Do I Still Agree With Myself?


Since creating this website in 2013, my writing and analytical ability have developed past that displayed in many early posts, and my views and understanding of the world and many of the works I’ve covered have changed. This often niggles me, and I’ve considered deleting some posts, leaving what I consider my best, but as they’re still popular and serve as a testament to how much I’ve accomplished over the years, I’ve instead decided to create this post. I’ll be reviewing my past posts, seeing what I still agree with and what I don’t, and clarifying my current views. Who knows, maybe this will turn into an ongoing series as my perspectives are constantly evolving, and there may be other posts I discover I have issue with!


The motivation behind this post was to praise economic writing and the song’s use of it. However, due to the lyrical content I’m examining, it could come across like I’m critical of the armed forces. I’m not, but at the time, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about going along with someone who was. I have no great knowledge or strong opinions about the military, but I’m greatly admiring of anyone willing to make a sacrifice in aid of others.


I don’t believe now the creators of Alien (dir. Scott, 1979) intended to criticise female empowerment, and I don’t think I believed it at the time. There’s actually a stronger argument for exactly the opposite, and aspects of the film I focus on can all be reinterpreted to support this. We do indeed see a future society without gender divides, and it works out pretty well as the strong female character Ripley ends up saving the day; it’s only because the male crew ignored her quarantine command that they got into trouble in the first place. The alien, symbolic of man’s bestial sexual nature, turns the male crew into victims of sexual violence, in ways previously beyond their comprehension; one even experiencing a painful childbirth as a result. The porno mag scene is clearly designed to be critical of female exploitation and sexual violence; the rabid Ash, spewing white goo, forcing the phallic magazine down Ripley’s throat. And although we do see Ripley strip to her skimpy undies for the climax, it’s revealed it’s shot from the perspective of the alien; forcing the male audience ogling Ripley to realise their connection with the beast.

As mentioned in the post, this analysis was inspired by my recent discovery of viewing films through the lens of feminism, and I believe I was motivated more by exploring this exciting new way of looking at films than I was with making a genuine exposé. This is also a symptom of university essay writing, which encourages analysis based on interpretation rather than fact. If you can justify it via your own interpretation of the screen language, it’s acceptable, whether you believe it was the filmmakers’ true intention or not. I don’t have a problem with this, in fact, I’m all for it! Finding connections and meanings in films that weren’t necessarily the filmmakers’ intention is half the fun of analysis. You can get into trouble, though, if you’re stringently critical of filmmakers for meanings in their films you’ve created yourself. I’d like to avoid ever coming across like this in future.

Aliens (dir. Cameron, 1986) does indeed reward Ripley with a family, symbolically returning her to the role of loving wife and mother. I don’t believe now, though, that this has to be viewed negatively. She’s never once depicted as weak in comparison to her male counterparts or shown she doesn’t belong in the heat of the action; quite the opposite. She draws strength from her maternal instincts, as male action heroes often have from their paternal ones (protecting family, being rewarded with one; common action movie tropes: see Mad Max), and this is to be commended. You maybe wouldn’t want ‘independent woman becomes wife and mother’ to be the plot of every action movie, but I don’t think there’s anything sexist about it here.

I think I make some good points in my analysis of Alien 3 (dir. Fincher, 1993) – an underrated film – in particular, recognising its depiction of a patriarchal society and rape culture; there’s depth to this film that’s often overlooked. There are a few points that were maybe just my own interpretation, tying together the overall point of the post, and not the director’s intention (the symbolism of Ripley’s sacrifice for example), but as I said earlier, that’s half the fun of analysis!


My analysis of how Love and Monsters criticises fans who have a very inflexible view of what Doctor Who should be, comes across a bit hypocritically intolerant. That was not my intent. I would never want to suggest people aren’t entitled to an opinion, more that people who are unwilling to accept the greater possibilities of what Doctor Who (and life) can be are missing out on a lot of strangeness, darkness and madness!


In the first of my Mad Max 2 (dir. Miller, 1981) posts, I posited that, despite their misleading appearance, the Marauders have more in common with traditional society, and the Settlers have more in common with the counterculture, but it is their more traditional beliefs that are their weakness. I think now, rather than representing any particular group, more simply, the Marauders are representative of what Miller considers the evil of humanity, and the Settlers, the good. The Marauders rape, war, pillage; they operate via a dictatorship, and they’re stuck in a cycle of selfish consumption. They lack a higher purpose and a desire to better themselves, which the Settlers have, along with democracy and a sense of community, family, and loyalty. The Settlers’ connection to self-sufficiency ties them with the counterculture (Pappagallo is a bit of an old hippy) but that’s more to do with the film’s criticism of fossil fuels (such an ironic theme) than an attempt to connect them with a particular group, and they possess many traditional qualities. Max is tempted over to the side of the Settlers and away from the marauding lifestyle once he’s given a purpose and a chance to better himself. The fact he’s betrayed – although he doesn’t seem too bothered about this – does add some ambiguity to the Settlers, but I don’t believe it’s their traditional beliefs that are being called into question. Perhaps, instead, it acts as a warning that although we require purpose in life, devotion to a cause can sometimes cloud one’s morality. I posited that the Settlers’ traditional community values give them a distrust of outsiders that prevents them from truly accepting the marauder-like Max and that their religious conviction leads to their act of betrayal. I no longer believe this was Miller’s intention. The Settlers’ initial distrust of Max is just a logical reaction, and their belief in paradise and Max’s martyrdom does not act as a criticism of religion, rather an endorsement of purpose and sacrifice and the spiritual power of storytelling.

GEORGE MILLER: there’s something that compels us collectively as human beings to find meaning in the universe. I mean, we can’t exist without that. And we do it through stories and narratives in order to explain the universe to ourselves. Or life to ourselves. And in all cultures across all time and space as humankind, we do that. We do that spontaneously. And I think that’s the function of storytelling, and some stories are so compelling, they become mythologies and indeed religions.”


In my Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (dir. Miller, 1985) post, I posited that it ‘also’ acts as a criticism of traditional (Western) society. I was closer to the truth in this case as it does offer a blatant critique of capitalism and seemingly supports a Marxist philosophy. However, knowing little of economics or politics at the time (I’m still far from an expert), but having done a little research into Marxism, I was quick to side with this critique without pinpointing any possible flaws. For example, we see those at the bottom of the hierarchy offered no payment for their services and no opportunity to climb the ladder. Not really reflective of capitalism. This lack of opportunity for social mobility and the fact that Pig Killer and his ilk are working solely in service of the state arguably aligns Bartertown more closely with communism. Either way, as I’ve mentioned, economics and politics are not my expertise, so I’ll keep away from siding with political ideologies, as I did here and in other posts, in future (certainly not before doing more research). The film also offers a more pointed criticism of religion, suggesting it can halt social progress. However, Savannah’s final monologue, again, endorses the spiritual power of storytelling.


This was a piece of coursework written in the final year of my degree that I later posted on my website. It again suffers from the university essay ‘interpretation over fact’ philosophy. It’s unquestionable that Strangers on a Train (dir. Hitchcock, 1951) and Pyscho (dir. Hitchcock, 1960) used homosexuality and transvestism to enhance their killers’ perversion, that Strangers’ protagonist, Guy, was a prototype final girl, and that these films, as well as real-life killers, had a huge influence on the slasher genre and its continuing characterisation of homosexuals and transvestites as deranged deviants. However, I don’t believe for one second and didn’t at the time that every final girl is symbolically a male in the midst of a sexual crisis. The concept just allowed for a new spin on the material that would make an interesting essay; much like my Alien analysis.


As they were based on interpretations of the earlier movies that I now disagree with, my hopes for Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. Miller, 2015) now, on the whole, don’t reflect what I’d be hoping for from a new Mad Max movie. I’m not particularly interested in the Mad Max series giving direct criticisms of capitalism (or the rock industry. Where did that one come from?), more human ills in general. I’m not sure why I was hoping for a clearer critique of the military, having no strong opinions about it (see Eat the Gun). I suspect I’d just foreseen the possibility of this happening and felt I should include it. I was hoping for feminist themes (my obsession at the time), criticising female oppression, and again I unfairly criticise heroines with maternal instincts (see Alien Equality). Again, a more rounded view of humanity’s ills would be appreciated today. I enjoy the religious symbolism of the Mad Max series and its contemplations on the spiritual power of storytelling and would always hope for their inclusion. However, while criticism of religious extremism and manipulation are alright with me, I would not hope for a negative depiction of religion in general. Ponderings on the afterlife are, again, alright with me, but I’m not sure why I was seeking a definitive statement on Miller’s belief in the existence of Heaven or Hell; I’d prefer a little more ambiguity these days. Today I’d give a big ‘no’ to the possibility of any romantic relationship for Max. Giving him a partner or a family would undermine the self-sacrificing nature of his character; unless they were planning on ending the series. Lastly, I’m still in total agreement with myself that CGI and an overly talky Max have no place in the franchise!


I still agree that the depictions of ethnic groups (and aliens representing ethnic groups) in District 9 (dir. Blomkamp, 2009) and Elysium (dir. Blomkamp, 2013) range from stereotypical to arguably racist and that they, along with Chappie (dir. Blomkamp, 2015), have character development and plot issues. However, I’m a little strident in my delivery. I was trying to break away from the university essay writing style at this time, but there’s still elements of it here (the adamant assuredness of my position) mixed with attempts at a more relaxed style, which in places makes me come across like a real arrogant bitch (criticising Blomkamp’s political commentary when I’m no political expert myself). Thankfully, I think I’ve developed a more personable, relaxed style since then; hopefully displayed in this post.


In my Mad Max (dir. Miller, 1979) post, I describe it as my least favourite of the original trilogy due to its morally questionable material. I suggest its depiction of Toecutter’s gang vilifies the counterculture while Max’s job as a cop suggests support for the establishment. I now disagree with this. The gang, like the Marauders, more likely represent the evils of humanity, with their lawlessness and purposeless self-indulgence. While Max and his job represent moral duty, and law and order; hardly things to be criticised. The gang’s homosexual characterisation is questionable as it bears similarities to the previously mentioned slasher killers, being used to heighten their perversion. However, there is the argument that the use of gay characters is meant to represent a sexually liberated future, with Max’s commanding officer Fifi also characterised as gay. I label Fifi’s characterisation as stereotypical, but he is a unique and memorable character, in a respected position, traditionally held by straight, masculine males, so that was perhaps a little unfair. I also cite Max’s traditional family life being presented as the ideal in comparison to the homosexual gang as being problematic. This argument is weakened when we consider the defence of the gang’s homosexual characterisation and the true themes of the trilogy, purpose and betterment. Max’s family are representative of this as are the surrogate families in the sequels he’s given the chance to help and protect (as he failed to do with his), showing the series is rightly supportive of families, and the protective nature of the parental figure (see Alien Equality). I was also critical of the film’s grim ending, but as this is clearly presented as a tragedy, it is in no way morally corrupt, and actually makes the message harder hitting, as seeing our hero (and identity figure) losing his purpose in life and giving into the gang culture and survival of the fittest philosophy, makes it easier for us to empathise with the film’s themes. Far from being morally bankrupt, Mad Max contains many admirable moral messages, and has gone up in my estimations to become my second favourite of the series (nothing can top Mad Max 2).

A further note on the fridging of Max’s wife, Jessie, and fridging in general. I referred to Jessie’s death as an example of fridging at odds with the feminism of the sequels. Fridging is used to describe instances in which a female character close to a male one is killed to further his arc. I now believe to describe Jessie’s death and every instance of this trope as sexist is a little ridiculous. Characters (male and female) close to protagonists are killed off all the time to symbolise themes and further the protagonist’s arc; Goose, Max’s dog, Mufasa, Newt, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. It doesn’t automatically make it sexist every time it happens to a female one. After all, it’s not their story, it’s the protagonist’s, and good economic writing dictates it’s they who should be the main focus. Not every support character can have agency, be a hero, and have a happy ending; that would just be a mess. It may be the case that more female characters are fridged than males (but thinking off the top of my head, I mostly came up with males), but rather than being a symptom of inherently sexist writing, that’s probably more to do with the majority of writers being male and creating male heroes, which I don’t think they should be criticised for (good writers write what they know). More female filmmakers and writers would probably reverse this trend (if indeed it exists; I haven’t seen the stats). Jessie, and Max’s love for her, are symbolic of purpose and betterment, and the lose of the positive influence of a woman in Max’s life is presented as a complete tragedy. Male writers should be praised for viewing women in such a way, not criticised.


Much I disagree with here. My central argument is that Furiosa should’ve been the only wife of Immortan Joe as the Fives Wives are superfluous, lacking character and agency, which reduces them to figures of objectification; contradicting the feminist themes of the film. This thinking is based on the rules of economic writing – don’t use any more characters than you need to – but I now see why the Wives are needed and where their agency lies. While Furiosa possesses a lot of agency, if she were the only wife, she’d resemble little more than your stereotypical rape revenge heroine, and while the Wives don’t do any of the kick-ass fighting, their agency is that of endurance. They have survived abuse through endurance and had the bravery to decide to seek help and flee their captor; it is they who set the whole plot in motion, not Furiosa. The implication being abused women shouldn’t have to be kick-ass fighters to be seen as heroes; there’s bravery in endurance and having the will to escape oppression. It’s true they wear skimpy clothing, opening them up for objectification, but the scene I cite where they’re washing each other with the hose is shot from Max’s perspective, inviting the male audience to ogle them, connecting them with the oppressive male characters of the film (it’s the same trick from Alien), and arguably this is done for the whole film. I still think as characters they’re underdeveloped and doing more than just giving one of them a weak love story would probably have been a good idea. Speaking of which, I still totally agree that Nux’s sacrifice is uninteresting and we would’ve connected with it more if it were given to Max. I’m not sure about cutting Max altogether and making this a Furiosa film, it probably could’ve worked, but having male and female characters learn to work together is a more positive way to go.

My statement that the film doesn’t expand much on what we learnt from interviews and trailers is utterly vacant. There’s a great deal going on in the film under the surface, but I think my overall disappointment with it on first viewing meant I just wasn’t looking. Everything we need to know about the world and the characters is shown to us, instead of repeatedly told; which is how it should be. I’ll give a brief summary but it’d take a whole new post to get everything. It’s another amplification of humanity’s ills. It depicts society as a perpetual war machine, kept going by a power-hungry man (that’s who killed the world) just so he can cling onto power. Women are employed as baby making machines while the men don’t fare much better, being bred and brainwashed solely for war; willing to die for the glory of their divine leader. Like the Marauders, they’re stuck in a cycle, with no higher purpose or chance for betterment, which is what they’re given via the altruistic actions of our heroes. It’s not on the whole how I view society, but it’s a credible exaggeration of the worst of humanity and certainly a layered depiction. I still prefer the original trilogy with its zero use of CGI and better use of Max, but I’ll gladly admit I was unfairly critical of this first time around.


Never thought this actually could or should’ve happened – I wasn’t campaigning for it – but it would’ve made a cool (possibly better) movie, and if they got the go-ahead ten years earlier, this could be quite close to how it would’ve turned out. As it is, I still think it’s a nice bit of fanwank.


This post continued the assumptions (I now believe to be incorrect) made in my first Mad Max 2 post about the film’s themes and what Max, the Settlers, and the Marauders represent. I also suggest the Gyro Captain’s ownership of a snake connects him with Satan and reveals him as the true villain of the piece. An interesting but farfetched analysis, his snake more likely representing his cunning nature, and his minor deceptions hardly paint him as the ultimate evil.


I cited the subversion of the ‘women as reward’ trope as something I like about Star Wars (dir. Lucas, 1977), and I still very much like this. However, it’s probably the subversion of the damsel in distress character that’s more appealing. No one likes the whiny damsel in distress, always stumbling into trouble, which makes Leia’s feisty, pistol-packing princess a really enjoyable innovation. The fact she’s not given to one of the male characters as a reward for their heroism is a bonus as it allows for a more unconventional story. It also showed excellent foresight as it would’ve dulled the character for the sequel, which is exactly what it did do when it happened (Leia doesn’t act like Leia in Jedi). I would like to point out, though, that, like fridging (see Mad Max), describing every instance of this trope as sexist would be ridiculous (not that I was doing that). Of course you want strong female characters, but the guy getting the girl doesn’t always equate to sexism. A female love interest may not always be as developed as a male protagonist but, again, it’s not their story, and she may be symbolic of very positive views of women (see Mad Max). Furthermore, female protagonists are given men as reward just as often. Some might consider this sexist, though, as it places them in a traditional gender role (you can’t win sometimes). Viewing films through the lens of feminism can be interesting and is definitely worthwhile, pushing writers to consider subversions of stereotypical characterisations and worn out, old tropes. However, it can also be very restrictive, to both creativity and enjoyment, if you are too extreme in your readings.

I offered Han and Leia’s relationship as something I don’t like about Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (dir. Kershner, 1980). I asked why does she fall for him as all he seems to do is act in a sexist manner and she seems quite adamant she’s not interested in him? I rewatched Empire before starting this post in a deliberate attempt to find material to counteract this argument but sadly didn’t find much. The first time we see Leia, she’s staring across the room at Han, suggesting feelings for him, but it’s subtle and easily missed or interpreted differently. Han expresses his feelings more openly, being rather sweet and sincere when he goes to say goodbye to her. Leia is very harsh in her response, and in the subsequent arguments, Han suggests Leia is concealing her feelings. However, not much is done to suggest this is true, as she constantly refutes his claims. It also begs the question, why is she doing this? Fear that it will undermine her position, or of falling in love in such difficult times? Possibly, but again, it’s not suggested. Han is protective and shows a lot of concern for her, but she’s always pushing him away when he does this, and when they finally kiss, Han comes across like a real sleaze, forcing himself on her (she escapes the situation as quick as she can). It’s true Leia is a bit stuck up and rude and could maybe learn to relax a bit, like Han, but this suggests the theme of the love story is ‘she really wants it, she just needs to loosen up a bit’, and I can’t really defend that. I also criticise Han not telling Leia he loves her, but more because it shows he hasn’t really changed or done anything to deserve her. The line is definitely better than the alternative, suggesting character and avoiding being mawkish; and the feelings are all expressed visually anyway.

I still don’t like Leia being revealed as Luke’s sister in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (dir. Marquand, 1983). It’s a ridiculous coincidence, mainly done for shock value, and doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen and been told so far. However, my criticism that she doesn’t react to the fact Darth Vader is also revealed as her father could be argued against. Her emotional interaction with Han after the revelation suggests distress, and her inability to divulge the truth suggests fear it could endanger her friends. I also state it doesn’t affect the story. This is a major oversight, as it sets up the most crucial moment of the climax; Vader using it against Luke, inciting him to embrace his anger and the dark side. It’s still a very silly twist, though. It would’ve been better if the other hope for the Jedi that Yoda refers to in Empire was Vader. It is, after all, Vader who kills the Emperor and destroys the dark side. This would show Yoda’s wisdom and strong connection to the force, knowing there is still hope for Vader, and reveal he was training Luke to turn his father back to good all along (like all his teachings suggest). This is even suggested in the mise-en-scene in Empire as Yoda is surrounded by black and bathed in red (the colours of Vader) just as he delivers the line, “no, there is another”.


I professed earlier that I’d developed a more personable style of analysis, devoid of the more strident (and bitchy) elements found in some of my early work, back when I was still refining my technique. Yet it’s hard to describe my review of Ghostbusters (dir. Feig, 2016), my latest film review, as anything other than strident and bitchy. My explanation for this? Ghostbusters is a truly terrible movie. I don’t regret one word.


Well, that, along with finally putting The Darning Needle behind me, was a satisfying purging experience. Now I can get on with bringing you brand new analyses, films, scripts, and other projects in the coming year!


Killer Cells

Here’s a trailer I was employed to produce for Avant Cymru’s theatrical production, Killer Cells. Killer Cells is a play about recurrent miscarriage. It manages to capture the pain and trauma of these tragedies with palpable authenticity – the script being based on real life experience – but it is in no way depressive or negative, ultimately being a story of optimism and resilience. It illustrates the importance of strong friendships and relationships, at times with a lightness and humour, yet this never distracts from the serious subject matter, and crucially, it doesn’t neglect to show things from the man’s perspective; depicting the male experience with equal validity. Killer Cells tackles a taboo subject, rarely discussed in public, with both bravery and sensitivity, creating something uniquely entertaining, informative and moving. I highly recommend you try and catch the play next time it tours, and together we can help #BreakTheSilence.

Career Plan 2016-2017

At the beginning of the year, I found myself in a much securer position than at the beginning of the previous year and with a clear objective for the year to come of prioritising the development of my own work over critiquing other people’s.

My main focus has been The Darning Needle, a 3x45min drama that I’ve submitted to the Wales Drama Award. It’s my best and most substantial work to date and the first full-length piece I’ve been satisfied with (although a writer is never truly satisfied and I’ll go back to it if required). I’m eagerly awaiting the results of the Wales Drama Award, and preparing other work to present to the judges if I’m successful, including an outline for another full-length piece and a Doctor Who episode! At some point after the results, I should be able to share some extracts from The Darning Needle and these other pieces. I’m hopeful for success, but failing any, I’ll have another chance to submit The Darning Needle to the BBC via their Script Room in December.

I’ve also been seeking success with writing in the short form. Last September, I set myself the target of writing three short films by January with an eye to film the most suitable as an eligible contender for competitions and festivals throughout the year. The first I finished was Nice Guy. I felt this was least suitable as it wasn’t up to the standard of the other two and its critique of internet culture would require the potentially long and costly development of a fake social network to avoid copyright. The second, Total Investigation Television, was the script I chose to film. It still provided a critique of internet culture but was far more easily realised; being shot in the style of the social experiment films it satirised. I was happy with its realisation, its production led to connections with some brilliant actors and organisations that I hope to work with again, and it’s also received some recognition! It’s due to be shown at Made in Roath Arts Festival on October 15th, and was nominated for Best Fiction at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2016, but failed to win. The final script I wrote, and possibly the best of the three, was A Love Story at Lin’s Kitchen. I decided not to film it immediately as I wanted to submit it to a couple of competitions that offered the prize of having it produced by professionals. Sadly, like Total Investigation Television, it was not successful. I feel on all these occasions, I missed out due to my entries incompatibility with the criteria, so next year I’ll be preparing more suitable applicants.

A further unexpected achievement came through our nomination at Cardiff Mini Film Festival. During the networking after-party, I introduced myself to the award hosts, Boyd Clack and Kirsten Jones, and asked them if they’d be interested in starring in A Love Story at Lin’s Kitchen; now retitled, Bamboo House. They loved the script and agreed. Shooting commenced yesterday, and you can keep up to date by watching our video diary. Being my first film to feature professional actors, Bamboo House provides me with a great opportunity, as this will not only enhance the production but potentially draw greater attention to my work than ever before. It will be made public on YouTube in November and submitted to competitions and festivals thereafter; including those we missed deadlines for last year – Cardiff Independent Film Festival – and others that Total Investigation Television was not suitable for due to its limited visual scope. With professional actors onboard, impressive locations secured, and greater opportunity for sophisticated cinematography, Bamboo House should be my greatest production yet!

As well as instigating my own projects, I’ve played significant roles in other people’s. I helped out first-year film students at Cardiff and the Vale College, acting in one of their shorts. I also helped third year scriptwriting students at the University of South Wales, assisting at script development classes. It was here I met James Humphreys, a fruitful connection as I went on to perform in a live reading of his script, Ringland, and was later asked to act at and script edit his first ScriptDawg event, and time permitting I’ll be taking part in all future events. I’ve also been told by senior scriptwriting lecturer, Sian Summers, that she’ll inform me of any further opportunities to assist at the university, which I’m very hopeful to do as I feel my tutoring/script editing ability has been put to good use. Another project where these skills have been utilised is YouTube sitcom series, How Not To Be Single, created by James Musgrove. I helped James develop the script for episode one, taking an advisory position, and then went on to co-direct and film it. Episode two I wrote myself, working from a brief from James, and again I’ve been co-directing and filming. It will be released later this month, and we’re confident it will top episode one! With this huge increase in filming, I hope to produce a showreel very soon or even multiple ones, focusing individually on my acting, camerawork, and writing!

Despite all my filming and scriptwriting work, I’ve still found time for reviews and analyses of film and television. These include E.T., the Star Wars saga, all the X-Men universe films, Ghostbusters 2016, and the classic Doctor Who serial, The Ark. I was particularly proud of my X-Men and Doctor Who posts. The X-Men posts perfected the more light-hearted yet informative blogging style I’ve been trying to move towards after writing formal university essays for years. Next year sees the release of Spiderman: Homecoming, and I’d like to review the Spiderman franchise in a similar style, as well as the new Wolverine film so I can maintain my complete record. I was pleased to be able to debunk the negative and unfair fan opinion of The Ark, and I’m still hoping to produce many more Doctor Who posts in future. Critiquing at least one story from each Doctor is my next target, as well as an overview of all the Dalek stories with an accompanying video ranking my best to worst! I also plan to post about Star Wars: Rogue One this Christmas and Trainspotting and its sequel upon its release.

I’ve exceeded my objective as this has been by far my most productive year. I’ve produced my best work, made great connections and received recognition for my efforts. I feel my ability is still progressing at a rapid pace and I’m more focused and confident than ever. I’ve achieved more than I could’ve hoped for, but I feel now that I’m in such a strong position, next year will reap even greater rewards. Big success is just around the corner!

Fear of the Unknown (The Ark)

Is The Ark racist? It’s become a popular opinion in recent years, with various bloggers championing it, but is it true? Let’s take a rational look at the story and see what we discover. The Humans are travelling on the Ark with their seemingly willing servants, the Monoids; their destination, Refusis II. They are aware Refusis II is inhabited but know nothing about the Refusians. When the Doctor (William Hartnell) and his companions arrive on the Ark, they accidently bring a deadly illness and are put on trial for their lives; accused by the Humans of being Refusian spies, out to destroy them! When the prosecutor, Zentos (Inigo Jackson), reveals it is irrational feeling rather than reason that leads them to this conclusion, Stephen (Peter Purves) protests the Humans’ intolerance.

STEPHEN: the nature of man, even in this day and age, hasn’t altered at all. You still fear the unknown, like everyone else before you.”  

Only when the Humans overcome their prejudice against the newcomers to their world and let the travellers free is the situation resolved, as the Doctor is able to cure the illness. The Doctor leaves them with a parting message, “travel with understanding as well as hope”. So far, the story’s intention seems clear; to encourage acceptance of difference, not fear and hatred. However, it is the second half of the story that has provided the most evidence for the accusations of racism. The travellers return to the Ark 700 years later to discover the Monoids have now enslaved the Humans. It’s been suggested that the Monoids represent migrants, as they came to Earth to live with the Humans when their planet was destroyed, and that their rising up to overthrow the Humans reveals a fear of migrants doing the same in Britain. Unfortunately, the Monoids are depicted as crueller masters than the Humans, as although the Humans were seen to consider Human life more important than Monoid, and the Monoids served them, it seemed to be an amicable relationship, with no evidence of the Monoids being mistreated. Whereas the Monoids use weapons to inflict pain on the Humans and keep them in order, and plan to destroy them once they get to Refusis II. But is this intentional racism? No, not at all, just ill-considered, unsophisticated writing, accidently contradicting the message of the story. Yes, this could have been avoided if the Monoids were depicted as more sympathetic creatures, but to label it as deliberate racism is to be completely ignorant of how scriptwriting works. Both Stephen and the Doctor, the show’s moral conscious, give speeches condemning the Humans’ behaviour (“they were extremely intolerant and selfish”) and blaming them for the Monoids’ revolution.

THE DOCTOR: “they were treated like slaves! It’s no wonder when given the chance they repaid you in kind!”

Unawareness that a writer who wishes to send a prejudice message against migrants doesn’t write this kind of dialogue is baffling. However, the most glaring oversight that is always made by The Ark’s attackers is that the Humans are migrants too! Earth, the Humans’ home, has been destroyed, and they are travelling to Refusis II to make a new one; this is the whole thrust of the story! When they arrive at Refusis II, the Refusians insist that they must settle their differences with the Monoids. Once they do, they welcome the migrants to their planet in peace rather than enslaving them like the Humans did the Monoids. Again, the Doctor offers his message of hope and understanding, clearly signposting it as the story’s central moral.

It’s sad that a story that’s tried to promote the need for races to peacefully co-exist together has been labelled as racist by people putting two and two together and making five, but also blame must be put on the writer for not fully thinking through the connotations of his work. An example of how rational deliberation must always be employed by both writers and critics.

The Ark

Monoids and Humans, happy together.

Additional Note: One recurring piece of evidence given by those accusing The Ark of racism is that Dodo (Jackie Lane) calls the Monoids savages. THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN. She hears the sound of drums from her cell when THE HUMANS are conducting a funeral and says, “sounds like savages”. A no longer politically correct word, but it’s never used as a slur against the Monoids.

It’s Terrible, It Really Is (Ghostbusters, 2016)

Intolerably loud and garish. The original was set in a semi-real world, the support characters were played straight, while the leads were unique characters in a unique situation and the comedy came naturally from this. This is set in a full-on comedy world, or more accurately, a full-on ‘bad’ comedy world. OTT characters spout nonstop cringe-inducing jokes, utterly brain-numbing compared to the dry wit and sarcasm of their forebears and relentless in their awfulness; the only interruption coming from the even more dire cameo appearances. The most embarrassing material is given to Chris Hemsworth as Kevin, the Ghostbusters’ dim-witted secretary, who confusingly has a dog named Mike Hat. Yes, it sounds like ‘my cat’, that’s the joke! The bombardment of awful visuals is almost as sickening as the verbal diarrhoea spewing from the characters’ mouths. The bright, shiny, CGI ghosts look pathetic compared to the graphic and, in some cases, genuinely horrific creatures from the original, and the cartoony action sequences again rob the world and characters of any realism.

ghost 4

Stuff of nightmares vs. puff the magic dragon.

As well as brainless comedy, there’s also plenty of brainless morality on display. Okay, the morality of the original is questionable, with Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman coming across as a bit of a sex pest, but this is just mean-spirited in the extreme. The ‘Big Bads’ from the first two films were mythical demigods, creatures that thought themselves above ordinary humans but who were defeated by heroic underdogs. In this film, the underdog’s the bad guy. A recluse, an outsider, a loner, driven to take revenge on society because he doesn’t fit in (judging by their disrespectful comments against fandom, perhaps he’s intended to represent the kind of person the filmmakers think will dislike their awful movie). I was waiting for an acceptable payoff for this, hoping the Ghostbusters, characterised in some ways as outsiders themselves, would help or embrace their familiar. But no, instead they offered a cruel joke about his assumed virginity and then blasted the poor bastard to hell. The final line of the film is “that’s not terrible, not terrible at all”. Sorry, but it is, it really is.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Happy Halloween! Today I’m posting about that terrifying Halloween classic, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (dir. Speilberg, 1982). E.T. is the tale of a parasitic alien from the darkest depths of space, who infiltrates a family home and attaches itself to a small boy, forming a symbiotic relationship that drains the boy’s life-force. A brave group of government agents must battle to save the boy and defeat the monster; before it’s too late! Okay, that might be the story told from an adult character’s point of view, but E.T. is not a story told from an adult’s point of view. E.T. is a story about empathy, an attribute we see facilitated through childhood innocence and impeded by adult ignorance and misplaced authority that must be rebelled against. Immediately upon being stranded, E.T. is hounded by a group of adult hunters, viewing his otherness as dangerous to their way of life and something to be extinguished. E.T. is able to find refuge with a child, Elliot (Henry Thomas), who hides him from adult persecution. Elliot does not see E.T. as a monster, but as a person in need of help who has been separated from their home and family. Elliot is able to empathise with E.T., having recently had a split in his family, with his father leaving his mother (Dee Wallace). Before the arrival of E.T., Elliot is insecure and lonely, being picked on and excluded by his older brother Michael (Robert Mac Naughton) and his friends. He is also immature and inconsiderate, bringing up the fact that his father has run off with another woman in front of his younger sister, Gertie (Drew Barrymore). This upsets his mother and angers Michael (“Damn it. Why don’t you grow up, think how other people feel for a change?”). The arrival of E.T. sees Elliot take Michael’s advice, as having to care for someone in a similar position, sees him mature and gain confidence and purpose.


E.T. does indeed form a symbiotic relationship with Elliot, but there is nothing sinister about it. Instead, it is used to emphasise the importance of empathy. E.T. and Elliot share emotional and physical experiences; getting hungry, scared and ill together. Seeing them share these experiences reminds us that although E.T. is different to us, he still feels the same and should be treated equally. E.T. and Elliot’s empathy goes beyond consideration for intelligent life, as an affinity with all of nature, including animal and plant life, is displayed. E.T. is able to live in harmony with all living things, caring for them as though they were part of him. This is shown through his ability to heal, as he mends a cut on Elliot’s finger and brings a flower back to life. Thanks to his relationship with E.T., Elliot develops empathy for other life, freeing the frogs that are about to be dissected in science class and starting a youth revolt against the ruling adult teacher (Richard Swingler). The teacher is another example of adult cruelty and detachment. He treats the frogs as just things to be experimented on; just as Elliot fears the ‘adult’ authorities will treat E.T. (“they’ll give it a lobotomy or do experiments on it”).

Freeing the frogs.

The film expresses the importance of family. Separated from his family, E.T. grows ill but recovers upon their return. The family home is used to symbolise an ideal empathetic environment; there E.T. is safe and cared for by those who treat him as kin. Childhood is used as a symbol of virtue, as E.T. is taught about the world through the use of toys, watching kids TV shows and reading children’s books, and his idea to “phone home” is inspired by a children’s comic. He is also, at one point, mistaken for a soft-toy, an item that is the focus of childhood love and care, but that is later abandoned by adults. This shows the importance of carrying childhood empathy into adulthood and bringing the love and care shared within a family into the outside world. When the government agents track down E.T. to Elliot’s home, we see the devastating effect a cold-hearted ‘adult’ view of the world has. They transform the warm, empathetic environment into a sterile laboratory; intending to experiment on E.T. just like the frogs in science class. They believe they want to understand E.T., but unlike Elliot, they do not try and communicate with him; their lack of empathy means they only know how to take apart and destroy. Again, a youth revolt saves the day, as Elliot, Michael and his friends rescue E.T. from the government agents and return him to his people.


E.T. is a messianic figure. He comes from the heavens, heals the sick, dies and is resurrected. Upon his resurrection, we see him dressed in white robes, and finally, he ascends back into the heavens. Unlike most messianic figures, his message is simple, as simple as his last words to Gertie, “be good“. A message of empathy. Spielberg has described E.T. as “a minority story“. E.T. is a minority on Earth, Elliot is also a minority, beginning the story as a loner. Through empathy, they are able to ignore their surface distinctions and join together to overcome adversity. That is the film’s message to the world – to put aside our difference, embrace our commonality and have compassion for one another. As E.T.’s spaceship departs, it leaves a rainbow in the sky; a symbol of universal harmony, unity and hope.


Additional Points

  • Elliot has rainbow curtains in his bedroom – symbolising his empathetic outlook.
  • I don’t like that the girl Elliot kisses in class (Erika Eleniak) is seen standing on a chair, screaming when the frogs are freed. It’s a sexist stereotype (girls are fragile little things, afraid of creepy critters). It would make much more thematic sense if the large boy who struggles with Elliot to keep his frog in his jar was scared of the frogs – cruelty comes through fear and ignorance.
  • Gertie is read Peter Pan. Specifically, the scene where Tinker Bell is brought back to life by children’s belief in fairies. This fits with the film’s theme of the virtue of maintaining childhood innocence. Later, the children fly on their bicycles and are silhouetted in front of the moon; another nod to Peter Pan.


Career Plan 2015-2016

Creatively speaking, it was a slow start to the year, as after completing my Scriptwriting MA, I found myself between homes and between jobs. The latter half of the year proved far more advantageous, and I have now set up my own freelance film company, Outré Media, and I’m saving to buy my own house. Through the company, I have managed to secure a long-term contract with Vegalive Wheatgrass as their Media-Specialist. I will be documenting the progression of Vegalive, as well as producing regular video adverts, and getting paid!

This past year saw me concentrate far more on critiquing other people’s work than developing my own. This is something I will be rectifying in the following year by dedicating three weeks out of each month to my own work and one to other posts. Although I feel I perhaps should’ve concentrated far more on my own work, I’m very proud of the posts I have written on other people’s and believe I learnt a lot from dissecting their themes; insights that will help me develop my own work. As a dedicated fan, it has been hugely satisfying to put into words some longstanding thoughts on Doctor Who serials; expect many more Doctor Who posts in future. I have critiqued all Neill Blomkamp‘s films, including Elysium (dir. Blomkamp, 2013), for which I used a more comical style. This was part of an endeavour to move away from the more formal style of university essays to a more fun and accessible blogging style; this has provided my posts with variety and popular appeal. In terms of popularity, my most successful series of posts were on the Mad Max franchise. Again, it was satisfying to put into words my thoughts on the inner complexities of these films, as I’ve always felt it is a franchise that’s subtext and depth has been ignored in favour of its action movie exterior. My Mad Max posts have generated consistent views; with my viewing figures and visitors multiplying exponentially. This success is not just down to the quality of the posts but to my use of Tumblr (on which I’ve generated many followers) as a less serious and more commercial platform for my work, and my timing the posts to coincide with the release of the franchise’s latest instalment, Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. Miller, 2015). This is a tactic I intend to use again, so expect Star Wars, Quentin Tarantino, X-Men, and Ghostbusters posts in the year to come. Also, expect some vlogging, as in December I will be moving to a new home, with room for a professional looking studio setup, and I feel vlogging will further widen the appeal of the website.

The Darning Needle was the primary focus of my scriptwriting this year. I totally rewrote the treatment and have completed multiple drafts of the script. The treatment will be updated again shortly, and I’m continuing with further drafts of the script. I may also film a short segment – depending on feasibility and budgetary constraints – to act as a promotion for the script. I’m very happy with its progress; it is by far my best work, and I feel my scriptwriting ability is developing at a rapid pace. I have refined the premises of Panda Girl and The Outsider and written notes to aid in the rewriting of their treatments and development of their scripts. I have premises for other feature films, but before developing them, I wish to focus on developing some audio plays, short films, and treatments for Doctor Who episodes. As well as my audio play Bottle, I have premises for other audio plays and short films that I plan to develop, film and record. It has been two years since I filmed or recorded one of my scripts, and as my writing has developed considerably in that time, I feel new audio and visual examples of my work are needed. Doctor Who remains my obsession, and my dream is to write for the show, so I feel it’s about time I started developing some ideas.

Now I’ve found myself in a much securer position than at the beginning of last year, I’m sure this year will be even more productive and I can continue producing popular posts – allowing the site to grow in popularity – and carry on with my main objective of building and perfecting my slate.