Stuff I’ve Been Watching

 

Midnight Texas (NBC)

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So, I’ve watched maybe two episodes of this show and I’m really liking it so far. I’m willing to date this show for a while, because it’s good fun and makes me laugh. Midnight Texas isn’t a deep show. It’s not a Bryan Fuller Joint, or Westworld, but it’s a fun little interlude before going to bed, since it airs at ten, Monday nights, and I gotta go to work in the morning.

The main character, Manfred Bernardo, can see ghosts. His Auntie comes from the town of Midnight, and after she dies suddenly, leaving him in debt to some type of criminal, her ghost tells him the town can be a safe place for him, where his skills will be appreciated.

Midnight Texas happens to be the home of various supernatural beings, and Manfred fits right in. Upon his  arrival, Manfred meets a local girl named Creek, and while her father is deeply suspicious of him, the young lady is intrigued, and the two of them develop a relationship very quickly. A lot of things happen quickly in the show, and many of the plot points happen in a kind of throwaway manner that takes some getting used to. I understand the idea is to keep it light, and not get too bogged down in philosophy, meta- physics, and whatnot. The show is supposed to just be fun, and I’ll watch it in that spirit.

I have a lot of favorite characters on the show, most of which are supers. There’s some good representation on the show, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the various characters. I missed the second episode, but managed to watch the third. The creators are trying to keep things light without being ha-ha funny, which is a fine line. It doesn’t look like they’re trying so much to reproduce True Blood, as reproduce the mood of True Blood. Some of these characters are mentioned in the True Blood books though.

Manfred, for example, is the psychic that Sookie met when she visited Dallas.  Midnight Texas is based on source material from the same writer, Charlaine Harris. I have not read the books. I opted not to, because I didn’t want my brain focusing on the side issues of the books, while watching the show. I may read them at some point in the future, because they seem like fun, but not right now.

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We have a full complement of creatures on the show, so you’d think my favorite would be the Reverend Emilio Sheehan, who happens to be a Were-Tiger, which is kinda awesome. He seems rather morose, which is appropriate as I consider actual tigers to be the “crabby old men” of the giant cat world. There are WoC in the cast. One of them owns the local bar/diner, and I don’t think she has any superpowers, but I could be wrong, and it’s something that could be revealed later. The other is the local witch. The town does have some mundane people inhabiting it, and some of them are aware of the supernatural qualities of the others.

You’d think my next favorite would be the Angel, Joe because he’s really, really hot. I’m not into blondes, as a rule, but I’m willing to acknowledge the occasional hotness of some of them. He happens to be living with a Hispanic man named Chuy, who also happens to be an Angel, and I wonder if the two of them being a couple is the reason they’ve been exiled to Earth.

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Lemuel

Well, you know who my favorite is. Lemuel, the rather unique vampire who feeds off human energy, and eats other vampires. We get to see his backstory in the third episode. He used to be a slave and there’s a scene of Lemuel being whipped for trying to escape, which I didn’t appreciate having to look at. That scene is pretty graphic and you may want to skip it if watching Black people being tortured is not your thing. The point of all that is to show how far Lemuel will go to be free, I guess.  After a couple of escape attempts, Lem encounters a Native American vampire, who transforms him. Lem’s immediate course of action is to avenge himself on the slave owner, who had him beaten, and that guy’s entire family. That’s pretty graphic too.

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Olivia

 

Later, Lem and the other vampires in his clan, have a falling out, because Lem thinks he’s become just another slave to his thirst. In the third episode, Len’s Maker returns looking to take over Midnight for himself. The townspeople rally together to kill the vampires.

This seems to be the main theme this season, as we’ve  had three/four episodes, in which the townspeople need to band together to defeat some outside force. In the middle of all this plot, we learn that Lem started off as an ordinary vampire, but after encountering Manfred’s aunt when she was a child, she transformed him into something else, a vampire that can feed on other vampires.

The characters often have some deep philosophical insights, but like I said, it’s in a blink and you’ll miss it manner. (Joe and the Reverend do this too.) Lem is played by Peter Mensah, who is extremely handsome, in his bold blue contacts. You may remember him as a gladiator from the show Spartacus.

I  like Lem’s girlfriend, Olivia, who is some type of international assassin. She’s a total badass, and she and Lem are the town’s heavy hitters, when it comes to defense. I don’t normally pay a whole lot of attention to White television actresses, unless they’ve firmly established themselves with a good track record, but I like this actress. She’s blunt spoken, clear-headed, and pragmatic, all qualities I admire, and I see why Lem likes her. She has some secrets from her past, that she’s trying to bury, while dealing with  anger issues.  I could do with a lot fewer scenes of Olivia and Lem gettin’ it on, though. It doesnt need to be shown in every episode.

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Fiji

Fiji is another one of my favorites, and I like her, not because she’s the town witch, although that’s kinda cool, but because she has a talking cat. I don’t know much about the cat’s backstory but he’s snarky, and dismissive, just the way you’d think a cat would be. How it happened that her cat talks, we don’t know yet. Fiji is very young, but she’s also extremely powerful, and well-respected in the town. Most of the mundanes know what she is, and rely on her to protect them.

Fiji is also really cute, and kind of adorkably nerdy. She has a mad crush on one of the townies, a guy with the unfortunate name of Bobo, and her feelings seems to be reciprocated. One of the more powerful images I have of her, is from the first episode, where she crushes a police vehicle, with little more than her bare hands, and a strong will. Fiji looks sweet and vulnerable, but she ain’t the one to mess with. She’s  refreshingly different, as Black women rarely get to be emotionally fragile, but powerful love interests, and/or witches either.

I’m going to try to enjoy this show while it lasts. It’s on network television, which has a nasty habit of cancelling the shows I like, so I don’t hold out much hope that Midnight Texas. will be around next year. This is the same station that just canceled Still Star Crossed. But then I was trying really hard not to get attached to that show. (That didn’t work). I’m not gonna try that with this show and it still might get canceled. I might as well get attached. There’s always the books, which I’m told, Charlaine intends to keep writing.

 

Mr. Mercedes (Audience Network)

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I liked this show, too. I was expecting it to be a deeply serious dramatic type  show, but it turned out to have a quirky sense of humor, not because the writing is funny, or people are telling jokes, but because certain characters and situations are just odd. It’s not like the show Psych, which was a deliberate comedy. This is not a comedy. It’s just some of the characters are weird.

The show is based on a trilogy of books by Stephen King, the first title of which is Mr. Mercedes, named after the killer in the book. Brendan Gleason plays Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is trying to figure out what to do with himself, now that he’s no longer working. until he is taunted out of retirement by Mr. Mercedes, so-named after he drove a Mercedes into a crowd of job seekers outside a job fair, killing several. I like Gleason’s character. One of the funniest recurring issues is when he can’t believe various women find him attractive. (It’s definitely the beard.)

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The show begins with  a very graphic scene, and I was heavily reminded of the events in Charlottesville Virginia. There’s no mystery about the killer for the audience, just as in the book. We’re introduced to Brady Hartsfield early in the story. The book remains very faithful to the books, except in tiny details like the wacky neighbor lady who lives next door, and Bill feeding a massive tortoise passing through his yard one morning. I’m not sure if this is a pet or what.

Bill is assisted in his sleuthing, by the kid he hired to mow his lawn, and who happens to be a computer wiz. Jerome is played by Jharrel Jerome, and I like him already. His character is a refreshing change from the Black Male Sportsplayer/Jock, we see so often on TV. Black men are rarely cast as hardware nerds. Brady is also a tech-nerd, and works at one of those big box technical stores, which is something like Best Buy, and I like that Jerome seems to be every bit his equal when it comes to the esoteric workings of computers.

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I think Bill’s quirky neighbor is meant to represent a woman with which Bill has a brief, but satisfying relationship, in the books. Or at least I hope so. I don’t know if this will happen on the show, but in the book, Janey is murdered by Brady. This is not a catalyst to make Bill chase after him, because Bill was already unofficially working the Mr. Mercedes case. This is Brady’s attmept to make Bill commit suicide. The neighbor, Ida Silver, is played by Holland Taylor, and if she looks familiar, that you may have seen her in every funny show of the 90s.

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The villain is played by one of the alumni of the cable show, Penny Dreadful . Harry Treadaway, who played Victor Frankenstein, is as disgusting character here, as he was on the other show. Apparently, this is how he’s going to make his career, playing unlikable people in perfectly good shows. The show remains very faithful to the books with him too. He has an incestuous relationship with his mother, whom he later poisons, and it looks like the writers are sticking to this plot, although in the book, the mother  initiates sexual activity. In the show, it appears she doesn’t know that her son regularly masturbates with her as his subject. (I know! Ewww!)

Their relationship does have a very Bates Motel feel. Brady works at a Big Box store, with other quirky characters, and a deeply stupid boss, who is constantly shit-talking Brady’s dreams of life beyond the store. This goes a long way towards humanizing this incredibly shitty character, who mowed down dozens of people with his car, just for shits and giggles. This is not something that happens  in the books, so I wasn’t expecting that.

I’m going to keep watching this because the pilot certainly captured me. The show airs on the Audience Network which may be difficult for some of you to access. I have access to it through DirectTV, and its possible you may need that, to watch this show.

 

 

The Void (Netflix)

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I love a good creature feature, and I was attracted to this movie because of its use of tentacles in its promotional material. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot when I sat down to watch it. I was sort of expecting a little Cthulhu type stuff, and there’s certainly a little of that in it, but there was also a lot of it I couldn’t make hide, nor hair, of.

It seems to be about a group of cultists attempting to call some dark being to Earth, to inhabit the bodies of humans, and the cultists are partially successful. They’re doing this in collusion with a doctor at the local hospital, where they’ve trapped several people.  Daniel Carter, Maggie, James, and inexplicably, an Asian woman, named Kim, who I lost track of by the end of the movie.

These people have to fight off monsters inhabiting the bodies of their friends, and a couple of trigger happy locals, while working their way through the maze of the hospital, to find and stop the doctor from unleashing Hell on Earth, through the body of his pregnant daughter.

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I have to give fair warning. The movie is very gory, with lots of blood and other fluids gushing all over the place. People get skewered with knives and/or shot, and sometimes they get torn apart by creatures. The cult members wear white hooded cloaks and look a little like KKK members, but there is no equivocating in this case. They are definitely villains ,whose job it is to keep the hapless victims trapped in the hospital to be fodder for the monsters. There’s also an element of the movie The Thing, as the monster is a conglomeration of various body parts and live people.

The movie doesn’t have the happiest ending either. At the end Daniel, and I guess her name is Maggie, get trapped in an alternate universe featuring a giant black pyramid. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not an A+ movie either. A lot of the plot seems to have been borrowed from  other Lovecraftian pastiche movies, like Hellraiser, and Re-animator ,and the acting is sometimes a bit dodgy. But I think the key words here are “not bad”. It’s a good workmanlike plot where bad things happen to bad, and sometimes not so bad,people, who sometimes act like cowards, and occasionally act like heroes.

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Daniel isn’t the most charismatic guy in the film, although he is set up as our hero, who has the most sense,  and who  is gonna save the world. None of the other characters stand out as especially interesting either, really. Basically, if you’re watching this movie, it’s just  for the monsters, and gore.

Tumblr Discussions on Race

Just putting these numbers out here. Actually, I think this is may be from 2014, but really, it doesn’t make much difference. Hollywood talks a good game but is really, really slow to change. I think it takes so long because Hollywood is this big unwieldy ocean liner, and most of the power players on it consider themselves to be above using social media, and interacting  with the public. I think most of them consider that to be the actor’s job, and disdain listening to the public themselves. I think if the ones calling the shots in Hollywood do hear about social issues regarding their movies, it’s probably  second hand/hearsay. (and the ones who do hear about it, just make excuses for their laziness.)

“You’ve just very bravely cast a white person in a role and people are being very critical of it. Here’s how to handle that backlash as poorly as possible.”

http://www.gq.com/story/the-whitewashing-playbook

I’ve noticed that the television creators are much more likely to interact with audiences at Cons, and on social media, than the film/casting directors, and money lenders of Hollywood. The creators of television are just much more intertwined with their audiences, and can know what their audiences think about their product, almost in real time.

For example, the creators of Arrow were on social media that first season, probably just gauging reactions to the show. But I noticed a marked change in the show from the beginning to the end of that first season. The show improved tremendously, and I think many of those improvements were based on the critiques they saw in social media. That’s how fast the creators were able to react to audience reactions. Unlike with movies, the creators for TV don’t have to wait until a show’s run is over before finding out what an audience thinks about it.

I’m not saying that television content creators don’t fuck up, (HBO we’re looking at you!) or that there isn’t an element of racism involved in Hollywood’s decision making process. Just that, in Hollywood, change takes a hell of a lot longer to be implemented because so many of these factors seem to work well enough together to delay progress. To the rest of us it just looks like a truculent inability to move forward.

From the Tumblr: 

Hollywood sticks to the script: Films aren’t more inclusive, despite a decade of advocacy 

The report “Inequality in 900 Popular Films,” released today, from Smith and the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC Annenberg, reveals how little top movies have changed when it comes to the on-screen prevalence and portrayal of females, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, the LGBT community and individuals with disabilities.

“The deficits we see on screen are worse behind the camera,” said Smith. Out of the 1,006 directors hired on the 900 films studied, just 4.1% were females. Only 5.6% of the directors were Black or African American and 3% were Asian or Asian American. Three Black or African-American women and two Asian women worked as directors across the 900 movies. “When we look intersectionally at directors, that’s where we see just how exclusionary Hollywood is when it comes to the hiring process,” said Smith. “The image of a female director seems to be that of a White woman.”

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And riding on the point of that last essay, there’s this one,  in response to  another essay/rant that, basically, blames identity politics, and call-out- culture, for why certain TV shows fail.  Essentially, that person was trying to blame the fans of color for the failure of certain shows. Yeah, that’s not it!

This essay sure sounds like it’s making a lot of sense, but it’s predicated on a bunch of false presumptions.

I agree that hypercritical dogpiling call-out culture is bad. It makes fandom a toxic environment.

Here’s where I find fault in this argument:

Violent fandom backlash/hypercriticism/dogpiling does not actually get shows cancelled, nor does it discourage the creation of future diverse media.

Lord, sometimes I wish it got shows cancelled.

But in reality, when you run the numbers, angry scary fans have a negligible effect on the success or failure of a diverse show.

Shows with a ton of discourse are usually quite successful. Supernatural’s been embroiled in fandom backlash/outcry its entire run and I’ve lost count of how many seasons it has.

Okay but SPN’s not especially diverse, so let’s go to my next example. Speaking of shows I can’t believe are still on the air, Teen Wolf (a show with a non-white lead and numerous LGBT characters) is SIX MOTHERFUCKING SEASONS LONG and fans have been ranting and raving about how shitty and problematic it is since the beginning of season 3 (I myself was one of its loudest and most savage critics back in the day).

Sleepy Hollow was a diverse show that suffered a lot of fandom backlash prior to cancellation. I suppose one might argue that the cancellation was a result of the backlash.

But consider – Sleepy Hollow’s fridged it’s black female lead, Abbie Mills, at the end of its 2nd season, shortly after, The 100 fridged it’s wlw female lead’s primary love interest mid season 3.

There was a shitte tonne of *intense* fandom drama surrounding Lexa’s fridging in season 3 of The 100. Every vaguely liberal entertainment news outlet had something to say about “Hollywood’s dead lesbian problem.” A lot of wlw fans wrote scathing rants and swore off the show.

In comparison, fandom was downright quiet about Abby’s fridging. In fact, the very small handful of posts I read criticizing the writers of Sleepy Hollow made a point of also criticizing fandom’s white feminists for their ‘deafening silence’ with regard to Abbie’s death.

Consequently The 100 just got renewed for season 5. Meanwhile,  Sleepy Hollow is as dead as a doornail.

Seems to me that silence does a better job of killing shows than any amount of screaming and ranting.

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Here’s what actually causes diverse shows to fail:

1) Old white men in power.

@temporaldecay you want to talk revenue? Perhaps you’d be surprised to learn capitalism is not the be all/end all of a tv show/film’s success as people often assume.

For example, we know that movies with diverse casts are more lucrative, yet the industry continues to churn out all-white media. Why? Nepotism. White execs bring in white producers who find white directors to tell white stories and cast white actors.

They keep doing this, even though financially speaking, it’s self-sabotage.

Teen Titans was the most popular show on Cartoon Network when it was canceled because it appealed to an audience (of girls) that wasn’t the intended target audience (boys) and the marketing team didn’t like how this messed up their gendered merchandising strategy. You can read all the details [here]

Which brings me to the next item on the list:

2) Bad marketing (combined with the aforementioned institutionalized bigotry)

There’s a great essay called Shut The Fuck up Marvel that explains in detail the problematic economics of the comics industry – TL&DR, diverse comics are failing not because of fickle and hypercritical fans, but rather because Marvel’s entire marketing strategy is so flawed that fans don’t even find out about diverse comics until they’ve already been axed.

The same is true of a lot of diverse television.

Wonder Woman got hardly any marketing. I didn’t see trailers for the movie. It managed to go viral anyway through word of mouth, and through the inherent publicity of being the first big blockbuster superhero film revolving around a female lead, but it’s the exception that proves the rule.

Still Star-Crossed, a Shondaland period romance/drama based on pro-fanfiction for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet was recently canceled due to low viewership. The show got next to no marketing. The few people who managed to hear about it from tumblr couldn’t even figure out when it was airing due to the network changing the time slot twice within the first 4 episodes.

Similarly, Sense8 season 2 was under-marketed, as was The Get Down. I must have seen about 8 million ads for that garbage suicide apologia show Netflix has been hawking.

Networks don’t want to market diverse shows. They assume diverse shows will magically sell themselves, and then blame fans when they don’t.

3) Appealing to too small of a niche – Novelty vs. Variety

Consider Agent Carter – this show catered to a niche within a niche within a niche – a period noir drama, that was also a science fiction. Lack of POC meant it had trouble attracting POC as audience members. Lack of LGBTQ rep (queerbaiting doesn’t count) meant it had trouble holding on to LGBTQ fans.

The only audience Agent Carter seemed to want to actively market itself to was ‘straight white feminist-identifying women who like retro noir sci-fi’ – that’s so specific. Too niche of an audience to attract the kind of audience a network like ABC expects for its prime time shows.

Compare that to How to Get Away With Murder – which has a little something for everyone. Ensemble cast, multiple sexual orientations, multiple cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds – Shonda Rhimes knows how to cast a big net.

Or Brooklyn 99 – similar kinda deal.

Having a one member of a marginalized demographic in a lead role is a novelty. And novelty’s good for getting people to watch your pilot, but it wears off quickly. People come for novelty, but they stay for representation. I don’t mean representation as an abstract concept. I mean people continue watching a show when they find a character that they personally identify with and relate to. The more character variety, the greater the number of audience members who feel consistently well-represented.

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Discourse is not killing diversity.

This is a lie networks and showrunners tell fans to scare us into silence. They sabotage their own shows and then blame fans for being “too critical” or “too entitled.”

And we buy this bullshit. We buy it and we sell it to other fans. We write big long essays telling fellow fans to count their blessings and stfu.

Fuck that noise.

 

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This one is about how Blade began this whole superhero movie nonsense, that we all love so much. Yes, I blame Blade too. Frankly, even though I was a big Marvel Comic book reader, I had never even heard of this character before the movie was released, but I’m always gonna stan for that first movie, which still holds up very well to this day, and despite that Wesley Snipes is something of an asshole.

I personally consider Blade, and The Crow, to be two of the Blackest superhero movies of the 90s. (I will fight ‘chu!)

And that’s the real difference between Blade and the superhero franchises that have followed. Blade was never a big-name character in the first place. So there wasn’t a whole lot of retro-geek enthusiasm associated with the character. But more than that, Blade, the film, simply isn’t backwards-looking.

There’s none of the Greatest Generation boosterism that clings to the Captain America franchise, for example. Nor do we get from Blade the home front 50s stay-at-home mom-with-kids meme that pops up incongruously in Age of Ultron when we get to meet Hawkeye’s secret, perfect family.

Instead, Blade is deliberately, defiantly hip. Motherhood isn’t idealized; on the contrary, one of the queasier moments of the film involves Blade ruthlessly offing his feral, incestuously sexual, evil vampire mom. If there is nostalgia, it’s for blaxploitation’s up-to-the-minute cool.

The movie’s first grinding, sweaty, sex-and-blood drenched night club scene hasn’t dated at all. Nor has the Afrocentric incense store where Blade buys his formula fix, nor the black, brotherhood embrace between that store’s owner and the hero. There’s a notable lack of cell phones, of course, and the computer graphics prophesying the coming of the blood god look rather dated. But there’s little question that, as much as it’s able, the film is looking forward not back.

And part of the reason it’s looking forward, I think, is race. Blade—unlike most superhero films—is set in a meaningfully integrated world. That Afrocentric shop suggests, quietly but definitely, that Blade is part of a black community and that that community matters to him. One of his two crime-fighting companions Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright), is also black.

The diverse cast, and the acknowledgement of diverse communities, is part of why the film still feels and looks relevant. Here, after all, is a narrative that was fulfilling the call for more diverse superhero movies before superhero movies were even a thing.

But beyond that, Blade makes clear the extent to which nostalgia and whiteness are inextricably bound together in so much of the superhero genre. Retooling old, old pop-culture heroes[1] means, inevitably, dreaming about white saviors and about a time when white people were the only ones who were allowed to be heroes.

THE WHITE SUPERHERO FAD STARTED, CRAZY ENOUGH, WITH BLADE

[1]

A lot of us have talked a lot about how Blade started the current superhero domination in Hollywood and how current films forget that; and though it’s important to ask what kinds of behind-the-scenes decisions have caused that, I like this analysis about how Blade is fundamentally different from what we’re getting today and how that film is, in many ways, incompatible with today’s Ant-Men and Men of Steel.

 

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Another argument for why HBO’s new idea for a show, Confederate, (about an alternative world in which the South won the Civil War), is a truly bad idea:

blackfemalescientist

I’ve been thinking a lot about Confederate, the upcoming project by the creators of game of thrones. I’m not alone in actively hating the idea for this, but it took me a while to figure out why the idea for this show bothers me so much. Part of it is the current political climate, part of it is the idea being not nearly as new or interesting as the creators think it is (sci fi and fantasy is full of stories about chattel slavery in more modern/technologically advanced societies), and part of it is just me not trusting these two guys with this kind of story.

But what it really comes down to for me is this: even if I could buy that the south won the war, I do not buy that black people, in a majority black country, would be content to live in the only slave-holding society in the world for another 150 years. And the fact that the creators of this show can imagine that says a lot about how they feel about black people and their agency.

Like to put that idea in perspective, black people waged a successful national campaign to end jim crow in a majority white country and it didn’t take them 150 years. Haiti rebelled in 1804, and while we can talk current economic conditions (and how frace is primarily to blame for that), what you can’t say is that chattel slavery exists there now. Like what world are you living in where black people aren’t resourceful, smart or motivated enough to end chattel slavery 150 years after the entire world decided that maybe chattel slavery was doing too much.

The entire premise doesn’t work as alternative history because its not an alternate world, its a complete fantasy – a fantasy where black people are not only subjugated but incapable of taking steps to end that subjugation. And that leads to all the “who is this for” and “why would you do this” questions that smarter people than me have talked a lot about.

 

And here’s my man, Ta Nehisi Coates, laying it out, in his own very eloquent way, why the writers of Game of Thrones, and HBO, need to catch some hands:

HBO’s Confederate takes as its premise an ugly truth that black Americans are forced to live every day: What if the Confederacy wasn’t wholly defeated?

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/08/no-confederate/535512/

Of course, any time Black people hold discourse on a subject that directly affects our lives, you’ve got those white people crawling out from under the baseboards, to defend this wtf*ery, because for them Black life is  no more than an intellectual exercise, and we should  get over it, because it’s messing up their ability to be entertained by our misery.

 

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This is one of the most cogent arguments I’ve ever read against financial inequality. I also had no idea of the history of the game of Monopoly.

We played this game all the time in our house. My Mom was, naturally, the Banker, and we always played it Socialist style,  I guess, with everyone getting the same amount of money, and being treated the same, following the same rules. Of course she always won, up until we were teenagers, and started learning more about how to handle money,  like how to plan ahead, and how to delay gratification. 

Monopoly isn’t maybe the best way to learn about money, but it does teach you something about how financial systems work.

So let me get this straight, in Monopoly if you give one player more money to start out it’s “unfair” but if you do it in real life it’s “capitalism”?

 

You know what, I’m going to tell you guys a story.

In my Sociology class a few semesters ago, our prof had us break off into groups and, much to our naive joy, began distributing Monopoly boards! We had no idea what was going on but yay! Games! Of course, once our group, and a number of others, got the board we began to work at setting up and distributing the money…

until suddenly our prof told us to put the money down and pick up the dice.

“Roll the dice and sort yourselves from highest to lowest,” our teacher commanded.  “Now, the highest number is the upper class. The next one is upper middle class.  The next two or three are middle class. The last person is in poverty.“

Well, as the person who rolled a two this was startling and not wholly welcome news.

From that point the game changed entirely. We had to hand out the money so that the “upper class” had this fucking mountain, and then less for upper middle, even less for middle, and I didn’t get any triple digit bills. We would all collect different amounts from passing go as well.

The biggest change though? Going to jail. Upper class didn’t. Period. Upper middle class could go but they only had to stay for one turn or they could immediately pay their way out. Middle class had some pretty easy guidelines for when they could pay to get out. As lower class, it was really easy for me to wind up in jail and REALLY hard to get out. But since I was working with so little money when everyone else had so much I was in jail all the time because there was no “game over”.  If I couldn’t pay I had to go to jail for a certain period of time. I had to take out loans with interest I could never pay back just to get out only to wind up back in it again, rolling dice turn after turn hoping to be able to get out.

It was simultaneously the most enlightening and most awful game I had ever played. I was bored and frustrated and a little terrified about it all. And it wasn’t only me. I would never win, I sort of accepted this, but it was amazing how the middle classes reacted as well.  They were stressed. Because they were always that close to either being able to one-up the upper class or from crashing into poverty with me. They had to fight constantly just to stay in the middle.

(I should also mention that the upper class player in one group felt so bad for the lower income players that they ended up overhauling their entire game and creating a “socialist” society instead. I’m not sure how our teacher felt about that one.)

 

Worth stressing this is entirely in the spirit of the original designer’s aims for Monopoly.

Monopoly’s  original form of The Landlord Game which was explicitly designed to teach people about the unfairness of rent systems. To quote from the wikipedia entry, just as it’s the easiest source to hand…

Magie designed the game to be a “practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences”.[2]She based the game on the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed byHenry George, with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people could find it hard to understand why this happened and what might be done about it, and she thought that if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate.

When the usual suspects start making “don’t bring politics into games” noises, I roll my eyes pretty hard. They have no idea of the history of the form.

 

 

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This final topic speaks to the idea of accurate Representation from a Historical perspective. One of my biggest pet peeves is the bigoted argument against diversity and inclusion, in Fantasy media, coupled with the erasure of PoC from  Historical narratives, and not just because such an argument is irrelevant to a discussion of Fantasy based world-building. 

As an amateur Historian, I’m sick and  tired of seeing the argument about Historical accuracy, from the mouths of lazy, sometimes bigoted, individuals, who have done no research, who have only ever gotten their ideas about what History was like, from various movies and TV shows, trying to uphold the pop culture status quo, by saying we don’t belong in Fantasy environments.

I have found that even the  most well intentioned people are deeply, deeply, ignorant of History, having gotten most of their ideas about it, from whitewashed movies, television shows, and History classes, in which the contributions (sometimes even the presence) of PoC  are erased. When you consider that the vast majority of the world is made up of PoC (Chinese, for example) and that those who are most definitely considered to be “White”  Europeans (whatever that may mean) made up only about 11% of the world’s population in 2010, and by 2060 are set to become less than 10% of the world’s population, I find it more than a little hinky that such  people would argue for Historical accuracy. 

And now we have the Alt-Right attempting to lay claim to this same argument  in an attempt to bolster their racist  beliefs that PoC contributed nothing to Historical narratives, and that all of the humanity’s  major contributions to Literature, Science, and Art, were only done by White men.

Part of the problem is that Historians need to make clear that PoC were History. We were everywhere, not just invented in certain eras, and trotted out when White men needed to conquer somebody. History is far more nuanced and complicated than most people know.

Medievalists, Recoiling From White Supremacy, Try to Diversify the Field

By J. Clara Chan

—-The criticisms of the conference’s diversity stems from problems in medieval studies for decades — that it is still too Eurocentric, male-dominated, and resistant to change. But as the medieval era has become increasingly prevalent in rhetoric used by white supremacists to advocate for a return to racial, ethnic, and religious purity, many nonwhite medievalists are feeling a new urgency to combat the stereotypes that accompany the field.

http://www.chronicle.com/article/Medievalists-Recoiling-From/240666/

 

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And on Historical Anti-Semitism in Art:

thegetty

Dialogue: Exposing the Rhetoric of Exclusion through Medieval Manuscripts

By Kristen Collins and Bryan Keene, originally published on the Getty Iris

We invite your thoughts on an exhibition-in-progress at the Getty that addresses the persistence of prejudice as seen through lingering stereotypes from the Middle Ages.

As curators in the Getty Museum’s department of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, we are interested in how books, and museum collections more broadly, can spark dialogues about inclusivity and diversity. Our manuscripts collection at the Getty consists primarily of objects from Western Europe, which can present challenges when trying to connect with a multicultural and increasingly international audience.

We are striving to make connections between the Middle Ages and the contemporary world—connections that may not be immediately evident, but are powerful nonetheless. Museums are inherently political organizations, in terms of the ways that collections are assembled, displayed, and interpreted. This year’s meeting of the Association of Art Museum Curators addressed how institutional narratives and implicit bias can skew ideas of history and culture in ways that exclude minorities and gloss over the shameful aspects of our past. Groups such as the Medievalists of Color, the Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages, the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, and the Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages, among others, are applying similar lines of inquiry, seeking to decolonize and diversify the field of medieval studies. We stand with these groups.

We were also inspired by Holland Cotter’s call to arms, as he exhorted museums to tell the truth about art, “about who made objects, and how they work in the world, and how they got to the museum, and what they mean, what values they advertise, good and bad. Go for truth (which, like the telling of history, is always changing), and connect art to life.”

Here is our description of the exhibition, still in draft form:

Medieval manuscripts preserve stories of romance, faith, and knowledge, but their luxurious illuminations can reveal more sinister narratives as well. Typically created for the privileged classes, such books nevertheless provide glimpses of the marginalized and powerless and reflect their tenuous places in society. Attitudes toward Jews and Muslims, the poor, those perceived as sexual or gender deviants, and the foreign peoples beyond European borders can be discerned through caricature and polemical imagery, as well as through marks of erasure and censorship.

As repositories of history and memory, museums reveal much about our shared past, but all too often the stories told from luxury art objects focus on the elite. Through case studies of objects in the Getty’s collection, this exhibition examines the “out groups” living within western Europe. Medieval society was far more diverse than is commonly understood, but diversity did not necessarily engender tolerance. Life contained significant obstacles for those who were not fully abled, wealthy, Caucasian, Christian, heterosexual, cisgendered males. For today’s viewer, the vivid images and pervasive narratives in illuminated manuscripts can serve as a stark reminder of the power of rhetoric and the danger of prejudice.

 

“If you don’t know you have a history, it can be hard to believe you have a future.” —-National Museum of Stockholm

James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

 

Aaaah!!! New Movie Trailers (2017)

San Diego Comic-Con has just begun, which means that  every day will bring new trailer releases to the internet. So, all week long, I’m going to try to collect the ones I’m most interested in and post them here. Not only does the SDCC release new trailers every day, for TV shows and movies, but other avenues often release trailers for their movies in a  competition for Nerd attention spans. I will try to capture a few of those too. (Some of these trailers have been seen before, but sometimes extended trailers, or extra trailers get released, as well.)

Here’s a list of movies I’m very excited about, mildly excited about, and some I don’t care that much about. We’ll start with the ones I’m most enthusiastic about, and descend in order of importance. But only to me though. There are plenty of movies I’m not interested in, but you might find them very intriguing. 

*We will start with my personal favorite, The Dark Tower. I am total trash for these books, and I’m so excited that Idris Elba is playing Roland Deschain, that I can hardly contain myself. I hope I don’t pop before Aug. 4th. It turns out that Mum is also a fan of Idris, and is interested in going to the theater with me to see this. All I had to do was mention Idris, monsters, guns, and Stephen King, in the same sentence, and she was onboard. Now let’s see if I can make it a date with my niece, The Potato!

 

*I think this movie stars some guy named Ryan Gosling. You may have heard of him. Or not. I don’t object to the man but I don’t actually see why everyone’s so gaga over him. Maybe I’ll see it during this movie. He looks really cool in this trailer though, (in my head, everyone in this movie is a Replicant.) Jared Leto is also being weird and creepy in this movie. I’m one of the few people who  still likes Jared, (probably because I don’t personally know him.) But I’m here for Harrison Ford. I’ve been gaga over Harrison since his bit part in Apocalypse Now. I just want to see him reprise his role as Deckard, since I loved the first Bladerunner movie.

 

 

Black women finally get our own version of John Wick/Wonder Woman. I know I can talk my Mum into seeing this because she loves Foxy Brown type movies. I’m a big John Wick fan, and I’d love to see how Taraji handles this role. I feel confident she can pull it off because of her work in Person of Interest. Next year is gonna be the shit as far as diversity in movies. At least for Black people. Now can we get some Latinx, and Indigenous Supers, up in here? I just like seeing different ways of handling the same stories, and a Native American Superhero movie would be awesome! (Yep! I know about Cleverman.)

 

 

I have one word for this trailer: Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!! Let me reiterate that the single word I’m using here is A-a-a-a, followed by h-h-h-h, and then some exclamation points. I think that says it all!

 

I love when Guillermo Del Toro puts his hand to something. I will see anything he comes up with, even if the idea is ultimately unsuccessful, like Crimson Peak, it’s still a movie worth looking at. This really does look like Abe Sapien gets a girlfriend in 1950s America, though. I am here for this.

 

 

I had a really hard time choosing my favorite movie for the year The Incredibles was released. It’s just one of my all-time favorites. I just know the sight of a grown woman, bouncing around the house in her bunny (actually cow) slippers, over the release of a sequel to The Incredibles, is sure to bring a smile to y’all’s faces, too. The actual family isn’t even in this trailer. This is a tribute to the real star of the movie, Edna Mode, someone I aspire to be when I grow up one day.

 

Okay, I like this trailer a lot more than the first one. This one actually makes me want to see the movie, which is great considering my theories about trailers being designed to make a person hate a movie before it opens. It looks funny, and action packed, the Incredible Hulk is talking, and Cate Blanchett looks awesome as Hel, just like in the comic books. Tessa Thompson looks like she’s having waaaay too much fun. Oh, did you catch Mark Ruffalo’s Commemorative Duran Duran Rio Album T-shirt? Everything about this trailer screams 1980s aesthetic, right down to the music and the Heavy Metal logo, and I am here for it, because that shit is hilarious to me, having actually lived through that era.

 

*Now this is how a trailer is supposed to be. Exciting! Fun! Great lines! Lots of action scenes! Good music! This is the trailer that makes me enthusiastic to see this movie, because that other trailer was kinda, meh!

I like the modern day WW more than I like WW2 version, for some reason.  I read most of the comic book versions of The Justice League, but I was mostly indifferent to The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman as individual books. I like the actors they chose, though, especially Ezra Miller, and Jason Momoa. They look they’re having fun, which means I’ll have fun, too. I don’t actually object to Ben Affleck as Batman, except when I do, apparently. (Maybe it has something to do with my mood. Who the heck knows?) I hope Cyborg changes expression at some point.

 

 

 

*Okay, this movie looked creepy enough, even though I don’t normally watch serial killer films. I come from America’s Northeast, (Ohio), so movies  with lots of snow are always attractive to me. I can’t imagine why! Also, movies with snow, and Michael Fassbender, are always going to be intriguing. Did I tell you I was a fan of Michael Fassbender, who in real life is probably a complete asshole, but I don’t want y’all spoiling my daydreams of marriage (and eventual divorce,) in some alternate world’s future? Oh, I haven’t told y’all that!

Never mind.

 

 

I’m feeling just meh! about these:

*I  was not a huge fan of the original movie becasue I hated all the characters,  including Eggsy (or whatever) and there’s one scene, in particular, that was extremely violent, and  sort of harrowing to sit through, and I didn’t like it, even if it was very well choreographed. On the other hand, this one has cowboys and Channing Tatum, which might be a win for me.

 

 

*I think this might have been released already. I’m not sure, but it looks suitably weird and frightening, so I’m not sure I want to sit in a movie theater, and see something like this, although I would definitely watch it on Cable or Netflix. I always have a odd mix of yes/no feelings regarding alien invasion movies, (although I loved last year’s Arrival.)

 

 

*I have no intention of seeing this in a theater, but I love the idea. It looks scary and funny which is exactly my style. Some of you might really like this one. I would definitely watch it on TV.

 

 

 

*I like Noomi Rapace, and this movie sounds intriguing, but I would never watch this in a theater, because it looks deeply depressing, and kind of horrifying. I think I’ll wait for the DVD, on this. But I know some of you will like this, especially if you liked Children of Men.

 

*I love Dwayne Johnson but I’m not going to see this. I even like Kevin Hart’s brand of comedy, and the two of them have such great chemistry together. I won’t go see this unless my sister pays for it, though. I liked the book, and the original movie, too. The idea of upgrading to make it a cliched videogame is also pretty cute, but I won’t be seeing this one until it, inevitably, shows up on cable.

 

 

Okay, these movies are a straight up Nope!, for me, but might be intriguing to some of you guys:

*Why does there even need to be a live-action version of a nearly perfect animated movie? Who did this, and can we find them, and waterdrop them, until they stop doing whatever they think they’re doing?

 

*Nope. I already saw this movie. It was called Wanted, or American Ultra, or something, and I don’t want to pay money to see it again. I’ll wait for it on Amazon.

 

 

 

*Nope. Already saw this movie, too. It was called 10,000 BC, I think. I was disappointed then, and I’m sure I’ll be disappointed here.

 

Next up: New TV show trailers!

Pictures From Tumblr

 

Entertainment Weekly has a great photos spread of the cast and characters of Black Panther. But not everyone has access to EW, so:

 

And here are the first images from Ava Duverny’s A Wrinkle In Time, which will also be released in 2018:

a-wrinkle-in-time-reese-witherspoon-oprahy-winfrey-mindy-kaling-ew

a-wrinkle-in-time-chris-pine-image-ewa-wrinkle-in-time-oprah-winfrey-image-ewa-wrinkle-in-time-ava-duvernay-storm-reid-ewa-wrinkle-in-time-chris-pine-ew

 

There are some incredible classical, and digital, artists on Tumblr, that are unlike anything on WordPress:

Furiosa // Abraão Lucas

 

 

And now for something completely different:

Great Moments in Black History

kainecarter

Redman’s cousin sleeping on the floor during his MTV Cribs segment.

 

specstestwalletandwatch

When Gucci Mane was asked if he was inebriated in court and answered with “Bitch I might be”

 

 booty-finesser

when ODB went on stage during the GRAMMYS and said “Wu tang is for the children”

 

inovoxowetrust

Nicki Minaj calling out Miley Cyrus on national television giving us the iconic “ Miley, what’s good ”Image result for nicki calls out miley gif

 

savagezoee

When Kanye took the mic from Taylor Swift

Image result for kanye takes taylors mic gif

 

 

doubledoseofdopamine

Originally posted by huffingtonpost

 

vividlyme

When Destiny’s Child announced they were getting back together on Oprah

 

thetattedstoner

When Snoop Dogg asked the East coast about love for the West Coast

 

nohablabs

When Dave Chapelle shot a slavemaster on cable television.Image result for dave chappelle shoots slavemaster gif

 

sistermaryfake

when common called drake Canada Dry

 

tikaboos

When Diana Ross jiggled lil Kim tit …

Image result for diana ross lil kim gif

 

oshuns

When ODB rolled up to the welfare office in a limousine

 

rapunzel-corona-lite

When Rick James told that white bitch from backstage who he was on TV

 

bruddabois

When YG showed up in a bulletproof vest and cut off pants

sauvamente

Whitney Houston trolling Diane Sawyer about her personal life for two solid hours “I ain’t telling you”

 

bruddabois

When “Bobby Bitch” dropped

 

nayborhoodhugdealer

Kanye saying George Bush doesn’t care about black people on live tv

Image result for kanye west/george bush gif

 

 

hutchj

When Jesse Williams got on the BET Awards and dragged every white person by their follicles and some black people too.

Originally posted by frontpagewoman

Originally posted by grantel-works

Originally posted by desingyouruniverse

jeniphyer

Monique letting Beyoncé know that big girls can “uh oh” too

 

ispeakvon

When Django blew up the candy land plantationImage result for django blows up plantation gif

 

thagoodthings

Beyoncé 2016 SuperBowl performance

 

kairo-koutureee

Image result for I like my negro nose gif

Originally posted by frontpagewoman

 

nico-incognito

Annalise Keating getting a sew-in on national TV by Mary J. Blige is honestly the blackest thing I’ve ever seen…

 

Originally posted by getawaywithgifs

 

black-geek-supremacy

Grace Jones being pulled by white dudes in her chariot in Boomerang.

happyblackteenager

Image result for grace jones boomerang gif

king-emare

When A.I. stepped over Lue

 

blackabsolem

When Frozone was put in his place by his wife even though he needs to help save the world.

Image result for frozone and his wife gif

 

jaythenubian

Vince Carter dunk over Frédéric Weis in the Olympics

 

wittolblackcuckold

When Eddie Murphy dropped RAW, currently the #1 box office stand-up of all times.

Originally posted by undeadliz

 

bossbarnett

When Michel Jackson said “he was not the father”

Image result for michael jackson billie jean video gif

Originally posted by mj-loves-to-tour

 

infamousprincejayyeee

When Left Eye showed Andre who the fuck she was!

Originally posted by freshprincesst

hutchj

When Cissy Houston was side eyeing the hell out of Aretha

Originally posted by musicisneat-blog

 

theblacktroymcclure

When Ray J threatened Fabolous on Hot 97

 

a-shadyqueeen

When Patti Labelle told that white woman on the Tyra banks show she doesn’t eat paper boo

Image result for patti labelle on tyra banks/paper gif

 

loladivine

When Gucci mane aka big guwop exposed Angela Yee for her thot antics live on the breakfast club

 

yoblackpopculture

When Randy Watson showed Whitney how the song is really sung

Originally posted by yoblackpopculture

 

theimaginarythoughts

When Tupac and Snoop Dogg performed at Cochella

Originally posted by da-zona-sul

 

grandpaq

When Rick James told ol’ girl who he was at the BET Awards.

Originally posted by b-h-s

 

halimahmariee

When Remy Ma dragged Nicki Minaj to her grave

Originally posted by yeezusxvi

 

feezy-sama

When A.I put the reporters on blast for talking about practice

Originally posted by this-is-nba

 

sirl33te

when Rihanna threw that stack of cash at Stephen Hill the BET Awards

 

thesoultape94

When they announced the Black Panther movie with an ALL BLACK cast

Originally posted by notias1

 

yadadameanp

Originally posted by gif-weenus

 

whoareyouandwhyshouldicare

Originally posted by micdotcom

 

ohitslikethat

 

soundsfromvenus

Angela Basset burning her husbands shit in Waiting To Exhale

Image result for angela bassett/ waiting to exhale gif

 

untilstarsfall

Queen Latifah’s bad bitch girlfriend in Set It Off

 

LORDT
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I love these little gothic themes for such mundane activities as buying a house, or looking for a job. Apparently just about any activity can be made to seem creepy on Tumblr:

Millennial Job Search Gothic

 

tortillapunx

  • you have an interview next week. you always have an interview next week. The managers who interview you all seem to share the same pleasant, blank face. They promise to call you back in a few days. They never do.
  • they say the minimum wage is going up soon.
  • you must have two years of experience. you must have five years of experience. you must have ten years of experience. experience in what, exactly? the job requirements bleed into an ancient latin text as you attempt to decipher them.
  • the people in the photos in the craigslist ads smile eerily at you. their eyes seem to follow you around the room even after you click away from the job posting.
  • do not apply in person, the posting says. do not send in your resume. do not apply. we’ve lost too many employees to the creature as is.
  • you plan on leaving your job soon. you’ve been planning on leaving your job soon for months. you keep making excuses as to why you haven’t left your job yet, but you know deep down that even if you put in your two weeks tomorrow, you wouldn’t leave the company as the same person you were when you applied. if they let you leave alive at all.
  • you seem to see “help wanted” signs everywhere. when you enter and inquire about them, the employees wave you away. you hear their cries for help again as you leave.
  • you are more than qualified for the job that you are applying to. you are over-qualified for the job you are applying to.
  • you do not get the job.

 

 

Spiderman Homecoming

Image result for Spoilers gifs

Image result for Spoilers gifs

Image result for Spoilers gifs

 

 

Just in case you hadn’t guessed, there are going to be lots of spoilers. I’m basically gonna be talking about the plot, in detail. So if you haven’t seen this movie, its time to check out of this post, right now.

I’ll wait for you to come back!

 

Image result for dividing line

 

So yeah! I went to see Spiderman Homecoming this weekend, along with about a million other people, because Spiderman totally blew the fuck up this weekend. There are some movies that I get a good feel for their success, and others not so much, but this one I felt good about.  This is an instinct  that’s based entirely on my own own enthusiasm for a movie, so it’s not some infallible thing, where I’m always right.

And yeah, the movie is every bit as entertaining as everyone says it is. I took The Potato with me, and she seemed to really enjoy herself. It isn’t a very deep movie, but I wasn’t expecting depth from a Spiderman movie, so that’s okay. I don’t require every movie be an intellectual exercise, (just Christopher Nolan’s.) Sometimes you just want a movie to be a lot of fun, or bring the feels, and Spiderman does both of those. I found myself more interested in the relationships and dialogue, than the action scenes, although those were good too. I’m also glad to see that they didn’t do an origin story. We’ve had a bunch of those already.

I don’t normally see movies with teenagers in them, as most of the time they aren’t written very realistically as teens, and they always look like people with mortgages. I’ll tolerate a high school setting for the sake of a good story, but I generally don’t seek out material with that setting, on purpose.That said, I really enjoyed this because these are some of the most realistically written teens I’ve seen in a movie. I especially enjoyed these kid’s relationships with their parents, and the parents relationships to their kids, which is often written as being fraught with emotional drama, with sullen and unlikable teens. I even liked most of the kids. I liked that they looked, dressed, and acted like kids, instead of runway models, or future serial killers.


Most of the drama remains between Peter and  Michael Keaton, as The Vulture, or Peter messing up a situation that was already under control, because he wants so badly to be a superhero. Tony tells him he’s not ready for the big leagues, even though he was the one who picked Peter to go fight Captain America, in Civil War. So Peter gets a taste of the big time, and because he doesn’t believe Tony believes in him, ends up proving Tony’s point, that he’s not ready. When he almost gets all the people on the Staten Island Ferry killed through his interference, Tony takes away the suit he gave him at the end of Civil War, and  Peter spends the rest of the movie trying to prove he’s worthy. There’s a not insignificant portion of the movie spent with Peter trying to figure out how to work the suit. His origin story is glossed over in a few lines. We don’t even get a flashback, for which I remain grateful.

The Vulture is not one of my favorite villains from the comic books. (That would be Dr. Octopus) but I liked him okay, mostly due to Keaton’s ability to sell being warm and friendly, while also being  pantshittingly scary. There’s a scene, just before the Homecoming Dance, when he figures out that Peter is Spiderman, and confronts Peter about his secret identity, that scared the bejeebus out of me. You expect the typical events to occur, where he threatens Pete’s friends and family, or holds Aunt May hostage during the Homecoming Dance, and then Peter spends the rest of the movie trying to rescue somebody. Thankfully the writers skip over all that, and the fight remains between The Vulture and Spiderman to the end.

This  is indeed one of the most diverse MCU movies, I’ve ever seen, though I’m still mad about Miles Morales not being Spiderman. It’s like the MCU is punking us, or something. But there’s hope for a future teamup between the two Spider-men, because Miles’ uncle gets a funny cameo and mentions his nephew. The central characters are still white guys, but the PoC are not ill treated,  and get lots of screen time. None of them are developed characters, because it’s a pretty huge cast, and the movie is already two and a half hours, and the focus is all on Peter’s character. Peter’s teen crush, Liz, gets almost no character beyond being pleasant and pretty, for example. She is bi-racial, and I think it’s intriguing that   this movie shows two white men being  romantically interested in Black women. Peter’s best friend is Ned, who gets a little bit more character work, and is played by Jacob Batalon. He was a lot of fun and gets almost as much screen time as Tom Holland.


There are a number of characters I really enjoyed and I’m going to go through this by the  character names:

Aunt May – Marisa Tomei

I really liked Marisa Tomei’s version of Aunt May, who is supportive and funny. I still have no idea what she does for a living but she is apparently well known in the neighborhood as a hottie. It’s referred to a couple of times but not to the level where it becomes creepy. Also, she’s not prone to the speechifying of the Aunt May from the first  Spiderman movies with Tobey McGuire. I sometimes got tired of hearing her talk, even if what she said was supposed to be inspiring.

At no point, in this narrative, do they  damsel Aunt May, for which I am eternally grateful. At one point Peter,who has been invited to the Homecoming Dance by the girl of his dreams, Liz, enlists Aunt May’s help in getting him ready. She gets him a suit, teaches him to tie his tie,  and even teaches him how to boogie. That poor boy can’t dance a lick, though. aunt May can at least keep a beat.

 

Ned – Jacob Batalon

Image result for spiderman ned

Ned gets almost as much screen time, as he’s Peter’s best friend, and is the first person to find out he’s Spiderman. Jacob is just as charming as Tom Holland and I totally fell in love with his cute, little nerdy self, with his Legos, and his big mouth, although my niece wasn’t too impressed with him, though. He manages to get Peter into trouble with his peers,  because he’s so excited that he’s friends with Spiderman. Earlier in the movie, he asks Peter if he can be Spiderman’s “Man in the Chair”, who gives the hero instructions while in the field, and during the Homecoming scene, he, very happily, gets  his big chance.

Jennifer Connolly is the voice of Karen, The Spidey Suit

She talks to Peter through his Spiderman suit, and even she gets a couple of great lines. The suit’s voice is something that was added just for the film. In most of the comic books, Peter’s suit isn’t made by Tony Stark and doesn’t talk much. (There is an alternate version of Spiderman, in a gold and red suit, that was created by Stark, but he’s not Spiderman Prime, as it were.)

 Adrian Toomes – Michael Keaton

Image result for spiderman homecoming/ toomes

Keaton plays the movie’s least funny character. But he’s also a sympathetic character, having lost his salvage and demolition business to Stark’s politicking. In the aftermath of The Avengers movie, there’s a lot of cleaning up to do, and Toomes set himself, and his crew, to be a salvage team. Unfortunately, a lot of the salvage is alien technology, that really shouldn’t be in the hands of civilians, and during the course of the movie you can see why, as the civilians use this technology to act a fool, lose control of the technology, and occasionally even lose track of it.

Adrian is also Liz’ Dad, which Peter doesn’t find out until half the movie is over, and he’s already asked her to the Homecoming. All three are sitting in the car, on the way to the dance, when it slowly begins to dawn on Adrian that Peter is Spiderman. Talk about tense and Awkward!!!

Toomes is married to Garcelle Beauvais, and he’s a great father, he loves his family, and is dedicated to taking care of them. His argument that he is only making money by selling weapons, the same way Tony’s family made theirs, is justifiable, and I didn’t have a problem with his reasoning, up to a point. My problem is that he and his garage buddies are stealing the technology,  and they aren’t qualified to handle alien tech. At one point he accidentally kills one of his people (Shocker #1) because he grabs the wrong weapon. Can you imagine your dumb-assed  neighbor cobbling together some alien tech in his garage? I think not!

 

Shocker #2 – Bokeem Woodbine

When Shocker #1 gets killed, Bokeem’s character inherits his weapon. I really like this actor, and I’m semi-interested in seeing him become one of Peter’s Rogues Gallery, which is what they call Spiderman’s regular coterie of bad guys, in the comic books. Most of Spiderman’s villains, who insist on jumping in and out of prison, have animal names, but the Shocker is something of a change from Dr. Octopus, The Scorpion, The Vulture, Chameleon, Black Cat, The Goblin, Rhino. That said, I would love it if Kraven the Hunter showed up in one of Spidey’s movies, or the life-eating Morlun, who is a kind of ageless, spiritual vampire. But so far, all we got is  Shocker.

Coach Wilson – Hannibal Buress

Hannibal Buress gets a funny turn as Peter’s gym coach, who is also the head of detention. What few scenes he gets are hilarious like when he’s required to show Captain America’s stupid PSAs in his class, while he briefly wonders; isn’t the Captain a Federal criminal, now?

 

Michelle – MJ – Zendaya

Image result for spiderman homecoming toomes

I’m surprised to say that this is one of my favorite characters in the entire movie and I wasn’t expecting that. She is funny as hell, and although she’s not in a lot of scenes, she steals almost every one of them, due mostly to Zendaya’s comedic timing and delivery. The Potato loves her Disney show, KC Undercover, and was delighted to see her.

She’s just a  funny weirdo in the movie and I loved her. She shows up to detention, and when Coach Wilson asks why she’s there because she doesn’t even  have detention, she says she likes to come there because she likes drawing people in crisis. She then shows him a picture she drew of him. That just tickles the hell outta me, and makes me wish I had thought of doing that when I was in art school. Later, when Peter is looking depressed in class, she flips over her paper to show him  the drawing she did of him. I think this tickled the rest of the audience.

Oh ,and it actually turns out that the filmmakers lied about Zendaya being Mary Jane. She’s basically a future Mary Jane with a new name, Michelle. I guess they did that to throw off the scent of the idiot fan-guys who protested making Mary Jane a Black girl. Yes, her hair is annoying for the entire movie.

She claims to be unaffected by her high school life but you get the impression she really does have a low-key crush on Peter. She pays a lot of attention to him, even though she claims she doesn’t care,  telling the class she doesn’t have a crush on him, and is just highly observant. What a strange girl.

Flash Thompson is played by Tony Revolori, and he’s every bit as annoying as you’d expect a bully to be, but is also deeply funny, often referring to Peter as Penis Parker, and gleefully wondering when Peter will be expelled. You get the impression that he’s not bullying Peter because he has some deep dark secret in his home life, because its not really that kind of bullying. This version of Flash isn’t a jock, because its not that type of school, so his teasing of Peter is mostly due to academic rivalry, more than anything else.

Compared to the comic books this is the one most like the 90s comic books, and the Mark Millar version. This is one of the funniest Spiderman movies, too. The MCU understands this character the best, and how they’d like to depict him, and it shows. The original movie, starring Tobey MacGuire, had its moments, and I particularly enjoyed the second movie with Dr. Octopus, but Peter wasn’t funny in any of them. He was hapless, and a loser, but he didn’t make me laugh, even if the supporting cast was hugely funny. This Peter is a loser, but not in a depressing sort of way, like the Raimi version. The movie manages to remain lighthearted, even when Peter is being put into embarrassing ethical positions by his friends. This version of Peter is hapless because of his intensity, not because life seems to have it in for him.

The second iteration of Spiderman, with Andrew Garfield, brought a lot of feels, and I really liked those movies but, once again, they were not very funny, although funnier than McGuire’s version. The humor level drops  a notch  when this Peter  is in costume, but that’s okay, because its hard to  drop quips, when you’re getting your ass kicked. I’m glad the humor isn’t limited to the rest of the cast, though, and that Peter  remembers to be funny when he’s in costume.

But the most charming moments  occur at the beginning of the movie, when we pick up the story, with Tony recruiting him to go fight the other Avengers in Civil War. Normally, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to large battle scenes in movies, but that scene in Civil War is, hands down,  one of the funniest fights I’ve ever seen in an American action movie.  Peter’s narration of it just gives it a new dimension of silliness. Peter is such a goofy mess, a hyperactive 10 year-old, as he personally films the event, which he’s not supposed to be doing. Incidentally, Tony’s presence in this movie goes a long way towards making up for recruiting a 14 year-old boy into his Avengers war, but yeah, I’m still mad at Tony for lying to Peter about why. Just add that to the list of things that make you wish Tony would catch these hands.

Oh, and you should stick around long enough to get trolled by, of all people, Captain America, who made me roll my eyes twice while he lectured the audience on the virtues of patience. That’s totally NOT funny guys!😜

Image result for spiderman homecoming/ captain america

So yeah, I really, really liked this movie. It’s better than The Amazing Spiderman 2, and that Raimi production, Spiderman #3, even though I’m one of the five people who seemingly  liked that one. On the other hand it’s just not as good as the Tobey McGuire’s Spiderman 2, because that one starred Otto Octavius and it’s hard to top a good villain. The creators do need to stop making Spiderman films for a little while, though. I don’t want to see any more Spiderman movies until he’s in college. If you haven’t seen Spiderman Homecoming yet, I’d definitely recommend it.

The next movie I’d like to see is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. I may not get the chance to see that, however, for budgetary reasons, but Me, Mom, and The Potato, will definitely be sitting in the theater for The Dark Tower on August 4th.

What’s the 411? LinkSpam

Hey! I got some great reading material for your weekend. 

History of Dance Music

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*Actually pretty much all of the Popular musical styles originated in marginalized communities. I was inspired by someone asking a question on Tumblr on why Disco died. The answer is that Disco didn’t actually die, it simply went back underground, and morphed into something else.

http://gawker.com/frankie-knuckles-discos-revenge-and-gay-black-music-1556413442

https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/aeqxwz/dance-pride-the-gay-origins-of-dance-music

https://djmag.com/content/special-feature-gay-dna-house-music

http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/35892/1/chicago-house-lgbtq-history-documentary

View story at Medium.com

https://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/webprojects/LiveMiss/Chicago-House/house-text.htm

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*This is about the White male backlash against Disco. There are a number of reasons why there was such a backlash, but what I’ve noticed is that its a pattern that keeps repeating itself through US history. A marginalized community creates a musical style that becomes very popular, which is then followed by an urge to contain and control that music, by the preceding generation, when its adopted by their children.

https://aeon.co/ideas/the-night-when-straight-white-males-tried-to-kill-disco

http://www.thedailybeast.com/of-gamers-gates-and-disco-demolition-the-roots-of-reactionary-rage

*This article chronicles how the backlash against Disco was tied into homophobia and racism:

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/224099

*This video by Sut Jhally, which lasts about an hour, discusses the misogyny of  behind so many poplar musical styles, but pays particualr attention to Rock N Roll. Warning this is NSFW:

https://thoughtmaybe.com/dreamworlds-desire-sex-and-power-in-music-videos/

 

At the Movies

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-panther-costume-designer_us_593ff13ee4b02402687cd1d2

<em>The Magnificent Seven</em> vs. The Historical Negationism of Westerns

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/10/how-the-west-was-lost/502850/

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/predator-oral-history-arnold-schwarzenegger-film-1014132

http://www.theroot.com/sophia-coppolas-blatant-erasure-of-black-women-in-the-b-1796386121

https://www.villagevoice.com/2016/10/13/the-men-who-were-the-thing-look-back-on-a-modern-horror-classic/

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/alien-xenomorph-actor

 

Sex and Gender

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Articles on Gender and Sexual expression will always get a read from me. I just find the topic fascinating. Apparently, so do a lot of other people.

*An article about the “Berdache” gender among American Plains Natives Cultures:

http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.gen.004

*This one is about how  much freer men were in the past, to express affection for one another.  The most distracting thing in these photos for me was the smoking of cigars. I found the cigar smoking to be kinda weird. We hardly ever see that kind of thing now.

https://truewestmagazine.com/homos-on-the-range/

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/07/29/bosom-buddies-a-photo-history-of-male-affection/

*I found this great article on Gender expression in other cultures throughout history:

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http://www.teenvogue.com/story/gender-variance-around-the-world?mbid=social_facebook

 

And the obligatory Fandom Racism post:

http://beatrice-otter.dreamwidth.org/343325.html

Black Cowboys/Girls & Black Westerns

 

I recently had a discussion with one of my regular readers (Hi!) about Westerns starring PoC, some of which they hadn’t seen, which inspired me to make a list of some of my favorites.

I love Westerns. If you’ve been reading the Favorite Movies of My Life posts then you know I have a lot of nostalgia for TV Westerns. I used to watch Big Valley, with my Mom, because she loved Barbara Stanwyck, and Bonanza because she liked Lorne Green. Later, we discussed, and watched, shows like Rawhide, which starred Clint Eastwood, and The Rifleman because she was a big Clint Walker fan. From there, she introduced me to Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns, and inspired by her, I went on to watch movies like The Magnificent Seven, because I fell in love with Yul Brynner.

But my biggest joy was watching Black people in Westerns. The existence of Black people in the West has been all but erased by Hollywood, like so much of History has been erased, and supplanted, with images of only White people getting to have adventures, or make History.

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*The cowboy is an iconic American figure and in popular mythology almost always a white one. For every Django or Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman’s character in Unforgiven) there are hundreds of white gunslingers. But of the “estimated thirty-five thousand cowboys that worked the ranches and rode the trails between 1866 and 1895, researchers have calculated that the number of black cowboys ranged from five thousand to nine thousand, with the high number representing 25 percent,” wrote Tricia Martineau Wagner, an author of several books about the West, in Black Cowboys of the Old West.

https://theundefeated.com/features/fred-whitfield-and-the-black-cowboys-of-rodeo/

 

 

*How Hollywood Whitewashed the Old West

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/10/how-the-west-was-lost/502850/

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*The Other Pioneers: African-Americans on the Frontier

http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4807

 

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*Black Outlaws, Cowboys, and Lawmen of the Old Wild West

https://owlcation.com/humanities/Black-Outlaws-Cowboys-And-Lawmen-Of-The-Old-West

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*AFRICAN AMERICAN COWBOYS

http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.afam.002

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*10 African-American Cowboys Who Shaped The Old West

http://listverse.com/2016/04/04/10-african-american-cowboys-who-shaped-the-old-west/

Even modern day cowboys are simply not being acknowledged. Lets face it, if you’re a Black person, who lives anywhere in the Southern United States, you know there are Black cowboys. Its unfortunate that Hollywood and television don’t ever seem to remember that. My family is from deep Mississippi, so I know about this, but hardly anyone outside of the Southern states seems to know.

Image result for modern black cowboysImage result for african american cowgirlsRelated imageImage result for african american cowgirls

Image result for modern black cowboysOnly one member of the Cowgirls of Color competed in rodeo events as a teenager. “I was the only black person there,” she says. Photograph: M Holden WarrenKB works to control Yankee Girl during the barrel relay Photograph: M Holden Warren

*They’re Cowboys And They’re Coming Straight Outta Compton

 

 

And Philly:

 

Whitewashing of the term Cowboy:

They’re Cowboys And They’re Coming Straight Outta Compton

http://www.npr.org/2015/04/30/403353200/comptons-cowboys-keep-the-old-west-alive-and-kids-off-the-streets

@@

Image result for black cowboys/will smith

As for Westerns featuring Black actors, here, in no particular order, are some of my favorites:

Gang of Roses (2003)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/gang-of-roses/

Posse (1993)

I remember this movie was a huge deal in the Black community when it was released. A lot of my friends were crowing about how good it was. While it’s not my absolute favorite Black cowboy movie, its in the top ten, because at the time, it was kind of mind-blowing, since the last movie, that was anything like, it had been released in the seventies. And I got mad respect for Mario Van Peebles, who was  trying hard to make Black genre films a thing.

 

Blazing Saddles (1974)

I saw this one when I was in college, as a double bill with Raising Arizona, and laughed my ass off the entire evening. Two of the funniest Westerns ever. This movie was not afraid to go there. My favorite scene is when some racist cowboys bully the the Black railworkers into singing for them, and they burst into a piano-lounge tune called,  “I Get No Kick from Champagne”. The White cowboy’s reactons are  priceless. That scene never gets old!

 

Unforgiven (1992)

Unforgiven has some deep themes. While I’m not a fan of Clint Eastwood, the person,  his films have always been first-rate. Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman are awesome in this movie.

 

Silverado (1985)

I saw this around the time of its release. Starring Danny Glover, and Kevin Costner, it was the  first time I’d ever seen either of these two actors, and the first time I’d ever seen a Black cowboy in a movie.

 

Buffalo Soldiers (1997)

I don’t remember a whole lot about this one. I watched it on cable late one night and remember enjoying it somewhat, so I’m not sure if this classes as a favorite, but I did watch it in its entirety, so felt I should put it here. It stars Danny Glover again, so that may have been my initial impetus for watching it in the first place, since I enjoyed Silverado.

 

Wild Wild West (1999)

I will watch Will Smith in anything, so I was overjoyed to see him in a Western, even if the movie royally sucked. The music video, on the other hand, was the shit. Yes! I know ALL the lyrics!

 

Django Unchained (2012)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/in-defense-of-django-unchained/

 

The Hateful 8 (2015)

Reviewed here: https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/geeking-out-about-the-hateful-eight/

 

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Yeah, I liked this movie!

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/stuff-im-watching/

Things I’ve Been Watching

The Mist (TV Pilot)

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I’ve only seen the first episode of this, but I’m unimpressed. I think my expectations were a bit high for this show, as it’s nothing like the movie. For one thing, the characters are either bland or unlikable. The characters who come closest to being liked is a young person of indeterminate gender designation, and the tough Mom, of the series.

There’s a mother, dad, and daughter grouping in the movie. The dad is the permissive, easy-going sort, while Mom is a woman of strong opinions and convictions. She gets fired from her job at school for sticking to her principles, and NOT teaching abstinence to her students. I can respect that, even if the local parent’s group can’t. She also forbids her 17-year-old daughter from going to the local  teen party. Dad gives his daughter permission to sneak out to the party, where she gets roofied/raped by the local football star she has a crush on. I saw that coming a mile away, as he just looked untrustworthy to me. He claims he didn’t do it, but her father reports him to the police, and the family gets harassed by the townspeople. The situation is complicated because there is also the possibility that he didn’t.

 

There’s the story line of a young military man, who wakes up in the forest, with no memory of how he got there, just as the mist rolls into town. He heads into town to warn the populace about the mist, only to be arrested by the police. I can definitely say I absolutely DID NOT appreciate watching this Black man get roughed up by the police, just for not answering their questions.  And no, it’s not okay just because that same cop gets eaten by bugs soon afterwards. Just before the dysfunctional nuclear family is about to leave town, the mist shows up, cutting off all escape.

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There are several stories mixed up in this. Various people get trapped in at least three different locations during the mist’s siege of the town. Mom and daughter are trapped at the local mall; Dad, the sheriff, the military guy, and the non-gender designated young person, get trapped in the jail. There’s also a thoroughly unlikable woman who threatens, and insult the non-gendered teen. This woman, who has no connection to anyone else in the plot, was seemingly added just to make me furious with her, and hope she’d quickly be eaten by something. She is so reprehensible, that I seriously considered turning this shit off, and just going to bed, but I put up with crap like that in order to bring you, my loyal readers, the quality snark I feel you deserve.

Oh yeah, there’s also some  people trapped in a church with Frances Conroy, who you can tell is gonna go batshit, in about two episodes, or less.

So basically, this first episode is all set up for the tensions that will reach a boil during the mist’s invasion of the town, which is not unlike the movie I guess. Mom and daughter are trapped in the mall with the parents who got her fired, and who believe her daughter is lying about being raped. The football hero perpetrator is also trapped there. The a-gendered teen is trapped at the police station with a father who refuses to speak to him because he won’t act like a son, and an abusive inmate. And Frances Conroy’s husband gets killed by something in the mist.

The main difference between the show and the movie is that there aren’t really giant monsters in the mist. I had the impression that people are being killed by either a singular malevolent entity, or their own fears and weaknesses, or possibly both. While that’s an interesting idea that’s much easier to sustain for  an entire season, I was still hoping to see giant monsters. Maybe those show up later.

 

Blood Drive:

SYFY syfy grace blood drive eat a dick GIF

If you like this type of over the top excessiveness, then go for it. I ain’t judging. The plot of this seems to involve people being forced to race each other, by some type of post apocalyptic tyrant, who has nevertheless found a way to wear too much Maybelline. The contestants lives are forfeit if they stop for any reason, up to, and including, running out of gas, which prompts some of them to cannibalize their  opponents, (and partners) and use them for fuel.

I am not a fan of excessive pulp. I was cautiously excited about this show from the trailers, and was willing to give it a try, but some things are just too far over the top even for my tastes, which even some others would consider excessive. I think it’s because so much of this particular genre is spectacle, solely for the sake of spectacle, without rhyme, or reason, to any of it. If it’s a crazy image, the creators will throw it in, no matter if it breaks, or creates  characters, or subverts an already established plot, and Blood Drive appears to be no different.

Somewhere, someone is having a grand old-time watching this show. That person is not me. I don’t think I’m the correct audience for this. At every level of creation, the show looks tasteless, cheap, and ugly. The characters, world-building, costumes, and even the plot, is just ugly. I couldn’t sit through more than half of it. By the time we reached the point where the two main protagonists appear to be having sex in a moving vehicle, I had had enough, and turned it off. I would rather hate-watch The Strain.

Blood Drive gets a resounding NOPE!

 

Dr. Strange: 

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Yeah, I know I talked shit about this movie but I didn’t spend money to specifically see this movie, and it was on Netflix, so I thought I’d give it a try. It wasn’t a bad film, and I also don’t feel too bad about the whitewashing angle, for reasons having to do with the plot. Let’s just say, I was pissed off that the Ancient One was not Asian, but I would have been equally pissed off if an Asian woman had been cast. So, spoilers ahead.

The movie is the basic origin story type stuff, except now starring an actual asshole, as an asshole who doesn’t actually get to be a better person by the end of the movie, which is rather different. Strange is a first class shit at the beginning of the movie, and although the story, and the actor try really hard to make him a sympathetic character, I didn’t buy it. I liked every character but him. He’s just a full-time douche. I still didn’t like him even after he cleverly saved the world, but I do admit that may have more to do with the actor than the character.

Tilda Swinton plays The Ancient One, pretty much the way she plays all of her more soft-spoken characters. I generally dismiss her because, like most white actresses in Hollywood, she is thoroughly clueless on issues race and/or whitewashing. I’m also less than secretly  glad that they didn’t choose an Asian Woman to portray this character because 1.) She dies at the end; 2.)she dies to further another character’s manpain; 3.) she turned out to be a huge hypocrite.

So, there’s this alternate world called The Dark Dimension, which naturally means its evil, but basically, she’s been warning her students against having anything to do with this dimension for centuries. Hannibal…I mean, Kaecilius (which sounds like a nasty bacterial infection) is in contact with the being who rules that dimension and he gets drummed out of the corp. This Dark  Being wants to “try to take over the world” and is just lying in wait for someone to invite him to the cookout, which is what Kaecilius does.

Dr. Strange loses the use of his fine surgical dexterity after a horrible car accident. Do not watch this scene if you have car accident terror, because it’s unnecessarily graphic. He decides to travel the world searching for a cure to his neurological problem, and winds up in Kamar -Taj, where he meets the Ancient One, who teaches him how to be a sorcerer, and her eldest assistant, Baron Mordo. (I do not remember this guy from the comic books, and I should, because he is in them. I’m hoping Baron is his actual name, in the  way that some Black people name their sons Prince, or King.)

For the record, The Ancient One doesn’t actually choose Strange as her successor. See, what happened was…all the other sorcerers of the great houses of the Landsraad…I mean the other sorcery nexi, get murdered by Kaecilius. Strange, Wong, and Mordo are the only ones left alive. So he gets to be a master of Sorcery through a combination of. hubris and default.

Those two, and Strange, spend the bulk of the  movie fighting Kaecilius and his minions. Baron Karl Mordo is played by Chewitel Ejiofor, and Wong is played by a man who is, conveniently, named Benedict Wong.

I liked Wong a lot, although there were some unnecessary scenes of Wong being played for a fool by Strange, that I did not care for. The Ancient One turns out to be, while not exactly a bad guy, her betrayal of the Baron’s trust does lead to him being a villain. So really, the movie isn’t  nice to any of the PoC that star in it.

The break-out character is  Strange’s Cloak of Levitation, a semi-sentient magical object that adopts Strange as a Master. This isn’t like in the books where its the Eye of Agamotto that’s sentient. Why they switched it in the movie is anyone’s guess.

So overall, not a bad movie. It’s got some great eye candy, the magic looks really cool and worldbendy, and except for some serious eyeball rolling moments, I didn’t hate it. If you can get pass watching two hours of Benegeserrit Cucumbersnatch, then the movie isn’t a complete waste. On the other hand, if you had no intention of ever watching this movie, you ain’t missed nothing!

 

The Accountant:

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I had no intention of seeing this movie. It was on HBO last weekend and I  was not doing anything in particular that needed my eyeballs, so I ended up watching this movie. I’m not a Ben Affleck fan, but I liked him in this movie, and it was surprisingly good.

Here he plays an assassin who has autism. His father began teaching him how to kill people, as a child, in an attempt to make him more independent, and he became exceedingly good at it. He comes across some corruption at a tech company and feels like he has to protect the young woman he was working with on that case, when she’s targeted by another assassin. The other assassin turns out to be his estranged brother, and I found that particular drama  intriguing.

I initially though the movie was a ripoff of the Bourne Trilogy, but it turned out to be nothing like that, with more heart, and more depth than any of the Bourne sequels. I liked the relationship that developed between Affleck and his co-star, which she thinks is supposed to develop into romance, but he is not particularly interested in her interest. It’s a romance that never develops, even though he likes her, and I thought that was a refreshing change.

The movie kept upending my expectations, and Affleck comes across as a smoothly competent killer. The movie also doesn’t end in car chases, explosions, or dramatic surprises, but in a quiet conversation between two brothers, who have some shit to hash out between them, before they could move on, and I  liked that. I would recommend watching this on some quiet Sunday evening.

 

Alien Covenant: 

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Oh, my gob! This movie was bleak, bleak, and even more importantly, it was bleak. It was even bleaker than the very first Alien movie, if you can believe that. I mean, basically, everybody dies. Well, rather say, that any humans that  were walking around at any point during this film, ain’t walking around by the end of it. If you liked the first Alien movie, then you will like this one, as it is effective at scaring the shit out of you, even when you sort of know what’s going to happen. I mean, Ive watched the first Alien movie multiple times, and I still get scared.

Oh, did I forget to mention that this movie also stars Michael Fassbender, and get this…another Michael Fassbender. So it’s like getting two Fassbenders, for the admission price of only one of them, (even though I spent no money to watch this movie.) Did I mention that I love Michael Fassbender. I feel like I may have mentioned that in some earlier post, or something. If not, then let me reiterate..I love Michael Fassbender who, I am absolutely certain, is a total dick in real life. (If he is, don’t tell me. )

I would talk about the plot, but really that’s all there is to it. Somebody’s gon’ die! and people do stupid shit, to help facilitate their deaths, just like in the first movie, Prometheus. Things like, taking their helmets off just because they can breathe the atmosphere, running towards danger, or wandering off alone, or trusting strange androids.

Not to go off on a tangent, but why do people on strange new worlds always take off their helmets as soon as they learn the atmosphere is breathable? Have they never heard of airborne pathogens? Which is exactly what happens in the case of one of the characters, when he steps on a plant, that releases spores, that go into his ears. His demise is suitably horrible.

Later, the two Fassbenders, David, from the first movie, and some new guy named Walter,  get into a fight, as Walter tries to protect the remaining humans. I would have preferred some loincloth mud-wrestling, but that probably would not have been in keeping with the mood of the film, which is, well…kinda bleak.

 

Suicide Squad:

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Apparently, I’m one of five people on Earth who enjoyed this movie. Its been airing on HBO recently and I’ve watched it multiple times. I think the main reason I enjoy it is because I’m a Will Smith fan and will watch movies with him that I normally wouldn’t pay attention to. Not that the movie isn’t flawed, annoying, and occasionally stupid,  it’s just those moments were not enough to detract from what I was enjoying about it, which is namely Will Smith, and Viola Davis, in an anti-superhero movie together.

I could go through and list everything wrong with this movie, because it’s got a lot of problems, but IT’S WILL SMITH!!!! I love Will Smith!!! Will Smith makes every movie worth looking at, just by being in it. Plus, he’s with Viola Davis, and they actually get to exchange words in the movie, rather than pretending the other doesn’t exist.

Okay, I did like the other characters, too. In fact, my only reasons for liking the movie, was some of the characters, and the action scenes. I enjoyed seeing Killer Croc, onscreen for the first time, and Diablo turned out to be a huge favorite of mine, but then, I’m a fan of seeing Incan Fire Gods in movies, so yeah, his scenes were both hot, and cool.  Outside of Deadshot, I got really attached to Harley Quinn, who I enjoy in the comic books, and the nascent friendship I saw developing between the two of them. I’m here for a Deadshot/Harley Quinn team-up movie, as long as Amanda Waller can be in it. Viola Davis perfectly captured the idea of the Amanda (The Wall) Waller that I had in my head, as the only human on Earth, who can get away with dressing down the Batman.

The plot was deeply, (and I do mean deeply), fucking stupid though, and I have no idea what the villain’s motivation was, or how she actually hoped to accomplish her goals. Yeah, some of the characters were totally undeveloped, like Katana, or just straight up hateable,  like Captain Boomerang, and The Joker. But the movie was pleasant eye candy for its two-hour running time. It’s not a good movie, but I found it mostly inoffensive, unlike some people who found the movie deeply offensive to their intelligence. I can say that part of the reason I’m okay with the movie is because I went into it expecting nothing more than to be distracted for a while, and the movie accomplished that goal. The trailer looked like fun, and that’s what the movie delivered.

Its okay if you haven’t seen this movie, you can rectify the problem of not having enough Will Smith in your life, by watching…Concussion!

 

Note:

I’m still watching stuff because new shows keep being released. Next week I should have a review of the new season of Cleverman, now airing on the Sundance Channel, and the second season of Preacher, on AMC, which looks like a lot of fun, so far.

Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 4 (2001-2010)

Here we go with part four of the most influential movies of my life, according to the year they were released. I thought about adding more of a prologue here but I’ll save it for the last and final chapter of this essay, covering 2011 through 2016.

2001: Spirited Away

Image result for spirited away gif

For this year there was simply no contest. Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away wins this one hands down. This is not just The Potato’s favorite movie, but her Mom’s and her Aunt’s, when they were her age. I have shown this movie to two generations of little girls and there’s just something about this movie that just resonates with them. This movie was voted the 4th best movie of the 20th century, and that is just too accurate.

This is the coming of age story of a bored little girl named Chihiro, whose parent’s gluttony traps her in the spirit world, where she has to navigate this liminal space in a  bathhouse for spirits, dragons, soot sprites, hungry ghosts without faces, and a witch named Yubaba. It’s an Alice in Wonderland story nestled firmly in Japanese traditions. A story about a little girl re-engaging with the world, becoming self-sufficient, gaining confidence, saving her parents, mending relationships and making new friends; most specifically with  a little boy named Haku, who has a  special secret of his own, a tiny bird, and a little guinea pig, that used to be a giant baby.

Every little girl I’ve shared this movie with became completely obsessed with it and wanted to watch it again and again. And no, I was not immune to it either,as I’ve watched this a countless number of times with them.

This year also saw the release of the final chapter in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which gets an honorable mention and was one the most entertaining movies of the year.

 

2002: Blade 2

The movies 28 Days Later, Dog Soldiers, and Eight Legged Freaks were  all released this year, and I initially chose Dog Soldiers as my favorite, but on second thought, I think I prefer Blade 2, because I love Guillermo Del Toro’s vampires, and it’s one of the  first films in what would later become the MCU juggernaut. The next time I think on this topic, my favorite could be Dog Soldiers, though.

Del Toro also introduced a different iteration of the vampire here, which became the foundation of the vampires used in the TV series, the Strain, although I think the book versions were more disgusting. Blade 2 isn’t a meaningful film. It’s just a helluva lot of fun, with Ron Perlman, a giant Jewish guy, playing a  Nazi vampire, and some great Martial Arts, choreographed by Donnie Yen and Wesley Snipes. This is one of the most diverse group of vampire villains I’ve ever seen in a  movie. And you have to watch the DVD, because  Gillermo always gives hilarious commentary. He is quite possibly the most cheerful, profanity spewing, director in Hollywood.

I enjoyed 28 Days Later for showcasing Naomie Harris, in one of her first starring roles as an absolute badass, who gets to kiss pretty boy, Ciilian Murphy. Eight Legged Freaks is one of the funniest movies I saw for this year, and I did a reviews of both it and Dog Soldiers.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/eight-legged-freaks-2002/

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/geeking-out-about-dog-soldiers-2002/

 

2003: Kill Bill Pt. 1

I love Kung Fu movies, and so does Quentin Tarantino, and in the making of this movie, he managed to introduce me to a few I’d not heard of.  This movie is one long beautiful love letter to the Kung Fu movies from his youth. From his casting of Gordon Liu as the leader of the Crazy 88s, Johnny Mo, to Daryl Hannah as an assassin named California Whitesnake, from Viveca Fox as Vernita Green (codename Copperhead), to that final big boss fight, that takes up nearly the last full hour, this movie is totally awesome-sauce.

My favorite scene has to be the final fight between Beatrix and O-ren Ishii. It’s a masterclass in how to craft a minimalist fight sequence. The lighting, and sound effects, (which is something I almost never pay close attention to in a movie), the stop and start of the action, the minimal dialogue, and the costumes (O-ren is dressed as the character Lady Snowblood from the movie of the same name), all of it is simply gorgeous. And its such an emotional scene. We’ve been building to the moment these two characters finally crossed swords, since the beginning of the film, when we noticed that O-ren’s name had already been crossed off of Beatrix’s list. Why this film wasn’t lauded by White women as the second coming of Feminism is anybody’s guess., and it’s another reason I find WW unimpressive.  Because I’ve seen better.

There wasn’t anything else of note released this year, in my opinion.

 

2004: Shaun of the Dead/Man on Fire

I’m going with Shawn of the Dead as my favorite this year, even though the Dawn of the Dead remake was also released. I liked Dawn but I always prefer funny over angsty, so Shaun gets my vote, and Dawn of the Dead was mostly pretty grim. Likable but grim. I’m going to review both of these in October. (Yeah, I’m already making a list of horror movies I want to review for Halloween month!)

This year was a really tough call, because Denzel Washington’s remake of Man on Fire, from the book of the same name, was also released this year. I will always stan for Denzel, no matter what movies he makes, but this is one of my top favorites from him, and Tony Scott, who passed on in 2012. It also stars Chrisotpher Walken. Just about anything with a Walken speech in it is going to get my attention.

The Incredibles is the only cartoon about superheroes that I love, love, love, and watch, every time it airs on TV. It was a serious contender for the title of best film of this year for me,  (and I feel kinda guilty for not choosing it, so let’s call it a Runner-Up), but I’m going stick  with Shaun of the Dead because I wouldn’t mind living in Shaun’s world for a few days.

 

2005: A History of Violence 

David Cronenberg has always been a filmmaker of depth and intelligence, qualities which are well showcased in this movie, based on the comic book of the same name. I do have in my post queue, an outline for a review of this movie, and its companion film, Eastern Promises, because I have a lot to say about both these movies. They have so much in common, even though they look almost nothing alike. The movie has the added benefit of starring two of my personal favorites, Ed Harris, and William Hurt, who I’ve had crushes on since I was a teenager.

In hindsight, I would like to have chosen the Joss Whedon Joint, Serenity, as a fave, but one can only watch this movie so many times. I love it, but Whedon is just not in Cronenberg’s league, and this is one of the few SciFi movies that had my angry-crying at a crucial moment.

Cronenberg  is just on a “ho ‘notha level!” It’s just gotten to the point where everything he creates is a gem.

 

2006: The Host/Slither

I did a review of Slither here:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/geeking-out-about-slither/

 The Host appears in my list of ten favorite monsters here:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/my-ten-favorite-monsters/

Now three other worthy films were released this year, but I couldn’t pick Apocalypto because I have an intense dislike of Mel Gibson. I love his films,  (his version of Hamlet is totally the shit), and Apocalypto is simply one of the most gorgeous films he’s ever made. The man is a phenomenal director, and actor, but also a really shitty human being, so no. I couldnt pick this one.

Paprika is an anime movie from  Satoshi Kon, the director most famous for Tokyo Godfathers, and Millenium Actress, and this is one of the most beautiful animes ever made, but unfortunately, it’s confusing as hell. I know that’s on purpose, but still, I’ve watched this movie at least half a dozen times and I’m still confused, which makes this movie little more than a pretty distraction for me. It’s a great movie that has remained opaque to my sensibilities. I’m just going to accept that Satoshi Kon is just waaay smarter than me.

300 is yet another pretty distraction, because I already knew about the Battle of Thermopylae from paying attention in school. There’s nothing particularly deep about this movie, and the plot is fairly simple, but I actually do like Zack Snyder, and this is a gorgeous movie. It doesn’t hurt that it has lots of pretty, half-naked men, running around with spears and shields. I make ‘nan apology for enjoying the sight of Michael Fassbender, jumping around like a giant spider, in a red loincloth.  I mean c’mon! Its Michael Fassbender!!!…Naked!!! I will watch Michael Fassbender do just about anything, really. I have watched movies that I have zero interest in, just because they starred Fassbender, and I make ‘nan apology for that!

 

2007: Hot Fuzz

I had to pick Hot Fuzz, even though I chose Shaun of the Dead, earlier. This movie is just one of the funniest cop movies I’ve ever seen. Okay, I don’t actually watch cop movies all that much, which make Hot Fuzz pretty remarkable Every scene in this movie is a gem, from the opening scenes establishing Nicholas Angel’s total badassery, to establishing Constable Butterman’s total incompetence. Even their names are perfect reflections of their characters, as Nick can do nothing wrong, and Butterman is one of the laziest cops I’ve ever seen in a movie, which is also kinda refreshing.

I loved seeing Billie Whitelaw again, this time being hilarious with a machine gun, and this is the funniest  I’ve ever seen  Timothy Dalton. I didn’t know he was even capable of that level of smarm. The plot, characters, and every tiny detail, is hilarious, from the police interpreter who needs an interpreter, to Constable  Doris Thatcher’s off-color double entendres, to the fact that the village’s security watch group is named after the rap group N.W.A., to the final, ridiculously over the top shootout, which is a requirement in every cop movie. If you have not seen, this check it out. It was last available on Netflix.

I suppose I could have easily chosen Frank Darabont’s The Mist. It’s a good movie, but I wouldn’t call it enjoyable, exactly. That’s a strong word. The end is waaay too depressing for that. I normally shy away from reviewing horror movies that are too famous, preferring to review indies, or little known films, but this is on my list for October, and is mentioned in my top ten monsters list.

There were a lot of really, really excellent movies to choose from this year:  No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood,  The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Sunshine, The Bourne Ultimatum, and finally, Eastern Promises, another Cronenberg Joint, that I’ll be doing a review for, later this Summer.

Wow! This was a great year! But I could only choose one, so Hot Fuzz is it.

 

2008: The Dark Knight

C’mon! Was there really going to be any other choice.?

The Dark Knight absolutely ruled this entire year, both the anticipation, and the aftermath. I have no more to say about this movie, than the few hundred other people who wrote about it, so I’ll just leave it alone, and let these guys speak:

A Scene-By-Scene Analysis of THE DARK KNIGHT (2008, dir. Christopher Nolan)

http://www.slashfilm.com/assessing-the-themes-of-the-dark-knight/

 

2009:  Star Trek

I chose Star Trek because I’m one of the few lovers of the OG series who actually likes this movie. I don’t think people hated it exactly, but people had a lot of complaints about it. I didn’t have very many outside of plot and pacing. It wasnt a deep movie, but I had a lot of feels and sometimes that’s good enough to make something a favorite. I mean these actors did a great job of capturing the spirit of the original actors without mimicry, and I just found that all kinds of ticklish!

I was going to choose Watchmen for this year, but that movie is a lot more depressing that my usual fare, and contains a nuclear holocaust, which makes it even less fun, and I think The Watchmen is a superhero movie for people who hate superheroes, because it’s a cynic’s wet dream. But I like the ideas being presented, and I liked the visuals so it makes my top five of the year, along with Sherlock Holmes.

Like Zack Snyder, Guy Ritchie is one of those directors people seem to have no middle ground for. You love them or hate them. I really enjoyed this remake of Sherlock. I enjoy all of the Sherlock’s really, and never seem to get tired of new versions of this character. Plus,  I will watch Robert Downey Jr. do absolutely anything in a movie.

 

2010: Inception

Christopher Nolan just makes movies after my own heart. He is not the kind of director that ever speaks down to his audience. If you are watching a Nolan film you are expected to pay attention, and be on your toes. And he doesn’t stint on the action scenes either. Like Hitchcock, he makes Thrillers for thinkers, and I appreciate that. He just crafts some wonderfully satisfying movies.

http://narrativefirst.com/articles/meaningful-storytelling-an-analysis-of-inception

Movie Review: “Inception”

Let Me In is complicated. I enjoyed the book the original movie was based on, but didn’t care too much for the  original movie. I think it was the acting that threw me off. I think the creators of the American version did a really good job adapting it for American sensibilities while keeping the spirit and theme of the  original film intact, but I couldnt choose it as a favorite, as it has too many scenes of the primary actor being tortured by bullies, for it to be enjoyable, and its kind of depressing.

“What if a white guy played Black Panther?: The Fake Concern of Fake Geek Guys — Stitch’s Media Mix

Whenever I talk about racebending as a concept when it comes to comics and comics-related properties, smartasses always show up to say something snarky like “what if Black Panther or some other Black hero were a white guy”. They crowd into my mentions or any comment field they can get a hold of, trying to […]

via “What if a white guy played Black Panther?: The Fake Concern of Fake Geek Guys — Stitch’s Media Mix

 

**And for further reading, the distinction is that Whitewashing is bad and Racebending is okay, and here is why:

Dear Comic Fans: We Get it. You’re racist and racebending scares you.

The Incomparable Differences between Whitewashing and Racebending

Whitewashing vs. Racebending: Yes, There is a Difference

https://moviepilot.com/p/how-whitewashing-does-and-doesnt-affect-movies/4112605

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/whitewashing-racebending

 

**And further readings on Race and Media for the weekend include a description of harassment in the Art world,  for speaking the truth, which is important to me because I’m an artist.

This ties into America’s general belief that History was all White, and that PoC played no part in European History at all. As Dr. Who said, “History has been whitewashed!” And yes, I blame Hollywood, and America’s  general historical ignorance. It’s this ignorance of the part PoC played throughout every era of human history that leads to cries of “Historical Accuracy” every time a Black person wanders into the orbit of, not just historical films, but any Fantasy films that have a foundation in European folklore.

https://hyperallergic.com/383776/why-we-need-to-start-seeing-the-classical-world-in-color/

https://www.artforum.com/news/id=68963

 

**And on Race and Fandom Wankery…Stop It! Fandom is every bit as racist as non-geek culture, but Klandom thinks it’s better at disguising it. There has also been some confusion about patterns of implicit racism vs calling individuals racist.

Thinking that you are personally being called out on your racism is basically the Racism 101 approach to this topic,  because we’re not talking about individual people, although individuals may be used as examples of what were drawing attention to.

The discussion that PoC and LGBT people are having is from the 401 Class, and seems to be over quite a few people’s heads. We’re discussing patterns of behavior across multiple platforms. We’re not talking about a handful of bigots, writing stories we don’t like, but  about hundreds of people across fandom engaging in the same behavior, and then making the exact same excuses for their behavior, over and over again.

We are supposed to be the most progressive and transformative community in pop-culture.

nyxelestia

We who…

  • Hyper-focus on white, male characters
  • Contort these male characters into heteronormativity
  • Marginalize and erase characters of color
  • Write out women and replace them with men, especially in shipping
  • Attack women for “getting in the way” of our preferred ships
  • Hold female characters to higher standards than male characters
  • Hold characters of color to higher standards than white characters
  • Latch onto any single excuse to marginalize female characters
  • Utilize any single excuse to demonize characters of color
  • Put women on pedestals and act as if we’re doing them a favor
  • Justify white and male abuses or dismiss them as “mistakes”
  • Use actual mistakes to denigrate female and non-white characters
  • Romanticize white, male pain and mental illness
  • Expect female characters to perform all the emotional labor
  • Expect characters of color to be perfectly mentally healthy forever
  • Expect everyone to subsume their own mental health for the white males’
  • Dismiss the traumas and experiences of characters of color
  • Minimize the achievements of female characters

And then we wonder why mainstream media is so regressive, especially compared to us. We all talk as if mainstream media creators are behind the times.

They’re not.

Fandom likes to imagine itself as being progressive because of all the slash – a mechanism of progress which conveniently boils down to extra attention on overwhelmingly male (and overwhelmingly white) characters. This form of progress is one which takes a minor deviation from the social norm (homosexuality), only to end up ultimately supporting or even amplifying the status quo, by virtue of over-focusing on male characters (and over-representing white ones in the process).

Strip back that gay window dressing, though, and you’ll see that at best, fandom is just as socially stagnant as mainstream media and mainstream culture – or even worse, by virtue of engaging in media that overwhelmingly sidelines several other marginalized groups in order to prop up one.

Professional women have long known the old adage, “Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought of half as good.” What no one seems to realize is that fandom is still doing exactly the same thing.

We expect female characters to be twice as good for half the acclaim, we expect characters of color to be three times as good for a third of the acclaim, and we let white, male characters be only a quarter as good for four times the acclaim.

Mainstream media is keeping up with the times and with social progress just fine, it’s us who’ve deluded ourselves into believing that we, as a community, are more progressive than we actually are.

 

 

And Danae Guriria lays it out:


**And on Hollywood Erasure. This topic is especially interesting to me becasue I know there were Black cowboys. When Slavery ended, a lot of Black people fled West, rather than North, which is how and why there are so many black people in places like Minnesota, Oklahoma, California and a huge Black population in Texas. I know there were Black Cowboys (and many many Mexican ones) but this is something most Americans don’t no about due once again to Hollywood Whitewashing. The remake of the Magnificent Seven is a lot more historically  accurate than the original.

Although the reception of that movie proves one more thing to me, that Denzel Washington can make whatever the Hell movie he wants, and no one will criticize him for historical accuracy. Apparently, he belongs in any era he wants.

 

black-to-the-bones

The LIT History Series is for the Legends, Innovators and Trailblazers that have shaped our culture.

It is widely believed that the “Lone Ranger”, the famous cowboy of the TV show and the movie, was inspired by a Black man named Bass Reeves.

Reeves was born a slave, but he escaped to the West where he eventually became a Deputy U.S. Marshal, an expert marksman, and a master of disguise with his Native American sidekick. Blacks were a huge part of the Western frontier despite what’s told to us in pop culture or taught to us in the classroom. “The kids who are learning history in our schools are not being told the truth about the way the West was,” says Jim Austin, founder of the National Multicultural Heritage Museum. “I bet you nine out of 10 people in this country think that cowboys were all white – as I did.” (x)

Cherokee Bill, born Crawford Goldsby, was a notorious outlaw whose father was a Buffalo Soldier. His reputation and career as an outlaw rivals the reputation of Billy the Kid. Bill Picket was a “famous” Black cowboy who toured the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, and England, and he was inducted into the National Rodeo Hall of Fame 40 years after his death. (x)

And black cowboys are still here, they do exist.

That’s a huge part of history that was also erased from the history of America. We need to bring attention to this, because it’s unfair that black people along with other people of color have been erased from this narrative.

Source

 

Black Panther Trailer: Class 101

Hi! Welcome to the 101 class about the Black Panther movie. I’m here to speak  on this topic because I managed to graduate to the 201 class. I am by no means an expert on Black Panther, Wakanda, or even the current version of the comic books. I have mastered basic information about who is who, what is what, and what I personally enjoy.

Image result for black panther movie cast awards

So the Black Panther trailer dropped Friday, and those of you who refuse to read comic books, or don’t pay that close attention to Marvel Superhero movies, are probably wondering what all the excitement is about. Why are black people so giddy? Who the hell is Black Panther? Is he related to Malcolm X?

Okay. I see we have our work cut out for us. Alright, c’mon over here and sit down, so we can work this whole thing out. I’m gonna do this by giving some background on the character, and  breaking down some  shit in the trailer.

The Black Panther first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1966, which slightly predates the Black Panther Political Party, so there’s no relation. This is notable because he’s the first black superhero to show up in the comics, predating both Luke Cage (Wooo!) and The Falcon. Black Panther’s real name is T’Challa and he’s a prince of the country of Wakanda, located in Africa. His father, T’Chaka, was played by John Kani in Captain America Civil War. After his father’s assassination T’Challa inherited the Kingdom.

This movie is remarkable for several reasons. It has a huge  all-star cast of primarily black actors and actresses.  Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, and Forest Whitaker, are all Oscar nominated/winning actors. It has a large “dark skinned” female cast. There are more women in this cast than are featured in almost all the MCU films together.  In the comic books, these are characters with names and backstories. Where this movie will truly past the Fabulosity test is if  any of the women speak to one another about anything other than T’Challa, although even without that, this is still great representation for Black women who rarely, if ever get to play primary, action oriented roles in such films.

Its also remarkable for the introduction of the term Afro-Futurism into everyday discourse. Yep! This is a phrase you’re going to be seeing a lot more often in conjunction with discussions about this movie.

*Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of history that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of black people, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past.

——Wikipedia

http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/black-alt-enter-afrofuturism-999#axzz4k5esHWHx

http://afrofuturism.net/

Image result for afro futurist

Image result for afro futurist

Not only is this an almost entirely Black cast, so are many of  behind-the-scenes talent. The director is Ryan Coogler, the award winning director of Creed and Fruitvale Station. Hannah Beachler is the Production Designer. She was also the Designer for Moonlight, and Beyonce’s Lemonade. Ruth Carter is the Costume Designer, and has worked on Selma, Serenity, and the remake of Oldboy.

 

*There are people out here asking why we’re so hyped for Black Panther.

Like…in case you haven’t noticed…there’s literally a million and five big budget franchise movies centered around white super heroes.

Black Panther shows a black super hero who is the king of an extremely prominent and technologically advanced African country with his badass royal guard that consist of badass black women in all their natural glory and it portrays black people as something other than poor, enslaved, or savage.

Regardless if you understand or not…that is huge for black people.  

 

Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman

After the death of his father in Captain America, T’Challa becomes King, and  inherits the mantle of The Black Panther, which is a  generational position as Guardian of  the country of Wakanda. The Black Panthers inherit their superpowers by eating a mystical herb, which grants them the strength and speed of the Panther God, worshiped in Wakanda. He is one of the wealthiest men in the world, and something of a technological genius, responsible for some of the tech and hardware you’ll see in the movie.

Plot Synopsis:

“After the events of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new leader. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war.”

For a closer look at this character, and his abilities, see Captain America Civil War, now available on Netflix, and read  Ta-Nehisi Coates current run of the comics, (although there are other versions).

 

Everett Ross: Martin Freeman

Related image

This is one of only two white faces you’re going to see in the rest of this trailer, and probably the movie. Everett Ross only gets a  still picture because he does nothing gifworthy  beyond being annoying to the other characters in Civil War. If you see any critiques about how this character is the hero of Black Panther… RUN!!SAVE YOURSELF!! You have wandered into a cluster of White Man’s Nonsense.

 

Ulysses Klaue: Andy Serkis

You may remember this character from Avengers Ultron, where he lost his arm, and got the privilege of locking ScarJo in a cage, I think. No, this movie isn’t about him either, but he gets the gif treatment because I like Andy Serkis. If you see reviews focused on either Ross, or Klaue’s important roles in the film, I urge you  to escape that review, STAT!!!, and immediately Google a review from a Black critic, as you have probably wandered into a field of White Gibberish. Save your brain cells!! That person is not logicking correctly and that shit is contagious.

 

Wakanda:

Image result for wakanda movie  gif

Wakanda is a fictional nation, hidden, isolated, and futuristic, located in the central part of Africa. Its meant to represent what an African country would be like if it had been allowed to develop without colonization or exploitation by the West. Wakanda is one the wealthiest nations on the continent because of its large Vibranium reserves.

In the comic books, the central city of Wakanda is surrounded by 18 other city-states, that are constantly vying for power. You can catch glimpses of these various tribal kingdoms in the trailer.

 

The Dora Milaje (Dora Meh-lah-shay):

The Dora Milaje are the King’s Elite (Special Forces) Bodyguards. In English, their name means, The Adored Ones.  In the comic books they were also considered potential wives for the King, specially trained warriors, who were selected from the surrounding tribes by the King, in an effort to keep the peace between the various rival tribes. These young girls are groomed from a very early age to be warriors.

The Dora Milaje are the best warriors of Wakanda.  They have defeated Namor, and fought even Storm and Black Widow to a standstill, although it is rumored, that over the years, many Black Widows never made it out of Wakanda alive, thanks to them.

It’s the custom for them to have shaved heads. No, they are not the King’s special booty call, as Adored One is a ceremonial title. They are not his harem.

Okoye: Danae Gurira

Image result for dora milaje gif

Danae is most famous for her role as Michonne on the Walking Dead. She’s the King’s first , speaking only to him and only in a rare language. This was so the King and his wives could speak in private while out in public. Think of her as something like the head of a federal organization that only answers to the president.

 

Ayo:Florence Kusumba

Ayo is the Dora Milaje we got to see for the first time in Captain America Civil War. She said six words and stole half the movie. They better not let her say too much in this movie or none of us will remember why the hell we were sittin’ in the theater.

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Nakia: Lupita Nyong’o

This is Nakia, played by the Oscar Award winning Lupita Nyong’o. In the the comic books Nakia is a mutant of some kind, with enhanced speed, agility, and strength. She later becomes a villain named Malice.

 

Erik Killmonger: Michael B. Jordan

Killmonger is played by Michael “Bae” Jordan from Coogler’s last film, Creed, and unfortunately from The Fantastic Four, but the first time I saw him was in the movie Chronicle. He is one of T’Challa’s rivals for the throne of Wakanda, and plays a pivotal role in the movie. In the books, Erik harbors a grudge against T’Challa for exiling him to America, after the death of his father, who had been branded a traitor. When Erik returned he plunged himself into Wakandan history and traditions, and this radicalized him. So now he preaches against outside Western influences, and wants to rule so that he can make the country more isolationist.

 

Ramonda: Angela Bassett

C’mon! Ya’ll know who Angela Bassett is. Ramonda is T’Challa’s mother. Note the white hair. Disney doesn’t possess the rights to Storm from the X-Men, who is T’Challa’s in canon ex-wife, but they can troll the film company that does, by casting the woman who was born to play that role, and making her up to look like her in this movie.

 

Shuri: Letitia Wright

This Princess of Wakanda is T’Challa’s little sister from a different mother. She is the Wakandan genius behind most of the tech you’ll see in the movie, including those nifty little cat gloves she’s wearing in the trailer. I don’t know what they do but I want them. Shuri is the very definition of Afro – Futurism, combining her country’s cultural traditions with technological concepts beyond even Tony Stark’s skills.

In the books, Shuri is a warrior who was trained by her brother to take over his mantle should the need arise, and who, on occasion,  has had to step in and become The Black Panther, in her own right, after  one of her brother’s extended absences. Here she’s been re-written as a tech genius.

 

Daniel Kaluuya: W’Kabi

I got nothing about this guy. I’ve never paid much attention to him beyond that he grew up with  and is T’Challa’s  second in command and advisor. You know him as the actor from the movie Get Out.

 

Forest Whitaker: Zuri

Zuri is played by Forest Whitaker, is a veteran warrior, and one of T’Challa’s senior advisers.

 

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*On a more serious note we have to talk about this issue here:

Since the release of the trailer onto the national stage, I know some of you guys who are the most excited about this movie, have experienced an influx of racist gibberish into all of your inboxes. There’s something about this movie that has truly galvanized racist geeks into a paroxysm of harassment. (Well I simply can’t imagine what that might be.)

I’ve been warning my friends on Tumblr, and other social media to have their Block finger ready because it’s going to  get a lot of exercise. And it’s not just the white racist dudebros out there either. You have a lineup of various hoteps, and native Africans making static too. Everybody whose  got a beef with black people have their fingers tapping, and mouths flapping, to destroy this movie, which is an utterly pointless pursuit.

You’ve got people writing racist meta about how unrealistic Wakanda is, because  Africa is such an undeveloped country,  how Black people are acting too uppity, and culturally appropriating African cultures, the poster for the movie is militant, there are going to be riots and shootings at the theaters on the day of the movie’s release, and a complete basket full of  nonsense. Basically people out there projecting every one of their racial and social insecurities onto this movie, and it hasn’t  even been released yet. And its only going to get worse as the movie nears its release date.

And all because  black people are giddy about a movie trailer.

*Black Panther is a FICTIONAL movie about a FICTIONAL country in Africa so people need to stop projecting all of their issues on to it and let ALL black people enjoy something for once.  Seriously.  CAN WE STOP WITH THOSE STUPID DIASPORA BATTLES THAT HAPPEN EVERY TIME BLACK AMERICANS GET *ANYTHING* POSITIVE?! 

—–karnythia from angelsscream

@

@

This isn’t my essay, but it says want I want to say much more eloquently. This is from an AfroFuturist tumblr site, and is very deep and entertaining. Please give them a visit.

*Double Standard

I’m sure everyone has seen the trailer for the Marvel Black Panther movie that is set to be released next year. And if we are to be honest, we are over the roof excited about it. Have you seen the memes!? The ones showing how we’re going to go dressed for the premier? Have you seen the amount of views the trailer has on YouTube!?  2018 can not come any sooner!! So, tell me why, in between all the excitement and anticipation for the movie, we still see people hating on it?

So, one person called it “unrealistic” and “poorly put together in order to give Blacks a place in the entertainment industry”. And I’m like, “the name is science FICTION, afrofuturist to be exact, and the sole purpose of such work is to not just envision Blacks in the future but as the agents and subjects of the future.”

And then, I saw this post asking how can Wakanda be so technologically advanced and yet it had no imperialistic goals and its innovations did not spread to anywhere else. Y’all remember Avatar? The one with the blue people with tails that were primitive and highly developed at the same time? They loved that movie right? So why the lack of love for Black Panther then?

Could it be because it is BLACK PANTHER? Could it be because it shows Blacks not just as props and prawns but in the center as kings and leaders and scientists and warriors? But anyway, I hope this is one of many afrofuturist works to be produced because it’s about time we have a place in the future, in science fiction.

 

@

*But here’s the thing, this movie is going to be released. Its a done deal. Its going to do as well as any of the other MCU films to date. No amount of online harassment, from people who can’t stand to see Black people being happy about something, is going to stop us from going to the theater,  and seeing it multiple times. 

Now I’m done with this particular topic!

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From pathlesspagan:

Me and squad at the Black Panther premiere.

 

Black Panther (The Reaction)

*From Dark Matters Blog, a collection of video reactions to the Black panther trailer. you gotta watch these. They will make you smile:

via The Diaspora Reacts to the Black Panther Teaser Trailer on Youtube! — Dark Matters

 

*Yeah, I don’t think people are realizing what a groundbreaking moment this is for us. Just like Wonder Woman brought so many women to tears, this seems to be having the same effect on those of the diaspora. Here on this blog, I’ve often jokingly referred to the release date of this movie as, The Ascension.

I don’t think people fully and completely realize just how much visual media matters. How much it has not just reflected the world, but shaped it, and made the world what it is. Those of us who know this realize the impact that movies like Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman and Black Panther can have.

I want Asian-American men and women, LGBTQ, Latinx, Native Americans, everybody to have this same amount of representation in movies, and get it all the time, so that movies like Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, and Black Panther are not outliers.

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Here are some more reactions from Tumblr:

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unclesteeb

Idk what the appropriate level of emotion is when you’re in a fandom already but y’all I keep bursting into tears seeing all these beautiful edits and gifsets of black panther

This movie is so important. It might be the most important superhero movie of all time. Think of all the black children who are treated like shit from the world around them walking into a movie theater.

This is the movie we need.

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*From behind the scenes:

 

 

 

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*Wonder Women is accessible to ALL women, but it’s not FOR WoC in the same way that it’s for White women. I want White women to have that moment when you’re sitting in a movie theater in tears because you’re so happy. I also want everybody else to have that moment. That said,  I also want for people to just  let us enjoy this time, and to come out in support of this movie the way we came out for WW.

geeky-galpal

Dear white women feminists who loved Wonder Woman–

Listen, I also loved Wonder Woman. But I also think that Diana would be the first to note that we are not free until we are all free. So if you posted a thousand times about how important WW was for little girls to see, then I hope you are also prepared to post a thousand times about how important the new Black Panther movie is for black kids- girls and boys- to see.

I saw Wonder Woman, and I teared up the first time she stormed the battlefield in her full regalia. But, as a black woman, I couldn’t not notice that the women who looked like me played supporting, and largely non-speaking, background parts. Black Panther is the chance for women who look like me to see ourselves as the heroes in our own story. To see ourselves as warriors, as epic royalty, as fully actualized superheroes. In a major studio blockbuster, no less. Never- not ever- has that happened before.

We are looking forward to your support.

@@

disastergeek

I am all about Wonder Woman and I am definitely all about Black Panther.

But mostly what I really want is a WOC superhero movie. Every woman and every girls should feel what I felt watching that movie and while the gender is the same, race does matter. REPRESENTATION FUCKING MATTERS.

I want black and brown girls to see someone just like them playing the hero. I want them to look at that screen and say, “She’s me!” Because it matters.

@@

kamala-khan

so as it turns out, there is no such thing as superhero movie fatigue. we all just tired of watching the same white dude in the lead.

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 *Whatcha wearing to The Ascension?

pwussywillow

y’all gon see me walking into theater in full dora milaje gear on opening night for black panther

the-thotyssey

im making my auntie tie my head wrap so i can sit in front of white people and block the screen

pwussywillow

when they ask you to take down your head wrap, turn them, smile and just say “reparations” and go back to watching the movie

moonisneveralone

It’s gonna be cold as fuck here but I’m gonna be in full kente and a headwrap.

 

@@

From John Boyega, whose movie, Pacific Rim II, drops in March of 2018.

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tittytenda

me presenting my 56 slide , 2 hour long presentation on why everyone is gonna watch black panther and im not gonna hear any complaints from ANYONE  bc we all know that its gonna save the MCU:

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*And from the trailer:

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And in the “This Is Ridiculous” Column:

I just want all of y’all to be prepared for a full eight months of White noise, gibberish, and tears, as racist cockroaches come out of the woodwork to crawl all over Black people’s happiness.

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There’s a certain type of White bigot who sees Black people (any race of people that’s not them, really) being happy about something that’s important to them, who  will then go out of their way to throw water on them.

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Y’all knew this was coming tho’. As soon as all of America got to see the trailer during the NBA finals, that was the cue for the White whiner to go into danger mode like:

 movies marvel comics iron man robert downey jr GIF

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But I’m not letting these people take away my joy, and neither is anybody else. We just gonna, in the immortal words of Taylor Shifty, “Shake it Off”:

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Image result for black people dancing gif

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Okay, I’m still a bit giddy, as you can tell. Later, I’ll have  something a little more substantial to add to this conversation, as I give those of you who do not read comic books, but  are still excited about this movie, the Black Panther 411.

Why I Don’t Give A Damn About the Wonder Woman Movie

I had written an essay about this but scrapped it, because I wasn’t saying what I wanted to say, without getting sidetracked by secondary issues. I think some other writers have explained this a lot more clearly than I would have.

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Note: We are not saying that WW is a bad movie, or that the 25 year old white nerdgirls at which this film is aimed, shouldn’t enjoy it. Love the fuck outta this movie, if that’s your appealing! I understand that there are a bunch of Jewish women who are really loving the representation from Godot. I got it. Hell, we got Luke Cage, and Black Panther, so let Jewish women have their thing.

Let me make something clear though: I don’t hate the movie. Its not much different than the many, many, other action movies, starring a white woman, from Selene, to Ripley, to Sarah Connor, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and even loved. I’ve also heard its a fun movie, so that’s not what this criticism is about. What I’m having a problem with is, once again, white women are putting themselves in the position of speaking for ALL women, in saying that this movie is a win for feminist representation in superhero movies, without considering intersectional feminism. Black women can count on one hand the amount of real representation we have in superhero movies, and in this movie specifically. For Latinas, and Asian American women, it’s even less. None of them are adequately represented in this movie either.

My problem is with white women’s claims about this movie, not the movie itself (which is a whole other subject.)

‘Wonder Woman’s Feminism Is Strong As Hell, But It’s Not Intersectional

As both a woman and a longtime fan of superhero movies, the success of Wonder Woman at the box office has made me happier than I can express. But as a black woman and a longtime fan of superhero movies, the actual content of Wonder Woman depressed me. Racking up $200 million worldwide on its first weekend, Wonder Woman‘s status as a superhero film starring a woman and directed by a woman has made it a feminist victory in ways having nothing to do with the all-female island of Themyscira and the inclusion of lines like “Be careful in the world of men, Diana. They do not deserve you.” But I’m sorry to say that Wonder Woman is just a white feminist victory — barely. For black feminists, it’s exactly like every other superhero movie, just with a white female lead.

 

https://www.bustle.com/p/wonder-womans-feminism-is-strong-as-hell-but-its-not-intersectional-62798

 

Continue reading “Why I Don’t Give A Damn About the Wonder Woman Movie”

Superheroes at a Theater Near You

Hi there!

Here’s a list of most, if not all, the top Superhero movies being released in the next two years. But first, some background, because for some reason, people love these mini slice-of -life snippets, that I keep adding to my posts.

I think I’ve said before, that I’m a huge comic book fan, and most of what I read  were superhero comics. I wasn’t a big DC reader as a child. For some reason DC Comic books weren’t as child accessible as Marvel. On the other hand, DC had a lot more shows on television, when I was little, like Shazaam, Wonder Woman, and Batman. I started by reading Peanuts and Archie comics when I was about seven or six, then graduated to Conan and Red Sonja around age eight, Horror comics like EC, and Eerie by the time I was ten, and then, by the time I was twelve, to books like Swamp Thing, and most of the Marvel superhero books.

Somewhere in one of those comics, I saw ads for Doctor Strange and the X-Men. I distinctly remember staring at those ads, wondering who these characters were, and why hadn’t I ever heard of them, because they looked fascinating. I didn’t start reading Justice League, Justice Society, Batman, and Superman comics until I was an adult in college, because my friends were into those books.

So once again, unlike most kids, I did not follow the traditional path to liking superheroes, by starting with Batman and Superman, although I watched all the DC shows and movies, followed by the apparently required reading of The Watchmen. I didn’t read that until I was an adult, and by that time, I was unimpressed by it. (But that’s probably the reason I was one of the five people who loved the movie becasue that’s how that works.)

And I’m still being contrary today. I do not enjoy being contrary. That’s just how everything works out. Since I’m a visual artist, (someday I’ll get up enough nerve to show y’all some of my old drawings) I have had training, but the past few years I’ve taken a hiatus from drawing, in favor of other artistic pursuits. I usually latch onto an artist and just follow them around from book to book,  and series to series. Some of my favorites are Barry Windsor-Smith from the early Conan books, Bill Sienkiewicz for his short stint on The New Mutants, Alan Grant for his work on Excalibur, Geof Darrow for anything, Adam Hughes, Arthur Adams, and of course Alex Ross. (Naturally, I don’t draw like any of them, no matter how much I’d love to.)

I’ve since gotten away from reading superhero comics, except for the occasional Batman, Wolverine, or Midnighter collection. I don’t buy them like I used to , and most of my comic book action happens digitally these days, and are independent projects, like Shaolin Cowboy, Hellboy, and  Cimarronin, and the various movies and TV shows. The last comic I bought online was Enormous.

So here is a  list of the comic book movies, I’m most interested in,  (although that doesn’t mean I’m going to see them in the theater) for the next couple of years:

2017 

Justice League  (11/17)

I’m cautiously excited about this. I didn’t care for BtVS, I don’t like Batfleck, and I’m not a fan of Amber Heard. On the other hand,  I love Jason Momoa, who looks as if he’s having the time of his life, in the trailer; and this movie’s version of The Flash, just because he’s really cute.

 

Thor Ragnarok (10/27)

I’m a huge fan of Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson,  Thor’s new haircut, and the Avengers version of the Hulk. Will I see it. I don’t know.

 

Spiderman Homecoming (7/7)

I’m actually looking forward to seeing this. Its got a diverse cast, and that little Tom Holland is just as cute as the dickens.

 

2018

Black Panther (2/9)

The Ascension is Nigh!

 

Avengers Infinity War Pt. 1 (4/27)

Related image

?????? I got nothing!

 

Ant Man and the Wasp (6/29)

Image result for antman and wasp

Nope!

 

Aquaman (12/21)

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Yep!

 

New Mutants (4/13)

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More of these ???????

 

Deadpool 2 (6/1)

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Yeah, I’m in!

 

The Incredibles 2

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I loved the first movie. If the story is any good, I’ll have my butt in the seat when its released.

 

Venom (10/5)

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I like this character, but I still feel this should be a horror movie, and that Tom Holland should be in it.

 

Dark Pheonix (11/2)

Nope. I have never cared about the Phoenix, and I ain’t about to start now!

 

After 2018 Honorable Mentions:

Captain Marvel

Meh!

 

Shazaam

I’ll go see this if the story is any good, becasue I love the character.

 

Cyborg

Hmmmm!

 

Mouse Guard

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I love these books, and I’d get a kick out of seeing them on the big screen, even in animated form.

 

They Gon’ Learn!

Oh, didnt I tell you guys that since the elction, my job on Earth now, is to be a “Petty MF”? Now, I don’t have a whole lot of practice being petty. I’m one of those people who usually takes the high road,

But not today White Jeebus! Not today!

Just leaving these receipts here:

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Death Note
Next up on Hollywood’s list of series to mess with: Death Note.Netflix

 

 

 

*Hollywood’s whitewashed version of anime never sells

https://www.polygon.com/2017/4/3/15142608/hollywood-anime-live-action-adaptations-ghost-in-the-shell

*And just in case Hollywood has not learned anything from the previous fuck ups:

 ‘Whitewashing’ Accusations Fly as Zach McGowan Cast as Hawaiian WWII Hero

‘Whitewashing’ Accusations Fly as Zach McGowan Cast as Hawaiian WWII Hero

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/05/whitewashing-zach-mcgowan-hawaiian-niihau-wwii-controversy-1201814715/

*Now contrast that with financially successful and/or Oscar nominated movies prominently featuring PoC:

Image result for moonlightImage result for beasts of no nationImage result for moanaImage result for hidden figuresImage result for lion movieImage result for creedRelated imageImage result for straight outta compton

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