I listen to Welcome to Night Vale, the splendidly morbid podcast that provides community updates and news from the absurd little fictional town Night Vale, at night before I go to sleep. Some episodes make it quite difficult to go to sleep to, such as The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in My Home whispering quietly about how she’s always in the corner of my vision, barely out of sight. Yet, night after night I lie in bed, shrouded in darkness, listening to Cecil Palmer go on about the Event Calendar, various updates on local businesses, city politics, etc. It’s very sweet, yet dark and twisted, and my favorite podcast ever.
As the date for the live appearance approached, I was actually somewhat concerned that it would be different. Well, obviously seeing live actors perform instead of just hearing their faceless voices in your room at night is different. I guess I was more concerned with being distracted by actors, or maybe that having my eyes open wouldn’t have the same effect as lying down in my bed with my eyes closed. Silly concerns, I now know. Though I had seriously considered bringing a sleep mask.
As the actors appeared and lent their voices to the stage, it wasn’t distracting. These voices had become familiar, and their actor’s bodies were barely a focus. They didn’t distract, it was as if they were there just vessels to project the real star: The voice. Now, these actors are tremendously talented. Cecil Baldwin practically moved the crowd to tears with an emotional projected monologue that closed the show. Such tremendous power in a voice.
But if you were hesitant to see Night Vale performed live, I’m here to assure you that it’s just as great as listening to it at home, if not better. You feel more like a citizen of Night Vale. You are referred to as one. And it’s amazing that a podcast that I felt I was eavesdropping on, you know, listening to the community radio station of a town I was looking in on, now feels like I’m a part of. And aren’t we? Are we not the listeners of Night Vale Community Radio? And is community radio not meant for its community? Such a simple concept, but it feels welcoming nonetheless. The listeners of Night Vale are the people of Night Vale, and seeing your community radio broadcast live with other members of your community, ones you never met, ones you didn’t know existed, well, that’s just special, isn’t it?
So let’s talk Maleficent. As previously warned, I’m going to spoil everything for you if you haven’t already seen it.
Before I get into the meat of this rant, I want to say that the costume design for Maleficent deserves prestigious awards, as well as the team that did the character designs and final renderings of Diavil’s many animal transformations: Kudos to always having the raven element to every form.
The main complaint I’ve heard plastered all over my Facebook wall is that she wasn’t pure evil as she was portrayed in the 1954 animated original. Can I say this with the utmost respect?: UHDUH. You really thought Disney was going to make a terrifying movie about the darkest and most sinister of concepts: An unrelentless evil sociopath? Disney would never make that movie. Hell, Tim Burton wouldn’t even make that movie! Whoever did those twisted Saw movies, yeah that guy might do it. The sicko behind The Human Centipede might as well. Is that what you want? Maleficent to just be satan incarnate? I think she deserves a little more than the two dimensions of evil bitch and maniac. In the animated feature, she wasn’t the main character, so the reasons behind her being evil weren’t necessary: We were just expected to understand that she was. And why not? She wasn’t the title character! So here we are, offered a movie to gain insight to her complex past, and we want more. What is that? The lady was drugged, her wings were taken from her by a man she trusted and loved, and we’re not happy that she manages to overcome this? We want her to be tortured forever? REALLY?! How anti-fem is that?!
In the film, we learn that her rage and vengeance was entirely against King Stefan, and baby Aurora was just the vessel to unleash that fury. As young annoying tweens (seriously, I could not wait for that little back-story bit to just be over: It was just so awful. You want me to believe that orphaned Maleficent was not affected by the fact that she was the only human-sized fairy in the land? She’s just bubbly and happy, throwing mud at weird goblin-like frogs? Seriously? Missed character development there, Disney. And seriously, you might have won more people over if you showed how deep her scars ran before some evil man ruined her.) they meet and become friends, then at 16 he offers her a kiss of True Love which obviously doesn’t pan out. Stefan badly wants to become King, and the easiest way to do so is to slay Maleficent, the most powerful being in the realm. Here we go, this is what I want: A man threatened by a powerful woman. BAM. YES. Because that is something that women can relate to! The whole kingdom is in a frenzy because there is a woman, a strong force, they cannot control. This is where you got my interest.
Stefan, being the human embodiment of greed and grossness, goes to “warn her”, which really means to woo her until she feels safe, then he drugs her and rips her wings from her lifeless, drugged body. That is pretty heavy, and for me, it kinda made my stomach twitch. When she awakes, she is in the worst sort of shame/pain/helplessness emotional spiral, shown through tears and heart-aching screams. We’ve just seen Maleficent robbed of her innocence, as represented by her wings. A man came in, took what he wanted, and left her there to deal with the aftermath, alone and broken. Whoa, Disney. Thanks for going there, because this shit happens. The first instinct is of course, vengeance. She will never get back what was taken from her, so she has to take the same measure from him to feel like justice was served. Let’s curse his daughter! Because not only did he take her wings, he then married another woman and got exactly what he always wanted: A happy ending in his stupid effing castle. Hells to the nah – He’s gonna pay.
So obviously the curse happens, and the dumb fairies (loved them in the original, but they are entirely a waste of CG money in this) take Aurora to a cottage to raise, where we learn Maleficent watches her. Long story short, she learns to love again by watching the innocent Aurora grow up into a beautiful and competent young maiden (honestly, she bored me, but I’m not going to judge Maleficent’s taste). She tries to reverse the curse, learning that she took out her anger on the wrong person. But it’s too late. The point is that Aurora is like therapy to Maleficent: She eases her broken heart, she gives her hope, and she is able to see through her own personal darkness by reveling in the light of Aurora’s presence (how’s that for sappy?).
Ultimately (I’m not going to spoil everything), Maleficent redeems herself, and HER CURSE is broken. Technically, Stefan’s curse. She overcomes that trauma he bestowed upon her and decides to move past that dark moment of her life that she’s been brooding over for 16 years. What does this teach little girls? That bad things can happen to you. That there are mean people that can hurt you. BUT despite the pain and the unfairness of it all, you will be loved and you can overcome it. You don’t need to be a victim, you can come out on top. And yet, this awesome gem of hope in a tragically dark time means nothing because Maleficent wasn’t evil enough. Nope. I’m not swayed. I thought it was a great movie and I’m glad someone had the balls to get it made.
I don’t think I liked Frozen for the same reasons that everyone else who likes it does. First, I don’t really enjoy the Oscar winning song “Let It Go”. Instead I play “Love Is An Open Door” on repeat at least three times a week.
I think the trolls were pointless. Anna annoys me. Elsa annoys me. Honestly, Olaf and Hans made that movie fun for me. Yup. The snowman and the sneaky, manipulative youngest Prince of the Southern Isles. I don’t think Elsa’s parents teaching her to fear herself and her powers was a good message and was easily some of the worst parenting I’ve seen. And the worst part is that they die so there is never an acknowledgement of the error of their ways, despite the fact that they isolated their own daughter and treated her like a monster. “Conceal, don’t feel” is most likely the beginning mantra of a sociopath.
In whole, I’m not in love with it. I of course appreciate that the “act of true love” wasn’t predictable and was really thoughtful, but that wasn’t enough to make me adore this movie. Olaf getting impaled? Now that was adorable.
Last night I saw HIM in concert at The Fillmore. I had never seen them before, and to say I didn’t have a certain level of expectations would be untrue. When I started listening to HIM, I was 16 years old, very angsty and totally infatuated with pretty boys. Ville Valo was of course no exception. That being said, I went to this show with the hopes of seeing a bare-chested, hip-gyrating Finnish swooner. You know, something like this:
That was not the case. Granted, it has been over 15 years since that photo was taken, so realistically I shouldn’t have held my breath. Despite Ville wearing a cardigan, a scarf, a hat that may have been borrowed by a Newsie, a Beastmilk tee and very tight skinny jeans (that he looked amazing in, I’d like to say), he did not disappoint. His vocals live are just as smooth as they are on his records. The band was flawless. The crowd was pretty mellow. All in all, a great show. I just need to remember that bands I listened to in high school are, like me, much older now.
But let’s be real, Ville Valo is still a very attractive man.
There are a few things necessary in my life for Halloween to feel like it’s truly here. Definitely candy corn, pumpkins everywhere, those annoying whizzing ghosts that make that spooky “OooOooOoo” noise and are often found near grocery store registers, and the Disney classic of 1993, Hocus Pocus starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and a very young Thora Birch.
For those not familiar (you should be shunned and banished from any and all Halloween festivities for like, ever), I strongly suggest you check out this cute, family oriented film if you’re into that sort of thing. Also, how much Disney stuff is associated with Halloween this year?! This blog has become mostly Disney this month, it’s a little ridiculous. Anyway, not only did I watch Hocus Pocus last night thus indicating that Halloween is in fact here, but I realized it was its 20th anniversary! I saw this movie 20 years ago?! Fuck, I’m old! And you know who else is? Thora Birch and the rest of the cast. Apparently some of the cast reunited for a screening this month held by D23. The worst part? I was in town when this happened and had NO idea. Epic fail. However, this picture of Thora in her old witch hat cheers me up a bit: