Posts Tagged ‘Presidential Election 2016’

I finally watched the final episode of American Horror Story’s seventh season (one day I’ll be able to give a review right after the season premiere or finale on my own cable package), and I have to say, this has definitely been an interesting season. When people heard that the new season was going to be about the 2016 American Presidential Election, after months of speculation that it would be about either a cruise or something else ocean-related, we weren’t sure what to expect. Would it be preachy and lean towards one end of the political spectrum or the other? Would Trump, Clinton, or some other political figure be featured as a character? And would Sarah Paulson play Trump (if she did, she’d be great at it, no doubt)? And as further details came out, namely that it would be about a cult that arose in the wake of the election and focused on people who felt isolated and galvanized by the election, we got intrigued. Could this actually work as a season arc? Could this be good?

Well, before I get into that, let’s go a bit deeper into the plot. Returning to a normal mode of storytelling after the reality TV show format of Roanoke and being perhaps the most down-to-Earth season in the show’s history, Cult follows two very different people who become intertwined in ways neither would believe. The first is Allie Mayfair-Richards, a business owner and mother with liberal leanings and crippling anxiety who isn’t dealing well in the post-election climate. The other is Kai Anderson, a charismatic young man who begins to gather a group of devoted followers around him as he pursues power in local politics. As their lives start to intersect, they’ll not only make permanent impressions in each other’s lives, they’ll make impressions in the very surface of American politics.

I loved this season. Yes, the first two episodes were kind of slow and clunky, more devoted to commentary than to actually scaring the viewer, but after that the story and scares really picked up. The writers kept things very intimate, so that while this may have seemed like a big story about national politics and American political culture on the surface, it felt incredibly intimate, letting us into the lives and minds of these people. As per usual with American Horror Story, the story was twisty as heck, keeping you guessing where the story would go from one episode to the next and being unable to figure out most of the time where things would go. And after the second episode, they managed to keep the political commentary from getting too over the top. In fact, I think they managed to capture the spirit of American politics very well in this season: confused, divisive, changing from day to day and week to week. Things come up and down, change and merge and break, and become so muddled that you don’t know how it all started. All this was captured very well in this season.

And oh my God, that ending! That’s going to stay in my head for a while.

Beware this guy. He is a villain par excellence.

I also really enjoyed the characters. Obviously, the two main ones are exaggerated distillations of the stereotypes of the liberal and conservative voters, with Kai representing some of the darker views of what Donald Trump is to some Americans, but they also feel like real people whom you want to watch and see where they want to go from episode to episode. Each major character is given time to develop so that they feel real to the viewer, and you feel their struggles and/or death. I especially love Beverly Hope, played by Adina Porter (who played my favorite character last season), whose struggles within her workplace, followed by her struggles within a cult that changes drastically from the time she joins to the time she escapes. Kai is also just terrifying to watch. You know what his final goal is, but you never know what to expect from him from moment to moment. He’s like a pinball, causing something every time he touches something. He makes for a great villain. And watching Allie go from this weak, paranoid woman to this strong, somewhat devious fighter was just stunning.

Now, were there any parts I didn’t care for? Well, as I said, the first two episodes didn’t jibe with me, they were more devoted to commentary and set up than actual scares. Those could have been done better. Another issue I had was that I felt the final episode was kind of predictable. I mean, once I saw where it started, I kind of knew where it was going to go (except for maybe that last scene). I expect better from American Horror Story.

I also didn’t care for Lena Dunham playing Valerie Solanas in the seventh episode. Now, I have nothing against Lena Dunham. I think she’s a great crusader for a number of important issues, and I admire her for the success she’s had in the entertainment business. But sadly, I’ve only seen her in a couple of roles, not enough to get a gauge on whether or not I like her as an actress. And in the seventh episode, she just felt miscast. The episode was written brilliantly, the character she played was interesting, but she just didn’t fit well into the role, to the point that she was annoying (I don’t mean that in a sexist way, I just mean she didn’t fit the role and it had a negative impact. Don’t go after me in the comments).

And finally, I felt like the clown costumes could’ve used an explanation. Yes, the character Meadow designed the costumes, but why clowns? Why not a minority abused by the right, or ninjas, or just people dressed in dark clothing? It’s hinted that it has something to do with Twisty the Clown, who makes a surprise guest appearance in the first episode, but we never find out why the cult decides to commit crimes in custom-made clownsuits. I would’ve loved an explanation on that, especially since clowns figured so much in the advertising for the season (speaking of which, where are the bees? They show up a lot in the ads and the opening theme, but barely in the show proper).

This needed more of an explanation.

But other than that, American Horror Story: Cult was a great entry into the series. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give this season a 4.2, as well as the designation of my second favorite season so far (Hotel‘s still the best). It’s engaging, thrilling, and different from any other season so far. Plus it does a better job of talking about oppression and women’s empowerment than Coven ever did, so good on the writers for fixing that mistake. Check it out, and see it for yourself.

Now as for Season 8, details are scarce beyond that it will come out sometime next year, and that Sarah Paulson will return for her eighth consecutive season (yay!). I’m still hoping that I’ll eventually get an Orphanage or Academy/School-themed season. I’m curious as to how, if the theory about each season being a circle of Hell is true, how those themes might apply to those circles that are left. And I’m wondering who will be coming and going for the next season (Lady Gaga! Kathy Bates! Please come back!).

Well, that’s American Horror Story for you. It leaves you wondering up until the moment something happen, and then it blows us all away.

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I know, I usually try to get these reviews out a day after the movie or show premieres, especially with American Horror Story, because I have to stream it the next day (I don’t need another bill). Unfortunately, the past couple of days I’ve been busy with personal stuff and I didn’t really have time to deal with watching and writing reviews. The only thing I’ve seen for it was a review on Twitter by someone I follow, stating that the season opening was intriguing, but not outright scary.

Well, I finally had some time to watch and review the episode, so let’s get into it. American Horror Story: Cult begins with news footage from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, starting from when the Donald started running and ending with his election as President. From there, the story follows two very different characters: Allie (played by Sarah Paulson), a woman with an anxiety disorder whose phobias, including clowns and even objects full of holes, come back in full force after Trump’s election. The other is Kai (played by Evan Peters), a purple-haired Trump supporter who has some bizarre beliefs, including that Trump’s election is the beginning of a revolution. From the look of things, their lives are going to be intertwined in strange ways.

As the Twitter reviewer said, Cult‘s first episode is less scary than intriguing. There’s a lot of focus on how the election affects everyone. Allie, being married to and having a child with another woman, is understandably scared that her family will be torn apart under the new administration, and that activates her other phobias, to the point that it’s affecting her marriage and her son negatively. Kai, on the opposite end of the spectrum, feels empowered to speak his views loud and proud, even if not everyone is interested in hearing them. The characters are exaggerated  amalgamations of reactions from both sides of the aisle, but they do get to a lot of what many Americans felt post-election.

Speaking of which, there’s an interesting scene during the first half of the episode where Allie walks into a store, and starts up a conversation with someone, only to find out they’re a Trump supporter, even though at first glance, they didn’t seem like the stereotypical Trump supporter. I had an experience like that at a drug store during the primaries, where I made a comment about the Trump campaign, and a store clerk said he might vote for Trump. And like Allie, I felt a little perturbed afterwards, because I didn’t really care for some of Trump’s policies, and I thought someone working a minimum wage job wouldn’t either. But then you got to remind yourself that the Trump campaign drew people from a number of walks of life, which lead to his election. This scene portrays that well, to the point where I felt a little deja vu.

But as for scares, it’s pretty lacking. The design of the clowns is very freaky (especially when you’re not sure if they’re real or hallucinations), and Kai is freaky all on his own, but it’s not going to scare anyone used to horror scenery. If it were more like the opening of the fifth season, where every ten minutes there was a bloody, out-of-left-field scare or death. Here, it’s just not that impactful, they’re more concerned with setting up the story. And while that has worked in other seasons and in the first episode of The Defenders, here it just doesn’t work. After all, this is American Horror Story, and the setup needs to be balanced with that horror we were promised.

It makes me hope that in the next ten episodes it’ll really ramp up on the scares and make for a fun season. And it makes me hopeful that Colton Haynes’s character gets a lot of screentime (I love him whenever I see him in anything).

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the first episode of AHS: Cult a 3.2 out 5. Good setup with believable characters and excellent tapping into America’s fractured post-election psyche, but definitely a lot more horror is needed.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Join me Saturday at some point when I review another scary thing with clowns, IT. Prepare to float!

I’ve been meaning to write this post all week, but for a number of reasons–including my desire to wait and see how this played out–I’m only just getting around to it. But now that I am, let me start by saying this is a most unusual blog post, even for me. It has only a little to do with anything writing or horror-related, which usually means this would be a political post or about my life in general, but politics is only incidental to this story, and it doesn’t really feel like something affecting my life. It’s just amusing, like watching a cat chase a laser dot around the living room without realizing it’ll never catch that dot.

Okay, back to the beginning. If you’re at all familiar with contemporary American politics, you’ll know that we’re less than a year away from the Presidential election, and already election season is in full-swing. I’ve come out as a Hillary Clinton supporter already, and I follow her on Facebook. On one of her most recent status updates, I left a comment and that was the start of the craziness.

Now I know some people have some really intense opinions on the former Secretary of State. I get that, but I’m going to ask that you hold off on your opinions until this post is finished. Anyway, this was on Tuesday, in the wake of the Paris attacks, and already people in power were talking about limiting refugees based on religion or entirely. Secretary Clinton posted this on Facebook in response:

We’ve seen a lot of hateful rhetoric from the GOP. But the idea that we’d turn away refugees because of religion is a new low. -H

Well, that resonated with me. I’m a supporter of the refugees, and I don’t like the idea of turning them away. So here’s what I wrote as a comment:

America was built by religious refugees, as the GOP loves to point out. Turning away refugees becauseon their religion is hypocritical and goes against what America is supposed to be about.

This was one of the earliest comments on that particular post, which might explain what happened next.

Who knew supporting one candidate could lead to so much craziness?

Within half an hour, that post had over 300 likes and a growing number of comments. Some of them were supportive or in agreement. Others were…angry. Disagreeable. A few were throwing insults at my face. Others were attacking other people. Pretty quickly it degenerated into a debate between various commenters over this or that fact.

Did I say debate? I meant a mess of cobras fighting each other for superiority because they don’t like one another or their political beliefs. I’m pretty sure blood was spilled several times in the course of three or four days.

I won’t quote directly what people said, because some of what was said was just really awful and I like to keep this blog a mostly positive place despite this being the blog of a horror novelist. I will say that a few people called me names, said I knew nothing about the law or what America was about. One guy actually tried to direct message me to tell me I didn’t know anything and call me a dumbass. Thankfully, Facebook allows you to decline messages from people you don’t know, so I deleted that conversation quick as a rabbit.

My favorite insult hurled at me was some guy who had a similar name to a famous American writer’s real name told me I should go and study history. Joke’s on that guy, because one of my majors in college was History!

About an hour into this madness, I decided to comment back, the only comment I left in this crazy den of verbal Hunger Games contestants:

So I posted this comment about an hour ago. It’s got 550+ likes, 50+ comments, and a few people getting angry with one another over differences of opinion. And I’m just sitting here wondering, “Why can’t my sci-fi novel get this sort of attention? Islamaphobia and dealing with it is one of its major themes!”

If I see an opportunity to plug my books, I will. What do you want from me? It’s a hard world for indie authors, and we gotta do what we gotta do to make it in this hard, terrible world. And anyway, I was wondering why Reborn City didn’t get that much attention, especially considering the themes it explores.

In any case, this plug didn’t do me any good. That comment only got three likes, and only one person actually replied to it. They told me it must be because, like me and my original comment, my novel must be stupid because I don’t know anything.

That’s probably the only comment that actually hurt me. I put a lot of work into what I write, to make sure they leave impressions on people. Calling them stupid? I take offense at that.

At least nobody used that comment to seek me out and leave me false reviews just to hurt me. That would’ve been really dickish.

So at final tally, we’ve got 1,383 likes, 243 comments, and a whole rather nasty list of web vitriol. The activity was strong through Tuesday and Wednesday, but dropped off on Thursday, which thankfully I’m glad for. It was just nuts.

And how do I feel about being attacked? Well, I think knowing this was only temporary made it easier for me to just detach from it and not let it get to me. In fact, I felt a little bit good that I managed to stay out of the fire that I somehow managed to cause. I kind of felt like an evil villain with a set of human dominoes, just watching things play out and waiting to see what remains. Yeah, that’s callous, but it’s not as bad as what some of the people were saying in that comment thread. It was enough to make sailors blush.

Still, it was pretty amazing that I could get so many people riled up just with one comment. People really are sensitive when it comes to politics, and that sensitivity can get amplified through the anonymity of the Internet. The worst were the Donald Trump supporters (and they made themselves obvious, believe me). Those guys were the craziest of all.

They probably won’t like me posting this picture I made, then:

donald trump

Yes, I made it. And I don’t regret spreading it. It’s my personal blog, so I can do what I like on it (other people do worse on theirs). And I give you permission to spread this if you like. Honestly, I think it’ll give a few people a laugh.

Oh, and people who want to comment some nastiness on this post, be careful. The more you comment, the more my profile is raised. That is all.

Running for President in 2016. Glory Hallelujah!

Or maybe I should title this post #HillaryClinton2016. That might get more people to read this. Oh well. Let’s just go simple with it.

This morning, Former Secretary of State and US Senator Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for President of the United States. And I fully support her. Not because of her husband, that doesn’t even factor into it. Shouldn’t even factor into it (2015 after all). It’s not because she’ got a political dynasty behind her. And it’s certainly not because she has or doesn’t have style (even if I had a good grasp of that sort of thing, I wouldn’t use it to judge whether she should be President. After all, some of the people we elect every year are ugly as hell and yet we think they’re competent for office).

She’s experienced. She’s skilled. She’s respected across the country and around the world. She’s been a lawyer, an advocate for children, an advisor on education, a corporate executive, a US Senator, and Secretary of State, all in addition to being a wife and mother to one of the most famous men of our age. Secretary Clinton knows about domestic policies and she’s traveled and dueled on the world stage more than any other US Secretary in history. She’s pro-gay rights, pro-choice and pro-women. She’s stood up for minorities, and she’s stood up for those without voices, whether it be the poor or children who no one else will listen to.

Plus, she’d be the first female President of the United States. It’s not my main reason, but it’s definitely a draw.

All that and more is why I’m supporting her in this election. I even sent in an application to be a staff member on the campaign, preferably in media or communications but a few other fields as well. Heck, most of this country has basically peer-pressured her into running for President, so the least I can do is at least apply for a job and do my best to help her if I can. And how cool would it be to have a part in electing the first female United States President?

Nice logo.

Well, I’ll probably be writing more about the campaign every now and then (and if I’m somehow lucky enough to get on the campaign staff, much more frequently). You know me, I’m a bit of a political junkie. No, that’s not right. I’m a junkie for watching this messed up world and finding my own ways to fix it. And as a presidential election in this country effects that in so many ways, I’ll be paying attention to it.

Anyway, here’s to the future. To Hillary Clinton. To America. And to making a difference.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, I set up my loan repayment plan and purchased my cap and gown, specially colored tassel for my college included (and I mean purchased. I don’t think you can return these things. Maybe I’ll take it out every now and then, and try it on like a woman with her wedding dress and remembering all that had been promised on that day. God, I hope I don’t get that stuck in the past!). Graduation is less than a month away. Everything’s coming to an end. I hope it doesn’t without a job though! Wish me luck. I’ll let you know if anything else comes up of significance. I’m sure there will be.