All posts by Kendra James

Open Thread: The Walking Dead 4.4 “Indifference”

TWD1

By Jeannie Chan

This episode was a doozy. I am holding onto the hope that this season is THE season for The Walking Dead. We keep digging a little deeper with each episode and this week seemed to be the most introspective of them all. I regret not being able to squee as much as I usually do, but let’s hear from you guys! We have a lot to talk about.

Who’s on Team Rick? First of all, this is going to be a huge point of contention. I am still on the fence about this myself, but did Rick make the right call in banishing Carol? His other options aren’t that great. It’s either tell Tyreese that Carol killed Karen and Tyreese will exact vengeance on her, or what, lie for her?

Who’s on Team Carol? I stand by my love for Carol. When she explained that she learned how to reset a dislocated shoulder by Googling it, or whatever, because she was tired (read: ashamed) of having to tell the ER nurses that she “fell down the stairs again,” we’re reminded of the quiet, timid, battered woman she used to be. No one can deny that she has made a huge transformation since Season 1. No one else on this show has changed as much as she has. Few other characters have earned our respect like she has either. And that’s what makes it so hard to see her be exiled like this.

Overall, this was a huge downer of an episode, right? But it was done so amazingly well. I am loving how utterly and devastatingly human these people are now. Or really, again, because, you know, they are. Or were before the world fell apart. And this theme of holding onto their humanity is taking an interesting turn with Lizzy’s obsession and confusion with the walkers. Children are always going to have a hard time understanding the permanency of death, the cycle of life, etc. etc. and I imagine that can only be more muddled when the cycle is never-ending now. And on the other end of this spectrum, we have that shot of the photo on the wall to show us that the walker that Bob just disposed of had, at one point, been a real person with friends and family and had hobbies, like hunting. The last time we were given this glimpse into a random walker was in the very first episodes of the season when we met Morgan Jones’s wife.

Also, I completely forgot about Sophia until Carol mentioned her again. And when I remembered, I felt like I was punched in the stomach. And when Carol just simply said, “No,” when she was asked if she lost her daughter to walkers, my heart broke for her. And for Rick. And then my heart broke again when Bob revealed that he snuck some booze during the medicine run and we learned that his motives for joining the group on these outings were compulsions to satisfy the alcohol dependency he is still clearly struggling with.

And Michonne finally was able to admit to herself that the Governor’s trail has gone completely cold. (Has it though?? I have no idea if David Morrissey has signed on for episode this season and I don’t even want to check because I want to be able to react appropriately if and when he shows up but his plotline can’t just dry up like this, right? There has to be an epic showdown, right?)

Anyway, I have a lot of questions. And a lot of feelings to process. I’m sure you all do too. Let’s rage it out together in the comments below!

Open Thread: Kerry Washington hosts Saturday Night Live

Image via Vibe.com

By Kendra James

With the combined fire power of a few cute empire waists, boxy tops, and racial stereotypes, Kerry Washington became one of a handful of Black women to host Saturday Night Live in its 30+ year history. Given the recent controversy surrounding the lack of color in the SNL cast, its understandable that the show would be eager to face the topic head on. Asking Washington to host was a nice first step, but they seem content to stop there.

Kerry Washington Cold Open 1

Kerry Washington Cold Open 2

Kerry Washington Cold Open 3

Scrolling text in Kerry Washington’s SNL cold open, via Mashable

Sure, SNL addressed their lack of Black women directly in the cold open, but joking about the glaring absence really loses all effectiveness if you don’t take steps to fix it immediately after. Addressing your own racist casting practices as a joke makes you seem less like a writer’s room full of subversive humourist savants than it does a room full of white privileged writers. The screen caps above represent a joke that could only retain legs if at the end of the show they’d announced the addition of a full time Black female cast member.

Of course, after seeing the sketches Washington was thrown into –especially in the first half of the show– it’s probably worth wondering how well a Black woman would fare in this era of SNL. With a sketches that included a mouthy, angry Black girlfriend, a BAPs style Black ghetto girl, an Ugandan beauty queen who reeked of Eddie Murphy’s “what have you done for me lately” bit from Raw, and the best Angela Davis impression she could muster, Washington and the SNL writers were one weave joke away from a stereotypical Black woman full sweep.

Washington put her all into everything she was given (as did Jay Pharoah, who was in all but 2 sketches on Saturday night, “because,” said the writer’s room, “if they want Black people then, goddamnit, we are going to give them black people! Take that, critics.”) but surely there have been several other hosts from popular breakout television shows who’ve knocked their hosting nights out of the park without relying on racial humour to take them through. Jon Hamm comes to mind. Unfortunately, where someone like Jon Hamm seems to inspire new, original material, the SNL writers room looked at Kerry Washington and clearly decided that with the plethora of jokes people have been making about Black women for years, they already had all they needed.

The only sketch that seemed as if it had any input from a non white writer included the Angela Davis impression mentioned above. I really do wish my white friends would stop telling me to watch The Wire. But for the most part, I still have to disagree with Kenan Thompson’s recent comments about there being no Black female comedians who are ready for SNL. It’s the SNL writers who aren’t ready for Black women.

The rest of Saturday night’s sketches are underneath the cut. What do you think, readers?

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The Walking Dead Recap 4.3: “Isolation”

By Jeannie Chan

Last week, we learned that there’s a fast-moving killer flu infecting the prison. Before they can even get a sense of how bad it is or how to treat it, someone took the initiative to eliminate the infected and killed Karen and David. It didn’t do much good since the infection has already spread. This week, tension runs high all around as more people get sick and Tyreese tries to deal with Karen’s death.

(Full recap and spoilers under cut!)

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The Walking Dead Recap 4.2: “Infected”


By Jeannie Chan

Many people, myself included, felt that the season premiere started off real slow. Nothing exciting happened. Barely anybody died. It was, more or less, boring. It reigned in character development! But action? Not so much. I mean, I didn’t even have to mute the episode at all! (This is the only way I can get through the scary parts of TWD when I watch it alone, okay? Don’t judge me.) Well, to make amends for last week’s lack of grossouts, this episode begins with the first of many lovely scenes that will surely induce fits of “AHUGH GROSS!” Also, we learn more about Michonne, which warrants a +1000 to the writers. FINALLY.

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The Racialicious Review Of 12 Years A Slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave

By Kendra James

Warning: This review contains spoilers, and discussion of abuse, violence, and rape.

Normally, knowing that a story has a “happy ending” helps to ease the burden of getting through something horrific. 12 Years a Slave is not that movie. It can’t be that movie with the way Steve McQueen dispenses of the conventional methods to show the passing of time. This could be 12 months, 12 weeks, or 12 years and we wouldn’t have known; I even lost track of how long I’d been in the theatre. There’s no clear changing of the seasons; no transition from spring to summer or fall, just once the point made that a crop of cotton has been lost.

Time is marked by the passing of violence rather than the passing of seasons, and it blurs and stretches and bunches together in places as it must have for Solomon Northup  (a triumphant Chiwetel Ejiofor) himself. By not providing the viewer with any demarcation of time McQueen effectively puts us in his lead character’s position. How long Solomon’s been enslaved doesn’t matter and there’s no concrete end. Just one dehumanising experience to live through after another.

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The Walking Dead Roundtable 4.1: “30 Days Without an Accident”

Hosted by Jeannie Chan

Welcome back to a new season of The Walking Dead! Every week, I will nitpick er, lead a roundtable discussion of the previous Sunday’s episode. (For a recap on the plot of the episode, go here!) We ease into the fourth season of the series with a low body count and a general sense that our post-apocalyptic survivors are holding their own and doing pretttty well? Which, in theory, affords us more time to get to know these people a little better. Carly Mitchell and Kiki Smith join me this week to analyze the new character Bob Stookey and how well the Woodburies are fitting in with the rest of the group.

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NYCC Panel Recap; Geeks Of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom

by Kendra James

The Geeks Of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom panel featured friends of the R activist, academic, and steampunk blogger Diana Pho (who acted as moderator) and fantasy author N.K Jemisin, a friend of mine, cosplayer Jay Justice, cosplayer and prop maker Ger Tysk, writers Jeffrey Wilson, Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, and Emmanuel Ortiz, and writer, blogger and classical music student Muse En Lystrala. As we’ve already covered it was one of the few panels to feature an all POC lineup and subjects of discussion. It also proved to be popular enough that several people waiting in line were unable to attend in the end. Hopefully this roundup helps ease the pain for some of those who were unable to get into this excellent discussion.

Before we dive into the questions and answers presented, it’s important to take a moment to emphasise a point Pho made towards the end of the evening.

If you attended the panel and you liked what you heard, if you wanted to attend the panel but couldn’t, if you wanted to attend but were turned away, or if you simply like what you read of the discussion in this post: Please let those who run New York Comic Con know that you want to see more varied and diverse content at future events. You can rate the panel on the NYCC phone app, you can tweet at them @NY_Comic_Con, or you can write an email to Lance Fensterman and his staff at lance@email-reedexpo.com as I plan to. Anything you can do to make your voice heard is a positive step toward bringing in some change next year.

With that said, let’s get to the panel under the cut:

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