Category Archives: history

The 2016 Evan Yeong Literary Awards

As I say at the beginning of every year, you can look back at the first-ever Evan Yeong Literary Awards in 2014 for a fuller description of my relationship with reading, which in turn led to their inception.

evanyeongliteraryawards2016While eventually I’ll run out of ways to write this, the purpose of the third installment of the Evan Yeong Literary Awards is to shine a spotlight on an artistic medium that has taken a bit of a back seat as screen media becomes increasingly more prevalent, calling attention to a select handful of books I read these past 12 months. In 2015 every pick was objectively a winner, but given the rocky year following it’s no surprise that these awards have their ups and downs.

In 2016 my resolution was, just as it will likely be every year moving forward until it becomes unfeasible, to read more than the year before. That said I was devastated to do the final count to see that I read exactly the same number as I did in 2015. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link.


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wokest novel, PRE-2000’s

The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck
Published 1947

Although it’s fallen out of fashion since the time of its coinage in 2015, “woke” is still the most concise way to say “aware of racism and social in justice”. Throughout a novel that could serve merely as a cautionary tale of public transportation Steinbeck communicates time and time again that even though he lived as a person of great privilege, during an era where those privileges were even greater than they are now, he wasn’t afraid to pen several scathing indictments against the very class he was a part of.

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most disappointing, though by no means awful

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published 2012

The fault with this YA novel can be laid at the feet of those who framed it as a solid example of an interracial relationship in the genre. Although the titular Park is half-Korean the fact is that this is not something he personally relates to as a character, and certainly isn’t a factor that others take into consideration when viewing him [save for Eleanor, who gushes over his features in a way that borders on the fetishistic]. Apart from that this book very competently portrays the familial issues that can plague teenagers, as well as the most authentic depiction of how intense young love can be that I’ve ever read. Continue reading

Irregular Joe: Why Biden Shouldn’t Be President

In spite of what has been the single nastiest election in American history (yes, ever) many folks are already turning their bloodshot eyes to the 2020 election.

(Assuming we’re  not all dead or in internment camps, obviously.)

“Will he? Won’t he?”

That’s the question folks are asking themselves.

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In spite of Biden’s declaration, it’s still unclear if Biden actually will run in 2020. Which hasn’t stopped  countless hopefuls from working themselves into a frenzy.

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The President. Not My President.

Let me make it clear right now that this is not going to be some post to analyze who deserves the blame for the events of the 8th. As far as I’m concerned, there’s more than enough to go around.

Enough for Republicans, who sold their morals for political expediency. Enough for Democrats, whose back door dealings resulted in them trying to shove a detestable candidate down our throats and whose arrogance made them think that we would just take it. Enough for the public at large, who swallowed fear and prejudice in an attempt to resurrect a past that never existed.

This isn’t about that.

This is about personal vindication.

For whatever may or may not come, I want to go on the record now in stating that I am not OK with this.

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Retrieved from KnowYourMeme.com, originally created by KC Green and posted to The Nib. Fair use.

Make no mistake-

Trump Is Still A Monster

He was a monster before the election and he’s a monster now. Nothing has changed.

I say this, of course, because the savagely defeated Democrats are struggling for their footing. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has stated “If he’s serious, we’ll work with him,” a sentiment echoed by liberal darling Elizabeth Warren. Former candidate Hilary Clinton has declared that Trump “must have a chance to lead.

No, we ****ing don’t.

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

The Magnificent Seven vs. The Historical Negationism of Westerns

Yesterday marked the North American premiere of The Magnificent Seven, a movie that I’ve been looking forward to ever since I saw the trailer some months back. The reason for that is far more simple than you might have guessed: I’m a sucker for Westerns. A large part of that can probably be traced back to my playthrough of Red Dead Redemption back in college-

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-but even before that there had always been something appealing about the clink of spurs, the arid desert heat, and towns that weren’t big enough for two particular individuals. That being said, I did with The Magnificent Seven what I do with everything I’m excited about, which is research it obsessively.

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Eventually my search led me to a thread in /r/movies sharing the new poster for the film, which you can see on the right. Clicking on the image should help you get a better look at the titular cast of characters, and reveal an additional reason for my interest you might have expected me to be more upfront about.

Of the seven men four are people of colour.

Denzel Washington, emphasized by the number that outlines him, is bounty hunter Sam Chisholm and leader of the group. On his far right is Martin Sensmeier, of First Nations descent, playing Comanche warrior Red Harvest. Skipping past Chris Pratt on his left are Byung-hun Lee as assassin Billy Rocks and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Vasquez, a Mexican outlaw.

Now if there’s anything enthusiasm likes it’s company, and as I scrolled down through the thread seeing if anyone else shared my excitement for the film I came across this comment:

multicultural7 Continue reading

Sorry, Clinton- These Are The First Women To Have Run For President

“Here’s the thing about Hilary- you don’t have to like her, but you do have to admit…”

If I had a nickel every time I heard those words I’d probably be rich enough to pay Clinton’s speaking fees. And that was before her official coronation nomination on July 26th. Now the news, the papers, and the internet is awash in varying degrees of jubilation and grudging respect.

“You don’t have to be happy about her, but you do got to admit that it’s pretty historic that there’s a woman running for president.”

I don’t.

In spite of the Democrats’ latest attempt to rewrite history in their favor, Clinton is not the first woman to have run for president. Hell, she wasn’t even the first female candidate to be nominated this year.

So again, I don’t need to admit ****.

There are scores of women who have boldly run for president, have done so before Clinton, and have done so on infinitely more admirable platforms and causes. It is these women who should receive our recognition- and of the 30+ or so candidates in American history, here are just a few of the highlights:

cynthiamckinneyCynthia McKinney

Presidential Bids: 2008

Party: Green (Formerly Democrat)

Notable Achievements:

Introduced legislation against the Iraq War (the one that Clinton voted for), as well as the impeachment of George Bush and several high ranking members of the administration. McKinney additionally attempted to introduce bills to halt the transfer of arms to countries with poor records on human rights (another dissimilarity with Clinton). Perhaps most impressively, McKinney managed to get herself arrested during a humanitarian mission to Gaza in 2009, after the aid ship Spirit of Humanity was boarded by Israeli forces (this being, of course, the same apartheid regime that Clinton has pledged her unconditional support to). Continue reading

If We Whined About Other Groups The Same Way We Whine About Black Lives Matter

v2my2blSince the movement’s inception in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin, the Black Lives Matter campaign has taken its share of criticism. As the number of unarmed black men killed by the police has mounted over the past years, so have the responses from- and towards- the movement. So much so that they’ve become cliche at this point. Still not so cliche that we won’t try to respond to ’em, however.

Let’s imagine, if you will, a world where white folks are also the victims of police brutality. Where white folks have been arbitrarily discriminated against on the basis of their ethnic, national, and religious background. Where exploitation and oppression have left enormous swathes of white folks in abject poverty.

Imagining that world should be pretty easy, because it’s the one we live in now. But let’s say that a movement existed to argue that maybe- just maybe- random violence inflicted by the state on white citizens isn’t something that should just be suffered silently. I’m betting we would still have people who sound like this:

I’m white and I hate white lives matter.

And because I’m white I can say that and it somehow feels more justified. Like “well, he’s white– so you know he’s got more authority to speak on what is and isn’t acceptable behavior for other white people.” Like with clothes.

Clothes

We all know that sagging your pants is an offense that should allow cops and scared white folks who embarrass self-respecting gun-owners  vigilantes to kill you on sight, so what about these guys?

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I mean, this guy’s wearing a wife beater, a gold chain, and he’s got slicked back hair. You know who else wears clothes like that? That’s right- the mafia.

I mean, I assume so.

Truth be told, I’m not a criminologist and I can’t really claim to know what all criminals wear, but I’m going to assume it looks like this because having to think for extended periods of time makes brain go hurt-hurt. But I see someone who fits the image that the media has created for me and I just go “well if TV says a thug looks like this, then this guy must be a gangster. When has TV ever lied?” Continue reading