Whither Witch Bewitches the Witcher?

Recognizing I’m late to the party and how dangerous it can be for a writer to review the writing in another writer’s work, I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on the new Netflix Witcher series.

In short, I liked it.

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Team Renfri for life.

Is it a little sexist? The world it creates certainly is. It remains to be seen if the sexism is an inherent part of the world or a Thing that the protagonist must strive against. We seem to be nearing a tipping point, if we haven’t already taken the plunge, when writers must realize that “it’s historically accurate” isn’t really a good enough reason to have racist/sexist themes in their work. If a character is racist, that racism must be confronted in-story. It’s the demand of the audience, of the culture at large. Or else it ought to be, eh?

Was I confused by the timeline? Not until I realized there were three distinct timelines, and we weren’t being given information chronologically. It is no major spoiler that the writers for season 1 of The Witcher chose to split the season’s episodes among different time periods, often switching back and forth in mid-episode. I’ve no problem with this. It’s a neat little gimmick, and there are plenty of clues in the dialogue to clue the reader in as to what is going on.

But therein lies the problem. These clues are ONLY in the dialogue. You’d think they could’ve given Jodhi May a different wig to wear for when her character is supposed to be (much) older versus when her character is younger. I get that Mousesack doesn’t age, but surely sorcerers are at least allowed to cut their hair or grow a different type of beard in this setting?

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Pop quiz: Is Queen Calanthe a grandmother or still just a mom in this image?

This lack of attention to detail must have been done on purpose, to show off the studio’s creativity. The only other explanation is laziness. I understand laziness. I’m a bit of a lazy writer myself. But intentionally holding information back from the viewer isn’t “building a mystery,” it’s just plain old deceit. You haven’t proven your clever; you’ve just been puffing yourself up.

On the upside, the fight scenes are amazing, and Henry Cavill does an excellent job portraying a brooding, tormented MC without being too similar to the other 100,000 brooding, tormented MCs plaguing fantasy fiction these days. Heck, even the protagonist in my WIP can be a little broody. It’s another thing the audience demands: Grittiness. Which means brooding, broody characters who brood broodily.


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Brood? Brood.

Anyway, yes. Geralt of Rivia loves to brood. But at least he’s self-aware, somewhat. What with all his clever quips and “Hnh”-ing like Batman in a Morrison comic. And if he weren’t like that, Haskier is still there to provide plenty of quality jibes at the genre as a whole. Haskier saves the show in certain spots, calling attention to the bad decisions the characters make and providing needed moments of light in what would otherwise be a grim exploration of grim, gritty darkness. Despite myself, I like Geralt’s story’s monster-of-the-week formula. Lots of fun without getting boring.

Yennefer’s story is likewise captivating. She goes through hell learning how to gain power and wield it effectively as a powerful sorceress. Her desire for power is understandable, and her sacrifices make the viewer ache for her. Now, here’s the thing. Apparently in this setting, magicians and magical beings can’t have kids. (Or at least female wizards and witchers can’t. No word on male wizards.) No sooner does Yennefer become a full-fledged wizard than she starts yearning for a little brat of her own. Understandable. Cliche and a little anti-feminist, but understandable. Some women really want kids. Believe it or not.

But her desire is undercut by the fact that her womb gets removed on-camera. Like, her actual womb. We see the Fallopian tubes and everything. It’s gross.

Now, maybe Yennefer doesn’t realize this. But she still seeks a cure that doesn’t involve “growing a new womb” or otherwise “getting myself some ovaries.” It’s a little ridiculous for the modern audience. It makes Yennefer look stupid. And if not her, the people in the setting look like they have zero understanding of female anatomy. (Which would be about par for a lot of us, but I digress.) My point isn’t THAT Yennefer wants to be fertile again, it’s that she doesn’t seem to understand what the problem actually is (missing uterus).

Also, if removing the female reproductive organs is intrinsic to becoming a sorceress, does that make all the female wizards post-menopausal?

Anyway, it’s a good show. The sub-plot of colonization suffered by elves at the hands of humanity is a nice touch. Just the right amount of real-world poignancy without getting anvilicious or just plain disrespectful of the plight of indigenous peoples.

Plus, there are dragons. Like, several. Iron Fist couldn’t even manage one, which is more than a little embarrassing when you think about it.

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Next time on Iron Fist: No powers, no costume, and STILL NO FLIPPIN’ DRAGON. No, I will not get over this!

Source for images:

Shamelessly copied from the Internet. Used for humorous purposes, so should fall under fair use. If not, send me a cease and desist. I’ll gladly take them down.

Beating the January Slump II

I know what you’re thinking. “Now that I’m out of jail, what do I do to continue beating back the freezing gloom of January?” Well, don’t worry. I have you covered. Here are four more activities that will hopefully keep you cozy during the unforgiving winter stretch..

Exercise Your Mind

Exercise is a great way to stay in shape, beat stress, and increase overall wellbeing. But what do you do if you don’t like the gym or can’t get to one near you? Fortunately, there’s an entire movie built around the concept of training in the natural environment. That movie is the 1985 classic Rocky IV. While your opponent may be running the track or using heavy-duty exercise equipment, you can run the wild trails of the forest, evade the KGB driving behind you, climb a rocky hillside, and shout your defiance to the open sky. Don’t be afraid to sling some rocks together in a net. Rigging the net up in a pulley system for some pull-downs provides a great way to exercise your core. Find or borrow a horse cart, and this can serve as a makeshift barbell. Ask some friends to sit in the cart while you workout in case you need more weight.

Get Lost in a Good Book

Reading is a great way to relax while also keeping the mind sharp and active. Books, poems, plays, and other forms of literature can be gateways to other worlds. There’s another movie built around this idea called The Never-Ending Story. Reading the book this movie was based on will prepare you in case you’re ever sucked into a bizarre universe with furry dragons, green-skinned hunters, and giant spiders. Just be careful not to draw the magic sword in anger, lest you accidentally strike down your green hunter friend. Then the only way home will be on the back of a big furry dragon.

Explore New Places

Going exploring has gone somewhat out of style, as the prevalence of smartphones and the Internet have removed much of the risk and mystery around physical travel. While you certainly shouldn’t trespass or enter unsafe environments, it can be rewarding to find a patch of uninterrupted forest or an unfamiliar neighborhood and just go wandering for a while. The best way to wander, I’ve found, is on foot, though some of the more cautious may prefer to travel by car. After all, you need a way to get yourself out of danger should you stray too far from the established paths. It’s always better to explore new places with a fellowship or with a guide. Lord of the Rings is a 2000s trilogy of films that provide some excellent suggestions for the would-be explorer. Personally, I’ve had as much fun exploring bike trails as the local library.

Have a Movie Night

Movie nights are a time-honored tradition among college kids. There’s nothing quite like cramming five or six of your closest friends on a six-foot square of carpet, crowding around a small television and watching some classic like Rocky IV or The Never-Ending Story. Lord of the Rings is another great choice for movie night, though it’s advised to use a copy of the expanded editions with the appendices. This bonus content, including documentaries and behind-the-scenes footage offer a wealth of information for both the movie buff and casual Tolkien fan alike. Heat up some popcorn, huddle close, and enjoy. 

Beating the January Slump

I am not a fan of January. It’s cold and wet and windy, and it just makes me want to stay inside, curled up in a ball, until April gets here. But alas. I have bills to pay. And so your humble blogger sits behind his desk, anxiously awaiting the return of the sun king from beyond the cosmos. Sorry, got a little wistful there. Anyway, whatever are we to do while we wait for spring? Aside form work and classes and lunch and whatnot? Here are some fun activities you can do alone or with friends to liven up this gloomy season.

1. Go Bowling

One of the best ways to blow of steam during the year’s worst month is to go out on the town. Find your neighborhood bowling alley and set yourself up for a good old game of nine-pins. Technically that’s an entirely different game, but I think you get my point. Bowling is a time-honored American tradition combining two things we as Americans love the most: Drinking and not moving very much. While you’re out and about, you may want to check out what those shadowy folks are talking about in the parking lot.

2. Make New Friends

Approach the strangers slowly, making sure to make no sudden movements. After all, it’s dark out. Say something normal in greeting like “Hi” or “How’s it going?” Slowly, they’ll turn to face you then turn back and continue their conversation, ignoring you. Don’t let that deter you. Just listen in and see what you can overhear. I’ve made some of my best friends just by inserting myself into a stranger’s conversation. It’s not creepy. One of them offers you something to eat. It’s in large plastic container and smells a bit like boiled chicken. Looking inside, you’ll probably see several small, pale bodies. Squirrels.

3. Experiment With Food

One of the best ways to grow and appreciate different cultures is to try some of that culture’s signature food. Trying new foods is always a fun activity, and this squirrel meat looks tasty. Chew on the legs a bit, that’s where the best meat is. The rest of the animal is just skin and bones, but you can try chewing on the tail a bit if you like. Don’t wrinkle your nose. Be polite. Doesn’t it taste a little like chicken? Or pork? Or some other animal we as a society have deemed it acceptable to consume?

4. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to help your neighbors and improve society, all while giving you the dopamine rush one only gets from altruism. Mmmm…Altruism. Thankfully, you won’t have to look for a nearby charity, as one of your new friends is need of assistance. It looks like he’s having trouble getting into his car. He has a coat hanger you can use to jimmy the lock. Go ahead help him out. Once you can feel as if something is clicking, that means you’ve sprung the lock. Open the door and climb over to the passenger seat, while your new friend rips something out from under the steering wheel. Smell the sparks as you realize he’s hotwiring the car. Uh oh. Looks like you’re in for one bumpy ride!

5. Explore New Places

Look out the window at all the cars whizzing by! You’re going pretty fast, and you don’t really recognize the buildings or road signs. That’s ok. Relax and smile. Take it easy. You’re on an adventure! A good, old-fashioned road-trip is just the ticket to beat those January blues. Your friend is a very good driver, especially considering he’s on the wrong side of the road. It’s starting to get bright out, but that isn’t sunshine. Those are police lights.

6. Engage Your Body

While your friend pulls over to talk with some friends in uniform, take this opportunity to go for a brisk run. Running on the sidewalk downtown or in a park can be an excellent way to get in shape and also releases endorphins. While you’re on your run, take a moment to admire the trees and the foliage around you. Sure, it’s a little dark, but under the moonlight, you can just make out the edges of plants and animals. Did you hear that? Something rustling in the undergrowth. Probably just a raccoon or maybe a stray cat. Cats are fun.

Remember to keep running no matter what. No one escapes January, but you can escape those gloomy feelings by following these simple steps and exploring new experiences. Don’t feel bad if things don’t quite turn out the way you expect. That’s just life. Sometimes our plans don’t turn out the way we’d like. That’s why it’s always important to be adaptable. On an unrelated note, does anyone know of a place I could lie low for a while? Maybe a friend’s house or apartment. Just for a couple days. Thank you for your help.