Top of the Lake

Sep. 17th, 2017 12:00 pm
marina: (Default)
[personal profile] marina
I have been writing a post about Top of the Lake for literally like 4 years. FOUR YEARS. I keep writing drafts and never finishing them, because it all just feels so enormous and too much and I need like an entire day to get all my thoughts in order.

But, it's happening today friends. IT'S HAPPENING TODAY. SO HELP ME, THERE WILL BE A POST. It will be cobbled together from different drafts I've started over the years, but IT WILL EXIST.

So, below are my thoughts, which were written a few years ago, before I'd seen Mad Max: Fury Road, before Jessica Jones, before Wonder Woman.

Anyway, this post is still not even a fraction of the thoughts I have in my head about this show, BUT. We are doing this. THIS POST IS GETTING POSTED.


Well, there's now not one, but two versions of Broadchurch (both starring David Tennant!) and I still haven't gotten around to the show that, to me, is the far more subversive, far more interesting, far richer and more beautiful original version of what has now become a multi-season franchise.

I haven't been able to write about Top of the Lake until now because my talents do not lie in talking about the things I find overwhelmingly amazing. I had to wait such a long time for the edges to fade, for this show to settle in my head and become digestible (this is after multiple viewings, because of course I rewatched parts of it ad nauseum) and analyzable and describable.

The non spoilery version is this: Robin (Elizabeth Moss) is a detective who comes back to her small town in New Zealand to visit with her gravely ill mother. At the same time a 12 year old girl in the town is discovered to be pregnant. Robin is called in, because of her big city specialist training, to help interview the girl - however the girl claims she remembers nothing, and Robin ends up leading the investigation into what happened. To unravel this mystery Robin will have to face old friends and enemies, the local gang, police corruption and the secrets of her own family.

If you, like me, are utterly bored by detective stories and mysteries, let me attempt another pitch: Top of the Lake is probably the greatest story I've ever seen about a heroine who is flawed and competent and human, who's allowed to unravel, whose power is never undermined even when she's as low as she's ever going to get, even when the odds are insurmountable. Robin is a heroine you root for when, like Buffy, she has nothing left but herself, her body, her wits. She's someone you root for while you recognize her blind spots, her privileges, her biases. Robin is someone who always, always comes through. Stripped down to the bone she rises, like Lazarus, unstoppable in her passion, her moral duty to do right by the marginalized, her incredible strength.

The amazing thing about Top of the Lake is that it's about a girl who loses everything, but never loses herself. It's about trauma, it's about survival, it's about revenge, it's about justice, it's about compassion and love and forgiveness, it's about asking the ugly questions about ourselves and being uncomfortable and trying as hard as you can to be the best person you can be. It's about trying to make sure no one has to suffer the way you've suffered.

And of course - Jane Campion is an amazing director, and stepping into her world for 7 episodes was like suddenly finding myself in an alternative universe where complex, challenging visual stories are told for me, as a woman. Where the male gaze is not even a distant memory.

Here's one last way of putting it: Robin and Leslie Knope (of Parks and Rec) are two extremes on the same continuum. Leslie is Robin in a light-hearted, brightly lit comedy - Robin is Leslie in a graphic, gritty detective story. Robin is the grown up version of Veronica Mars. The settings, the moods, the tropes are different but the women are the same - beacons of resilience, fortitude, open-eyed optimism, competence, who are the heroes rather than the victims of their narratives.

spoilers )


And now an addendum written by today!me:

Top of the Lake is the spiritual mother of so many modern shows, and I'm so happy (SO SO HAPPY) that I get to place it a broader than ever tapestry of women heroes of all kinds.

Wednesday reading

Sep. 13th, 2017 06:27 pm
queen_ypolita: Books stacked to form a spiral (Bookspiral by celticfire)
[personal profile] queen_ypolita
Recently finished
The Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World, A Dangerous Inheritance and Freshman Year.

Currently reading
I've made a start on Virtual History edited by Niall Ferguson and The Pricess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette (a cheap and cheerful edition that annoys me by not saying a word about it being a translation from the French or who the translator was, but it's not like I don't know it's a translation without being told).

Reading next
Not sure.

(no subject)

Sep. 13th, 2017 10:29 am
marina: (Default)
[personal profile] marina
I know everyone is tired of hearing how busy I am, lol, but this week has been truly ridiculous. In a lot of ways it's been filled with wonderful things, as well as boring stressful things (contacting city hall, the water company, the electric company...), and in a way I'm grateful that I can survive this kind of week now, disability-wise, since I definitely couldn't have a year ago. But I'm... intensely at the end of my rope, and things are not going to calm down for like, at least another 48 hours, and IDK if I can honestly survive that long.

stuff and things )
la_rainette: (Default)
[personal profile] la_rainette
The problem with growing old is that your memory is no longer what it was. This morning I got an email from a company, letting me know that an order I’d completely forgotten about had just shipped. On one hand, what the fuck. Why do I forget everything, dammit.

On the other hand, SCORE! it’s already paid for and it’s all stuff I really wanted, and all of a sudden it feels like Christmas.

from Tumblr

(no subject)

Sep. 7th, 2017 10:28 am
marina: (Default)
[personal profile] marina
This week has been... a lot.

exhaustion )

Anyway, it's basically going to be this ridiculous hurricane until I go abroad in late September (a trip for which NO PREPARATION has been undertaken because it's still not 100% certain we're going) and I'm already... so tired.

Things that are cheering me up/ruining my life in the meantime: Kris Ripper The Scientific Method books, of which there are a billion and I've read and reread basically all of them in the last few weeks. [personal profile] were_duck dropped them in my lap right before London, and they are solely responsible for me not watching a single moment of TV or movies that I'd brought with me when I was on that trip. It was just all reading all the time in my spare time.

They are this lovely universe with a bunch of poly, kinky relationships between various dudes (and non-dudes, though those are mostly in the background) and they are just Trope Central in the best way. (THE BEST WAY.) It's not easy to make me really enjoy a relationship dynamic that has little to no internal conflict, and I'm also not a huge fan of "new to kink" stories - I prefer characters who already know quite a bit about their own kink issues.

And yet the main series, that has all of these tropes, really really worked for me. (Also, the side book that actually does have experienced characters and tons of internal conflict was FIRE.)

For a more detailed reivew that includes a plot summary and details about the characters, I highly recommend [personal profile] beta_vulgaris' post: Book review: The Scientific Method Universe by Kris Ripper.

That universe is just... all the comforting tropes. ALL OF THEM. In the tradition of good fanfic writers everywhere, it also made me enjoy kinks I don't usually enjoy in fiction. Although part of the reason I liked it is that it doesn't push any of my humiliation-squick buttons too hard. These books are very "everyone is a consenting adult and everything is really well negotiated" kind of poly kink romance.

The only warning I'd give about these books is that... I am in no way an expert on this, but to my outsider eyes it seemed like they handled race in ways that were a little weird. Like the author was clearly Trying, and there are books and stories devoted to non-white characters, but it always came off to me like the author didn't really know how to write people who weren't white (in terms of cultural experience) and fell into a lot of tropes and traps that are somewhere between trite and harmful. It doesn't affect the main series so much, but the side stories were... iffy, for me, in that regard.


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Lost In Translation

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