I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I loved it so much that the first thing I thought about doing when I walked out of the theatre was hash out everything that this Star Wars reboot had done right.
Like including legitimately humorous dialogue rather than slapstick CGI sidekicks.
Unfortunately, everyone on the blogosphere had already come to the same conclusion long before I was back from my Christmas break. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about the film, or reading articles about it. So I’ve decided to write about one of the few things that bothered me about the film, rather than many aspects of the film that I loved.
If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you probably already know that we at CWR were excited to hear about the diversity of casting in The Force Awakens.
Lupita Nyong’o, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac play the franchise’s newest protagonists.
I was especially excited when I heard that Lupita Nyong’o had been cast. Ever since she won best supporting actress for 12 Years a Slave and was declared the most beautiful person of 2014 by People magazine, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for Nyong’o. After witnessing her sudden rise to fame, I was curious to see if she would continue to find roles in major films, or if she would slowly be pushed out of Hollywood because of her dark skin. As Gregg Kilday explains in his article about Nyong’o, few black actresses have ever managed to secure a spot as a permanent Hollywood heavyweight:
While the stage would appear to be set for [Nyong’o] to ascend to the A-list — just as Jennifer Lawrence did after her best actress win for Silver Linings Playbook last year — it’s not that simple. For while there have been a handful of African-American actors, from Sidney Poitier to Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington and Will Smith, who have reached that status, there’s never been a black actress who has become the equivalent of a Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie. Whoopi Goldberg came closest, following her best actress Oscar nomination for 1985’s The Color Purple and supporting actress win for 1990’s Ghost, but despite an occasional hit like 1992’s Sister Act, she didn’t maintain that momentum. Hollywood also flirted with Angela Bassett, Thandie Newton, Halle Berry and, most recently, Mandela‘s Naomie Harris, without ushering any of them into its very top tier.
It seems like a habit for major blockbuster films to tick off their diversity checklist by casting a white woman and/or a black man. Meanwhile, actors from other minority groups, especially women of colour, get overlooked because all the non-white, male roles have already been taken. As Evan pointed out in his post about the Martian and racebending, this seems to be the impulse, even when it means casting a white women to play a Korean- American character and a black man to play an Asian- Indian character. Continue reading
Posted in feminism, film, gender, race
Tagged #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, 12 years a slave, alien, Angelina Jolie, angry white people, Asian-Indian, avatar, black, black and a woman, black and female, black female lead, blockbuster, casting, CG, CGI, Daisy Ridley, diversity, fan-boys, film, franchise, Gregg Kilday, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hollywood, Jennifer Lawrence, John Boyega, Julia Roberts, Korean-American, lightsaber, Lupita Nyong'o, Maz Kanata, minority, most beautiful person, Oscar Isaac, people magazine, protagonist, role model, Star Trek, Star Wars, successful, talent, The Force Awakens, The Martian, Uhura, white, Whoopie Goldberg, women of colour, Zoe Saldana
Last Friday was such an outpouring of emotions [alongside a fair amount of research] that even with roughly 2,700 words there was bound to be something I missed. While I had initially planned on making room for it, an omission was made starkly apparent to me once I began sharing the post. As those of you who read it [and you should, before continuing on with this one] it ended with a call to action: kickstarting the discussion about diversity and representation through asking others to read what I’d written [or however else they felt led].
That’s a risky thing to ask of anyone, for obvious reasons.
One of my friends shared the post on Facebook, and was immediately faced with another friend of theirs who had an issue with a small section that I’ve since amended. Here it as it was originally written:
“Chiwetel Ejiofor is an Academy Award winning actor. He’s also a Black [not African American] man, part of a demographic that has not struggled in Hollywood compared to many others.”
Going back you’ll notice that it now refers to Ejiofor as being “Nigerian English”, which is of course much more accurate. The issue that the person had with the original was that by going so far as to state that other actors were “Asian” and even “East Indian” I was snubbing Ejiofor’s own background. I was even accused of doing racebending of my own by overlooking this fact. Continue reading
Posted in internet, language, race, writing
Tagged African-American, asian, black, Chiwetel Ejiofor, competition, diversity, East Asian, intersectionality, Racebending, representation, South Asian, The Martian, together, whitewashing
This 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].
This 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
Posted in comics, feminism, media, race, religion, writing
Tagged artist, Black Panther, Brian Stelfreeze, Chelsea Cain, comic books, creator, DC, diversity, Felipe Smith, G. Willow Wilson, Gene Luen Yang, Ghetto, ghettoization, Grek Pak, Marvel, race, representation, stepping stone, Steve Orlando, Ta-Nehisi Coates, voices, writing
I’ve been waiting for this issue to come around since Ms. Marvel first hit local comic book stores roughly two years ago. Kamala Khan fights crime under the moniker that once belongs to Carol Danvers, and idolizes her to the point that the first ever usage of her powers was actually to transform into the blonde, blue-eyed superwoman. While she’s since realized a lot about her own identity as a hero [and as a person] the fateful meeting between the two is nonetheless a momentous event.
If only it wasn’t being overshadowed by, well, the end of the world.
That’s not to say that it’s being poorly handled, only that this isn’t the way many imagined the two would see each other face to face for the first time. Kamala sees Carol at what is hands-down the lowest point of her short career in vigilanteism. The world is, as mentioned, ending, but more importantly to her Jersey City is in danger. That’s only compounded by the fact that her brother has been kidnapped by her “ex-crush” AKA Kamran. And you thought your teen years were overwhelming. Continue reading
Posted in art, comics, review, writing
Tagged 17, Aamir, Adrian Alphona, art, brother, Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, character, comics, diversity, end of the world, family, finally, G. Willow Wilson, heartbreak, Ian Herring, Inhuman, Joe Caramagna, Kaboom, Kamala Khan, Kamran, Kilowatt, Last Days, Marvel, Ms. Marvel, review, Sana Amanat, Secret Wars, Terrigen Mist, villain, why is Captain Marvel's costume gray
The amount that’s going on today, let alone just this week, has been overwhelming. From the Pan Am Games starting tonight here in Toronto [which we only care about more than you do because it directly
affects inconveniences our lives] to, as mentioned in the title, the second day of Comic-Con International in San Diego to the Confederate Flag being taken down from the South Carolina Capitol grounds.
I need to take a short paragraph just to state how immensely important this is for America, and the only reason I’m not covering it today is because I don’t want add what few drops I have to offer to an already overflowing new cycle. That being said, for any who are further interested in the topic of the Confederate flag and all it stands for I have a few articles that are over 150 years old for you to look over. Enjoy.
To get to the actual content of this post allow me to inform everyone that I am all about Archie Comics. I dug them before middle school, when my dad bought me sixty or so assorted digests and double digests at a garage sale, and I love them now years after having misplaced every single one. To put that more simply I have been into tales about a group of all-American teenagers before and after my actual teen years. Considering the fact that they’ve been around for almost three quarters of a century the titular Archie and the other residents of Riverdale have managed to perform the not unimpressive feat of telling timeless stories that appeal to generation after generation.
The thing is, a rolling stone gathers no moss and all that.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the publisher’s Chief Creative Officer, has been making strides to ensure that the world doesn’t forget about Archie Andrews. Non-comics-obsessives may not be aware of Afterlife With Archie, a series that he is writing himself which features the dead rising and the gang doing what they have to not to get eaten. Art by the immensely talented Franco Francavilla [who also illustrated the cover on the right] aside it’s good, with conventional tropes being carried out by characters we know like the backs of our hands. Crossovers with other franchises include Glee, Predator, and, somehow, Sharknado. Anywhere teens could potentially be found has the potential to host Betty, Jughead, Dilton, and the rest of them- Continue reading
Posted in America, art, comics, race, television
Tagged Afterlife with Archie, Archie, Archie Comics, Betty, Cast, characters, Chuck, Comic-Con, CW, diversity, Fiona Staples, Jughead, Kevin Keller, Maria Rodriguez, Mark Waid, Nancy, non-white, race, Raj Patel, Reggie, Riverdale, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Trev Smith, TV, Veronica, white
So . . . Secret Wars. I’m sure there are a number of articles out there that could explain what exactly this event is to those new to the medium, but I’m going to try to do it in as few sentences as possible. Basically multiple earths have been colliding with and destroying one another. The last two earths to play interstellar chicken are Earth 616 [the primary Marvel universe] and Earth 1610 [the Ultimate Marvel universe].
That’s pretty much all the context you need, honestly, because what you should really be focusing on is that the world is ending. The tagline to the event as it started out was “Everything Dies” and the Last Days issues for a number of Marvel titles concern how the characters we know and love will spend what time they have left. Throughout the past fifteen issues we’ve seen Kamala Khan own her identity as a superhero; it goes without saying how she plans on facing the apocalypse.
For the Illuminati, a shadowy group of Marvel’s brightest and most powerful, absolutely everything has been counting down to this final incursion. For Ms. Marvel recent events are also coming to a head as her falling for and subsequent falling out with Kamran has left her in a pretty dark place. Heartbreak plays an enormous role in the life of the average teen and she even admits that it’s “affecting [her] work” to a listening
bartender hot dog stand vendor.
With another planet looming above Manhattan all that is soon washed away as Kamala is reminded that she has another city entirely to protect. She directs Bruno and others to Cole Academic High School and then tends to her number one priority: her parents. Continue reading
Posted in art, comics, review, writing, Youth
Tagged 16, Aamir, Adrian Alphona, art, brother, Bruno, character, comics, crush, diversity, end of the world, family, G. Willow Wilson, heartbreak, hipster viking, Ian Herring, Joe Caramagna, Kamala Khan, Kamran, Last Days, Loki, Marvel, Ms. Marvel, review, Sana Amanat, Secret Wars, villain, ward
So ends the three-issue story arc “Crushed” and any semblance of a relationship that Kamala Khan and family friend [not cousin/blood relative] Kamran once had, not with a bang but with a helping hand. Let me backtrack a little-
Really, this plot in this issue is fairly simple. As I mentioned pretty explicitly in my last review the newest character to be introduced is bad news, his closeness with our heroine seemingly acting as a way for him to more easily serve his master, Lineage. That’s where things get a little less simple, so I suppose I should backtrack yet again and try to explain what’s been happening outside of Jersey City for those of you who are only reading this book out of Marvel’s many, many titles.
To start with, on the recap page you may have noticed the final line: “These events take place between Inhuman #14 and the Inhuman Annual.” Continue reading
Posted in art, comics, relationships, review, writing
Tagged 15, Aamir, art, Bruno, character, comics, coup, Crushed, diversity, friendship, G. Willow Wilson, Ian Herring, Inhuman, Joe Caramagna, Kaboom, Kamala Khan, Kamran, Lineage, Marvel, Medusa, minority, Ms. Marvel, review, Sana Amanat, she isn't, Takeshi Miyazawa, villain