Tag Archives: Star Wars

How Marvel Ruined The Movies

Over the past decade, we’ve been witness to something unprecedented in the history of film: the rise of the cinematic universe.

Pioneered by Marvel with their ever-expanding Avengers universe, this innovative and impressive model has been swiftly copied by others, and we’re already seeing attempts at DC’s Justice League universe, an expanded Star Wars, and even Harry Potter. While the success has certainly been varied, it would seem the standard is here to stay.

And here’re the reasons why that sucks.

Bigger Audiences Don’t Mean Better Movies

And while that goes without saying, the issue becomes especially apparent when movies become global phenomena in the way the MCU has become.

In his posts about the whitewashing of Doctor Strange, Evan brought up the case of film-critic-turned-writer C. Robert Cargill. In a podcast, Cargill discussed the whitewashing of “The Ancient One” and how the character of an old man from the Himalayas got turned into middle-aged woman from Scotland.

“The Ancient One… 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 [Chinese] people who think that that’s bullshit…”

-C. Robert Cargill, Double Toasted Podcast

While my co-author pointed out that the character of The Ancient One was set in Nepal, not Tibet, and while Cargill swiftly clarified that these were his thoughts, not Marvel’s, I do think he’s got a point. China has become a major consumer of western films, and the effects of that are already apparent.

2014’s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction surpassed Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar in Chinese theaters, and presently stands as the 4th highest-grossing film in the nation.

“The long and the short of it: Bay made a movie set and filmed in China, starring Chinese actors, using Chinese resources and pushing Chinese products, and in exchange, the movie gets a timely premiere across the country’s 18,000-plus movie screens.”

Nash Jenkins, TIME Magazine, 2014

The remake of Red Dawn, originally based on the idea of a Chinese invasion of the US, was hastily changed to cast North Korea as the principal villain for fear of offending Chinese viewers. Because the US getting conquered by a country smaller than the state of Louisiana is somehow believable.

tewaame

Now that’s not to say that Red Dawn would’ve been a good movie otherwise (it wouldn’t have)- just that it was made even more stupid in a greedy effort to rake in more cash. While we certainly didn’t lose a cinema classic in catering to political correctness, it does set a disturbing precedent for the future. Will films purposefully cut reference to Tibet, Taiwan, or the Uighurs? Will China’s despicable record on human rights and the environment be glossed over for box office sales?

And they’re not the only problem. Continue reading

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In With the Old [And In With the New]: The Silver Lining of Intertextuality

Last Friday I asked you all to watch a short video on the concept of intertextuality, which provides the basis for this week’s post.

While Nerdwriter1, the YouTuber responsible, initially describes the device as “something in a text, in this case a movie, that is shaped by another text” he later goes a step further in making the term distinct from mere allusion. Contemporary intertextuality, which he refers to as being “weaponized”, is defined as:

“objects, people or situations explicitly meant to trigger an emotional response”

To use my own visual example, successful intertextuality results in a combination of:

and

Being able to recognize and understand the reference is important, but equally essential is having that recognization elicit feelings, whether they be of awe, or joy, or pleasant surprise. Simply identifying a shot in a film as the replication of a comic book panel matters most if you care[d] about that original work. Continue reading

How Hollywood is Foretelling the Future While Still Falling on the Wrong Side of History

No one wants to be “on the wrong side of history”.

No one wants to be wrong, period, and even those of us who raise their hackles at being described as “progressive” fear that those words, when leveled against them, might come true. To hear that phrase is to be threatened, told that you’re a dinosaur; except without any of the perks like monstrous size and claws and teeth, more the being pushed out by newer lifeforms and soon to be extinct. The message is, essentially, to keep up or be left behind.

To be asked whether you want to be “on the wrong side of history” is only hypothetical as far as what your choice will be. That the world will actually be changing is not the question; it’s being stated as a direct fact.

Almost two years ago to the day I wrote about film producer Avi Arad, who has been responsible for the past five [an absurd amount even for me, who considers him my favourite superhero] Spider-Man films. In particular I called attention to his response regarding whether the White Peter Parker would always be the one donning the webbed tights [“Absolutely”] and his response to whether or not the lack of diversity in comic book movies an issue [emphasis mine]:

“But I think we are finally becoming more of one world, and you’re going to see more and more diversity in the selection of characters. [. . .] It’s all going to change. I think sometimes we consciously look at it. We would love to have a superhero, we would love Marvel to create a superhero — We can create villains, but we’d love to have a Chinese superhero with something that is really interesting and how they got here, and what is their issue, and so on. But it’s coming. And it’s inevitable. It’s really inevitable. But it didn’t come naturally to comics in the days that no one was aware that there were actually other countries and other people.

aviaradkenjenningsI prefaced that article with a short bit of fiction in which Arad awakens in a cold sweat, realizing that the world he had once foretold had finally come to pass. By saying that these changes are “inevitable” he acknowledges that they are the impending future. By stating in direct terms that as long as he’s involved Spider-Man will never be Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino teen who has carried the title for years now, he both outlines the two camps [those who will, and won’t, be on the wrong side of history] and which side he will find himself in. Continue reading

In The Force Awakens White Women get Representation, but Black Women get CGI

I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I loved it so much that the first thing I thought about doing when I walked out of the theatre was hash out everything that this Star Wars reboot had done right.

Like including legitimately humorous dialogue rather than slapstick CGI sidekicks.

Unfortunately, everyone on the blogosphere had already come to the same conclusion long before I was back from my Christmas break. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about the film, or reading articles about it. So I’ve decided to write about one of the few things that bothered me about the film, rather than many aspects of the film that I loved.

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you probably already know that we at CWR were excited to hear about the diversity of casting in The Force Awakens.

I was especially excited when I heard that Lupita Nyong’o had been cast. Ever since she won best supporting actress for 12 Years a Slave and was declared the most beautiful person of 2014 by People magazine, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for Nyong’o. After witnessing her sudden rise to fame, I was curious to see if she would continue to find roles in major films, or if she would slowly be pushed out of Hollywood because of her dark skin. As Gregg Kilday explains in his article about Nyong’o, few black actresses have ever managed to secure a spot as a permanent Hollywood heavyweight:

While the stage would appear to be set for [Nyong’o] to ascend to the A-list — just as Jennifer Lawrence did after her best actress win for Silver Linings Playbook last year — it’s not that simple. For while there have been a handful of African-American actors, from Sidney Poitier to Eddie MurphyDenzel Washington and Will Smith, who have reached that status, there’s never been a black actress who has become the equivalent of a Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie. Whoopi Goldberg came closest, following her best actress Oscar nomination for 1985’s The Color Purple and supporting actress win for 1990’s Ghost, but despite an occasional hit like 1992’s Sister Act, she didn’t maintain that momentum. Hollywood also flirted with Angela Bassett, Thandie Newton, Halle Berry and, most recently, Mandela‘s Naomie Harris, without ushering any of them into its very top tier.

It seems like a habit for major blockbuster films to tick off their diversity checklist by casting a white woman and/or a black man. Meanwhile, actors from other minority groups, especially women of colour, get overlooked because all the non-white, male roles have already been taken. As Evan pointed out in his post about the Martian and racebending, this seems to be the impulse, even when it means casting a white women to play a Korean- American character and a black man to play an Asian- Indian character. Continue reading

Considering Star Wars: The Force Awakens [Or: Just Another Drop in The Bucket]

As I plainly state in the alternate title to this post, everyone and their [tenuously and amusingly connected other person] has been raving about the trailer that dropped about a week ago for the latest upcoming film in the Star Wars franchise. If, for some reason, you haven’t seen it, here it is:

Since April 16th we have had eight days for the internet to collectively lose their minds over it. Generally in the positive way one does such a thing. I don’t typically like to follow up one YouTube video with another, but this very clever mashup that went viral soon afterwards sums it up a little too well:

Long story short, people are excited. Not even just excited, but actually and honestly emotional about this upcoming film. My Facebook feed was awash with friends raising the hype to what looked like unsustainable levels, yet I can see it only building in fervour the closer we get to December 18th of this year. Don’t get me wrong, I am also looking forward to it, but I’m tempering my enthusiasm for a number of reasons. Continue reading

Fame Day: Sir Patrick Stewart

There are just so many reasons to love Sir Patrick Stewart.

He gets into the Halloween spirit, for one.

Continue reading

Evan and Gordon Talk: Fan Fiction

GORDON: A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, it was suggested that Evan and I discuss fan fiction and its merits (or lack thereof).

Now I’m going to jump right into things by saying that not only do I not believe fan fiction is good, I do not feel it has the capacity to ever be so.

EVAN: Okay. Why? Continue reading