Captain Marvel Pushed Back Again, Company Apologist On Verge of Giving Up

In the beginning, I could not be more excited for Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate of comic book movie offerings. While I noted [and mourned] Black Panther’s absence from their list of Phase 2 films in 2012 I was forced to eat my words a couple of years later, when they announced solo films for both him and Captain Marvel [a female hero!] at a special event.


Yes, as you can see from the mock-ups they released on the right both were slated to drop on November 2017 and July 2018 respectively, with a good number of years ahead for casting, finding directors, pre-production, extensive post-production for VFX, the whole deal. Like I mentioned, I was ecstatic for what was to come and by no means worried that they were rushing things.

Sure, both films were being released after Captain America: Civil WarDoctor StrangeGuardians of the Galaxy 2, and Thor Ragnarok, three sequels, two of which are the third for their respective franchises, but I could wait! Things were changing for ol’ Marvel Studios, and for the better.

And then the announcement early this year that Sony was willing to cut a deal with Marvel, allowing the latter to use Spider-Man in their cinematic universe! This news was met by much of the internet with a long drawn out finally. Fans had been waiting to see the webswinger alongside other such heroes as Iron Man and Thor and it was all coming to pass! The comic book movie gods smile down upon us!

Except that that wasn’t the announcement in its entirety. Over on their website Marvel revealed that Peter Parker’s induction into their lineup would result in schedule conflicts, namely [emphasis added]:

Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” will hit theaters November 3, 2017. The following year, Marvel’s “Black Panther” will make its way to theaters on July 6, 2018, and Marvel’s “Captain Marvel” on November 2, 2018. Finally, Marvel’s “Inhumans” will now debut in theaters July 12, 2019.

Over at tumblr bookerdewitch summed it up more perfectly than I ever could:

Capture Continue reading

3 Life Lessons I Learned in Church (Or, the Hilariously-Sad Realization that I Grew Up in a Cult)

“Here’s an easy way to figure out if you’re in a cult: If you’re wondering whether you’re in a cult, the answer is yes.” ― Stephen Colbert, I Am America

They say hindsight is 20/20. Never has this cultural idiom been so true to me as the moment that  I realized I grew up in a cult. After conducting some personal and academic research about the characteristics of a cult, the scales fell from my eyes and, hallelujah, I could see.

It wasn’t as earth-shattering as I would have expected, in some ways, it was like I always knew. I just had to step out of the cult closet and see for myself.

A few characteristics of a cult include financial mismanagement, abusive behaviour, and attempts to control members through manipulation. During my time in my childhood church I experienced and/or witnessed each of these concerning behaviours. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t the kind of horror movie cult that was sacrificing babies, or drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. Generally, it wasn’t even all that bad. But on the spectrum of church to cult, we had more in common with a cult than the typical church.

I learned a lot from my recent revelation, and I wanted to share what I learned with you. Below, I’ve included three life lessons I learned in church, or, as I like to say, the hilariously-sad realization I grew up in a cult.

Life Lesson #1: Your Time is Valuable

“If God is up at five in the morning for prayer… (dramatic pause)… Then you should be, too!”

Time is arguably our most valuable commodity, and it’s your time that a cult will take the most of. For most cults, controlling your time is almost as good as controlling your money. Since I was quite young I didn’t donate a lot of money, but let me give you a breakdown of how I spent my time:

There are 168 hours in a week. We sleep about 56 hours, and work about 40 hours each of the five workdays. That leaves about 72 hours left to do what we like. In our cult, we were told that our time was spiritual money in our spiritual bank account. If we had free time we weren’t doing enough for the Lord.

In a given week we would spend 19 hours in prayer (both communal and private), 6 hours in service, 4 hours doing street ministry (aka knocking on people’s doors and handing out pamphlets), 10.5 hours of driving ministry (picking up families for church programs), 3 hours youth ministry, 4 hours outreach ministry, and 5 hours in worker meetings or music practice. That left 19.5 hours of free time for 7 days, or approximately 2.7 hours of free time per day. To put it another way: if our free time had been money we would have barely made enough to support a child in a third world country.

When I finally committed to not go to church (cult) anymore, I suddenly had time to do what I wanted. It was as if I had discovered my belly button for the first time as an adult, which would be mind-blowing, to say the least.

Life Lesson #2: Question Everything

“When you come in here, turn off your brain.”

Ignorance is bliss, but cult ignorance? That shit is magical.

The first thing a cult takes away is your ability to question. You are not allowed to question leadership, the lack of faith healings, or the way money is being managed. You are discouraged from receiving a secular education and told to “turn off your brain” so the spirit could lead. Asking certain questions could get you ex-communicated. This meant that the Leaders would restrict any communication/contact between the ex-communicated person and the rest of the church congregation. This delicate practice was meant to somehow force the individual into repentance and to return once again to their (dysfunctional) church family.

In order to demonstrate your “true faith” you were required to leave your logic at the door and take everything on faith, no matter how absurd some of the services would get (running around the building and shouting at the top of your lungs was a frequently occurring event). While this kind ignorance was truly blissful, it quickly got out of hand.

Growing up in a cult was a lot like growing up in a tiny magical bubbleMy tiny bubble consisted of a small intimate group of people that saw each other every day. Like most charismatic churches we believed in faith healing, prosperity, and gifts of the spirit (speaking in tongues).

However, we also believed we could:

  • change the weather
  • drive cars without gas
  • teleport
  • pray back a woman’s hymen so she could re-lose her virginity on her wedding night (honest truth)
  • pray away the gay
  • chase demons out of the church (this actually involved physically running around)
  • pray over adult video stores to close them down (it actually did close down two weeks later, BTW)
  • repel bullets through prayer (when the persecution came)
  • pray people out of the grave.

It was a strange, wonderful, magical bubble, to say the least. But it was also a bubble that needed to burst.

For me, the pin that burst the bubble came the day we were asked to pray for a specific group of people to die.

We prayed, and they died, further justifying our beliefs in our magical powers.

It was scary, scary to be in a group of people you love and have grown to know over decades, then, one day, to see them all pray in mindless fervour for someone to die.

This is when the magic ended, I no longer viewed the world through the foggy haze of my magic bubble. I suddenly realized this was all crazy and I had no choice but to leave.

Life Lesson #3: Know When to Walk Away, And Know When to Run

“I don’t trust people with an education, they think too much with their head.”

As cliche as it sounds, things aren’t always meant to last forever. Leaving the safety and security of the community was hard. It was like a divorce; a divorce where you had to separate yourself from every single member of your family one by one. Although I came out relatively unscathed, there were people who I cared about who lost everything: family, money, and community.

The loss of community was the most heartbreaking. It left many bewildered and asking themselves a multitude of questions: What had been the point of all that hard work and time? Why did we pray so much? Why did I give away so much money? And why did I needlessly hate myself for natural body functions? Masturbation jokes aside, after leaving, or rather running, from the cult that I grew up in I learned that I don’t need their edification in my life to have purpose. I could live and make my own choices, without fear that God or church will disapprove. In my cult-free life I have found joy and purpose. Plus, there’s no one trying to steal my money anymore.

The writer of this post has chosen to remain ANONYMOUS.

The 3 Best Parts of a Professional Sporting Event for People Who Don’t Love Sports (i.e. Me)

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been struggling to keep up on my weekly posts since heading back to school. This has been primarily due to a creeping deadline at work, paired with more school assignments than I had been expecting from my “easy” filler classes. This weekend, I had some other distractions:

If you guessed those distractions were tall, attractive men you would only be partially correct, since I was actually watching tall, attractive men chase a basketball around a court.


Although it was hard to tell if they were actually tall or attractive from our row.

It’s no secret that I’ve never been a sports lover. This is probably because I’ve never found a sport that I’ve been good at and I’m a sore loser. Yet somehow, I married a sports lover and, since then, I’ve begrudgingly come to appreciate the pastime. I just don’t always appreciate them for the same reasons that John does. Below, I’ve shared a few reasons why my first NBA (pregame) experience was a blast, and why I hope we can make it a tradition. Continue reading

Why Horror Movies Are Good For You

That’s right, boys and ghouls-

Good for you.

That’s not something you’d expect someone to say about the genre, is it?

Sure, you might hear about horror “classics”. There are plenty of fans out there who’ll talk about their personal favorites. You might even hear critics fondly contemplate how certain horror flicks were telling of their times. But morally edifying?

Well that’s the argument I’m going to be presenting to you today.

Be warned- spoilers may follow.

Now this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to champion the macabre. I don’t expect it to be the last either- not considering the reaction folks give me when I say I enjoy the stuff.

And before we really dig in here- let me get the obvious out of the way.

Yes, a lot of horror movies are garbage. The slasher/”teen-scream” subgenres use cheap gore and excessive nudity as a crutch for plot. More serious attempts still rely on the same cliches that have been around for decades. Plenty are poorly acted and have production values that could be outstripped by a middle school enactment of Romeo & Juliet.

But that’s hardly unique to horror. Continue reading

Hulu: The Greatest Argument For Piracy I’ve Ever Seen

I should probably state two things right off the bat, just to set the stage. The first is that editing anything, whether it be a weekly all-comics print publication or a blog that floats a measly few thousand views a week [not a humblebrag, I know what good site traffic is], is difficult. The second is that I consider fellow Culture War Reporter Gordon one of my best friends on this planet. It’s for those two reasons that I find covering the issue of piracy, of the copyright infringement variety, so harrowing.

In writing this post I forced myself to do my due diligence and read over my co-writer’s others two articles concerning the topic, and it was truly an ordeal. While in his first there are some fairly reasonable assertions like “Some People Will Never Buy” they’re coupled with others like “Anti-Piracy Hurts the Environment”, a point that ignores outlets like Netflix and other similar legal streaming services that harm God’s green earth just as much as The Pirate Bay. The second covered the “Vindication of Piracy” predicated on an article published by the BBC. All I have to say about that is . . . covered in the lengthy comment I left on that very post, if you’d like to check it out on your own.

As you should be able to tell based on how the above paragraphs are written, I feel very strongly about this. Which should make it particularly notable when I say that due to recent events in the past week I almost agree with Gordon.angrymanfist-2400px copy

And it’s all because of Hulu.

Hulu is the most compelling argument I have ever come across that piracy is both legitimate and possibly even necessary.

Now it’s going to look like I’m talking down to you, but I just want to make everything as clear as possible.

When we watch TV we are bombarded by commercials because the networks need money [as we all do] to survive. Some of that money makes its way to showrunners and the like, and the more successful their programs are the more money, ostensibly, the network will give them, because you want to spend money on that which makes you money. Hulu is an American streaming service that allowed you to watch TV shows the day after they aired, but had them accompanied by ads, for obvious aforementioned reasons. Continue reading

Unofficial Fame Day: Shep Smith

We make an effort here at Culture War Reporters to not only decry travesties but to celebrate advances in art, politics, music, and media. And in this day and age, the presence of an honest journalist isn’t so much an advancement as it is a flippin’ miracle. That such a journalist should emerge from the McCarthyite dystopia that is FOX News is more baffling still.

But lo and behold-

Shep ****ing Smith.

Now granted- Smith’s been around for a while. His career as a journalist started clear back in 1985, and Shep’s been a top-rated newsman since the mid-90s. Still, it would be a decade later, during the “war on terror” that a change seemed to occur.

What (if anything) prompted it, I do not know. When exactly it happened- who can say? Perhaps it had been building for a while, but whatever it was, Shep Smith frickin’ lost it.

In the best possible way.

Now that clip was from 2009, by which time the debate on America’s use of torture (“enhanced interrogation”, to use the official term for it) had already been going on for some time. Again, the exact causes of Shep’s outburst are a mystery to me, but it really doesn’t matter.

This, people. This is the kind of stuff we need more of. Continue reading

Marvel’s New “Black Panther” and the Ghettoization of Comic Books

Black_Panther_Cover_StelfreezeThis week Marvel announced that their new Black Panther title, dropping next spring, would be drawn by Brian Stelfreeze and, more importantly to many, penned by Ta-Nehisi Coates. For those of you unfamiliar with the latter Coates was at one point most well-known for his contributions to The Atlantic, in particular the contentious “The Case for Reparations”. More recently, however, a significant amount of attention has been given to his second published book, Between the World and Me, which was released just this past July.

The various news outlets that have covered this story, those dedicated to comic book journalism and otherwise, have taken note of the fact that both Coates and Stelfreeze are African-American. While the character himself hails from the fictional African nation of Wakanda he is nonetheless Black, and many have praised the publisher for allowing top-of-their-game, Black creators to take the reins of the person soon to be their most famous Black hero [due to his appearance in the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War].

Totally_Awesome_Hulk_1_CoverThis announcement comes, while not necessarily hot on the heels of, soon after Marvel breaking the news that the latest character to hold their own Hulk title will be Amadeus Cho. A Korean-American character and one of the smartest people on the planet despite his years, his adventures were also given to another match made in comic book A-list heaven. Writer Greg Pak and artist Frank Cho are both Korean-Americans themselves, with the former being of mixed descent. In the very same vein as next year’s Black Panther this December’s Totally Awesome Hulk bears a creative team that has a lot racially, as well as culturally, in this case, in common with their book’s titular character. Continue reading