Conventions Feed

Linkspam grabs the Emmys and Comic-Con Trailers

It’s Emmy time, and the list leads with the usual contenders. Game of Thrones got 22 noms, but Netflix beat HBO with 112 noms vs. HBO’s 108.

Nominees for best drama are The Handmaid’s Tale, Game of Thrones, This is Us, The Crown, The Americans, Stranger Things and Westworld.


Nominees for best comedy are Atlanta, Barry, Black-ish, Curb Your Enthusiasm (still??), GLOW, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Silicon Valley and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

The rest are the usual suspects, with a bit of a surprise in The Alienist for miniseries and Tatiana Maslany for lead actress in Orphan Black.

Since I’m completely in the camp for Handmaids, supporting actress is going to be tough. Three noms (which means it’ll end up going to someone else, with Alexis Bledel (who I did not know was married to Vincent Kartheiser of Angel fame), Ann Dowd and Yvonne Strahovski, who should get every award for the incredible and difficult performance she has turned out this season.

Where is Samira Wiley? Guest actress nom, along with Kelly Jenrette and Cherry Jones; and Joseph Fiennes as supporting actor.

It says something when a show is so intense, so visceral, and still so chillingly relevant that many people simply cannot watch it. I’m developing a theory, here: we watch the gore and misery of Game of Thrones as escapism, and yet the misery of Handmaids is too much for us. Because it’s too close to reality, to real fears and horrors we find on the front page.

And yet that is the very definition of important, relevant art. Art isn’t supposed to be a simple escape from reality. It should challenge us, challenge our preconceptions and comfortable thought processes.

Harlan Ellison argued that people are dumb because of television, because it feeds stimuli into our brains without requiring us to wake them up. Usually that's true. But Handmaids defies that, as few shows do. It isn’t an easy watch; I can’t binge it, as we might lighter shows. I have to parcel it out, which I would strongly recommend especially for viewers who may find its subject material triggering.

But let me tell you something, friends and neighbors: I finally caught up through the final episode last night. I’m not going to spoil it, but… for the last series of scenes, I literally had no idea what was going to happen next. It was physically exhausting, the tension and uncertainty, knowing that a happy ending was absolutely not assured and anything, including the worst, could happen.

I cannot remember the last time a show felt like that. It alternately makes me want to hide in a corner and make a protest sign and go march somewhere. That’s a form of art that transforms us, not just placates our boredom.

James Gunn is out as director of Guardians of the Galaxy, fired for horrific tweets posted a decade ago. Gunn apparently posted jokes about rape and this gem: “Laughter is the best medicine. That’s why I laugh at people with AIDS.” He’s very sorry. All right, I know there's been a lot of yelling about this on both sides. Here's my take, for whatever miniscule amount it's worth: Rape jokes aren't funny. They aren't funny now, and they weren't funny when Gunn wrote those tweets, and they weren't funny when the first comic laughed about how hilarious it would be for that woman in the front row to get raped right now, and I really can't bring myself to throw down for Gunn's fall from grace. The accuser may be a reprehensible human, but he didn't fake the tweets; Gunn copped to it. Gunn will work again, unlike Kevin Spacey, and if one director losing one movie gig means five comics stop making rape jokes, I'm good with that.

Andrew Lincoln has confirmed he is leaving The Walking Dead, but maintains he still loves the show. “A large part of me will always be a machete-wielding, stetson-wearing, zombie-slaying sheriff deputy from London, England.” Ha! I might resurrect my long-dormant relationship with this show to bid farewell to Rick, with or without hands.

• Really, Hollywood? There are already six movies in the works about the rescue of the Thai boys from the cave. Six.

• Locals: Tickets are on sale for 21 Pilots, which is a band the younglings seem to like, if the chatter around my house is any indication.

• In the category of some people never learn, Marvel has announced Iron Fist Season 2. Really? There’s a new showrunner, the villain is Typhoid Mary, and can they manage some actual writing this time? Because that was one dull series, and the fact that they greenlit this while declining any more Defenders bothers me immensely.

• Also, Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, as Bruce Willis declared in defiance of everyone on the internet. Here’s a rundown of other snarks from the Willis Roast.

This Week in Sexual Harassment News: I thought we might actually have a week with no news, for the first time since I started this subsection. However, Papa John's founder John Schnatty kept the streak going.



Roger Perry, 85, best known as an Air Force captain who runs afoul of the Star Trek crew in “Tomorrow is Yesterday” - and was actually a veteran of the U.S. Air Force in real life, serving as an intelligence officer. He appeared on TV shows ranging from The Andy Griffith Show to The Munsters to The Facts of Life, retiring in 2011.

Tab Hunter, 86, best known for films like The Burning, The Girl He Left Behind and Damn Yankees, as well as TV appearances on The Love Boat, Six Million Dollar Man and Hawaii Five-O. He was a Hollywood heartthrob in his day, and came out in his 2005 autobiography, discussing an affair with Anthony Perkins. He is survived by Allan Glaser, his partner of 35 years.

Steve Ditko, 90, creator of Doctor Strange and Spider-Man with Stan Lee. The primary form of Spider-Man - including costume, web-shooters, red and blue design - were all Ditko. He left Marvel in the late ’60s and went to work for DC and small independents. He was an ardent believer in Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy, and created the characters of Mr. A, The Question, and others in its vein. He was reclusive, denied interview requests and avoided the publicity booms surrounding movies based on his work. He was found dead in his apartment, where he lived alone, never having married.

• Bill Watrous, 79, trombone player and bandleader best known for studio recordings ranging from Frank Sinatra to Prince to Quincy Jones, including the soundtrack to Roots. For us on the geeky side of life, he was the trombone dubbed in for Riker on Star Trek: Next Generation. Now, I seem to recall ads saying that was really Jonathan Frakes playing, but Frakes tweeted an RIP declaring that Bill “made Riker strong.”


Trailer Park

It was Comic-Con. So there are more trailers than I could possibly include. I could probably do a whole post just on the Comic-Con trailers. But I have to actually do work this week, so here’s the highlights collected by Vulture:

• Sarah Paulson anchors the Glass trailer, the long-delayed sequel to Unbreakable that incorporates the lead from Split. Pending January 2019, and now I have to rewatch Unbreakable and finally snag Split, because it’s pretty compelling. I have a feeling poor Sarah is going to have a rearrangement of her preconceptions when this movie hits, and please let it be better than the last few Shyamalan outings I’ve seen.

• Hi there, Aquaman. We knew his hello in Justice League was just to set up his own movie. Look, he’s a physically lovely human, but it’s a good thing the production design and cinematography is equally lovely, because the plot looks like the boring parts of Thor crossed with the worldbuilding of Black Panther without the charm.

• Much sillier: Shazam! is accelerating the inevitable slide of superhero films from mythology to parody, I’m afraid. It could be fun, because Zachary Levi can’t help but be fun in anything he does. But I fear we’re only a few steps away from Abbott and Costello Meet the Avengers, folks.

• Anyone who knows my household knows that there was yelling and squeeing as soon as Godzilla: King of the Monsters dropped. Apparently they tried to snag some real actors (and hopefully won’t kill them off in the first reel this time), with Kyle MacLachlan, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown as the kaiju whisperer. Or something. It’s not like I have a choice, folks. I married the biggest Godzilla nerd in the midwest. I’m going, kicking and screaming.

• CultureGeek Jr. was sold on Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald as soon as he realized it’s actually Hogwarts, Dumbledore and a return to the wizarding world. Now we have to go find the first one, because eight movies just isn’t enough for Hogwarts fans.

• I usually stick to film trailers in this column. However, we got series trailers for The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, Supergirl, The Purge (yes, a TV show), Good Omens, Star Trek: Discovery, Fear the Walking Dead, and many, many more.


Coming This Weekend and Next

Mamma Mia 2, which I somehow want to see even though I had zero interest in the first one, so we will probably hunt down the original and catch this one on Netflix.

The Equalizer 2, which likewise we did not see because we had not seen the original. However, CultureGeek 2 reports it was fun.

• Unfriended: Dark Web, which would be a fascinating framing device for a found-footage twist if only it didn’t seem to be torture porn.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout, in which Tom Cruise leaps out of helicopters again with an even more stellar sub-cast than usual. And we will line up like lemmings again, because the MI movies are Bond films while Bond is apparently hibernating. Fun fact on the internet this week: Tom Cruise is now five years older than Wilford Brimley was when he filmed Cocoon. This further supports the theory that Cruise has a framed poster of himself from Top Gun aging in his attic. Opens July 27.

Teen Titans Go! or something. Animated silliness with the second-tier sidekicks, with the voices of Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Stan Lee and others. Opens July 27.



Hotel Transylvania 3, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Incredibles 2, Skyscraper, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The First Purge, Sorry to Bother You, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Uncle Drew, Ocean’s 8, Tag, Won’t You Be My Neighbor.

Comic-Con Edition!

Note: This post did not run last Monday due to technical snafus. Those responsible have been sacked. 


There was a little shindig in San Diego last weekend, and you might’ve heard a few things from it.

Okay, you heard a lot from it. Here’s a rundown of what I heard, and it won’t include everything, because nobody could possibly contain the hugeness of SDCC in one column without boring the crap out of you. So consider this the highlights reel.

• Captain Marvel is set in the 1990s, an interesting choice as long as I don’t think about that being 27 years ago. It’s set before Iron Man, she’ll face the Skrulls, and Nick Fury will have two eyes. Note: First Marvel movie with a female lead. Seriously, it’s just embarrassing that it took this long. (Black Widow anyone??)

• We didn’t get a new Black Panther trailer (unless I missed it), but we did get a nifty poster and they showed exclusive footage I don’t have. io9 gives us a shot-by-shot recap, however. Can we get this movie already?

• Speaking of things we didn’t get, Infinity War footage was shown at D23 and at Comic-Con and they must be strip-searching the attendees, because it’s not online yet.

• Also from Marvel: Ant-Man and the Wasp is the sequel, so apparently they’ll let women do something except stomp their feet and pout this time. Michelle Pfeiffer will play Janet Van Dyne, which makes me happy, and Laurence Fishburne is Bill Foster.

• Speaking of sequels, Wonder Woman is getting one, surprising absolutely no one since it’s on track to be the highest-grossing movie of the summer and is already the third-biggest Warner Bros. movie of all time.* She’ll face off against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and somehow Chris Pine is involved, which is quite a trick if you watched the first one. They didn’t sign director Patty Jenkins to more than one film, but they’re reportedly working with her, and if they know what’s good for them, they’ll back up a Brinks truck to keep her. Give Wonder Woman to Zack Snyder and we will riot.

Note: Wonder Woman is also the second-highest gross of the year, after Beauty and the Beast - also a female protagonist. As ridiculous as it seems, we still need to wave these flags around to convince Hollywood that yes, women-centered movies and even *gasp* women-directed movies make money. DUH.

The Verge details why making the upcoming Flash movie as “Flashpoint” is probably a terrible idea.

• Speaking of bad ideas, we’re getting not one but two sequels to Suicide Squad, even though no one liked it. We get one direct sequel, and one focusing on manic-pixie Harley Quinn and Jared Leto’s Joker, because that sounds like fun. That’s not including Gotham City Sirens.

• And they’re going to let Todd McFarlane make another Spawn movie. For reasons.

• Was Decker a replicant in Blade Runner? Harrison Ford answers the question! Tee hee. Also: Have a brief history of everything that happened between the two movies. Or you could just go watch the new one and hope Ridley Scott has figured out how to make it right the first time… oooh, am I in trouble now? Sorry, I chalk Blade Runner up as overrated and problematic on many levels, though I will maintain an open mind as I approach the new one. *ducks rotten tomatoes*

• Reality collides with fantasy as U.S. Sen. John Lewis led a march through Comic-Con following his panel about his Eisner-winning autobiographical graphic novels, titled March. According to news reports, he encouraged young people (including the students in the front row) to remain optimistic and fight for change.

• DC is giving Batgirl to Joss Whedon, though no word yet on whether she’ll be Barbara or Betty or someone else. Meanwhile, that weird pre-Superman Krypton series gets more details.

• Buried in all the movie hoopla, there was actually some stuff about comics. Such as the Eisner Awards, with top honors to Black Hammer, The Vision and Saga. Here’s the full list.

Here, have the cosplay.


Trailer Park:

Thor: Ragnarok shows us a bit more than Thor facing down our pal the Hulk in a fighting ring for some reason, and proves that every major enemy of Thor’s will wear silly headgear. Hulk talks, Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum chew the scenery, fun will be had.

• Another Justice League trailer heavily features Wonder Woman, because DC isn’t entirely populated with idiots. It’s interesting and action-y with little snippets from each of the team members besides Bats and Diana, though the barely-seen villain is boring as hell. “This world will fall” - oh, again? I kind of miss the days when Lex Luthor was planning a nuclear land scam - at least it was creative. When it says “Superman was a beacon to the world… he made [people] see the best parts of themselves,” I had to yell, “Not the way you idiots wrote him!” Yes, I’m still bitter. Here, have a poster.

Stranger Things season 2 trailer is geektastic and nicely creepy, though I can’t really judge how it compares since I still haven’t seen the first season. Yeah, yeah, I know. CultureGeek Jr. is really on me about it…

• Sigourney Weaver gets to be the bad guy in Defenders, which reminds me that I have a second season of Daredevil to catch up (though I understand I can skip Iron Fist, and P.S. he’s getting a new showrunner plus Misty Knight, who is never not awesome.) With bonus Scott Glenn! P.S. I love Jessica Jones, and love that they don’t seem to be blunting her at all the way they did in the comics.

• I have been instructed that I am required to watch Westworld, which is a problem since it is an HBO show and I am just a poor working blogger who can’t afford to fork over $40 a season. However, big fans of the show should enjoy this funky-awesome creepy-cheerful trailer for Season 2.

• Star Trek! Star Trek! Star Trek! Since Star Trek Discovery is in the Prime universe, I can actually dare to hope this one is for real even if this new trailer seems a little grimdark for the Trek world. They’re certainly not skimping on the production values, and so far I’m not hating anyone. I still can’t figure out who’s the captain and who’s the main character, since those are apparently no longer the same person, and Burnham is actually Spock’s adoptive sister? (That guy has a lot of relatives…) I’m sincerely hoping more of an ensemble feel develops, since I think Trek works best when it doesn’t lock itself into the same three characters’ arcs. I subscribed to CBS Go for this damn thing (kicking and screaming), so it had better not suck. Panel writeup here.

• Steven Spielberg paints an unusually grim future of an overcrowded Earth where everyone escapes from reality into VR videogames as an ode to the ‘80s in Ready Player One. Or something. I think. It’s a nifty premise, if a little disturbing - shades of Talos IV, if you are nerdy enough to get my reference.

• The trailer for Supergirl Season 3 looks a touch darker, with Supergirl apparently thinking of giving up her secret identity (and have we finally spied Lex, albeit with hair?) We only get 10 seconds of Alex, but she is so awesome in it, I can’t complain.

• Someone said that the new Walking Dead trailer shows war is coming to the apocalypse. Have they been watching for the past seven seasons? I admit I gave up on it last season, but I suppose I will watch the premiere and see if story returns to my favorite zombie future, or whether it’s still mired in torture porn as horror. I would like to be scared or fascinated again - I’ll take either over “pissed off.” Please? Meanwhile, Robert Kirkman will eventually end the comic book, but hasn’t set a date yet, so get a grip, everybody. io9’s report on the Walking Dead panel is amusing, however:  for example, Andrew Lincoln doesn’t get why everyone makes fun of the way he says “Carl.” Frankly, me either, Andrew - you’re doing pretty damn well for a Brit playing a southern-fried deputy.

• Maybe it’s Bryan Singer nostalgia, but I am unreasonably interested in The Gifted. It looks like it might have returned the X-Men to their initial foundations as allegory for civil rights, with some characters I actually wouldn’t mind following. Can it be sustained through a series as opposed to a film? We shall see…

• I admit, I was not entirely sold on the idea of Bright, a weird pastiche of Alien Nation with the premise of damn near every urban fantasy of the last ten years. I am also a little put off by the opening of this new trailer, in which Will Smith dispatches a fairy with a broom and someone uses the word “nuke-u-lar.” However, it looks like high production values, a touch of grit and Netflix’s now-trademark intensity. I am intrigued enough to give it a try.

Less interesting to me, but you may want to hear from them:

Marvel’s Inhumans

Kingsman: Golden Circle

The Orville (please no)

Pacific Rim: Uprising (teaser, with bonus plot holes this time!)


* I always have to put an asterisk after these records, because movie ticket prices rise at an exponential rate and it’s disingenuous at best to compare Wonder Woman with Harry Potter or Dark Knight since tickets cost more now. But whatever - movie execs pay attention to these things, and it means we get more Wonder Woman.

Thursday-ish Linkspam

We’re back! It was a long vacation, but I thought of all of you quite often as I basked in the Florida sunshine… no, I didn’t. I’m totally lying.

I would like to give you the highlights in CultureGeek news while I was away, but I hear the voice of Inigo in my head: “No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” So here’s the Inigo version:


Happy 62nd Birthday Disneyland! I was in the Florida version when this happened, but it’s still nifty. Disney Avenue has images from Disneyland’s opening day; if I remember childhood stories correctly, my father was there.

• I now get to name-drop my friend and fellow author Bryan Smith, whose star is on the rise as the grindhouse-pulp film 68 Kill based on his novel gains traction. Check out the trailer here on IFC Midnight, as it hits select theaters and On Demand Aug. 4.

RIP to Martin Landau, best known to me from his amazing, Oscar-winning performance as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood; and, of course, to George Romero, father of the zombie subgenre, whom I had the good fortune to meet briefly in my own book tours.

And of course RIP to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, who apparently committed suicide this week.

Brian Keene’s The Rising is probably the most influential zombie novel of the modern era, kickstarting reinvestment in the subgenre from its publication in 2003. What, you’ve read it? No, you haven’t. Because the author’s preferred edition includes about 30,000 words of additional scenes cut out of the original, now restored and can be yours for 99c. Limited time only. No, I’m not paid for the plug; I don’t even get a cut if you click through since I haven’t figured out how to make that work yet. It’s just that good. Be prepared to need a quick purchase of the sequel approximately 0.5 seconds after you finish the first one.

• Speaking of zombies, Robert Kirkman has decided to work toward the final chapter for the Grimes Gang - at least for the Walking Dead comic, if not the series. No one knows how Rick’s gonna die - I mean, how it’s all going to end.

The Emmy noms were announced, with big traction for The Handmaid’s Tale: I Keep Meaning To Watch That. Other noms went to The Crown, Stranger Things, House of Cards, This is Us, Westworld, Black-ish, Atlanta, and of course Saturday Night Live. I have been instructed that I am required to watch Westworld posthaste, but alas, it is on HBO and I’m just a poor working blogger.

• After decades playing Kermit the Frog, Muppeteer Steve Whitmire was fired by Muppets Studio. Plenty of folks immediately leaped on “principled artist crushed by evil Disney megacorp,” and at first both sides were being cagey about the reasons. Finally, Whitmire wrote on his personal blog that he was “the last samurai” keeping the Henson legacy afloat. According to others, he apparently has been demanding pay increases, first-class flights to and from home in Atlanta, a salary for his wife, etc. Brian Henson himself said he is in favor of handing the green felt over to new Muppeteer Matt Vogel. Read this bit from io9; it has some rough info about Whitmire blackballing young puppeteers and some harsh criticism from the Henson family. At the same time, fans feel like Disney both saved the Muppets by buying them, but without turning out quality entertainment - mostly repackaging and merchandising classic Muppets. (We shall not speak of the TV show that died under the weight of its own absurd premise.)

D23 was last weekend, and while this might once have been a convention just for devout wearers of mouse ears, now it foretells everything from the MCU to Star Wars, so people pay attention. Slashfilm has a good rundown of what’s coming from the Mouse, including Pixar films Coco, Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4; Disney animated films Wreck-it Ralph 2 and Frozen 2/Olaf’s Frozen Adventure; live-action films like Lion King, Aladdin, Mary Poppins Returns, A Wrinkle in Time, Dumbo, Nutcracker and the Four Realms; and yeah, a little sci-fi sequel called Star Wars: The Last Jedi. With bonus Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther… yeah. They’re busy.

Meanwhile, the theme parks will see some major changes. I could write a whole column about what’s good and bad in the upcoming alterations for Disney World and Disneyland, and since I was just there, I may as well write it. Tune in later. Extra notice for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (yay!) and the demise of the Great Movie Ride (boo!)

• Oh yeah, and they named the next Doctor. You might have heard something about it.



Trailer Park:

• New trailer for Blade Runner 2049, now with even more weird visuals and even less plot. Just like the original! Don’t hate, I plan to watch it again before th new one and see if somehow I missed what makes everyone love it in my first three viewings.

• New trailer for Wind River, the thriller with Elizabeth Olsen as a rookie FBI agent teaming up with rugged Jeremy Renner to investigate a murder on a Native American reservation.

• New, more action-y trailer for The Dark Tower. Confession: I read the first DT book when I was younger, and found it deadly dull. But everyone loves the series so much that I keep meaning to go back and try again. The trailers for this movie are definitely pushing me in that direction.


Didn’t more stuff happen? Yes. It was a long vacation. And SDCC is rolling in California, so be prepared for lots of nonsense on Monday. Stay cool!

Heroine Problem

It's hardly worth yelling anymore. News flash: Sexism in genre fiction. Or, another Friday.

• First clue bat of the day goes to Marvel Comics, for pairing two shirts: one male, one female. One says "Be a hero!"; the other says, "I need a hero!" Guess which one is which? I know, we could debate sexism in comics till Doomsday (the event or the villain), but for now, could the home of Black Widow, Elektra, Jessica Jones, Ladyhawk, Rogue and Storm maybe remember that one does not require a penis to be a hero? Face, meet palms.

• Seanan McGuire comes under fire for being nominated for the Hugo. Yes, really. Sure, she says, it's fine if you don't like her stuff. But to criticize her for "overpromoting"? This seems to be a charge leveled at most female authors who promote their work, while male authors are simply seen as assertive businessmen. How many times did McGuire mention the Hugo in her blog? Twice. Wow, talk about saturating the market!

I'd tie that in with Sheryl Sandberg, whose new book Lean In earned her an interview on the Daily Show in which she pointed out something I've never really thought of: Go to a playground, and you will see a girl who speaks up called "bossy." You will never, ever hear of a boy being called "bossy." He'll be "showing leadership skills" or "king of the hill." The worst sexism is the kind that doesn't even recognize itself.

• Author Hugh Howey got temporarily famous by complaining about a woman who he says was rude to him at WorldCon. And nobody cares about rudeness at con - oh, I could tell you stories. What is getting everyone's attention is that he doesn't focus on this woman's statements or attitude... but on her appearance, how ugly he thought she was... "Big-toothed," the "batshit craziest broad," "she-devil" and some reference to a fantasy of accepting a Hugo by calling this woman a name and grabbing his crotch. It ends with the classy and subtle, "Suck it, bitch." In fact, it's delightfully titled, "The Bitch From WorldCon." Her great sin, apparently, was in disagreeing with him in a somewhat condescending manner. Not that anyone else in that room was being condescending, of course.

Setting aside the ongoing class warfare between traditional publishing and self-publishing (soon to become a religous war! Tune in tomorrow!), I'm with Jeff Vandermeer when he writes, "I'm fed up with writers who canonize their path to success as the way to do it for everyone. It's limiting and it shows no imagination or caring for other people. As for the language in this post: just ask yourself, would *you* ever write a post using words like this?"

To give Howey a smidgeon of credit, he admitted on Twitter that the post was "in jest, admittedly with poor humor." Yeah, perhaps "Suck it, bitch," was taken the wrong way.

I'd love to give you something happy to end this, but unfortunately it's been a rough week for the heroines. And now I shall await the cavalcade of critics telling me how I'm Just Too Sensitive and we women need to Learn How To Take a Joke. Raise your hand if you're tired of hearing that.


EDIT: I take it back. I can give you something happy.