On Moon Knight, Thanos' brother up to his old tricks, and some life curveballs.
Welcome to Hyperfixate! This is a newsletter that publishes every other Wednesday. This one is written ahead of time, so forgive the week-old references or pop culture artifacts. Sign up here. Support me or this newsletter on Ko-Fi here.
By the time you read this, I’d probably be coming home from the hospital.
Last Monday, I found out I needed a laparoscopy to remove a cyst from my left ovary, hence the hospital stay. It is also Ramadhan, so this edition of Hyperfixate along with the next few will not be their usual trademark insane. We gotta keep it Halal. And we also gotta commit to this slowing down thing.
As I expected, I started resisting the thing I’m trying to commit to. The internet has conditioned me to speed up as soon as I barely start to slow down. I don’t know what it is I’m overcompensating for, but I know that I learned the idea that I should always be compensating for something (which I shouldn’t). It’s capitalism, it’s fear, it’s comparing yourself knowingly or unknowingly on social media, it’s whatever internalized insecurity that hasn’t been faced with that makes us all (well, me, as of writing this paragraph) feel a little insane. And a little more introspective.
I got a little jealous of Avan Jogia’s newsletter where he just writes whatever he wants as he pleases. It’s just a form of expression! It’s why I write in the first place but I often forget because of this silly little rat race I box myself into! Hey, the more you know, right? I’ve been trying to make it a habit to not judge my anger or envy, but instead, try and investigate what they’re trying to tell me. Whether or not that habit is sticking, only time will tell. This time around, they’re just trying to tell me to do my own thing, whatever that may be.
There’s this Ethan Hawke TED Talk that the wonderful Hanna (Hanna wrote this really great piece on a particular image of Will Smith being pulled aside by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry) reminded me of in her tweet. In it, Hawke talks about creativity in a way that doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself. He reminds you to follow your love, and play the fool because art and creativity can be the sustenance we need to feed all these feelings were are so desperate to understand or deal with. I think it just reminded me to stop worrying so much about how much I write, how ‘good’ my writing should or should not be, and just communicate what I need to communicate. Be it something about my cat having babies or a Gucci purse I saw Steven Yeun wear once.
I tried really hard not to write anything last week, and when I tried to, it didn’t feel right. I wasn’t getting anything. All I felt was a pain in my lower abdomen and apathy for Moon Knight the first time I watched it. I got it the second time. I really got it the second time.
Moon Knight Kareem To All Who Observe
For the uninitiated, last Wednesday was a huge day for little freaks that love little weirdos. March 30th marked the premiere of Marvel’s Moon Knight on Disney+ starring Ethan Hawke and his friend from the bodega. I mean, Oscar Isaac. That guy.
I wasn’t too sure about the pilot the first time I watched it, and then I realized I wasn’t actually paying attention. Sometimes, my viewing experiences are disrupted. We can’t all be perfect watchers, even if Oscar Isaac’s British accent is doing the Lorde’s work.
A quick rundown of what happens in the pilot: we meet British-adjacent icon Steven (Oscar Isaac) who has chains tied to his bed and is often late for work. He likes his work though, for the most part. He loves learning about Egyptian mythology and works at a museum gift shop. Steven has trouble sleeping, or rather, staying awake. He suddenly wakes up in some Alpine European town with a sought-after scarab in his pocket and Richard Linklater’s favourite cult leader hot on his heels. He finds a secret phone inside the walls of his flat, his reflection starts talking back to him, and a disembodied voice calls him “The Idiot”. We learn, however, that one of Steven’s other personalities, Marc the American, can transform into a masked vigilante with the powers of an Egyptian deity.
We know I’ve been waiting for Moon Knight for a while now, ever since he said he couldn’t tell the difference between his woayking loiyff and jreemz set to Kid Cudi’s Day ‘n’ Nite. But when the day came for Moon Knight to innit bruv his way through the Egyptian wing of the British Museum, I just didn’t feel anything. Hyperfixate Blasphemy! I know! I think I was just having an off day that Wednesday!
It’s not Moon Knight’s fault. It certainly isn’t Oscar Isaac’s fault. It is probably Kevin Feige’s fault, he is always to blame for something wrong with the state of the film industry right now at some point or other. I think Moon Knight just reminded me that maybe I don’t always have to have an opinion on something, or rather, I don’t have to always voice it. Doesn’t that defeat the entire purpose of this newsletter? Of your entire profession? No. Sometimes it’s knowing when to keep quiet when there’s a lot of noise.
Funny enough, I actually haven’t heard a lot of noise about Moon Knight. Not the kind of noise one would usually here. Oscar is down so bad in this, like a level beyond Llewyn Davis down bad. And I’m really into it. I think it’s a testament to how much Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke are committing to the bit. They’re having fun. In the profile for Esquire, it closes with a passage on Isaac and Hawke doing shrooms after rehearsal somewhere in Hungary. They were enjoying themselves in a project where they don’t have to bring their School of Paul Schrader Severity backpacks with them.
We got two Schrader boys in a Marvel project! As I live and breathe! I wonder what they’re saying in the Paul Dano Zoom Poker Groupchat!
Anyway, the accent is working for me. It’s neither camp nor offensive, it is functional yet very, very endearing. If I ran into that guy at the now-defunct (RIP) Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre Greggs, I would be competing with him for the last Vegan Sausage Roll. I also read a tweet that said Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight doesn’t look like a guy that knows what Greggs is, and I disagree. Steven is a regular at his local Greggs, although baristas at his local Pret-A-Manger will be wary of the goldfish he’s carrying around inside a blender.
He has a goldfish in this too. We love an aquarium guy.
Fans have of course speculated, given the title of the episode ‘The Goldfish Problem’ that the key to Moon Knight’s mysteries lies in the nine-second attention span of ‘goldfish’—in this case, us, watching Steven (the fish) in the non-Andrea Arnold fish tank of his life. It could also refer to what happened to Steven’s fish during the time that he lost—how it suddenly (obviously it’s been replaced by a surprisingly considerate Marc) has two fins instead of one. The Goldfish Problem is what marketing execs often use as an exercise to capture the attention of a goldfish person—eight seconds or less to sell them something. If Oscar Isaac had eight seconds, you know he would use them to [redacted].
I love when these dumb superhero things are set in London. Was it not a riot watching The Eternals tear up Camden like it wouldn’t disrupt some hipster's night out? It’s like being in on the world’s worst inside joke. I’m obsessed with Steven’s little life, how he signs off with ‘laters gaters’ to his mum on the phone (who may or may not really exist, how he uses popular British aphorisms like ‘knob’ on himself, and worries about politeness when he’s trying not to “slag off the marke’eing” on one of the museum’s posters. Steven Grant doesn’t need to be quippy and one-linery, he’s been afforded the British art form of making comments under your breath as needed, and sometimes out loud and on purpose.
Also, Steven’s flat? I know it’s a little dingy but look at the amount of actual space he has! Where did he find that place? Spareroom could never! How much is his rent? And can we get that number in one of those VICE articles about how ridiculous housing has become in London?
Let’s talk about Ethan Hawke. Hawke plays Arthur Harrow, an enigmatic, mysterious, fan of Saint Maud-by-way-of-putting-glass-in-his-shoes spiritualist. A healer that would have NFTs available on Patreon. Dare I say, a cult leader. Harrow has followers from all walks of life and has he holds their fate in their hands, swinging his walking cane like a pendulum waiting on his very Libracore scale tattoo to decide whether or not they’re “good” enough to live, they hang on his every word. To say Ethan Hawke is charismatic is like saying water is wet. I’m not saying I’d join his cult, but if he took me by the hands and said I had “chaos in me”, I would be giggling and twirling my hair.
The pilot was a strong introduction, it made the necessary exposition they needed to move things along whilst making the most out of Oscar Isaac’s weird little year abroad. Oscar is great at being weird, he’s a weirdo or whatever it was Cole Sprouse said on Riverdale, and I think the fact that capitalizing on his Hot Guy momentum makes his portrayal of Steven/Marc/Moon Knight all the more exciting.
I will see Moon Knight through to the end. It’s quite exciting and refreshing not to have any mention of Tony Stark and Co. I want to be free from the clutches of that giant studio and the gloved hand of their rodent benefactor, so they should stop casting the hot people I’m obsessed with in their shows and movies.
I hope, as I’ve stated many times, that Moon Knight crosses paths with my number one boys: Daredevil and The Punisher. I love my little guys.
Have You Had Your Dose of the Pedro Vaccine?
This is a screenshot from Oscar Isaac’s Esquire explainer video, where the folks at Esquire ask him to elaborate on things he has no social media (thank God) to respond to. When they asked about his “bromance” with Pedro Pascal, he responded accordingly. In the profile for Esquire, Pascal refers to Isaac as the “younger brother he never wanted”. Their playful animosity warms my heart because I know that they refer to each other as sister wives under any other context, to Academy Award Nominee Elvira Lind, no less!
I have full immunity over Pedro Pascal. I can say that proudly, as I clicked on Netflix’s The Bubble and did not make it past the 20-minute mark. Pedro gets out-danced by a surprisingly TikTok-(savvy) David Duchovny, which also warms my heart. I am not here to talk about Pedro Pascal. That time has passed. That is so 2021 Hyperfixate. But you know me, I’m a softie. I have places in my heart for all sorts of people. Hell, I still like One Direction, don’t I? It was Pedro’s birthday last week and I forgot. The vaccine is working. Happy Birthday to the artist formerly known as the skull crush guy from Game of Thrones.
Thanos’ Brother: Don’t Call It A Comeback
I wrote a bit about this in Wing’s newsletter, I want to talk more about my relationship to Harry. I can enjoy his music, I will let myself, but I don’t have to attach myself to him anymore (if I can help it). Right now, Harry hasn’t renewed his visa to stay in my mind, the resort Pedro built with One Direction’s help has changed ownership—a contract between Oscar Isaac, Jon Bernthal, and Matthew Gray Gubler.
As It Was is delightful, and all the gossip it’s stirring up is messy the way Styles and his lesser half (Jeff Azoff) have orchestrated. Ted Lasso, get behind me! The song itself sounds like if Wallows are doing a cover of A-ha’s Take on Me or if that Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror was done for a very expensive Quibi presentation at the Barbican. I am just saying whatever at this point.
Harry Styles is probably a great example of how I’ve been feeling about celebrity culture. He appears, he causes a fracas—as expected—as he remains in the public’s consciousness, and disappears when he loses a portion of his fanbase to temporary ‘cancelation’ or fatigue. I have suffered from Harry Styles Fatigue once before, I think I’m still recovering from it.
I’m trying to divorce myself from the fanaticism I once held for Harry and his band of merry boys, but I’m not going to shame myself for it either. Fine Line is a great album, and it and Harry got me through a really weird time in the world. But I also find myself being hyper-judgemental of Harry’s taste in books, but not his taste in music. I find some of his fashion choices facetious and not at all as boundary-breaking as everyone hails them to be. You can’t always look like you’re auditioning for Oklahoma.
I can’t deny, however, how much Harry has grown as a brand—I just found out that he has a line of nail polish coming out, an interest of his I know he’s been planning to explore (financially) for a while now. All of Harry Styles’ ‘-isms’ have taken on a life of their own, into enterprises that many stars of his caliber can afford to diversify. Anyone can come out with a fragrance, cosmetic, or fashion line today. There will always be a market for clout.
That isn’t to say that I don’t like the “direction”—pun intended—Styles is heading in. He’s never been anyone’s little secret, he placed third on the X-Factor with his bandmates. (I still think Thanos was typing away on a big purple phone voting him off, the original Snap). Harry’s not redefining what it means to be a rockstar, either; he’s catching up to this elusive marketability. It’s the next step that makes the most sense.
Personality as a commodity isn’t the case here either though, we don’t get as much “Real Harry”(if there ever was such a public-facing thing) poking through Harry Styles now because he has—and rightfully so—protected his privacy. His fandom is like a self-fulfilling prophecy; their speculation builds on his supposed mythology. And that’s just for them.
Musically, I think Harry’s House will be the record where he gets to care a little less and be a lot less cautious. It’s Harry not having to prove anything anymore, it’s Harry not having liking Steely Dan or growing up in a boyband be a big deal. I don’t think the album itself will be a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be anymore. I also think Harry will never just have a cohesive sound, he’ll always be walking the line of “what will people expect me to make?” versus “what can I do to channel the music that I like?” And for now, that’s okay. I still like his nondescript music. It’s just Harry. Well, the carefully crafted Harry we’re allowed to see, buy, and consume, anyway.
I’ve had a very intense week, and yes, I am being dramatic. I get very overwhelmed with life sometimes, it happens. I am still, as always, cute though. So no worries there. I’ve noticed that I say that way too much, “no worries.” I’m pretty sure I said “no worries” when my OB/GYN said I needed surgery to deal with this cyst. It isn’t a big deal, nor is it that invasive of a procedure, but the only other surgeries I had were foot and knee-related after a car accident when I was nine. And whatever the English term for mata ikan is.
Tangent, I have a very, very outdated and inappropriate bit about my cyst—I should name it Cyst Rock, and the Laparoscopic Intervention is Will Smith’s Hand. Okay, now I’m done. That was bad. A Cancel in Aisle Ari, Please!
I’ve had to deal with all these medical shenanigans whilst sorting my visas for my trip to London and my big move to a city I’m not so sure I’m inclined to share just yet. I haven’t had a meltdown in a while, but I needed to get that meltdown out of the way, so I can get all this boring and tedious visa admin out of the way! I know I can get it done now, it’s just always daunting when you haven’t started. Add Monsieur Executive Dysfunction to the mix, it became a real party inside my head! A party where they only played Mitski! A Bruce Wayne party, if you will!
The past week has been quite the curveball. But I’m choosing to look at it like the push I need to really slow down. I don’t think you’re not supposed to slow down in an actual game of baseball, though. Speaking of Baseball, have you heard of Mr. Baseball? Noice.
Anyway, I hope I stick to this slowing down thing. I hope I make it a habit of just letting myself exist instead of expecting myself to push toward some ideal I’ve held myself to for reasons beyond my own comprehension.
No, that’s not the lesson. I think the lesson is if there had to be one: if your tummy hurts, go get it checked. Just in case. It could be nothing, or it could be something. Whatever it is, you’ll deal with it. I’m glad we caught this in time. I’ve been seriously thinking about having kids for a while—we know this, I’ve written about it, I’ve talked my friends’ ears off about this—and I think God and The Universe came together to maximize their joint slay and made sure I could still have that possibility. Cheers, lads.
And Ramadhan Kareem to all my fellow Muslamiques! Let’s get it! I’m so excited we’re here right now. A happy Aries Season to the rest of you lot!
Have a lovely rest of your week,
All the love,
brb heading to greggs with my libracore tattoo and cult NFTs
"The Cult of Hawke, our literature is a paperback copy of A Bright Ray of Darkness."- you consistently do the lord's work.