It’s the Year of Our Lord 2019 and storytelling is still important. In some cases the stories are the same, like the age-old tale of good triumphing over evil, but they’re being delivered in increasingly more novel ways. Comics are drawn and fan fiction is written and YouTube sketches are filmed, and sometimes the collaborators aren’t even in the same city, let alone country. In other cases the stories, while nothing new, are finally being given the opportunity to be told. The idea of finding yourself isn’t an original one, but the narrative of coming out as gay or lesbian or transgender or any other identity has only recently found a foothold in popular media.
Storytelling and identity are crucial building blocks to our culture, and both are heavily intertwined (as are all things, these days) with the internet (it would be remiss of me not to mention that I chose to do so in a podcast I co-hosted). This is certainly as true for a multi-award-winning online first-person shooter as it is for a series of books that wrapped up a dozen years ago. The Overwatch and Harry Potter universes are like ours in that they are populated by a myriad of different characters, some straight and some LGBT+, but I want to delve into how the similarities, and ultimately the differences, of their respective coming out stories (in both cases the term “coming out” feels accurate, as none of the characters discussed were initially introduced as being anything other than straight).
“Yer a Gay Man, Dumbledore”
Before touching on her approach to revealing one of her characters’ sexual orientations, it’s worth making note of how the billionaire author has reentered our collective conversation. Two years ago a BuzzFeed writer was one of the first to report on a shocking revelation found on Pottermore, a site Rowling created for her legion of fans to learn more about the Wizarding World. Most people online will have come across this by now, but the page in question was about the Chamber of Secrets, and explained that wizards once vanished their excrement in lieu of using toilets. It resulted in one of my favourite Tumblr posts:
The user has since deleted their blog, so no direct link, sorry!
Posted in internet, lgbt, literature, relationships, video games, writing
Tagged Ana, Bastet, Blizzard, books, comics, coming out, Dumbledore, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, gay, Grindelwald, Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, lesbian, lgbt, Michael Chu, Overwatch, Pottermore, queer, Reflections, Soldier: 76, Tracer, Twitter, video games, writing
Way back in early 2012 I posted a three-part series about two sitcoms that had premiered the previous fall. Covering 2 Broke Girls‘ and New Girl‘s respective casts, styles of humour, and approaches to race, these posts exist as a window into their first seasons as well as an unfortunate snapshot of some embarrassingly unrefined writing from yours truly [with some unrefined opinions as well, as my perspective on Morgan Freeman and Black History Month has certainly shifted since then].
All credit where it’s due, both have come a long way since their inceptions, and in generally positive ways. While not shying away from their trademark “classy-dirty” style of comedy, 2 Broke Girls eased off of the racist humour and began giving their secondary cast members more screen time and character development. New Girl had Hannah Simon’s Cece join the primary cast, with Damon Wayans Jr. even returning for a lengthy stint after his departure following the pilot. I feel fairly confident in saying that neither show every truly dipped in quality, which is saying a lot for the medium and genre they share. I would even go so far as to say that both managed to improve with each passing season.
Now, in 2017, there were a few weeks where the fate of these two sitcoms was in question. To address them consecutively…
2 Networkless Girls?
After months of reviews in which I mused on the future of the show I finally penned a post in April asking “Is 2 Broke Girls Cancelled?”. It has since garnered more comments than anything else on this blog. In it I catalogued what the creators and industry insiders had to say about its future, as well as my personal opinion as someone who has reviewed 101 episodes of the show. I felt like, as someone who stuck with 2 Broke Girls longer than the contributors to its very own wiki even did I was allowed some say.
It was Deadline that pulled back the curtain on the fact that CBS was airing a sitcom that was produced for Warner Bros. That same outlet also broke the news that the network had axed 2 Broke Girls. CBS scheduling director Kelly Kahl is quoted as saying that, as far as she knows:
“it was a creative decision more than anything else. It was not a show we own but we picked up (new comedy series Me, Myself & I and By The Book) from Warner Bros. So I don’t think it was a business decision, I think it was creatively we felt it was time.”
It’s noted that the show made Warner Bros. a very significant amount of money per episode. In spite of being a key players in their weekday lineup, CBS appears to be searching for something else they can wholly own, distribute, and profit from. Kahl even says in the same breath as “was not a show [they owned]” that it was “a creative decision”, but as with all art it comes down to profits. Continue reading
Posted in Comedy, relationships, television, writing
Tagged 2 Broke Girls, Beth Behrs, cancellation, CBS, comedy, Fox, Kat Dennings, New Girl, relationship, renewal, Renewed, reviews, sitcom, TV, writing
This is short [and quite late] even as “For Your Consideration” posts go. While past instances have been particularly research heavy, this installment really leans into the gist of those three words. I’m here to present all of you nice people with a little something to ruminate on, and this time I don’t even have a particular stance on it myself.
Jeremy Whitley is a comic book writer that Marvel appears to be actively grooming, and who I first read due to his penning one of a handful of short stories in the Secret Wars: Secret Love one-shot [a truly excellent Danny/Misty Knight romance].
Secret Wars: Secret Love – “Misty and Danny Forever”. Written by Jeremy Whitley, illustrated by Gurihiru.
Since then he’s also written a tie-in issue of Champions, and is currently on the ongoing The Unstoppable Wasp as well as responsible for another upcoming event one-shot [this time for the summer’s Secret Empire]. Suffice to say, Whitley is swiftly making a name for himself at one of the two largest publishers in the industry.
What he was once primarily known for, and which I’m positive he’s very proud of, is Princeless. Starting back in 2012, the all-ages series has released six volumes and been nominated for two Eisner awards. What’s particularly notable is how he has in part been writing the book for his daughter, with the following interview answer explaining a lot about the title hero’s character design:
“My daughter is black and while I encourage her to look for role models of all colors, girls need to be able to see girls that are like themselves in media. They need it even more when it comes to seeing them portrayed with strength. And, unfortunately, I think that’s sort of a symptom of this exclusionary tendency in the self-professed nerd culture circles. I would love nothing more than to change that culture, but barring that, I’ll help create another one.”
With that in mind it should be of no surprise whatsoever that Whitley is very concerned about diversity and representation in media, and has made a concerted effort to include that in all of his books.
Now to get to the actual meat of this post, I began following him on tumblr not too long ago where he’s very active in engaging with his fans. It was a couple of weeks back that I came across the following exchange between Whitley and two such comic readers:
Posted in comics, internet, lgbt, race, television, writing
Tagged asian, Bury Your Gays, comic books, conflict, death, drama, Glenn, happiness, happy, Jeremy Whitley, lgbt, LLAG, plot armor, Princeless, The Walking Dead, tragedy, Whitley, writing
So first thing’s first, and just because it’s the first thing you see when you open up one of these reviews, the header image is very clearly of subpar quality. The best I could find as far as promos was this one video on YouTube which, as you can see, isn’t great. I’ll try to to step it up moving forward but I can only really work with what’s available.
Given that this week’s episode actually fell on my birthday I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Were my expectations made that much lower due to my having to watch and review it when I could be doing almost anything else? Or were they perhaps on the higher end due to last week’s surprisingly decent installment? Regardless of where my expectations actually ended up falling, 2 Broke Girls served up a decent enough episode that more importantly continues to keep things fresh.
The highlight of “And the Rom-Commie” was the decision to pair Oleg and Han together, a coupling that ended up paying off surprising comedic dividends. While I don’t think that Matthew Moy deserves all the credit for how enjoyable the show has been lately, his performance opposite Kat Dennings is what I want to shine a spotlight on this time around. While his cherubic looks and high-pitched voice have more often than not been openly mocked, which in turn helps perpetuate the stereotype of the effete, sexless Asian man, they also end up adding a genuinely funny mischievous quality to his performance in “And the Sophie Doll”. Continue reading
Posted in Comedy, review, television, writing
Tagged 2 Broke Girls, acting, And the Sophie Doll, baby, Barbara, bartending class, Beth Behrs, Caroline, CBS, characters, Dessert Bar, French Stewart, Gil Bronski, Han, Jonathan Kite, Kat Dennings, Matthew Moy, Max, Oleg, performance, review, S6E7, Sophie, timeline, writing
Even though I wrote a little over a thousand words last week on my experiences with Doctor Strange [required reading for this blog post] there were a couple of additional criticisms I wanted to level against both that specific film and the industry as a whole. While I covered pretty thoroughly how Asians were poorly represented in Marvel Studio’s latest offering, what I didn’t really touch on was why.
When Diversity Means Painting With All the Colour of the Wind
In the months leading up to the release of Doctor Strange the conversation about the Ancient One’s casting began heating up. With mainstream news outlets picking up on the controversy there were many waiting to hear from the creators themselves, which brings us to the episode of the Double Toasted podcast that guest starred screenwriter C. Robert Cargill.
While his explanations regarding the character have since been championed by those defending the casting decision, even after his rescinding all comments made, and in spite of them being refuted by others, in particular by Shaun of the No, Totally! podcast, what I want to focus on are what he says right after that:
Now if you don’t want to actually listen to him, which I find perfectly understandable, I’ve also transcribed the relevant quote [emphasis added]:
“But when you start to see this film you’ll see that what we were able to do with Kamar-Taj, we made one of the most multicultural films most people have seen in years. Like this film is [. . .] I’m not certain that there’s a single major race that isn’t represented with a speaking role in this film. It allowed us to bring in, even as small characters to build upon later, a lot of characters from the Doctor Strange universe who come from all over the world. We were able to play with a lot of things and it gave us a lot to work with.”
Posted in Asia, film, race, television, writing
Tagged accessible, Ancient One, Asia, asian, authentic, Big Hero 6, black, C. Robert Cargill, casting, Cheo Hodari Coker, Danny Rand, diversity, Doctor Strange, film, Finn Jones, Iron Fist, Japanese, K'un-Lun, Kamar-Taj, Luke Cage, netflix, race, representation, San Fransokyo, Scott Derrickson, screenwriter, showrunner, stereotyping, television, TV, writer, writers' room, writing
This past Friday the short film Ophelia
began screening at the 2016 LA Shorts Fest. The piece touches on fear, expectation, pressure, and ambition through a the first few minutes of a job interview with the title character. I was able to view and review the film for myself not too long ago.
Answering a few questions himself is Anthony Garland, the director. Garland has acted in a number of small film and television roles, and assisted other directors in filming such music videos as Lana Del Ray’s “Summertime Sadness”.
What did you want to be when you were seven-years-old?
THAT question! … A superhero. Super strength and invulnerability would be preferable but I definitely had to be able to fly. I was obviously past the age where you know that powers don’t exist, but I remember being pretty sure that I’d be the exception. I grew up reading comics before the characters had this cinematic renaissance; that was really my education in storytelling, art direction and frame composition.
What was the strangest question you’ve ever been asked in a job interview?
I’ve actually been relatively safe in interviews and auditions thus far… I feel like I’m the one asking the strange questions a lot of the time, but that’s deliberate! Just the nature of status and hierarchy, we forget that we’re all just individuals, regardless of position, and a job interview is as much for you as it is for the people that might hire you; so questions, however wacky, are a good way to set up a back and forth rather than sitting through an interrogation, which is what most bad interviews feel like.
Do you have any strategies when it comes to interviewing for a job [or auditioning for a role]? [How do you deal with pressure?]
Sure, and maybe this comes from having a background in acting, but so long as the focus is on something external, like engaging with the person opposite you by asking those questions, or really taking them in, then there’s no space to be self conscious. Continue reading
Posted in art, film, interview, writing
Tagged Anthony Garland, character, Dan Katz, directing, director, editing, horror, interview, Jeremy White, Ophelia, pressure, questions, short film, writing
A little over three years ago, a close childhood friend contacted me because their cousin (Evan) was looking for another writer to become a regular contributor on a blog called Culture War Reporters. I jumped at the chance and, after a very serious interview with Evan and Gordon, became a regular contributor here at CWR.
I’m feeling more than a little nostalgic rereading some of those early posts and conversations with my co-writers. It’s even making me question my decision to stop writing for the blog. Despite my second thoughts and feelings of nostalgia, I’ve considered stepping down for some time now, and I’d like to share a few reasons why I feel the time is right.
1. I haven’t been dedicating the time needed to create quality posts
When I first started writing for CWR, I was so excited and nervous about my first blogging opportunity that I would write my post early in the week and return to them throughout the week to do more editing. Luckily, I was also a full-time student, so I was already spending several hours a day at my computer screen writing. It was a welcome break to stop working on homework and spend a few hours writing about whatever topic I was particularly interested in that week.
This year my schedule began to shift. I was only in school part-time and began balancing several other jobs on the side. While I still enjoyed taking time to write for CWR, I was spending much less time at my laptop and it took a conscious effort to remember to get my posts up on time. The week would often slip by and I’d wind up writing last minute, which inevitably meant lower quality writing and less time spent researching my topic. I’ve come to realize that writing just hasn’t been on the top of my priority list, and, consequently, I haven’t produced the quality of content I want to put out into the world.
2. Other passions are drawing my attention
I’ve always loved to write, and I suspect that I always will. But lately, I haven’t felt nearly as passionate about writing as I’ve felt about some of my other interests. This summer I’ve had several opportunities to teach programs or courses that took up a large portion of my time. This September, I’m going to be starting the teaching post-degree program. As I feel myself getting more and more excited about this new career direction, I can also imagine myself spending less and less time writing (especially while I continue to work on the side). Rather than produce lower quality content, I’d rather take time off from blogging until I once again feel passionate enough about my writing to spend the time needed to produce quality content. Continue reading