LEAVING the European Union without securing a Brexit deal would be “suicide” for the UK, a former Brussels chief has warned – adding there is “blood on the floor” after a testing start to negotiations. Daily Express :: World Feed
StarWars.com recently shared the details of The Last Jedi‘s new adorable creature, the porgs, and I’m in love. They are huggable, curious birds with big eyes, and my love knows no bounds.
The porgs were first spotted in the behind-the-scenes featurette for The Last Jedi, but we weren’t given any details or background on them. In one shot, a porg briefly opened and closed its eyes on a workbench, and in another, one of the set workers gently floofed a porg’s wing.
A porg looking for a hug, which I will gladly give it
Now, I understand some of you are wary. As io9 rightly points out, the Star Wars franchise has a tricky history with “cute” creatures. In the original trilogy, the Ewoks became infamous as a marketing ploy to sell toys to children, even though they were actually scary as hell. In the prequels, Jar-Jar was intended as a “comic relief” creature who would appeal to younger audiences, but he just ruined every scene by being a racist caricature.
The porgs, though, have solved Star Wars‘ creature problem with one simple fix: they don’t talk. They are “the Star Wars version of puffins.” So we don’t have to worry about them jabbering in a performative accent or transforming into teeth-baring guerrilla fighters. They’re just little puffin-cat-owl things that I would like to eventually form a large nesting colony in my home.
Pablo Hidalgo, who works with Lucasfilm Story Group, just gets it. In his StarWars.com interview, he doesn’t try to sell the comic relief of the porgs. He doesn’t give them a civilization. He just said, “Porgs are cute. You fall into those deep, soulful eyes. I think a lot of people are going to want a porg as a pet.”
Yes. We are.
This is my future, as foretold on Twitter, and I have embraced it.
While reporting on President Donald Trump’s meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Wednesday, CNN’s Poppy Harlow mixed up the American and French national anthems. As the French military band started up “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Harlow invited watchers to listen to the French national anthem instead:
Aaaaawkward. But here’s the thing: I don’t think Poppy Harlow made a mistake. I think she was just admitting what we Americans secretly have always known: “The Marseillaise” is a million times cooler than “The Star-Spangled Banner.” We should be so lucky if our two countries switched anthems.
Look, let’s just admit it: “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a dud. It’s notoriously difficult to sing, to start; for every triumphant Whitney Houston-at-the-Super Bowl moment, we’ve also seen dozens of performers crack on the high notes or flub the lyrics (as captured in one of my all-time favorite “30 Rock” jokes). There’s a reason we all start applauding at sporting matches when the singer gets to “for the laaaaand of the freeeeee”—we’re all relieved they’ve made it that far without a total meltdown.
And it’s not like it commemorates a particularly illustrious moment in our nation’s history, either. Francis Scott Key wrote the poem whose words eventually became the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814, commemorating the successful defense of Fort McHenry against a British bombardment during the Battle of Baltimore. The battle was one of the few bright spots of the War of 1812, a conflict that only makes it into American history textbooks as an aside—probably because we lost. (Seriously. Americans like to pretend that the war was a “tie,” but go ask a Canadian what they think about that.)
The French national anthem, meanwhile, is epic from start to finish. Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in the midst of the French Revolution, it was a marching chant, initially entitled “War Song for the Rhine Army.” Europe’s monarchies had allied together to invade France and destroy the revolutionary government; Rouget de Lisle wrote his song to motivate the French troops to defend their homeland and their families. It quickly spread among ordinary soldiers, and when volunteers from the southern city of Marseille marched into Paris singing the song, it was rechristened “La Marseillaise.”
Unlike “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “The Marseillaise” immediately pulls the listener into the action:
Arise, children of the Fatherland
The day of glory has arrived!
Hey! Get up off your lazy ass! Your country needs you—and quick, because things are going to hell:
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody banner is raised
Can you hear, in the fields
The howling of these ferocious soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our wives!
The lyrics are brutal and unflinching in their depiction of the immediate horrors of war. This isn’t the picturesque imagery of “rockets’ red glare”, or the “bombs bursting in air” that correspond perfectly with Fourth of July fireworks displays. This is a song about women and children having their throat slit. The flag here isn’t “gallantly streaming;” in fact, it’s not even the French flag, but the “bloody banner” of Europe’s tyrannical monarchs. This is the threat bearing down on France, the threat that France’s citizens must fight:
To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let the impure blood
Water our fields!
Whoo, let’s go kick some tyrannical ass! Come on. You can’t help but get pumped by this—particularly that last line, which is both gruesome and weirdly poetic. To this day, historians disagree about whose blood is supposed to water French fields: the foreign blood of enemy soldiers? The “impure” (as in, non-noble) blood of French commoners sacrificing themselves for the nation? No one really knows for sure, but it’s a hell of a line to shout out along thousands of your compatriotes before an international sporting event. Forget the bro chant of “USA! USA!” —just imagine what a stadium full of rowdy American fans could do with a song like this.
And I haven’t even mentioned the greatest scene of the greatest movie ever:
Look, I know that some Americans are always going to have a weird chip on our shoulder when it comes to France. Alongside the English language and habeas corpus, Francophobia is perhaps Britain’s most enduring legacy in the United States. Even though the French gave us the layout of our capital, 23% of the continental United States, and our most iconic symbol of liberty, “a lot of people” don’t even know that France is America’s oldest ally, according to Trump. (I guess those people didn’t get to see Daveed Diggs as the Marquis de Lafayette in “Hamilton”? Because he was impossible to forget.)
For many Americans, France is a nation of 66 million “cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” fashionable snobs who smell bad and are mean to Americans when we visit their country and order a cold beer … and it’s only down to us that they aren’t all drinking German lager, anyway.
But just. Go watch that scene from “Casablanca.” Or this scene from “La Vie En Rose.” Or this real-life moment of fans spontaneously singing la Marseillaise while evacuating the Stade de France during the November 2015 Paris attacks, or France’s national assembly doing the same thing days later. Watch them, and then tell me you’re not ready to single-handedly storm the Bastille.
Vive la France, indeed.
(image: Storming of the Bastille, by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel)
Lauren Henry is a writer and a PhD candidate in Modern French history focusing on colonialism, migration and identity formation. Ask her about France.
When we celebrate films like Wonder Woman, it’s for reasons beyond the female director (which is cool) the feminist message (which is also cool). It’s because representation matters, and it’s especially important not just for girls to have a role model in which to see themselves, but for boys to have an example of what a strong, nuanced, feminist hero can be. Because boys can look up to her, too!
BBC News has rounded up parents and kids talking about their experiences with seeing Wonder Woman, and they’re enough to warm the cockles of your heart. It all started when Patty Jenkins received a list where a kindergarten teacher wrote down all the reactions her students had to seeing the film:
My producer just sent me this… ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! This makes every hard day worth it. Thank you to whomever wrote it!!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/3DzIaMueIh
A dad then replied to Jenkins, “My six-year-old girl started practising that badass ‘leg sweep’ after watching the film.”
BBC News heard from a mother in Vancouver, Canada who said that her son Jasper said, “‘Boys can be Wonder Woman, too!’ Jasper’s very entranced with her bullet-deflecting wrist guards, so he started leaping around pretending he was under fire and repelling bullets.” Apparently, Jasper loved the film so much that he asked his mom to pretend to be Wonder Woman and train him to fight “like an Amazon.”
I love that Amazons are the new standard for battle.
Gabrielle Domingues’ daughter, Rosie, used to hate eating her vegetables, but she totally chows down now that her mom has started saying “It will make you strong like Wonder Woman.” Domingues goes on to say, “Until seeing Wonder Woman on the screen Rosie didn’t have a role-model that she could truly identify as the ideal combination of both ‘tough’ and ‘soft.’ It has permeated how she is looking at daily elements of her life from choosing not to step on an ant, to confidently sparring with her brother, to comforting a friend scared by thunder. Just last night she said out of the blue, ‘I thought girls were always weak, but actually we’re strong plus lots of other things, even trouble-makers in a good way.’”
EXCLUSIVE: Watch incredible archive footage of Paul McCartney talking about LSD use and blaming the media for encouraging people to take drugs on the 50th Anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Daily Express :: Music Feed