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Emmet Asher-Perrin

Gale Weathers Is Better Than Any Final Girl

Horror fanatics spend a lot of time deconstructing the much-abused Final Girl. In position as the Last One Standing against every unthinkable monster lurking in the dark, her ability to survive is a badge of honor, but also a mark of what our culture values (or conversely, stubbornly refuses to appreciate) in young women.

Because the Scream series is a meta-narrative all about deconstructing movie tropes, Sidney Prescott’s journey has always been prime real estate for discussing and dismantling Final Girl stories, a role that she has undertaken with all due pain and a crackling temerity. Which is why it’s fascinating that, twenty-five years on, the person who arguably defines the Scream films is not Sidney at all—no matter who Ghostface happens to be calling.

[Spoilers for all five Scream movies.]

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In Case You Didn’t Notice, The Matrix Resurrections Is a Trans Love Story

If you pay attention to a certain sphere of film criticism, you’ve likely already come across analysis of The Matrix that couches it in the transgender perspective of its filmmakers: a story about unplugging from a world that forces you to live how it sees fit, the focus on Thomas Anderson’s transformation into Neo and the importance of seizing that change within himself, the continual pressure from outside forces (particularly in the form in Agent Smith) to literally “rebox” himself into the Matrix and take on the path that machine overlords have chosen for him.

All those who exit the Matrix choose new names for themselves, but its story belongs to “the One.” Neo’s declaration of his true name against Agent Smith’s constant droning to the tune of “Mr. Anderson” serves as an exegesis on intent, selfhood, and personal power. It’s hard to find a more potent or direct metaphor for transness than that. Neo is remaking himself in full view of the world: that’s what transitioning is.

But the first Matrix trilogy was missing something from that equation.

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The Best Moment in All of Star Trek Is About the Trash We Don’t Appreciate

Welcome to Close Reads! In this series, Leah Schnelbach and guest authors will dig into the tiny, weird moments of pop culture—from books to theme songs to viral internet hits—that have burrowed into our minds, found rent-stabilized apartments, started community gardens, and refused to be forced out by corporate interests. This time out, the incomparable Emmet Asher-Perrin meditates upon an important moment in The One with the Whales.

Up until more recent iterations, the state of art was something of a puzzlement in Star Trek. Here we are in a big, bold future where humanity has cast aside differences and works together toward mutual enlightenment, but film and television seem to have vanished from the collective consciousness—and the literature canon enjoyed by most Starfleet officers largely consists of Shakespeare, Doyle, Dickens, and the occasional smoky holodeck noir.

Which is why, in actuality, the greatest moment in Star Trek history occurs in 1986, on a bus in San Francisco.

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Series: Close Reads

The Matrix: Resurrections Knows You Didn’t Listen the First Time

Not even half an hour into The Matrix: Resurrections, we learn it was Warner Brothers that demanded a sequel to the trilogy—and that they’re so dead set on it, they’ll do it with or without its creator.

Yes, this is something that is voiced aloud within the film itself. It’s delicious and horrifying. It is exactly what we need to hear, which is pretty much the state of affairs for the next two hours. And all because Lana Wachowski assembled a team to wrest her art back from others; from the corporate overlords demanding profit over substance; from twenty years of debate and cultural saturation and parody; from “red pill” fanatics who warped the original film’s meaning into a vote in favor of conspiracy and isolationism and bigotry.

All because, given the state of the world, it’s clear that plenty of people didn’t get the message the first time around.

[Some spoilers for The Matrix: Resurrections.]

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Spider-Man: No Way Home Is How to Do a Meta Multiverse Right

After the unequivocal triumph of 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse, it’s hard to imagine what more any multiverse has to offer a Spider-Man story. It’s perhaps even harder to imagine what a multiverse could offer the MCU when their machinations of late have seemed very paint-by-numbers—particularly in regard to characters they already know how to package and sell.

With that in mind, No Way Home feels like the cinematic equivalent of being handed a small, extremely personal gift after being clobbered over and over with plastic commercial noise. It’s comforting in ways you cannot expect until you’re grabbing it with both hands and crushing it into your being.

[Spoilers for No Way Home below.]

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Lost in Space Veers Wildly Off Course in Its Final Season

While the first season of Lost in Space had the mellow hiccups one generally associates with a television show finding its voice, and the second season proved engaging and thoughtful TV that everyone could enjoy, the third (and final) season is… like getting to the bottom of a sundae, hoping for that final spoonful of fudge and winding up with a mouthful of Worcestershire sauce.

Can’t think of any other way to put it than that.

[Some spoilers for the final season of Lost in Space.]

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