Defining What Netflix Will Be, or Eight Reasons to Give Sense8 a full 3rd Season

19477719_10155330533657095_1420082545618168163_oAs most people know, on June 1st, Netflix decided not to renew Sense8.  Fans of the Wachowski Sisters + J Michael Straczynski show, a show that weaves a global narrative to tell a very human story of eight people sharing their minds, knowledge, and empathy, were devastated that the story would not have a third season.  Many knew that it only had one more season of story, but Netflix decided not to renew.  Then the fanbase rallied and wrote and tweeted and called out! and helped show-writers garner a 2 hour special for Sense8!  Amazing!

I am so happy that we get 2 hours to wrap up Sense8, and don’t take this blogpost here as less than gratitude for that 2 hours.  But I’d like to make a bigger case for you–a case you haven’t heard–about giving Sense8 a whole season based on what might be good for Netflix, not just for fans.

While there has been speculation as to why the show was not renewed, that’s speculation.  Netflix spends a lot of money trying to find hit series, and sometimes a good series doesn’t find the right market.  When the cancellation happened, there was plenty of anger towards Netflix, and, in the moment, I even threatened to dump Netflix.  But I love Stranger Things, and I watch Star Trek, Daredevil, Luke Cage, etc.  It would be hard for me to dump Netflix for good.  I know, they’re counting on that–they’ve made us LOVE this service. Okay.

Instead of eight negative reasons to renew Sense8, I want to give 8 positive reasons to renew Sense8 for a whole last season.  I want to give them something they can go to the marketing table with and say—“Let’s do one more season.” (Please especially consider #7)

Ultimately, right decisions aren’t made because of negative consequences but because the positive consequences are stronger.  We aren’t charitable because of Fear of Hell or Fear of Bad Publicity.  We are charitable because we want to help.

Why Netflix Would Want to Complete a Third Season of Sense8

1. NETFLIX IS COMMITTED TO COMPLETION: Sense8 has exactly ONE more season.  It’s a three season arc.  You renew that last season, you are a hero, and the story is complete, and people bingewatch the three seasons for years afterwards on Netflix.  They will come to Netflix for those three seasons.  You’re not having to commit to an unknown number of seasons, or risking anything AFTER this season.  You already committed two seasons and they were amazing, and fans loved them, and they are almost home-free.  You create NEW fans by following through on your series.  But MORE people will become afraid to watch or commit to a new series if the series could be cancelled before it’s finished.  The more unfinished series, the more Netflix becomes untrustworthy for a new viewer.  The positive spin: you complete series, and they can be assured that when they watch a series on Netflix, especially with the millions of fans this series has created, that it will have closure–that series runners will know ahead of time that their series must establish closure.  This one is close to being finished.

2.  NETFLIX EDUCATES ITS VIEWERSHIP ABOUT VIEWERSHIP.  You teach Netflix viewers about Viewership using Sense8.  Part of the shock of this announcement was that viewers thought that their fan base was enough.  We don’t get to watch the Viewership numbers like you do, so we can’t tell when to rally, or how we’re doing, or if we’re about to fall.  It’s a bit unfair to a very large group of fans to say that their numbers are not enough.  What kinds of viewership help make your decisions?  Do you need a certain number every week?  And how do you calculate when you drop 10 episodes over a weekend?  How many times should we view it?  How many tweets do you need?  How many blogposts analyzing the show?  If you give us those numbers, WE CAN HELP SAVE THE SHOWS WE LOVE.  I guarantee that the fanbase for Sense8 is the most dedicated fan base you’ve ever had (more on that below).  But telling us to love a show and then, when it’s not good enough, taking it from us without telling us how to celebrate and support it correctly can be very bad in the long run–it leaves a bad taste in fans’ mouths.  Netflix needs to teach its viewers what matters to save a show–how can we love a show enough to keep it if we don’t know what you need?  If not, fans won’t try a show till a second season is guaranteed…or may just not try it unless you do what you did with The Crown, and guarantee 6 seasons to tell that arc.

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My Mother, My New Club, and the Swastika on my Shoes

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I first saw this picture through Natalie Laurel on Facebook.  She advocates turning the swastikas we are seeing into other things. 

It was 1978.  I was in fourth grade. I wanted to belong to something so badly. I was invited into my first club at school. Now, understand, our family had been Navy for 20 years, so in my young life, we moved around a lot–every year, sometimes. I had already lived 6 places on two coasts, and I was 9. So being invited into a club was a huge thing! It meant I was accepted–even as an outsider–even in a new small town in Missouri. A beautiful town.

I don’t know if it was a joke played on me, or not, this club–this acceptance. If it was real, then it gives me chills now. “Yes, you can be in our club,” an older boy said, someone who was in seventh grade, maybe. He was so tall. And I was so hungry for acceptance. He knelt down and he drew something on the front of my shoes. The new symbol for our club, he said.  When I went home that day, I said, “Mommy, I’m in a club! I’m in a club!” And I must have been beaming with that acceptance.

My mother took one look at my shoes–the only pair of shoes I had for school because we didn’t have a lot of money. And it was in ink, this thing. The boy had drawn a swastika on each of my shoes. I thought it was a cool club symbol because I was young, but my mother saw it for what it was.  She was shocked.  She knelt down to look at it.  She could not erase it–she must have known it would show up anyway. So she carefully made it a box, a four squared box. I was upset that she had done that–at first. I don’t remember if I cried, or tried to stop her–She was ruining the club symbol! She was marking on my shoes! — I’m sure I put up a little fight. “No honey. Not this symbol,” was what she said to me. “I don’t want you in that club.” I don’t know if she explained to me what that symbol meant–I think she must have tried.  But I can’t remember.  I did it for my mom more than for my fourth grade understanding of hate symbols.  It meant so much to my mom, that I didn’t pursue that club.  I don’t even remember if the club was really a club, or some cruel joke they were playing on me. I never saw any club meetings, any groups with swastikas on their arms or shoes. Never.

My shoes had a foursquare box on them for the rest of fourth grade. I made up a new club for people with glasses, and I forgot about the old club. We had three guys in the glasses club.

It’s our job to not let little children (or anyone) have to see that symbol everywhere.  Even if they don’t understand why.  This symbol is getting a revival.  If you see it, be vandals and change it.  Don’t let that symbol stay.  It’ll burn into the walls.  It’ll burn into our minds.  Turn the swastikas into boxes, Windows Logos, or brightly-colored boxes. Turn them into pinwheels, gift boxes, chessboards.

Turn them into windows that look out onto a better America.

*thank you, Mom.

 

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(this post was inspired by Natalie Laurel’s Facebook photo of the Windows logo shared by many. I know the original might be photoshopped, but buy a can a paint anyway, eh? )

The Book of Birmingham: Adding Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to the Bible

Minister Martin Luther King, Jr. preaching at an eventI would like to see Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963) added to all new Bibles.

I don’t propose this lightly.  Three times in the Bible, in three different places, listeners (and they wouldn’t have been readers) are exhorted not to add to, or take away, from specific books.  One is about Revelation, one is specifically to the Israelites in Deuteronomy to listen to the law, and the other is in Proverbs: “Every word of God is true….do not add to his words, lest you be proved a liar.”  I think it’s safe to say that I won’t propose adding any new words of God to the Bible.  I’m advocating something less radical.  If we can have letters from Paul, we can have letters from Martin.

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The Other “Hijacked Airliner” Story: Whitehorse, Yukon 9/11

It was the only airplane to emit a hijacked signal on 9/11/2001.  It was heading to New York City, from Seoul, via Anchorage Alaska.  Fighter jets were scrambled.   A whole city, Whitehorse, was given 15 minutes warning that a hijacked plane was heading to their small airport, an airport just above the center of town.  Every school was evacuated, parents were told to pick up their kids, and a giant 747 escorted by jets whose missiles were locked on target came into view.

Max Fraser, local Whitehorse filmmaker, has put together one of the most intriguing “untold” stories of 9/11 in his documentary, Never Happen Here: the Whitehorse 9/11 story.  Only a few hours after four planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and in Western Pennsylvania, Whitehorse is told that a hijacked plane is on its way to their city.  They have 15 minutes to get ready.

Imagine the panic, after watching everything happen in New York that day, hearing that it’s coming to your town in 15 minutes.  No one else got any warning that planes would be falling from the sky.  The morning of 9/11 was a surprise–there was no anticipation, no expectation.  While nothing can take away from the horror of 9/11 in the United States, or can compare to the tragedy of that event, Whitehorse’s story has an interesting angle no other story has.  It is because of the horror of 9/11 that Whitehorse had something to fear.  A disaster of 9/11 proportions was coming our way, only a few hours after we’d been shocked watching the panic and destruction hit New York City.   What would you do if you knew a 9/11 was coming to your city?

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Wear a kilt to your local airport

You know, there comes a point where dignity, I guess, must be sacrificed for security.  Men, it’s time to wear a kilt to your local airport.  Remember not to wear any underwear, in the true Scottish fashion.  Wear your kilt proudly.  Ask for the “enhanced” pat down.  They’re going to have to go up your kilt to really feel if you have anything dangerous (and we know it’s all dangerous down there).  For something extra, try filling a long balloon with water and tying this to your waist under your kilt.  These encounters, after awhile, will give the TSA an idea of how far we’ve gone to make sure we’re secure.

I think this is an awesome column written by an American, Jennifer Abel, in the Guardian: Get Your Hands Off Me, TSA!   She debunks the lies TSA and Janet Napolitano have been saying:  that the scanners won’t record images, as she found that one courthouse using the scanner recorded 35,000 images.  She also has a link to a TSA agent saying that the patdowns are purposefully invasive to embarrass people into walking through the scanners.  Either you submit to being seen naked by a few agents, or you get felt up in public, in front of your kids.  She mentions too that there is already a move to jam the scanners on Thanksgiving, by everyone opting out and having the patdown.  If they think we’ll be embarrassed into having the scanner, let’s see what happens if they’re pushed into doing the patdowns.  Make sure to have them done in public.

And if you got a kilt, wear it.  If you don’t have a kilt, buy it.  Then come to the airport on November 24th, just before Thanksgiving, for the best sexual harassment you’ve ever had. The TSA doesn’t mind making us uncomfortable or undignified–let’s see what they think when they’re made to service every person coming through the line.

Men, it’s time to gird up your loins.

(Seems like the Atlantic beat me to the idea with their article on commando style kilt wearing on November 24th)

Is Star Trek Reckoning Real?

This question “Is Star Trek Reckoning Real?” was googled by someone and led to my website.   There’s really another question that’s implicit, I think and that is “Would the Creators Really Want to Screw Up Star Trek by letting Conservatives wreak havoc in the Star Trek Universe?”  

Yes.

We love it when our favorite stories take a turn for the worse–where our complacency is shaken, our values are threatened, adversity gets the upper hand, only to show us how much we truly have taken things for granted.  

Fiction is all about making it bad for your heroes.  And making them fight hard–because it gives us strength to fight hard.

We need to see a few seasons where the “good” of Star Trek has to fight to regain balance.  The Federation has gotten the upper hand.  Chances with Enterprise were lost to play with a universe without the Federation.  Oh, in Star Trek series, we had a few episodes from the Mirror Universe, but even that slowly spoiled because each episode in the  Mirror Universe actually redeemed a character or two who were going to be pivotal in turning the “dark” parts–the disorder– to order once again.  And then the mirror universe would be just like us…ho hum.  What if we lingered in that disorder?  This is what Reckoning explores.

Oh there have been times when good guys rebel against the Federation.  Why is it that the “good” Star Trek characters sneak around and are able to commandeer vessels (Kirk, Scotty, Picard), disobey orders (everyone), grab things they aren’t supposed to have (Chakotay, Riker, Janeway) and go off and do something illegal for a greater good (which no one in the Federation knows about)?  Why is Starfleet so easy to outwit?

The “order” in Star Trek relies on the shared concept of the “honor system”— but when good characters want to steal things, disobey, etc. they seem to be able to do it because no one in Star Trek is ready for that.  And secondly, because the plot calls for it.  We need Janeway to steal the time machine doo-hickey, or Kirk to steal the Enterprise….  because otherwise we don’t have an episode.  

Fergus, the D’Mi, the whole grouping of conservative captains who no longer have faith in the Federation’s president–who see themselves as vigilantes, or martyrs, or heroes—determined to save the Universe, or their values, at any cost— these people are interesting.  Villains are far more interesting, at times, than heroes who can be painted too “good.”   Next Generation characters weren’t very complex, or if they were unstable, they were restored by episode’s end (except DS9–which was by far the riskiest ST)  Star Trek hit the reset button every episode (or at the very least, at the end of every two -parter).  Star Trek, by JJ Abrams, did us a favor and did not hit the reset button, thank God.  

Now we have a series that shows that the “values” of Star Trek can be hijacked by well-meaning people who believe they are on a mission.  I think this is a logical next step for Star Trek.  Reckoning will show how easy it is to believe what you have been told, it would give a believable “other side” to all the issues.  Instead of showing us what is right by demonstration— it would show us what is right by having to fight for it, and failing.  

Captains modeled on Palin, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Beck would be interesting–if only to see what they would do with something like the Federation.  How would they operate within it?  When would they dismantle it?  When would they circumvent it?  Would the Federation be able to squelch them?  The Maquis was a great subplot, and I wish they had done more there… certainly Tom Riker (one of my favorite characters) would have been interesting to follow.  But the Maquis had one goal–not a whole different ideology.  I want to see that people in the Federation don’t all think alike….  they don’t all get along.  

Think of what happened to the West Wing when the Republicans got in power….  

So, creators of Star Trek, when will we have a Reckoning?  When will we see what we loved threatened? Will you create people who will fight to re-balance it?  In the same vein as BSG—a show that allowed characters to be less than perfect, and which allowed the bad guys to have the upper hand–can you show us a universe where it will take us seven seasons to get it back on track again?  

Please, finally, let the Dragon out and let us see what the Federation will do!  🙂

Is Star Trek Reckoning for real or not?  Confirm this series.

Palin Loves (to shoot) Mama Grizzlies, and Star Trek Parallels

Writers are scrambling to capture and transform opportunities as they arise for developing Sarah Palin’s Star Trek role.  She provides them every day with new fodder and storylines that enhance a brilliantly conceived new series, and new direction, for the Star Trek franchise.  

Because of my writer contacts with the new series, I get leaks now and again and this is straight from the writer’s War Room (as they call it).  The first scripts for Star Trek: Reckoning, the new Star Trek series coming from Fox/Paramount this Fall, feature Captain Nalia Fergus (Sarah Palin) of the USS Steadfast, and a CGI-created polar bear first officer, Commander Nuuk.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous blogpost, the polar bear doesn’t realize that Fergus used to hunt bears like him for sport.  

I’m not allowed to put any of the script online for copyright reasons, but the episode entitled “Ain’t No Love for Mama Grizzlies” has the Steadfast‘s Captain and First Officer in a holodeck hunt of each other, and both of them have guns!  I kid you not.  

Here’s the breakdown.  Fergus, in a bid to coerce women of the Federation to rise up and reject the Betazed President of the Federation, and his stubbornly peaceful policies, has issued a statement, using the image of her first officer, Nuuk, as an example of the kind of “bear” she is, the kind of “mama grizzly” she believes all conservative women are.  

When Nuuk receives a message from enemies of Fergus–pictures of her with the skins of bears, hunting bears, when the facts start rolling in about how she really feels about bears–the Truth about Fergus’ relationship to Grizzlies, bears and other wildlife: she’d originally been part of a group that wanted to offer hunts, and drill for oil, on Nuuk’s own planet–for her own profit!–completely against the Federation’s Planetary Protection Act on Class L planet, Arctos 3– well, let’s say he’s not pleased.  The fact that she’s using his image–an image she’d thought of more as throw rug than sentience–to promote her cause (even if it is to protect the Federation from the Reckoning) is more than he can handle, and he lures her to the Holodeck for a showdown.  

Well, you can’t shoot your captain, and you can’t shoot your first officer— just not in the Star Trek rulebook.  What Fergus doesn’t know is that Nuuk has sympathetic friends in Starfleet, and the episode hints that he may even be a counterspy on the Steadfast, working for the Federation to keep an eye on Fergus.  While he distracts Fergus on the “hunt,” information about Fergus’ real feelings and real decisions about conservative women get sent to Federation media outlets.  

Her record on supporting women before she needed them to topple the President, pretty shabby,  and those she supported didn’t support women any better,   and finally, as the truth comes out about Nalia Fergus, then some of the strongest women of the Federation start speaking out against her.  It’s really shocking how pliant, gullible and weak she thinks women are.  That if she just projects an image of women rising up and supporting her–because she called out their name and flattered them–that they will create that uprising themselves, and forget all the ways she’s actually denigrated women.  (I’m really hoping that they bring back Captain Janeway to speak for Emily’s List–now there was a great female captain!)

This all happens during the Holodeck hunt–to keep Fergus from defending herself and allow the word to get out.  Unfortunately, giving away the ending of the episode–SPOILER–Nuuk is tranquilized, and put in the brig for several episodes.  But, this episode ends with the truth coming out, at least in a small way about Nalia Fergus and her movement.  Writers tell me this is episode 4 or 5 of the series.  

What I find so fascinating about Fergus’ character is her distorted belief in herself as saviour–and yet, I can’t help but believe that there’s a grab for power in there somewhere too.  That it’s very little about saving the Federation, and more about using the Reckoning–this dream of disaster–as a way to wrench power and control away from the Federation through fear.  Such a master at projection, Nalia Fergus may actually bring on the very Reckoning she claims to be saving the Federation from.  

Writers praise Palin:  “As a writer on the show, I can’t say how much I’m thankful for Sarah Palin’s assistance in helping us flesh out this character.  Every day, we’re all watching her Twitter, and reading every statement she puts out.  We sit around the War Room and translate that–nearly verbatim–into a Star Trek episode.  She’s a gift to the series.”  

I find this show completely fascinating—and it hasn’t even been broadcast!   Who’da thought that a conservative take on Star Trek would provide so many compelling storylines?  

— on a different note, the start date for the series has been moved back to October because of Sarah Palin speaking engagements piling up this summer.  She’s still filming when she can, I’ve heard, but she’s a woman on the move, a “pink elephant” parading* across the stages she’s set in America, and the Series just has to wait her out.  

Oddly, Palin’s conjuring up women as “pink elephants” refers back to the drunken stupor that Dumbo experiences in the Disney movie, “Dumbo”–is she saying that women marching on Washington is an alcohol-induced halucination?   Hmmm.  Well, in honor of Palin’s reference to “pink elephants”  I give you the original song that was, frankly, frightening for kids back when Dumbo showed in theatres.  

As previously noted, this is a parody.