Tag Archives: AMC

Culture War Correspondence: Censorship

GORDON: Welcome readers to another exciting installment of [redacted], where we’ll be discussing [censored] and the [undisclosed] surrounding it.
(The topic for today is censorship, for anyone baffled by my oh-so-subtle clues…)

While this topic did originate out of Evan’s and my discussion of TV (how we’d deal with rating systems, more specifically) we HAVE touched on this topic before, with our previous discussion of the UK’s automatic porn-block for British ISPs.

KAT: You guys actually included a poll in your discussion on television, too. And while there weren’t an awful lot of votes, it seems like more readers agreed with censoring daytime TV to some degree.

Censorship is such a big topic, but before we go much further, let me get an idea of how you feel about it. Is censorship ever okay? If so when? And by who?

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A Show By Any Other Name Would Be Just A Spin-off

“There is nothing new in art except talent,” words by Anton Chekhov that I was forced to look up because I’ve already cited Ecclesiastes in a prior post. They’re also words that I feel forced to grasp firmly on to as I’m faced with the deluge of television spin-offs soon to flood your televisions and my laptop with more and more of the same. With that being the worst case scenario, of course.

That being said, I’m going to try my best to take the stance I typically take on these sorts of things, which is that ultimately execution trumps everything else. Chances are that you wouldn’t have thought that a movie about a guy with his arm trapped under a rock would be able to hold your attention, but 127 Hours is great. The premise of a work of art does not damn it, though it certainly colours how audiences choose to approach and experience that work. Continue reading

Well, Breaking Bad Ended…

And needless to say, we’re all just sitting around trying to figure where to go from here. Some people are saying we should just start the series over again.

And honestly, that’s not the worst idea in the world. Similar to Arrested Development (excluding the miniseries), there’s a ton of hidden symbolism and foreshadowing that definitely gives the series plenty of rewatch value. Heck- you could just try tracking down the last few stubborn heretics who haven’t seen the show yet and watch them watch it. Which reminds me- anyone who hasn’t seen the finale should probably tune out now. I’m going to try to avoid spoiling anything, but just to be safe, better add CWR to your media blackout for the next 24 hours or so.

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Stay Classy, Comic Book Fans

I don’t necessarily identify as a “nerd” or a “geek,” but I definitely identify as a comic book fan. As such, it hasn’t been hard to notice how I and others like me are stereotyped by popular culture, whether it be Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, Kevin Smith and his pals talking about which superheroine they’d most like to bang on AMC’s Comic Book Men, or the gawking crowd of guys in a particular episode of The Big Bang Theory. These stereotypes, like most, are not as true as people think, but every now and then they ring true, much to the shame of those who share in that group.

ComicBookMovie.com is one of my favourite comic news sites, and one that I check on an almost hourly basis. It’s great because it gives a lot of news about upcoming comic book movies, as well as previews of upcoming comic books. One issue the site has, however, is that all of the content is completely user-generated, meaning that certain things may get to the front page that aren’t exactly high quality stuff.

Take, for example, an article in response to actress Shailene Woodley being cast as Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2, titled “EDITORIAL: Making Shailene Woodley Hot Enough To Play MJ In TASM 2.”

As a little bit of context, the first shots of Woodley as MJ were not met with a great deal of enthusiasm. They depicted what appeared to be a very plain-looking redheaded girl, and not one who was anything like the “super-hot, incredibly bone-able character from the comics,” to quote the CBM contributor Mark “RorMachine” Cassidy. Below is an image I took from the article which shows Woodley side by side with a very popular image of the comic book character.

Upon skimming this article I was disgusted. The four areas that Woodley could work on in her portrayal were listed as “TITS,” “FACE,” “HAIR,” “ASS,” and “ACTING ABILITY,” in that order. I’m going to pull the first, and most offensive, of the paragraphs out to explain exactly why I was so repulsed:

TITS:

Look at the pic – comic MJ has lovely big disproportionate ones, Woodley doesn’t. Now obviously surgery would be the best route, but that’s highly unlikely so I recommend padding. It’s very simple, just stick a stuffed Wonderbra on the chick, and any scenes requiring actual semi or full (hey, we can hope!) nudity can utilize CGI! It’s a magical age for cinema folks.

To help restore your faith in humanity the article was met by others who were just as offended as I was:

I’m not sure if it was present the first time I skimmed it, but posted at the very bottom was the following note by Cassidy:

NOTE: This article is meant as satire. It’s a response to the – genuine – backlash Miss Woodley received when she was cast in the movie, and then again when set images of her were posted online. No offence to Miss Woodley or anyone else is meant, and I (meaning me, and not the absurd persona I wrote the article as!) genuinely think she is a beautiful, talented actress who will do a great job as MJ 

As is the case with the internet, users popped up to comment and agree that clearly this was satirical, and began waging war with those who were “making too big a deal out of it.” Then, over on CinemaBlend, Katey Rich wrote an article in response titled “If You Think Shailene Woodley Isn’t Pretty Enough For The Amazing Spider-Man 2, You Don’t Deserve The Movie.”

In it she decries the shallowness of complaining an actress isn’t “hot enough,” using some very choice words to address realistic beauty. Rich exhibits just as much, if not more, disgust at the article, but more importantly addresses the topic of Cassidy’s article being a satire. She claims, and rightly so, that:

The “satire” was so close to the real thing that most of [CBM’s] commenters didn’t get the difference, and reading it makes your skin crawl because you just know that’s exactly how a strong handful of fanboys feel, no irony intended.

Thankfully, and again, people restoring your faith in humanity, another contributor named “Jack Sparrow” [in quotes because I’m fairly sure that’s not his real name] posted on the site featuring Rich’s rebuttal to the offensive editorial. He essentially agrees with her, summing up why it can’t truly be seen as satire, but more important he apologizes:

We are sorry, Shailene Woodley. We are sorry, comic book fangirls. We are sorry, women that came across Mark “RorMachine” Cassidy’s “satire”. He doesn’t speak for all of us.

We are not all mysoginistic pigs. And in the light of the recent The Amazing Spider-Man 2 announcements, I couldn’t be more excited to watch Shailene Woodley start her journey to bring Mary Jane Watson to life.

I’m mildly excited about TASM2 [I’m way more pumped for this May’s Iron Man 3], and at this point I don’t have any solid opinions on Shailene Woodsley being the girl to deliver the classic line “Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot!” [or some variation thereof]. What’s more important to me is that, as the title of this post suggests, comic book fans stay classy. That the people who love this medium as much as I do conduct themselves in a manner that’s, at best, not reprehensible. The public has a general view of what comic book fans are supposed to be like, and it doesn’t benefit anyone to play to that stereotype even in jest.

Stay classy, comic book fans. I mean it.

Shame Day: Porn and Racism

Let’s be honest, porn is not the highest art form to begin with. That being said, it’s 2013, people. It is the 21st century and I expect better from all of us, even those in San Fernando Valley [lovingly dubbed “Porn Valley” by those in the industry].

glenntwdNow, I’m going to assume that most of you are familiar with AMC’s The Walking Dead [I’d be surprised if you weren’t, really]. If not, what you need to know is that it features among its core cast Glenn, who is played by Korean-American Steven Yeun]. A cast member of the original comic book series, Glenn makes his entrance by saving Rick, the protagonist of the series, and goes on to be an all-around successful human being [which, in a zombie apocalypse, equates to being a badass]. So that’s what you have to know about that.

What you also have to know, if you weren’t aware, is that porn studios churn out parodies like nobody’s business. They’ve parodied everything from beloved childhood cartoons [The Flintstones: A XXX Parody] to a 1976 DC/Marvel comic books crossover event [Superman vs Spider-Man XXX: An Axel Braun Parody]; nothing is sacred. It should come as no surprise, then, when they decided to take a stab at adapting AMC’s The Walking Dead [if you watch it, you’d know why I have to write it out like that].

Porn star Danny Wylde was cast to play Glenn in the as-of-yet untitled film. In it, he will be appearing as follows:

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Slavery and Movies

I recently had a chance to see The Man with the Iron Fists, a gritty Kung-Fu-Spaghetti-Western-70s-Exploitation mash-up film presented (of course) by Quentin Tarantino. I say presented by Tarantino; the creation of the film itself is owed largely to The RZA of the former (and still awesome) Wu-Tang Clan. In addition to co-writing and directing the film, the RZA stars in the epic slug-fest itself, serving as the narrator and titular character.

Now I went into this film simply suspending my disbelief. I assumed all the nonsensical elements in the film would simply be loving jabs at the old-school kung-fu and action movies that Tarantino and Roth grew up on. That’s why Russel Crowe’s character has a gun-scissor-knife weapon, or why (and here’s the big thing) the blacksmith in this fictional Chinese village is black. Much to my surprise however, the movie began offering explanations (though not to the gun-scissor-knife). The blacksmith is, in a flashback, shown having grown up on a plantation and receiving his freedom from his dying master. Despite having papers declaring him a free man, he is continually treated as a slave- in one scene he is told by a couple of dandies that there’s no way he can read, and therefore understand what’s written on his documents. The two men crumple up his paper and proceed to slur and shove him until he fights back, inadvertently killing one of them. He flees west, and after his ship is wrecked, finds himself in China.

Now obviously that whole last bit about him running so far he winds up in the far east is obviously just the movie shifting back into fantasy, but what really got me was the depiction of slavery. Not prejudice, not segregation- slavery. When’s the last time you can actually say you saw a film deal with that? Glory in 1989? Some Little House on the Prairie episode sometime in the 70s? It simply isn’t done (and that one episode of The Boondocks doesn’t count).

And that’s what I want to talk about. Our depiction, or lack of depiction, of slavery. For all our grand talk of freedom, liberty, and American “exceptionalism,” we do tend to gloss over the uglier elements of our history, such as Manzanar, Wounded Knee, and perhaps most notably, slavery. It brings up all sorts of uncomfortable, and frankly unresolved conflicts. It throws a dark shadow over all of our self-reported greatness. Nevertheless, we really can’t shove it under the carpet, and it looks like, at long last, it’s starting to all come out.

AMC’s Hell on Wheels takes place during the years following the close of the Civil War, and like The Man with the Iron Fists is one of the few depictions of slavery I’ve ever seen on film or TV. In addition to its frank depiction of slavery, I want to take a moment to give the show some applause for the historical accuracy it had in general, depicting Northern racism towards the ex-slaves, as well as the racism inflicted to (and by) the Irish immigrants- another nasty little thread in American heritage you won’t find in most history books.

Of course, beyond that, there’s the highly anticipated Tarantino film Django Unchained, which we’re all expecting to be jaw-dropping in how good or bad it turns out to be. Unlike the previous two examples, which depicted slavery only briefly, this is a movie set completely in the antebellum South. That’s another hefty jump, though again, how well this is going to be executed is still very much up in air.

Now I’ve been struggling all night to come up with a conclusion for all of this, but I’m really not sure what to say. I can’t say why we’re suddenly interested in a subject we’ve been ignoring for the past century and a half. I can’t quite figure out if this is some little trend or the awakening of some part of our culture that’s been dormant so long we’ve forgotten it. I can’t pinpoint what’s causing this. I can’t tell you where it’s all going. I can tell you, however, where I hope it goes.

I hope this is the beginning of something that might pass for maturity in our culture or our generation. I hope that movies depicting the reality of slavery become a thing. I hope that they open up the doors for the rest of our small-pox-infected, witch-burning, Japanese-interning, waterboarding history. I hope we can actually learn something from all of this once it’s out there, and hey, maybe we can actually get some racial diversity in our movies for a change.

Maybe.

P.S. I haven’t seen Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter or Lincoln yet, so I can’t say how they deal with it in there.