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.

Suicide Squad

Commence panic.

Still too early to call it movie of 2016 but…

I’m in love with Margot Robbie

Hey girl

Flipping through a few times as one is want to do while obsessing over a trailer, you catch glimpses of a few key moments in Harley’s life. It appears that she’s ambushed in an operating room, strapped to a table and subsequently…well I hope she isn’t raped. It seems that The Joker has her and has begun is brainwashing process with Doctor Harleen Quinzell.

We also get a great look at Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang and his sweet as mustache as well as Will Smith’s smooth motherfucker Deadshot.

Kitana gets some love as does Killer Croc, Diablo and The Enchantress; Slipknot is nowhere to be found but then again, I was too busy staring at Harley.

I’m still not a fan of the tattoos despite Harley’s designs being one of my favorites…I can do without the facial tattoos to be honest but that shit kicking grin…sigh.

Let’s see what happens.

Still think in terms of world building and merging, Marvel has a leg up on the competition.

Suicide Squad opens next year.

Dear DC: Don’t Get Cocky with Suicide Squad or Batman vs Superman Just Yet

After last night’s insane Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer was released, I kinda had to wonder if DC might be making the wise move with their whole grimdark thing.

I mean.

You showed me Wonder Woman and my face basically did this:
Let's Put a Smile on That Face

Then, later on in the evening’s festivities came a sweet little clip which the screengrab is from. David Ayer, writer director of Suicide Squad said, fuck it, here it is. Unlike it’s DCU counterpart, this one, which gives you the first look at Harley, Quinn, Kitana, Boomerang, Slipknot and of course The Joker, doesn’t have a full HD approved trailer so basically, this grainy cell phone footage is all we’ve got for now. So far DC is two for two with their offerings while Marvel and quietly unveiled the incredibly appropriate NSFW Deadpool trailer (which was also leaked) ultimately making Saturday night in San Diego the best night of the convention. Friday, the House That Owns Your Childhood essentially threw down the gauntlet with a star studded Star Wars behind the scenes featurette promising there is more to explore in the galaxy far far away.

But Circus, aren’t you here to talk about how DC shouldn’t get cocky with their new trailers?

Well yeah I am.

With these two trailers, DC like Batman in his Iron Suit is preparing for war and based on the fan response, it seems to be working. So far, the DC camp has taken a very smacktalk stance in the battle for your wallet and dominance in the cinematic world.

CEO Kevin Tsujihara has said, “The worlds of DC are very different. They’re steeped in realism, and they’re a little bit edgier than Marvel’s movies,” and Warner Bros. President Greg Silverman offered his take on DC (vs Marvel): “The filmmakers who are tackling these properties are making great movies about superheroes; they aren’t making superhero movies. And when you are trying to make a good movie, you tackle interesting philosophies and character development.” But, just in case we haven’t gotten the very serious message, Ben has his own take on the differences between the two film universes:

“It is more mythic, it is more grand in that way, and it is a little more realistic. Just by their nature, these films can’t be as funny or as quick or as glib as Marvel movies.”

Sure, Ben and Greg we want to have a deep psychological thriller about how being a hero has taken a toll on the mind body and spirit of a character grounded in the reality of the time with just a hint of the mystical but you’d just shit all over that too.

While it’s WAY too early to say that DC wins 2016, it’s also too soon to say that they’re finally understanding how to wrangle in their various properties under one single banner in the way Marvel has. They have actively stated, during the casting process for Justice League, that their CW/TV properties (Arrow, The Flash, soon to be released Legends of Tomorrow and The Atom) won’t ever appear in their DC cinematic universe. So. You’re saying for the past four years I’ve been looking at Steven Amell but I won’t ACTUALLY get to see him in the context of being a member of JLA because you’ve got someone else who’ll be taking the role? Same with Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen being subbed out for Ezra Miller’s Wally West? Okay so you just made me rot my brain with mellowdrama, GLIB FUNNY MELLOWDRAMA to then make me look at a whole new cast of characters who are essentially more expensive versions of the people whom you’ve grown a fanbase with.

Grant Gustin

Ezra Miller

vs

What DC is doing is splintering their own universe, ruining the cohesive bonds between their own properties just to make them all work in one world on the big screen.

So basically just like Convergence.

Imagine that you’re still learning about these comic characters, getting immersed in their worlds and diving into their years of history being retold on tv. You have embraced these TV actors and their stories as your new visual canon truth, dedicated fanfiction and Tumblr gifs to these people and then you’re told that world is a lie.

DC can’t get cocky or arrogant about any of their films because they continue to commit the same sin as their comic books; they accept one canon one truth only reject it in favor of the one that sounds more plausable. They want to continue to be the Anti-Marvel with grounded realism and real world consequences, frequently relying on comments like the ones quoted earlier for their basis in their logic. It’s worth pointing out that the events in the first The Avengers movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier all had consequences that impacted both their MCU and blossoming TV titles in Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D and in Netflix’ series Daredevil without needing to be glib about the entire thing. DC while throwing their shade should be checking the playbook and developing their properties in a far more skilled manner.

That’s not to say that Marvel’s current success was straight out of the box; the company had suffered many a film fumble. Two Hulk movies within years of one another, the wildly varied Blade trilogy, Daredevil (thanks again Ben) the two vastly different Punisher films (fan favorite Thomas Jane vs the very gruff and more Frank Castle-esque Ray Stevenson). Their licensing agreements left them without the X-Men, Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four as they worked towards becoming a film studio; some of these ‘rebooted’ movies would be launched from Marvel Studios and slowly they began laying the groundwork for the multi-tier Marvel MCU phases we’ve seen. The blockbuster purchase of the company by Disney, didn’t hurt either. All of the mis-steps, retooling, ret-conning and ultimately accepting of their fates allowed for Marvel to take truly unique risks in their cinematic storytelling giving the world talking raccoons and one line trees. While still acquiring their properties, they’ve managed to tap into the TV market, which I will admit DC was dominating from Smallville straight on through to to their DC Direct animated movies, and have seen how DC failed to connect their visual dots. Marvel is working on retooling their animated series, canceling various shows and rebooting them to meet with current published issues as well as link with the films being released. DC cranked out multiple versions of the same characters with different stories and actors, banking on the name alone and hoping that they could continue to work behind the scenes to present a unified product.

Marvel launched solo film franchises for a majority of the Avengers. Except Black Widow but I don’t wanna talk about that.

even Coulson got a one shot for fuck’s sake.

and I like him.

Anyway, Marvel LAUNCHES solo films, introducing each character with the love and support that comes from a proud house, making sure the right people are in place and involved in the creation of each project and then forms the first of three Avengers movies. They break apart and come back together, it’s beautiful really.

DC is tossing all the kids into the pool with BvS: unveiling my beloved Wonder Woman, teasing Aquaman and possibly hinting at the rest of the JLA team when the second half of the gargantuan film launches the following year. They’ve gotten you hyped for a movie that will more than likely tax your brain with the information overload; they don’t trust you to get to know these characters and instead chose to use familiar faces to introduce you to their new friends.

It’s like going to a party and not knowing anyone but you’re like, okay I’m fine with this…while texting your real friends

unless this guy is there, then, bye friends

It feels like you’re going to sit in a theater with a numb ass and a bladder full of soda trying to find a reason to care because from their previous track record, cinematically, DC doesn’t care enough to try again. Maybe it’s the curse of Hal Jordan or maybe they think this version of events will be the canonical moment that truly does bring their movies together. I can see the logic in introducing them into Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice but it’s also at the risk of telling a story; it’s Bats, it’s Supes, its Diana it’s a roll call of heroes you’re not sure you should care about and for the next two hours you’re going to try your best to do so.

It could even happen with Suicide Squad. The only characters a neophyte would know or recognize are The Joker and potentially Harley Quinn; the success banks heavily on making them either likable or believable enough to engage a non-reader while entertaining a hardcore fan. That’s a lot to do.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m seeing it as a long time Marvel fan who’s basically been through some of the best, worst, misguided points in the company’s history and I fangirl super hard for them but I’ve also done the same for DC and it’s difficult to cheer for a company that hides behind the same two characters.  maybe it will actually work out and the fans will be glad they suffered so long with the errors in continuity, retconning, rebooting and Batfleck but it’s the fact that DC is so transparent in their dislike for Marvel’s success that it makes it hard to not want to make a cheap comment. Maybe they can pop their collar this year; Marvel said they were going to scale back on their promotional work at the con. The things that stood out from this weekend are things that would’ve popped if both houses were pumping out hits (Heroes Reborn, Fear The Walking Dead) so it’s hard to gauge the success of the presentations at this point. The biggest miss for WB/DC is not releasing the official HD version of the same trailer; the reps are all very pissed the video even leaked and have been going on a takedown spree in an attempt to erase what’s been seen. The official word is that they wanted it to be just for the people in Hall H. I wonder if they would’ve flashy thinged everyone to ensure that nothing leaked.

It can’t be unseen.

This is the digital age. Don’t be so arrogant as to think that Hall H is some sacred Fortress of Solitude where nothing gets out. If anything, thank whoever uploaded the video for you because it’s burned up the internet just as quickly as the BvS clip has, going viral in a matter of hours. Marvel says they will release the clean (and dirty) versions of their Deadpool trailer in the next few weeks and that trailer was also leaked overnight.

So just release it you clownshoes, you need the help love and over analysis of the nerd community to ensure that our ADHD addled brains remember that both Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad are released NEXT YEAR.

Do you see why DC can’t get cocky just yet?

Why Visibility Matters

imvisible peggy

The above is a gif from the Agent Carter episode “Sin To Err” where while under arrest, Peggy basically lays into her SSR coworkers and tells them to fuck off and die.

Ok maybe not but she should’ve because that’s the show I’ve made up in my head.

In the episode, she highlights the bigger problem in the real world where women weren’t useful once the world was done with them, the other (LGTB, disabled people of color) were undesirable and accepting that fate was all you can do. On a larger scale, Peggy’s entire dismantling of her peers and supervisor reflects the current trend in comics, movies and television where the invisible are no longer content with being unseen and have taken matters into their own hands with incredible results. Last week, following the splintering of the Spiderverse, comic book readers were treated to various launches of an army of Spider people, Spider-Gwen (the resurrected Gwen Stacey) Silk (the first Asian-American Spiderwoman Cindy Moon) and the continuation of biracial fan favorite Miles Morales. They contend with Peter’s existing foes, their own personal problems and the ramifications of Peter’s actions leading up to their own journeys as part of the Spiderclan. These characters reflect the readers who’ve been buying comics for years; we aren’t all white boys who live in our parent’s basement playing World of Warcraft with limited communication skills.

Some of us are Puerto Rican women who live at home, work, play video games, have active social lives and run hilarious tumblr accounts.

Some of us are African American girls who’ve grown up drawing our favorite anime characters in the margins of our math homework.

These characters are the people who read their stories and it couldn’t be more amazing time to be a nerd who reads funny books.

Another practical outfit

 

A practical outfit

fuck yeah you are Miles

We need these images in popular culture so that we know we count, we matter, we exist in the world. A reader from last night’s post pointed out that comics were created by xenophobic men in a time where racial tensions were high and that it’s important that these things change. (hi by the way!) It totally is.

Consider, IF the creators of the classics were so xenophobic, racist and misogynistic as we believe them to be, then we wouldn’t have Jean Grey or Janet Van Dyne as founding members of one of the longest lasting super teams in comics (X-Men and The Avengers respectively). Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler) wouldn’t represent the other the way he does. Storm wouldn’t have been a super powered god. Wonder Woman was actually designed as a feminist icon, by a man, years before the movement was widely adapted. Comic books allowed progressive minded individuals an outlet to create an idealized world, a world of diversity (admittedly limited, Black Panther was steeped in racial tropes while Wonder Woman suffered years in weird bondage and fetish tropes) and where anyone could be a hero. It was seen as an idealized childhood medium, something that entertained kids for 10 cents but opened their eyes to the possibility of something more.

That need to see yourself reflected in your programming and entertainment is universal. It can change your world view, the way you see yourself and put you on a new path.

Because she saw Nichelle Nichols in Star Trek

 

Last night, Once Upon a Time launched season 4B and the dialogue between the widely shipped duo of Regina Mills (Evil Queen) and Emma Swan (The Savior) sounded like it was taken out of the pages of a femslash fan fiction entry. Swan Queen, as the shippers have dubbed them, sent the fan base into a frenzy with heart eyes and what seemed to be less than plutonic touches. Why does it matter that in 2015, two women are more than friends? Because there are lesbians and bisexual women in the world who need to know that they matter, that their feelings are valid and that television won’t shy away from these feelings.

first of all how dare you

 

second of all how dare you also

please tag your hair and outfit porn

(gifs taken from The Queen And Her Sheriff)

While the above relationship isn’t canon (as in, active relationship) their dynamic reads verbatim from every classic rom com trope ever conceived, making Swan Queen shippers point out that had Emma been Emmett she and Regina would’ve been married by now. Sorta like how Caskett (Richard Castle and Kate Beckett) are ultra super canon and solving murders of the week like the couple on Hart To Hart. They are right to demand some kind of gay or lesbian representation about finding your happy ending because the visibility of women who express themselves romantically is limited to sweeps, slow ratings or fan fiction; mainstream television will showcase a lead as a gay or lesbian character and saddle them with a tired coming out story, homophobic family or wind up dead. On cable, the diversity is higher and LGBTQ characters aren’t as marginalized but let’s face it, cable doesn’t give a fuck. Notable same sex canon as hell pairings include Root and Shaw (Person of Interest) Clarke and Lexa (The 100) Brittany and Santana (Glee) Callie and Arizona (Grey’s Anatomy) and while they’re on network TV, there was a massive push by Clexa, Root X Shaw and Brittana shippers to make the pairing happen. The writers built the arcs in to see what would happen, essentially queer baiting an audience who otherwise may not have watched the show up until they saw someone who was like them on screen. Queer baiting is a mean trick but it also shows that someone in the writers room is trying to make change happen. They want to make a part of their audience seen on screen, seen as normally as they see everyone else.

Calzona fans…well…you guys…I mean…*ugly cries* They’re gonna work out.

Starz original series Black Sails had the pairing of Max and Eleanor (now Max and Anne Bonney) universally feared pirate Captain Flynt was revealed as gay (I’d argue bisexual but, whatever) in the same way they happily discuss murder and rum. IT IS A NON ISSUE. Network makes the argument that if someone is an other they have to have a long rough journey to acceptance. Black Sails argues that being a pirate is tough, who you sleep with is irrelevant. Unless they can be used as leverage in which case they don’t give a shit if it’s a man or a woman. Spartacus featured same sex couples as regularly as they featured the bloody arena fight of the week.

Why does this matter when we have cable? It matters because having cable or satellite isn’t the answer to solving the visibility crisis, creators who are eager to tell the story are and outlets willing to tell them. It’s still a television show that is widely embraced by the nation, it still has the power to reach to millions of people in a way that people who may want answers or have questions. It may rot your brain but it also asks you to look deeper, to understand and to learn more.

I have cable.

The Swan Queen pairing sticks out because the fandoms that support Emma with Captain Hook (Captain Swan) and Regina with Robin Hood (Outlaw Queen) have verbally attacked SQ shippers for their want of a same-sex paring. They have taken to social media and bombarded the cast with their homophobic rhetoric while harassing fans online with some of the most childish tirades about why ‘their ship is stupid’. Super eloquent. They’ve seen what change can do and it’s terrifying to them, proof that the invisible is being seen and heard. It sticks out because it’s the story of two women, who from the beginning seem completely at odds with one another, much in the way two mismatched leads are thrown together then suddenly work like magic (PUNS!) when needed.

The closest SQ and LGBTQ fans got to a possible lesbian pairing was  Mulan’s blossoming feelings for Princess Aurora (Sleeping Warrior) which was quickly swept under the rug (also aired during sweeps HA!) when Aurora revealed she was pregnant and in response Mulan ran off to the forest never to be heard from again. Which is why visibility matters; an LGBTQ individual struggling to identify themselves in the world will find something within the lines of the dialogue, in the scenes, in the story and find comfort that their feelings aren’t wrong. They need to see themselves the way other people see themselves regularly.

Aurora, asking the tough questions

 

Mulan giving life.

(gifs from Pirate and Savior)

The Walking Dead has been taking more and more cues from their source material with season with the introduction of gay couple Eric and Aaron in last week’s episode. Naturally, Twitter erupted with collective vomiting noises at the sight of the two men kissing after being reunited.

from issue 72 of The Walking Dead

Nevermind that the book has been out for ten plus years, that the cast is as racially diverse as it’s been for the most part (I miss you Ty…not so much you Bob but that’s a whole other post) The crew thus far consists of a lesbian in Tara Chambler (who’s girlfriend for 2.2 seconds was shot in the head by a 10 year old sociopath, natch) former lawyer turn samurai Michonne, the survivor GAWD Glenn Rhee and Army Reservist Rosita; a rag tag group of pan ethnic survivors killing walkers without questioning loyalties and somehow managing to stay together.  The THOUGHT that two men could still be together riding shitshow zombie wave with comfort makes you sick I just…I can’t. In last night’s episode, the ‘mayor’ of the survivor colony Alexandria is a woman named Deanna Monroe; in the book it’s a black man named Douglas Monroe. A quick gender swap (fascinating) but still worth noting because the fact that leadership experience is valued over gender is important. The last time the crew met with male leaders of similar sounding utopias one was a cannibal and the other was a maniac hellbent on revenge.

LET ME REPEAT: A SHOW THAT HAD A BABY IN PERIL, NEARLY RAPED A FOURTEEN YEAR OLD BOY, HAS ZOMBIE KILL OF THE WEEK AND ROUTINELY COVERS IT’S CHARACTERS IN BLOOD DREW THE IRE OF IDIOTS EVERYWHERE WHEN TWO DUDES KISSED.

This is why diversity matters, why seeing version of other people’s lives matter, why seeing someone you’ve never seen before is important; if you never leave your house, never leave your town or your state, your next best thing is living vicariously through the entertainment. Consider how many states have passed same sex marriage. Some of the change was caused by seeing positive and inclusive characters in a show; they weren’t demons or deviants, they were just people trying to live their lives.

What was once invisible, taboo, dangerous is now being demanded, asked for, created and supplied by consumers and creatives alike. When you have the opportunity to see yourself reflected in the screen in front of you, in the pages before you, in the images around you, you find a form of confidence, comfort, joy and worth that other people take for granted. Many people take their own lives because they are invisible, they are told they do not matter, they aren’t desired in the world.Comic books, movies, tv shows, books can dramatically change that for a person just because they saw themselves in the lines and pages, bold face font as opposed to the margins.

Consider the breakaway success of Fresh Off The Boat. The story of Eddie Huang, the food kingpin, growing up in Orlando during the most critically incredible time in hip hop. A Chinese-Taiwanese American, Huang’s story (loosely based on the memoir of the same name) follows Eddie and his family through the strange suburban streets of Orlando with an essential hip hop soundtrack. It’s the first series since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl to feature an Asian American family in the narrative. I know a lot of Asian American kids who’s stories I’d never seen on screen; we’d grown up together so I know their lives but it’s fascinating to think that as a minority in a minority, your own image doesn’t resonate at all. Asian kids were always the mathletes, goofy swagger- less immigrant, the punching bag but the kids I know, they’re pretty fucking amazing. Jane The Virgin breaks the Hispanic stereotype and lead actress Gina Rodriguez won a Golden Globe for it. We are coming full circle, we are coming to a point where the former, the ignored, the disenfranchised are finding themselves in positions of power and are wisely growing from it. TV and media are powerful forces for change, for conversation and for visibility.

Everybody deserves to have some form of their story told in some medium. They need to know they are important to what makes the human experience and if they don’t see themselves, they should be more than encouraged to create the images that they want to see, that they should see and should be seen.

You are visible, you matter, you count.

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.

 

 

I get it now

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?