What I Learned: August 14

This week, I spend time in Tarrytown in a rental car listening to trap music, complete the lap that made me almost weep, learn that technology is not your friend and that being a workaholic is a better substitute for alcohol.

Saturday:

I’m up with the birds and armed with Apple Maps (which, fuck you by the way) I climb into rented Ford Focus and feel like I’m in a jet because I’m doing checks like a pilot. I have about 120,000 songs on an iPod and wind up listening to of all things…Fall Out Boy. Don’t judge me, it beat the radio at 7am.

It’s true what they say about driving, your mind completely blanks out and you focus more on piloting a massive machine through highways built years before you were a thought by people who didn’t think those roads would even be traveled for as long as they have been.

You get super philosophical.

I find parking relatively easy at 7:30am (I was in traffic to boot and DIDN’T drag race once it cleared up…) and run upstairs to make sure that everything is where it’s supposed to be. Again. My personal life, total shitshow, professional life sorta put together.

The team shows up and we load in for our epic journey to the most magical place on earth: the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown NY. While on the way, we encounter the fail that is Apple Maps.

Have you ever driven in near circles in the middle of a scenic part of a town and immediately think, we’re a car full of minorities, isn’t this is how horror movies start?

drive faster

I watch too many movies.

Anyways. We make a few turns and wind up where we’re supposed to be…fuck you Apple Maps…sincerely.

I’m about 5’7 which in the WNBA makes me a guard and probably a decent prospect; in the NBA that makes me the water girl. We arrive and check in and walk into the Liberty side of the basketball court.

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been there before but I still kinda swoon because that’s what I do.

We land some hilarious interviews and shoot what could be the hit of our mini summer vacation.

We climb back into the car, strangely inspired by the entire day (it was two hours that felt like less than that which is saying something) get 5 Napkin Burgers (which is a miracle) and pile into the office for a late shift.

Sunday:

Even if you want to play a game of treat yo self, you still wind up being incredibly responsible and climb into the fray super early and with a box of bagels for your mom. You also want nothing more than to get another win in terms of getting that date to happen.

The date doesn’t happen.

The sobbing continues.

On the upside, we get two great videos lined up and good to go and I land another byline for work.

I learned that I have to master the art of multitasking.

Also. John Wick is awesome.

Adrienne Palicki, Bridget Reagan and Keanu Reeves carrying guns and being complete assholes. this is basically porn.

Monday:

Screaming matches over stupid things are always fun.

Driving around late at night is even more fun.

I tackled the FDR to the West Side Highway and like a superhero, sat and listened to Kid Cudi wondering about what the hell life is doing with me and my fate these days. I miss the opportunity to get Waffle for a drive around because Waffle being Waffle kept being Waffle and wiffled on me. I was tempted to be a creeper and sit in the car outside waiting but decided that I can’t keep reeking of desperation. The fact that Waffle would’ve gotten in the car with me for fun while I said nothing and blasted music and driven around until drop off at work. These are the things that make me feel all kinds of funny to be honest. I learned that I should just trust my lack of impulse control when it comes to these kinds of situations. Especially when I want to share views like this. IMG_2932

My drive looked nothing like this but I did in fact blast Steve Aoki, so I guess you could say, we were on track.

Tuesday:

So I had rum and cokes.

Wednesday:

Multitasking is multi-taxing but it’s done and honestly, I keep telling myself, I was unemployed last year. Stop bitching so fucking much.

I mean it’s one thing to be overwhelmed and completely burned out but it’s a whole other level if you’re completely like…miserable.

I can’t be miserable.

My brain can’t process that correctly.

My brain shorts out actually.

I know I’m due for a meltdown but I’m also due for an upgrade so I guess you have to burn things down to build something new from it.

I wind up in Jim Hanley’s Universe and have rather interesting conversations about some of the plot fuck ups in X-Factor (which I have admittedly not been keeping up with) but apparently, it’s a big nasty soap opera. I love the fact that out of many of the shops that I’ve been to, this is the only one that actively keeps you in the store with shit talk and comic gossip rather than aisle after aisle of things to look at and maybe consider buying. There’s a strange comfort in the nerd herd. Unsurprisingly, I pick up a bunch of titles that will take me until NEXT WEEK, to read but fuck it, I mean it’s what happens when you work; you get to do things you love.

One day I will write and work for Marvel.

It’s on the list of things to do before I die.

So’s a trip to London.

Fuck it, let’s do both.

Thursday:

Accomplished many a thing, including successfully feeding myself at a decent hour, addressing stuff and things and planning planning planning.

I wound up getting a preview screening pass to see Straight Outta Compton through work which was sweet. It’s insane that all this happened in my lifetime and I’ve basically grown up with this music; I lived through the of many anti-establishment movements fueled by music and made by people who just wanted their voices heard and the vision to just make shit happen. That doesn’t work anymore does it? That unyielding sense of success and self confidence that is needed to take what sounds like a failing idea or a longshot and make it actually happen. Think about it. Ice Cube was the hardest rapper in the game (still is) at the time and just transitioned because he just wanted to do it. Dre just wanted to make music that didn’t suck and E just had the momentum to bring everyone together. It’s probably one of the best made music biopics and some of the moments that happen made me oddly nostalgic for the time where my mom said I couldn’t listen to Metallica, NWA, Public Enemy and when she caught on, The Beastie Boys. Kids aren’t told ‘that’s bad for you’ and if they are, they don’t give a flying fuck. Go see it, it’s worth it.

It’s also creepy how damn near EXACT O’Shea Jackson Jr. resembles his father.

Best cosplay ever.

Friday:

For Whom The Bell Tolls indeed.

In on time despite a late start, doing a bunch of things for the next three days and eagerly anticipating…I dunno…a small moment to think, read a comic book and do more writing because I owe some people some of my letters rearranged into words.

Friday:

I had a salad. That’s not interesting until you realize and understand that my fat ass wants a burger and booze and to be left alone with Waffle on a romantic dinner date where all we do is talk shit and laugh at things.

I’m seeking a gal pal at this point.

An Angie to my  Peggy.

A Sandy to my Danny.

A Laura to my Carmilla.

Basically I’m just rehashing old feelings.

The weekend should be spectacular. Stay tuned.

Michelle Rodriguez Said What?

 

 

 

hey girl

 

From her breakthrough role in 2000’s Girlfight to this summer’s highly anticipated Furious 7, few women can work consistently in Hollywood the way Michelle Rodriguez can. She’s the tough girl from New Jersey with a swagger reminiscent of an old west gunslinger, a mega-watt smile, wild child personality and unfiltered opinions. Rodriguez made headlines with a very public relationship with British model Cara Delevingne, her yacht adventures with actor Zac Efron after years of casually dodging questions regarding her sexual orientation. She made a valid point that who she had relationships with was none of anyone’s business, one of the few times she’s been able to clearly explain her reasoning behind staying in the closet of sorts.

She’s brash and bold but she’s shown her ignorance in the world of comics pop culture and what visibility, by any means, represents for people of color the LGTBQ community and women.

In the clip, obtained by TMZ (you know, the most reliable place in the world) Rodriguez said that minorities needed to stop taking white superhero roles and called for more creativity from the spectrum. Boiled down, she has a very very small sliver of a point. By race-swapping, gender flipping already characters, Hollywood and comics creators have gotten lazy and appear to be pandering to ever evolving cultural changes. More people want to see themselves as their favorite heroes than see the heroes as they’ve always been drawn. Captain America, now Sam Wilson (The Falcon) accepted the mantle from a downed Steve Rodgers. Comic purists cried foul on the change despite Steve continuing his run in his solo series; All New Captain America has been one of Marvel’s top sellers since it’s launch. When Thor lost the power to wield his hammer, Mjolnir, the hammer found a woman worthy to wield it.  Again, purists cried blood in the streets; like Cap, Thor is continuing his book run with former WWE star CM Punk at the writer’s desk. The are stories being told with new names and new viewpoints and they are being told organically within that world. No one is forcing the change, the change is happening. If you were to translate Michelle’s comment that kind of move does seem like pandering and her rebuttal (included in the TMZ link) shows the actress attempting to back peddle and explain her side but she still fails to understand what she’s saying.

Watch Loud  posted what Rodriguez got wrong about the the race swapping, pointing out the very whitewashed casting of Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan in the live action movie The Prince of Persia. I’ll let that sink in.

Rodriguez’s point is that you can’t change the perceived racism in race bending a character but she’s wrong in saying that minorities are stealing roles. Roles are being stolen by people who are committed to continuing a widely held belief that what has always been the ‘norm’ is what works. “We’ve always done it this way.”

I sense that some of it is that Rodriguez was passed for roles that she is the archetype for. Fellow Dominican (from New Jersey) Zoe Saldana famously played a blue alien (alongside Rodriguez) in Avatar and is Gamora in Guardians of The Galaxy; tough girls with take no shit attitudes. Rodriguez pushed herself out of Gamora because she doesn’t play the game well while women who land in her lane (tough, no nonsense) continue to be front runners for parts like Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Wasp and other female superheroes in what’s soon to be a full work schedule for whoever is cast.

There are dozens of writers and creators working tirelessly to create a safe creative space where their characters thrive and live on the pages of comics and in animated series. They are all diverse, they are all inspired to create worlds and they work tirelessly to spread the message that these stories all carry. There are non-white heroes in the pantheon of superhero universe and they have had successful runs and continue to break out as new generations of comic fans actively seek out these stories. Michelle’s co-star, Vin Diesel IS GROOT for god’s sake. An avid nerd, he set out to personally finance the last two Chronicles of Riddick entries and while they were disappointing at the box office, they are movies that were made by a diverse group of people with a diverse enough cast with the goal of telling a story.

Rodriguez forgets her place in the spectrum; as a woman of color in a position of power she has the ability to bring new stories to the table. If she feels that she is fully capable of funding non-white protagonists that don’t jack jobs from obviously struggling white men and women, she needs to get out and find them, she needs to fund those projects. She needs to collaborate with Robert Rodriguez (no relation) and make the super hero movies they want to make, with original characters and people of color in the starring roles. She needs to read more comics, meet more creators, she needs to understand that Cap, Blade, Storm, America Chavez, Helena Bertinnelli, Kate Kane, Carol Danvers, Natasha Romanov can be anyone and they are everyone and if she wants to make a better monster, she needs to use her connections to do so instead of criticizing a system that feeds her. The best way to change things is by climbing into the machine and dismantling it from the inside.

The strange thing is, Michelle doesn’t seem to realize that she’s already IN a superhero movie with Furious 7 and it’s cast of rag tag every person. The cast is literally Dave Chappelle’s Racial Draft lottery and everyone has a skill, everyone has a power, everyone has a responsibility. I like the girl, I do, she’s an outcast who keeps living her life as she wants it but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to defend the actions of someone who doesn’t see their full power when you, as a TRUE outsider, would love a small piece of it.

Perhaps this will be the real takeaway from this micro controversy is the need for Hollywood and creators to find the medium that best suits their needs. Consumers need to be vocal with their wallets when it comes to stories from across the map, whether it’s with comics or with films. We all want to see our stories told to a wider audience and the way we continue to create newer and better material is by supporting the female led action movie, the African American spy, the Asian American superheroes. No one is interested in taking anyone’s job but no one is interested in the same story told with the same faces either.

 

 

Agents of SHEILD: How Bobbi Morse Made Me Feel Bad Wonder Woman Tanked

Super spies, am I right?

Tuesday’s episode of ABC’s Agents of SHIELD titled “A Hen In The Wolfhouse” introduced fans to a classic Marvel character Bobbi Morse, codename Mockingbird, as a double agent working for Hydra. Clad in what can best be described as the most stylish long coat with way too many buttons, perfect hair and permanent death glare, Bobbi is brought in to suss out the mole in Hydra’s office cubicles.

Popped collars are so badass

Not to point out anything the teaser hasn’t shown, everyone know’s it’s Agent Simmons.

In the last act, Bobbi stages a daring Black Widow in IronMan 2 hallway beatdown before…well, I’m not giving everything away.

Actress Adrianne Palicki is Bobbi (just Bobbi because we’re friends now) seems to have been building herself up for this part and for good reason; back in 2011 she had been cast as Diana Prince in the cringeworthy David E. Kelley produced Wonder Woman pilot. At that point, she seemed wrong for the part, awkward even, lacking the poise and potential to be the iconic Amazon despite serious training, working the hell out of whatever that outfit was and being all around dorktacular. After scathing reviews the pilot was passed on by NBC. The pilot has since surfaced online and if you can endure the commentary, is up for your viewing curiosity.

After the dust settled, it turned out that everything you could do wrong for a character was done to TV Diana.

I mean she needs the leather jacket but other than that I’m sold.

Following the pilot, Palicki was appeared in the Red Dawn (featuring Thor himself Chris Helmsworth) reboot and cast as Lady Jayne in G.I Joe: Retaliation holding her own alongside The Rock, Bruce Willis and other dudes who were dudes in the movie. She’s also in the upcoming Keanu Reeves movie John Wick as attractive leather jacket wearing woman with a sneer and a gun (I have a type).

 In the time it took for Palicki to recover from the Wonder Woman misstep, DC has since rolled out a new Wonder Woman in Gal Gadot as well as announced a hold date for her stand alone movie in 2017, effectively pretending that none of that ever happened. Watching her tonight as Bobbi made me think about how big a missed opportunity is was with the Wonder Woman TV series, especially considering her overall look now versus a few years ago. Perhaps it was the roles that followed that really groomed Adrianne and that’s why she looks and feels so right as Mockingbird; much like her character she had to get her ass kicked around a bit to really become the superhero she was meant to be. While this is the first in a few episodes for Bobbi, she already feels right with the team and that’s a miss for the DC camp because it means that Adrianne could very well appear in any one of the Marvel film franchises from Avengers 3, Captain America 3 or give Scarlett Johannson a playmate in a Black Widow film estimated for 2016. Essentially, DC bungled their chance to beat Marvel with their TV format with  Wonder Woman by treating it as a novelty rather than a launching point for an iconic character.

Rather than making Diana the CEO of some cosmetics company, the series would’ve worked as a spy thriller in the same vein as Agents of Shield. Wonder Woman as a series should’ve been approached the way I always imagined the Black Widow movie; have something that needs to be taken care of quietly and efficiently? Send in the demigod Diana. Cloak and dagger, paranormal and up to the hilt with Greek mythology Diana is the only now who can handle all of that and still somehow maintain her luxurious hair. Think The X-Files meets Buffy with a little bit of Lost Girl thrown in for flavoring. Everyone she works with knows she’s lethal, they just don’t talk about it. She’s got a messy, will take seasons to figure out it’s so messy backstory (mother Hippolyta, father Zeus, Christmas is a nightmare) and a loyal bestie in Wonder Girl. See!? IT WORKS. You’d watch it.

The mistake was in NBC’s approach and with DC’s ambivalence. Seeing Adrianne as Bobbi in AoS, confident with the how and why  she’s important to the storytelling, made all the difference in the world when it comes to her casting. She comes off likable, snarky, charming and believable as any one of the other characters on the show (I like her more than Skye but that’s because I see too much of myself in Skye) You can’t really judge a show by it’s pilot but it’s usually the measuring stick by which you decide how you’re going to spend your energy watching a show. Wonder Woman’s pilot was designed to fail from the get go and many of the write ups (which are googleable) pointed the finger of blame on Adrianne not looking the part; I contend she just felt wrong because the character, the plot, the pacing, the everything felt wrong. She wasn’t comfortable with what was eventually going to go down. Watching her now, she’s come into her own and seeing that made me ache for what could’ve been had she been given the right tools to be the Wonder Woman we wanted her to be, hell, for all we know, that show would’ve probably crushed AoS in ratings.

I wanted the Wonder Woman show to fly (invisible jet optional) the way that AoS does but at the same time, I can see how she  wasn’t ready, the time wasn’t right and the idea wasn’t fully realized. It also has to do with the respect level given to the character. There was no respect for Wonder Woman in a serial format and even less interest in making her someone with a dynamic background. As we get to know AoS Bobbi, I promise there will be nuanced layers and character building that makes you wonder if someone like her can be trusted, after all, she spent WAY too much time comfortably prowling the halls of Hydra HQ.

Marvel, as long as DC continues to drop the ball, will rectify their mistakes and see how they’ve got to stop alienating female fans and will continue to introduce characters into their standing media properties with rabid fangirl fan bases (I’m looking at you Kate Bishop and Carol Danvers….)

I see you bae

Katee Sackoff better be ready

While DC struggles to separate their much better handled TV properties (The Flash is that same knee slapping fun that Smallville started with)  from their shitshow film properties (Batman vs Superman vs Wallet), Marvel is quietly gobbling up all the potential actors and locking them into projects. Losing The Rock and Jason Mamoa to DC sucks but I am interested to see what they do with Black Adam and Aquaman but like anything, only time will tell how smart a move that was.

At 5’11, she would’ve made a fantastic Batwoman (yes because I want to see her with a cape, no because she could be kissing Renee Montoya) and now that she’s permanently out of DC’s wheelhouse (appeared in Smallville and the aborted Aquaman pilot) that’s not going to happen. Now that I’ve seen her as Bobbi, I don’t want her for anything else. I want her and Clint Barton to go and do cool spy shit together making Natasha snark all the way in the Heliojet about how they’re both punkasses even though everyone knows Nat isn’t a fan of heights. I want her to be just as tough as Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) because I need more women who smirk while hitting someone on my television. I need her to get her respect because the kid really did get knocked around after Wonder Woman failed and she’s in turn gotten stronger from it. Isn’t that how we want all our heroes to be?

Denzel Washington Is The Punisher, You Just Didn’t Know It

This Friday, super bae Denzel Washington returns to screens in The Equalizer, your standard tough guy R rated action movie designed to woo you back to the movies y’know since you never went back after seeing Guardians of The Galaxy. Now, I love me a good action movie, I love comic book movies, I love Denzel Washington so this is a win win for me but something struck me about the trailer, take a look:

A man with a past who just can’t let injustice fly and proceeds to right the wrongs with all the guns and bombs, protecting an innocent girl from a ruthless violent, vaguely Eastern European criminal? It sounds too comic book-y to be real, then again, Denzel Washington has been playing Marvel Comics vigilante Frank Castle aka The Punisher for the past ten years and no one noticed it.

Behold, the truth behind Denzel as The Punisher and why Hollywood can get this archetype right but Marvel, who owns the title, keeps getting wrong.

2004 Man on Fire

Dakota Fanning is literally a child in this movie and Denzel is her body guard. A quiet man with skills that make him a nightmare for people…oh…wait wrong movie.

There is a great line about his character, Creasey, his art is death. He brings pain and disaster to everyone in his way, the way you’d want Frank Castle to knock the living shit out of everyone in his way. In a stand out scene, he basically straps a dude to a car, drenches him in gasoline and plays a very dangerous game of 20 questions.

A lot of the real heinousness happens in cars in Mexico so, that’s something to look out for.

This is one of the first time where Denzel gets all grim death dangerous and it works. It so works.

2010 The Book of Eli

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKK7LmywKOQ

Sure it didn’t of very well, the ending left people feeling a little let down and then there’s the whole iPod still works in the apocalypse thing but at the heart of it is a guy, just trying to live and protect Mila Kunis and deliver a book way past its due date to the library. Here we see Denzel in true dingy duster, western gunslinger badassery and one can truly appreciate the fact that a guy who is actually The Punisher would survive the madness of a desert America with mean Gary Oldman.

2012 Safe House

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IfQY4fNcnw

The ULTIMATE dude with a mission movie finds Denzel needing to get out of dodge quickly.

Tobin Frost is a bad bad man trying to stay ahead of the guys trying to lock him up and being chased by everyone’s favorite smart ass, Ryan Reynolds. This one has a few pretty good action sequences and a nice little twist towards the end, making it a little more like a bad guy gets the win movie than a vigilante saving the day movie HOWEVER, it does land in the Denzel is The Punisher with some of the hardest fight scenes and clever escape tricks this side of an old episode of Burn Notice.

2013 2 Guns

This one may be a cheat since he’s a good guy, posing as a bad guy with the added bonus of Mahk Whalbaghhh BUT, he still plays with the bad guys well enough to make them believe he’s one of them all in the game of saving the day. He plays rough to get the win. While I haven’t seen this movie (I know I know) it still lands in the vigilante have gun will travel and do what’s gotta get done category essential in arguing that Denzel is really Frank Castle is really The Punisher.

So just here’s the real question, given that Hollywood loves a good vigilante revenge movie, why is it that Marvel Studios has yet to produce a decent Punisher movie that hits all the notes of the comic book? The Punisher has basically had one of the longest runs in Hollywood  in the form of Denzel Washington action movies. You can say that yeah, Liam Neesan probably has a longer run but he keeps playing the father who’s kid somehow manages to keep getting taken so he doesn’t count. Especially when he’s Qui-Gon Jinn, Ras Al Ghul and the guy who fought wolves with mini bar bottles strapped to his knuckles; let him be that guy. Denzel is the guy you call when someone needs a complete ass kicking who will then strut off to a Motown song you will immediately Shazam upon hearing it.

In the same year Man on Fire was released, Thomas Jane’s 2004 Punisher movie made it’s debut.  While not terrible it lacked the bite that the above movies all seem to have, as though the producers were afraid to make a violent movie with a comic book character because of the fear that people have with alienating the presumed under age audience. Despite having an R rating, some of the action sequences lacked the grimness that Man on Fire had, even using the standard cut away bloodspatter in some scenes to imply that violent justice has been served. I’m not blood thirsty or a fan of mega violence but if you’re going to make a movie about a guy who does really insane things because his family was murdered, you can go ahead and show it, we know what we’re getting into with these movies. Punisher WarZone, the movie that pretended that the first movie never happened was even wilder with the theatrics, going so deep into comic book that the R rating was justified because Dominic West’s character Jigsaw’s head explodes like a Gallagher watermelon. Both movies are regarded as failures, despite their cult appeal and the success of other lesser titles in Hollywood both on TV and in films.

Marvel shows no interest in launching another film with Frank which is fine, we’ve been watching him this whole time.