Category Archives: hollywood

Open Thread: Scandal S03E05: ‘More Cattle, Less Bull’

By Arturo R. García

The Road to the White House now appears to literally go through Olivia (Kerry Washington) on “Scandal.”

Give writer Jenna Bans credit: “More Cattle, Less Bull” justified its’ rather fast clip by successfully showing why this show’s distaff circles have no choice but to stick around each other. It also delivers a major reversal of fortune for Olivia’s career, just in time for what will probably instigate the final battle with her father.
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Open Thread: Scandal S03E01; It’s Handled

Contrary to popular belief, nothing has actually be handled all that well.

by Kendra James

“You seem to do a lot for a show you say you don’t even like,” one of my friends observed as I explained how I’d bought an Olivia Pope sized wineglass and an all white lounge ensemble (which I can’t wear yet because it’s October 4th and 80 degrees in New York City) to prepare myself for Thursday’s Scandal premiere.

No lies detected there. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m not quite sure how good Scandal is. Entertaining? Certainly. Good? Questionable in my mind.

What makes the whole sordid affair (literally, as the saga of Olitz treks on) worth a new wine glass and pajamas then? Twitter. Unlike other ABC shows that I assumed would improve with good livetweet –Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD comes to mind– my enjoyment of Scandal really does hinge on my being able to sit down with a glass of wine and the whole of Black Twitter at my fingertips. If nothing else, Scandal provides a unique sense of community that shows with even the largest fandoms could only hope to achieve.

All of that said, the online reactions to last night’s season 3 premiere did not disappoint. And, you know, the show itself wasn’t bad either.

We’ll have our Round Table up sometime next week, but until then feel free to discuss last night down below and have a few stray observations for the road:

  •  How many of us are explaining “work twice as hard to go half as far” to white friends who can’t make that math work at the water cooler this morning. Daddy Pope’s air hanger speech not but 4 minutes into the show proved that Scandal is here to go hard this season.
  • Speaking of Daddy Pope, that is one terrifying man. Terrifying, but I’m going to guess predictable. 10:1 odds that he had something to do with the later mentioned plane crash that killed Olivia’s mother. This is a soap opera after all, and so far no one’s been thrown into a coma.
  • And a final note on Olivia’s background: I was vindicated when her isolated prep school background (which I’ve been calling since S1) was finally revealed.
  • Huck’s presence was missed this week, but as it’s only the season premiere we can cut them some slack for that.
  • Mellie is that mother who will beat you right here in the aisle of this fancy grocery store with all these people watching if you don’t stop acting up right. now. She is tired, she will make a scene, and she’s smart enough to take you down while doing it. Can you imagine Mellie actually in charge of the CIA?
  • Fitz once again prattled on to his VP about “the leader he’s always wanted to be.” We’ve yet to hear what that actually means, but I’m guessing in Fitz’s brain it means “fixing racism by being a Republican with a Black girlfriend.” That’s not a platform.
  • Fitz also proved, as he tried to deal with Olivia, Sally, and Mellie throughout the night, that he sees himself as a master manipulator of women. But I’m sure that’s something we’ll touch on more in the roundtable.
  • The White Burberry Coat That Broke Twitter is listed at Neiman Marcus for the blowout price of $908, which is down from the regular $2595. The matching Prada purse is going to run upwards of $1500, depending which model you want. This reminds us that not only can you probably not afford Olivia Pope’s services, you also can’t afford to be Olivia Pope.
  • Finally, a few good Scandal reads to tide you over into next week: Why Liberals Love TV’s Fictional Conservatives, by our own Tami Winfrey Harris, Twitter, Fandom, and Why ABC’s Scandal Matters by Chicago’s WBEZ blogger Britt Julious, and Olivia Is Back! Why We Love Scandal, by friend of the blog T.F. Charlton.

 

45 Women of Color in Science-Fiction/Fantasy Movies

By Guest Contributor Karishma; originally published at Persephone Magazine

This isn’t a definitive list of women of color in film. This isn’t a “best of” list, or a list of the most complicated or progressive characters in science-fiction or fantasy. This is simply a list of women of color in science-fiction and fantasy films. I tried to make it as full as possible, but ultimately had to decide on some parameters. These are women who are either secondary leads (because there are almost no women of color leads) or supporting characters. To better see how small the visual representation is, we have to be willing to look at all of the characters, in spite of their flaws, or limited screentime, or problematic nature. It helps paint a more accurate picture of the women we do see, and helps us understand why characters like the girls of Attack the Block never seem to break out into fan favorites, or why perceptions of Mako Mori becomes such a hot button topic in the weeks after the release of Pacific Rim.

Looking my previous post on the topic, after asking for suggestions, the answers didn’t really surprise me. Doctor Who’s Martha Jones, and Star Trek’s Uhura were repeat suggestions, but again, they were primarily TV-based suggestions. (I should clarify that even the Uhura suggestion pointed more at the TV-iteration of the character over the current Hollywood portrayal). In searching for a more complete list, what I found, unsurprisingly, is that most of the women of color on film are mostly background players, filling highly stereotyped and exoticized roles. I reached out to sci-fi and fantasy fans on tumblr, and pored through cast lists of the “100 Best Science Fiction Movies,” “Top 100 Science-Fiction & Fantasy Movies,” and “50 Greatest Fantasy Films.” Again, many people were stumped by the question, or reluctant to pick favorites, as women of color served to fulfill stereotypical roles, i.e. meek Asian woman or Magical Negro mystic, that furthered the white, male heterosexual narrative.

Fans often have to isolate the parts of the narrative they find compelling within these problematic portrayals, or be willing to look past the negative aspects of the narrow characterization to find something to relate to. Even in worlds where crime can be predicted before it happens, and lightning can be bottled and sold, women of color still cannot be protagonists, or have complicated and compelling backstories. It’s frustrating when I look at the casts of some of my favorite films and wonder what about the role seems to require a white actress (or actor). As much as I love Stardust, I’m not quite sure why Yvaine had to be played by Claire Danes, or why there weren’t any people of color in the fantastical candy-colored world of Edward Scissorhands, besides Officer Allen. We are slowly moving towards more visibility for women of color, as crowd-sourced films and more venues for the fan conversation call for better characters and more visibility. Just look at the conversation around this summer’s Pacific Rim, led to the creation of an alternative Bechdel test, the Mako Mori test.

Mako Mori in Pacific Rim

Mako Mori being great.

Without further ado, here are 45* women of color in science-fiction and fantasy films. Again, this role isn’t exhaustive or anywhere near complete, but serve to illustrate the types of roles that women of color get in these genre films. All of these women and characters should have greater visibility as we continue this conversation about women of color in Hollywood. (*Two women on the list, Mary Alice and Gloria Foster, share a character, so they have been grouped together, only because I think 45 sounds better than 46.) It should also be noted that superhero/comic-book movies have also been grouped in with the overall sci-fi and fantasy category, if anyone wants to get nitpicky about it.

  •  Aaliyah as Queen Akasha in Queen of the Damned
  •  Alfre Woodard as Lily Sloane in Star Trek: First Contact
  •  Alice Braga (who I’ve mentioned before) with multiple roles in Elysium, Predators, Blindness and I Am Legend
  •  Amandla Stenberg as Rue in The Hunger Games
  •  Angela Bassett as Det. Rita Veder in Vampire in Brooklyn and Mace in Strange Days
  •  Aubrey Plaza as Darius in Safety Not Guaranteed (character isn’t obviously a woman of color, but is played by a biracial actress)

Audrey Plaza in Safety Not Guaranteed

  •  Charlotte Lewis as Kee Nang in The Golden Child
  •  Clare-Hope Ashitey as Kee in Children of Men

Clare Hope Ashitey in Children of Men

  •  Danielle Vitalis as Tia in Attack the Block
  •  Doona Bae as multiple characters in Cloud Atlas and Park Nam-Joo in The Host
  •  Eva Mendez as Sand Saref in The Spirit and Roxanne Simpson in Ghost Rider
  •  Frieda Pinto as Carolina Aranha in Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  •  Gina Antwi as Dionne in Attack the Block
  •  Gina Torres as Zoe Washburne in Serenity and Cas in the Matrix movies
  • Gina Torres in Serenity
  •  Gloria Foster and Mary Alice share the role of The Oracle in the Matrix movies
  •  Grace Jones as Zula in Conan the Barbarian

Grace Jones as Zula

  •  Halle Berry as Storm in the X-Men films, Catwoman in Catwoman, and multiple characters in Cloud Atlas
  •  J.L. Reate as The Golden Child in The Golden Child
  •  Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe in the Matrix movies
  •  Jennifer Lopez as Catharine Deane in The Cell
  •  Katie Leung as Cho Chang in the Harry Potter Movies
  •  Maya Rudolph as Rita in Idiocracy

Maya Rudolph in Idiocracy

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Idris Elba is Hollywood’s Troublemaker

by Guest Contributor Shane Thomas, originally published at Media Diversity UK

There are few names as globally recognisable as Nelson Mandela. And likely even fewer whose name generally invokes strong feelings of warmth and goodwill.

Mandela was recently in the news as a result of his ill health, with elements of the online world and news networks partaking in an emetic game of “Nelson Mandela death watch”. Mercifully, at the time of writing, Madiba is still with us, and he has become a talking point again by proxy, due to the release of the trailer for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

The aforementioned is a movie biopic, traversing Nelson Mandela’s life. Early indications suggest that it is being positioned as strong contender for the 2014 Academy Awards. If the release date of January 3rd next year isn’t a sign to this effect, then the fact that the film’s production company is The Weinstein Company certainly is.[1]

On face value, this would seem to be a positive sign for diversity in Hollywood. After all, it’s a film where black characters are front and centre, without – as Jamilah King succinctly put it – needing a “white co-pilot”. And if you don’t think that this is an issue, more often than not, when films are made about communities of colour, the proviso is that a white character is a key cast member.[2] Continue reading

Table For Two: Pacific Rim

By Arturo R. García & Kendra James

(L-R) Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako (Rinku Kikuchi) team up to save humanity from an extraterrestrial scourge in “Pacific Rim.”

Pacific Rim was introduced as an oddity and emerged as even more of one, but in a good way.

While the film was promoted as an homage to the Japanese Kaiju films of old (even outright integrating the term into the story), what audiences actually got was a movie that owed as much to anime classics like Neon Genesis Evangelion as it did to monster smash-’em-ups. And even more surprisingly, one that managed to use those tropes in a thoughtful, downright progressive fashion (albeit while using some wonky dialogue) without skimping on the action the trailer promised us.

Which makes it doubly disconcerting that the movie couldn’t even win its opening weekend at the U.S. box office, finishing second to, of all things, Grown Ups 2. Luckily, the movie’s doing well enough internationally that there’s already talk of a sequel.

But is it worth that kind of effort? Our intrepid reviewers suit up and tackle these questions under the cut. Heavy Spoilers from this point on.
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I Saw The Lone Ranger So You Don’t Have To

By Guest Contributor Adrienne K.; originally published at Native Appropriations

 

LR

 

It’s been 12 hours since I saw The Lone Ranger, and I still have the darn William Tell Overture stuck in my head. I wonder how long that lasts. It’s like waking up with a Tonto hangover, I guess. I have so many thoughts on this film, and only maybe one of them is good. But I think we need to start off with this: The Lone Ranger is just a bad movie. It’s 2.5 hours of a film with an identity crisis, not knowing if it’s supposed to be funny, campy, dramatic, “authentic,” or what. At points, it was very hard to separate the stereotypical and hurtful from the bad script, bad editing, and bad character development of the movie itself.

So, if it even needs to be said: SPOILER ALERT–I’m about to give away everything. But you’re not going to see the movie anyway, so it shouldn’t really matter. But you know how the internet is. Here’s my review, in only six parts. I restrained myself.

Some quick overall thoughts: Like I mentioned above, this movie didn’t know what it was, and that was a problem. It was also so. incredibly. long. By the time we got to the final big train chase scene at the end, where the pair save the day (accompanied by the aforementioned William Tell) I wrote in my notes: “FINALLY! I AM SO BORED!” and then that scene drug on for another 15 minutes and I just wanted it to end. I forgot what we were even fighting for. Which I think was the problem all along.

This is also the most violent movie I’ve seen in awhile, and I’m a fan of Game of Thrones. Don’t take your kids, despite the Disney label and PG-13 rating. There is so much shooting and stabbing, and they show the aftermath.  Early on in the film the bad guy even cuts out and eats the Lone Ranger’s brother’s heart (yes, eats it). They have no qualms about shooting someone for the sake of shooting someone, and there are blood and guts and barn beams smashing people’s heads. It’s not something I would want to expose my kids to, at all.

And for those of you new to the blog or needing a refresher, here’s all my Tonto coverage over the last year or so, which covers the casting, the costume, and a whole bunch of other things: my initial reactionswhy you should care about Tonto when there are “bigger issues” out theretearing apart Depp’s reasoning over his costume choicesthe controversy I dealt with for writing about Tonto, andArmie Hammer’s comments about Indians loving the movie.

Part 1: The Opening Scene–Indians are so backward and funny, y’all!

The movie opens with a Buffalo Bill-style Wild West Show, set up like a museum of Natural History, and a little kid wanders in dressed like the Lone Ranger, eatin’ some peanuts, lookin’ at the buffalo, then, oh hey! “The Noble Savage in his natural habitat.” Guess who that is??

Spoiler! It’s Johnny Depp. In some scary-ass old person makeup. Like seriously crypt keeper style. Then OMG he moves! and reaches out! and says in a croaky old person voice, the first words of the whole film: “Kemooosabeeeh.” Then there’s this whole bit where Tonto asks the little boy to “traaaade” (sounding like zombies and “braaains”) and points to his peanuts, which Tonto exchanges for a dead mouse. Then he proceeds to eat the peanuts with the shells on, crunching through them to the boy’s disgust and wonderment, while feeding the crumbs to the bird on his head.

I won’t go this in-depth with the rest of the film, but I wanted to set the stage. The very first scene we are presented with an image of a Native person, in a museum–which presumably we’re supposed to critique, but there’s no questioning of Tonto’s position there. To me it reinforces the idea that all the Indians are dead, relics of the past, which is actually a theme throughout. This Indian is so silly and backward he trades a dead mouse for a bag of peanuts, doesn’t even know how to eat peanuts, and is feeding a bird, but it’s dead. Even the child knows that’s wrong. So this is the “new” Tonto? Definitely an improvement, amiright? (that was sarcasm. In case you missed it.)

Anyway, Tonto launches into the story of the Lone Ranger for the kid in the museum. So the whole movie is in flashback.

Tonto speak summary: Tonto in museum. Tonto old. Tonto silly and backward. You listen to story now.

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Yeah, We’re Doing This: The Lone Ranger and the Updated American Outlaw

lone

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger via. Nerdist.com

After reconciling the with myself the fact that I was indeed going to see The Lone Ranger at some point this weekend, I started reading Isabel Allende’s Zorro to remind myself that my love of masked vigilantes in what would become the American West don’t always have to come with a racist Johnny Depp-shaped kiddie meal toy.

I’d apologize to Disney for cheating my way into seeing The Lone Ranger*, but the movie isn’t worth it. It’s a two and a half hour slog that shines only in the final twenty minutes where you finally catch a glimpse of what the film –written by the team behind Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean and others– could have been. Unfortunately the film’s failings manage to go beyond Tonto’s white-washing. If you’re going to make something so incredibly racist that garners this level of backlash months before the final cut, at least have the decency to make it good.

But as a fan of the “American Outlaw” trope, this Ranger is only the latest disappointment. I’ll watch anything about The Lone Ranger, Jesse James, John Dillinger, Billy the Kid, and other (supposed) justice-seeking Robin Hood vigilante types, fictional or not. The whitening and brightening of these stories (figuratively and literally) is nothing new; there’s a long history in the genre of shaving down the truth to make these stories more palatable for the general (read: white) American audience. In The Lone Ranger it didn’t even only just apply to Johnny Depp as Tonto. Everyone involved manages to hit on a unique combination of blatant racism, missed opportunities, and straight-up bad filmmaking that makes The Lone Ranger the worst movie I’ve seen so far this year.

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Table For Two: Man Of Steel

Hosted by Arturo R. García and Kendra James

Henry Cavill as Superman in “Man of Steel.” Image via filmofilia.com

It’s not that surprising that the latest Superman movie, Man of Steel, had a, well, super opening weekend. With the hopes of fans of not just this franchise but an eventual Justice League movie for DC Entertainment to assemble, the collaboration between Batman producer Christopher Nolan, writer David Goyer and director Zack Snyder had to deliver, and well.

And it did, financially. Critically? That’s another matter entirely. When outlets like Newsarama, which are usually DC-friendly, give the film a 3 out of 10, that points to how split the opinions have been on this movie.

Racialicious is no different, as our panelists came out of their respective screenings feeling differently about it. Heavy spoilers under the cut.

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