Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Flash Gordon

Okay, so I finally got to see the new Flash Gordon premiere, and honestly, I have to say it's definitely a case where low expectations win out the day since in the end I actually enjoyed it.

I think the biggest problem was the length. There was way too much meaningless crap before they got to the other planet that bored me to tears. Once they got there though, things perked up considerably. It was by no means masterful storytelling, but it IS a pilot episode, so I'm willing to cut it some slack.

Also, shirtless torture with gratuitous eye-abuse. (Ever since my own eye issues, I get a horrible, sadistic amusement out of pointy things coming at people's eyes. Mostly because of the way everyone else cringes.)

I liked the other planet. I also liked the actors/characters in general. Flash Gordon is very appealing. (I'd actually love to see the guy play Captain America at some point, since he's got that big, blond, slightly-bland prettiness that'd really work there. And he's not a horrible actor either.) Dale was not nearly so obnoxious as she could have been. I'm leery about the whole love triangle/unresolved sexual tension thing, but I really like the way the two interact with each other as friends with a past.

For female portrayals, I thought it was fairly satisfying, at least as first episodes go. We see a number of women in various roles, performing various actions, with varying degrees of kickassness. Flash's mother is appealing, Dale is fiery and fun, Aura's entertainingly petulant, and the female bounty hunter is fairly awesome.

I wish there was a bit more visual variety though. They're all slim, white and brunette and while they're all very pretty, it's a bit repetitive. Hopefully there will be a greater variety later on.

When it comes to race, the pilot's definitely more problematic. The only non-white character of any sort of prominence is Flash's best friend, who as of yet is still in the dark about the whole thing. This is a problem that I'm hoping the series will rectify soon enough.

I do understand, from my privileged white woman/liberal guilt perspective, why they did not choose to make Ming or Aura Asian. Ming's got that history as a forerunner of the "Yellow Peril" idea, and he and Aura have traits that while largely unremarkable (if cartoony) on white actors start to resonate with very unpleasant racist connotations when re-associated with Asian portrayals. It's definitely an association that would be worth avoiding.

At the same time though, white-washing the characters is a solution that leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. It's not like white actors have any dearth of visibility or representation after all. We're everywhere.

It's a really difficult situation. No one wants to be racist, I'd bet. But it's an issue that must and should come up whenever an undoubtedly racist concept is revisted in the modern day. I have no real idea of how this could be rectified. I suppose the best hope is that subsequent episodes will make more effort to integrate more non-white representation (fairly prominent representation, at that) in their cast. I hope this is the case.

Anyway though, despite myself, I actually did enjoy it and I'm planning to catch the next ep, ASAP.

I'm crossing my fingers that we'll be seeing rockets real soon. :-)

16 Comments:

  • At August 18, 2007 9:34 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I'm sorry, but Max Von Sydow WAS Ming. Accept no substitutes.

     
  • At August 18, 2007 10:51 AM, Blogger The Dane said…

    Wait, they did a new Flash Gordon movie? Tell me they kept the Queen soudntrack!

     
  • At August 18, 2007 11:04 AM, Blogger Shelly said…

    I like it too. And I think using an Asian for Ming would've been stereotypical due to all the baggage.

    The cast is appealing and while there's plenty of room for improvement, there are fun moments and I'm going to keep watching. It's got a goofy charm. I would like to see a more varied cast, tho.

     
  • At August 18, 2007 11:49 AM, Blogger Centurion said…

    Ming needs a mirror universe look in my opinion. Just give him an evil goatee or something to make him look slightly sinister.

    I couldn't stand the pilot, so of course you'd get a kick out of it ^_-

     
  • At August 18, 2007 1:06 PM, Blogger Sleestak said…

    It was awful. Not campy bad, just bad. And they made Dale's boyfriend a jerk from episode 1 so you don't feel bad about him getting dropped later for Flash. It would be better if he was a nice guy who gets screwed over.

     
  • At August 18, 2007 3:10 PM, Anonymous bellatrys said…

    I have no real idea of how this could be rectified.

    Not really that hard:
    I came up with a solution in about 4.5 minutes, here.

     
  • At August 18, 2007 9:02 PM, Blogger Evan Waters said…

    The changes to Ming were a bit extreme- I don't see how you can't have him be non-Asian and still be "Ming the Merciless." White or other non-Asian guy with a beard and a cruel temper, easy.

    I have to confess, my first utterance while watching the pilot was, "Hey, it's Flash Gordon's Black Friend!"

     
  • At August 18, 2007 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Needs more Lion- men and Hawk- men,in my opinion...

     
  • At August 18, 2007 10:07 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Evan -- Maybe he has a longer name. Mingenstein the Merciless? Minguson, perhaps? I'd shorten it to just "Ming" in such a case.

     
  • At August 18, 2007 10:10 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Of course, there's one really easy way to solve Flash Gordon's problem with too much white prominence, but the ScFi Channel is much too chickenshit to make the title character any race other than white.

     
  • At August 18, 2007 10:41 PM, Blogger Evan Waters said…

    It's not just the name, it's the attitude. Ming's entire approach to morality should be summed up in the exchange from both serial and 1980 movie- "Why do you want to destroy the Earth?" "Why not?"

    The new guy's not intimidating at all- I know the idea is to make him a charismatic dictator with his evilness hidden, but they went a little overboard and made him look kinda wimpy.

    But then, the basic problem with the new series seems to be that everything's toned down to a point of "meh"ness. Zarkov has lost his crazy zeal as well.

     
  • At August 18, 2007 11:47 PM, Anonymous Thom said…

    My problem with the new Ming is that he is BLANDLY white. He looks more like an evil henchman than the evil ruler.

     
  • At August 19, 2007 12:23 AM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    Since you've got most of the main -isms covered, I'd just like to add ageism.

    Did Flash's father impregnate Mrs. Gordon when she was eight?

     
  • At August 19, 2007 8:54 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    I only caught the last 15 minutes of the second episode. And the dialogue, acting and writing actually were WORSE than the pilot in that brief time. I don't know if I can watch the show even for mockery purposes...

    Ming = Boring

    Not even Krycheck/Brujah being around added anything. Bad bad bad. And again stealing the bad guys from Tank Girl does not impress me with your reimagining skills...

     
  • At August 19, 2007 12:35 PM, Blogger C. E. Grayson said…

    You know, I'm on record hating the pilot but this second episode ... maybe I was just a little more into the vibe, knowing what to expect. Maybe the actors had settled in a little more. Johnson especially. But I kind of liked this one, and since you and Ragnell have me looking at feminist issues ine everything now, I really kind of liked the Baylin character. I will agree that the last ten minutes or so were a little ... I don't know. But the rest of it I actually enjoyed. I especially liked Ming's little mercy/non-mercy moment.

    Although Aura still bugs ... but I think it's the actress, not the writing there.

     
  • At August 19, 2007 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Okay,maybe some KANGEROO-men would help...

     

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