Tag Archives: diversity

Why The Fast and the Furious Franchise Has the Superior “Comic Book” Movie Shared Universe

This isn’t going to be the longest post for two reasons: 1) I made a bet with a friend and am only eating leaves for the entirety of today [this was my breakfast] and am therefore weak in mind, body, and spirit, and 2) this is a very straightforward assessment that two other other writers have already broken ground on already. Let me take a single step back, though, and remind you of what happens in a week’s time and why I’m writing this.

Furious 7 comes out.

I know I used my love of comic books to springboard my post on Flash Boys, the novel Aaron Sorkin refuses to write a screenplay for because “there aren’t any Asian movie stars”, but here we are again. Well, sort of. See, comic books only reach so large an audience. Comic book movies, on the other hand? They find themselves as two out of the top five highest grossing movies of last year [four of the top ten]. Everyone wants to get in on that business, to the point where a shared universe of larger-than-life characters was one of the goals of the truly awful Dracula Untold. Here’s the thing Universal, you already own The Fast and Furious [referred to as FF from this point on] franchise which has been going hard since the early aughts.

Remember at the end of Iron Man when Tony Stark meets Nick Fury for the first time and your nerdy friend gripped your arm so hard you thought they would snap it and whispered directly into your ear that “it’s happening“? The FF movies have been pulling that same move for years without the help of a narrative that’s been ongoing since the 60s. Every one of their reveals is builds on the preceding films,and the fact that they’ve managed to make this viewer drop his jaw is worth mentioning in and of itself.

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Ms. Marvel, #13: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel13Look, I know I was tough on Ms. Marvel last month. It was a so-so issue, a fact that surprised me greatly considering it guest starred the Norse god of trickery. The thing is, even then I wasn’t worried that it was some sort of herald of less-great things to come, and the latest installment of Kamala Khan’s adventures is one of the best yet.

Everything that was missing from the Valentine’s issue is present here. Inhumans? Check. Genuine hero vs. villain throwdowns? Check. An exploration of the life hyphenated-American youth live, AKA the cornerstone of immigrant literature? Ch-ch-ch-check.

That last point is what truly made me love this comic, because the rest of the Khans get some quality pagetime after being out of the spotlight for so long. Take the following panel-

notdecent

It takes place after we see Kamala training in the Inhuman version of the X-Men’s Danger Room, and while seeing Medusa worry about her subject [she is queen of the Inhumans, after all] is intriguing all I could think of was: “older Pakistani people would probably not be down with the skin-tight leggings she has on.” Lo and behold we have her ammi chiding her for her indecency. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #12: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel12If you’re reading this comic issue to issue, like I am, I know what you’re thinking: a new Ms. Marvelalready? Not that I [or you, in all likelihood] am complaining, but the last issue did come out just two short weeks ago.

Brought to us by the usual crew with the new addition of artist Elmo Bondoc, this is a much-needed lull in the action. They can’t all be spitting truth about the generational divide, and it seems like forever since Kamala’s doing everyday normal high school kid stuff. Given the cocktail of emotions that the average aforementioned teen is comprised of,what better way to return to that part of her life than on Valentine’s Day?

That was a hypothetical question, but one that was meant to be answered by the enthusiastic response of “there isn’t one!”. With that in mind, it breaks my heart to say that this is probably the worst issue of Ms. Marvel to date. WHICH-
please, put down your pitchforks and hear me out for a second- simply means that as one installment of a title that has knocked it out of the park for the past eleven consecutive issues this one scores a double. Maybe a single with the man on first stealing second. Sorry, I’ll stop with the baseball metaphors. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #11: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel11As predicted in my last review, this issue does in fact feature the downfall of the villainous Inventor. What I did not foresee, however, is how Alphona would be bringing his A-game when it came to illustrating our shapeshifting heroine’s triumph over evil. Seriously, there are some jaw-droppingly beautiful splash pages featured here.

For the most part my recaps of Ms. Marvel are exactly that, short summaries of what went down in addition to some exploration of any themes therein, so I feel it only fair to take a few paragraphs to focus on the art itself. To begin with, a “splash page” is:

“a page in the comic book where there are no other panels and the character or scene fills the entire page of the comic book.”

Issue #11 features three such pages, which would be more than overdoing it according to J. Caleb Mozzocco, one of my favourite comic book journalists. The reason for that being when you only have twenty-ish pages of comic [21 in this case, including the recap page] having one of them taken up by a single panel can make it feel like you’re not getting enough bang for your buck. Rest assured that that could not be further from the truth in this case-

tightsqueeze

While the entire page is indeed taken up by a single illustration there’s a strong sense of movement, with readers being able to trace Kamala’s journey through the innards of the deathbot with ease. The word boxes help to anchor a start and end point, and the intricacy of the gears as well as her cartoonish contortions keep you from turning the page even after you’ve finished reading the words. I could go on praising Alphona’s work, though, so as to the actual narrative- Continue reading

5 Reasons Why Galavant is my New Guilty-Pleasure Comedy

I love watching comedies when I’m in school. It allows me to check out mentally on those days when I feel like I can’t seem to turn off my brain. Although I am looking for thoughtless fluff, I still want to avoid straight-up terrible writing and plots. This makes my comedy search a little more difficult. Luckily, John and I came across Galavant, which provides what I am looking for in at least the following five ways.

1.It’s funny, without being offensive

I hate Seth MacFarlane. Just don’t like the guy at all. Yet his form of humour (i.e. let’s see how far we can push the line without getting in too much trouble) seems to dominate contemporary comedy. There certainly have been times when I have laughed at Family Guy or American Dad, but more often than not they leave me with a sour taste in my mouth.

One of the only gif’s from Family Guy that made me laugh instead of cringe.

I still want something that will surprise me into laughing out loud, but I don’t want to only ever be surprised because the punch line was too offensive for me to be expecting it.

Unlike McFarlane’s shows, Galavant is all about pushing around puns and being- well, for lack of a better word- silly. After being bombarded with jokes that make fun of real life trauma, it’s nice to be able to laugh at something because it’s just silly.

“Maybe they’re up your butt”

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Ms. Marvel, #10: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel10Kris Anka on covers, I heartily approve. I have been a fan of that dude for years, and his presence on this title is not the only pleasant surprise for the issue. [Unpleasantly, this review is late as #10 dropped December 17th, but some of us have to take a vacation sometime]

To put things super bluntly, everything is coming to a head. In this case “head” means “epic showdown”, and I never use the word “epic” lightly, even when it’s tucked away in the definition of another word. Compared to the last issue, where I had to break up what happened into several different levels, what takes place here is relatively straightforward-

As I mentioned last time, Issue #8 kicked off a four-part arc titled “Generation Why”, and the reason for that is finally revealed. Young people have been allowing The Inventor to use them as living batteries for his machines because they’ve been convinced they’re slackers who are just coasting through life, something that Gordon actually touched on several years ago when he wrote “In Defense of This Generation”. To sum up his almost-two-thousand-word post, we get the short end of the stick, but it’s not like we’re to blame for the world we live in. Let’s just say that Kamala agrees with my co-writer exactly:

“We’re not the ones who messed up the economy or the planet. Maybe they do think of us as parasites, but they’re not the ones who are gonna have to live with this mess–“

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2014’s Cultural Battleground – Evan’s Account

EDITOR’S NOTE: We end this year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in.  Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2014 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.

kissingbannerI chose to sort these posts in the order they were published, so we start things off on a very personal note, one which set the tone for many of the others I wrote in 2014. Our individual choices regarding how we approach physical intimacy can and should differ, and here I thought “out loud” with my fingertips, recording how exactly I got to where I am today.

My stance had its pros and cons weighed, both those other people may see and the ones that I do personally. In exploring them I covered how many other Christians view the act of kissing, used a number of really fantastic gifs, and even embedded a poll [the most responded to on the site] which asked readers which direction I should take from this point onward. No, it had no real effect my personal life choices. Yes, it actually is a dead even 50-50 split at the time of this writing.

2musicvideosbannerIf you had told me at any point during the year that I would be writing not one, but two analyses of music videos in the very same month I would not have believed you [here’s the other one]. I also would not have been able to guess that the one discussing both Ingrid Michaelson and Jennifer Lopez’s songs would be my personal favourite of 2014.

Sexism continues to be a problem, in popular music especially, and both artists sought to upend how men and women are normally portrayed in the medium of music videos. Unfortunately the results appear to merely perpetuate the status quo [in Lopez’s case] or miss the point entirely by resorting to cross dressing [in Michaelson’s] and likewise continuing to depict the female subjects much more sexily than the male ones. If it’s the thought that counts then consider both successful, but if we want to move anywhere beyond that they’re severely lacking.

posterchildwhiteprivilegebannerI know this post had to make my list because just thinking about it continues to make me angry. No, it’s not the clickbaity title of the original article, it’s the place from which the writer, Tal Fortgang, addresses all those who dare ask him to “check his privilege”.

My breakdown started before Fortgang’s own open letter, choosing to first pick apart the introduction written by The College Fix associate editor Jennifer Kabbany. It ended with a close analysis of his argument that being both White and male in the United States of America, born to Caucasian parents born to Caucasian parents, has afforded him no advantages in life [FUN FACT: it has].

The number of friends [and I use the term loosely] who I saw sharing this on Facebook drove me to write a counterpoint, and one that I only wish more people could have read. Being told to “check your privilege” should never result in a person writing 1,300 words about why they shouldn’t have to, it should lead them to ask themselves what they just did that was insensitive or wrong.

orderupbannerThis post isn’t the first one to open up with a short work of fiction to prove a point, and come the end of this year it isn’t even the first parable [a feature I may consider adding], but it is a genuine depiction of how Asian and Asian-American viewers feel when being presented with much of today’s pop culture.

Big Hero 6 was a film that should have, given the original source material, starred an all-Japanese cast. Instead we were presented with characters bearing a wide ethnic range not one of which was full-blooded Japanese. As Hollywood and much of the rest of the entertainment industry tunes in to their increasingly more diverse audience choices will be made, and some that will be made to, ostensibly, appeal to more people will instead disappoint those who it should have reached out to in the first place.

After seeing the film for myself I had more hard evidence to back up my original thoughts, but at the end of the day this was an animated children’s movie that could have shone a genuine, earnest light on an actual, single corner of the world and decided not to for the sake of what we’ll call “accessibility”.

johnchobannerHow we view ourselves has so much to do with what we see of ourselves in the media, and that’s just as true when it comes to thoughts of attractiveness as anything else. While pop culture’s depiction of women and how it has impacted the self-esteem of females both young and old the world over has taken centre stage in this particular discussion, and for good reason, what’s often skipped over is how racial minorities are in the exact same boat.

I trace my feelings of aesthetic inadequacy back to a conversation I had several years ago and draw it to the present, where my favourite new sitcom of 2014 a) stars an Asian-American male as the romantic lead and b) has been cancelled. The latter not withstanding, Selfie was more than just hilarious [and it was], it introduced on national TV the concept of Asian men actually being desirable, and it deserves all the credit in the world for that.


The 2014 Culture Wars were, for me, extremely personal. That’s never more apparent than when I picked apart my stance on locking lips, but it also cropped up in my criticism of one of my favourite musical artists. How every one of us chooses to process the world we live in is our own little foray into the conflict this blog takes its title from, and it’s often a conflict in more ways than one.

It falls to every one of us to field our intellectual and emotional reactions, whether it’s to a “Poster Child for White Privilege” or an animated children’s movie that we expected that much more from. This year I decided to let my feelings steer me towards the aspects of culture that directly affected my own life. Who I am as a male Christian Asian-Canadian now-24-year-old provides me with a perspective that you may not share, but my hope is that my observations resonate with you nonetheless.

This year I decided to voice how our culture was impacting me, and it’s an activity that I hope I, and every one of you, will do much more of in 2015.

-Evan.