LISTENING

I was binge-listening to Grass Widow pretty much non-stop this past weekend, but I’ve already blogged about them before. Last night I started listening to a relatively new band called WALL. They only have a 4-track self-titled EP (as in 4 tracks, not recorded on a 4-track), but all the songs are “bangerz” as the kids say.

From the description on this music video on YouTube: “WALL is one of the year’s most talked-about new bands, a New York four-piece with a tough sound that calls to mind the best early 80s no wave.” I’m excited for their future stuff. Also the music video for “Milk” is pretty cool.”

My faves of the five tracks on Spotify: “Cuban Cigars” and “Fit The Part.”

 

WATCHING

After watching Top of the Lake I felt this urge to continue watching something that would have the ANZ (Australia, New Zealand) accent, so I started watching Wentworth (2013), an Australian drama about a women’s prison. I had seen it on Netflix, but I’d always thought it was a knock-off of Orange in the New Black. NOT TRUE. In fact, Wentworth started airing in May 2013 on Australian television and OITNB debuted on Netflix in June 2013, so technically Wentworth was first. AND ALSO, Wentworth is a reboot of an Australian programme called Prisoners, which started running in 1979! So imagine the sh*t that goes down in OITNB happening on television in 1979!

So anyway, I pretty much binged the first three seasons of this show all week. Again, I went in to the first episode thinking this would just be a lower production version of OITNB. Obviously since they’re both set in a women’s prison, there are overlapping themes of feminism, alcoholism/addiction, abuse, homosexuality, social welfare, etc. But Wentworth is distinct from the Netflix original in both style and tone.

Wentworth is much darker, tonally. One of the things I realized early on in the first season was that things were not going to get better. A lot of bad stuff goes down in the first few episodes and just when you’re looking for an upturn, one of the worst things imagineable happens to the main character, Bea Smith. That, paired with a meta-comment from one inmate about a television show they’re watching where nothing good ever happens (“that’s because it’s a TV show” her friend retorts), reminds me of the fact that no one can ever really win in a prison show. Here’s why. One: inherently, prisons perpetuate cycles of violence and abuse. These women come from troubled experiences outside of prison and those wounds are not easily healed when they’re pooled together in a micromanaged, no-rights, hyper-surveilled environment. It seems Sisyphean for anyone to try to break out of the power-structures (guards-inmates, inmates-inmates) that hold such an environment together. Two: it’s a TV show, which means you don’t want (and thus the show writers don’t want) your favorite characters to leave the show. And since the show takes place in prison, your favorite characters can’t be set free. This was my general thought until the season 3 finale in which Franky Doyle, a main character, is released and has a seemingly happy ending. But she’s still on the main cast for season 4 – which started airing in May – so we’ll see what the writers do with her story. Probably she will reoffend and be sent back to prison and the cycle continues.

Anyway, I would highly recommend this show. Especially during the inevitable comedown after binging season 4 of OITNB, which comes out this Friday.

 

READING

I have pretty much given up on The Fall right now (I only got ~10 pages in… whoops). But last week I read Vol. 1 of Image Comics’ Copperhead, written by Jay Faerber and illustrated by Scott Godlewski. It’s a space Western and while it didn’t hook me, it was thoroughly entertaining and I will probably buy Vol. 2, which came out last November.

Before the series begins, there was a war on Jasper, the planet where the series takes place. Post-war, a new sheriff has been sent in from the off-world human conquerers. So we’re definitely dealing with themes of colonization and cultural clash. I’m mostly intrigued by the artificial human characters that were created by humans to go fight in this war on Jasper. New sheriff and single-mom Clara Bronson has an altercation with an artificial human early on and clearly has a bias against them, even though one of them helped save her son. So I’m interested in the exploration of social politics this dynamic sets up.

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