2016’s Cultural Battleground – Evan’s Account

EDITOR’S NOTE: We end each 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 2016 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.


To directly quote my co-writer, “**** this year” has been an increasingly common sentiment as the days tick by, but even given the relentless, overwhelming flood of bad news that 2016 has embodied what’s particularly depressing to consider is how little some things have changed. It’s also telling that in spite of us collectively writing more blog posts than last year I’m left feeling like I wrote less, and that what was written is generally of a lower quality as well.

With that in mind and given the handful of bright spots I managed to find I decided to address this year and my coverage of it a little differently by using the “sandwich approach”. Instead of being presented in chronological order below are two positive aspects to 2016 that bookend what amounts to one singular, continuous problem, and one that I take very personally.

tf2overwatchThere’s something beautiful about the way a team can run like a well-oiled machine, each of its separate components working in unison to efficiently accomplish a shared goal. While not always my experience with Overwatch those moments, especially when with friends, have been highlights of my year.

With this post I took a closer look at Blizzard’s latest FPS that, since the time of this post being written, has grown the number of playable female characters to roughly 50%, and its place as part of a growing push in video games to expand beyond the male-only titles of the past.

kimmyasianUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was a high point of 2015, a Netflix-exclusive sitcom with an unassailably positive young woman at its core. It even took up one of my slots in my last year in review post, where I praised them for including an Asian love interest while scrutinizing how much they truly valued the verisimilitude needed to portray them correctly.

One tragedy of 2016 is that I was never able to make it past the third episode of its second season, the reason being that Tina Fey et al. created twenty-some minutes of television that dragged those who value Asian American representation before running them over with a steamroller, and then putting it in reverse. Friends assure me that it gets better, but how could it not after falling to such great depths?

busiekstrangeThe first in what would become a series of “For Your Consideration” posts, this one chronicled a number of tweets made by renowned comic scribe Kurt Busiek about the possibility that Doctor Strange as he originally appeared was meant to be Asian.

While his words, and my presenting them in a more accessible format, helped inform others of the potential of racial diversity within Marvel comics at a much earlier date than previously considered, the problem is why he felt the need to write them at all. They were penned during the height of discourse over racism within the character’s narrative, brought to light by the upcoming film adaptation and related casting announcements.

swintonchoJust when I thought that the whole conversation about Tilda Swinton being cast as the Ancient One had been put to rest it was exhumed two scant weeks before 2016 could come to a close. Margaret Cho disclosing a private email conversation between her and Swinton caused the internet to show its rabid support, first for her, and then to the other actor after their exchange was made public.

I, alongside a number of other POC writers, made note of the fact that while there was a breach of trust what also shouldn’t have been ignored was Swinton’s intention behind reaching out to begin with, and what a closer look at her half of the discussion reveals.

himmicaneI typically try not to mention my 2 Broke Girls reviews elsewhere on this site, and even created a separate page for them not too long ago. While I still can’t say with any honesty that, in its sixth season, this has become a show that’s worth a fraction of your Monday night it has gotten better.

While that alone is a net positive for the year as it has made watching each episode much more bearable, an additional blessing has been just trying to have more fun with the reviews themselves. Not too long into this new season I began writing a new weekly feature every week, and coming up with ridiculous, unfeasible topics has been a delight. “And the Himmicane” has the best one to date, and it’s finding joy in the irreverent that has allowed me to survive 2016.

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