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If the Deadpool Movies Don’t Want Me to Think That Deadpool is Queer, They’re Doing a Terrible Job

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We’re in a weird place right now, cinema-wise. People in the film industry keep trying to mollify fandom by suggesting that any number of characters could be queer, then finding out that fans aren’t interested in this game anymore—they want action and quantifiable results. They want representation that doesn’t come after publication, or without on-screen verification, or with a promise that it will show up in a few years.

But with that said, there is no possible way that you can convince me that Wade Wilson is straight. There’s just too much evidence to the contrary—and I don’t mean the number of slash fanfics with his name attached.

[Spoilers for Deadpool 2]

I should begin with a few pointed reminders. For one, Deadpool is pretty queer in the comics; he’s got a crush on Thor, and probably Cable, and he adores Spider-Man so much that when a bunch of teenage witches try to call upon Deadpool’s then-wife (the succubus Shiklah) with a spell to summon his “heartmate,” it’s Spidey who appears before the coven. As far as the films are concerned, it’s still up in the air—Wade seems like he might be genuinely attracted to unicorns (or at least the stuffed toy one he hangs onto while masturbating), and when he sees Vanessa briefly in some version of heaven at the end of Deadpool 2, she sends him back to the living world with the knowing words “Don’t fuck Colossus.” While Wade seems a little surprised at the request, he does seem to like the giant metalized mutant quite a bit. Also, Ryan Reynolds has gone on record to say that he would like Wade to have a boyfriend at some point in the film series… though that seems unlikely with Vanessa around, unless they’re also willing to broach the subject of polyamory in these films.

But when I say that Wade Wilson is obviously queer, I’m not really talking about who or what he would like to sleep with. I’m talking about his touchstones and signifiers—what he’s an acolyte of and why he loves it and what he uses to cope with his incredibly unlikely life. I’m saying that Wade Wilson is culturally queer. And whether or not that bears out with more definitive action in future films, that counts for something.

Look, you may not believe me, but I have a list.

1. Wham! and George Michael

Deadpool, Wham!

When Wade meets his girlfriend Vanessa and the two start intertwining their lives, one of the things he is adamant about bringing into their home is Wham! And while he’s into the band and their music, he’s also pointedly into George Michael specifically. Michael initially came out as bisexual in the ’80s, but later realized that he was gay, and his music career and philanthropy have made him an enduring gay icon. By Deadpool 2, Wade mourns the loss of Vanessa and then begins to mourn his favorite musician again as he recall the lyrics of “Careless Whisper” (Michael died the same year that the first Deadpool was released).

David Bowie

David Bowie, Life of Mars

In the same breath that Wade laments the loss of George Michael, he says, “At least we’ve still got Bowie, right?” He’s wrong, as Bowie also passed in 2016, but his buddy Weasel does nothing to disabuse him of that notion. David Bowie has long been hailed as a queer icon, both for his claims to bisexuality in the ’70s and for embodying a certain panache and aesthetic and authenticity that many queer people have always keyed into. (I may talk about that a lot, personally…) The phrasing here is of note, too—Wade saying “we’ve” got Bowie, directly after noting Michael’s loss, could certainly serve to mean the whole world, but also easily reads as the queer community hasn’t lost all its bright stars. Which only makes it more depressing that he’s wrong.

Bea Arthur and The Golden Girls

Deadpool, Bea Arthur

Wade’s love of The Golden Girls is actually part of comics canon, which is the reason why he sports a Bea Arthur t-shirt early on in the first film. (Said shirt cost the movie $10,000 for the permission to use Arthur’s likeness, and it was approved because Deadpool being a GG fanboy is that important.) And while the show was widely popular throughout its 1985-1992 run, it has always sported a very large gay fanbase, and has long been revered for its fabulous fashion, “drag queen-esque” banter, and ability to tackle progressive issues of the time—Blanche had a gay brother, and they were one of the first sitcoms to feature a storyline that dealt with AIDS. The Golden Girls continues to air in reruns, and the queer cable network Logo pulls in reliable ratings from the show, introducing it to new and younger audiences and keeping it in the queer consciousness. One of the show’s writers, Marc Cherry, claimed that though much of the dialogue was created by their majority-straight-male writers room, the instant Bea Arthur said her lines, “it comes out gay.”

Rent

Deadpool, Rent

Speaking of narratives that dealt with the topic of AIDS, the musical Rent by Jonathan Larson takes the storyline from La Bohème and sets it during the AIDS crisis. The show has been a smash hit since its premiere in 1996, and long been beloved by the queer fans for its vibrant set of characters and its honest reflection of New York City during a specific place and time. Wade also has a t-shirt with the original Rent logo emblazoned on it. Surely everyone making the movie thought this little touch would be comical, but when it’s a follow up to a shirt with Bea Arthur’s face on it, that shirt becomes a block on which character is built.

Bernadette Peters

Deadpool, Bernadette Peters

Wade is sexually attracted to Bernadette Peters, a point made when Vanessa finds a change purse of Wade’s showcasing Peters in a lovely set of lingerie, and he makes a joke about “every time he’s spanked it” to the image on said change purse. But Bernadette Peters is more commonly found on Broadway as one of their ranking divas. (She is currently starring in Hello, Dolly! as I am typing.) Broadway divas are typically beloved in queer culture—or more specifically in white gay male culture, so Wade’s obsession with queer heroes runs the gamut.

Barbra Streisand and Yentl

Yentl

Barbara is another diva beloved by the gay community (who also starred in Hello, Dolly! though that was the film version of the musical, and she was about thirty years too young to play the part at the time). In Deadpool 2, Wade and Vanessa are watching a Streisand flick, but it’s not The Way We Were or Meet the Fockers—it’s Yentl, the Jewish musical about a young woman living in Poland who decides to dress like a man and take her brother’s name so that she can receive education in Talmudic Law, which is prohibited for women. Over the course of the film, Yentl falls for a man named Avigdor, all while she is married to a woman who believes she is male. While the film does end with Yentl revealing her gender to Avigdor, he develops feelings for her before he knows that she’s actually a woman. The movie has been used as a queer indicator before; in 1997’s In and Out, Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) tries to have a macho bachelor party while he’s panicking about the possibility of being gay (which he is). Not knowing this crisis is occurring, his friends throw him a party full of things they know he loves—including the soundtrack to Yentl. When Howard expresses his dismay at their choices, one of his pals admits that he thinks Yentl is boring and that Streisand was too old for the part. This leads to a brawl, as Howard cannot let that opinion stand.

Frozen

Frozen, Let It Go

While he’s hanging out in the Icebox prison, Wade notes that one of the songs from Yentl, “Papa, Can You Hear Me?”, is basically the same as Frozen’s “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?” Which means that Wade has seen Frozen and knows the music well enough to make the association. Frozen was lauded by queer fans on several fronts; there was a campaign to get Queen Elsa a girlfriend that continues strong to this day; the animators tried to subtly slip in a gay couple with Oaken, the trading post owner, and his family; the film’s clarion cry of “Let It Go” became a queer anthem that was performed and parodied by fans everywhere. So there’s that, too.

 

There’s more, of course, but those are probably the most obvious examples. And sure, you can say that all these touchstones are meant for laughs, are supposed to be comedy that props up Deadpool’s indiosyncracies and oddness. But it’s not going to read that way to queer people. It just looks familiar. Wade Wilson can’t remember what happens in Star Wars, but he’s hip-deep in George Michael’s discography. Wade Wilson spends his weekends watching Barbra emote, and calls Negasonic Sinéad O’Conner because he gets it. Wade Wilson loves Vanessa, but he’s got a healthy obsession with unicorns, too. There are other items we could count as evidence, like the way he grabs Colossus’ butt and how he seems to lovingly stroke Dopinder’s face every once in a while, but reducing someone’s sexuality to who they would prefer to sleep with is silly and also less important than the world keeps insisting. The point is that partners may come and go…

…but Bea Arthur is forever.

Emily Asher-Perrin would also like to remind y’all that Wade Wilson is canonically a Hufflepuff. You can bug her on Twitter and Tumblr, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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bibliogrrl
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frettedwithgoldenfire: frettedwithgoldenfire: SCOTUS just ruled, 5-4, in an opinion written by Neil...

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frettedwithgoldenfire:

frettedwithgoldenfire:

SCOTUS just ruled, 5-4, in an opinion written by Neil Gorsuch, that workers no longer have the right to collectively sue their employers .Rather than being able to respond to the oppression of large employers as a collective voice (think class action lawsuits), employees will now need to arbitrate with employers “1-on’1,″ which really means “1-vs.-a giant corporation’ and will greatly diminish the ability of employees, particularly those of limited means, to seek recourse for mistreatment by their employers. This is probably the biggest blow to labor in the US this century, and represents another oligarchical push against the ability of the working classes to hold employers accountable. 

Employers getting to unilaterally decide the terms of their contracts with employees has never gone wrong before.

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MaryEllenCG
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Greater Bostonia
jad
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bibliogrrl
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cesoirvert: lgbt-history-archive: “JUST MARRIED,” Fernando,...

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cesoirvert:

lgbt-history-archive:

“JUST MARRIED,” Fernando, seated, and his husband, both members of Los Angeles’ Blue Max Motorcycle Club, get pulled over as they leave their wedding ceremony, December 1969. Photo c/o @onearchives. In the mid-twentieth century, the Blue Max Motorcycle Club, along with many other gay motorcycle clubs, provided an alternative to gay bars, which were constantly at risk of police raids and harassment. #lgbthistory #lgbtherstory #lgbttheirstory #lgbtpride #queerhistorymatters #haveprideinhistory (at Los Angeles, California)

fun fact: motorcycle clubs in the U.S. were founded and run largely by gay men who missed the homosocial camaraderie of being in the U.S. military during WWII. the lifestyle and aesthetics of those motorcycle clubs gave rise to many of the stereotypical/classic gay “looks” (leather, chaps, etc) and indeed to the gay leather scene itself (both the gay male leather/biker scene and the lesbian/dykes on bikes leather/biker scene)

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bibliogrrl
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steejie: neurodiversitysci: dragon-in-a-fez: it’s always amazing to watch adults discover how much...

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steejie:

neurodiversitysci:

dragon-in-a-fez:

it’s always amazing to watch adults discover how much changes when they don’t treat their perspective as the default human experience.

example: it’s been well-documented for a long time that urban spaces are more dangerous for kids than they are for adults. but common wisdom has generally held that that’s just the way things are because kids are inherently vulnerable. and because policymakers keep operating under the assumption that there’s nothing that can be done about kids being less safe in cities because that’s just how kids are, the danger they face in public spaces like streets and parks has been used as an excuse for marginalizing and regulating them out of those spaces.

(by the same people who then complain about kids being inside playing video games, I’d imagine.)

thing is, there’s no real evidence to suggest that kids are inescapably less safe in urban spaces. the causality goes the other way: urban spaces are safer for adults because they are designed for adults, by adults, with an adult perspective and experience in mind.

the city of Oslo, Norway recently started a campaign to take a new perspective on urban planning. quite literally a new perspective: they started looking at the city from 95 centimeters off the ground - the height of the average three-year-old. one of the first things they found was that, from that height, there were a lot of hedges blocking the view of roads from sidewalks. in other words, adults could see traffic, but kids couldn’t.

pop quiz: what does not being able to see a car coming do to the safety of pedestrians? the city of Oslo was literally designed to make it more dangerous for kids to cross the street. and no one realized it until they took the laughably small but simultaneously really significant step of…lowering their eye level by a couple of feet.

so Oslo started trimming all its decorative roadside vegetation down. and what was the first result they saw? kids in Oslo are walking to school more, because it’s safer to do it now. and that, as it turns out, reduces traffic around schools, making it even safer to walk to school.

so yeah. this is the kind of important real-life impact all that silly social justice nonsense of recognizing adultism as a massive structural problem can have. stop ignoring 1/3 of the population when you’re deciding what the world should look like and the world gets better a little bit at a time.

Empathy and universal design are for more than just people with disabilities.

Also, I love this quote: “it’s always amazing to watch adults discover how much changes when they don’t treat their perspective as the default human experience.”

The height part also applies to people in wheelchairs

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jad
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singelisilverslippers: i’m tired of people not appreciating the...

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singelisilverslippers:

i’m tired of people not appreciating the intense imagery of lena waithe’s met gala outfit, so please read this thread (x)

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MaryEllenCG
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The Wachowski’s Speed Racer is a Candy-Colored Whirlwind That’s Good Enough to Eat

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Warner Brothers had been trying to develop a Speed Racer film for nearly two decades, but the project never really launched until it was suggested that perhaps the Wachowskis should direct something beneath an R-rating to introduce them to family audiences.

The movie wasn’t very well received, and that’s wrong. Cosmically wrong. Speed Racer is brilliant.

Going in, I had no idea what I was in for. Per instructions from my colleague Leah, I went to Hulu first to watch an episode of the 1960s cartoon for reference. This proved to be useful for a few reasons: I now know the theme song; I got a feel for characters and plots and relationships (the Racer family’s littlest brother has a pet chimpanzee that he likes to pal around with, for example); I also learned that Speed Racer was an actual name, not some cute nickname or callsign. But having watched that episode, I was considerably more nervous about the film—what about this show could possibly make for entertaining cinema?

Then about ten minutes in, I found myself shouting: “Why don’t people like this movie? Why don’t I hear anyone talk about it? This movie is AMAZING.” I took to Facebook to demand an explanation, and found that many of my friends love Speed Racer, which gives me hope that it will enter the realm of cult classic sooner rather than later. My most profound reaction was, explicitly: I want to eat this movie.

Speed-Racer08

And when I say that, I don’t just mean wow it’s full of pretty colors and everything looks like candy om nom nom. I mean I literally want to ingest this film and somehow incorporate it into my being, have it leak out through my pores, and then coat the world in its light. I want to feel the way that movie makes me feel every damn day.

I’m pretty sure that’s the highest compliment I can give a movie.

That isn’t to say that Speed Racer is the paragon of cinema, or that it is the greatest piece of art ever produced. But in the realm of uniqueness, there is absolutely nothing like it in American cinema, nothing that even tries. It is cheeseball and violently colorful and blatantly anti-capitalist and so very eager it makes me want to cry. And like every other Wachowski film, it is about love and family and supporting one another and making the world a better place.

Look, I’m not a race car person. I’m also not a sports movie person because they all feel roughly the same to me—the emotional beats all add up to the same peaks and valleys every time. But Speed Racer is a race car movie and a sports movie, and I would watch every sports movie in the world if they were all like this.

Did I mention that the villain was capitalism? Yup.

Speed-Racer02

For the uninitiated, the Racer family is in the car business (through their small independent company Racer Motors), and Speed’s older brother Rex used to be the one who raced family cars in various tournaments. He died in a dangerous race, the Casa Cristo 5000, and Speed took up the family mantle—driving his brother’s old cars, clearly every bit as talented as his brother was. His success prompts E.P. Arnold Royalton of Royalton Industries to take interest in sponsoring Speed, promising to take him all the way to Grand Prix in style and privilege. Speed decides not to take the spot, and Royalton reveals that the Grand Prix has always been a fixed race to help corporate interests, then vows to destroy Speed’s racing career and his family for turning down the offer. Speed is contacted by Inspector Detector of the corporate crimes division, who wants Speed to help him expose criminal activity in Royalton Indutries. Speed agrees, but Royalton does as promised and wipes him out during an important qualifying race, shortly after suing Speed’s father for intellectual property infringement and dragging their family business through the mud.

Speed decides to join the dangerous rally that his brother died racing in because Inspector Detector says it could get him to the Grand Prix—Taejo Togokahn wants him and the mysterious Racer X (who Speed suspects is truly his brother, Rex) on his team for the Casa Cristo 5000 to prevent his family’s business from being bought out by Royalton. Speed’s family is horrified that he’s entered the rally, but choose to stand by him and help. Their team wins the race, but the Togokahn family turns around and simply sells their company to Royalton at a higher price, their true plan all along. Taejo’s sister feels this is wrong, so she gives Speed her brother’s invitation to race in the Grand Prix. Speed wins the race against all odds, exposing Royalton’s racer for cheating in the process and ruining his company.

It sounds simple as can be, but this film is startlingly bright for such a hammer-heavy premise. A lot of that comes down to the cast, who are so earnest in their cartoonish roles that it’s hard to be bothered by how over-the-top everything is. Speed’s parents (whose first names are literally Mom and Pops) are Susan Sarandon and John Goodman, for crying out loud, so there’s really no way that the movie was aiming for jovial mediocrity. Emile Hirsch plays Speed with such a serious brand of goodness that you can’t help but like him even when his character is as Stock Hero as they come. Christina Ricci is so forcefully wide-eyed as his girlfriend Trixie that the strangeness of the character loops back around into a completely enjoyable figure.

Speed-Racer05

This is not a film for the faint of concentration. I can’t help but wonder if this movie didn’t do well initially because it was billed as a family affair, something fun and easy that required little investment. In reality, the plot is awfully complex and so is the timeline. (The very first race we witness flashes back and forth between Speed’s race and one of Rex’s old races, and the integration is so seamless that it can be hard to track, if gorgeous.) If you’re only in the market for mindless action, Speed Racer will not fit the bill.

But if you are in the mood for some of the most glorious car racing sequences in film history, go no further. The action in Speed Racer is top notch in every sense, as though everything the Wachowskis worked on in the Matrix trilogy was simply a warm up. The hand-to-hand combat scenes are also a treat for fully absorbing anime stylization into a live-action setting. (I’d argue that it’s better than Tarantino’s work in Kill Bill, if only because the choice to go full camp is beautiful.) This is even more pronounced whenever Speed’s little brother Spritle wants to join the fray—all fights essentially occur in his head, where he can emulate his favorite television heroes. The film also does an excellent job of showing the world from a child’s perspective on more than one occasion, and it prevents Spritle and his pal chimpanzee Chim Chim from becoming an irritating kiddie distraction throughout the movie.

Speed-Racer04

The anti-capitalist commentary is just plain scathing, and it’s great fun to watch. Royalton (Roger Allam, back from V for Vendetta) lands in front of the Racer home in a helicopter, basically invites himself in, and when he tastes Mom Racer’s pancakes, he insists that he wants to buy her recipe. Mom tells him that she’d be happy to give it to him for free, but Royalton is adamant, talking about getting his lawyer to draw up the paperwork. The meaning here is clear—Mom’s cherished, comforting family recipes, willingly given out to appreciative guests, mean nothing to Royalton but capital. He tells her “pancakes are love,” but everything is meant to be exploited, everything exists for potential gain, even that love. When he tries to woo Speed over to his company for sponsorship, Pops makes a point of saying that Racer Motors has always run as a small independent in these races. He gives a sharp line about how the bigger a company gets, the more power it amasses, the more the people in charge of it seem to think that rules don’t apply to them. And Speed, being a good kid, listens to his Pops.

Royalton is every inch the mustache-twirling cardboard cut-out that he needs to be. In a world where we’ve seen how well money and power corrupts on a corporate level, it’s far more enjoyable to view it from the distance that such a comical portrayal provides. But more to the point, it’s jarring when you finally realize that this is an anti-capitalist blockbuster film bankrolled by Hollywood. While it’s doubtful that the studio execs failed to notice, everyone involved still ultimately voted in favor of this angle, and that all by itself is weirdly heartening to see.

Speed-Racer03

The theme of the day is family, and while that is a constant in all Wachowski works, here it is showcased on a more fundamental level. Rather than dealing with the concept of created or found families, Speed Racer is primarily concerned with given ones. This is a story about relationships between parents and children, between siblings and significant others. But rather than making a single-room drama showcasing the complexities of those family networks, the Wachowskis cut it down to essence, to an ideal, and blow it up to marquee size—family are the people who are there for you no matter what. Family doesn’t put you down, family doesn’t make you feel small or less than you are, family doesn’t walk away when you need their support. Family is capable of articulating their failures and working on past mistakes. Family is all you need to succeed.

On the other hand, with parents named “Mom” and “Pops,” these characters are clearly meant as stand-ins for everyone’s family, and they enact those roles at every turn, extending themselves to Sparky the team mechanic, and Trixie as well. It doesn’t come without any struggle whatsoever—Pops takes Speed aside halfway through the film to acknowledge his failings with Rex, and how he plants to do better by giving Speed the space he needs to take his own journey—but this crew never gives up on one another. The Togokahn family is meant as a juxtaposition to this. Yu Nan, Taejo’s sister, has her opinion and efforts repeatedly ignored by the brother and father, resulting in her betrayal when she gives Speed the Grand Prix invitation. She tells him that she suspects he won’t need luck with all the wonderful people surrounding him, continuing to highlight the importance of the support Speed receives from those closest to him.

The film is largely affirming on the theme of identity. The entire plot revolves around Speed coming to understand his legacy as a racer, one that heralds from his family and has defined him his entire life—the opening sequence features Speed as a little boy, unable to concentrate on a test in school as he imagines himself behind the wheel of a race car in his own technicolor cartoon world. We come to understand that the death of Speed’s brother has ultimately held him back from his destiny—a desire to respect Rex’s career as a racer has made Speed hesitant but also humble. He needs a push to recognize that he deserves to embrace this part of himself. But the best part of this legacy? There is no true “greater” meaning behind it. Speed simply loves to race. It makes him happy, it drives him, it means something more than track and wheels and awards. That’s good enough.

Speed-Racer06

But there is one place where the question of identity takes a sharp and sad turn, particularly for a film filled with so much color and joy. Racer X is eventually revealed to be Rex after all; in an effort to protect his family while he took on the corrupt racing world, he staged his own death and had massive plastic surgery. When Speed finally confronts Racer X about his suspicions regarding his identity, he cannot recognize the man, and Racer X tells him that his brother is definitely dead. By the end of the film, Inspector Detector asks him if he made a mistake in leaving his family and never telling them that he’s still alive. Rex’s reply is simply: “If I did, it’s a mistake I’ll have to live with.”

It’s hard to dismiss the idea of Rex’s changed physical appearance being something that bars him from returning to his family. It’s hard to dismiss that although they win the race and expose the corruption, although they win the day, Rex still doesn’t believe that he can return to the people who love him. It’s the one true moment of pain in the entire film, and it’s impossible to ignore the fact that it deals with a character who has essentially transitioned into a new person.

All of these themes and thoughts come together in the no-holds-barred phantasmic explosion that is the Grand Prix. Like I said, I’m not a fan of sports films in general, and the “final game” is a thing with very specific beats and shifts—I expected to get bored at this point. But as the race commenced, my eyes only grew wider and wider.

The theme song suddenly wove its way into the soundtrack:

Go, Speed Racer!

Go, Speed Racer!

Go, Speed Racer, go!

I could feel myself grinning hard enough to make my cheeks ache. Big bang action sequences that make up the end of movies are anxiety-filled affairs; we love to watch them, but the experience isn’t typically pleasant in the truest sense of the word. We endure them. It’s what we pay for enjoying those sorts of high-octane thrills.

Speed-Racer09

Go, Speed Racer, go!

That anxiety was completely missing as I watched the end of this film. Instead I felt the strangest emotion come over me in its place: Delight.

It doesn’t matter that you know Speed has to win, it doesn’t matter that that you’ve seen dozens of car chases and races in all across the big screen, it doesn’t matter that you’re accustomed to feeling cynical at these sorts of stories. Like I said, I want to eat this movie. I want it pumping through my veins at all times. I want to feel exhilarated just by walking down the street, like I’m driving the Mach 5.

Who wants to live in a perfect rainbow with me?

Originally published in June 2016 as part of the Wachowski Rewatch.

Emily Asher-Perrin will be singing that theme all week. You can bug her on Twitter and Tumblr, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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bibliogrrl
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