Fantastic Female Friday- Abigail Sciuto (NCIS)

There are many things that are supercool about Abby Sciuto. It’s easy to harp on about her aesthetic, her taste in music, her ability to use unconventional methods to make sure that justice is served! She might not have the action chick flair of Ziva David or Kate Todd…

abbyfanart

..but Abby fights crime. As a lab geek, it would be easy to have her sidelined, cast aside and there to drop cookies for the agents and portray her as nothing more than a quirky Caf-Pow addict.

abby2

But Abby gets storylines all her own. Memorably, in the episode “Cover Story,” back when McGee was secretly an author and based a character after Abby which made her the target of a Thom E Gemcity superfan’s wrath. She and McGee had a brief fling around that time as well, but it didn’t ruin their friendship. In season 2, Abby goes undercover to catch a Black Widow and a serial rapist. Or when gets herself in a tight spot, abducted on her way to testify and defend her evidence, a task for which she vainly attempts to turn down her eye catching style, the men are about to run to her rescue but when they find reach her, she tasers the hell out of her would be attacker and saves her own self.

In the season 3 episode “Bloodbath,” she has a stalker ex-boyfriend, things turn deadly when she has fake evidence left in her lab that triggered a dangerous chemical reaction: She told McGee to drop to the floor and explained what had happened while they crawled across the lab, McGee flips her onto her back and risks his health to drag her out. She does some soul searching in Gibbs’s basement, wondering if it’s all her fault, if she brought this on herself. He lets her find her own answers and a drunken Abby says that it’s not her fault and that he’s a creep. The character is very vulnerable and this terrifying situation is shown without victim blaming and turned out to be a touching and remarkable episode. Abby is embarrassed to tell everyone what she has going on, she questions herself… but in the end, with support, she overcomes the situation. It was wonderfully written and acted, conveying perfectly that partner abuse can affect anyone and how those relationships can influence the victim’s mentality.

Back in season 1, Abby’s fear of autopsy alerts everyone to an emergency after a terrorist infiltrates Ducky’s lab and demands all evidence returned… but this also gets Kate into a dangerous situation when she pretends to be Abby and Gerald shot for playing along with the scheme. (In the end, Abby conquers her fear and sleeps in the morgue.)

In season 5, she saves a military dog who is accused of murder. The dog also took a bite out of McGee -who shot him. Abby defies McGee and Director Shepherd to clear the canine’s name.

And you could be thinking that these plots make Abby seem like a kid sister, and to an extent that isn’t inaccurate. Abby is a very relatable character, what makes that so is that she isn’t perfect, she has struggles. She has family issues (like when she finds out she has a brother she hadn’t known) and abusive exes, she takes loss (of both Kate and Jenny) hard. She hides out at Gibbs’s house on occasion and one time at McGee’s. She let’s personal problems (like when she had body image issues after a little person she was dating said he liked smaller girls) interfere with work persona.

Basically she’s an actual human being.

And if you take a look around at the people you know, you will probably find that some of your favorites are a little much. A little immature, quirky… but cool, compassionate and always waiting with a comforting hug… mine are anyway.

And besides, it’s not always Abby that needs saving.

In season 7 she’s called to Mexico to teach a seminar on forensics in cold cases. Day one she deals with catty co-eds, but soon she’s got more trouble as a cartel leader, Paloma Reynosa, gives her a bullet. The one that killed her father. The case that she’s set to work is that of Gibbs’s deceased wife and daughter. Their killer was Paloma;s father, Pedro. And the bullet that that killed Pedro? Abby finds out that the bullet striations matched Gibbs’s SIG Sauer.

And Abby’s faith is shattered and she’s mad. She’s mad that she’s in a situation where she has to compromise her ethics. Gibbs never confesses. He never says one way or another whether he planned and executed the execution of his family’s killer. But Abby, true to herself, true to her sense of right and wrong, good and evil, decides that Gibbs doesn’t get a pass. Not because he’s saved people. Not because he’s her friend. She submits the report, which Vance then “loses”. And it was there that Abby’s character was proven.

MURRAY PERRETTE WEATHERLY

She’s also a total babe. Not just when she’s playing dress up. Her *unconventional* style gets her plenty of attention as well, aside from the hookup with McGee, she uses her swagger to make connections that gain her access to NASA equipment.

And the babely actress, Pauley Perrette:

abby3

Brings some of herself into the character as well. On the season 1 DVD, talking about her childhood, it’s said that she grew up near a junkyard and would see all the wrecked cars come in. She would analyze where the damage was and what might have happened to the cars. Young Abby appears in flashbacks in the season 10 episode “Hit and Run” where she is shown investigating “her first case.”

pauleyp

Pauley Perrette also makes music as the front woman of “Stop Making Friends”and her vocals have appeared on NCIS soundtracks.

Perrette has also been well known for her involvement with the NO H8 campaign. NO H8 was started in response to the ban of same sex marriage in California in 2008, it’s a silent protest that uses social media, education and outreach to give a public voice to those struggling with bullying, discrimination and inequality.

abbynoh8

Pauley helped design this dress and wore it to the People’s Choice awards in 2011. She likened this to wearing her heart on her sleeve.

All of this leaves me to wonder if it’s life imitating art or art imitating life that Perrette is as caring and cool as Abby.

Recently the actress suffered a serious allergic reaction to hair dye which inspired me to go back to henna over chemical dyes. The future of Abby’s raven locks may be in jeopardy and the star is weighing her options.

Abby’s character development has taken her from “kid sister” to “best man”, from quirky goth lab tech to indispensible team member, she’s panicked and gotten it together to help her friends, she’s questioned the morality of those in her life and she is cautious about who to trust but once you are in her heart, that’s where you stay. Abby deals with things very humanly, she’s a very well written character. Remember how she famously disliked Ziva at first? This wasn’t because of the “women hate each other” trope, this was because she was still grieving and she could only think of Ziva as Kate’s replacement and she wasn’t ready. And everyone loves Gibbs (and the ass-kicking Ziva David) but it’s Abby who saves the team from mediocrity.

Movie Review #18- The LEGO Movie!

One sentence review: Surprisingly awesome movie about a children’s building toy has surprising messages about activism, creativity, being “special” and how nerds wreck things made for kids. And jokes at Green Lantern’s expense.

Okay, that way 2.

Image

 

Spoiler Free: Emmett is ignored at work, doesn’t have any close friends and there’s nothing really remarkable about him. It doesn’t bother him at all. He follows instructions and keeps smiling and thinks everything is awesome. Everything changes when he meet WyldStyle. She’s looking for the Piece of Resistance. Which is accidentally stumbled upon by Emmett. She tells him about a nefarious plot orchestrated by President Business (alternately Lord Business) that threatens to freeze everything as it is, using the Kragle, so that nothing can change. Emmett finds out that he is “the special” sent to save everyone and he teams up with his new special friends to stop Lord Business and the Kragle at all costs! 

It’s so cute. And so good. And seems as if it could have been strung together by a child but in a good way, mostly. There are artifacts from the real world incorporated but manly it’s an awesome mishmash of colored bricks and Lego licensed characters. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Shaq, 1980’s astronaut, Mermaids, Pirates, Cowboys, Chewbacca, Dumbledore. Nerd cookies everywhere! 

Mild Spoilers + Analysis After the Photo of Lord Business

Image

 

How is this like Occupy? What does this have to do with activism? Isn’t this movie basically an ad?

I’ll answer the last question first. Yes. In the movie playsets are presented as better if interacting together and the importance of trusting your instincts and creating with your heart.. and then they created playsets specifically for the movie. Huh? +catchy soundtrack +videogames based on the movie +a rumored sequel. So… yeah, it’s a 2 hour long advertisement. 

Which makes it all the more surprising when you realize that there’s a group of people from all backgrounds (franchises) and walks of life (playsets) working together against a corporate mogul seeking to brainwash citizens and keep societal structures from which he benefits in place. 

President Business (Will Ferrell) creates boring shows and annoyingly catchy songs to pacify and distract the masses! He owns the TV station, the radio station, makes commercials, sells food and hoards artifacts. President Business seeks to stratify characters into their original playsets and make sure THAT’S WHERE THEY STAY. Complete metaphor for media diversion and power structures that seek to hinder class mobility. That’s right. A movie about colorful bricks that’s about class mobility, corporate control and citizen uprising. Emmett was born to be a construction worker. Everything he’d been taught, all the directions he received told him he was on the right track, he was a cog in the wheel. And all it took to shake Emmett, and later others, out of their watered down, “good enough” existence was to be shown that there was another way. And if they didn’t fight back, if they didn’t think outside of the directions (society’s rules) then they would be prisoners forever! 

Along the journey Emmett meets WyldStyle (a girl with big ideas who’s a little insecure and kind of an idealist), Batman (who is kind of a dink, awesomely voiced by Will Arnet), Vitruvius (snarky, mystical hippy voiced by Morgan Freeman), Benny the 80’s astronaut, and all sorts of other “master builders.” But Emmett isn’t a masterbuilder, and this could be symbolic of many things. Emmett can make a difference. The same way we all can make a difference even if we aren’t a genius, a superhero, a PhD candidate, a celebrity, or a prodigy. We can all take action and make an impact! 

You don’t have to be a special to make a difference. Everyone comes to the table with their own positive qualities, special talents and goals. Manipulating society means stepping outside of established rules and norms, a key component in the movie was communication. It happened with Emmett and the master builders, Emmett and WyldStyle and ultimately with President Business. Open dialogue, free exchange of ideas. They all use their talents, including Emmett. Emmett has been taught that he’s a piece of the machine but it’s also taught him cooperation. When he breaks out of following instructions just for the sake of it he is able to see when this is up for negotiation (putting the wheel on his head) or when it is more important to use teamwork and rules to get through -and destroy the system from within! Muahahahaa (like when they break into the tower) And WyldStyle’s “You should trust me! I’m on TV!” speech after added to the “nefarious media” theme, too.

It’s kind of awesome.

Okay okay, what else? Talk about the other master builders. 

Superman (Channing Tatum) is pretty much like you’d expect. Green Lantern (Jonah Hill) follows him around like an inept Puppy Dog. There’s not enough Wonder Woman (Colbie Smulders). Batman was awesome. 

WyldStyle is Batman’s girlfriend. Batman writes bad electronica and is kind of a self centered douchecanoe. But he’s also hilarious and resourceful -as he should be. But it’s always clear that this isn’t the Lego Batman movie.

*Sigh* Anything you didn’t like?

WyldStyle is Batman’s girlfriend. But it becomes implied that Emmett wants her to be his special friend. And they can be friends. It just reeked of “nice guy” horseshit. Example- Batman disses WyldStyle to chill with the Star Wars stars. WyldStyle is sad and Emmett comforts her -by insulting Batman and saying she deserved better. BUT Batman faked them out and stole a part they needed and came right back. He even caught Emmett talking smack and doesn’t get aggro about it. But up until that point, Batman had been helpful to the cause, kind of dismissive of Emmett, but helpful and he saved their lives and what does he get? Some “nice guy” chump trying to get close to his girl.

Hey, “nice guys,” it’s not actually your business if she wants to date a douchecanoe. His ego is not your business. His taste in music is not your business. If he names things after himself or only likes black and very dark grey it’s not your business. it’s her business. Not your business.

And there are barely any girls in this movie. There are dudes aplenty on both sides. But there’s spunky loner WyldStyle, not enough Wonder Woman and… Unikitty? A cat unicorn? Does that count? Even if it does- damn are the ladies underrepresented. Shouldn’t be surprising since Lego is FREQUENTLY criticized for catering almost solely to boys or “gendering” the toys in obvious, stereotypical and demeaning ways.

Image

 

So I hope that if the sequel comes to fruition –which it appears it will– I HOPE they keep young girls in mind. I won’t be holding my breath since we are taught that “boy stories” are “people stories,” but “girl stories” are just “girl stories” This movie was great, had a stellar overall message. New writers are on board for the sequel …I’m skeptical… but hopefully they can hold true to the essence that encourages action and self expression instead of being (just) a way to sell more toys. 

4ish Stars (out of 5)

alternet.org got something totally different out of it.

So did KissMyWonderWoman (who’s review tipped the scale on me seeing this one)

Harley Quinn #2

Helter Shelter

Dr. Harleen Quinzel still has a price tag on her head, and while she gets to lay the smack down on some hired guns most of this issue is centered around Harley organizing a heist… to save animals from being euthanized. Adorbz. And while she’s getting her animal rights on, she calls eco-terrorist BFF Dr. Pamela Isley. Our favorite Gotham PhD’s liberate some animals and then snuggle up all the while Harley tries to figure out what’s going on here.

Image

All the while dealing with real world issues like waiting for a fridge to be delivered so that rotting corpse quis stinking up the place.

I loved that Harley got a visit from my favorite Gotham anti-hero Poison Ivy. But I dislike the way Chad Hardin and Stephane Roux went with her look;

Image

Tribal tattoos? argh… 

but the personalities are right, constantly playing off each other: pranking, flirting, teamwork and girl power! oh HELL yeah! I’m about to ask writer Amanda Conner to be my Valentine… hmm.. would co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti like that? Poison Ivy even comes up with a scheme to fake Harley’s death and let her collect on the reward, but Harley decides to go the direct route -you know, wrapping would be assassins in sausage and throwing him to the dogs.

While both Harleen and Pamela tend to be morally ambiguous villainesses and occasional good guys.. there’s an odd subtext.. Poison Ivy loves plants more than people, something that’s been proved many times before and Harley’s main storyline of this issue was rescuing pups and kitties (and in issue 1 she adopted a dog and slammed down an animal abuser). Point being: these characters are shown protecting animals or the environment and are portrayed as deviants. Of course no one wants ancient oaks or wide eyed beagles to bite the dust but often activists are presented as radicals or extremists in an effort to alarm other would be do-gooders. I find it endearing from HQ but the stereotype in general is detrimental when the “Green Scare” is a very real thing. To the point where people have been baited by the FBI and charged to decade long jail sentences for THINKING about planning a crime. 

Everyone loves Harley and Ivy but they are the Dark Knight’s adversaries, so what message are we sending about opposers of animal cruelty? By using the unstable Harley as an ALF avatar is the message being sent that environmental and animal rights activists are all nutjob wackos?

Or is this a way for the outrageous Quinn to seem more innocent and sweet?

What do you think?