Tag Archive | race

Movie Review: Attack the Block

Attack The Block is a flick that I’ve been quietly pining away for the last 5 months. It was in American theatres around mid-July and no one had heard about it. Or wanted to see it. Then it was gone in the blink of an eye but kept popping up again on my radar, once because Edgar Wright of Scott Pilgrim fame (also the executive producer of ATB) was talking it up, and another when Racialicious wrote up a blog entry about it. Well, several to be more precise. I’ll link those at the bottom.

Attack The Block movie posterReally, I’m sure people have already covered the movie in far more eloquent terms than I could. But, for me personally, watching something like this is a minor miracle that I’d like to pass on to friends, family and some of the random strangers that stumble upon my blog.

Please – go rent Attack the Block. It’s available through Red Box (there’s one of those on every major street corner, ya know). I’m sure it’s on Netflix. It’s out there, circulating in the world and here you are, sitting in front of your computer screen reading some silly review.

RANT ABOUT GENRE ENTERTAINMENT

What I love about alien movies lately? They let us have a dialogue about race that I just don’t see happening in a lot of other genre entertainment. Game of Thrones is rad, but race is not on the menu for that particular six course meal. LOTR is a bit more subtle than 300, but there’s still an element of dark vs light man flesh (guess who wins?).

The gothic/monster genre has done a little bit better on the race front – at least Twilight made an attempt (though arguably a poor one) to include Native Americans. Remember those people who lived here in “America” before white kids took over? Yeah, very often genre fiction doesn’t.

By far – science fiction allows us to meet on an equal playing field. I love you fantasy, but you are far to stuck in your gender/race roles. Sci Fi is usually forward looking. It has the glory of giving us alternate future worlds in which it doesn’t matter if you’re a dude a lady or black and white.

BACK TO THE MOVIE REVIEW

Attack The Block is like that. Except it talks about race. Gives a bit of a nod to gender. It talks about socio-economic status. It doesn’t give us a happy ending in which the heroes solve all those problems. But it does give us a realistic one. Which is exceptional for a film about a gang of tough London kids fighting off a horde of aliens in their apartment complex.

Dan, The DH, was skeptical when we first plopped the DVD in. This, from a guy who spent the weekend playing Skyrim. ūüėČ But by the end he was clearly won over to my side of the fence. The side where I knew this would be a good, fun and unique romp before the DVD even started spinning up.

You know there’s something wrong in the world when a 30 year old white woman gets excited about seeing a 15 year old black male protagonist in a movie about aliens.¬†Granted, John Boyega who potrays the hero Moses DOES look a lot like a young Denzel Washington.

John Boyega and Denzel Washington comparison

It's in the eyes and the lips. Sad eyes, pouty lips. Just sayin.

Dan and I aren’t the only ones who noticed. Seriously, google “John Boyega” and “Denzel Washington” it’s in every damn article written about him. Also worth noting – he’s already signed by Spike Lee for an HBO drama “Da Brick.” Hollywood moved fast!

Read More…

Advertisements

X-Shirts: Female Mutant Inspired Fashions

Do you know how difficult it’s been to find an attractive, properly fitting ladies shirt with one of the X-Womenz emblazoned across¬†the chest? Well, it’s been damn difficult. This may shock some of you but Storm, Phoenix and Rogue just aren’t the most popular Marvel faces affixed to an item of clothing.

This also goes hand in hand with another rant/beef I have: even though Rogue is much-beloved by fangirls¬†(this fangirl¬†at least) there is not a single mass-produced costume inspired by her character. Any Rogue costumes and wigs¬†have to be¬†custom made. Which SUCKS if you want to dress up¬†but can’t sew your own.

It’s only been recently that the Storm and Phoenix pre-fabricated costumes have appeared for purchase through major retailers¬†(in varying degrees of skankitude).

PHOENIX:

Weird mix of old school costume and original Phoenix. With just a dash of sleaze.

STORM:

I really adore the head piece to this costume. And all the silver. It pretty much rocks 100%.

I love the Storm version, but wonder about cosplay race-bending.

Is it appropriate for a white person to cosplay as a comic book character of color? According to this blog post, no. And for all intents and purposes, I tend to agree.

So then, would it be weird for me to wear a shirt with Storm on it? Unfortunately there is no guide post on the internet for that particular question (THE NET HAS FAILED ME!)…so I’m gonna also go with “no.” And use a similar set of logic: there are enough white female X-Characters with whom I can identify.¬†If anyone wants to argue I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Anywho – the whole point of this post was to¬†highlight the trend of using the X-Ladies (the¬†BEST ones, sans White Queen) on more clothing attire. And jazzing them up a bit, so it’s not the old Jim Lee 90s version or the throwbacks to the original crew either.

Read More…

Spreading the Link Love 8/20/2010

Lazy Friday blogging – but I’m ¬†pretty excited about a number of these links, and if you can’t link spam at least once a month, then what else is the internet for?

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE EXHIBIT

The Experience Music Project and Science Fiction museum in Seattle, Washington is hosting a BSG Exhibit starting in October. You can also enter to win tickets for two, along with free airfare and a hotel for the grand opening. It features three full-size prop spaceships, costumes, exhibition films, music and other props from the original and re-imagined series. Battlestar Galactica opens to the public Oct. 23, 2010 and runs through March 4, 2012. It’s a bit lame, seeing as the exhibit closes the first day of the Emerald Con. Perhaps we could tack an extra day onto the trip and plan to see this on March 3rd. ¬†I’ve been meaning to see the Science Fiction museum for quite awhile, I’m sure it will be filled with enough nerdosity we could justify an entire day of it.

The idea of planning a whole separate trip to Seattle is not terribly enticing. And yes, when we do go (no ifs about it) we will totally dress in costume. In fact, we’ve been talking about making the BSG costumes a convention mainstay and decking them out/beefing them up to be as realistic as possible.

If anyone else is interested in joining us, lemme know. And if you haven’t started watching BSG yet…why the hell not? It’s a fantastic series, and you don’t need to love space or robots for it to make sense.

****************************************************************************

THREADLESS: The X-MENAGERIE

This one will be short and sweet. The history behind this shirt: Addie picked one up on Preview Night of Comic Con. Threadless had a small store presence there featuring comic book related desigins on Wednesday and Thursday, but our schedule was too busy to allow us to take a detour and pick one up.

I guess the moral of the story is that patience can be a virtue for a lady who loves hoodies. Yes – this awesome design is now available on a hoody, with a schweet X-slash on the front. The only frustrating thing is that I wasn’t quite sure if the sizing is right, so I ended up with a Small because it’s a uni-sex/dude size chart. Hope it’s right, or if not, I can swap it out for Medium before they all sell out.

Got an email that it shipped on Thursday afternoon. The hoodie¬†is $30, and the shipping/handling is only $5, which is pretty damn reasonable for purchasing clothes on the internetz. It’s supposed to arrive in 5-8 business days, so I’m looking at next week to bring me the most fantabulous hoodie a nerdy-ass girl could ever want.

****************************************************************

RUNAWAYS CASTING CALL: Racebending?

It’s tough to watch beloved pieces of entertainment being white-washed yet again. It sort of makes me want to slap Hollywood’s hands away from anything that features women or characters of color, because it’s nearly impossible for them to not fuck it up – even when a minority is at the helm or race plays an integral part in the story line.

As if The Last Airbender weren’t insulting niche fans enough – Runaways the movie is promising to offer up more of the same. Seriously Hollywood, you can’t fuck with niche fan-groups like you can with huge, best-selling franchises and expect the same kind of loyalty or money. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee some kind of completely valid boycott.

No one has been cast yet – so the concern is just being raised over the casting call announcements, which are purposefully color blind in regards to Nico Minoru, who is a major Japanese American female figure in the comic books. The casting call assumed to be for Nico reads:

Girl 1: Uniquely beautiful, nurturing but guarded
Female, must play 16-18
Must be at least 16 by January 2011

“Uniquely beautiful” must be the way that Hollywood chooses to describe a biracial person, without actually having to use that descriptor. It also leaves it open for one of the movie’s main characters to not share the same race as her comic book counter-part.

Read More…

The Bechdel Test: 30 Days of Entertainment Recap

Sorry this is a few days late – had to put my Eclipse thoughts down in print (well, as close to print as the internet gets), and my brother arrived home from the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday. Then last night I suffered the indignity of The Last Airbender. Oh you can bet a review of that is forthcoming as well. Anyways, was busy but not busy enough to forget about the recap of the last month’s efforts. So, without further adieu…

WHAT WAS REVIEWED

Comic Books, Regular Books, Television Shows and Movies. I tried to pick a variety of items to test over the month, but you can rest assured that I wasn’t merely selecting things on the basis of them being “worthy.” What was read or watched is really stuff that I would normally consume and didn’t vary from my routine. Except for a few exceptions.

After submitting three episodes of Justified and¬† having them fail the women and race test, I determined that I could leave off including that show in the future. I still finished up the first season, but have now realized that it doesn’t nearly hold a candle to the awesomeness that was Deadwood. That show was simply too good, and Justified will never be anything like it. Damn, damn, double damn.

There was also a point that I tried to read Ex Machina and realized intuitively it wasn’t going to pass, so was unable to trudge through it. It also started getting super meta by including the author, and that is a gigantic turn-off to me. No one has ever done it well and it completely ruins the story. Sorry writers. We don’t want to SEE YOU in the story. We want the story. You are not welcome there.

I also left off The Road as well. It was a book club requirement and did not pass the women and race test either.

It feels important to disclose what I didn’t even bother putting to the test, because¬† it still matters to the test. So there you have it – at least three more items that do not pass the test which were not included in the posts for various reasons.

HOW HAS IT IMPACTED PRESENT AND FUTURE ENTERTAINMENT CHOICES?

It’s certainly made me more conscious on a basic level of inclusion. Having to be so meticulous about scouting it out in books, comic books and movies has definitely led to it becoming something of a second nature. It’s kind of a habit now, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever really be able to turn my brain off to examining the nuances. This makes my brain quite happy, as its natural state is to over-think everything.

The Bechdel Test hasn’t necessarily inspired me to give up all entertainment that is dominated by white men, because then I would be giving up some of the franchises and pieces of entertainment that I love. But I’m not going to forget that they only include men and what that says to me as a female reader and someone who feels inclusion is imperative in order to properly reflect humanity and society.

It seems important to mention that even if something passed the test, that didn’t automatically give it a stamp of feminist approval, or mean it was not stereotypically depicting people of color.

Who would have thought that Eclipse and Bree Tanner would have passed the tests? I still firmly believe the Twilight saga is deviously misogynistic and paints a deeply troublesome portrait of romantic love to teen girls that is not achievable in reality. Bella is a disturbing heroine for a younger generation of women.

Another way Twilight passed is through the inclusion of Native Americans; the Quileute characters and use of legends. Outside of the wolf related folklore, there isn’t much mentioned about the current culture and life on the reservation. This is a subject area I would need to do a bit more research on, but the inclusion of Native American characters in the Twilight Saga has clearly been a mixed blessing.

– The real Quileutes in La Push have benefited financially from the exposure and seem pleased to have contemporary depictions of Natives shown in Hollywood (rather than “leather and feather” versions from the 1800s)

– The heritage of actors and actresses depicting the role has been a crucial part of the casting process. Not all of the cast members are full-blooded Native American, and this presents a problem.

– A more in-depth analysis of First Nation representation in the franchise is provided here.

– Actual quotes from Chaske Spencer, the Native American who plays Sam Uley.

This seems like enough material for an entirely different post. Regardless, I guess you could give Stephenie Meyer props for actually including Native Americans in a huge Hollywood blockbuster franchise with all the usual stereotypes stripped away.

Non-Twilight Related Business. Another surprise for me was seeing that Push passed the test. I didn’t have any expectations one way or the other going into it, and so when I started tallying up, I was impressed. It’s been a quiet favorite of mine, an under-rated screen gem which was set up for a sequel it will never receive, much to my dismay. So, even happier to note that it passed both tests, though the Race test only marginally. And perhaps only then because it took place in Hong Kong. But yay for that right? Kudos to films set in foreign countries for no real reason without disrespecting the country and culture.

It also seems strange to me that many of the books, movies, TV shows included women and minority characters, yet left off the need for them to interact with one another. Glee is a great example of a show that purports to be inclusive, but rarely utilizes the characters of color and hardly ever has them converse together. There are still characters of color in the background who haven’t had speaking roles, yet have appeared every episode. That’s hugely disturbing. Sometimes – and I’m sure folks will hate hearing this – I feel like minority or disabled characters are included simply in the series so they can get away with an ethnic joke or a joke about people in wheelchairs that otherwise would be inappropriate if uttered by a white or able-bodied character. For reals.

Read More…

Bechdel Test Post #3

TRUE BLOOD: Season 3, Episode 26: Bad Blood

Bechdel Test for Women

1. It has two or more women in it (with names)

2. At least two women talk to each-other: Sookie and Kenya. Sookie and Pam. Sookie and Tara. Sookie and Jessica. Tara and Arlene.

3. There were no conversations between two women that didn’t revolve around Bill or Eric. Tara and Arlene were fighting about race – but that conversation was spurred by the death of Eggs. There was a brief exchange between Tara and Lettie Mae – but it was being coaxed by a male reverend. The only line not uttered through or about a male was when Tara told her mother she was going to take a shower.

***************************************

Bechdel Test for Men

1. It has two or more men in it (with names)

2. At least two men talk to each-other: Jason and Andy Bellefleur. Jason and Hoyt. Eric and the magistrate.

3. Jason and Andy discuss the death of Eggs. Jason and Hoyt talk about their life situation – Hoyt asks to move in. Eric and the magistrate discuss the sale of “V” in Louisiana.

*************************************************************

Bechdel Test for Race

1. It has two or more people of color in it (with names) – Tara, Lafayette, Lettie Mae

2. Tara and Lafayette. Lafayette and Lettie Mae.

3. Tara and Lafayette talk to one another about the death of Eggs. Lafayette and Lettie Mae talk to one another about Tara and their own relationship.

**********************************************************

This True Blood episode DOES NOT PASS the female test, PASSES the male test and PASSES the Bechdel Test for Race.

__________________________________________________________

THE GUILD Comic Book: Issues 1-3

Since these were all read in one grouping…I decided against doing a Bechdel test on each, so they will be measured as a unit.

Bechdel Test for Women

1. It has two or more women in it (with names)

2. At least two women talk to each-other: Cyd and Clara in issue 2. Cyd and Tink in issue 3.

3. Cyd and Clara talk about the  rules of The Game and how to earn points. Cyd and Tink talk about arranging a raid, and later about joining The Guild.

***************************************

Bechdel Test for Men

1. It has two or more men in it (with names)

2. At least two men talk to each-other: No men talk to each-other in issue 1. Zaboo and Bladezz in issue 2. Zaboo and Vork in issue 2. Zaboo and Bladezz in issue 3.

3. Zaboo and Bladezz discuss the game and homework. Zaboo and Vork discuss the game.

*************************************************************

Bechdel Test for Race

1. It has two or more people of color in it (with names): Tink. Zaboo.

2. Two minorities talk to one another: Neither of the two characters interact with one another.

3. N/A

**********************************************************

Two issues PASS the female test (2/3), two issues PASS the male test (2/3) and none of the issues PASS the Bechdel Test for Race (0/3).

Read More…

Bechdel Test Post #2

GLEE EPISODE #22: Journey

Bechdel Test for Women

1. It has two or more women in it (with names)

2. At least two women talk to each-other: Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray both talk to their mothers. Sue Sylvester talks to Olivia Newton John.

3. Rachel and her mother talk about Glee Club. Quinn Fabray talks to her mother about her pregnancy and future situation (the baby). Sue Sylvester talks to Olivia Newton John about the Glee Club regional performances.

***************************************

Bechdel Test for Men

1. It has two or more men in it (with names)

2. At least two men talk to each-other: Will Schuester and Principal Figgins.

3. Will Schuester and Principal Figgins talk to one-another about the status of Glee Club.

*************************************************************

Bechdel Test for Race

1. It has two or more people of color in it (with names)

2. Two minorities do not talk to one another

3. N/A

**********************************************************

This Glee episode PASSES the female test, PASSES the male test and DOES NOT pass the Bechdel Test for Race.

__________________________________________________________

AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER – Book Two, Episodes #1-7

Since these were all watched in one grouping…and there are seven of them I decided against doing a Bechdel test on each, so they will be measured in one group.

Bechdel Test for Women

1. It has two or more women in it (with names)

2. At least two women talk to each-other: Katara and Toph (the blind earth-bender). Princess Azula, Mai and Ty Lee.

3. Katara and Toph talk about why Toph does not let her parents know about her earth-bending skills. Princess Azula meets with Mai and Ty Lee to convince them to join with her.

***************************************

Bechdel Test for Men

1. It has two or more men in it (with names)

2. At least two men talk to each-other: Aang often talks to Sokka. He also converses with King Bumi.

3. Aang and Sokka talk about the missions. He converses with King Bumi about his training.

*************************************************************

Bechdel Test for Race

1. It has two or more people of color in it (with names)

2. Two minorities talk to one another: All of the main characters are people of color, and they interact every episode.

3. They talk amongst themselves about their journey, the situations they will encounter, and Aang’s training. White people are never mentioned or discussed.

**********************************************************

Only two episodes PASS the female test (2/7), all seven episodes PASS the male test (7/7) and PASS the Bechdel Test for Race (7/7).

Read More…

She Has No Head! and the Bechdel Test for Race

She Has No Head! is a great column I’ve been reading for the last few months written about comic books from the female perspective. Kelly Thompson usually publishes once a week, and maintains a personal blog you can find in my blogroll under Kelly Thompson: 1979 Semifinalist.

Kelly Thompson

We share a similar background in how we originally entered¬†into the comic book world¬†(that damn X-Men cartoon), except she’s ventured into the field more artistically with drawing and writing.

Anywho – she posted an insightful interview with Hope Larson, who writes YA graphic novels specifically catered towards young women. Larson somewhat informally surveyed 200 girls and women to find out how they’d gotten into comic books, what they read, where they get it, etc. so she can better market her material.

She shared the findings with Kelly Thompson in an interview format – mostly talking about some of the things women experience as barriers to the medium – social shunning of comic books, misogyny and sexism on the pages, not enough access, etc.

The comment section kind of exploded after that. There is clearly a lot of frustrated men out there who want to hold onto the outdated and faded concept that “comic books are for boys.” I spent at least two hours reading through the comments and formulating a response. I’ll re-post it here:

The prevailing concept of “comic books are for boys” is like an addiction. The idea needs to hit rock bottom before the people who harbor such notions can truly accept the change this medium needs. Anything else is just lip service and they’ll end up in rehab six months down the road claiming that “girls don’t like comic books.”

It’s hard because so many men responding here want to see change. They get frustrated (as do we) when they have to read about someone feeling excluded from a mode of entertainment they enjoy. They wouldn’t read the articles if they didn’t care. They wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t recognize the truth. Some are upset because to change the system would unbalance something that is clearly in their favor. It’s hard to give up privilege because…it’s so damned privileged. And yes, you are privileged to believe you have an entire medium devoted to your gender (even if it’s not truly the case). Women don’t usually get such a luxury – we have genres (romance, fantasy, YA Fiction). Not entire mediums.

Honestly it makes me feel warm and fuzzy that so many dudes read your posts and care enough to respond. To those who apparently have the buying power (as the dollars I spend mean little to nothing to mainstream comic book writers, creators, editors and artists)…what are you doing to make fundamental changes so the books you love can represent women and minorities equitably?

And if you don’t care…why are you here – reading a blog that is clearly approaching comic books from a feminine perspective? I’ve read a couple different times now a plea for the author to review good books sans female interpretation. Why does she have to neutralize her gender?

Because male is the default gender of our society. And the female perspective is not an applicable lens with which to view the world. It’s not the voice of academia or authority.

Most men fail to realize how much of gender informs what they deem good or worthy of reading. And when they take the time to review, rarely mention gender at all.

It is no accident that women routinely reflect on gender when reviewing things. We experience gender as a very real barrier to many things we would otherwise be fully able to love and enjoy about our lives. And nine times out of ten, when we share that experience with men – they either deny it, or play down the importance of our experience.

I think most of the men in this forum do care. I would say most people desire stories with well represented characters from both genders. We probably love and have close relationships with both men and women. You know, cuz we’re not robots. Well, most of us. It’s very heartening to see men here willing to approach comic books from a perspective that is not their own and have reasonable discussion.

It means a lot to me to have dudes on the side of women when it comes to making a change in the industry. I’ve mentioned this before…but I find myself less and less attracted to superhero books because of the blatant sexist depiction of women. Yes – Rogue’s new costume – half-unzipped and boobs hanging out is the reason I’m not buying the X-Men Legacy title right now. Even if she is the central character and the writing is fantastic. Sorry, there are some things I’m absolutely unwilling to compromise on.

There’s a lot of compelling discussion happening in the comment section of this article and if you are a person who wants to see the medium revitalize and superhero books regain the admiration of women, I think this is a great place to start.

I’m really heartened that many of the guys who read this blog and Thompson’s column seem to recognize that as a woman, it’s important for¬†us to reflect on gender and discover where it is represented in the male-dominated comic book medium. The feminine perspective is one of the primary lenses with which I have to view the world, and it’s important to do so…because (as I mentioned in my comment) – the male perspective is the default view of academia and authority. Well, it’s just the damn default view in general.

As is the white lens. I haven’t brought up much discussion of race on this particular blog in relation to comic books. I’ve often felt inadequate at doing so. But the She Has No Head! article really made me stop and think about privilege.

So – going to add a race component to the Bechdel Test, using some of the suggestions from this Racialicious article.

Using pretty much the same rule:

  • It has to have two people of colour in it.
  • Who talk to each other.
  • About something other than a white person.
  • Hoping to submit my first Bechdel entry tomorrow.

    In the interim, here are some interesting articles about the Bechdel Test and race Рhappy to report that some of my favorite shows pass (BSG and True Blood):

    The Bechdel Test and Race #1

    The Bechdel Test and Race #2

    Incognegro

    I picked this book up at one of my scouting sessions at the local library – intrigued by the title and the concept of the storyline – taking something historically true and making a comic book out of it is a pretty common theme lately.

    Incognegro takes place in the 1930’s, back in the Southern heyday of lynching black people in their towns for fun and sport. The idea is that Northern light-skinned black people would infiltrate Klan rallies and report on them – making sure that these “secret” lynchings would be publicized and brought to the public attention.

    The graphic novel is written by Mat Johnson, who is not primarily a comic book writer and illustrated by British artist Warren Pleece who works mostly for DC comics, and inks a few of their Vertigo titles.

    The story of Zane Pinback is one of a truly brave and truly heroic person in a time where merely attempting to pass as a white person could get a man killed. Passing is a central theme in this graphic novel – and Johnson does well to illustrate the benefits and pitfalls of being able to pass as white in a white dominated society. It’s almost a philosophical look at race…

    The book is an excellent blend of history, suspense, and revelation – as well as gut-wrenching frankness about the relationship between black and white people during this time period. There is a noir-ish mystery element added to it – and a focus on women’s own struggles with identity that I particularly appreciated, which almost mirrors the main characters “false identity.”

    incognegro-imageThe novel is also incredibly sad and sobering – with imagery that is nearly impossible to burn from your mind (specifically the lynchings). The black and white format works perfectly for the theme of the story, as well as the noir-ish style with lots of shadows and dark blended in for added weight and depth. There wasn’t a lot of panel trickery either – it was all pretty standard and straight forward – and did not detract from the story itself.

    A definite recommended read – it can easily be consumed in an evening and lends itself to a questioning and exploring of our history that is very important right now…when fear of other races and cultures is STILL so prevalent.

    Final thought: This book should be supplemental or required reading in schools. It illustrates a perspective not often seen – the “other” perspective.

    Much Love, Mindy C