Category Archives: bizarreness

The 2017 Women’s March: A Q&A Guide for Dummies

What rights have been taken away during Trump’s first 24 hours in office?

The ACA is presently being dismantled, meaning millions of Americans will be deprived of health insurance. Of this number, women are uniquely affected. As explained in The New York Times:

Until now, it has been perfectly legal in most states for companies selling individual health policies — for people who do not have group coverage through employers — to engage in “gender rating,” that is, charging women more than men for the same coverage, even for policies that do not include maternity care.

As deeply flawed a system as the ACA is, outright elimination will result in a sudden and fundamentally arbitrary penalization of women on the basis of their sex. The added cost will be especially detrimental to women in or near poverty (besides sucking for everyone in general).

So this is about Obamacare?

Not necessarily. The dismantling of the ACA is merely one of the many issues being protested by the millions of women marching in the US and around the world. Points include (but are not limited to):

  • Gay Rights – As the vice president has openly stated that gay marriage signal “societal collapse“, and has actively legislated the exclusion of gays from the military and a number of other civil rights issues.
  • Public Services – Which have been threatened with reduced funding, if not complete elimination, by high ranking members of the administration.
  • Defense of Racial and Religious Minorities – particularly people of color and Muslims, who have received ample disparagement and hostility from almost everyone within the administration.
  • Environmental Issues – The very existence of which Trump has denied, claiming global warming to be a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
  • And easily a dozen more…

Bah! These protesters should be grateful for how easy they have it. Now women living in the third world, they experience real oppression. Why isn’t anyone speaking up for them?

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Making It Big [Enough to Steal From]

Who doesn’t like attention? Introverts, probably. But for the sake of this introductory paragraph we’re running with the general idea that attention is something we all crave in various amounts, even to the point of wishing to be famous in some respect. Given the existence of the internet, the latter’s never entirely out of the question.

After all, it doesn’t take much more than one of your videos going viral for you to appear on countless talk shows, both daytime and late night. And then, as quickly as that spotlight appeared, it’s extinguished, leaving you alone in the dark. Given that whiplash-worthy stop-and-start is it any wonder that “Chewbacca mom” is currently “hustling to stay famous”?

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This feels more like a threat than anything-

It’s all about getting attention and holding onto it, preferably when it’s the positive variety. And, while we’re talking about positive attention, isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery? Continue reading

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? Continue reading

The Swinton-Cho Letters, Part 2: Putting Down a Resurrected Argument or: When Isn’t Art Political?

I began the first installment of this two-parter making note of the long and ultimately wearying experience it has been, starting with Doctor Strange going into pre-production and continuing on to the recent exposure of the Swinton-Cho Letters. While I spent time describing the ups and downs of casting news what I neglected to mention, and what I’m going to focus on today, is the outset and ultimate resurgence of an argument in defence of whitewashing.

That’s right, an argument defending what Wikipedia helpfully defines as “a casting practice [. . .] in which white actors are cast in historically non-white character roles.” The very faint silver lining is that the justification here does not revolve around star power and A-list draw, or the idea that “the best person for the role” was hired, the latter of which rarely ever swings the other direction. In spite of not being deeply rooted in these ways of thinking, however, the argument is remains deeply flawed.

Before we get into that, however, we should probably get to its origin story.

Like I Said Last Time, “It’s Always Podcasts”

Having to hit all of this again it’s important to be thankful for small blessings, with one being that I don’t need to hear C. Robert Cargill’s voice again due to already having done the research for another post. The person in question was one of the screenwriters for Doctor Strange, and dropped in on the  Double Toasted podcast mid-April to answer a few questions about it.

Eventually, and and unsurprisingly, the issue of the Ancient One’s casting was brought up. Cargill’s response, as transcribed by CINEMABLEND’s “The Blunt, Yet Difficult Reason Doctor Strange’s Ancient One Isn’t Asian”, is as follows:

“The Ancient One was a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullshit and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.’ If we decide to go the other way and cater to China in particular and have him be in Tibet [. . .] If you think it’s a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind and have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.”

In essence Cargill chalked the reasons for the casting decision up to politics and economics, implying that having the character played by a Tibetan would cause Marvel Studios to lose out on Chinese box office sales. He also suggests quite strongly that, conversely, having a Chinese actor play a Tibetan would cause a large amount of controversy. This was picked up by sites from IndieWire to ScreenRant to The Hollywood Reporter, with several using words like “reveal” in their headlines, as if a longstanding mystery had finally been solved.

The justifications he laid out were to become the go-to response for every commenter looking to defend the Swinton’s casting, and why not? After all, as one of the screenwriters of the film Cargill should be a direct and dependable source. The answer to that hypothetical starts with what happened a few short days later- Continue reading

The CWR Christmas Wish List

Readers,

We have entered at last into that special time of year. Halls are decked, trees are festooned, and yours truly is unleashing another one of his Grinch-y rants about how much I hate Christmas.

Or at least, I would be.

I’d like to try something a bit different this year. Maybe actually try to give all this holly-jolly bull**** a chance. So, in an attempt to get into the grotesque Capitalist travesty that this is month of crass commercialism “holiday spirit”, I figured I’d put together a little list of some things we’d like to have.

I. A World Leader Who Isn’t A ****ing ***hole

Ever since Uruguayan president Jose Mujica stepped down in 2015 there’s been a stocky, ex-guerilla shaped hole in our hearts that we just can’t seem to fill.

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Ideally one with such an absolute commitment to the poor that he or she serves as an example, forgoing the perks of their station, but honestly, we’ll take what we can get.

II. A George Carlin Grill

“You mean a George Foreman Grill?”

No, I mean a George Carlin Grill. As in I want to have George Carlin hanging around so he can apply some fiery, incandescent rage to the great, gooey mass that is human stupidity.

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“You want to resurrect George Carlin? Isn’t that asking a bit much?”

Seeing as how this country’s managed to resurrect the ****ing Nazi movement, no, I don’t think it is. Continue reading

Our Fascist Overlords (So Far…)

There’s an old Arab quote that roughly translates to “Don’t tell me about a man, tell me about his friends.” i.e, you are the company you keep. In spite of the present efforts for a recount in certain key states, we are still very much bracing for a Trump presidency, and perhaps worse yet, a Trump cabinet. Let’s get to meet our new fascist overlords:

2Ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki Haley

Born to Sikh Indian parents, Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley earned acclaim for her decision to remove the Confederate flag from state grounds. While maintaining a number of hardline positions- especially in terms of immigration- Haley again made headlines with her early criticism of then-candidate Trump. Criticism that earned her calls to be deported.

Deported to exactly where remains a mystery, as Haley was born in America. But as plenty of Trump supporters imagine America to be an inherently white country, they showed no qualms about reminding Haley (and people of color) that their presence in this nation is merely tolerated

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Image retrieved via Policy.Mic

Which makes Trump’s decision to offer her UN ambassadorship surprising, and Haley’s acceptance even more so. But perhaps that’s just to show how much the Republican party has chugged the Kool-Aid. A woman who, simply because of her first name and her skin tone, received calls for her “deportation” is now the international face of the same “siren call of the angriest voices.” Certainly it’s a chilling picture of what’s to come, and enough to silence anyone claiming that the house and senate will somehow act as a counterbalance to Trump’s Fourth Reich. Continue reading

CWR’s Halloween Recommendations IV

Well my repellent readers, after a horrific hiatus Culture War Reporter’s is back from the grave to fight for your faithful following. And we start with one of my personal favorites, our fourth annual Halloween movie recommendations! Now let us feast!

The Perfect Host

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As a rule, I don’t consider “comedy horror” to be a legitimate subgenre of horror. Things are either scary or they’re funny and mashing ’em together in a movie usually makes sure that it’s neither. That said, 2010’s The Perfect Host may well change my mind about that. Imagine if Hannibal was a black comedy and you pretty much have this delightful hidden gem. We bear witness to an evening of strange events as a conman knocks on the wrong door and gets more than he bargains for. And since you’re wondering, yes, that is Niles from Fraiser. He actually makes a pretty compelling villain.

 They Look Like People

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This is, without a doubt, one of the single best movies I have ever seen.

I cannot sing its praises enough. I’d spend a whole blog post breaking down all the things that make it awesome, but I don’t want to give away a single second of it. Know only that a young man receives a surprise visit from a childhood friend. What follows is a slow-burning, subtle, and staggeringly realistic film in the vein of such masterpieces as Stoker and It Follows. Amazingly written, beautifully shot, and utterly compelling. If you watch literally nothing else on this list, watch this.

 We Are What We Are

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It’s about a family of cannibals. But you knew that. You’d know that from the trailers, from the first five minutes, or from having watched even an episode or two of X-Files. But fortunately, the folks behind We Are What We Are know that you know that, and spend their time making this film less about any cliched twist (though there is certainly an unexpected jolt at the end) and more about painting a vivid and haunting picture of American Gothic. Beautifully shot, amazingly acted, and with a much needed degree of self-awareness that raises this film head and shoulders above it’s just-for-the-fans brethren. Continue reading