Tor.com content by

Emmet Asher-Perrin

On the Profound Awfulness of Netflix’s Dracula

Most people have, at one point or another in their lives, enjoyed a vampire story. Or many vampire stories. They are a deliciously uncomfortable paradox as supernatural beings go—bound up in death, but also in lust, in sensuality, and of course, in sex. You can’t really get around it, even if you acknowledge how creepy (even gross or grotesque) the conceit is. Vampires are meant to be attractive to us in order to help us confront something fundamental to much of humanity.

And Bram Stoker’s Dracula may not be the first vampire story, but it is often given credit for the genre’s longevity.

[I don’t drink. Wine.]

The Rise of Skywalker Wants You to Know That Consent Is Necessary (and Also Very Sexy)

It’s the classic romantic moment of Star Wars, arguably one of the best-known on-screen kisses of all time. Han Solo has been arguing with Princess Leia for a third of film over whether or not she’s into him, and happens to spot her as she’s doing ship repairs while they’re hiding in an asteroid. He wraps his arms around her under the guise of helping, she shoves him off. He takes her hand when she appears to have pinched it in the machinery, she tells him not to do that. He says she likes him because he’s a scoundrel, she insists that she likes nice men. He counters that he is a nice man, and before she can finish her protestation, he kisses her.

This aligns with most of what you see in romantic plot lines throughout the history of cinema, and corresponds with a tactic that many men are encouraged to use in real life on women: The Wear Her Down Method. And the problem with said method is that it not only easily slips into harassment—it also often ignores the concept of consent entirely.

[Spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker ahead.]

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Tim Burton Hides Stories of Powerful Women in Plain Sight

If you were a kid growing up in the U.S. during the ’80s and ’90s, entertainment had a certain shape. It was full of suburban lawns, the excitement of excess, gated communities, and nostalgia for the soda-fountained, saddle-shoed “simplicity” of post-WWII values. Flashy blockbusters were the rule of the day. In the face of reasserted homogeny, a specific set of subcultures flourished, grown out of punk movements and other anti-establishment groups. Which is a roundabout way of saying, if the mainstream didn’t float your boat (or only did part of the time), chances are, you were a Tim Burton kid.

Burton sidestepped his way into cinema juggernaut status, getting his start in Disney’s animation division before being fired and sweeping into feature films. He quickly made a name for himself by being “too dark” and “too creepy” for children (plenty of actual children who grew up on his films would dispute this claim), and for a distinct visual vernacular born of gothic sensibilities intertwined with a deep understanding of old monster movies, low-budget sci-fi films, and German Expressionism. But there is something even more fascinating about Tim Burton films, especially when looking back on the director’s career: They often seem to center male protagonists when they are plainly about women.

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Lost in Space Continues to Evolve in Season 2, Questioning a Future That Isn’t Built For Everyone

It’s been over eighteen months (in realtime) since we last saw the Robinsons and their unintentionally adopted new crew members. Now they’re back, and in addition to family bonding time, we’re getting a whole new perspective on the world they’ve left behind and the future humanity is trying to build.

(Some spoilers for Lost in Space season 2.)

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Fixes a Critical Error in Revenge of the Sith

The Skywalker Saga is nine whole films long, and spans three generations. It was hoped that the final installment would find aspects to tie all three trilogies together, and it succeeded in a multitude of ways, though the most interesting one was certainly unexpected.

It has to do with Revenge of the Sith.

[Spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker.]

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How Do You Visualize Stories?

Inevitably, when someone is trying to advocate reading over watching things on screens, some variation of this old joke gets made: “Books are like movies inside your head!” This assumes everyone can—and does—create a full mental picture when they read, complete with sets, landscapes, costumed characters, and easy-to-follow action.

But that’s not how it works for me.

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Was 1999 the Year Modern Nerd Culture Began to Take Over the World?

In the transcendental year of 1999, it became clear to me that I was extremely cool.

No, that’s a lie, please don’t take that declaration even remotely seriously. I was twelve and thirteen years old in 1999, and no new teenager understands coolness on a base level, much less feels that coolness in their still-growing bones. The effortlessness of cool is not something that any tween can hope to emulate, the style inherent in the word “cool” has not yet developed by that age. So I was not cool. But there are now two solid decades between me and that year, and on reflection, I’ve realized something momentous:

1999 was the year when I got a glimpse of my future. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Is the Spiritual Successor of Return of the Jedi, for Worse and for Better

When it comes to mega-myths and long-standing pop culture phenomenons, endings are one of the most impossible things to get right. The Rise of Skywalker already had a tough act to beat by following The Last Jedi—easily the most narratively and thematically complex film that Star Wars has ever churned out. But it’s doubtful that Episode IX ever intended to outdo its predecessor, and what we have for a coda has much more in common with an oft-maligned chapter of the Skywalker Saga: Return of the Jedi.

For all the good and bad that brings.

[Non-spoiler review]

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I Made Binders Full of Star Wars Stuff as a Teen, While the Prequels Were Coming Out. I Just Found Them.

The thing about being a teenage nerd is… you do a lot of awkward stuff. This is not so much because you’re a nerd, but because you’re a teenager and teenagers are generally awkward, unfinished human beings. In my case, I devoted a downright silly amount of time to Leslie Knope-esque scrapbooks and collages of things I loved. For history’s sake, of course. Action figures were never an obsession of mine, but if it was on paper? That made it into a dearly important record.

And I had clippings, folders, and binders for the Star Wars prequels, friends.

You wanna see them, don’t you?

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