that person's consent.

Consent. Consent needs to be given by the owner of the body in question. I argue that the owner of the body is whoever is in it at the time. Now, this is definitely subjective and I'm not going to put down someone for believing that the true owner of the body is the original owner, but Stargate has always emphasized the distinction between body and mind. These are entirely different things. If a body engages in sex while the original owner is not present, the original owner, the mind, is not there to be emotionally scarred during the event. It might as well have never happened, depending of course on permanent damage and sexual fluids left behind.

Just to be clear, I am not saying it's okay for a comatose person to be raped. Their mind is still in there. That's rape, period and completely different. Huge distinction. Another thing I'd like to be clear on is that I am not defending using someone's body that you're only in temporarily for sex. This is morally wrong and, if it ever exists in the future, it should definitely be illegal. But it's not rape.

Another thing to note is that Camile Wray first uses the long-range communication device to body-switch to Earth in Episode 7, appropriately titled "Earth." In it, Wray has sex with her partner using someone else's body, presumably without their permission. I don't see any over-reacting fan-girls whining about "rape" here.

To reiterate: body and mind are separate. You are your mind, not the other way around. If YOU weren't around, YOU weren't raped. If someone takes over your body and kills somebody, should you be held responsible?

But I have to say, I'm proud of SGU for making fans think, argue and come to their own conclusions about touchy subjects - before it even airs.

2. growing up.

Today, I watched the Stargate SG-1 Season 3 episode "Learning Curve." In it, SG-1 has established friendly relations between Earth and the planet Orban. The two planets trade information with each other. SG-1 eventually discovers the purpose children are used for on Orban: children are encouraged to learn as much as they possibly can about assigned technologies or subjects, and once they reach the age of 12, the information is taken from their brain (essentially making them as intelligent as infants) and distributed among their species. This process speeds up their culture's technological development considerably.

SG-1 is unable to handle a culture that advances differently than theirs, and attempts to prevent a young girl who is teaching Major Carter about Naquadah generators, Merrin, from returning to her home and sharing her knowledge with her people. Colonel O'Neill is so unable to handle this that he takes Merrin to the surface, against orders, and shows her how Earth children grow up, play and express themselves artistically. In a touching scene, she finally understands creativity and paints a picture from her mind rather than from an example.

Merrin returns to Orban and has her memory shared with her people, as planned, but what she learned about human expression, art and playing is also shared. Their culture is changed forever for the better through compromise in a happy, yet ambiguous episode ending.

SG-1's unacceptance of the ways of the Orbanians (yes, I made that up) was extremely narrow-minded and disturbing. As this is my second runthrough of SG-1, my viewpoint could be different than it was when I originally viewed Learning Curve, but I find the process of learning all you can and then sharing that knowledge with your people beautiful. Their planet was suspiciously devoid of violence. Maybe we could learn a thing or two from the people of Orban.

Monday, August 17, 2009

wb2me + district 9

I don't know how to start this post in a civilized manner, so I'm going to bitch about Captchas.

1. captchas.

Oh my FUCKING GOD. They piss me off SO MUCH. If they're going to make me type some shit, maybe they should try to make it even RESEMBLE ENGLISH! Obviously these fucking things don't work, or else I would stop getting like five friend request from women with one word names whose occupation is "Comedian" and their About Me depicts their intense disappointment with not being able to show off their tits to the entire galaxy using MySpace.

Alright, so I haven't used this thing in a year and a half. That's cool. Well, it's going to be different now. It'll still be condescending, vulgar and annoying, but I won't be whining about not getting laid, because frankly, I've given up on that. I am currently anti-sexual. Relationships with humans, male or female, are repetitious, boring and useless. But I haven't completely given up on people. I mean, hey, there's me - I'm awesome!

...Yeah, that's a bunch of bullshit. I'd totally fuck a chick.

2. tainted.

Hey Joe, it's been a year and a half since your last post. Surely Tainted has been completed by now and critically well received, and now you're well into production on your follow-up project?


3. district 9.

I saw District 9 this Saturday. Ah-maze-ing! For the first time in my live, I consider seeing a movie in theaters twice is worth the money, and I can't wait to go again. I figure I'll write a review. If you haven't seen it, stop reading here - this will NOT be spoiler-free. This review is for people who have already seen it.

HOLY SHIT, A SQUIRREL'S OUTSIDE - Oh, right. District 9.

Anyways, this movie is emotional, shocking and action-packed. Right now, I would rank this movie as #2 in my favorite movies ever. I might be jumping the gun, but god damn it feels good to see a movie with good VFX AND a good story. I'm looking at you, Transformers 2.

Right from the moment it starts, you know the movie is going to be different. The first 30 minutes or so mimic a documentary, and after that it is told normally, but the transition between the two styles is so seamless I honestly can't remember where it changed. We're told that 30 years ago, alien refugees came to earth looking for a place to stay, and MNU, a defense contractor, is assigned to organize a location for them and to acquire their advanced technology. We're introduced to a MNU worker named Wikus van der Merwe, who has a name stranger than the aliens themselves, who have insultingly been given simple first names such as "Christopher." Wikus (pronounced Vikus) is given the task of serving the aliens in District 9 eviction notices. Most of the aliens are portrayed in the beginning of the film as delinquents, ignorant of Earth culture, but it was still hard not to sympathize with them as MNU took advantage of their misunderstandings.

I rate any film or television series that can make me well up or even cry very highly, District 9 being the former. The scene of Christopher's friend being executed point blank by the MNU agent was disturbing, sickening yet compelling all at the same time. I am unaware of what it's like to live in Johannesburg, but director Blomkamp appears to be aware that science fiction's best use is making audiences actually think about political and social situations in a subjective way. The world we live in today is depressing to most people, including myself, and we hate thinking about it. Science fiction is best at mirroring reality in a way that lets us be a viewer and really think about our world in a way that we never would before.

Wikus is contaminated with an alien fuel substance during one of the raids. Over the next few days, he begins to transform on a basic genetic level into the aliens themselves. MNU takes him captive and plans to kill him and harvest his body for research. In another chilling scene, Wikus is forced to test alien weapons for MNU (as the alien weapons are only usable by beings with alien DNA) on a living non-human, who panics, looking around frantically for help before he is blown into red goo by an unwilling Wikus. I'm one for movie violence, but the scene was very hard to watch.

Speaking of movie violence, the alien weapon that blows people up was ridiculously awesome. More than 10 people explode into red mist in District 9. I don't know how that thing works - if it accelerates particles, heats people up or launches an explosive - but I want one.

Wikus eventually escapes from MNU and seeks refuge in District 9, where his eyes are finally opened to what the aliens go through day-by-day. The atrocities that he committed for humanity are shown in a different light. He meets an alien from earlier in the movie, Christopher, and his adorable, nameless offspring, who says he can turn Wikus back into a human using the alien fuel canister, but he can apparently only do it on the mothership. I have heard people complaining about this magical canister that seems to do everything, but it seems quite simple to me. In the film it states that the aliens technology has biological elements. Is it not possible that the fuel to run alien technology is made of alien DNA?

The rest of the movie is intense and non-stop action as Wikus and Christopher fight against both MNU and South African gangs in order to get to the ship. Wikus is unable to go with Christopher to the ship in a moment of selflessness and redemption in which many people explode, but Christopher arrives at the ship and starts its engines. Wikus fully changes into an alien and the movie ends.

The aliens themselves are very well designed. Insect-like, but surprisingly human. Whenever an alien is shown in anguish, you feel that anguish. The VFX are brilliant and blend perfectly with the live action footage, and after a certain point in the movie you stop thinking of the aliens as CGI.

The cinematography is beautifully staged but yet still manages to make the movie feel unscripted and live. District 9 is less of a movie and more of an experience because of it. But despite the insane amount of praise I give District 9, there were a few things that bothered me. During indoor scenes, the action would often (emphasis on OFTEN) cutaway to security camera footage to the point where it became distracting.

On second thought, that's the only problem I had with this movie. If you haven't seen it yet, do so. The better this movie does the more likely it is for Hollywood to realize that what America wants is original content. We need more thought-provoking movies like this.