Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weekend Random: More Thoughts on The Selection, TVD, TV, and Film

As it turns out, I have more thoughts on The Selection that were brought on by Emily's very innocent comment, "But, anyway, I thought Maxon was boring, Aspen was a whiner." I completely misread that as, "Aspen was a winner" and it made me think about the roles both boys play in America's life and how class influences that. (if you read my response to Emily's comment it's kind of embarrassing how I misread that but whatever)

First of all, I should disclaim that this is not something I think/know a lot about or critique a lot in stories or anything. My interest this year, though, in the idea of how class influences character motivation and story has grown because I read The Talented Mr. Ripley as inspiration for a story line on a TV show, rewatched Vicky's story on The Vampire Diaries and read the book Irises by Francisco X. Stork. All of these things in fairly quick succession made me think about this in a way perhaps I hadn't really before...more sympathetically. And so somehow Emily's comment made me rethink my initial reactions to Maxon and Aspen and their treatment of America. What I'm about to say is fairly spoilery so skip if you like!

Aspen is in a caste lower than America's which creates the conflict in their relationship. America is pretty sure that she wants to marry Aspen, but marrying him means she has to move down in caste, something her family wouldn't appreciate at all. When America is given the chance to earn extra money, she splurges on a huge meal for Aspen and he reacts badly. He doesn't like her providing for him, and feels embarrassed by it and breaks up with her. This immediately put me off Aspen, since America was obviously acting in love and also because the idea of the girl not being able to be the provider is off putting. I mean, to be honest, I can cut Aspen a little slack for feeling that way since the society they are living in seems as if it would support the idea of the man being the main provider. But it was his treatment of America as a result of these feelings that was a turn off.

So I was all ready for her to fall for Maxon who obviously fancied her straight away and always wants to listen to her and know what she thinks. And when she makes some good points about hunger in their country, he actually takes a personal political risk to address the issue. Additionally, he's willing to have her stay for as long as he can to give her reprieve from her home life even though it has to be somewhat painful for him...he wants to marry her.

So in short, to me, Maxon comes off far and away as the better choice (you know if she likes both guys, obviously she can't force herself to love anyone). But I was thinking about it and the thing is that Maxon has an advantage already in the situation, he's in a position of complete power. He's the prince for crying out loud! And I'm not sure that he should really get points for basically being a decent human being in the sense that just because he could expel her and doesn't that somehow makes him better? While emotionally he isn't the one in control, in all other regards he is, he could send her home if he wanted to or even force her to marry him if he wanted to. While Aspen has absolutely no control in his life, he's in a lower caste, would be asking America to make a huge sacrifice to marry him, etc. It doesn't change the way I feel about either character, but it did make me think about how this is presented in fiction...I was immediately turned off of Aspen for his reaction to America buying him food, but I can never know how Maxon would have reacted in the same situation. Maxon, the guy from the upper class, immediately becomes more attractive even though everything in his life gives him the advantage of being the better guy. I don't know if I'm making sense, but it was interesting for me to think about.

Can you think of any other examples where this happens?

The CW Will Die Soon

In other news, the CW didn't order The Selection TV show and I was actually really disappointed! I think part of reading less books is spending more time thinking about some of the ones you do read and the more I thought about this as a TV show the more I thought it could really work. And then Jace Lacob actually called it one of the 13 best drama pilot scripts and his description of the pilot made it sound like it would be a pretty great show. So it's disappointing. But it's also making me wonder what in the world the CW is doing. The last real hit they had was The Vampire Diaries and I don't understand why they aren't following the formula that made that work. And I don't mean love triangles, I mean capitalizing on something that is popular in culture and giving it a fresh spin. Part of why The Vampire Diaries worked was because it was a vampire show for teens and there was nothing else like it on air. And vampires were popular! Last year they had a zombie show in the works that they didn't pick up, but have you seen the ratings for The Walking Dead? And also zombies are/were pretty popular. Now they had a show that taps into the popularity of dystopian works without being The Hunger Games at all, and they pass on it. It wouldn't be so bad except that the shows they did order all sound terrible. They all sound like tired, recycled ideas that will fail. Well Arrow might do okay, but I don't care to watch it. I do understand that there are things I don't understand like contracts and money, professional back scratching etc that go on, it's just kind of a bummer for me because I like shows that aren't procedurals and they are so hard to find. It's sad to see The CW veer in that direction as well. BUT in happy making news they renewed Nikita!!!! It's on Netflix, please watch it and catch up, I need some friends to talk about it with!

A few more TVD thoughts

The post-finale interviews have been really off-putting to me. Mostly in regards to the Klaus in Tyler's body while being in love with Caroline stuff. The fact that Klaus was in Tyler's body in the final goodbye scene is kind of gross to me, since he was all kissing her and stuff, but mostly it's just sad that the scene wasn't "real." The only thing is that it makes sense why "Tyler" wanted her to leave and turned into a wolf to scare her's because he wasn't going to be dying and needed her not to know that. I'm guessing Klaus chose to possess Tyler because Tyler is a hybrid like he was. But ugh if he sleeps with Caroline next season, I don't know. It's not so much the story itself as the fact that the people writing it think it's fun that gives me serious pause as to why I'm still watching.

But also I was reading part of an interview where Julie Plec was talking about what a great character Klaus is, and how lucky they were to have such a great character come into the show etc, etc. and this has to be a case where she's too close to the material or the actor or something because the show has really suffered creatively from the injection of Klaus and the twist to keep him alive is a huge burden on it as well. And the way she's talking about the originals being around next season is terrible! We don't need them! And the weird thing is I thought the story line had a lot of potential, but if you look at the season as a whole, it was mostly all about giving us the necessary history to establish the dramatics of the last few episodes. TERRIBLE. (I was thinking about how Klaus said Elena would be safest with Matt and not Stefan or Damon and it turned out that she died with Matt. It was all there in the season all along)

A few GG Thoughts

I wrote at length about the character of Serena and how I saw her arc earlier this year so it's been interesting to see how it has all come to fruition. I have to admit it's much sadder than I had hoped for. But even so I liked how in this past episode Serena was helpful to both Blair and Dan and their relationship together. It was actually a really high moment for her because she was important and helpful to her two closest friends. That made it all the more heartbreaking to see her past actions come back to hurt her at the end of the episode. And watching the preview...well while she was helpful to them in 5x23, I think she'll be trying to tear them apart in the finale. It's a sad story line, but still one I can understand. I'm curious to see how it wraps up. And yes I'm still watching despite how terrible it is, this show has some interesting stuff going on in it that I can't seem to let go of.


A couple of weeks ago I watched Love is a Many Splendored Thing. It was one of those movies on Netflix, I just sort of put on and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Part of it is because I spent a weekend in Hong Kong and it's not something I think about a lot so it's fun to see a story set there. It really is an interesting place. And it was interesting that the film engaged ideas about race and interracial relationships and affairs and all of that stuff. It made me really want to read the book it's based on as I'm sure the book digs much deeper into these ideas. (it's a book based on fact) BUT!!! It is so weird to me that while the film is engaging these ideas in a way that seems progressive and positive and interesting in the narrative text, what's onscreen contradicts it all because the actress playing the heroine, who is supposed to be both Chinese and English, is played by a white actress with some make-up to give her an Asian look. Apparently, it would be too off putting to audiences to see the actor kiss an Asian girl. THIS IS SO BIZARRE TO ME. How can you tell a story like this without really telling it?

I also saw The Avengers on my birthday. I liked it well enough for a superhero action flick, but to be honest, that's all it was. It has some good humor and fun moments.

This is all a good excuse for me to remind you that Film Club is discussing Whip It this month. Please join in!! Our discussion will be on the 31st.

Reader Survey

Thanks to everyone who filled out my reader survey! Just in case you missed it, here's the link. I'd still love your feedback. It has already inspired me in the posts I've written since I put it up. :)

Happy Mother's Day!


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