Tag Archives: argument

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 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

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One of the Reasons Our Guest Writer Left Facebook: Not-Quite-A-Counterpoint About Online Opinions

We, and I speak for both Gordon and Kat when I say this, don’t often reference our guest posts, as much as we appreciate them. A large factor may be because any responses or rebuttals from the writers to our commentary, though welcomed [we’ve had our own back-and-forths before], are less likely to be written and featured . The reason I open with that is because of Casey Bennet’s post titled “Why I Left Facebook“, which was one of the inspirations for this post as well as being an article I didn’t like very much initially.

SHRUG

The reason for that was I felt it read more like a list of complaints, many of which could be applied to regular human behaviour.

To give credit where it’s due, he addresses any potential criticism
in his penultimate section “Life After Facebook“. Bennet states outright that many of the factors to him leaving “could have been avoided”; that he could have maintained his Facebook feed in a way that let him “[filter] out negativity and [focus] on what was actually beneficial.” He also points out that if that work is too much for you then it might not be worth, which is likewise extremely valid.

Of Bennet’s grievances against the social media platform what I’d like to focus on is the first, the very to-the-point “Opinions“.  Continue reading

Hulu: The Greatest Argument For Piracy I’ve Ever Seen

I should probably state two things right off the bat, just to set the stage. The first is that editing anything, whether it be a weekly all-comics print publication or a blog that floats a measly few thousand views a week [not a humblebrag, I know what good site traffic is], is difficult. The second is that I consider fellow Culture War Reporter Gordon one of my best friends on this planet. It’s for those two reasons that I find covering the issue of piracy, of the copyright infringement variety, so harrowing.

In writing this post I forced myself to do my due diligence and read over my co-writer’s others two articles concerning the topic, and it was truly an ordeal. While in his first there are some fairly reasonable assertions like “Some People Will Never Buy” they’re coupled with others like “Anti-Piracy Hurts the Environment”, a point that ignores outlets like Netflix and other similar legal streaming services that harm God’s green earth just as much as The Pirate Bay. The second covered the “Vindication of Piracy” predicated on an article published by the BBC. All I have to say about that is . . . covered in the lengthy comment I left on that very post, if you’d like to check it out on your own.

As you should be able to tell based on how the above paragraphs are written, I feel very strongly about this. Which should make it particularly notable when I say that due to recent events in the past week I almost agree with Gordon.angrymanfist-2400px copy

And it’s all because of Hulu.

Hulu is the most compelling argument I have ever come across that piracy is both legitimate and possibly even necessary.

Now it’s going to look like I’m talking down to you, but I just want to make everything as clear as possible.

When we watch TV we are bombarded by commercials because the networks need money [as we all do] to survive. Some of that money makes its way to showrunners and the like, and the more successful their programs are the more money, ostensibly, the network will give them, because you want to spend money on that which makes you money. Hulu is an American streaming service that allowed you to watch TV shows the day after they aired, but had them accompanied by ads, for obvious aforementioned reasons. Continue reading

When Is A Good Deed Not A Good Deed? [When Taylor Swift Does It]

Post four about Taylor Swift. How on earth did we get here? I suppose it’s because, for better or for worse, she’s managed to attain the kind of pop culture prevalence and staying power which has resulted in my writing:

Which brings us to this Friday, three days after the artist donated $1,989 to a fan to help her pay off her student loans.

Click the image to be linked to the tumblr post cataloguing the full gift-opening.

The fan in question, Rebekah Bortnicker, created a video which she posted to tumblr, and which I’m half-watching as I write this. It’s actually pretty great. You know what else is actually pretty great, though? The way that some people have been reacting to this news, like nicole and Angela in the comments section of the People article I linked to up above:

thanksnicole

thanksangela

Continue reading