Asian Comic Book Fan Watches Doctor Strange with Low Expectations of Racial Representation, Is Unsurprised but Writes Blog Post Anyway

This is the second part of a series I began almost exactly three years ago with “Asian Comic Book Fan Watches Thor: The Dark World Expecting Racial Representation, Deals with Crushing Disappointment by Writing Blog Post“. The Marvel sequel in question sidelined Hogun, played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, almost completely, and as the title of the blog post would suggest I had been very excited to see him again.

I can’t not use this image again, it’s just too perfect. Source: platoapproved.tumblr.com

With Doctor Strange, on the other hand, that anticipation was not present at all. Last June I covered the news that Tilda Swinton was in talks to play the Ancient One, the title character’s mentor, in “Celebrity Blind Spots and Fixing Racist Narratives [By Making Everyone White]“. The gist of that post was how, in an effort to be more “progressive” filmmakers have been choosing to “fix” problematic minority characters by simply casting them with White talent. That’s as opposed to simply amending what made them so racist and stereotypical to begin with.

At that point in 2015 Swinton starring in the film had not yet been confirmed, and absolutely nothing had been mentioned about the character of Wong, Doctor Strange’s manservant in the source material. With Benedict Cumberbatch already locked into the role it was a magical time in which there was still the possibility of Marvel releasing a movie with two prominent Asian characters.

Look, my hopes were never particularly high that Swinton wouldn’t land the part. As soon as it was announced she was in talks for the role support began pouring in. That she was a woman in her 50s in a genre that has helped shine a spotlight on men of all ages and women of a very particular age was laudable to many. The thing is, the optics are so bad.

twowhiteys Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E5 “And the College Experience”: A TV Review

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I am invested in Max and Caroline’s relationship.

While it’s no secret that reviewing 2 Broke Girls is far from my favourite task for the week, I do care about how the show deals with the pair at its core. Strongly in its favour is the fact that the conflict that tends to arise between people of vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds is literally the premise of my favourite Arthur episode. For as much as this CBS sitcom is built on the friendship Max and Caroline share, what actually keeps both it and the narrative moving forward is the two butting heads. That said, what difference arises between the two titular leads this week?

Caroline doesn’t like having fun.

Which, to be fair, is sort of true. A much more accurate statement might be: Caroline doesn’t like having fun compared to Max. Though even then the definition of fun would need to be reduced to general debauchery [drinking, drugs, premarital sex, the sorts of activities your parents didn’t want you doing in your teens]. Having just typed out that stipulation it still doesn’t feel entirely accurate, since just last season we had the former heiress knocking back multiple tiny bottles of hotel liquor. Just trying to lay out the conflict in this episode is proving really difficult and I’m not even 300 words into this review.  Continue reading

Will You Really Be Afraid This Halloween?

‘Tis the season to be afraid.

That’s the whole point of the tail end of October, isn’t it?

Just last night I went to Canada’s Wonderland to experience their Halloween Haunt event for the first time ever. As one might assume from its name, the amusement park sets up a number of “Haunted Attractions” which feature such individuals as-

-this lovely couple-

-who stand just out of sight waiting to step out of the shadows and shriek inches from behind your head. Their co-workers also stalk the areas outside, lunging at unsuspecting attendees just trying to get to the next thing before the park closes at midnight. Also included in the event are the rides, which likewise draw crowds looking to be terrified, though in this case by great heights and breathtaking falls [I’m looking at you, Drop Zone {I know it was renamed, but you don’t see me calling the Skydome the Rogers Centre}].

What I’m sure reads very much like an ad for Halloween Haunt 2016 at Canada’s Wonderland aside, that entire evening had me thinking long and hard about fear.  Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E4 “And the Stepmama Drama”: A TV Review

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First thing’s first, I’d like to apologize for how poor the quality of these header images has been lately. For some reason the 2 Broke Girls photos page on the CBS site hasn’t uploaded any new preview galleries since the premiere, so here we are, having to screenshot teasers on YouTube.

With that out of the way, this episode bears the distinction of having the A-plot revolve around characters who aren’t Max and Caroline. Instead the primary conflict revolves around the baptism of Sophie and Oleg’s daughter Barbara. In particular Oleg’s mother, Olga [Mercedes Ruehl], who deems the titular duo as being unfit godparents, which really complicates the ceremony actually taking place.

So little actually ends up happening that the twenty-some minutes feel shorter than most weeks. Given that Earl is a Universal Life minister the diner gang decides to do the baptism in secret, which leads to the brief diversion of Caroline stealing holy water from the church. After the christening Olga appears, is angry for half a second, and ultimately blesses her son and accepts her daughter-in-law.

Having summed up “And the Godmama Drama” what more is there to say in this review? Continue reading

NEON: A Short Film Review

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In a grim and rain-soaked city, what begins as a couple’s phone conversation swiftly becomes a desperate negotiation for their future. NEON plunges us headfirst into a world of quiet desperation as we watch one man’s desperate bid for his own future against powers beyond our comprehension.

Or perhaps even a universe beyond our comprehension.

Director Mark J. Blackman (along with his team) makes spectacular use of special effects to give us a throbbing, vibrant world. Gorgeous panoramas of storm clouds and cityscapes, decrepit warehouses, and lonely streets all serve to make the setting as dynamic and alive as any of the film’s characters. Hell, based on a few of the clues dropped throughout the film, that might even be the case; the sometimes-indifferent, sometimes-capricious backdrop serving as a stand-in for the unnamed antagonists in play. Continue reading

Re: “Black Lives Matter and White Privilege”

I need to state upfront that this post is not an all-encompassing response to the Black Lives Matter movement [which I will be shortening to “BLM”] and the concept of White privilege. The title instead refers to a blog post titled “Black Lives Matter and White Privilege”. Written by Ghanaian-Canadian Samuel Sey and appearing on his site Slow to Write, the article delved into his opinions on both topics.

Regular readers of the blog will know that I don’t often respond to other blog posts in this manner; the last time I did so was back in 2014, to the article “Meet The Poster Child For ‘White Privilege’ – Then Have Your Mind Blown”. I wasn’t able to read it without addressing, and outright dismantling, many of the arguments presented, and having read Sey’s post I found myself in a similar position.

It should be mentioned that Sey and I have vastly more in common with one another than I do with Tal Fortgang, the writer of the aforementioned article. He is a fellow Canadian, POC, and Christian, actually attending a church in Toronto [although he lives just outside it]. Sey and I also, and I believe I can say this with confidence, care about the wellbeing of the Black community in North America. With all of those similarities in place it made it that much more difficult to read his post and find myself disagreeing with so many key points. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E3 “And the 80’s Movie”: A TV Review

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Even given the premiere’s botched opening it’s still a bit surprising that we return to see Max and Caroline’s Dessert Bar as having been open for a full week. As the girls’ most recent attempt at finally making it big I expected there to be more excitement surrounding it, yet we find that they’re still working at the diner due to their business having trouble taking off.

It’s strange to type the words “still working at the diner” since that’s such a core aspect of the show. All of CBS’s promotional material for 2 Broke Girls has them wearing their waitress uniforms and at this point doing away with them would be like having Howard Wolowitz in anything other than a turtleneck, or Barney Stinson without a suit. The fact that the premiere would even tease them leaving their mustard yellow threads behind  was jarring enough, however shortlived it was. Having them hint at moving away from the status quo in consecutive episodes may just be a coincidence, but if it shows up again next Monday something has to be up. It’s not to say that I expect the show to make any drastic moves right out the gate, but there does appear to be a testing of the waters.

All that being said, the A-plot of “And the 80’s Movie” isn’t anything to write home about. Seeking upscale clientele for the Dessert Bar they hit up the chicest spot in Williamsburg where they’re bound to find “models, gays, rich guys that want to have sex with models . . . and gays.” While Caroline starts rubbing shoulders with the aforementioned Max find a kindred spirit in a snarky female bouncer. This in turn leads to said bouncer showing up to the Dessert Bar with a crowd of rowdy, boisterous women who also happen to be members of NYC’s Elite Ladies’ Underground Arm Wrestling . . . Association [I’m not sure what the group is officially titled, they never say]. This of course is the opposite of what they wanted, and it’s up to them to figure out how to get them out of there. Continue reading