My Favourite Social and Political Commentators

Nowadays it seems you can’t trust anyone. Everyone from the biggest news channels and media outlets to Youtubers making entertaining videos from their bedrooms are derided as fake news, or a shill for some crooked politician, or part of some new and dangerous political movement..

In my opinion the only thing to do in this current climate is to look at as many different sources as you can, even people that you don’t particularly like and then draw your own conclusions. For instance even though I find them most of the time to be nothing more than a sick parody of what they once were, I still watch BBC News regularly, simply so that my sources don’t become too one sided.

That said however there are obviously social and political commentators who I agree with more than others on the most important issues, and even just whose style I personally enjoy watching more than most.

In this article I am going to run through my personal favourite social and political commentators. I don’t agree with any of these people on absolutely everything, and again I obviously don’t get everything I think from these people either. I just feel that they are generally on the right track more than most and whilst I do think its important to listen to as many different people from both the left and the right as possible. These would still be my best recommendations.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below and also who your top choices would be as well.

John Pilger

Someone I have been a huge admirer of for most of my life. I was first introduced to John Pilger through my parents who were also big fans of his.

I’ve read many of his books and watched almost all of his documentary’s. Pilger for me is probably the most accomplished journalist of the entire 20th Century. He has helped to shed light on many of the worst disasters caused by US, British and Australian foreign policy over the course of his decades long career.

For instance his groundbreaking documentary ” Year Zero the Silent Death of Cambodia” helped to bring world wide attention to the suffering of the Khmer people. As much as 45 million pounds was raised in small donations from across the entire United Kingdom in solidarity to the nation after its first showing.

Pilger has also produced documentaries about the Australians treatment of the Aboriginies, the genocide in East Timor, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the Vietnam war. He has also been a consistent critic of the likes of Tony Blair, George W Bush, and Barack Obama.

Though there have been some controversies over the years, with some critics dismissing Pilger’s work of being too sensationalised. Overall Pilger has continued to have a large influence.

I do agree that he can be a little bit too anti Western at certain points. He is guilty of sometimes taking anybody’s side against Western governments and also of sometimes sugar coating the sins of its enemies.

However overall I think he maintains a clear and level head in his reports and his work overall is very thorough and well researched.

He also somewhat refreshingly for someone on the left has criticised identity politics. Indeed he warned of identity politics influence long before many of its most outspoken critics on the right back in 2008 when Obama was elected.

John Pilger is the type of journalist that we don’t see much of anymore. Someone with real integrity who tries to bring attention to those who are in need of real help and that’s why even though I don’t always agree with him. (I do most of the time) I always have nothing but respect for him.

Brendan O’Neill

Much like John Pilger, O’Neill is one of the few people on the left who criticises identity politics.

I would consider myself a socialist, but I absolutely despise identity politics. I feel that identity politics is the biggest enemy to any kind of genuinely progressive politics as it keeps us squabbling about the most unimportant differences like race, sexuality etc, whilst duping us into thinking that we are fighting to end racial and other prejudices.

Thanks to identity politics the left is more fragmented than it has ever been. Rather than trying to work together to try and fix the real source of inequality, class, people are instead fighting over things like who is more oppressed, gender pronouns etc.

Its also advocated that people be put in positions of power regardless of their ideas or character just to tick some boxes. This can be seen with the lefts attempts to canonise Obama and Hillary Clinton, two of the biggest war mongers in US Politics simply because Obama was the first black president and Hillary could have been the first female president. Those on the left, who should have been calling Obama and Hillary out for destroying the country of Libya and leading to a greater rise in Islamic extremism were instead viewing their time in office as being steps forward for society, simply because of their gender and race.

We are never going to get anywhere with identity politics (which is why so many of the corrupt bastards at the top like George Soros LOVE identity politics.)

Thus someone like O’Neill who champions old genuine left wing values, yet criticises the phoney, divisive nature of identity politics is important in my opinion.

Tree of Logic

A youtuber and outspoken critic of Islam and Black Lives Matter. I agree with Tree on most things, but politically she is probably a little more to the right (by her own admission) than I am. When I say right I obviously don’t mean “oh my god she is a Nazi bastard” more just that she is less a critic of capitalism than I would be.

Still Tree’s video’s on Islam are absolutely brilliant. She really has done her research and also speaks from personal experience too.

Sadly like many critics of Islam Tree has been dismissed as racist, but that’s ridiculous. Islam is NOT a race. Islam is an ideology. We are allowed to criticise all other ideologies from Christianity to Capitalism, so why not Islam? For instance I’m not about to call Tree a racist for presumably being opposed to socialism given her pro Capitalist ideas. So why the fuck would anyone call her a racist for criticising another ideology?

Islam is in need of a reformation. There are obviously many, many, many peaceful Muslims in the west. No one is denying that, however the ideology of Islam itself is poisonous. Any decent Muslims are decent in spite of their faith. They are people who abandon the negative aspects of Islam in order to fit in with Western society’s values (or perhaps haven’t even read their holy book properly), but still those who do actually follow what the Quran itself says at the very least hold bigoted views towards women and homosexuals and Jews, and in the most extreme cases become terrorists.

The reason for that is of course because the Quran says to kill all non believers, kill all homosexuals and that all women and black people are inferior to white men.

Thus the religion of Islam needs a top to bottom reformation to cut these ideas off at the source, and people like Tree who are brave enough to speak out against the religion not only I feel deserve our respect, but are also important in helping to stamp out the worst forms of racism, sexism and homophobia that come from the Islamic world.

Angry Foreigner

Another youtuber, Angry Foreigner is from Sweden and has done excellent videos on the devastating effects of Sweden’s open door immigration policy.

I obviously like any decent human believe that we should help refugees. However I don’t believe that the open door policy is the way to do it. The open door policy is dangerous as it allows in people without checking them first. Ultimately any country has a right to decide who comes in, to make sure its people will be safe.

Angry Foreigner has also explored in great detail the Swedish government’s soft bigotry of low expectations in dealing with Muslim criminals, often ironically for a so called feminist government at the expense of women.

There isn’t really that much I disagree with him on. Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything major I clash with him over, but I’m sure there will be something eventually. Still overall his videos are very well researched and informative. Definitely worth a look.

Blaire White

One of the most popular Youtubers, Blaire I’d say is probably more to the centre of things. She’s certainly not as left wing as say John Pilger, but I wouldn’t describe her as right wing either. Though hilariously she is often derided as a Nazi by the mainstream media.

Blaire’s main targets are feminism, identity politics and Islam. She has a very laid back approach to the subjects she tackles, though her sense of humour is often quite biting. She doesn’t strike me as someone with an axe to grind, more someone in the middle who tries to be as fair in her assessments as much as possible which, coupled with her brilliant sense of humour is why her videos are always interesting to watch.

She is also a great debater too and was among the first members of the “Skeptic community” who was able to successfully reach out and convince people on the other side to actually discuss their opinions, such as in her video with Laci Green.

In this respect I feel Blaire has had a very positive influence on bridging the gap between the SJW’s and the Anti SJW’s.

ShoeOnHead

Another youtuber that I would describe as being in the centre. Shoe is very keen not to associate herself with any real political ideology. She laughs at the most ridiculous people on both the right and the left. Though her style is very accessible and her sense of humour is brilliant. My only problem with her is that she doesn’t release that many videos.

Still good things come to those who wait and I rarely find myself disagreeing with her videos.

Christina Hoff Sommers

A second wave feminist, Sommers split from mainstream feminism due to what she felt was a hostile attitude towards men and also a lack of action against Islams treatment of women.

Since then she has provided interesting critiques of third wave feminism. In my opinion Sommers is what feminism needs. Feminism though starting out as a genuinely progressive movement has over the years been hijacked by posers who are actually too scared to comment on real inequalities faced by women and thus goes after safe, benign targets such as video games, rather than say radical Islam.

Worse than that however is the way that feminism has become dogmatic to the point where it can’t accept any criticism of itself which has in turn led to it becoming a static movement, stuck in the past and unable to move forward.

Sommers meanwhile is trying to break feminism out of its rut and gear it towards becoming a respectable and noble movement once again that actually helps women rather than a vehicle for posers.

Whether she will succeed or not? Who knows, but she will always have my support at least.

Chris Ray Gun

A self identified classical liberal, Chris again is really much like Blaire and Shoe more to the centre of things and tends to look at the worst of the left and the right. He has a very even handed and fair approach to the subjects he tackles and isn’t I feel motivated by any pre existing biases.

Chris’s videos are always very amusing. His humour is energetic, self deprecating, and over the top, yet he always in amongst the drinking bleach and other crazy antics, manages to make his points very clearly and backs them up well.

He is also a talented and accomplished musician and has produced many songs, including original material and parodies of old songs with a political slant.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

A true feminist hero. Ali grew up in a Muslim country Somalia, and had to among other things endure genital mutilation at a young age. Ali has devoted her entire life to trying to bring about a reformation of Islam and has written many books on the subject as well as given many talks too.

Among the books she has written on Islam include The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam, Infidel, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilisations and Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now

Sadly she has been targeted by extremist Muslims for many years, and in fact has to walk around with body guards. Worse still many people on the left and the mainstream media have tried to deride Ali as a racist and trouble maker.

Still she has always remained a strong critic of Islam and continues to this day to be a true champion for women’s rights and free speech.

David Wood

David Wood is a Christian apologist and so naturally as an Atheist I clash with him on the subject of God. For the record though I have no objection to anyone believing in God.

I have always said the only right way to live your life is a way that doesn’t harm other people. Thus for all I care you can believe the universe was actually created by a flying spaghetti monster as long as it doesn’t impinge on anyone else’s rights.

To be fair to David its not like he tries to silence anyone who doesn’t believe in God either. He is always willing to debate with people n civilised ways, but again as he is a devout Christian then obviously I don’t believe in what he does.

Despite this however I do love David’s videos on Islam. David probably gives the most comprehensive run down of the religion of anyone. I don’t think his knowledge is necessarily greater than the likes of Tree, but his videos do go into more detail. Not that I am knocking Tree for that, as her style is different. Still David’s videos are very educational and help to debunk a lot of the dangerous myths about Islam.

See here.

Paul Joseph Watson

Paul Joseph Watson is an editor at Info Wars, though he also has a youtube series of his own. He is one of the most popular critics of third wave feminism and identity politics with his videos having had over 100 million views so far.

Now Paul is someone that I disagree with on quite a lot of things. Paul by his own admission is very right wing. He believes Capitalism is the greatest system on earth and I feel he tends to gloss over America’s sins too.

Though I often describe myself as a socialist, I suppose you could maybe call me a light socialist. I think that Capitalism has to at least be reformed, and that we need to bring in more socialist elements into western society, though not necessarily become a full blown socialist society. Not yet.

I feel we have already done this in the United Kingdom to great effect so far, with the NHS obviously being a more socialist concept. I personally think the NHS despite its problems is always preferable to a Private Health service.

I think a full Capitalist society ultimately leads to Corporatism. Paul on the other hand feels that Corporatism and Capitalism are distinct from one another and thus I obviously clash with him on this issue.

I also at the same time am not always so keen on Paul’s videos against feminists. He does make some excellent points about the state of the movement, but I think he can get too nasty and personal when he goes on about feminists being fat, ugly bitches that no one wants to fuck (though to be fair its not like feminists don’t make similar comments about the supposed “Alt Right” all being ugly, sad, basement dwelling virgins.)

Still despite these faults I do have a lot of respect for Paul and think he talks a lot of sense on most things. His videos on Hillary Clinton were brilliant and really helped to shed a lot of light on her corruption. He also does great videos on Islam and its apologists, and has also highlighted the hypocrisy of the mainstream media brilliantly many times.

Paul’s style is very confrontational and no nonsense which is refreshing in the modern over sensitive PC culture that we live in, and its not hard to see why he has earned so many fans as a result.

I also feel that Paul is more even handed and fair than people give him credit for. For instance he has often been derided as a Trump fanboy. Yet he was among the first to criticise Trump when he launched an air strike on Syria.

Unlike those who still praised Obama even after he had destroyed the entire country of Libya, killed hundreds of innocent people in drone strikes, and kept the USA at war through his entire tenure as President. All it took for Paul was one air strike for him to criticise Trump.

Compare Paul’s comments warning Trump of “opening the gates of hell” by toppling Assad after Trump’s first foreign policy blunder to Owen Jones’ about Obama “being so cool” in 2016, a year in which Obama dropped over 26,171 bombs on wedding parties, hospitals, schools and homes, and then tell me who is the real fanboy of a President, and who merely supported a President because of his position on foreign policy?

Overall I’d say Paul could almost be described as the anti John Pilger in that, whilst Pilger’s problem is that he is too anti Western society, Paul’s is that he is maybe a bit too pro Western society. I can understand Paul’s frustration when idiots on the left try and make out that the West is a worse than any Islamic culture, but still in the past Paul has gone too much the other way to the extent where he has made out that Margaret Thatcher was a hero which is just ridiculous in my opinion.

Interestingly enough Pilger and Watson do actually overlap in terms of opinion on many key issues, such as the bias of the mainstream media, American intervention in the Middle East, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and identity politics.

A debate between Pilger and Watson would be very interesting I think.

Honorary Mentions

Among the other people I listen to frequently include Computing Forever, Abby Martin, Some Black Guy and Kraut and Tea.

Now, Kraut and Some Black Guy I really like, but I haven’t had time to see as many of their videos. I aim to rectify that soon, but for the time being I am not as familiar with their work, though again I like what I have seen so far.

Other Youtubers who I have only seen fleetingly but who so far I have been impressed with include Logicked, Roaming Millenial, and The Iconoclast.

Abby Martin meanwhile I have been a fan of for a long while. I think she talks a lot of sense about the negative effects of American foreign policy. Her videos on Hillary Clinton are also excellent. Indeed I’d say she and Paul Joseph Watson more than anyone else really helped to bring to people’s attention just how corrupt Clinton actually was, though ironically Paul and Abby despise each other. The reason for that is because Abby is sadly a rank Islam apologist. Seriously she is an Owen Jones level of Islam apologist. Its like her brain just shuts down any ability to look at things in a fair and rational way as soon as Islam is brought up, and she just hears all fair criticism of the religion as “I hate brown people!” Even when Abby is being told Islam is in need of a reformation by an actual Muslim man himself (Maajid Nawaz) Abby still writes his criticisms off as Islamophobia.

Computing Forever meanwhile though I like his regressive news series I do feel he is perhaps a bit too right wing for me at times. For instance he is opposed to gay marriage (and even voted against it), whilst I support it very strongly. Still I don’t think he is a bad guy or anything, and he is always willing to listen to other people’s opinions too. However I feel that politically, though I agree with him on a lot, we are maybe just too far apart.

Thanks for reading.

Trump’s Syrian Air Strike: Meet the New Boss Same as the Old Boss

So much for draining the swamp.

Yes sadly it seems many people’s dreams of a peaceful co-operation between Russia, the US and Syria just went up in flames.

Donald Trump like the immediate US Presidents before him is apparently desperate to start a war after all.

Naturally many of Trump’s supporters such as Paul Joseph Watson who only supported him due to his anti war stance, and his desire to limit American intervention in the middle east have now turned on him.

Whilst some people have criticised Watson and others such as Lauren Southern for apparently “flip flopping” on Trump personally I admire them for sticking to their principles.

They only supported Trump because they believed he was a better option than Hillary Clinton in terms of foreign policy. Now that Trump is seemingly pursuing the same destructive foreign policies that Hillary wanted in toppling Assad then they are calling him out on it.

 

I will say there has already been a lot more criticism from Trump’s high profile supporters for his actions in Syria than there were from Obama’s for his many war crimes.

Trump’s Syrian strike not only classes him as a war criminal, but also reveals him to be a spineless, weak man who is easily manipulated by those around him into changing his position in the blink of an eye.

Courtesy of Ben Garrison cartoons.

Abby Martin, former host of Breaking the Set actually warned of this many months ago saying that she felt Trump’s biggest problem was the way he was too easily influenced and prone to changing his mind all the time.

See here in this video.

Trumps actions in Syria could very well lead us into a full scale conflict with Russia. It remains to be seen if Russia and America can smooth things over, but still he is taking a huge risk over what is ultimately a pointless endeavour.

To start with it is not known yet if Assad was even guilty of the recent chemical attack. I am not saying that he wasn’t, but its certainly not proven and in some ways it doesn’t make sense for Assad at this stage to gas his own people when things are generally heading in his favour. ISIS and Al Qaeda were both in retreat, peace talks were going ahead and at that point Trump was limiting intervention in the middle east. For him to suddenly blow that does seem a little unlikely, though again we still don’t know for sure.

Personally I think that this smells of another Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, Benghazi debacle, a lie cooked up to goad us into being ready for a pointless and bloody conflict.

Whatever the case even if Assad does turn out to be guilty then removing him is still the worst of all options. To start with it risks a war with Russia which could in turn escalate into a Third World War! Remember Syria is close allies with Russia, who in turn are close allies with Iran and China. The end result of Trump poking and prodding Syria and Russia could see the US, the UN, Russia, Iran and China all aiming nukes at each other. Russia is also no lame duck either. It has weapons capable of destroying an area the size of Texas.

Russia has already tore up a 2015 military operations agreement it had with the US, which gives both sides open communication regarding air operations. There is now a much greater risk of American and Russian jets accidentally shooting each other down!

Even if there somehow isn’t a war between Russia and America then removing Assad will make things worse for Syria. It will completely destablise the country just like Iraq and Libya and shatter it into a thousand pieces leading to more deaths, and another refugee crisis. It will also give ISIS a footing and lead to a greater rise in Islamic extremism (the very thing Trump promised to fight).

Ironically these are all the things that people (myself included) were terrified Hillary Clinton would cause if she got in. To be fair I do still think that Hillary would have caused a conflict with Syria and Russia if she had been elected President.

Just last night Hillary Clinton said she wanted the US to launch an attack against Syria and for Putin to be held accountable for his actions.

See here Clinton calls for Bombing Assad’s Air Fields.

Hillary Clinton called for Bombing Assad Hours Before Trump Airstrike

So its not a question of “if only Hillary had won” its more that sadly Trump was no alternative after all. No matter who the Americans voted for it seems war was inevitable.

It funny in a tragic way how Obama and Trump really are no different after all.

When Barack Obama was voted in in 2008, people hoped that he would be a positive change and end the conflict in Iraq and limit American intervention in the middle east.

Just like Trump he promised to do that and the two candidates he was up against, John McCain in 2008 and Mit Romney in 2012 were also both crooked war mongers. Thus Obama at the very least was seen as the lesser of two evils. Obama however ended up not only increasing the use of drone strikes significantly from George W Bush, but he too destroyed an entire country, Libya, in an illegal invasion.

Flash forward to 2016 and many people myself included hoped that Trump would be a positive change in terms of foreign policy and limit American intervention in the middle east as he promised to improve relations with Russia and leave Assad alone. He also went up against a candidate who was a crooked war monger, Hillary Clinton too.

However barely 3 months into his Presidency Trump has already carried out a war crime and an illegal attack on another sovereign state.

If you weren’t duped by Obama in 2008 being a positive change then you were probably duped by Trump supposedly draining the swamp in 2016.

It seems there is no escape. Its always the same war mongers running things from behind the scenes, using a spineless puppet as their front man. You can vote Democrat or Republican, Trump or Clinton, Obama or McCain and the result is the same. More wars.

Its time in my opinion that the left abandoned identity politics once and for all. Rather than constantly fight each other over trivial stupid things like gender pronouns, white male privilege etc. The left seriously needs to get its arse in gear and try and find a way to reform the current corporatist system that favours endless wars and expansion.

 

 

The Most Useless Heroes

Sorry David Bowie these people couldn’t be heroes for one second!

Not everybody has what it takes to be a hero. In some cases its because they are weak, cowardly, selfish or amoral. In others however they can be strong, brave, dashing, handsome, sexy, noble, have all the right ingredients on paper, but fail for one simple reason. They are completely fucking useless!

In this article we will briefly look at what I feel are the 4 most useless heroes on television. All of these characters really did mean well. They all have the heart of noble warrior, but sadly the competency of Homer Simpson.

4/ Emma Swan (Once Upon A Time)

I am sorry to have to include her here. I do like the character. She has an interesting backstory, great characterisation, and Jennifer Morrison who plays her is brilliant in the role.

Sadly however she makes this list simply because she NEVER saves the day. Seriously try and find me a main villain of the series that Emma has actually defeated?

In series 1 it is Henry who in a way brings down the Evil Queen. He is the one who stops Emma from eating the apple which forces Emma and the Evil Queen to work together which ultimately reveals the truth.

In season 2 it is Snow who kills Cora (following Rumple’s orders) in season 3 it is Rumple himself who kills Peter Pan, whilst Zelena the Wicked Witch is defeated by Regina.

In season 4 the snow queen is stopped by Ana, whilst Rumple is beaten by Belle. The Author meanwhile is beaten by Henry.

In season 5 Emma does kill Hook to be fair and she also killed Cruelle in season 4. Even then however Cruella couldn’t kill anyone and Hook also wanted Emma to kill him. Finally Hades the main villain of season 5 is killed by Zelena.

I haven’t seen the 6th season yet. Maybe Emma finally stops the badguy herself but really for the so called saviour its pretty poor that in the first 5 years she only killed two main villains, one of whom couldn’t kill anyone and another who wanted her to kill him.

This is pretty much what always happens in Once Upon A Time. The badguy is completely unstoppable and is about to kill everyone, Emma included, but then someone else bursts in and saves the day leading the viewer to wonder why Emma is called the saviour.

3/ Merlin (Merlin)

Again I liked this show a lot and Colin Morgan who played the character was excellent in the role. Sadly however Merlin ultimately makes the list as not only does he fuck everything up in the show but he is also technically a traitor to his kind too.

The premise of Merlin is that magic has been outlawed in Camelot by the tyrant Uther Pendragon. However an ancient prophecy states that one day Arthur and Merlin will bring magic back to Camelot.

Only problem is that this never happens! Now to be fair I did used to think that this was quite a good twist on the legend that Merlin’s knowledge of the great future caused him to make the wrong decisions. However I have changed my opinion now only in that it would have been better if he and Arthur had at least accomplished something before Arthur’s death.  I get that they needed to have Arthur die just like the myths but they should have had Arthur at least bring magic back before he died. Ultimately Merlin just looks like someone who supported two regimes that persecuted his own kind and turned his friend Morgana evil.

2/ Kendra the Vampire Slayer

The short lived slayer from Buffy’s second season. Kendra is most famous for her dodgy accent, but she was also quite a useless slayer too.

Granted she never went rogue and tried kill people like Faith. Still as a Vampire Slayer she has a pretty poor track record. She is killed by Drusilla barely a year into being a Slayer.

To be fair Kendra unlike the others on this list is meant to be lame. She is meant to highlight how Buffy is a superior Slayer as Kendra never thinks for herself. Still it cannot be denied she was a pretty lousy and unimpressive Slayer.

1/ Hawkman (Arrowverse)

The most useless hero. Hawkman is reborn over and over only to be killed by the exact same guy, Vandal Savage each time. Vandal Savage kills him over 200 times.

Then when Hawkman finally defeats him (only with help from two teams of heroes) Vandal returns and kills Hawkman again in a one on one fight, before going on to drink his blood.

No matter whatever the time or place, Hawkman will always be Vandal Savage’s little bitch.

I don’t think that it was a good idea to have Vandal Savage kill Hawkman and Hawkgirl so many times. It just made them look too inept that they couldn’t beat one guy for over a thousand years. Though Hawkman does finally triumph over Savage at the end of Legends of Tomorrow, but still its only with help and the score is still something like Vandal Savage 270, Hawkman 1.

Overall I’d say that’s a poor track record for any hero against his enemy and just makes Hawkman look all the more inept.

On top of that the only reason he was picked for the mission was because he was deemed unimportant by Rip Hunter and thus if he did die then it wouldn’t make that big a change in the timeline.

Why The Peter Capaldi Era Failed

Image result for Peter Capaldi

Okay I’ll admit this is more of a subjective title as after all I’m sure that the Capaldi era has its fans. Also the Capaldi era technically is not over yet as it still has one season to go.

However I think overall its fair to say that the Capaldi era has been a failure. Its viewing figures have dropped every year, fan reaction has been mostly negative, its been snubbed by major awards ceremonies that the show used to win big at. Also personally I think that the quality of its stories is overall lower than any previous era in the shows history.

Thus even if series 10 is the greatest series in DW’s history (which given its two predecessors is unlikely) Then sadly  most of the Capaldi era has still been a big let down for me and it seems most fans and mainstream viewers too.

In this article I am going to explore why I feel this era didn’t work, what mistakes were made, and how they can hopefully be rectified for the New Doctors era.

Note: Nothing in this article is a dig against Capadi’s performance as the Doctor. I think Capaldi has been the only good thing about his era. He was an inspired choice for the Doctor, and his dedication to the role was as great as any of the previous 11 leading actors.

Much like Colin Baker before him, poor old Peter I think was just the Doctor at the wrong time, wrong place. Hopefully like Colin he’ll get better material on Big Finish later (though even then I still wouldn’t say anything in Colin’s time approaches the worst in Peters era)

1/ His Companion

Image result for jenna coleman

Now I do not dislike Clara as a character overall or Jenna Coleman as an actress. I loved her with Matt Smith, but sadly I feel she just didn’t click with Capaldi.

I tried to find a way to appreciate Clara and 12. Before I looked at it from a point of view of “maybe they were going for an odd couple vibe with them?” but ultimately in hindsight now that Clara’s story is over I just feel that she and 12 were a mess.

To start with Clara and 12 had 0 chemistry with each other. I’m sure Jenna and Peter got on well with each other in real life, but on screen they didn’t gel.

They weren’t a natural fit for one another. They had nothing in common with each other, and came from totally different backgrounds. Jenna’s a 20 something millenial who comes from a middle class English background, she also was famous when she was a teenager. Peter meanwhile is pushing 60, and comes from a poor, working class Scots background.

Peter’s acting style is also always quite intense and angry, Jenna’s meanwhile is very laid back, humorous, and bubbly.

Thus as a Doctor and companion who were just friends, then they didn’t mesh because they were too different. This was made all the more apparent by how well Jenna and Matt gelled with each other. Matt did come from a similar background to Jenna, had a similar acting style of being more light, silly, cheery, (Steven Moff even said that he cast Jenna because she was the only actress who could speak as quickly as Matt) and he was ages with her too. They were a perfect fit in every way, as friends, love interests etc.

Not only did Jenna and Peter not work as friends like 11 and Jenna or Sarah and 4, but they also obviously couldn’t go down the romance route like they did with other companions such as Rose and 9, or 10 and Martha either.

At the same time they also couldn’t have the Doctor being a father figure to Jenna either, like 2 and Zoe,  Jo and 3, 7 and Ace, as it had been established that the Doctor wanted to shag Clara in 11’s era.

Thus their only option was to make their relationship strained, but there were several problems with this. First of all it didn’t really fit Clara’s character to be so nasty to the Doctor.

What had made the 11 and Clara relationship so wonderful was the way Clara and the Doctor genuinely loved each other. It was always such an affectionate, warm relationship whether that was Clara throwing herself into the Doctors timeline to save his life, or even just little moments like Clara helping an elderly Doctor pull the cracker.

To suddenly rewrite Clara into being a bossy, aggressive, controlling narcissist who would violently smack the Doctor, or threaten to hit him so hard he would regenerate just didn’t feel like the same character at all.

Also Clara suddenly having a problem with the Doctor looking old felt a bit odd too. Not only did Clara have experience of all the previous Doctors but there was also a scene in The Day of the Doctor where she meets the War Doctor and says that she can tell he looks younger than her Doctor. Now whilst this might seem a bit of a daft thing to say at first, I actually quite liked this line as again to me it showed how well Clara knows and loves the Doctor. Regardless of whatever face he is wearing, Clara can see who he really is underneath.

Even if he’s wearing the face of a 70 plus year old man, Clara can still tell he’s younger as he doesn’t have the look of weariness and guilt on his face that the 11th Doctor with the face of a 20 something had.

However once again this was tossed out of the window when 12 showed up and Clara had a problem with him looking old. In fact Clara was ready to abandon the 12th Doctor until 11 had to phone her and convince her he was the same man!

To be fair they did try and soften the relationship between Clara and the Doctor in season 9 which I think was a brilliant idea, but even then I don’t think it really worked.

Suddenly Clara and the Doctor loved each other so much the Doctor was willing to destroy all of reality to save her? Now obviously Clara and the Doctor care about each other, but really I don’t see any reason he would care about her more than every other companion he has ever had.

And he does. He never went back to change history when Adric was blown to pieces, or when he believed Peri had died a slow, agonising death, or when Amy and Rory were taken from him, or when Jack was shot by a Dalek, or even when he believed Rose was vaporised in Bad Wolf!

So Clara it seems outranks all of these people? Why? Again what build up was there to this? Its not even like 12 was meant to have romantic feelings for her?

Its a shame as it might have been interesting in series 9 to see Clara and 12 after their rough patch in series 8 become a lot more genuinely close, but sadly I think they jumped a bit too far in the finale with the silly hybrid storyline which left the whole arc feeling like a mess.

Added to that I feel that Clara began to take over the show far too much, with many of the stories revolving around her, her place of work, her boyfriend, her influence on the Doctor etc.

I think it would have been better if Jenna had left at the end of series 8. I understand why they kept her to ease the transition from Doctor to Doctor, but really after series 8, Capaldi should have gotten his own companion.

Ultimately he was saddled with a companion who was really cast and written for 11 throughout almost the entirety of his era which was a shame.

2/ Weak Enemies

The 12th Doctor had relatively weak enemies. There were certainly no strong new foes introduced during his era like Davros, Sil, The Weeping Angels, or even the Silence.

Added to that many of the one off enemies were boring, one note or ineffective like the Lion man, or the clockwork droid.

Worse than that however all of the Doctors classic rogues were weak during this era too.

The Master, the Doctors archenemy lost all menace during 12’s era. Leaving aside the controversial and pandering gender change, Missy is the worst version of the Master anyway.

To be honest I actually think that if Missy were played by a man then more people would view her as the worst incarnation of the Master. As it is I think most people are scared to say that out of fear of being called sexist. Don’t get me wrong Michelle Gomez is a great actress and she does play the role well, and I am not saying that there are no genuine fans of Missy, but consider the following factors.

Missy in her first appearance actually hands victory over to the Doctor. She has an army of unbeatable Cybermen who can convert those they kill and she hands it over to her mortal enemy with no way of taking it back?

Imagine if Lex Luthor devised a weapon that would allow him to take over the entire world and just when he was on the cusp of victory he handed it over to Superman in the hopes that Superman of all people would go evil and use it to rule the world?

You’d think he was a pretty lame supervillain. Added to that it is revealed that Missy brought the Doctor and Clara together because she hoped the Doctor would love Clara so much he would destroy the universe for her.

Leaving aside how ridiculous that is. How could Missy know that the Doctor would even like Clara? It also not only doesn’t work, but ironically is responsible for the creation of the universes greatest heroes.

Think about it, its Clara who not only saved the Doctor in every story, but who also helped the Doctor conquer his fear as a boy which ultimately resulted in him becoming the hero he was.

Thus no Clara, no Doctor. This technically makes Missy responsible for all of the past Master defeats at the Doctors hands too. On top of that it was also obviously only because of the Doctor that other heroes such as Jack, and River Song came into being. Finally Clara ends up becoming arguably a greater hero than the Doctor himself. Not only does she get a TARDIS, but she also becomes completely indestructable and has a sidekick who has lived throughout most of the universes history.

So Missy in her attempt to make one hero go bad, created at least 4 great heroes, one of whom can’t be killed and can travel to any point in history and another who thwarted her at every turn.

Finally in her second appearance what does Missy actually do? Seriously? She just bums about a bit on Skaro and is mean to Clara. What’s her villain plan? What does she actually accomplish in either of her appearances.

Its true that the old Masters didn’t always have the most well thought out plans, but at least they were proper villains who tried to conquer the universe and who the Doctor actually had to battle against.

Compare Missy with even just her immediate predecessor.

Simm’s Master’s plan is to create a new time lord empire in his first story, and to free his people from the time war and then enslave them in his second.

In his first story he manages to trick the Doctors companions family into betraying him, dupes the UK into voting for him as Prime Minister, outfoxes UNIT, Torchwood and the Doctor for many months, as he hides in plain sight from all of them. He also conquers the entire earth, slaughters billions, and captures the Doctor and Jack and tortures them for a whole year, before nearly successfully waging war on the rest of the universe and changing the entire history of the Universe.

Its takes the Doctor an entire year of torture, as well as Martha wandering the earth for a year to take the Master down. In his second story meanwhile technically the Doctor doesn’t beat him. Its Rassilon that reverses the Master race.

The only villainous thing Missy does of any note is kill Osgood but that’s it in 4 episodes. Imagine if she didn’t do that. What menace would she have posed in Dark Water/Death in Heaven? She would have shown up, kissed the Doctor, created Cybermen and then handed them over to the Doctor, where he could have just ordered them to blow up. And then in her second episode she would have actually done nothing but help Clara find the Doctor, and save the Doctor and Clara from the Daleks! I suppose she does kill one more UNIT lackey and one of her own minions, but again that’s not really much for one of the Doctors greatest foes. Osgood’s death is the only major moment of villainy for Missy.

You can’t say that John Simm’s Masters villainy rests entirely on one scene. If he didn’t say kill the President then he would still have have his conquest of the earth (both times), his manipulation of the British people, his attempt to free the time lords etc.

And all of this is before we get into the fact that she lusts after the Doctor which only further demeans the Master by turning him into more of a jealous ex of the Doctor than his archenemy.

Sadly the Cybermen didn’t fair much better in Capaldi’s time either. They were reduced to being nothing more than Missy’s mooks before being vanquished by the power of love. Also much like Missy the Cybermen do bugger all in their big two part finale.

They just stand about get some people taking selfies with them and then fly away, before clomping about in a graveyard. We do see them briefly attack an airplane. Again though that’s not really much for one of the shows greatest monsters. Take a look at Doomsday for instance. By no means the Cybermen’s greatest appearance, they still slaughter millions of people on earth and destroy Torchwood 1.

The Daleks meanwhile fared slightly better. Their first story Into the Dalek was brilliant and really treated the monsters as a legitimate menace. However sadly their season 9 appearance was I think the weakest Dalek story in New Who.

I enjoyed it at the time sure as it was nice to see the different Dalek variants and Skaro again. Still much like with the Cybermen and the Master the problem is what do the Daleks actually do in that story? They just hobble about a bit in their main room, fail to kill two people, get compared to dodgems and then are beaten by a clogged pipe.

Added to that there was also some bad rewriting of Dalek lore and history. In Genesis of the Daleks it was established that the Daleks have no concept of pity as Davros removed it from them.

In this story however in a direct contradiction of that defining moment in Genesis here we discover that actually no they do, and have always done thanks to something 12 did when Davros was just a boy.

Finally Rassilon, a major character from Classic Who, who was practically portrayed as the God of all time lords, who when he previously appeared, threatened all of reality, and vaporized people just for peaking up against him. Is portrayed as a helpless old man who the Doctor beats practically by staring.

During 12’s era Moffat didn’t treat the Classic era villains with any kind of respect. He just rolled them out for commercial value, but didn’t bother to try and do anything with them. They were often just there, and he even took the piss out of them at various points too and changed key aspects of their characters such as making the Master in love with the Doctor, or revealing that Daleks suddenly have pity after all.

Too Much Focus On Continuity

There were far too many references to previous Doctors and even archive footage of them in 12’s era. I felt this was a mistake for many reasons.

One, it alienated new viewers who were unfamiliar with the shows past. Two, Moffat often rewrote the continuity he revelled in which naturally displeased the fans.

Also finally I think that focusing too much on a long running shows history it kind of looks like you don’t have faith in the current set up. You have to keep telling people “its the same show, its the same show” rather than trust people will still watch it.

Too Much SJW Pandering

Okay I know I have gone on about this before but it is true. Steven Moffat I feel started to pander the feminist fans who slandered him unfairly as a sexist, racist etc and personally I think the show suffered for it.

Clara was given for too important a role for what is ultimately a side character, Michelle Gomez was only cast as the Master because she was a woman (and Steven Moffat wanted to lay the groundwork for a female Doctor.

Gomez was not in the role of the Master on merit. She could have been the Rani,a female archenemy of the Doctor that she would have been perfect for, and had Moffat been casting actors based on who is right for the role, rather than box ticking then Gomez would have been the Rani and a male actor would have been the Master.

Added to that there have also been more anti men jokes in the show. I don’t mind them in principle, but its just that it feels like a double standard when its all one way, and on top of the fact that the show is replacing all of its male roles with women essentially, the Master, UNIT, possibly the Doctor himself makes it clear which audience its going after.

Identity politics is divisive and takes over whatever franchise it latches itself onto. Look at the recent flop of a Ghostbusters movie for another fine example of how identity politics can sink a major franchise. Personally I think this has been one of the biggest problems of the 12th Doctors era.

Conclusion

Peter Capaldi was a damn fine Doctor, but sadly his era was hampered by many other factors.

I think the lessons that can be learned here are as follows. 1/ For the next Doctor find a companion that fits them and their personality. 2/ Don’t let the companion overshadow the Doctor. 3/ Don’t re use classic era villains unless you have a great idea for them. 4/ When you use them, make sure that they are treated with respect. No jokes, let them cause lots of damage, don’t undermine them for other villains, and write them in character. 5/ No more continuity porn. I don’t mind the odd reference, but keep it in moderation. 6/ No more pandering to feminist fans or identity politics. Keep that divisive bullshit that only a tiny section of the audience appreciates out and cast actors on merit rather than because you feel you need more women or black actors in the show.

If Chibnall does all of these things for 13’s era there is a chance that Doctor Who might be able to crawl back from the abyss its been dragged too.

I said I wasn’t going to do any more articles about the problems of New Who, but I felt I had become too focused on the identity politics side of it. There were other problems to be fair and so that’s why I decided to talk about these here, though obviously I couldn’t not mention the identity politics side of it either.

Let me know what you think about my points, if you agree with them, or if the 12th Doctors era is a favourite of yours in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flash 1990’s vs The Flash 2010’s

To date there have been two live action adaptations of the famous scarlet speedster on the small screen. The short lived 90’s series starring John Wesley Shipp as the Flash and the ongoing (as of the writing of this article) Arrow spin off starring Grant Gustin.

Whilst the modern version has obviously had a longer run (3 seasons and counting). The 90’s series still nevertheless has a strong and devoted cult following and even had something of an influence on the 21st century Flash and other Superhero adaptations.

Both I feel have earned their place among the all time greatest superhero television series, but as to which I find to be better? Well that’s a hard question to answer as both offered up a very different take on the Flash, and thus both succeed and fail in different ways.

Still in this article I am going to run through the ways in which I feel the 90’s show was superior and ways in which I feel the 2010’s series was better before deciding which one is the stronger version overall.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Ways in which the 90’s version was stronger

The Flash Himself

The main Flash in both series is Barry Allen (though both Jay Garrick and Wally West have appeared as supporting characters in the 2010 series).

In the 90’s show he was played by John Wesley Shipp and was an older, more mature character, whilst in the 2010’s version he is a much younger, more sensitive, vulnerable character played by Grant Gustin.

I think both men have been excellent as the characters they played. In terms of performances they are probably about equal. Also in all fairness, in terms of writing I wouldn’t say there is a definitive best either. Both characters have been successful in what they set out to do, but I personally prefer the 90’s version in a number of ways.

To start with the 90’s Flash to me felt somewhat stronger and less vulnerable.

I must admit I am sick of the way most heroes nowadays have to be sensitive, emotional, and geeky. I’m not saying I dislike heroes like that completely, but it can get a little bit frustrating the way that so many heroes have to be rewritten that way. I think its because a lot of writers feel that they need to make their heroes someone the viewers can relate to.

Its understandable, but it can get a bit frustrating the way that so many heroes even if they weren’t that originally have to be reinterpreted that way. The Doctor from Doctor Who is another example of this. In the original he was a cold, distant, mysterious, alien character, but in the 21st century revival in order to be someone the people could relate to he was made into a more sensitive, emotional, love struck hero.

Sadly whilst its not quite as big a deviation to make the Flash like that, at times I do feel like I am watching Peter Parker rather than Barry Allen when I look at Grant Gustin’s version.

The thing that annoys me the most about the 2010’s version however is the way he is well kind of stupid.

Again I feel this is a trend with modern heroes to make them more fallable. Nobody wants a boring Mr or Mrs Perfect who succeeds at everything, but sadly I think that some modern heroes are made too weak and mess up too often.

Barry it could be argued at times has caused more problems than he has fixed. At the end of series 1 for instance its his decision to travel backwards in time which ultimately creates the rip between universes, nearly destroys Central City and causes the death of Ronnie Raymond. His stupid decision to trust Leonard Snart of all people is also what allows the Metahumans to escape leading to more chaos in season 2.

Worst of all though is when he gives up his speed to Zoom in season 2. I am sorry but this scene really pissed me off.

Why did he give up his power? Zoom at that point is slower than Barry, and Zoom has given up his prisoner Wally West! What possible reason could he have for giving up his speed? He should have just clobbered Zoom there and then which he could as he was faster. He later managed to pummel Zoom when he was slower than him later in the finale remember. Here it should have been no problem.

The Flash really is too stupid to live at times. All the shit that happens afterwards including the Metapocalypse and the death of Henry Allen can be traced to what Barry does here.

Also though this is a more minor complaint I do wish that Barry would stop calling himself the fastest man alive at the start of every episode. He’s not! Every season he meets someone that can literally run rings around him.

The 90’s Flash made mistakes too. He was captured twice by his insane archenemy The Trickster, but he never felt stupid to me. There’s a difference between making honest mistakes, being caught off guard, being tricked by the villain (whose whole thing is tricking people) and actually giving a psychopath godlike powers because?

We also did get to see a more vulnerable and human side to the 90’s Flash as well, such as in his relationship with Doctor McGee. Its quite sweet when we see how he doesn’t want her to leave because he would miss her too much, and later when he is given the chance to leave Central City he stays because of her. The 90’s Flash wasn’t just some boring Mr Perfect who succeeded at everything. He was a very human character, capable of making big mistakes just like anyone else, but the point was unlike the modern Flash he never felt genuinely weak or incompetent.

Overall I felt the original 90’s Flash was a much stronger heroic figure all around and though he made mistakes he never outright frustrated me with his stupidity like the 21st century version.

Music

Image result for shirley walker

The score to the 90’s theme is probably the best there has ever been for any superhero television series.

Its main theme was supplied by Danny Elfman, whilst the incidental music of the series was supplied by the late Shirley Walker.

Both of them have supplied iconic music to various other superhero films and television series such as Tim Burton’s Batman whilst Shirley Walker supplied the music for Batman the animated series.

The Flash’s theme is somewhat reminiscent of the Burton Batman’s to be fair, but its still a brilliant piece of music nonetheless.

The music for the 2010’s series whilst not bad is generally speaking quite generic and bland, certainly in comparison to the 90’s version.

Fanmade opening for the new series using the 90’s shows theme. A part of me wishes they had just reused the old theme for this series, though I can understand why they didn’t as it is still very 90’s.

More Straight Forward Stories

Now this is not say the writing of the 2010’s series is bad. In some ways its better the way its more ambitious. However I think the fact that the 90’s series was a bit more grounded at times meant its writing was less muddled.

A lot of the time travel and alternate universe stories can sometimes be too overly complicated for the sake of it in the new series. Also I find that whenever a character is killed off in the new Flash because it does deal with time travel and alternate universes its hard to feel as though they won’t be back. Take a look at Henry Allen for instance. He is killed off and its a very dramatic moment, but then he’s back an episode later via Jay Garrick.

Sometimes less is more and whilst the 90’s Flash may not have had as wild stories as say an army of Gorilla’s attacking Central City, at the same time its stories were less tangled up, it didn’t feel like nothing really mattered, as anything could be reset and any character could come back via a doppelganger.

I also feel that the writing of the 2010 series can get a bit repetitive at times. For instance the series 1 and series 2 story arcs both revolve around a speedster villain who wants to steal the Flash’s speed, kills one of his parents, and poses as a friend of the team for months on end (with Caitlin being the one who gets closest to him in both cases)

Ways in which the 2010’s series is better

Better Villains

Any rogues gallery that manages to bring together the leading men from Prison Break, Spartacus, and Star Wars as supervillains has got to be brilliant.

There’s really no contest between the two shows rogues galleries.

The 90’s Flash was limited by its budget and therefore couldn’t bring in characters like Gorilla Grodd. It did have a few of the Flash’s enemies such as Captain Cold and most notably the Trickster played by Mark Hamill, but still overall most of the Flash’s enemies were villains of the week or simple crooks.

Mark Hamill’s version of the Trickster is an excellent villain, easily one of the greatest comic book supervillains on either the big or the small screen. In the comics the Trickster was more of a lovable rogue who made sure his schemes never truly hurt anyone and actually liked the Flash as a person.

In the 90’s series however he was re-imagined as being a sadistic, Joker style psychopathic mass murderer. At the same time however whilst the Hamill Trickster may have owed a lot to the Joker, his love interest Prank may have inspired Harley Quinn, the Joker’s sidekick.

Prank like Harley Quinn is a bubbly, blonde, psychopath who is completely devoted to the Trickster, despite his constant physical and verbal abuse of her.

Mark Hamill doing what he does best. Torturing superheroes and charming sexy, blonde, psycho babes.

Still despite this the 2010’s series has much better villains overall.

To start with Mark Hamill returned as the Trickster for the 2010’s series, so the best villain from the 90’s show is in this one too. The Trickster was not presented as the Flash’s archenemy in the modern Flash like he was in the 90’s series, but he was every bit as insane and twisted and evil as the 90’s version.

He has also so far been in more episodes too. Sadly however no mention has been made of Prank in the 21st century Flash, but hopefully she will be in a later episode.

The Flash’s actual archenemy in the series meanwhile Eobard Thawne is a brilliant character. Both of the actors who have brought him to life, Tom Cavannagh and Matt Letscher have managed to create a villain along with the writers who is at times, charming, likable, even seemingly a good person (such as when he helps to save Firestorm.) Yet at other points is a cold, pitiless, arrogant, vicious, petty character.

Eobard’s story arc is truly fascinating from start to finish. Its obvious from the beginning that he is up to something dodgy, but there is still a possibility until we find out he is the man in yellow that he could be working towards a greater good. I remember the first time I watched the series really hoping that he would turn out to be a good guy because I liked him so much I didn’t want him to leave the series.

Of course when he was revealed as the villain I wasn’t angry as he was such an effective nemesis for the Flash. He was so powerful it took the combined might of the Arrow, Firestorm and the Flash (and to some extent the Atom who created a new weapon for the Arrow to use) to bring him down.

Despite this however incredibly enough what actually made him so scary was how manipulative he was. As Barry himself later says, he isn’t just one step ahead of our heroes, he’s a thousand! This is a man who is able to change all of time itself for his own ends. Even when held prisoner and Barry knows that he had killed his mother, Cisco knows that Thawne had murdered him in an alternate timeline, and Caitlin knows that he sacrificed her fiance for his own ends. Thawne still managed to manipulate all 3 of them into doing everything he wanted and almost let him go home!

That’s a truly magnificent bastard. There was also at the same time a certain tragic element to Thawne. Thawne was a scientific genius, someone who was able to replicate the scientific experiment that created the Flash, and master time travel! He had hoped to use his great gifts to help mankind and be remembered as a hero, but when he found out after travelling in time that he was destined to become an evil villain. Ironically it drove him mad.

A part of me wonders if Thawne wanted to erase the Flash from existence more because he felt that by doing so he could be something great, rather than simply because he hated the Flash. It was after all knowledge of being the Flash’s archenemy in the future that pushed him down a dark path. Thus with no Flash maybe he could actually be a hero.

His relationship with Barry is also complicated. In the future the two are archenemies, but when Thawne meets Barry as a young man and mentors him, he does genuinely come to care about him. He later even tells Barry much to his disgust that he loves him like a son.

Whilst Thawne offers Barry a chance to change time and save his mother for his own ends, at the same time I also feel that a part of Thawne wanted to genuinely undo the pain he had inflicted on Barry.

Zoom, Barry’s other archenemy was a more straight forward villain. He didn’t have the complex personality of Thawne. He was really just a psychopath. Still at the same time he was far more terrifying than Thawne.

With Thawne as pitiless as he was, everything he did had a purpose. Even the murder of Noira was to not only punish the Flash, but also to try and erase the hero too by traumatising him at a young age. Zoom however kills and tortures people because he enjoys it!

Zoom’s costume alone was more intimidating and his voice, which was supplied by legendary villain actor Tony Todd made him sound like a Demon.

Teddy Sears who plays the character in his civilian identity, Hunter Solomon was also brilliant. When Solomon disguised himself as Jay Garrick he genuinely was the last person you would have ever thought was evil. Unlike Harrison Wells the previous year who it was obvious was at least equivocal and ruthless from the start. Sears version of Jay couldn’t seem like a more honest, decent, likable guy which just make it all the more horrifying when his true identity is discovered. Sears was later every bit as convincing at making Solomon seem like a cold, vicious sociopath.

This series version of Captain Cold meanwhile played by Wentworth Miller is far superior to the 90’s version. The 90’s version was in all fairness more genuinely sinister, but Miller’s Cold is a far more engaging character.

Miller really makes the role his own as much as Cavannagh did with Thawne or Hamill did with the Trickster.

He brings a real arrogance to Captain Cold or Leonard Snart that just makes you want to watch the Flash take him down a peg or two. At the same time however both Miller and the writers never go to far and are able to add a lot of redeeming qualities to Captain Cold too.

He does genuinely love his sister, and has risked his own life to save her time and time again. He also has his limits in how far he is willing to go. Even flat out refusing to work with a psychopathic mass murderer like the Trickster. Also though he has stabbed Barry Allen in the back at certain points; he has also genuinely helped him out a few times too such as when he warned him of the Trickster and the Weather Wizard’s plan, and he even kept Barry’s secret identity to the end too. Hell he did a better job of keeping his secret identity than Felicity who blabbed it to Merlyn!

Leonard’s a character that you can go from thinking “he’s not so bad” to hating in the blink of an eye, such as when he tells Cisco how much he respects him before torturing his brother right in front of him!

His complex personality also allowed the writers to develop a more interesting relationship between Snart and Barry that wasn’t just the usual villain/hero dynamic. Above all else Snart never truly hated Barry and whilst they never truly become friends, its obvious that Snart does consider Barry the closest thing he could have to a friend on the right side of the law. He even hesitates to shoot Barry when his father threatens his sisters life.

Snarts Rogues, Rory (Heatwave) and his sister Lisa meanwhile were also great villains. Rory had a more simple characterisation. A thick headed arsonist who just loves to fight, but Dominic Purcell (Miller’s co-star from Prison Break) brought a lot of humour to the character that not only made him more enjoyable to watch, but also more endearing at times too.

Lisa meanwhile much like her brother has a more complex personality and walks a fine line. I particularly liked her relationship with Cisco. At first she ruthlessly uses Cisco for her own ends and betrays him, but as time goes on she does actually develop feelings for him. I think she had better chemistry with Cisco than any of his other love interests and I hope they return to their relationship at a later point.

Even many of the lesser villains of the series such as Peek A Boo, General Eiling and Weather Wizard I feel are more interesting than many of the villains of the week in the 90’s show. Peek A Boo is a genuinely tragic character who is stabbed in the back by the person she loves more than anything else, whilst the Weather Wizard is given a strong personal link to the Flash’s love interest Patty Spivot, having murdered her father, which leads to a brilliant showdown between the two.

Eiling meanwhile is an utterly ruthless villain, not above using cold blooded torture to get what he wants, yet at the same time he does believe his evil is for a greater good. So much so he doesn’t expose the identity of the Flash or even make any real attempts on his life as he actually thinks they are on the same side. The fact that Eiling is played by another legendary villain actor, Clancy Brown, also doesn’t hurt in making him a brilliant villain either.

Any show that has Mark Hamill, Tony Todd, and Clancy Brown as the villains has got to be worth a look. All 3 actors are in their elements too. Todd plays a villain who might as well be a horror movie character. An almost Demonic killer that slaughters people without remorse like the Candyman. Hamill meanwhile plays a cackling, devilishly clever, yet funny in a twisted way psycho looney. And finally Brown’s character is almost a combination of Lex Luthor (corrupt, ruthless, amoral mastermind who often manipulates metahumans for his own ends) and Byron Hadley (thuggish, sadistic figure of authority).

Finally due to its bigger budget this show was also able to incorporate some of the larger than life villains from the comics, such as Grodd and King Shark.

The series hasn’t held back in any respect to Grodd’s character. Not only is he a talking Gorilla, but he also desires world domination, and even takes over Gorilla City too.

Overall I’d say the modern Flash series has the 4th best rogues gallery of any Superhero tv show, live action or animated.

The top three would probably be Batman TAS, the Adam West series and Spider-Man TAS, but the Flash 2010’s is definitely the next after them.

Supporting Characters

The 90’s show had a relatively small cast. Just Barry himself, Doctor McGee played by Amanda Hays and Alex Desert as Julio Mendez.

Doctor McGee was a brilliant foil for Barry and Amanda Hays who played her was not only great, but also had a fantastic chemistry with John Wesley Shipp too. Its a shame we never got to see their relationship properly develop. Throughout the series they only ever remain good friends, but there are obviously strong hints that they have romantic feelings for one another too.

Sadly however whilst McGee was a good character, Julio was a bit dull. I didn’t hate him, but he was just a kind of straight forward jokey, ladies man who brought nothing to the show but comic relief.

The only other major supporting character that I really cared about was private detective Megan Lockheart played by Joyce Hyser. Megan was the only other person who figured out the Flash’s secret identity. She was a strong, capable woman, and also a brief love interest of the Flash too.

I enjoyed her character very much. Particularly in the episodes with the Trickster (who fell hopelessly in love with her much to her horror.)  Had the show gone to a second season I would have loved to have seen her become a regular. Sadly however she wasn’t in the show that much to make a major impression.

The 2010’s series meanwhile has I feel one of the strongest casts of any tv show. There’s really not a single character I dislike, which is quite rare for a show with such a large cast.

I’d say my favourite character is Harrison Wells, though I vastly prefer his season 2 incarnation to the season 3 one. Still Tom Cavannagh was excellent as the character, and has demonstrated an extremely wide range across the different incarnations of Wells. He’s been everything from an insufferable genius, to a scheming nemesis, to a sarcastic, dry, cynical outsider to the group, to a tormented, conflicted, loving father, to the useless, jokey member of the gang.

Cisco meanwhile is at times a much lighter character. He can help to alleviate some of the darker moments of the show, such as when he gets into an argument over who would win in a fight, The Flash or Arrow, whilst the two are fighting to the death!

However unlike Julio, I feel that he isn’t just the comic relief. He has more of a direct role in the stories. He actually helps Barry out by supplying him with weapons and tech when his speed doesn’t always work.

Caitlin similarly is a useful member of the team, and she has her own story arcs,  such as the tragic death of her fiance (who she loses three times) and then her second love interest, “Jay Garrick” turns out to be a serial killer. Caitlin really brings a tragic element to the series, outside of Barry himself. Also the knowledge that she one day may become Killer Frost helps to keep the viewers on edge, as at first glance Caitlin is so sweet and caring it seems impossible that she could ever hurt anyone. However with all of the tragedies and betrayals she has endured, you start to wonder if one day she might just get pushed over the edge.

Iris meanwhile though more of a standard love interest is still an all around likable character. I also love her chemistry and relationship with Barry too. What’s great though is that it hasn’t taken over the show the way that other superhero romances do. Indeed Barry has even had other love interests such as Patty in the meantime. Thus it hasn’t been as intrusive, but it still has formed the basis for many stories.

Even Barry and Iris’s decoy love interests Patty and Eddie have been very likable too. Normally the decoy love interests is a character nobody can stand as they are meant to just get in the way of the couple we want to get together.

Here however it kind of backfired for me at least as Eddie and Patty were so likable I wouldn’t have minded them being in the show for good.

Eddie was a pretty cool guy all around. He was an extremely loyal friend to Barry, helping him out whenever he could, protecting his secret even when it threatened to end his relationship with Iris (who he genuinely loved) and he later sacrificed his life to save Barry and everyone else in the end too.

Patty meanwhile I felt brought a similar dynamic that Megan Lockheart did to the original show. She was a bit harder, more gun ho than the other women in Barry’s life and even perhaps a bit more ruthless than Barry himself. Its a shame we didn’t get a chance to see their relationship pan out more.

I must admit I am unsure who I actually want Barry to end up with. His chemistry with Caitlin and Iris and Patty is so perfect I would be happy to see any of those three relationships play out, which again is quite rare. Normally I like everyone else have one character I want the hero to end up with, but in Iris, Patty and Caitlin’s case I’d be just as happy if Barry ended up with any of them.

Don’t you just love the Tricksters “Aww that was beautiful”

Finally Joe also is a great character too. He has an important role in the series as the insider on the law who helps to cover up some of team Flash’s more dodgy and illegal dealings. He’s the more normal character in a team filled with metahumans, genius scientists, and people from alternate universes which can help to ground the show in reality more.

All of the characters in the series have an important reason to be in the show, and they all play off of the main character and each other brilliantly. I think the cast always help to elevate even the poorest episodes, and keep my interest in the show.

Whilst Tina McGee was a good character, she ultimately can’t compete with the 2010’s cast. Also she is a supporting character played by the same actress in the 2010’s show anyway.

Crossovers with other superhero television series

Now obviously this isn’t that fair a comparison as the 90’s show didn’t have any other superhero series to cross over with.

The 2010’s Flash however is part of the Arrowverse, a shared continuity of series based on DC comics characters.

Still it is one thing that I love about the 2010’s series that ultimately was not present in the original 90’s show.

I love the relationship between Oliver Queen (the Arrow) and Barry Allen. Its a classic Batman/Superman dynamic. In fact I think it captures the relationship between the two heroes better than the actual Batman vs Superman film did.

Batman and Superman have always been a great two heroes to put together as you have one who is an ordinary man, who fights evil and corrupt human beings, who lives in a miserable, gritty, crime ridden city, and who has to rely on gadgets to take down his enemies. The other is a superhuman, who lives in a brighter, happier, more advanced city that actually, supervillains aside; looks like a nice place to live. His enemies also naturally tend to be superhumans too, and he deals with more outlandish problems like alien invasions, trips to alternate universes etc.

Now you might think, well why bother trying to replicate the Batman/Superman relationship for Barry and Oliver since they are two different characters? Ultimately however I don’t really see any other type of dynamic they could have had?

Oliver has always been inspired closely by Batman. Both vigilante’s with no powers who are motivated to fight crime by tragic events in their pasts. The Flash meanwhile would obviously fill the role of Superman in this universe as he is the super powered hero who is beloved by the people of the city he works in and faces larger than life enemies, like talking, telepathic Gorilla’s, time travellers, evil superhumans from alternate universes, giant Sharks etc.

So really there was no other way the two heroes could have worked together, and the show takes advantage of what always made those Batman/Superman team ups so fascinating to watch.

On the one hand Oliver is more experienced. His lack of super powers also mean that he never gets caught off guard because he can’t afford to. Added to that the fact that Oliver is more ruthless also means that ironically his enemies are more genuinely scared of him than they are of Barry who they know would never cross the line unless he absolutely had to.

At the same time however, Barry’s super powers obviously make him more useful in certain situations than Oliver. If a building was about to collapse, Oliver would be completely and utterly useless.

Thus its interesting watching these two men interact. On the one hand, Oliver can view the Flash as a rookie and a bit reckless, whilst the Flash at the same time can view Oliver as being out of his league in his city. What’s great is that there is a bit of truth in both instances.

All kinds of tensions can arise when the two work together. Is Barry able to cope with Oliver’s more extreme methods? Does Oliver perhaps feel a bit uncomfortable, being vulnerable for the first time against the metahumans that Barry deals with every day?

Its a fascinating combo and the writers take advantage of the heroes differences on both Arrow and the Flash, but above all else they create a genuine and enduring friendship between Oliver and Barry. At the end of the day they are two men who are devoted to protecting their cities and that unites them in spite of their differences.

There are a lot of little moments between the two that are rather touching, such as Oliver telling a brainwashed and out of control Barry that he still believes in him, or even just Oliver telling Barry that he will always be there for him.

The show gets the balance right of developing a deep friendship between the two heroes, but having there be conflict when necessary. And we also get a cool Flash/Arrow fight in the first season which incredibly enough doesn’t undermine either of them. As Cisco says “its a draw”.

Aside from Arrow there have also been crossovers with Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. None of these characters have developed quite the rapport with Barry that Oliver has, but still its always enjoyable to watch heroes team up, and in Supergirls case what’s interesting is that she actually comes from another universe to Barry.

Ultimately the 90’s show due to the time it was made, was sadly unable to have its Flash work with other heroes.

Its closer to the comics

Image result for Wally West

Overall I feel that the 2010’s show tries to be as close to the source material as much as it possibly can.

It hasn’t really tried to hold anything back from the comic books, from time travel, to alternate universes, to Ape cities.

Its also managed to include all 3 incarnations of the Flash, Jay Garrick, Barry Allen and Wally West.

Obviously Barry is the main protagonist, and like the previous series it would have been easy for them just to make Barry the only Flash that appeared. To be fair the original series did name Barry’s brother Jay, but again that isn’t really the same thing.

This series however not only included Garrick but actually had him be from another universe just like his comic book counterpart too. Wally West meanwhile joins much later than Barry Allen and will most likely in the Arrowverse take over in 10 years time.

In the first series it is established that there is a crisis involving red skies in the year 2024 which will see the Flash vanish.

This is a reference to the massive crossover event, “Crisis on Infinite Earth’s” where the evil Anti Monitor tried and very nearly succeeded in destroying every universe. The red skies were the first sign of the Anti Monitor coming. Barry Allen meanwhile was killed off during this adventure which led to Wally West taking over as the new Flash.

Now obviously at some point in the Arrowverse’s future there will be a similar battle. Fortunately Barry won’t die in the battle. Instead he will simply be thrown backwards in time along with Thawne, but still in his absence which could be several years for all we know, then Wally most likely will emerge as the Flash in his place. Eventually however Barry will return and become the Flash, which again happened in the comics too.

Wally already has super speed powers and has gone under the name of Kid Flash (just as he did in the comics). However by 2024 he will be old enough to take on the mantle of the adult Flash.

Thus it all flows together quite nicely like in the comic books. Again most other adaptations will often just feature one of the three Flash’s and ignore the other two. The 90’s series just had Barry Allen, whilst the DCAU series had only Wally West. This series meanwhile has had all 3 in just 2 years.

Its not always easy to incorporate the storylines from the comics for various reasons. Obviously for budgetary reasons its hard to do stories about things like Gorilla City, but it can also be difficult to do stories with a large cast of iconic characters as chances are unless its a big massive film franchise then they won’t have the rights to all of the characters involved.

The Flash series ran into this problem when trying to adapt the stories around Earth 3. In the comics Earth 3 was a backwards universe where the Justice League where evil villains, the Crime Syndicate, and villains such as Lex Luthor and the Joker were heroes, Alexander Luthor JR and the Jester respectively.

Now in this series obviously the makers couldn’t gain access to characters like Lex Luthor or the Joker, but they managed to get round that little problem quite well.

In season 1 the main villain, Eobard Thawne disguised himself as Harrison Wells ( a scientist he killed) whilst in season 2 we are introduced to Well’s heroic counterpart from Earth 2 who ends up becoming a close ally and friend of the Flash.

Now its not quite the same as technically the Harrison Wells the Flash knew in season 1, wasn’t the real Wells, it was just Eobard in disguise. Still ultimately we do have Tom Cavannagh play the evil arch villain in season 1, and then play a character who is virtually identical, but is now one of the main heroes of season 2. Thus Harrison Wells is quite a nice stand in for Alexander Luthor JR in the show. Also though he does not make an appearance we find out that Leonard Snart is a good guy on Earth 2 as he is the Mayor of Central City.

At the same time on Earth 2 in the Flash virtually all of the heroic characters on the show apart from Barry, Iris and Joe are all villains. Caitlin is Killer Frost, Cisco is the evil villain Reverb (his brother is also a villain on Earth 2), Firestorm is evil too, whilst Black Canary is Black Siren, a sadistic psychopath that loves using her powers to bring down buildings full of innocent people!

Finally Zoom, though not a counterpart to Barry himself is still that universe’s version of the Flash and is an utter monster that all of Central City lives in fear of. Thus whilst they can’t use Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor they are still able to capture the essence of these stories by showing our heroes as villains, and villains as heroes.

Zoom’s masterplan to destroy every universe by detonating a weapon on the original Earth which is at the centre of every Universe is similar to Owlman, an evil counterpart of Batman’s plan to destroy every universe by detonating a weapon on Earth Prime the original Earth from the animated movie Crisis on Two Earth’s.

There are two things that the Flash and Batman have in common. One, they both have fought an evil cackling version of Mark Hamill for over 20 years. Two, they both saved every single universe from an evil version of themselves from another universe.

There are many homages not only to comic books, but to other adaptations of the Flash and DC comics superheroes in general.

For instance there are many homages to the 90’s Flash series. Mark Hamill and Amanda Hays both reprise their roles as the Trickster and Doctor McGee, whilst John Wesley Shipp plays both Henry Allen, father of Barry Allen and the real Jay Garrick.

Both the 90’s show and the 2010’s show are actually linked in universe too. In the second season it is shown that the 90’s Flash takes place in an alternate universe to the 2010’s version.

Thus Henry Allen in the 2010’s series is an alternate universe version of the 90’s Flash.

It goes like this.

Earth 90: (universe where the 90’s series takes place) 

Henry Allen SR names his sons Barry Allen and Jay Allen. Both go into the police force and Barry in the early 90’s is later struck by lightening and becomes the Flash. In the early 90’s he works with Tina McGee and fights his archenemy the Trickster, stopping him in the middle of a massive rampage.

Earth 1 (universe where the 2010’s series takes place) 

Henry Allen SR names his son Henry Allen JR instead of Barry. Henry later drops the JR bit. Henry JR for some reason does not go into the police force and becomes a doctor. Thus he never becomes the Flash in the 90’s, and nobody is around to stop the Tricksters 90’s rampage which claims more lives before the Trickster is imprisoned. The Trickster has a son Axel (presumably with Prank) that he may not have had in the 90’s universe.

Henry JR later marries a woman named Noira. They have a son that Henry calls Barry.He calls him Barry as he knows that was one of the names he was going to be called (which he was in Earth 90). Henry’s son Barry later is mutated in a totally different accident in the year 2014 and becomes the Flash of this universe.

A different Barry Allen, the son of the Earth 90’s counterpart (whose called Henry) is the Flash of Earth 1.

Earth 3 (In the original comic books, Jay Garrick’s earth was earth 2 and earth 3 was the universe of the evil Flash. However as we were introduced to the universe of the evil Flash first in this series, it was christened Earth 2 and Earth 3 became Jay’s earth instead.)

In this universe Henry SR and his wife split up before his only son was born. Thus not only does he take her maiden name, but she names him Jay. Jay Allen from Earth 90 was never born in this universe, but obviously his mother liked that name. Thus Henry Allen JR is called Jay Garrick instead.

Jay in the 90’s is later through an accident mutated into becoming the Flash of that universe who would go on to battle various super villains including his archenemy, that universe’s version of the Trickster. Presumably like his counterpart, Barry Allen on Earth 90, he went into the police force and was struck by lightening.  Jay is later captured by Zoom from Earth 2 who steals his identity before he is rescued by Barry from Earth 1 (ironically just after Zoom murdered Henry Allen of Earth 1)

Thus the 2010’s show not only paid tribute to the 90’s show it linked them together in a brilliant way with the 2010’s version really being a what if version of the original 90’s show.

Once again its not an entirely fair comparison as the 90’s show didn’t have the budget or the run to really adapt as many stories from the comics, but still ultimately I do think the 90’s show captures the spirit of the comic books more and I love the homages to previous versions of the Flash and the comic books filtered throughout the 2010’s show.

Conclusion

As you can see I obviously prefer the 2010’s show. It was close, and there were things the 90’s show did better (such as the main hero himself!) Still I think that the 2010’s show is better because it has a stronger supporting cast and rogues gallery, and the fact that it is part of a shared universe, the Arrowverse, as well its more advanced special effects mean that it is able to incorporate more of the comics mythology.

Still both shows are classics and are definitely worth checking out. Its also worth mentioning that without the 90’s show the modern one wouldn’t exist either.

Thanks for reading.

Film review: The Lego Batman Movie

Richard's Blog

lego-batman

“Does Batman live in Bruce Wayne’s basement?”
“No, Bruce Wayne lives in Batman’s attic.”

I have to admit, I thought the original Lego Movie was only okay. I really liked how it brought together so many different characters and how it utilised its Lego foundations, but I didn’t take to the main characters all that much. However, I’ve been really looking forward to The Lego Batman Movie for a while, both for the really great comedy which was on display in the trailers, and – as with the first movie – the mass of characters it was going to use. Plus I love Batman, and a new story built around this more satiric version of him, and the Gotham City he inhabits, looked like it would be worth watching. As it turned out, I wasn’t disappointed.

This particular incarnation of Batman (Will Arnett) revels in how awesome he is, and…

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Why Women in Refrigerators is Nonsense

Image result for women in refrigerators

Women in Refrigerators is a term coined by comic book writer Gail Simone to describe a supposed tendency in comic books for female characters to be killed, tortured or maimed in order to further a male characters story.

The term comes from a notorious issue of Green Lantern where the characters love interest is literally stuffed into a fridge by his archenemy.

Whilst originally meant to simply highlight the trend of female characters being expendable in comic books, women in refrigerators has since become used to refer to other similar examples in film, television and even video games.

Anita Sarkeesian has accused many video games of being guilty of the women in refrigerators trope, whilst Whovian Feminism accused the death of supporting character Osgood in Doctor Who as being yet another example of a female character being “fridged”

Osgood the fangirl

I used to think the women in refrigerators trope was reasonable. I even agreed with Whovian Feminism that Osgood had been fridged, but in recent months I have come to see it as another example of people looking at things one way with male characters and another more negative way for female characters.

In this article I am going to debunk this old trope. I don’t think it is entirely without merit, but by and large I think this criticism is hollow and a double standard that needs to die.

Why Its Bogus

The Women in Refrigerators trope has often been accused of promoting harmful and even violent attitudes towards women in young male readers

Personally I do not agree that any forms of entertainment can influence someone to be a killer. Whilst I can’t say that for sure, its worth noting that there is absolutely no evidence for people like Sarkeesian’s claims that video games (and for that matter other forms of entertainment) influence people towards violence or even racist or sexist thoughts.

Studies Find No Link Between Video Game and Real World Violence

So personally I don’t think violent comic books are in any danger of producing a generation of woman hating psychopaths!

On top of that I also feel that women in refrigerators is a double standard.

When you look at female dominated series such as Xena, Charmed and Nikita you can see many examples of male characters being killed, tortured and maimed in order to further the main female characters story.

In Xena 9 supporting male characters are killed off in 6 seasons. Compare that to Spider-Man that has killed off two female characters in 50 plus years. Male characters that are killed off in Xena to further her and Gabrielle’s stories are, her brother whose murder helped to drive Xena down a dark path. Her father whose murder also put a strain on her relationship with her mother. Her one true love Marcus (who dies twice), her first husband who sacrifices himself, her lover from her dark days Borias, Joxer her bumbling sidekick, her son Solon, her son Solon’s adopted Centaur father and Gabrielle’s husband, Perdicus.

In Once Upon A Time the three main female characters all have male loved ones who were killed off to further their story. Regina the evil queen who was driven down a dark path when her one true love was killed off. He is in a later episode brought back to life as a Frankenstein’s monster, only to be killed off again!

Snow White’s father meanwhile was murdered by the Evil Queen which marked the beginning of their feud. Similarly Emma, the main female protagonists love interest Bae is killed off in the shows third season too.

In Nikita a supporting male character Birkhof is brutally tortured by her nemesis Amanda, who also cripples him by smashing his thumbs. Her love interest Michael meanwhile also loses his hand too.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander Harris gets his eye gouged out by the deranged priest Caleb too, which is comparable to Barbara Gordon as Batgirl as both characters were crippled, disfigured.

In Charmed meanwhile Pru’s love interest throughout the first season Andy is killed off in the season 1 finale, whilst Phoebe’s love interest in season 3 Cole is similarly later killed off in season 5.

There are many more examples from other female dominated series, yet no one ever comments on these works being anti men. Not that they should of course. There is noting anti men about killing off a fictional male character for the purpose of advancing a story, but still you can see what I mean about how this is a double standard as apparently killing off fictional female characters for the purposes of advancing a story is misogynistic.

When you look at the following two famous examples of a supporting male character being killed off in a female dominated series, Xena the Warrior Princess, and a supporting female character being killed off in a male dominated comic, Batman. You can see more clearly how there is a real double standard in common “Women in Refrigerators” complaints.

These two adventures follow the same basic story, yet one is routinely derided as a piece of sexist trash, whilst the other is not controversial at all.

In the Xena episode, Return of Callisto, Xena’s archenemy slaughters Gabrielle, Xena’s best friend’s husband right in front of her. Callisto hopes that this will drive Gabrielle insane just as Callisto was by the death of her family at Xena’s hands. Callisto’s family were burned to death in front of her when as a child Xena’s army attacked her village and accidentally caused a fire that burned the village to the ground.

Though Gabrielle comes close to murdering Callisto in her sleep, ultimately she can’t go through with it, showing Callisto that perhaps its not all Xena’s fault that she became a monster. Gabrielle endured a similar loss yet remained the same decent person she always was.

In the classic Batman comic, The Killing Joke; the Joker wants to prove that one bad day is all it takes to drive the sanest man alive to lunacy. We discover through flashbacks that the Joker was originally a failed comedian, who planned to help two criminals rob a chemical plant he worked at in order to provide for his pregnant wife, Jeannie.

Sadly however not only was Jeannie killed in a freak accident before the robbery, but when robbing the plant, the un named comedian was accidentally knocked by Batman into a vat of chemicals that bleached his skin white, finally pushing him over the edge and driving him insane.

In the present the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon through the stomach in front of her father Commissioner Gordon and strips her, takes pictures of her naked body, and later shows them to a captive Gordon whilst torturing him to drive him mad.

Gordon however remains sane, ultimately proving to the Joker that normal people don’t become monsters because of one bad day. Perhaps the darkness was always there lurking inside him somewhere waiting to come out.

Now whilst I would personally regard both stories as classics and both are very highly regarded by most fans of their respective franchises, The Killing Joke has also been highly criticised for being sexist because of how it treats Batgirl.

Question is why? How is it any different to the Return of Callisto? In fact ironically it seems very likely that it inspired the Return of Callisto as obviously the makers of Xena were big comic book fans.

Both stories revolve around a psychotic, giggling arch villain that was driven insane because of one bad day, that involved the death’s of their family. Both villains were also in a way created by the hero too. In both stories the psychotic villain wants to prove that anyone could be a monster like them and so they attack someone close to one of the main characters to make them snap. In both cases however the person, Gabrielle and Gordon don’t crack and the Joker and Callisto are forced to come to the conclusion that they are more responsible for their actions than they thought.

Yet apparently when the cackling villain, supporting character who loses a loved one, and main hero roles, are all occupied by men, and the victim role is occupied by a woman then its sexist, but not the other way around?

These articles even argue that The Killing Joke should not have been adapted as an animated movie as its inherently sexist, (the author of one of the articles, a lifelong Batman fan claims he even refused to buy any DC Comics in protest over the animated Killing Joke being made)

Its Time To Kill The Killing Joke

Batmans Killing Joke Story Is Not A Comeback I Want To See

In the second article the author claims that the only critics of his opinions about The Killing Joke were men. Well for the record the person who helped me run the “Petition to Get Mark Hamill To Play The Joker In An Animated Killing Joke” was a woman!

In addition to this a recent cover that featured the Joker terrorising Batgirl (that was meant to celebrate the Jokers 75th anniversary and was therefore an homage to the Killing Joker) was even pulled because of feminist complaints

DC Comics Pulls Batgirl Cover Over Sexist Complaints

Now if the team behind the Xena remake decide to do their own version of The Return of Callisto (which they should as that is an amazing storyline), will they have to put up with constant complaints that this story encourages violence towards men?  Will they have to deal with people boycotting all Xena related products for promoting a supposed dated, misandristic story? Will they even have to pull certain aspects of the story, so as not to offend any whiny MRA’s?

No of course not. It would be utterly ridiculous if they did, so why then does The Killing Joke get such treatment?

Its a double standard plain and simple. Why should the writers of male led series not be allowed to use a particular trope, but the writers of female led series are because of the main gender of the hero?

I freely admit I have been guilty of this attitude in the past when I criticised Steven Moffat for using a supposedly “sexist trope” in killing off Osgood, but praised the makers of Xena for creating a powerful drama in killing off Perdicus. It never occurred to me that it was a double standard but it was.

Its an old trope that in order to sell a villain as a threat, or to raise the stakes you have the villain kill someone close to the main hero. Gender doesn’t really enter into it at all. In something starring a straight male hero, chances are the most important person to them will be a woman. Their wife, their daughter etc. In something starring a straight female hero meanwhile chances are the most important person in their life will be a man, their husband, boyfriend.

Of course that’s not always the case. In many male led franchises there have been just as many supporting male characters killed of as women, in some cases more.

In Angel, Spider-Man and Supernatural there have been just as many major male supporting characters killed off. Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben and the father of his first love Gwen Stacey both famously met tragic ends. You could also count Harry Osborne in the films. I wouldn’t count him in the comics as he was a villain in them, but in the films he redeems himself and still dies.

In Angel meanwhile two main female and two main male cast members are killed off over the course of its 5 year run, Fred and Cordelia, and Doyle and Wesley. In Supernatural meanwhile there has been an equally large amount of male and female supporting characters killed off over the course of its run too.

In Firefly, a male led franchise  more male supporting characters are killed off, Derrial Book and Wash. In the original Star Trek if you include the films, the only two recurring or main characters to be killed, were two men Spock (who got better to be fair) and David, Kirk’s son. In Smallville meanwhile 4 main male cast members were killed off over the course of its 10 year run, whilst only one female main cast member died.

In Buffy on the other hand, a female led series, ironically more female supporting characters were killed off than male. Jenny, Giles love interest, Tara, Willow’s one true love and Anya, Xanders former fiance.

But that’s the point gender doesn’t matter. The trope exists as seen with Willow and Tara, Gabrielle and Perdicus, and Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey regardless of gender or sexuality. Now whether you think its lazy story telling, or a waste of good characters like Osgood, Tara and Batgirl is another matter. Personally at the time before she was brought back I did feel that Osgood’s death was a waste of a good character, but again that doesn’t mean it was sexist in the slightest.

Many feminist critics have argued however that we see more female supporting characters killed off than male overall and thus its not specific examples that need to be scrutinised but rather the trend as a whole.

This is a more fair point, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree that there are more male heroes. Though I think by and large including all one off’s, villains and supporting characters, more men are actually killed than women in all forms of entertainment, though more on that later.

Still yes at one point it was true, particularly in comic books that main female characters would be more likely to be the love interest or sidekick and thus more likely to be “fridged” and that was bad.

Times move on however. In the last 20 years alone we have had dozens of female heroes emerge in various forms of media, film, television, video games, comic books to massive acclaim.

Arguably the most successful original characters in the fantasy genre of the past 20 or so years have all been women.

Buffy, without doubt one of the greatest ever icons, easily on a par with the Doctor or Captain Kirk. Xena another global icon, so popular they named a planet after her. The Charmed ones were until just last year (when Supernatural surpassed them) the stars of the longest running fantasy series in American history!

Now in all fairness Marvel and DC are still feature predominantly male heroes. The reason for that however is because most of their characters were created in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or 60’s and have stuck around since then. Characters like the Joker, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain American etc are deeply set in popular culture and are naturally going to get more exposure than any new female heroes or male heroes for that matter.

Obviously sometimes a new hero can end up becoming as iconic as the classics, like Wolverine who was created much later than many of the rest of the X-Men, but is now the most popular, or Ra’s Al Ghul a major Batman villain who was created in the 70’s.

However generally speaking most of the main DC and Marvel roster were created decades ago and thus naturally most of them are male.

Overall however I don’t think it can be said that female heroes are a rarity in the sci fi and fantasy genre in the modern age.

As time goes on we will see more and more female heroes. Yes the old established heroes from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s  etc are mostly male, but that doesn’t matter. Keep those heroes, but just move on and create new female ones. I think that nowadays too many feminist critics are focused on attacking male dominated franchises rather than encouraging people to not only create more female dominated ones, but pay attention to the existing female led classics such as Xena and Charmed.

Why bother attacking The Killing Joke for being sexist instead of reviewing and trying to bring attention to The Return of Callisto?

Many feminist critics have argued that more male supporting characters who are killed off, or maimed and tortured are often brought back to normal. A famously cited example is Jason Todd, the second Robin and Barbara Gordon. Jason Todd was beaten to death by the Joker. 10 or so years later however, Jason returned from the grave, whilst Barbara remained in a wheel chair for over 20 years. This is often referred to as Dead Men Defrosting. However I find this to be a bit of a myth too.

What a lot of people fail to mention about Jason is that yes, he did return from the grave but he became a psychopath, and killed people. Okay Barbara remained in a wheelchair, but she was still herself. If anything she became even more of a hero after her accident as Oracle and certainly lived a much happier life than poor old Jason. Its ironic that so many progressives apparently see being a disabled hero as worse than being a psycho killer!

Other famous supporting male characters like Captain Stacey, Uncle Ben and Thomas Wayne, bar the odd time travelling mistake or visit to an alternate universe have stayed dead too.

Also many other examples of Dead Men Defrosting such as Barry Allen are different as those are main characters. Barry isn’t just somebody’s father or love interest. He was the Flash, arguably the most iconic version and so its natural that he would return more than say Gwen Stacey.

Many feminists have argued that female lives are seen as more expendable and that their deaths or even torture scenes are often more explicit and gorier than male ones which again is not true.

If anything I’d argue that male lives are generally seen as more expendable in both male led and female led series

Its male villains that Batman will often be more likely to violently assault than female ones. Who were the three villains he violently killed in the original film series? Joker, Penguin and Two Face all guys. Even just the mooks he kills in the films were all men, and it will almost always be male mobsters that he beats up, tortures for information or even just terrorises in other versions of Batman.

Similarly most of the Vampires and Demons Angel slays will be male, most of the Doctors rogues gallery that he slaughters en mass will at the very least be more masculine (played by men, sound like men, eg Sontarans, Daleks and Cybermen)

Also on top of that men make up by far more, get killed on the planet guys, victims of the week, and red shirts than women do.

In the original Star Trek series there is only one female red shirt in the entire series. The rest are all without exception men! Similarly in the original series of Doctor Who, there was only one female UNIT soldier killed in the entirety of the classic series. It was in the story Battlefield and I might add was given a lot more focus than the majority of male UNIT soldiers deaths are.

The actress who played the soldiers killer, Jean Marsh even said she found the scene distasteful (though necessary to establish how evil her character was) and didn’t enjoy doing it.

No women are killed by the Daleks onscreen (the most evil of all the Doctors enemies) until their 6th story, the Power of the Daleks. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth we briefly see a woman being struck by a Roboman, but other than that all of the Daleks victims are guys. I might add that there are major female characters in every single Dalek story bar Mission to the Unknown before The Power of the Daleks.

After The Power of the Daleks it wouldn’t be for another 13 years until we saw the Daleks kill another woman onscreen and there are major women characters in every Dalek story in between too. The Daleks only kill women in 4 stories in Classic Who. The Cybermen, the Doctors other longest running adversaries only kill 2 women on screen in the entirety of Classic Who. The Sontarans meanwhile kill no women on screen in Classic Who.

In the Spider-Man film series, only two women are killed on screen in the original Sam Raimi trilogy. 18 men meanwhile are killed onscreen throughout the trilogy.

In the original Batman film series, only 4 women are killed on screen (not including scenes where the whole crowd is gassed and hundreds of people are killed at once or the two models the Joker killed offscreen). In contrast 19 men by my count are killed on screen across all 4 films. Almost 5 times as many.

In the X-Men film series meanwhile, far more women are killed on screen than in other film series. However that’s to be expected as not only does it have more female characters, but the darker “everybody” dies tone of the films such as in Days of Future Past (before its reset) means that more women are likely to be killed.

Even then however more men are killed on screen by far. Take a look at this scene alone More men are killed in this one sequence than women are in the entire film series.

Male deaths are not only more common on screen in male led series such as Batman, but also female led ones such as Xena.

Not only are far more male supporting characters killed off in Xena, but far more major villains, and indeed almost all of the mooks she slaughters are male. Similarly in Buffy the majority of the Vampires and Demons she stakes, the majority of the victims of the week and her major enemies, are male. In Charmed almost all of the three sisters enemies are male too, and again so are a good percentage of the victims of the week.

Far more men are killed across all major franchises in all mediums on screen. A female characters death is often treated more seriously and never usually just as a grunt or red shirt.

Finally I don’t think that female characters deaths are any more gruesome than their male counterparts.

Take for instance this scene from Nikita of Berkhoff being tortured by a female villain. I don’t think you can say he gets off easy in this scene because he is a man!

Birkhoff is benefiting from white male privilege it seems. 

Why Does This Myth Persist?

 

I think the women in refrigerators myth continues to perpetuate ironically due to ignorance of female led series.

I’ve noticed that many feminists ironically have 0 interest in female led series such as Charmed, Xena, Nikita, Once Upon A Time, Alien, Earth 2, Dollhouse, Ghost Whisperer, Alien etc.

So many feminists instead seem to focus their attention on male led series such as Batman, Doctor Who, Merlin etc, such as Claudia Boleyn. Claudia Boleyn is a lovely person all around. On twitter and on youtube she is always polite to people she disagrees with, and never tries to censor other people’s opinions. I also do find her videos interesting (even if politically she is on the opposite side to me in some respects. Its nice to hear the other persons perspective).

Yet still I’ve noticed that the majority of the shows she talks about are male led. Now again I am obviously not saying that means she hates female led shows, but I find it odd at the same time that someone who claims that she cares so much about seeing people like her on television, has never even mentioned Xena, a show that stars two bisexual women!

Of course Claudia is not alone. Whovian Feminism is similarly another feminist who focuses all of her efforts on a male led series, obviously as her name would suggest. Ditto Paul Cornell, a feminist who claims he cares passionately about female representation, yet never even mentions the likes of Charmed, Buffy, Xena, Nikita etc.

Instead all of these people are focusing their efforts on trying to prove that male led series are sexist, again seemingly for starring men!

In my opinion if these feminist and progressive fans want to actually help bring about representation to women then they should do the following things.

1/ Create new female characters. I honestly do not believe there are any barriers to that in the modern world. Charmed alone was at that point the longest running fantasy series in American history.

2/ At least try and draw more attention to series like Xena, Charmed, Buffy, Earth 2, Ghost Whisperer and others by reviewing them instead of just finding new ways to attack male led series for doing the same things that female series do, like killing off supporting characters to further the main characters story.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I appreciate that this might be seen as a rather controversial stance to take on this issue, but I stand by my points and I would like to hear other people’s perspectives on this.