Category Archives: fandom

Sailor WTF?: Kirsten Dunst’s ‘Akihabara Majokko Princess’


By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

At least she can sorta carry a tune.

Dunst1After two viewings, that’s about all I can glean from Kirsten Dunst’s cover of “Turning Japanese,” which premiered late last year as part of an exhibition by Takashi Murakami at London’s Tate Museum. According to Anime News Network, the video is a collaboration between Murakami and director McG, which makes this – to give everyone the benefit of the doubt – somewhat puzzling as an interpretation of anything close to fandom.

Dunst, to her credit, has a history with the medium: she voiced the title character in the English-language adaptation of Kiki’s Delivery Service, and has expressed an affection for Sailor Moon – which explains the costume – in past interviews. But instead of presenting her as a Majokko (“Magical girl” or “Witch Girl”), MCG here threw her under the same bus Scarlett Johansson rode in on for Lost In Translation.

Start with the musical selection: to be sure, “Turning Japanese” isn’t about actually being Japanese (nor is it about masturbation. Well, apparently.). And inter-cutting shots of her with hentai imagery – like, say, the upskirt shot on the billboard seconds after the one on Dunst – takes Dunst’s character out of the sympathetic realm and into Male Gaze territory. And as someone who had to sit through Terminator: Salvation, I don’t think McG thought it through that thoroughly.

Finally, there’s the “interactions” with the locals. The vast majority of them are wordless Others, watching the camera with blank looks. The guys in the jumpsuits, it seems, are members of a local dance troupe, and they at least get to be active. But otherwise the actual Japanese people here are either spectators, or look like they’re wondering who this girl is who’s ripping off Gwen Stefani’s act.

Race & Comics Round-up: Around The Marvel Universe

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

Over at Marvel, the solicitations for May listed two books starring POC characters. Perhaps the most surprising is Amadeus Cho, Prince Of Power, a mini-series starring the young Korean-American running buddy of Hercules. Amadeus, acknowledged as the eighth-smartest man on Earth, is tasked to assume Hercules’ mantle by Herc’s sister, Athena. Her reasoning is, to deal with a pending crisis, the next P.O.P should be more formidable mentally than physically.

Thankfully, Cho has been steered clear of “smart Asian” territory by his creator, writer Greg Pak. Pak has consistently played Amadeus as not just intelligent, but cocky enough to team-up or work against other other Marvel brain-boxes like Reed Richards and Henry Pym. So while this is just a limited series, it’s good to see Amadeus get more of a spotlight.

cagetboltsMeanwhile, the Thunderbolts series gets re-tooled yet again, this time with Marvel mainstay Luke Cage as the star. Cage has been a presence in the Marvel U. since 1972 (remember the Gold Shirt and Tiara?), and starting in Thunderbolts #144, Cage is placed in charge of a supervillain rehab program as part of the company’s much-hyped “Heroic Age” event.

It’ll be interesting to see how this isn’t presented as anything but a demotion for Cage, who was heavily featured by Brian Michael Bendis in both Daredevil and New Avengers over the past few years. (Speaking of the Avengers, what we’ve seen of the team’s new line-up looks very, uh, monochromatic.)

Finally, a note on last week’s bit of mock-outrage over Captain America taking on “The Watchdogs,” which may or may not have been inspired by the Tea Party – who want you to know, by the way, that they would never mockingly call a black man “Obama,” as happened in Captain America #602. As MightyGodKing put it:

My word, why would anybody ever associate tea partiers with racism? Continue reading

Hunting BET’s Black Panther

by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

Awhile back, Ghetto Manga reported that the Black Panther animated series, long in development for BET, had finally aired … but in Australia.

Awesome, I thought. And sure enough, ABC3, the Australian Broadcast Company’s kiddie channel, has Black Panther listed on its’ website. Surely BET would be happy to follow up on this, right?

Not quite. Instead, over the past two weeks, calls to both the media affairs and programming offices in both D.C. and Los Angeles either were not returned, or passed around to various names in both departments. In one instance, someone in the D.C. media relations dept. said the initial report was incorrect because BET didn’t air in Australia. In the meantime, if any of our Aussie readers have caught the show – Hexy, are you there? – please feel free to send us a review.

“Are All Cult Movies White?”

by Latoya Peterson

Regular reader Charlotte wrote in with a very interesting question:

I’m in a class at my university that focuses on cult movies and gender issues, and my professor has been describing the cult movie phenomenon as specifically white and middle class. You guys have been running a lot of articles on fans of color recently, and I was wondering whether what my professor said was actually true. Do you know anything about the breakdown of cult movie audiences? Or are we just watching all the white cult movies and paying attention to the white cult audiences? The readings she’s assigned have agreed that audiences are certainly mostly white, but we’re also studying most of the more accepted/acceptable/entrenched cult movies, like Rocky Horror or Bladerunner.

Good question.

I suppose there are two questions at play – what defines a cult classic, and which things are considered cult to what types of audiences? Continue reading

NOCs (Nerds of Color)[Essay]

By Guest Contributor Bao Phi, originally posted at the Star Tribune Your Voices Blog

I’ve told this story a million times: when I was young, my father kept me off the streets and saved much needed money buying me the toys I wanted by getting me a library card and teaching me to walk to the Franklin Avenue library, and there began my love of books and stories.

What I’ve written less about is the books I gravitated towards: books about mythological monsters, Greek gods and heroes, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Lord of the Rings, my older sister’s Elfquest collection and X-men comic books.  And the secret of many a nerd of color from the ‘hood: my lifelong devotion with role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, and Vampire: the Masquerade (making vampire fixations embarrassing long before Stephanie Meyer).

Although I had friends in and out of the neighborhood who were also nerds, it definitely wasn’t typical.  I remember one of my fellow nerds of color inviting me to a Rifts game in a tough tone of voice as if he was initiating me into a gang, all the while looking around nervously as if his street cred would be in serious jeopardy if anyone overheard him talking about how much SDC a Glitterboy had.

Nowadays of course, being a nerd can mean big money.  Everything from Tolkien to comic books to video games is finding its way into mainstream America’s fast food blood stream.  Along with it seems to be the rebellious streak that goes along with being the kid who gets picked on for knowing how to write in Tolkien’s Dwarven – a certain righteousness about being the odd person out, the strange smug martyrdom that comes from knowing that painting miniatures and possessing a dice bag marked you as being a freak and an outsider.

But then how do nerds of color like me fit in, and how do we deal with fellow nerds who don’t want to talk about things like race and class in comic books, video games, role playing games, and movies?   I’ll be the first to admit, I got into all of that stuff for the escapism it allowed.  It was invaluable to me, as a refugee from a war growing up in an economically poor urban area, to fantasize that I was someone else, somewhere else.  I’d rather be a paladin with a war horse riding to battle a chimera than be the Vietnamese ghetto refugee nerd running from the dudes on my block who tried to jump me on my way to and from CUHCC clinic to get my teeth cleaned.

Continue reading

Is Star Trek Exposing Your Latent Racial Issues?

by Latoya Peterson

I came across this gem while browsing the Hathor Legacy.  Blogger Ankhesen Mié has been watching the debate on fan forums about the Trek reboot (specifically the Spock-Uhura relationship) and decided to create a quiz around some of the most common sentiments:

1)    Do you feel horrified when you see Spock kiss a woman who looks like Uhura, and don’t know why?

2)    Do you look at Zoe Saldana and feel you “just can’t trust her” but can’t say why?

3)    Do you think Uhura’s not a very feminine character, but just can’t say why?

4)    Would you prefer Spock to be with Christine Chapel over Uhura?

5)    Do you think the Spock/Uhura relationship—in the story—is controversial because of Uhura?

6)    Do you consider yourself a “die-hard” Trek fan but still don’t agree with the pairing?

7)    Have you watched all things Trek—shows, films, interviews, etc. pertaining to this cast—and still think this pairing “came out of nowhere”?

8)    Do you think the kissing was “just wrong” and that Zachary Quinto was hurt by the writers? Continue reading

Comic-Books & Race ’09 Part 1: Open Thread

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García


Seemingly lost amid the news of Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Comics was this post by Marvel Executive Editor Tom Breevort, where a question about non-American comic-book leads yielded this rather candid response:

Because we’re an American company whose primary distribution is centered around America, the great majority of our existing audience seems to be white American males. So while within that demographic you’ll find people who are interested in a wide assortment of characters of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, whenever your leads are white American males, you’ve got a better chance of reaching more people overall.

Boom! Studios head Mark Waid commented on the issue at Comic Book Resources:

In the original post, Tom makes it abundantly clear that he’s not sure he has an answer, isn’t sure he knows THE answer, but that he’s hazarding a guess. And while Tom’s syntax following that is a little blunt…man, I wish it were wrong, but it’s not. Every comics publisher ever, including BOOM!, can tell you maddening tales of retailers who, even now, in the 21st century, are hesitant to order books with non-white, non-American leads because their community won’t support them. It’s absurd, it’s crazy-making, I don’t know what it’s going to take to change that other than time…but like it or not, it is an unfortunate truth of the time in which we live.

Needless to say, there’s a few layers to this discussion. But rather than try to wrap it all up into one post, I figured we’d start by getting your take on the matter. Is it a matter of “not supporting” POC superheroes, or the industry that creates them? Is it a case of creative and business inertia? What do you think?

Notes from a Con [Series Introduction – Race and Otakudom]

by Latoya Peterson

While Arturo was gearing up for Comic-Con, and Joe hung out at the Asian American Comic Con, I spent the weekend at Otakon.

Stepping off the bus near the Convention Center, I felt myself involuntarily break into a smile. Neko ears, Naruto headbands and wings galore. For three days, the Baltimore Harbor area transforms into planet anime, and you never really know what you’ll catch out of the corner of your eye.

The locals tend to be amused. As I was walking down the street, a woman rolled down her window and hollered at the boy in front of me. “Excuse me – what’s going on here? Is it a Harry Potter convention?”

“What? No!” he said with a pained voice, pulling his Ichigo Kurosaki costume tighter around his thin brown frame.

I couldn’t help myself. I laughed. Continue reading