Angoulême, #OscarsSoWhite, and the Possibility of Change

I had initially planned on permanently shelving this blog post, for the most part due to the fact that I felt the two incidents I was comparing had come and gone, and I try to stay topical. Then recently Facebook notified me that Kate Winslet not boycotting the Oscars was trending, and just today that acclaimed director Steven Spielberg had some thoughts about the awards ceremony. It appears that a discussion that began with the continuing hashtag #OscarsSoWhite is far from over.

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I wanted to call Chris Rock the one bright spot in this upcoming Academy Awards, but the irony was too much.

This may surprise you, but the focus of this particular blog post isn’t race. It is about social justice in general, though [just because this pony has more than one trick doesn’t mean that he has a lot of them]. Social justice is ultimately concerned with change, a positive transformation of our society, and is more often than not battling against the presumption that this is impossible. I’m going to be covering two somewhat recent events, both surrounding awards shows, that prove it’s not. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S5E11 “And the Booth Babes”

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Next week 2 Broke Girls makes its way to Thursday to join CBS ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory, which actually segues really well into a lot of what this review is covering. See, while the latter has absolutely killed it for the network it’s also received a fair amount of flak, primarily from the types of people it claims to represent. General nerd news site Bleeding Cool referred to it as “the television show that hates you” back in 2011 and hasn’t stopped since, and I actually took time on this very blog to cover an episode that featured some particularly divisive promos.

All of that is to say that CBS as a network doesn’t have a stellar track record when it comes to appealing to what I’m going to call “nerds” from this point on [Supergirl not withstanding, which I’ve only heard excellent things about]. Couple that with 2 Broke Girls not having a stellar track record with most topics and we find ourselves here, tonight, with me dreading every second leading up to this episode, tempered by a bizarre sense of excitement. Continue reading

Filmmaker Christine Welsh on Tracing Her Heritage in Women In the Shadows

My Canadian studies class recently watched Women in the Shadows, a documentary by feminist filmmaker and professor, Christine Welsh. Not long after we had watched her film Welsh agreed to visit our class for a question and answer period. Below I’ve included a little of what I learned from her film and her visit.

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Norbert Welsh’s oral history was recorded by Mary Weekes.

In an article detailing her documentary experience, Welsh explains that her interest had been sparked when her mother recovered a copy of The Last Buffalo Hunter, an oral history by her great grandfather, Norbert Welsh. In the film, however, Welsh attempts to recover more information about her great grandmothers, figures who were much harder to trace.

Along her search, Welsh discovers the name of her great grandmother, Margaret Taylor, and Margaret’s mother, Jane. Welsh surmises that Jane was most likely Cree. Jane’s union with George Taylor meant that Margaret was one of the first generations of Metis women. While documentation about women was lacking during early colonization, Welsh was able to uncover some details about her foremothers because of Margaret Taylor’s connection to Hudson’s Bay Company Governor George Simpson.

In the early period of Canadian colonization, Hudson’s Bay employees often took “country wives”. These women, of First Nations or Metis heritage, would create family ties between the explorers and the local community and were often the reason their husbands survived their first few Canadian winters. In Women in the Shadows, Welsh discovers that Taylor had been Simpson’s “country wife” for many years, only to be cast aside by Simpson when he returned from a trip to England with a new white wife.

Continue reading

Why Hillary Shouldn’t Be President

At the time of this writing, the results of the New Hampshire primaries have yet to be tallied. While it’s generally predicated that they’ll reflect a sweeping win for Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, following weeks will see the battle carried on to Nevada and South Carolina, where Sander’s rival Hillary Clinton is polling much stronger.

The war for the White House is far, far from over, but in the Democrat’s camp it’s still surprising that there’d be such a struggle to begin with.

After all, it was supposed to be a cakewalk.

Former first lady, former New York senator, former Secretary of State, former presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton was supposed to have this in the bag. With her extensive political career, her chosen-one status among the party establishment, her global reputation, her nomination was so certain many had dubbed it a “coronation“.

Months into the campaign, and barely scraping by after a virtual tie in Iowa, Clinton’s hopes for an easy win have been obliterated- and yours truly couldn’t be happier about it.

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Am I a Sanders fan?

I’m not sure yet. Continue reading

Trump Temptation: The Billionaire & The Bellboy: A Book Review

trumptemptationsIn spite of my nationality there’s very little I’ve been able to do to avoid news about the presidential nominees in our neighbour to the south. While Donald Trump hasn’t yet risen to the absurd heights of celebrity that Obama did shortly after his inauguration, it’s more than fair to say that he’s been creating an indelible mark on pop culture for far longer, for better or for worse.

Given his general notoriety, especially of late, it’s not particularly surprising that comedian Elijah Daniel was compelled to pen what I’m going to generously dub a novella about the businessman. While he was originally inspired by a Huffington Post article surmising that Trump had paid off a secret gay lover [unavailable at the time of this writing], the truth is that there are sex scandals announced all of the time. No, there’s something particularly special about Donald John Trump. Something special enough to skyrocket Daniel’s ten page tale to the top of a handful of Amazon charts.

Now I don’t want to go too deeply into exactly how Trump Temptation was written, especially when you can see for yourself by checking out the author’s very own explanation on Twitter. Feel free to check that out before coming back to this review, because I’m about to dive headfirst into some LGBT erotica. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S5E10 “And the No New Friends”

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Look, friendship is hard. I know that as well as anyone. In spite of the interconnectedness that allows you to read these words I’m penning in my North York basement apartment from anywhere in the world, the fact is that many of my peers find it hard to create meaningful relationships [just type “millennial” alongside some iteration of “lonely” into Google and see what comes up]. With that in mind it’s nice to see an episode focus on a problem so many people struggle with.

In particular the issue of starting friendships from scratch, in your twenties, is a daunting one. Compared to the kids you went to college with how strong is your foundation, really? It’s a question Caroline asks herself when Becky White [Diona Reasonover], a girl from Max’s past, arrives at the window to their cupcake store. Continue reading

“Hymn for the Weekend”: Appreciation, Appropriation, and the Exotic Black Woman

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stop listening to “Hymn for the Weekend” on repeat.

However, before I had even listened to Chris Martin and Queen Bey meld their voices in a divine mesh of harmonies, I was reading about it on Tumblr.

Cultural Appreciation vs. Appropriation

The first thing I heard about the video was that it had some pretty rampant cultural appropriation. Since there have been a number of music videos and performances accused of cultural appropriation over the last few years, I wasn’t too surprised to hear about “Hymn for the Weekend” being added to the list.

The video quickly split viewers into two groups, those who considered it cultural appropriation, and those who appreciated the video’s focus on Indian culture. The clip below highlights a few of the key elements that have been discussed and criticized.

This discussion is tricky for a variety of reasons. For example, there is a time and place when a white person can wear Indian clothing and accessories without coming off as disrespectful. In some cases, it’s actually much more respectful to embrace local dress customs than to ignore them.

There are even music videos where diverse customs and styles have been featured without any backlash about appropriation.

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Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” is often hailed as an example of cultural appreciation done right.

This debate can also seem confusing when Indian fans, or fans with Indian heritage, don’t seem to be bothered by the video’s representation of their culture.

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