Second Union

Second Union

“Selfies from Hell” – Batwoman on the CW

The CW dares to defy with “diverse” programming! Witness: Supergirl! Arrow-something or other, some kind of superhero, I’m not sure, and now Bah-bah-bah-bat! Woman! Yes. Batwoman! Ruby Rose. Who the hell is Ruby Rose? Oh wait, I remember. She was some kind of super-computer-geek I barely remembered in The Meg, the kind-of Jaws rip-off or parody (take your pick) that cost $170 million but looked like it was shot over a weekend. Yes, I remember Ruby Rose. I remember what she said. “Some people will love the show, some people might be surprised and find that they really enjoy it, and some people might not see themselves on the screen and therefore not see the point. But there’s obviously plenty of shows for people like that. There’s plenty of shows for white old men.” I resemble that remark! I’m an old white man!

Again, we’re doing this thing where the entertainers turn on the consumers. I did a podcast with my wife where we talked about “buskers”, street performers, and we noted that entertainers were at the bottom of the food chain back in the early days of performance. They lived on scraps. They existed to serve. If the King didn’t like your performance – off with your head! Nowadays they’re paid more than anybody, more than anyone with an actual, marketable skill and people listen to them! Celebrities have incredible power over the public these days. Let’s get away from Ruby and her ill-chosen words. She’s a kid. Kids should be seen and not heard. Let’s get into Batwoman. Before she became Batwoman, Kate Kane was an angry young woman with shorn hair and arm tattoos who had to punch her way through a frozen lake to yell at her long-haired Asian master without understanding the need for patience. That’s a good object lesson for you kids out there: when you’re drowning under a frozen lake, be patient!

She comes back to Gotham City, less than six months after Gotham was cancelled. It seems to be the same Gotham, visually, but is lacking that show’s incredible technical virtuosity. I hung on for five years watching Gotham on Fox. It was a mad, terribly written show with overwrought performances, but was one of the most beautifully-shot series I had ever watched. The majority of Gotham’s accolades over the years came from technical nominations. In this Gotham, it’s a parade of beautiful Asian women taking selfies – selfies in hell – and pretending there is no misery or neglect in the world. Well, I suppose we can all lie when the lie is nicely worded. In Gotham City, a celebration is underway to celebrate the absence of Batman. Batman has disappeared, but we’re celebrating? “Batman gave up on us!”

We get our bad guy (or bad girl, as the word, “guy” will go the way of the dodo) in … I guess her name is … Alice, another Alice in Wonderland pastiche. This gets so tired. Haven’t we done that a few times already? Alice is played by Rachel Skarsten, who played that super-hot Dinah chick from Birds of Prey, a WB show that lasted only 13 episodes back in 2002. Nice call-back. She’s the bad girl here. So I don’t know how far we’re in, but I’ve noted only two male speaking parts. Soon, men will become a thing of the past, like the dodo. The rest are women, and I know what you’re going to say – ooh, old white man! Why do you hate? Why are you a hater? I’m not. I promise. I watched this show with my daughter, and she would try to turn around certain concepts on me. When I ask, “why does she have to be gay,” my daughter would turn around and ask me why does she have to be straight? I don’t know how to answer the question so we move on.

Alice is a crazy person. We know this because she kills a bunch of cops and cocks her head at an odd, uncomfortable angle and widens her eyes when she asks a question. We get into Kate Kane’s back-story. She had a lesbian girlfriend! Lesbians! Pissing off Chick-Fil-A customers since NEVER! That’s why we get Chipotle chicken commercials running throughout this show. Chipotle wants you to know they support gay marriage, or something! Even the Wikipedia’s description of her designates her as an “out lesbian.” This is 2019. Do we really care at this point? An awesomely beautiful chick named Sophie had been abducted by Alice to get Bruce Wayne’s attention. Sophie is really beautiful; the ex-girlfriend in Kate’s pairing as Kate has the perfectly shorn head so she’s obviously the man in the relationship. In a flashback, Sophie was kicked out of Military Academy for being a lesbian or something, I can’t quite figure it out, but she has painted eyebrows. Who paints their eyebrows? Sophie joins the “Crows,” a privatized militia put into operation after Batman’s disappearance.

Katie is a “slip-in,” and now I can give you my definition of a “slip-in.” It was based on my interpretation of Michael Burnham from Star Trek: Discovery. A “slip-in” (my words) is a character (preferably female) introduced late in the action (the action of established canon) and slipped in to a story and the roster of established characters with unlimited power, intelligence, and objective beauty. It’s like if I decided to write a character in Star Wars who was Princess Leia’s boyfriend back home on Alderaan who is presumed dead after the Empire destroys the planet, but then he pops up to offer a friendly romantic rivalry with Han Solo. Where did he come from? This definition is taken from my review of “The Vulcan Hello,” the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Katie Kane gets to be all things to everyone. Katie Kane is Michael Burnham. Katie must possess incredible, unbelievable strength, like Ruth Negga on Preacher, beating a man three times her size to death with nothing but a plastic pager.

This is how Katie is able to easily defeat her enemies. She is written to defeat her enemies. She’s not a bad-looking woman. Even though she rocks the Rachel Maddow-do, her lips are full, feminine, and painted. They really like to paint the makeup on these days, don’t they? As an actress, unfortunately, she’s boring, delivering her lines in a monotone verging on valley girl, and alternately crusty. Katie strikes me as a heavy drinker. There’s nothing in this character that would make me shout, “Ruby Rose,” while my sweating fingers cling to dripping sheets. Does anything in this universe make you scream, “Ruby Rose?” Anybody (and I mean anybody) could play this part. Let’s be practical about this. It’s actually not a bad pilot, or introductory episode of television. Katie Kane has to have a connection to previously established characters. This connection may have been relevant in comic books, but if I don’t know about it, it never happened.

In this newest adaptation, she is the cousin of Bruce Wayne. The television series should appeal to casual fans while providing lip service to the Bat-“nerds.” I enjoyed the Adam West show and the Tim Burton re-boot, as well as the Nolan movies and Gotham, but each new product had less to offer me. In particular, Christopher Nolan’s take on the villains of Batman bored me. Gotham made for a lively spectacle of over-the-top villainy, even if it was misguided. Kate breaks into Wayne Manor, and (too easily) finds the “bat-cave” where she not only discovers that Bruce Wayne is Batman, she appropriates his costume and asks “guy-friday,” beta-male Luke Fox, son of Lucius Fox, to provide her with alterations. Gotham City is putting together a “Movie in the Park” event. Gotham City is not Portlandia, but still, we have to put a bunch of innocent people in harm’s way so that Alice will plan a terrorist attack.

Kate shows up dressed like a shapely Batman, but the mask is a little too big on her head, and she’s a little awkward in the suit. After the smoke clears, Kate discovers that her ex-girlfriend is now married (drum-roll) to a MAN! What a burn. I’ve seen a number of negative comments about Batwoman over the past few weeks, and I do understand the antipathy for “woke” material. As of this writing, critics ratings certify the show 72% fresh with an audience score of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. For me, the biggest problem with the Batwoman pilot is Ruby Rose. She’s as boring as Brie Larson, and just about as appealing. As for the “woke” components, if Batwoman continues for any length of time, the show must (as all shows must) rely on good stories instead of talking-points to entertain its chosen demographic. Either that or just take some more selfies while Gotham City burns. Now that’s entertainment!

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