The culture war is a conversation.
While it is ultimately a conflict, more often than not this takes the form of ideas and criticism being slung back and forth across the trenches. To be heard is a minor success, but to be actually understood is victory.
Within this conversation it’s undoubtedly artists, especially those who have garnered celebrity status, who have the most powerful voices.
In 2014 the eponymous host of The Colbert Report featured a segment on his show about “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”. Given his popularity it reached far and wide, and was eventually viewed by a Twitter activist who created the hashtag #CancelColbert in response.
As it was meant to call attention to and ridicule the outrageous fact that a national sports team is named after an ethnic slur the response was out of line. It was a classic case of [obvious] satire being taken the wrong way, but by inadvertently contributing to what has been dubbed “a fake year of outrage’ this person’s misstep resulted in others who campaign for better representation and the like being worse than silenced, which is to say, ignored.
Despite calling out from what is ostensibly the same side, the misstep of a single loud voice meant that others were unheard.
The exchange between artist and critic is rarely ever an even one, and only becomes more difficult given the sensitivity surrounding such personal creative endeavours.
Lena Dunham is the star and creator of HBO’s Girls, and received enough disapproval about the lack of diversity in a show set in New York City that she was asked about it by NPR. She responded that “[she takes] that criticism very seriously,” and that very same year had Donald Glover playing Hannah’s Black boyfriend on the show.
While the presence of Sandy on the dramedy was a beneficial one, with arguments between the two capturing the tension that can be present in interracial relationships [including such exchanges as: “I never thought about the fact that you were black once.” / “That’s insane. You should, because that’s what I am.”], Glover’s character faltered in that he was very much a response to criticism. Continue reading
Posted in art, celebrity, Comedy, communication, race, television, writing
Tagged #CancelColbert, activist, apology, art, asian, Asian-American, comedy, conversation, criticism, critics, Culture War, Ghost In The Shell, Girls, Kimmy Goes to a Play!, Kimono You Didn't, Lena Dunham, netflix, offence, outrage, race, racism, rape, Respectful Asian Portrayals in Entertainment, Scarlett Johannson, Tina Fey, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, voice, whitewashing, yellowface
What do we want out of Randy? This week marks the sixth episode he’s been around, and within that time he’s already broken up with Max and travelled across the country for her. Neither are insignificant events by any means, and even starring in that many episodes is a feat in and of itself [Austin Falk’s faux-Irish Nashit was only in four last season]. That being said the question still remains-
The 2 Broke Girls showrunners don’t appear to have any interest in either Max or Caroline entering into a long-term relationship, so let’s assume that Randy will eventually exit the show. Besides simply being entertaining, which is and should be the baseline expectation with sitcoms, there has to be more to the men who step in and out of the girls’ lives.
Initially Ed Quinn’s character followed the same arc that Max’s past boyfriends have: as she grows closer to them the increased intimacy makes her uncomfortable, causing her to want to pull away. This week appears to have left that far behind with a casual exchange of “I love you”, and in spite of being a realistically healthy thing stable relationships do not equate to good television. While their “first fight” doesn’t amount to much, it’s the basis for it that could make Randy one of the most interesting addition to the 2 Broke Girls cast. Continue reading
Posted in Comedy, relationships, review, television, writing
Tagged 2 Broke Girls, And the Attack of the Killer Apartment, apartment, Beth Behrs, boyfriend, Caroline, CBS, Ed Quinn, Kat Dennings, landlord, Max, Nail Patrick Harris, Randy, relationships, review, S5E19
This is a weird, random, and controversial thought, but….
I wonder if this consistent pattern of replacing Asian characters with White actors (even with more and more Asian actors getting more screen time [at least on TV] and all these articles highlighting whitewashing) is a subtle and unconscious battle of cultural and racial dominance? If it stems from a fear-based place of “if you put more Asians as leads in mainstream, worldwide entertainment, then it removes some of the cultural dominance of the status quo”.
I’m really not trying to bash White people, but you really can’t argue that White people overall have more privileges than any other race. And White men are the heads and execs at basically every major company in Europe and North America. And in entertainment, which has major worldwide influence, White people and predominately men are the execs, directors, writers, producers, and agents. Ironically, they welcome foreign money with open arms from Chinese to Middle Eastern investors.
Asians, population-wise, are more than 50% of the world; China and India have enormous populations with a lot of spending power. Asian countries have created very popular forms of entertainment with anime, manga, and video games. They frequently feature characters of Asian descent. Japan has always been a powerhouse country, but their status as an Axis power in World War II has set them up historically as a bad guy. Then their strength in electronics and cars in the 90’s set them up as the “competition” (i.e. not American and not us). And Chinese is ALWAYS the bad guy in the news. “We can’t have factories in China. The Chinese are gonna take over.” There’s a history of US vs THEM. Besides the military, the only industry of world dominance that White America has complete control over is the entertainment industry. American movies make so much internationally. Ironically, the US entertainment industry depends on the income from the foreign markets, but cater very little to their populations by representing them on screen. They know that the foreign populations will come see their movies no matter what, because they aren’t doing huge budget CGI movies where they are. Continue reading
Posted in America, art, Asia, film, Guest Post, race, television
Tagged actors, Asia, asian, casting, characters, China, Chinese, cultural dominance, entertainment, film, guest post, industry, race, racism, success, us vs. them, white, whitewashing
So apart from Max heckling customers, which the show hasn’t used to grace a cold open in quite some time, and every character besides Han poking fun at the diner’s general hygiene, the typical setting of 2 Broke Girls has rarely been a source of specific humour in the way, say, Sacred Heart hospital was on Scrubs, et cetera. We generally know it’s a dump, but the joke doesn’t extend far beyond that.
Honestly, I didn’t even know what I was missing until I got a taste of it [pun only somewhat intended].
It all begins with Oleg calling out that a “tuna malt” is ready to be served, which is honestly such a ludicrous miscommunication that I couldn’t help but smile.
In addition to that there’s the blackboard of specials, which Max’s atrocious handwriting has turned into a list of food that is . . . well, not as special as Han would probably like. They feature such dishes as “Sloppy Jobs”-
-and “Pork Chips”-
-and while the characters kind of run them into the ground a little, they’re all pretty entertaining. Just having it say “desert” instead of “dessert” is funny, especially given that no one makes note of it. The Williamsburg Diner may be a disgusting establishment, but it’s nice to see that it can also be a place where incompetence is present in the food preparation and signage as well.
As for the actual episode itself, Ed Quinn’s Randy is back! I don’t mean to keep harping on how Max’s relationship with him had its parallels with her dating Deke, but this just proves how much the show is shying away from that approach. Not only did their breakup have a resolution, it turns out it wasn’t really the end! He’s back in New York and looking to start a little something. To skip to the end with this particular arc, after Caroline expresses enough concern to actually grill him in a mock trial he admits that he’s committing to staying in the city for one month to try to make things work. A surprising turn of events to be sure.
As for the rest of the episode, Caroline’s movie money finally comes in and the two girls decide to make their Dessert Bar a reality. This means finding some real estate as Han won’t let them expand their cupcake shop into the dish room. Not willing to leave them in the lurch, their boss decides to connect them with Evie [Camille Chen], a realtor who apparently digs him.
Now, this is something I could cover in-depth down below under the “The Title Refers To” feature, but I’ll do it now. Essentially Evie wants to remain a virgin until marriage, but wants to have sex anyway. Now I hate to say it [and to use a slightly NSFW gif after the jump you’ve been warned], but this is actually something that generally terrible show House of Lies did in its episode “Bareback Town”, and that it did pretty well- Continue reading
Posted in Asia, Comedy, race, review, sex, television, writing
Tagged 2 Broke Girls, anal, And the Loophole, asian, Beth Behrs, Camille Chen, Caroline, CBS, Dessert Bar, diner, Evie, House of Lies, Kat Dennings, Korean, Max, pork chip, racist, Randy, review, S5E18, sloppy job, Sophie, specials, tuna malt, what did Evie say
So right off the bat, I want to say that Arthur Chu of Jeopardy-winning fame has already done much of the groundwork for me with his [spoiler-filled] article “Not Your Asian Ninja: How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Keeps Failing Asian-Americans“. In it he recounts his primary disappointment with the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil, namely that the Asians presented in that show are generally villains across the board.
Not only are they of an evil persuasion, they’re also, as the title of his piece implies, mostly ninjas. In terms of sheer volume the vast majority of Asians seen on screen during the season’s 13 episodes are that particular brand of martial artist. The rest are, in terms of representation, gangsters, white collar criminals, and crime lords. It is, as Chu says, “Not a good look.”
He picks the Kitchen Irish, a gang of an obvious ethnic background, as his primary example of the show using nuance with a people group. Matthew Murdock, the titular crimefighter himself, is of Irish descent, and another character nicknamed “Grotto” is a former member of the mob who elicits sympathy from both the show’s cast and its audience. While I understand that Irish heritage is unique and distinct from many others, and that people of Irish descent suffered extreme racism in early American history, what shouldn’t be ignored is the fact that on the surface they are White. As are the members of fellow gang the Dogs of Hell. As are Murdock’s friends Karen Page and Foggy Nelson. As is Frank Castle, the Punisher, as well as newspaper editor Mitchell Ellison. Television is full of White people, and with Daredevil being no exception simply stating that there are varied roles within even one subgroup feels like a given.
Unfortunately, Asians fail even when stacked up against other racial minorities. Continue reading
Posted in Asia, comics, crime, race, television, writing
Tagged Arthur Chu, asian, black, Daniel Yang, Daredevil, Dilton, inscrubtable, irish, martial arts, netflix, Ninja, race, racism, Reggie, representation, Riverdale, Ross Butler, stereotype, token, villain, white
In a little bit of a continuation from last week’s review, tonight’s episode could easily be summed up with “Max and Caroline’s friendship is tested very little, and unsurprisingly manages to remain intact.” While that’s par for the course for quite a few episodes along the years, with a bit of a shakeup in their relationship occurring every so often, what’s interesting is the showrunner’s decision to turn to this narrative just as the status quo is reestablished.
Yes, Max and Caroline are back to waitressing at the diner, and almost immediately the impending $250K payday from Caroline selling her movie rights starts being thrown around. The thing is, it immediately starts to collide with the goal of the first few seasons: the girls’ cupcake business. It’s so strange to see that being brought up again, especially when it hasn’t been brought up since Episode 10 of this season [and even then, it was simply to have Max bump into an old friend].
Their cupcake business has played so small a part that when the studio audience gasps in response to Sophie asking Max and Caroline if they “know any bakers” I was initially confused. Why would they be offended by that question? When was the last time they baked anything, let alone sold any baked goods at all? Continue reading
Posted in Comedy, review, television, writing
Tagged 2 Broke Girls, 25 to Life, And the Show and Don't Tell, Beth Behrs, business, Caroline, CBS, dad, Dessert Bar, gender reveal cake, Kat Dennings, Martin Channing, Max, musical, pregnant, prison, review, S5E17, Sophie, Steel Bars, Steven Weber
It seems like a lifetime ago that this blog’s editor and yours truly discussed the question “Why is Christian media so bad?”
Because it is.
Like there are dirty limericks carved into the side of gas station bathrooms with more artistic and spiritual merit, and for anyone who doubts me I’d challenge you to watch God’s Not Dead 2, which premiered on the first of this month.
As much as you might pray otherwise- no, this is not some elaborate April Fool’s trick. This wretched, pandering slog of garbage is absolutely real, the hellspawn of 2014’s disturbingly popular (and obliviously sacrilegious) God’s Not Dead.
Look, as much as I’d like to pour out seven bowls of wrath upon this nasty, ugly product of a nasty, ugly franchise, I’m not going to. There are people who’ve already done so with more eloquence than I could muster, and I legitimately think I’d have a stroke if I tried to convey my repulsive and rage to this unholy dreck. If you’ve got a shred of artistic judgment or basic morality, you can see what makes this movie bad.
So let me ask this instead:
What would a good Christian movie look like?
Here’re some of my ideas-
That Dark Battle
The God’s Not Dead franchise has a habit of using death and disease to hamfistedly make its points. Is the prideful atheist looking down her Ivy-League nose at these simple, humble Christians? Smite her with cancer! Haha! She’s not so high-and-mighty now that she’s facing a slow and painful death! Thanks, God!
Think that’s a bit cruel?
It’s OK! She converted and has been miraculously cured! Because no God-fearing person has ever died of cancer and no atheist has died of anything else!
I **** you not- that happens in the first God’s Not Dead.
Mr. David A.R. White- On behalf of everyone who’s ever lost a loved one to cancer, allow me to say a heartfelt “****. You.”
Posted in art, Christianity, film, media, religion, television, writing
Tagged angels, Bonhoeffer, Christianity, film, Game of Thrones, god's not dead, God's Not Dead 2, humor, James Bond, Kings, morality, movies, preachy, suffering, supernatural, Violence