Elizabeth Spiers, discussing a quoted passage from Shanley Kane’s (now deleted) Medium post “An Open Letter to Women Who Work in Technology,” in which she writes:
Make no fucking mistake that you occupy your cushy tech salary, your mid-level management job, your paltry access to power by permission of the patriarchy. It is a deal with the devil. They will pay you, and let you make small career advances, in exchange for acting more like a poster child than a revolutionary, more like a mother than a peer, more like a secretary than a boss. In exchange for you shutting the fuck up, in exchange for you being content with your cute women-in-technology dinners, in exchange for your affirmative-action speaking slots, in exchange for you focusing more on “community building” than burning shit down.
Completely separate from the broader issues Kane is addressing, the thing I want to talk about is: Is Spiers right? The aesthetics of a polemic are, more or less, a settled issue. But I don’t think its effectiveness as a matter of a certain tone should be, that we have all somehow agreed that this kind of wildfire anger is the way to go. There are a startling number of assumptions bundled together beneath this kind of thinking — about effectiveness and discourse and the deep-down preference for “burning shit down” over any kind of building.
Why should we think “Maybe we should all think about how we’re allowing ourselves to be incentivized to keep quiet” is somehow a less provocative or thoughtful statement because it is less angry? Why should unbridled anger be the only gateway to provocation or the only instrument to sound a call to arms?
— Alice Notley
How is it that so many X-Men can mean so little? They mean absolutely nothing now. At least a dozen of them vanish — pfffosh, but silent — over the course of X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is a movie about psychic wounds projected onto the time-space continuum but with all the metaphors sucked out. Only wounds. Only continuum.
A war has come and everyone is dead. Except. Charles and Erik (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) lead their mutant compatriots in a final gambit against a future they cannot stand: the “worst of humanity” has pioneered Sentinels that can adapt to any countermeasure. Mutants will go extinct. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), developing suddenly the power to project people back into the past, so projects Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) into the past. At a key moment, it is hoped, he will chart a new course for the Erik and Charles and compatriots of the ’70s — at which point, up until the war of the future is truly halted, the two timelines will unfasten and the past will rewrite history atop the future in innumerable ways.
In the ’70s, Wolverine finds all the fall-out from X-Men: First Class, a film which had the audacity to care about itself. There is a lot of wreckage to tally: Erik is imprisoned and Charles is opiated and the rest of them (Havoc, Moira, etc.) are essentially scattered, sometimes due diligently seen here or there and then away again. But diligence is the soul of a checklist, not a success.
There is a lot to do about a central moment in time, wherein Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique must be stopped from killing Peter Dinklage’s Dr. Trask. Charles must rescue Erik. They must persuade Mystique and stop her from committing murder. She must learn to accept herself. Humanity, too, must learn. The future has been projected backward to educate the past. A new path toward tomorrow. Except. To say that drama of the previous X-Men films is being restaged here would be to imply that there is at all any difference. Stewart is now James McAvoy; McKellen is now Michael Fassbender; Kelsey Grammer is Nicholas Hoult. Everyone is different, which is another way of writing no one is.
Director Bryan Singer made one good X-Men film, 11 years ago, that thrived on breadth and detail, an impatience with its own world. Mutants, X-2 argued, were of a place — not produced by it. The film’s spectacles multiplied; its seriousnesses became grand.
This is the inverse: grand seriousness, which is not at all the same thing. Days of Future Past has no impatience, given the earlier fizz-pop farm team feeling of Matthew Vaughn’s First Class (everyone gets a turn at the plate!) and even for all the faces before us who stand and do not speak. The cast is frightfully narrow. Wolverine gets a lot of lines. Storm gets three.
Worse still, there is none of Vaughn’s curiosity for compassion — or his camp. Indeed it is impossible, I think, to stress how little Days of Future Past seems to care about its characters, who evolve only up until the status quo. The plot and its avatars are all: Will mutants make peace with humans? Will mutants make peace with humans? Will mutants make peace with humans?
The action isn’t even all, which is a shame since the set pieces are goggling spectacles I could have watched for an hour: Super Smash Bros. made carnate. (This has one grace, which I will not spoil because its name is Evan Peters.)
The truest sin: Fassbender, a neo-glam fascist, is now no more interesting than the helmet he wears on his head; or, at the end, helmet-less, when he floats away. Toward tomorrow, he says at one point. But there is only today.
— Patricia Lockwood gets profiled in The New York Times
"There was nothing in life harder or more important than agreeing every morning to stay the course, to go back to your forgotten self of many years ago, and to make the same decision. Marriages, like ships, needed steering, and steady hands at the wheel.”
—Emma Straub, The Vacationers