Wyatt and I loved watching Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender. Who doesn’t like a little space magic mixed with sword-carrying robots? In the midst of Voltron’s fight against an evil galactic empire, the show reveals that one of the characters is gay. This sudden character relationship fact hadn’t been hinted at for over six seasons. Suddenly Season 7 premieres and Volton’s leader, Shiro, is in a relationship with another man named Adam (shown via flashback). The show never mentions Shiro’s relationship again until the series finale, when Shiro and Adam kiss in the closing credits.
Voltron: Legendary Defender is an amazing show that disappointed me by injecting gender politics into something aimed at children.
Last year, I powered through Sayonara Wild Hearts on Apple Arcade. Sayonara Wild Hearts is a music-based action game (see video above) where your protagonist fights against past loves/relationships. The game’s finale has you kissing former flames instead of killing them. Wyatt happened to be sitting next to me as the kissing started:
W: “Are you playing as a boy?”
W: “So did two girls just kiss?”
Me: “Umm, maybe…. yeah.”
Life went on, and I didn’t make too big of a deal about that scene. I had read/heard online that Sayonara Wild Heart’s story was open to interpretation but why the sudden gender moment? All my love for Wild Hearts died as I felt as if the fourth wall had been broken by gender politics once again.
The other night, I was playing Mutazione on Apple Arcade. During one of the in-game conversations, the protagonist admits to another character that she likes a fellow female classmate of hers. The two of them exchange notes to one another via their lockers. This isn’t a game ending revelation to me, but I got thinking about what the developers worldview is. Nothing sinister… but definitely foreign from my own worldview.
I told Wyatt recently that the Bible is clear on homosexuality (it’s a solid no). But that does not mean we have to treat others poorly nor use others relationship preferences as an excuse not to love them.
Hollywood and even game developers continue to increase LGBTQ representation in the media we consume. We, as Christians, need to continue to be a voice in the Internet wilderness. Proclaiming that God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that none shall perish but have everlasting life.
Appreciated this piece from Tim Challies. Especially liked his list of principles, he has been pondering, towards the end of the article.
As parents in this digital world, it’s like we have planted ourselves and our families on a beach. Though the water is rising, we have convinced ourselves that we can somehow hold back the tide. But inevitably it just keeps creeping higher and higher up the beach until our best plans, like feeble little sandcastles, are swept away. There seems to be a kind of inevitability about it, that before long we’ll all always be staring at our devices. In fact, it seems like our devices have wills of their own, and this is exactly what they want. They want to dominate our lives. They want to be our main thing.
Some of the points, on this list, seem like no duh parenting moments; other points come across as alarmist. But, I did find a few things helpful, like this:
Teach kids that when someone offers to show them anything on a screen, they should ask “What is it?” before looking.
And this regarding streaming services:
Many will tell you to just set up a separate profile for the kids–easy! But that’s not enough. The profiles are not password protected and kids can easily switch profiles. Your best line of defense is to set up parental controls. Some parents find it annoying that they have to enter a password so that they themselves can watch content, but it’s a small price to pay to protect your child from mature content!
I have to admit, I always thought that having separate profiles would be enough. Setting up a PIN, for all accounts, to help govern content watched, seems smart.
Will Robinson found a robot. He saves the robot’s life. Will and the robot are now friends.
Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot later reveals that Will’s robot is a killer and the reason the Robinson’s are now stranded. Despite this dramatic revelation, Will loves the robot for who it is now. He fights for the robot to be accepted by his family and fellow survivors.
The story seems to communicate that the robot, a highly advanced artificial intelligence, is learning to be good. But after an incident where the robot tries to protect itself from an attacker, flinging Will’s dad across the room in the process, Will makes a drastic decision.
A Boy and His Dog
I keep seeing articles and comments that Will and the robot’s story are similar to a boy and his dog story. Stories that make me think of:
- Old Yeller
- Where the Red Fern Grows
- Even Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur
The problem with saying that Will’s relationship with the robot is like a boy and his dog story is that the robot is an advanced AI. An AI capable of thinking and perhaps even feeling on some level. When Will commands the robot to walk off a cliff, therefore killing the robot, Lost in Space takes a big poop in the story pool. Flushing half a season’s worth of “the best part of the story” (as Wyatt puts it) down the toilet.
Having a young boy suddenly see no hope for his robot friend and ordering said friend off a cliff is dark. Even darker, having the robot looking at Will, knowing what Will is ordering it to do, and doing it anyway. I have no doubt that the writer’s are trying to set up an “evil robot” storyline down the road… but really, suicide as the only answer in a family show? This is dark and gross, Netflix.
“Danger, Will Robinson!”
While out in California, I had a chance to spend some time with my youngest sister, Rachelle. She got telling me about how her and her husband watch Korean soap operas together. They enjoy the dramatic stories that are clean, content-wise. Shell gave me a list of shows to check out on Netflix that included:
- Beating Again
- Man to Man
- Romance Is a Bonus Book
Tab and I were bored one night. All of our regular TV shows are on hiatus for the summer (NCIS, Hawaii Five-O, Madam Secretary). So we decided to check out what my sports-loving brother-in-law is cool with watching with my sister… I just can’t picture him watching THIS:
A gifted writer who’s the youngest editor-in-chief ever at his publishing company gets enmeshed in the life of a former copywriter desperate for a job.
Overall, Tab and I have been surprised by the show. I have found the story of a 38 year old woman going back into the workforce, after taking time out/off to be a mom/wife, to be both sweet and sad. Reminds me that life does not always go the way we plan… but the key here is the way the main protagonist reacts to her diverging path. She has hope and doesn’t think menial tasks to be below her.
I have loved listening to the Korean language while reading the subtitles. Super relaxing! The biggest personal drawback, for me, has been that the episodes are a little over an hour long. I like my shows to be within the 45 minute range. Allows me to often watch two shows, back-to-back, sans guilt.
If you are looking for something completely different, looking to switch up your media buffet, I suggest trying out Romance Is a Bonus Book. You’ll end up experiencing a new culture without having to step a foot outside your house.
Had a good visit with my parents last week. Hadn’t seen them in two years! Was nice to visit them in Southern California, enjoy the weather, and tour some of the local sites.
Our plane flight, out of Gregg County, was a bit bumpy. Our pilot had to dodge thunderstorms while flying into Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).
We eventually landed at DFW and made our way to our second flight. The flight boarded but we had to sit in the plane as a second wave of thunderstorms made its way into the area. Tab and I caught up on much needed sleep (we were so excited that we hadn’t slept the night before).
Fun Fact: When lightening hits near the airport, a clock starts a countdown to an all clear (so much time has to go by). Apparently airport workers cannot work out on the tarmac when lightening has struck nearby. Safety first!
Landed in San Diego without incident. Loved flying on what appeared to be a new Airbus! Tab and I watched Netflix’s The Highwaymen, with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, on the flight. Super good movie about two former Texas Rangers hunting down Bonnie and Clyde. We had about 30 minutes till the end of the movie when our plane landed. Can’t wait to finish this film.
My parents picked us up in San Diego. The weather was cool, cloudy, and drizzling. Such a relief from the 80 degree humid weather we’ve been having in East Texas.
We made our way over to Old Town San Diego, ate lunch, and toured around.
While there, we walked into Seeley Stables (which was pretty amazing and free). Came across some old gaming machines… something that one rarely sees in a museum. I was impressed.
After a bit of walking around, we braved the traffic and headed to my parents house.
The next day, we woke up and headed to Anaheim. Spent the day at Disneyland. Wyatt loved it (his first trip) and we all walked quite a bit.
I do not have a ton of pictures from Disneyland. We spent the day being in the moment and absorbing the magic of Walt’s original park.
Highlight of our day was Wyatt getting to meet Darth Vader. Wyatt tried to pledge allegiance to him… and Lord Vader seemed pleased. He told Wyatt that when he was of age that Wyatt would make a great recruit for the Imperial Army. I’m taking this as a parenting win!
The Hall Family loves Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego. Bookmarking this for an evening soon.
Wyatt wasn’t feeling well last night. I think Texas is trying to take him out. That’s right, the State of Texas decided to swap our weather from the high 90’s to cloudy, cool, and rainy. Overnight. The human body seems to take issue with sudden weather changes. Anywho, him not feeling great led to some great snuggle time on the couch (I love this). We watched Atlantis: The Lost Empire via Netflix.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get over:
- The beauty of the animation in this movie. I love the style and mix of traditional and computer animation.
- How many people die within the film’s opening 20 minutes.
- How much action there is for an animated Disney movie. Wyatt loved it after snubbing the movie, for months, anytime I offered to watch it with him.
- The Disneyland attraction we lost due to the film’s performance at the box office.
- How cool it is to hear Michael J. Fox voice protagonist Milo.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire is up there, for me, on my list of Disney movies that dare to be different. Movies such as:
- Lilo & Stitch
- Treasure Planet
- A Goofy Movie
While we were watching the movie, I let developer Greg Labanov’s Wandersong download in the background. Will be blogging about this game soon.
Was watching the new season of Skylanders Academy with Wyatt last night. Towards the end of the opening theme song, I thought I kept hearing “pardon me” versus “harmony”. Got me thinking about what they were having to pardon themselves for. Take a listen:
Netflix has resurrected Tony Danza from the actor’s graveyard. That place where actors go, botox the crud out of their faces, and then act like they are young and relevant again. Netflix has gone even further with The Good Cop and has teleported singer Josh Groban from some Christmas special somewhere.
Josh Groban: “Where am I?”
The Good Cop Writers: “Your in a cop show playing an unlikable goody two-shoes. Think you can handle that?”
Josh Groban: “Definitely.”
Two actors dumped into a White Collar-like formula, what could go wrong? Pretty much everything.
I’m convinced that The Good Cop is built for senior citizens. Let’s do the math:
Slow Pacing + Department Store Piano Music + Tony Danza = Old People Show
Guess I need to be careful here though. Tony Danza shot to fame on Who’s the Boss, which debuted in 1984. Which means the “senior citizens” I’m talking about would then be my parents–hi, mom and dad!–. I take it all back. This is just a bad show meant for bad people who want to watch bad television.
Netflix can be a haven of the awesome (Voltron) and a haven of the most epic fails brought to the small screen. The Good Cop is a disaster and a thing to avoid.
Man colds suck.
The snot. The fever. The inability to breath.
Rest is required.
Lots of rest.
Which means a day off from work.
Especially if your kid is in school.
The TV is all yours. The couch comfy and inviting.
Never mind that you feel like death itself has come. Your friends Netflix and video games have arrived for a visit.
You like them.
Frantic levels of new Shovel Knight content rule your day, in-between the naps.
Man colds are real.
Terrible, nasty, super cold-like experiences.
But a sick day, is a sick day; and rest is rest.
So why not enjoy it?
And relax like the best.
While my wife was busy prepping for school last night, I watched J.J. Abram’s Super 8 for the first time. I had a blast!
While the movie clearly felt like an older Steven Spielberg movie, the pacing and visuals easily surpassed his earlier works. I have to say that I enjoyed the clever camera shots that hid the “monster” until the appropriate time. I also loved the overarching theme of kids making a movie. Reminded me of all the films I tried to make as a kid with my friends.
There was one particular scene, in the movie, that got to me a bit. Reminded me of how awesome it is to have home movies, especially of those that we love that have passed away.
This past June, on a vacation to see my parents in Southern California, my wife and I happened to spend an evening watching old home videos. In the videos, I saw grandparents who are long deceased moving, talking, and acting with all their memorable mannerisms. It made me cry.
Watching Super 8 reminded me of that night with my wife. Strip away the monster plot and Super 8 is all about a father and son living in the emotional aftermath of losing a wife/mother. What I most enjoyed about the film is that it focused on its simple human story, even when the town was being blown a part by the cliched “evil” military. Movies that are bold enough to be quiet and thoughtful are a rarity. Regardless of what critics or what you might even think, I enjoyed my night with Super 8 on Netflix.