REVIEW: Hidden Figures (no spoilers)


Yesterday, I went to see Hidden Figures with one of my best friends. We had lunch, talked about writing (dear God, did I ramble and dominate the conversation – what the hell) and then we saw the movie. This review contains no spoilers beyond what you might have seen in commercials.

Hidden Figures is a movie based on the book of the same name about the true story of three African-American women who worked at NASA in the early 60s, at the height of the space race. This was before the advent of computers, so they had teams of women (both white and African-American) that acted as human computers – performing complex math. In fact, a lot of the plot hinges around an IBM being installed at NASA, with everyone aware that this would impact all the women employed.

Octavia Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughn, the woman heading up the team of ‘colored computers’ – who acts as supervisor to the woman, though without the actual job title (there’s a lot more to her story, but I don’t want to spoil that one bit). Taraji P. Hensen plays Katherine Goble (later Johnson), a brilliant mathematician who finds herself placed with the team calculating launch and landing trajectories for Project Mercury – NASA’s first attempts to get a man into space. Janelle Monae plays Mary Jackson, the member of the group who aspires to be an engineer. All three women are brilliant, and I honestly had no idea how good of an actress Monae is.


The Galaxy is dimmer tonight.


I’d sort of prepared myself for losing Carrie Fisher, after the news broke about her heart attack. But it still didn’t lessen the shock or the sadness when I learned of her death today.

It’s easy to say that someone’s just an actor. Just an artist. And I’ve seen plenty of nay-sayers quick to criticize people mourning.

The reason that actors/artists/creators reach us is because they made an impression on us. Either as human beings, or because something they created reached us.

Carrie Fisher was so much more than Princess Leia, though that will doubtlessly be her best known legacy. She was an incredible writer, both in her novels and memoirs as well as screenplays that she wrote – and those she was a script doctor for.

She stopped being a script doctor because the industry didn’t value their work – asking them to submit notes on what they’d change. Realizing that studios would just take the notes and never hire someone, she moved on.

I spend a lot of time on Tumblr. Over there, she’s known as Space Mom. Because her bravery and honesty inspired so many lost younger women to be brave. The awesomeness that is General Leia was pretty much secondary to a woman who wasn’t afraid to talk about the stumbles – whether it was George Lucas insisting she couldn’t wear a bra, living with bipolar disorder – and living unapologetically.

Princess Leia? She might have been awesome and all? But Carrie Fisher was way cooler.

Review: MOANA


This last weekend, I was fortunate enough to get to see Disney’s latest animated movie Moana – which is out in theaters today!

Tenacious teenager Moana (voice of Auliʻi Cravalho) recruits a demigod named Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) to help her become a master wayfinder and sail out on a daring mission to save her people. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker, produced by Osnat Shurer, and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i, “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.  ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

I wish I could have had this review up earlier – but my basic reaction to the movie was !!!!!

And I’m not sure that an entire post of !!!! would have been interpreted in the way I wanted it to.

Moana is the story of the young woman who is the daughter of the head of the village, who finds herself drawn to the ocean instead of the life that’s been laid out for her. She finds herself set out on an epic quest to track down Maui, the demi-god.

This is a beautiful movie from any angle. The art is phenomenal – Disney took great care to show Pacific Islanders in all their diversity, breaking free from their recent streak of extremely similar looking princesses. The story is sincere, and there will be many people happy to know that there isn’t a love story in sight of this story – not unless you could loving yourself or your family. And the music…

The music includes songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (the man behind In the Heights and Hamilton), as well as Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foaʻi. As you might expect, the music written by Miranda both fits what you expect from a Disney movie (sweeping ballads) and exceeds it with fun songs for Maui and one of the movie’s villains.

The cast is nearly entirely made of Pacific Islanders – with newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho as Moana, Dwayne Johnson as Maui, Temura Morrison as Moana’s father, Nicole Scherzinger as Moana’s mother, Rachel House as Moana’s grandmother, and Jermaine Clement as Tamatoa. Alan Tudyk is actually the only cast member who isn’t Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and he voices the chicken.

The movie is touching (I wish I’d brought tissues) and at times a little scary – with some scenes of danger out on open water, as well as fighting some pretty epic bad guys. But we were at a screening with small children and most seemed unaffected.

I definitely recommend that you check it out this weekend!

Update: There are a lot of criticisms from Pacific Islanders about the movie mixing and mashing up various cultures (because there are a lot of separate and distinct cultures). I didn’t go in expecting accuracy, which is why I didn’t mention it. (Heck, I see how movies expect that Hispanic cultures are homogenous) But if you look, you can find some excellent twitter threads on the subject, and it’s worth checking out.

I am still excited that there is a movie featuring a Pacific Islander cast that is positive, and will hopefully get more people interested in learning more. And that while not perfect, Moana is someone that little girls can be excited to see themselves in.

Disney, can we get a real Latina princess now? Elena’s awesome, but one on the big screen would be fabulous.

(Picture from Walt Disney Pictures)

The Trump Administration and criticism.


In case you missed it, VP-elect Mike Pence went to Hamilton in New York on Friday night. And was booed by theater goers, hardly surprising since the show attracts a lot of the LGBT community, POC, and allies who champion them.

At the end of the show, the cast gave a statement about tolerance and pointed out that their cast’s diversity represents America – and hoped that this might change his POV.

The Trump Administration…. (meaning Donald Trump) tweeted that Pence was lectured and judged and demanded an apology. He later deleted one part of his twitter rant.

I have a lot I want to address.

Mike Pence was booed. He was not ejected from the theater. He wasn’t pushed or shoved. By all accounts, nobody did anything to him other than asking him to stay a moment to hear the cast’s thoughts. Which again, were kind, loving and hopeful, and reminded people that all were welcome at their show.

None of the things that happened are out of the norm for a politician anywhere. As a prominent politician, you are asked to hear things from differing points of view. You are often subjected to boos from people who disagree with you. And going to a pro-immigrant show about revolution (filled with minorities who urged the youth of America to vote against the man who won)? It’s not an entirely unexpected reaction. Especially given Pence’s political history.

So to act as though this was an insult of the highest degree? Either the Trump Administration is thin-skinned and not prepared for common and mostly respectful ways of expressing dissent, or they were trying to change the narrative.

The same day that Pence went to see Hamilton, it was announced that President-Elect Trump agreed to pay a $25 million settlement for the lawsuit alleging fraud with Trump University. Care to take a guess as to which story is dominating the media?

It isn’t the settlement.

If this is simply a twitter temper tantrum- I’m concerned about the potential ramifications of a President who will use Twitter to avoid the Press, rally supporters and then delete impulsive statements. His own campaign placed an emphasis on the importance of not deleting digital documentation – and like it or not, Twitter is the same thing. Deleting tweets is exactly the same as deleting emails. (Though I feel I should point out that deleting emails is something he was guilty of doing with his own business)

But if this was an attempt to manipulate the media against covering Trump’s shortcomings? That’s also something that people need to be aware of, especially since it seems to have worked. Freedom of the press is important. The press is considered the Fourth Estate – there to check against corruption in government. And while I think we can all agree that the modern state of press on television is pretty bad, it’s still important to have, even if journalism on TV is interested more in ratings.

Art is quite often a political work. It’s an artist’s reaction to many things, and Hamilton is a reaction to inequity in the way we remember our own history as well as the way we see our world currently.

Frankly, more people should engage with artwork that is in opposition to what they believe. It makes you think, it makes you challenge your own beliefs. And you grow as a person when you do that.

Instead Trump supporters are calling for a boycott of Hamilton – which is the easiest boycott there is. It’s impossible to get tickets to the show, so it takes zero effort to avoid it. (So far we’re two for two on failed boycott attempts, what with the Trump cup thing not actually doing anything more than giving Starbucks money) Maybe they should actually take a listen to the show, if nothing more that to get a listen and see what happens when a politician is so concerned with controlling their story and their legacy that they essentially destroy their own lives.

Edited to add: Please compare what happened with Pence to the Trump supporter who actually interrupted a performance in Chicago with profanities, showing great disrespect to the cast as well as everyone who paid to see the show. Nobody barred Pence from seeing the show or interrupted his viewing. Whether he was given tickets or bought them – he was allowed to experience the show the same as anyone else in that room.

What’s with the political posts?


I’ve been writing a lot about politics, which might seem like I’ve come a far way from where I started – blogging about my family.

But it’s what’s weighing on my mind, largely in part due to the conversations I’ve had with my children. Do I really want this to be the world my children inherent? Do I want to teach them that bullies can steamroll over them? Continue to insist that their voices, that their fears are not as important as white voices?

My children believe in the American Dream. It’s been heartbreaking to watch them realize that our country isn’t as fair as it says on the wrapper. That freedom is given first to those with privilege- both financial and societal.

Judging by the response I’m getting from friends and family, I’m going to keep writing.

I’m not an expert. I’m just a woman who started reading and listening to those who know what they’re talking about (though admittedly I’ve read a LOT). I’m someone with empathy who recognized injustice. I’m someone working through how I feel in the way I process – by writing.

So when I muse about my own decisions about stuff – like my feelings on the Galactic Empire – that’s me working through my own stuff.

The only thing I ask of any of you is that you keep reading, especially if you disagree with my point of view. Because to anyone who complains about people protesting, you need to stop to listen about why people are so upset. Why people are so afraid.

(Actually one more thing – if you’re going to wear a safety pin? Just donate money to a charity that supports marginalized groups – like the Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline, BLM, ALCU, SPLC, or a NoDAPL legal fund. If you’re really determined to wear the pin, just find something in your junk drawer. Don’t buy something off etsy. Passive support like pins isn’t going to cut it. Passive support is what got us here. Time to be active, even if it’s just by financing those who CAN/WILL protest.)

Shaking things up.


Anyone who’s known me for any period of time knows that I have a soft spot for the Galactic Empire. Sure they’re the bad guys, sure they lose in the end (as they should) – but I always had fun pretending. Sneering, etc. And the Imperial March is kick-ass.

No more. It’s fun to be the bad guy when it’s just fiction – but the truth is, the line between fiction and fact has blurred to a point now where I can’t. It’s harder for me to ignore that the Galactic Empire is based on human supremacy… which would be white supremacy in real world terms. It’s not a stretch – their lingo was taken from Nazis. Lucas didn’t invent the name stormtroopers. He built on something terrifying that we would recognize to create the ultimate cinematic evil. (And they’ve made it even more blatant. My son recognized the First Order’s assembly as looking a lot like the Third Reich)

With politics as they are, I can’t pretend anymore. It was easy to think that sort of evil didn’t exist as a large group anymore, that it was scattered pockets of hate – but this election legitimized it. Normalized it. It told people filled with hate that they could step out of the shadows and wouldn’t face retribution for it. Indeed our president elect and his family attempted to tell us that those reports were overblown and likely lies. (Which is a little something called gaslighting. It’s done by abusers to continue their abuse- it’s telling someone that their perception of reality is wrong. It isn’t correcting a lie or being mistaken.)

I’m not going to set aside my anger and rage, no matter what politician tells me ‘it isn’t really that bad’ (even one hateful act committed because someone was emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric is too much). I’m not going to believe that Trump’s followers will listen to his half-hearted “just stop” from his interview on 60 Minutes – especially not when he hired a white nationalist to be his chief strategist. Complacency is what got us into this mess.

People with far more privilege and influence than I have kept looking around and saying, we have laws in place to stop discrimination… we’ve done enough. And ignored all the marginalized groups who said the fight wasn’t done. (And that includes gays and lesbians in the LGBTQ community, white feminists – who repeatedly overlook the needs of marginalized groups within their numbers.)

So I’m putting away my Imperial cogs. And pulling out my Rebel crest. This is a Rebellion isn’t it? I rebel.


Image: mine – I made the vector off an image of the logo, added text

The Day After.


I’m sitting here, angry and frustrated. Heartbroken.

I watched so many people on my Facebook feed talk about how they were going to vote for a third party… whether it was out of principle or protest. Because they “just couldn’t vote for either candidate.”

You’d have to be delusional not to understand that while we do have third parties – we are not set up for a third party system. What ends up happening is that a third party forms a coalition well after Democrats and Republicans begin campaigning, so all they do is gain a small amount of momentum once the primaries are complete.

So votes for third party candidates (and write-in candidates) end up splitting the vote between the two main parties. And typically cause close races and upsets. Like they did with Bush & Gore, and like they did tonight.

I noticed a common thread amongst those third party voters. All were white. All were straight. None identify as LGBTQ. Most had a college education. (These were the ones who were open about it in their feed)

In short, they’re the people who would do just fine no matter who came into power.

You and I can discuss whether or not it’s a shame that we don’t have a system that supports a third party (it is – third parties are historically agents of major political change). But that doesn’t change that of the two major candidates, you had a person who spent their entire career in public service, but who admittedly is not a perfect person. And you had a celebrity whose entire platform catered to white individuals, by wanting to undo progress. That painted all Muslims as dangerous, painted Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers. That said whatever it felt like, and pretended they didn’t say things that they did. Whose candidate spent more time on Twitter bashing his enemies, than he did actually learning about foreign policy and the basics of how the government works.

It doesn’t change that in order to stand by his principles, you had to ignore how his presidency could affect all of those minority groups. And decide that it would be okay, because it wouldn’t affect you. Because you could stand by your “principles.” (I’m sure a lot of them are the same people who sniff that they’ll move to Canada. Because they have the resources to do so)

I’m standing by my own. Because, imperfect system or not, it’s our duty to try to pick the candidate that we know has a shot at winning and who would do the best job. And all those privileged third party voters… ignored so many people in our country that this administration would leave behind.

But the blame isn’t solely on third party voters. A lot of the blame lies with the television media who gave Donald Trump a platform when he was a joke. Who brought him on to morning shows because his outrageousness drew in viewers who wanted to see what he’d say next. And they normalized his hate, his arrogance, his ignorance.

When it was clear that he had a shot at winning, they tried to backtrack – but it was too late. Every television station is guilty of this, local to national to cable networks. It’s one of the reasons I’ve begun relying on newspapers for coverage.

So thank you, ambivalent white people and ratings hungry networks. Thank you very much. The damage that this presidency is already doing will take time to untangle.

But really, thank you for giving me a focus for the next four years. I am, as I have always been, committed to making the country a more fair place for all Americans (and not just to improve my own rights – I will readily admit there are minority groups worse off than me, and nobody deserves to live in fear). You’ve just lit a fire under me.

To everyone upset- Stay. Fight. Don’t give up on America. Show those filled with hate (whether it’s a small flicker of it or a bonfire) that they can’t destroy our light.

It doesn’t change the bitter disappointment. The lack of faith I have in people, for being able to overlook someone who regularly gaslights everyone around him. Because the party he represents would benefit their status quo.

Edit: There’s a lot more at work here – but I’m going to need a lot more time to mentally unpack and discuss the white women who refused to vote for Hillary. (Which mostly is on how divisive the primary elections were)

State of the Whitney


I am a busy person.

I lost track of this fall and found myself trying to get my Rey costume together last minute…. and no. I’m going to save that costume for Wondercon. She deserves my full effort. The good thing is that I have everything I need to make the costume, but the time. Everything for the wig, everything for the basic costume. I was still waiting for the bandages for her arms – so I don’t have to worry about that now.

And I have plenty of things I can put together for a cosplay (and for Halloween).

Lots of things to do, not enough time. So I’m just gonna do what you do. Postpone the things you can and focus on those you can’t.

(Speaking of postponing – this week’s Supergirl vlog will likely go up on Thursday or Friday. Due to circumstances beyond my control I can’t film today, which makes it impossible to get up tomorrow. But feel free to DM me if you want to talk about the episode! I’m @whitneyd on Twitter)

Down w/ Locker Room Banter.


This post is shamelessly inspired by TW’s post on FB about something her daughter said, but it’s been on my mind since last week.

It’s easy to say that what Donald Trump said in that Access Hollywood tape was vile – especially when he claims it’s locker room banter. But the issue is that the more we talk about how it isn’t locker room banter, we ignore what men do talk about in spaces where they feel like they can say whatever is on their mind.

Sure, I’m a woman. But I’ve worked in a lot of male dominant jobs and have a lot of guy friends. So I’ve heard a lot of things over the years. Mostly from close male friends complaining about how they were disgusted by conversations.

Things like male coworkers discussing the ‘color of the day’ about underwear that women were wearing. Rating women on scales, often to their faces. Coming up with unflattering nicknames used behind the woman’s back. Sharing pictures their girlfriends sent them, that probably weren’t intended to be shared. Talking about how they cheat on their significant others.

And that’s “normal.” That’s “acceptable.” That’s also rape culture. (Which, for those new here is all the stuff we do as a society that normalizes sexual violence. Like wondering what a victim was wearing or what they were doing, not placing the blame on the aggressor. Discounting assault as boys will be boys.)


The Vlog is BACK!


Well, after a long gap in vlogging (I really was having a hard time getting over the cancellation of Agent Carter) – the Vlog is back!

I’m doing another #WhitneyWatches video, but this time I’m taking on my biggest challenge yet – Season Two of Supergirl! This video’s mostly about the new additions and what changes switching to the CW has brought.

If you haven’t yet, please take a second to subscribe to my YouTube channel and give the video a thumbs up! (Even though, the Pens fan in me is tickled that I’m currently at 87 subscribers)