In The Hunger Games, Peeta is Katniss’s ‘movie girlfriend’

Peeta Hunger GamesMy friend dug up an NPR article from back in November about how The Hunger Games movies are smart and valuable not just because Katniss’s character challenges the way we portray women in film but also because they ask us to rethink how we represent the opposite gender.

As a girl, Katniss is physically capable, so she doesn’t need rescuing as a damsel, and she’s not helpless. But she’s also emotionally insensitive and unavailable, which isn’t a feminine trait according to what Hollywood and society teach us.

Peeta works in a bakery while Katniss hunts and is the obviously more formidable player in the Games. She saves him with physical strength and prowess while he saves her through goodness and kindness and sacrifice. Their relationship is a reversal of gender roles:

She kisses him sometimes, but she keeps him on a need-to-know basis, and she decides what he needs to know.

He loves her as she is, while knowing he’ll never change her and parts of her will always be mysterious and out of reach.

And Katniss’s choice between Peeta and Gale, the NPR writer argues, is essentially a decision between a movie girlfriend and a movie boyfriend:

Gale works in the mines, not in a bakery. He’s a hunter. He grabs her and kisses her because he simply must. He’s taller. (Real talk: HE’S THOR’S BROTHER.)There’s more to the unusual gender dynamics in these stories, in other words — particularly, I think, in the films — than the idea of a girl who fights. There’s also a rather delightful mishing and mashing of the ideas of what’s expected from young men in movies where everybody is running around shooting and bleeding.

Of course, referring to these characters as “movie boyfriend” and “movie girlfriend” sort of misses the point because the argument is that gender can mean anything, not just what we as a society say it does. But these terms do their job in helping the message hit home, and the whole idea is something I didn’t quite realize this fully until now.

Early Michael Crichton (that Jurassic Park guy) books coming out

jurassic-park-movie

If you’re a Michael Crichton fan, then you’ll be happy to know some of his earliest works are releasing as e-books soon. No need to travel to a secret island to find copies (you can grab them in print form, but many sell for hundreds of dollars).

Crichton wrote 10 novels under three different pen names at the start of his career, back when he was studying in medical school in the 1960s. Open Road Integrated Media is publishing the first digital editions of books like Odds On (his premiere novel) and even Dealing or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues, which Crichton wrote with his brother Douglas.

Open Road referred to them as “The Med School Years.” *snicker*

The author used the pseudonyms John Lange, Jeffery Hudson, and Michael Douglas.

Here’s the full list:

Writing as John Lange:

  • Odds On
  • Scratch One
  • Easy Go
  • The Venom Business
  • Zero Cool
  • Drug of Choice
  • Grave Descend
  • Binary

Writing as Jeffery Hudson:

  • A Case of Need 

Writing as Michael Douglas:

  • Dealing or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues

Hello, Kill Screen! Celebrating Twin Peaks and Deadly Premonition

Today I’m happy to introduce my first piece for Kill Screen: “How Twin Peaks finds new life in the world of Deadly Premonition.”

1-twin_peaks_log_lady

As you can guess from the headline, the story links the popular nineties’ television show Twin Peaks to the cult hit video game Deadly Premonition, which got reprinted today as a director’s cut for PlayStation 3.

I’m obsessed with both fictions, so I had a lot of fun writing the article. It was cool getting some answers from the game’s designer, “Swery.” Big thanks to everyone who helped make the article so awesome and polished in its final form.

I’ve written about Twin Peaks before. Click here for a fun rundown of the best and worst characters and all their drama.

My first contribution to PopMatters

This is Good News Part Two (more to come later). Here’s yesterday’s Part One.

I submitted a feature about gender in relation to artificial intelligence — specifically regarding HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey and SHODAN from System Shock 2. You can read it on PopMatters.

I have no current plans to keep writing there although I might send them a pitch or two in the future. :)

Hope you enjoy the story! I would love to hear your thoughts on my analysis.

hal

Top 10 best and worst characters of Twin Peaks (and what they teach about writing)

Twin Peaks

OK, so I am obsessed with the TV drama Twin Peaks. If you’re not familiar with it, then you either weren’t old enough in 1990 or you haven’t discovered it on Netflix yet (get cracking). Part of it is because of how ridiculously similar designer Hidetaka “Swery” Suehiro’s great game Deadly Premonition is to it, particularly the first season — seriously, I could compose a whole article about everything they share in common. But since this isn’t a video game blog, I wanted to tie it back to writing (duh).

The 10 best and worst characters change dramatically over the course of the show,* but they’re also extremely likeable or easily loathed. Some of them I’ve grouped into pairs. (Everyone knows Agent Cooper is awesome, so I’ve left him off this list.)

Here’s what we can learn from them, whether or not you watch the show.

Some slight spoilers ahead.

The five best

Ed Hurley and Norma Jennings

Twin Peaks Ed Norma

In a show filled with psychotic murderers, abusive husbands, rebellious teenagers, and good-clean cops (note: all stereotypes), you crave normal. The town of Twin Peaks is anything but. This is a drama, after all, so the sticky situations the characters constantly find themselves in are naturally overblown.

Ed and Norma — lifelong friends who love each other but could never be together — are the best example of the sense of stability that’s missing from most of the show. While characters like protagonist/FBI agent Dale Cooper are reliably moral and just, Ed and Norma aren’t perfect by most people’s standards. Like many on the show, they partake in adulterous behavior, but unlike the other characters, you don’t hate them for it. You might actually cheer them on.

Ben and Audrey Horne

Twin Peaks Ben Horne

I wanted to discuss businessman Ben Horne and his daughter Audrey together because of how their relationship grows. Ben’s not exactly a model guy — he’s kind of a scumbag — but I liked him more and more as the show went on. He has this vibe about him like he knows how incredibly weird and messed up the goings-on of Twin Peaks are even if he’s responsible for some of them. He might not be as a physically intimidating or calculating as some of the other characters (Hank and Catherine, for instance), but he always bounces back and adapts to fickle situations. When everyone else is super serious, you can count on Ben for some levity — and a reality check. A character doesn’t have to be a good guy for him to be likeable or relatable.

Twin Peaks Audrey

Audrey is just as admirable as her father, if in different ways. She starts out as this immature high schooler until her childish tricks almost get her killed. From then on, she’s no longer a little girl crying for daddy’s attention. She’s determined to grow up, learn the business, and earn her father’s (and everyone else’s) respect the hard way. I gotta love her for that. Believable growth is just as important for turning a unlikeable character into a favorite one.

Continue reading

The Casual Vacancy migrates to the small screen

J. K. Rowling

I still need to read J. K. Rowling’s new adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, but here’s some good news for those of you who are hopefully awaiting a follow-up of some kind.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced today that it’s turning the book into a TV series, and Rowling will be working “closely” on the project. Huffington Post is already nominating actors for the character roles.

Rowling told U.S.A. Today that she didn’t consider The Casual Vacancy “a very filmable book,” saying, “I think it’s a very novelly novel in that a lot of what goes on happens internally. You need to understand what’s going on inside people’s heads. So even though a lot happens in the novel, part of the appeal of it for me is that so much of it happens in people’s interior life, and film isn’t necessarily the best medium to portray that.”

Television would certainly allot the characters more individual screen time. What do you think? A show could potentially attract a completely different audience than the people who religiously read Harry Potter — a market that The Casual Vacancy seemed to have trouble reaching due to Rowling’s 180-turn in genre.

[Photo credit: Debra Hurford Brown]

Place your bets: Game of Thrones vs. Lord of the Rings

Game of Thrones TV show Jaime LannisterMTV Geek interviewed A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin about who would win in a fight: the characters from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings or his own Game of Thrones series.

You can watch his responses in the video here. Just beware of spoilers, unless you’ve read A Storm of Swords/Film says you’re home free if you skip from 00:14 to 00:36.

Below are the matchups. The final count is 3-7 in favor of Tolkien. Do you agree with Martin’s assessments, or do you think he’s giving the heroes and villains of LotR too much credit? Can you think of any other good pairings?

The Lord of the Rings movie AragornAragon vs. Jaime Lannister
Smaug vs. Balerion
Saruman vs. Melisandre
Wargs vs. Direwolves
Ice vs. Glamdring
Frodo vs. Tyrion
Nazgûl vs. White Walkers
Cave Troll vs. Mag the Mighty
Gimli vs. The Mountain
Ned Stark vs. Boromir