February 29, 2020

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh busy busy busy busy. there is an animation layout that I meant to exhibit here at this point, which theoretically should have been fairly quick to do on friday evening, but i can’t decide what a figure should be doing during a certain line and so the task has become prolonged. all tasks become prolonged but i cannot always anticipate the reason.


i can’t stand the shameless product placement on CW’s Black Lightning

At night I watch television with my mother. That is just my life now. It is less depressing than being alone or being beside someone watching bad phone videos for 2-4 hours every night. In a sense it is not much different to how things formerly were with my father (my mother would usually be alone during that), but we are not limited to whatever is on at the moment on bad basic cable and try to ensure we only watch something that both of us want to see. By this point we have largely run out of shows to which that statement applies so something only need be tolerable now. and so

Black Lightning is true to its DC comic book roots, in that every few episodes it seems like a different writer takes over and disavows whatever the previous writer was just doing, but the next writer may bring it back up again, possibly with something about it different that I am not supposed to notice and probably wouldn’t if I was actually watching these at the weekly intervals they were originally broadcast. It also has that annoying habit that media from the past 10 years does of assuming any moronic post on a “social media” platform is automatically “viral” and known to everybody, including one boasting of the physical prowess of the second hero character, Black Lightning’s daughter Thunder, despite her not actually having appeared in public or taken on the name yet, which can’t even be blamed on writer swapping because that happens later in the same episode and prior to then Black Lightning had forbidden Thunder to do that.
In addition to being Thunder, she also is a full time medical student, a volunteer doctor, beats up drug dealers under an additional alias “Blackbird” and then has time to go to parties and be condescending toward her younger sister, who we took to calling Lil Stormy both because of how stupid it sounded, matching her inexplicably bratty behaviour, and also because she didn’t come up with an alternate name for herself until the final episode of season 2, which was the redundant and confusing “Lightning.”

Unless we include Thunder’s few appearances in a blue and red outfit assembled at a local shopping mall in full view of customers or at least a very nosy mannequin, directly assisted by a stereotypically gay store employee who is never seen again despite being given the name Ben in the captions and getting a hug from Thunder as if they are the closest friends, which would mean Thunder’s identity isn’t a secret and she can easily be arrested and prosecuted for destroying a statue of Confederate General, which appeared on The News as soon as it happened. The News seems to be the only television program available in Freeland, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that the bar for viral videos is so low.
An excursion to the mysterious far off nation of South Freeland where segregation still exists and all the white people have super speed granted by their brain-washing, intuitively-named leader “Looker” in season 2 seems to be the most extreme example of a rapidly introduced and dropped storyline. I assumed it was just there to cover up the going nowhereness of an earlier storyline about “pod children” but the pod children situation is resumed as soon as the Looker situation is concluded.

I don’t much mind that the white characters are mostly 1-dimensional and cartoonishly unkind, rigid and dopey (though my mother does) because the one “good” white guy Gambi is so frustratingly perfect and good at everything that the bad ones can seem like a relief and I find them amusing. Gambi gets uptight when Black Lightning talks about killing the villain, Tobias, because that’s not what heroes do! Gambi himself murders nameless cronies by the hearse-load every other episode but conveniently avoids shooting anyone that is actually in charge of anything. He also uses conventional firearms despite designing and crafting weapons and other devices that defy the laws of physics casually in his spare time.

Tobias is my favorite on account of being the only major recurring character on the show who doesn’t get offended if somebody makes a judgemental remark, which about 80% of the remarks are since that’s what network television thinks social conscience is. Tobias does beat people up and shoot them, but I can’t confirm he has directly killed more people than Gambi has, and they are usually people in his own employment, which greatly limits the expansion of his enterprises. Tobias ALSO makes frequent judgemental remarks but, again, is the only character that doesn’t look like he about to cry when he does so, because he is the only character that realizes he doesn’t actually exist and so is free to be unrealistic in more enjoyable-to-watch ways.

Regarding Black Lightning himself, his secret identity Jefferson Pierce should be REALLY obvious. He has the same agenda and talks to the same people in and out of costume, often the same night, and the costume itself is not that effective. He wears goggles but no helmet and is the only major character with a beard apart from Tobias who is frequently stated to be albino and thus inadequately “black.” The costume also glows in the dark and has an incredibly slow and loud self-propulsion flight system and it is confounding that nobody who wants to kill Black Lightning is able to follow him or track him down.
I suppose he IS unique among DC heroes, not for being black so much as actually wanting to make a difference when not in costume. He is willing to let Jefferson get fired from his job so Black Lightning can actually protect people whereas I can’t imagine Clark Kent ever letting himself get fired without quickly conceiving a ludicrous counter scheme to get himself rehired so he can continue publishing stories about how great superman is.

Still I think it is a good hero and villain show. It is an atrocious social/family drama which takes itself so seriously that the suspension of disbelief necessary for the ridiculous supernatural hero action to gets shattered constantly, With 3 super powered characters in the same family, 4 if you include the mother, Lynn,’s super sanctimony, that do whatever they want but also get furious and broody each time another one does it, and then each individually whines at Gambi afterward, it can seem like a never ending Saturday morning cartoon public safety announcement segment. Full of pouting, preaching, bad morality, offense-taking and “storm”ing off (oh ho ho), but so was Seventh Heaven, which ALSO aired on the CW channel and for ELEVEN years and people PRAISED it for being “positive” so I am willing to believe it is a network mandate that all shows with a family have to be as annoying, anti-entertaining and fake as that one.

Or maybe I just would rather believe families like that are fake. And despite repeated allusions to “real world” violence and injustice against black people, the heroes and Gambi regularly, consistently break the law and utilize what is essentially magic to get their way (usually to cover up the criminal deviance of Lil Stormy) and are ludicrously wealthy. I suppose anyone in the DC universe who isn’t heir to a throne or billionaire fortune is considered proletariat.

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