In my post yesterday, I wrote my review about the second season of Next in Fashion, a Netflix show. I have more to say about it, apparently. It’s been lurking in the back of my mind, waiting to have its day. The further I get from watching it, the more it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think it’s because they tried so hard to be diverse and to say that everyone is welcomed in the industry when it’s simply not true. It has never been, but I get that it’s nearly impossible to see outside your particular framework.
Or, as is often the case, the people who can see the issues have no power to change or improve the situation. there may be people at the entry level who realize what bullshit it is, but they can’t do anything about it. In addition, there are millions of hungry young people who are eager to be in the industry. They are willing to be exploited and abused. If any one individual isn’t, then they will get pushed out of the industry.
Side note: Another reason I don’t like fashion is because there is s much rigidity in the gender roles. There are men and there are women, and enevr the twain shall meet. On the show, it was considered daring to have clothing that people of any gender could wear. Or making a skirt for a man. I mean, come on. Putting a skirt on a dude is almost quaint at this point.
I was annoyed that in at least one of the briefs there was the edict to make an outfit for a woman and an outfit for a man. Yes, I know, that’s the way the industry has always been. That’s not next in fashion, is it? It’s just a little precious to me that they were saynig they were tyring to find something fashion-forward and daring when they can’t even get out of the binary and get past the fatphobia.
I know it’s asking too much. The industry is steeped with sexism and fatphobia. It’s not going to change any time soon. But, can they at least join us in this millennium? I don’t get the stubborn insistence that they have to design clothing for women who look like 12-year-old boys. Tall 12-year-old boys. No boobs, no hips, no ass. Thighs not touching, and, yeah, I’m going to say it, anorexic. It seems like the guys are getting thinner, too, which was not the direction I wanted this to go in. Equality to me means allowing every the opportunity to expand–literally. It’s really hard for me to have any interest in an industry that is actively telling women they need to be so much less.
I don’t watch much TV, but one genre I like is what I call gentle competition. They are shows with contestants, but they are helpful to each other and the shows emphasize camaraderie rather than competition. Think The Great British Baking Show (you can tell when I last watched that show) or Sugar Rush. I prefer the ones that are a season long, eliminating one person per episode, but the latter’s format of four teams per show and one winner at the end of each show is fine, too.
My bestie, K, also likes these kinds of shows. She has a stressful job and it’s her way of relaxing. We talk about them and recommend shows to each other. She told me about the bartending one, which I really liked. Drink Masters, it’s called, and it’s on Netflix. I don’t love the fact that they feel the need to hire comedians for the emcee/host and feed them tired old jokes (for all the shows), but I’ve accepted that is part of the genre. Tone Bell is the host of Drink Masters, and he’s probably my favorite of all the hosts across all the shows. He’s much more laidback than the others and has a warmth that feels authentic.
I watched the first season of Next in Fashion, another Netxflix show, despite my skepticism. I am so not a fashion person. I mean, it would not be too much to say that I am the anti-fashion person because I just don’t care what I look like. Also, because my gender is undetermined at this point, I can’t with the hyper male/female emphasis in fashion. K and I talked (outside of this show) how we both were more comfortable with androgynous people in general. I have talked at length about my current identity (agender), which is mostly because gender is not important to me. I don’t see how I need to act or dress in a certain way because of my perceived gender, and it’s really hard for me to be all GIRL POWER when it’s based on something that is hyper-feminine. I’ll get to that more in a minute.
To my surprise, I really enjoyed the first season of Next in Fashion. There are a few reasons for that. One, the chemistry between the two hosts, Tan France and Alexa Chung, was strong. They seemed like two buddies who would go out and grab a meal together, just to chat about life in general. Yes, there were cringe-indiucing humor that wasn’t funny, but they seemed to be equals. I put that out there because I want you to remember it when I get to talking about the sceond season.
Another reason I really liked the first season is because the winner (spoiler, obviously), truly was different, fresh, and something that hadn’t been seen before.
In yesterday’s post, I wrote about beating the first brutal boss of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty (Team Ninja) and feeling more upset than elated. I talked about it in the RKG Discord, and someone who is a game developer said it almost certainly was a glitch/bug rather than a deliberate choice. She was trying to be encouraging when she said not to be discouraged. Other people chimed in and said that you had to expect glitches and bugs with a triple-A release like this.
I don’t know anything about that because I normally buy big games many years after they release or get them on Game Pass. The exception is FromSoft games, obviously. Now, anyway. Ian reminded me that Elden Ring had MANY bugs on the PC port when it released.
He’s not wrong. But I didn’t have to suffer through any of them. Because of my beefy machine, I had microstuttering and one hard crash. That was it. But there were many problems for other people with lesser machines. Even with equal machines. I heard about one guy who only had invisible enemies once he got out of the tutorial. He thought it was just FromSoft. Which, bless him, he’s not wrong.
I’ve said it many times about how people think the start of Dark Souls is brilliant. “Two paths that are clearly too hard and one that is just the right amount of hard!” Yeah, if you’re a Dark Souls aficionado, that makes sense. You know that the game is hard, but it’s not supposed to be super-hard. But what does the average person know about the game? That it’s crushingly hard. I mean, the PC version (with everything) is called Prepare to Die Edition. What do you hear about the game? You’re going to die. A lot. Often. Over and over.
So what are you going to think when you run into ghosts you can’t kill? Or skellies who one-shot you? That it’s part of a game that you were told is really, really hard. The third path, by the way, is less difficult. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s appropriately hard.
So. Back to the first boss of Wo Long. People telling me that I have to expect glitches and bugs in a Triple A action adventure game are missing the point. Or the bigger picture. How the hell was I supposed to know there was a glitch of that kind? Yes, if I knew there was supposed to be a cutscene, I could look out for that glitch. But I went into the boss fight without having seen the second phase of the fight. So how the hell was I to know what was supposed to happen?
I ilke reality shows that I call’ gentle competitions’. I’m more interested in cooperation than cutthroat competition. I watched Cutthroat Kitchen a few times, and I hated it. Not only did I hate the delibearte sabotage, but I got anxious from watching. Since I feel other people’s emotions, I don’t want to deliberately inflict myself with nasty ones, especially manufactored exaggerated ones.
That’s why I prefer the ones that are collaborative rather than competitive. Yes, ultimately, they are competing against each other, but that doesn’t mean they have to be mean. I used to twatch Chopped, but I started hating that it was so manufactured. The one twho said they were not there to make friends/came to win were nearly always out after the first competttion–second at latest. Anyone who was confident that they had done great were the next to go. In almost every foursome, there was usually one who was the heel. I think this is more an American thing, by the way. Britains are culturally more diffident and self-deprecating whereas Americans are more brash. It got to the point with Chopped where I could predict who was going to win with a roughly 85% success rate without knowing anything about cooking. Quite frankly, it got boring after a while.
This is part of the problem with these shows if they go on for a long time–they become samey. Yes, I know, that’s part of the comfort. Every episode is the same and there’s something positive about that. But, on the other hand, it can get boring if there is no innovation. This is a reason I leave groups and stop visiting websites–because there’s no evolution. When it reaches the point where I know who is going to say what in which situation, then I get bored. Granted, I am very good at reading people, but still.
It’s not their fault; truly, I know this. People don’t change on the regular. Or if they do, it’s slow and steady–not dramatic explosions. Of course people can have epiphanies and breathroughs, but that’s a rare occurrence.
Watching the fourth (and current, I think) season of Glow Up, I’m finding myself…not bored, exactly, but wanting more. The MUAs are brilliantly talent as usual, but the competitions are so safe. They talk about creativity and pushing boundaries, but they don’t do that in their own requests. And, because of the nature of these shows, there is a mush in the middle that is not palatable.
In the past few years, I’ve been gorging on what I’ve termed gentle competitions (TV shows). Of coruse, the grande dame is The Great British Baking Show, wmich I used to watch when it was The Great British Bake Off with Sue and Mel. Once they were pushed out, I was done. I felt it was sleazy and of course Paul Hollywood stayed because that’s the kind of man he is. I lost all interest once they were gone, but that sparked my love of competitive reality shows.
Here’s the thing, though. I don’t like the ones where people are nasty to each other or snippy behind each other’s back. I used to watch Chopped, and while I liked it in general, I started to beccome aware of the pattern that made it easy to gues swho was going to win. Not only who was going to win, but who was going to be cut after each challenge. If someone said they were confident they were going to win, they were gone. Anyone who exceptionally nasty was gone. But, on the other hand, anyone who was mildly brutish stayed. It got boring by the end, if I’m to be honest.
K and I were talking about these shows because she enjoys them, too. She mentioned that she started watching them once the pandemic hit because she just wanted comfort and warmth. I agreed with her vigorously. With the world being what it was, there was nothing better with hunkering down and bingeing a competition show. I preferred British over American for the most part.
I have watched so many of them, and now I know what I like and what I don’t like in a show. I will note that it’s different for different situations. If I’m working on something else, then I want a show that is lowkey. That means one that has a set amount of competitors each episode and then just whittles them down a la Chopped. One of my favorites in that genre is Sugar Rush. It’s the epitome of comfort food. You can consume it without much thought, and it’ll keep you satiated for an hour or so. There is nothing brilliant about the show, but it’s just a delight to watch.
The other way to do these shows is to have a group of contestants who last for the whole season. I confess, I prefer this to the different contestants per episode format because I can actually develop opinions and feelings for the contestants.
I will also say that when I see a bunch of diverse people on the show, I’m immediately boosted. It’s become the norm, which makes me happy. It shouldn’t even be a factor, but, sadly, it still is. What do I mean when I sy diversity? POC, obviously, but also gender in the competitions considered masculine (which, sadly, are most of them. Even cooking shows are considered masculine because–patriarchy), sexual orientation, gender orientation, and even age.
I have a soft spot for :Law & Order. I mean, doesn’t everybody? When that ‘chung chung’ sound is heard, it takes me to my happy place. When I used to visit Ian in Raleigh, I’d have it on in the background for hours on end (sorry, Ian!). One time, we were walking in Downtown Raleigh under an overpass when a van pulled up to us and offered us a ride. We declined, naturally. He offered again, and we declined again so he drove off.
Obviously, we spun it into a Law & Order: Raleigh episode for the next half hour and given that we are both writers, it was a hoot. I’m sure he was just a nice guy wanting to do a good thing, but it definitely had the flavor of o L&O episode, yes?
Another time, we were watching one of the L&Os and discussing the anatomy of an episode. In the first five minutes is the actual Crime. Then, credits. If there is a famous person, they are either the perp or the vic. I mean, why splash that kind of money around for Garbage Man #2? The killer is introduced in the second segment (the one following the credits). The fake motives are trotted out in the first half of the episode. The real motive/perp is revealed around that time and then legal shenanigans for the second half.
I signed up for Peacock, the basic sub, because…well, it’s like this. I became aware that there’s a new season of the original L&O, which, I mean, I guess Dick Wolf’s gotta eat. Oh! I know how I found out. I saw that Legal Eagle was dissecting an L&O order and assumed it was an old ep. To my surprise, I realized it was a new one, based on *sigh* the Cosby case. So I watched Legal Eagle reviewing the episode (video included). It was bad. very bad. even by L&O standards. Why? Because what worked for the series when it first came out (and I’ll get to that later) hasn’t aged well. At all.
I don’t understand horror media. Wait. That’s not what I meant to say. What I meant was I don’t understand horror in general. No, that’s not quite it, either. Ok. I’ll just spit it out. I find most horror juvenile and boring. Not scary at all. Jump scares are just bodily reflexive reactions that are about getting away from the thing in your face. It’s not really being scared, per se, at least not for me. If anything comes at me out of the blue, I’m going to jump. It’s a physiological response rather than one of horror. Plus, it’s cheap. There’s no thought in it. Anyone can do a jumpscare at any time.
I will allow for the tension in situations such as the xenomorph in Alien Isolation. But again, that’s not really scary–that’s tension. It’s brilliantly done and I tried to play the game, but I couldn’t because it’s first person. That might be one of the reasons I don’t find horror games scary–because I can’t play first-person games. And horror isn’t horrifying in third person, really. At least I presume because I don’t watch horror movies. Again, not because they’re scary but because I find most of them boring/juvenile.
I am all for the psychological horror, but physical horror leaves me cold. Hm. Physical comedy also leaves me cold, which is interesting. Mostly because it’s too broad. It’s funny because I love musicals–which surprises people because they are so unrealistic. But I’m fine with that because they’re not supposed to be realistic. You could say the same with slapstick comedy, I suppose, but humor is different in general.
It’s interesting because I was talking to my brother about all this. He said that of course I didn’t like most movies because I was already three steps ahead of them. I hadn’t thought about it, but he’s right. Because I’m very adept at picking up emotions and motivations, I can see every plot point coming a mile away. He, on the other hand, is not good with emotions in anything other than the broadest strokes. I joked that we could make a podcast based on our very divergent reaction to movies because it would be amusing. When he said what he did about of course I could see three steps ahead, a light bulb went off in my brain. Everybody knows about about the Dunning-Kruger effect when it comes to people thinking they’re better than they are for no good reason. The lesser-known result of the study, however, is that people who are better at something than other people underestimate how much better they are. Why? Because it’s normal for them, so they have no frame of reference for how difficult it might be for other people.
I have always known what other people are feeling. More to the point, I have always felt what other people were feeling. That’s one reason I don’t like movies–I don’t want to feel what they’re feeling. I’m better at blocking out other people’s emotions now, but it takes effort. When I was in my twenties, I felt other people’s emotions as intensely as I felt my own–especially the negative ones. It was one reason I hated being around other people. I would look around the room and immediately know who was feeling bad. Not only that ,I would know why. “This woman is being abused by her husband.” “This child is being abused.” “This guy is super-depressed.” Was I right? No idea because it’s not something I could bring up with most people. So I can’t say with any certainty that I was right about why they were feeling bad, but I can tell you confidently that they were feeling bad.
For the longest time, I simply assumed that everyone else could feel other people’s emotions the way I did. I never knew about empaths and Highly Sensitive People (HSP). I really don’t like the latter label because it sounds too precious, but whatever. My brother and I have talked about it quite a bit lately and he helped me to realize to what extent I am different in this area. I always knew that I felt things more deeply than most people, but I always assumed it was just a bit more than others.
Nope. It’s a lot more.
Now, for some reason, this doesn’t extend to horror. I don’t feel much of anything at all while watching horror movies or playing video games. Well, more the former because as I mentioned, I don’t play horror games. Like I said, I think jumpscares are cheap. But most of the situations in horror movies don’t actually happen. I part of one of The Ring movies, the one with Naomi Watts, and it was just boring and bad. IMDB users agree with me, apparently. I did watch The Host by Bong Joon-ho, which I actually enjoyed, much to my surprise. It wasn’t scary, but it was a good movie.
In the first Harry Potter movie, the first time we see the dementors is on the train. It’s supposed to be spooky and scary, and I laughed out loud when I saw them. I thought they were adorable and I wanted to cuddle them. My friend poked me in the ribs to shut me up, but I couldn’t help it.
I’ve seen snippets of Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers. Neither of them scare me. Same with the xenomorph in the Alien movies. In fact, I can’t think of any monster who has scared me. There was a movie I saw with Jim Carrey in it as an author. It was when he was trying to be SERIOUS and it was utter trash. Though it was supposed to be scary. I just could not suspend my belief enough (I just wrote disbelief. Ha.) to accept the ridiculous premise.
This is my problem with movies in general, actually. When the Matrix first came out, my Taiji teacher at the time couldn’t stop raving about it and how it was the epitome of Taiji. I saw it years later in a theater with my then-boyfriend and mildly enjoyed it for much of the movie. That’s because both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are hot as hell and I would not mind being sandwiched between them. The story was nonsensical, but whatever. Then, there comes the moment when Carrie-Anne Moss needs to revive Keanu Reeves and kisses him. She fucking kisses him! In a movie about breaking out of the matrix and being different, they resorted to the tritest thing ever. I stood up and shouted, “This is bullshit!” because I was so incensed. Fortunately, my boyfriend was pretty chill and there were only two or three other people in the theater (different boyfriend than Pulp Fiction boyfriend, obviously).
Talking to my brother about my distaste for movies made me shift from there’s something wrong with me for not liking movies to realizing that it makes sense given my sensitivity to other people’s emotions. Seriously, it’s a relief and I have my brother to thank for it. I never have to feel guilty about it again.
There are three genres of games that I like. Roguelite-likes, soulslikes, and cozy games. Actually, since coming home from the hospital, I haven’t really played any roguelike. I dipped my toe back into Binding of Isaac: Repentance, but I didn’t enjoy it. That’s a game that I used to play every day for years (Rebirth), but every new iteration has made me play it less and less because it gets harder and harder. And it was plenty hard in the first place.
The soulslike I’m playing right now is, well, Dark Souls. Also Dark Souls III. I just bought Tails of Iron by Odd Bug Studio, which is affectionately known as Rat Souls and is about a rat doing soulslike stuff. But I’m shadowing Ian in Dark Souls and mucking about in the second DLC of DS III, which is enough Souls for me at the moment. Oh! I ventured into Sen’s Fortress in the original game to get the Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring so I can do the Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring/Hidden Body combo for the rest of the game. That makes me nearly impossible to detect by the enemies until I’m standing right in front of them. In order to get Hidden Body, I had to kill the hydra so I could kill the golden golem so I could free Dusk from said golden golem. Then, I summoned her so I could buy Hidden Body from her. Yeah, it’s that complicated. Once I did it, I realized that I could not be summoned by Ian for the Hydra fight. I messaged him to apologize and he thought it was funny I had just unthinkingly killed the Hydra.
As for DS III, I hate this DLC. It’s so incredibly hard and tedious. I know you could say that about all of the FromSoft games, but they always make their DLCs for the hardcore fanbois. And as a squishy caster, it’s never any fun. I played the third game when it first came out, which is not the way I usually play these games. So I could not consult the Wikis as extensively as to how to do things. I clearly remember finally beating the first boss of the second DLC with the aid of the two NPCs. I wearily trudged to the next area (after going to Firelink Shrine, of course). Bat demons took me to the next area and I sat down at the bonfire. I was embered because that’s what you have to do to summon. Someone immediately invaded me, which meant I had to jump off a cliff in order to deprive the invader of the satisfaction. Before I could do that, however, phantom archers arose and arrowed me into oblivion. I actually cried because I was so frazzled at that point.
The image I project is that of a tough, wisecracking woman* who don’t take no shit from anyone. It’s mostly fiction, but it’s served me well. To a point. I walked, strode, really, with my sunglasses on and a firm set to my chin. Most people take one look at me and leave me alone. I knew, however, that if someone was serious about attacking me, they wouldn’t be fooled. That’s why I started taking taiji classes. This post isn’t about that, though. It’s about my softer side that I rarely show. This side of me loves plushies and fluffy animals. The latter at a distance, however, because I’m allergic to most of them, including cats. But I love cats so I have one.
I also like cheesy pop music, unapologetically. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures because if you like something, why feel guilty about it? I can cheerfully admit that I have terrible taste in music for example, but I never feel guilty. about it. I boggle some people’s minds by being so matter-of-fact about liking what most people consider is bad music. It’s the same as when I say I’m a terrible driver (which I am). People are nonplused, which is partly because that’s not what you want to hear, I’m sure. but, the reality is that not everyone can be an above-average driver.
My point is that while I appear to be edgy and tough, I have a soft side that people may not know about. I don’t hide it, but it’s not as if I bellow it from the rafters, either.
I don’t watch much TV or movies, but one thing I like is what I call gentle competition shows. The Great British Bake Off is the original one (now The Great British Baking Show, but I stopped watching it after Sue and Mel were forced off). It was a surprise hit and afterwards, it spawned a plethora of similar shows in a category I call gentle competitions. That means people compete against each other, but they’re not trying to crush their opponents. It’s not Cutthroat Kitchen or whatever it’s called–I hate that show. There is no sabotage and everyone is so supportive of each other.
I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live (SNL) on the regular in several years. I’ve been watching clips lately, though, and there are several really tight ones, mostly musical skits. One thing that has always been true about SNL is that the good skits are fire and the bad skits are garbage. That hasn’t changed, but what has changed is that the songs are mostly really solid. I want to mention some of my favorites and why I like them. First up is Friendos starring Donald Glover. It’s a rap that jokes about a popular rap group going to therapy together. The reason I like it is because it’s catchy–Donald Glover is for real–and because it touches on some true issues. In this case, how hard it is for African American men to let their emotions show and how therapy is still taboo is some African American cultures. I also like that the therapy is actually sound (though adapted for humor, of course), unlike how it’s often portrayed in pop culture.
Next up is Permission, another rap that features Future and Lil Wayne. Again, it’s actually a tight rap, but the real kick is the message–that there will be no booty grabbing without consent from the women involved. So it still has the notion of going after ass, but stopping when you hear no. Lil Wayne: “Love that booty tender, never get aggressive. That booty got insurance–that booty got Progressive.” There are many layers to that verse!