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Jan. 14th, 2014

Emma 1996

10 Things I Wish Were Part of the Conversation About Elementary and Sherlock

1) I really enjoy parts of both
The either/or dynamic of the two makes it very difficult to remember this. Because of how thoughtless the reviews and bubbling enthusiasm about Sherlock season 3 have been, I've been really frustrated with the show. I was frustrated with season 1 in similar ways, but back then it wasn't the cultural phenomenon it is now, and I'm frustrated with myself that I find myself more negative about the show as a result of its popularity.
2) I really hate parts of both
Sherlock's lazy handwaving of stuff for cool effect. Elementary's sometimes predictable cases. Sherlock's "sociopathy." Elementary's presentation of Sherlock Holmes as a lecher.
3) Neither is as unique or new as they think
Sherlock Holmes was not a period piece when it was first written. The Basil Rathbone films were modern thrillers, just as obsessed with spy-fi tech and gadgets as Sherlock is (and to their credit, Moffat and Gatiss do acknowledge this fact in their interviews). Having Watson as a woman is the central point of a fascinating, moving (if deeply flawed and dated) film focused on a man who believes he is Sherlock Holmes, They Might Be Giants. It's been done before. Yes, Elementary and Sherlock bring amazing things to the Holmesian table. But they aren't the only ones, and we won't know if they're the best for quite some time (though I will say it's a great time to be a Sherlock Holmes fan).
4) I hate the Sherlock fandom's cruelty and thoughtlessness (exceptions: the people who write interesting stuff about sociopathy/autism)
There are some really wonderful Sherlock fans I've had the honor of knowing and conversing with. But every time I look at a post about Elementary, or about something that gets in the way of John being in love with Sherlock, there is a consistent presence of Sherlock fans who threaten, denigrate, hate, and abuse anyone who doesn't hold Sherlock as the best and only Sherlock Holmes and show and mystery and everything. It would be one thing if it were a consistent but minor thing - but it's absurdly loud and nasty. From ridiculous death threats to actors and people who are part of the show to mass-downvoting of anything that is even slightly negative about their show (or even tries to have a slightly different perspective), Sherlock fans are persistently thoughtless and cruel to those who disagree with them.
5) I hate the Elementary fandom's liberal self righteousness
I am a very conservative person, both personally and politically. As a semi-minority, I do understand the joy of seeing Lucy Liu as a non-stereotypical, awesome character. But that does not make the show or character morally superior to Martin Freeman's amazing Watson. I am thrilled that when I see both Freeman and Liu's faces, I now jump up and down and say "Watson!"  I do not like the way Elementary fans seem to embrace the show's choices of diversity and representation as an artistic, rather than a political virtue. And I really resent the fact that even though the Sherlock fandom has rightly earned their place in my mind as the absolute worst fandom I've ever had the displeasure of engaging with, the Elementary fans are more interested in scoring social justice points than anything else.
6) I desperately want the conversation to be in the context of the canon
I'm tired of England vs. America, or social justice and representation, or mental health, or creators and their antics online. I want people to delve into whether the choice to have Watson leave medicine because of failure in the surgery instead of a war injury makes sense in the context of creating a new Watson. I want people to cheer at the blending of The Man With The Twisted Lip and Charles Augustus Milverton in His Last Vow. I want people to notice Charles Augustus Milverton in Dead Man's Switch. I want people to scratch their heads at the three separate instances of the Thor Bridge case in Elementary. I want excitement over the updates of "I am lost without my Boswell." I want people to weep at Sherlock's desire to have been born earlier, believing he might not have been a drug addict if he'd lived in a time less distracting - because we know he would still have succumbed. Most of all, I want people to talk to each other in joy at the shared source, instead of competing for power and influence.
7) I am so pleased when people read the books because of any version of Holmes
People reading and loving the books is what I want most of all. I met a lady on the plane the other day who was reading the books because of the Robert Downey Jr. films.  I have been known to wax nearly apoplectic about these films - but I'm still grateful to them for inspiring this one person (and I imagine many more) to read the stories that shaped my ideas of what a great detective should be.
8) Jeremy Brett, Clive Merrison, and radio Basil Rathbone need more love
Sherlock Holmes is the most adapted literary character. Some of these other adaptations are very enjoyable, intelligent, and influential.  Some of them should be better known. It would be great to see Sherlock and Elementary bringing a revival of interest in them as well as in the original stories.
9) Irene Adler and Moriarty are ridiculously overplayed
I think this is more of a problem in Sherlock, where I hated the way Irene was both a prostitute and actively wicked (though that's not to say there aren't interesting things about her or Lara Pulver's portrayal, just that it's on balance much more frustrating than interesting), and Moriarty simply doesn't work at all for me with his giggling. I actually quite like Irene and Moriarty in Elementary, but I'm very glad that it's likely that Moriarty won't be appearing very often at all. Sherlock's obsession with making Moriarty a part of every single episode really annoys, especially since there are other fantastic villains from the canon that would be just as interesting - I'm still waiting for a great Abe Slaney or Dr. Grimesby Roylott.
10) Sidney Paget, not William Gillette
I feel like I'm the only one who points out that Jonny Lee Miller looks like the Holmes of my childhood - very lean, excruciatingly sharp chin, balding, and occasionally blue-chinned (though Miller is exclusively so). I've never been a fan of the Gillette-influence look for Holmes, with the very square jaw, and much as I love Brett and Cumberbatch, they do not look like my Holmes (even though I still hold Brett as my ideal Holmes).

Jul. 26th, 2013

Emma 2009

Angel book comparisons!

So, even though it’s not remotely close to as good as The Queen of Attolia (but then, how many books not written by Jane Austen are?), Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, it does do well in comparison to another book series I read last year: the Fallen series by Lauren Kate. Both Daughter and Fallen play on the War in Heaven classical angels and demons scenario. Both dream of peace. Both have “angel in love with a demon" at their center.

But while Fallen rests firmly in the “reskinned Twilight" territory, Daughter is clearly a much more powerful creation. (Note Well: I quite enjoy Twilight, so my problem with reskinning it has more to do with the lack of vim and vigor than the concept in itself.) Luce, the heroine of Fallen, fits all the worst criticisms of Bella Swan, and if you thought Bella’s mumblings about Edward’s sparkling was annoying, Luce’s ramblings about Daniel’s wings drove me up the wall. While Karou and her hilariously tiny con fuoco Czech friend Zuzana are happy to see a pretty guy, their relationships are based around character, rather than abs, and they both have a lot more than “mope" in their emotional repertoire.

Like Fallen, a lot of the fun of the Daughter series is the supporting angel and demon characters. I kept wishing Luce would go somewhere else and let Arriane be the focus of the story (sadly, when she did in a short story, it was just about as drippy as Luce’s). Even though Karou never tries my patience in the same way, Liraz, Ziri, and Issa hint at stories that could be told, and delight when they show up.

Also, I will definitely read Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Not looking forward to it quite as much as Princess Academy: Dragonfly Sisters or the fifth Queen’s Thief book, but I will happily read it, hoping for a happy ending for the chimera girl and the angel she loves and their dream of peace spread across all worlds.
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Jul. 16th, 2013

Emma 2009

Princess Academy!

I find that I did not post a review of Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. I shall have to rectify that error (though possibly requiring a reread, which I may not get to, especially since I also find I have not posted a review of The Queen of Attolia, which I love just as much as the Princess Academy series).

That omission being noted, I am thrilled to find that there's going to be a third Princess Academy book!

http://oinks.squeetus.com/2013/05/announcing-new-princess-academy-books.html

Current title is The Dragonfly Sisters - I have no idea what will happen! Given that I was completely unprepared for Palace of Stone, but still loved it dearly, I am confident that Dragonfly Sisters will be wonderful and lovely and quiet and loud and everything I've come to adore about Miri's stories.

May. 12th, 2013

Emma 2009

Some Silliness: "Consulting Chase: Inspired by Macavity"

“Defy the laws of gravity, my foot,”
The fiery young detective spoke
A cat so lean you might expect
His form to vanish like a speck

Brave was he, and chase he did
That cat whose misdeeds fed
The depravity of his appetites
And strove for all to smite
That awful cat, Macavity.

Though dogs are foes
And nightly grows
The legend of Macavity
Still the cat opposes
And his friend supposes
That nothing will shake
Though heaven should break
The desperate chase of Macavity

And when all is done
Fights lost and won
The cat’s name will stand
A beacon, a brand,
And who could have known that
He was Sherlock, the world’s only consulting cat!

May. 3rd, 2013

Emma 2009

Re: Sherlock and Elementary

Some commentary in reaction to this link

The original poster does a great job of breaking down the good and bad of these two shows. As a fan primarily of the original stories by Conan Doyle (and the Jeremy Brett television series from 1984-1994, and the Clive Merrison BBD radio series from the 90s), I engage a bit differently from what I have observed of the “typical” Sherlock of Elementary fan. So, here’s the original points, and my responses.
Ridiculously long commentary hereCollapse )

Apr. 24th, 2013

Emma 2009

Article response (re: men, women, and gender essentialism)

Tonight, a friend sent me a link to an article.  This article rather upset me, and thus I've written a post as a response.  Said response, though defiantly opposed to several points of the article, also contains much which opposes current political, cultural, moral, and social trends.

Original article link
My response, written as I read it:
Warning: non-internet-friendly opinionsCollapse )

Apr. 3rd, 2013

Emma 2009

“It's a strange world.” “The strangest.” The Host: a review

When pitching The Host to people, either trying to convince them to read the book or now, see the movie, I usually tell them it's Invasion of the Body Snatchers where the aliens win, but turn out to be nice. The world turns into billions of Jane Bennets (yay! Oh, wait, no, not yay), with only a handful of humans hiding out in fear of being erased by the insertion of “souls” (the human name for the aliens).

Written by Stephenie Meyer (about which more later), adapted and directed by Andrew Niccol (also more later), The Host is a deliberate, sincere film of great beauty and feeling. Not one I think will change many minds about scifi, or make too many waves given the anti-Twilight backlash that is hitting the film hard, but it's one I plan to purchase when it's available for home viewing and happily view many times.

In short, I quite liked, possibly even loved it.

Read more...Collapse )

Jan. 22nd, 2013

Emma 2009

Lost in Austen: A Live Facebooking (DIE IN A FIRE)

Lost in Austen is made of so much fail I’m convinced everyone involved was part of the Mark Twain society. They certainly had his historical research skillz.
(Note: I only started this livefacebooking on the second episode. The first episode is much of a piece, only with more muchness.)
Aaaah, I remember exactly why I stopped watching this garbagy pile of garbage: they called Jane lolloping. Srsly. Caroline in Lizzie Bennet Diaries might have implied that Jane was a fortune hunter, but calling her lolloping is a step much, much too far. BURN IT WITH MANY FIRES. LIKE, A BILLION.
AND THEN SHE IS EMOTIONALLY BLACKMAILED AND BULLIED INTO MARRYING AFOREMENTIONED SEXUALLY PERVERSE YET ALSO SUPPOSEDLY A PURITAN COLLINS. ON SECOND THOUGHT, FIRE IS TOO GOOD FOR THEM. I”M THINKING SLOW POISON COMBINED WITH DISEMBOWLING COMBINED WITH BEING DIPPED IN ACID COMBINED WITH BEING COMBINED BY FARMING MACHINERY.
Only gets worse from hereCollapse )

Dec. 16th, 2012

Emma 2009

Jane Austen's Birthday, 2012

Well, I've kind of abandoned you, Livejournal, for tumblr, something I never thought I'd do.  But the lure of Lizzie Bennet Diaries fandom and easily searchable tags to find excellent essays has trumped my hatred of ridiculous reply formats and idiotic reblogging options.  I still love Livejournal...but it's kind of dead here.

Be that as it may, it's Jane Austen's birthday.  As it happened last year, I was able to dance some Jane Austen dances at the local English Country Dancing club right around Jane Austen's birthday, which is quite appropriate.

Most of my Jane Austen love and energy is going into Lizzie Bennet Diaries posts on tumblr these days, which has mostly been on my tumblr (ibmiller.tumblr.com), but I still adore the novels and film adaptations.  And we shall see what happens when LBD are finished!  Perhaps I'll come back, perhaps this shall become an archive for especially careful posts.

Googling Jane Austen on her birthday reveals that CBS is developing a Sense and Sensibility television show, and Jennifer Love Hewitt is develooping a show called "Darcy's Town."  Which...the book is about Elizabeth, you know...one of the true strengths of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (www.youtube.com/lizziebennet).  Oh, movie and television producers, never stop trying to ruin Jane Austen.  It always brings out the best Jane Austen Hipster in me.

I don't have a ton of original thoughts today, but I thought I'd provide a list of posts I've made about Jane Austen that I think are especially noteworthy:

1) Jane Austen and politics: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/66807.html

A repost of a comment series I made about Jane Austen and the presidential election - it's not the best thing I've written, but I think it shows my feelings about Austen and trying to fit her to modern politics.

2) The BBC Costume Drama Television Trajectory: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/63165.html

A rather long post about the directions and trends I've noticed in my 9 years as a BBC costume drama/Jane Austen film adaptation fan.  Not exclusively Jane Austen related, but it does show the distinct trajectory of that subgenre.

3) Jane Austen Trailers: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/62589.html

I've collected all the Jane Austen film trailers I could - today I went through and pruned the dead links and found new ones for those I could.  A fun walk down memory lane, if you have ever waited eagerly for a Jane Austen film.

4) Last year's Jane Austen Birthday post: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/62265.html

I'm rather especially proud of this one.  It's pretty much a reverse history of my favorite Jane Austen moments.

5) Review of Sense and Sensibility 2008: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/20204.html

The first time I really got involved in flogging an adaptation - I was really impressed by this series, and wanted to provide a counterbalance to a lot of the silly negative commentary on the other Jane Austen Hipster sites, which kept criticizing it for not being funny enough.

Just goes to show you: Jane Austen fandom never changes.  It's made up of equal parts squee-ing fans who lack critical distance and Jane Austen Hipsters who lack charity (I'm definitely in the latter catagory).

But it's a lovely fandom for all that.

So, Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!  It's been quite a year, and here's to the next, when your most popular novel hits 200 years old!

Nov. 21st, 2012

Jane Bennet 2005

On Lizzie Bennet Diaries, being peripheral to fandom

I've followed the Lizzie Bennet Diaries since the first video - desperately searching out interviews, hints, scraps, to figure out what the scope, intent, and result of the first new Jane Austen adaptation proper in three years would be.

The answer has been: really quite good.  Like the BBC's Sherlock, the show has given new life, new perspectives, and above all, a new fandom to Jane Austen's brilliant tale of flaws and forwardness.  However, just as Sherlock has created problems both in its source text and its fandom (as anyone who has followed Elementary can attest), I have found myself again frustrated.

It's not that the creators don't love the source material - I really appreciate Ashley Clement's comment about how Pride and Prejudice shows two people who grow morally because of their relationship, rather than just a story of attraction and feelings.  Clearly the love of the book she has brought to the part of Lizzie brings with it a deeper appreciation of the story and Austen's quality of narrative.

However, I've thought from the start that the show was more about seeing what kind of narrative you can tell through a webseries, rather than being first and foremost a Jane Austen adaptation.  I could be completely wrong - and I don't think that the goal is illegitimate at all.  I have been annoyed at some of the changes - but as I recently discovered, I'm a hipster Janeite who thinks that the book is best (I have really appreciated the way Darcy has been realized as a hipster - a fitting touch for an internet-based rendition of the novel).

Like the Sherlock fandom, the LBD fandom has brought a huge influx of fresh, enthusiastic, really enjoyable new fans into the Jane Austen community - similar to the 2005 film and the 1995 film.  And like the fans who were upset at the young people trampling on their lawns when those adaptations hit the fandom, I have my own loyalties and prejudices.  But on the whole, I think it's really great that as we approach the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, new fans are discovering and loving the story and the book for the first time.

Now, down to brass tacks: some of the things that make me peripheral to the fandom (also known as Unpopular Fandom Opinions, Lizzie Bennet Diaries edition).

I've never been a fan of slash.  I admit freely to having some non-canon pairing fics that I've started (but being a horrible fic writer, I never finished them).  But as I've grown more acclimated to fandom, I've developed into a generally canon-shipping, genfic-primarily fogey.

Which brings me to the most-often slashed characters (that I've seen): Caroline, Lydia, and Charlotte.  While I do really appreciate the attention the series has given each of these characters, I am confused by the way the fandom has embraced them.  Interesting, intriguing, completely ficcable - yes, these characters are all that.  But Caroline and Lydia especially are deeply morally compromised characters, and I wish there was more acknowledgement of that (by fandom - the creators, while properly finding the humanity and value in all their creations, also clearly understand the self-destructive and cruel tendencies of their characters).  Lydia in particular troubles me in the way fandom has embraced her - yes, I do like her antics, but I think that by herself she's more than a little grating ("Enjoy the Adorbs" is perhaps my least favorite episode - Lydia really, really needs someone to play off of or her narcissism makes me want to stop watching - something the creators know, as they've brilliantly played her off of Mary and Jane in her spin offs).

(Side note: I'm little weirded out by the "flawless" label being applied so frequently to Asian women.  Maybe it's because I'm in the LBD and Elementary fandoms simultaneously, but it bothers me for some reason.)

Now, I know she's mostly been absent, but I'm also bothered by the lack of love towards my favorite character.  That would be the one, the only, the ever charitable Jane Bennet, amazingly played by Laura Spencer (who actually made me break my "Two Broke Girls" no-watching plan to see her cameo :).  While Caroline has two episodes on the main channel and gets post after post slashing her with Lizzie or commenting on her flawless hair etc etc, Jane shows up in a major role in Lydia's spin off, and gets barely anything.  No, we didn't learn anything new - but Laura Spencer hit it out of the park (and the writing was really quite good).  It brought a reality of feeling to Lydia's journey that was sometimes a bit hard to get.

Finally, my last point of contention (and perhaps really my only one, since the others tend to be symptoms of this root): lack of critical distance.  This is fandom - we're supposed to be intense and enthusiastic and love and hate - but do we have to do so without engaging our brains?  I've never been a huge fan of "liking" something, since it provides a way to contribute without thinking - but so many reaction posts to each episode seem like only a slightly longer version of clicking "like."  And without engaging the mind as well as the heart, I feel that we start to lose perspective on the story as a whole.

But, as I said, these opinions are peripheral (not to mention unpopular).  Proving yet again that I'm lucky to find things I love - people really don't make them for me.

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