Category: storytelling

July 14, 2014 / / arts & culture
May 7, 2014 / / comics

By Arturo R. García

(L-R) Peter Parker and Miles Morales, as shown on the cover of “Spider-Men” #1.

Sony Entertainment might be pleased right now about the opening-weekend performance from Amazing Spider-Man 2. A $94 million domestic take isn’t a Marvel-level success, and the film has gotten middling reviews, but it’s been a decent start.

But the company should be concerned about the arrogance exhibited by executive producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach late last week, as they effectively rejecting the possibility of seeing a Spider-Man who is not cis-white het male Peter Parker inhabit Sony’s Spider-film realm. As The Mary Sue reported, Arad and Tolmach put the kibosh on that talk in an interview with IndieWire:

IndieWire: Are Miles Morales (“Ultimate Spider-Man”), Ben Reilly (clone Spider-Man) or Miguel O’Hara (“Spider-Man 2099″) on the table? If you want a Spider-Man movie every year why not bring in some of the other variations?
Tolmach: No.
Arad: No. The one thing you cannot do, when you have a phenomena that has stood the test of time, you have to be true to the real character inside – who is Peter Parker? What are the biggest effects on his life? Then you can draw in time, and you can consider today’s world in many ways. But to have multiple ones… I don’t know if you remember, but Marvel tried it. And it was almost the end of Spider-Man.
IW: So Spider-Man in the cinematic realm will always be Peter Parker?
Arad: Absolutely
Tolmach: As far as we’re concerned. The guys who take it over after us … Who knows …

It’s true that Sony runs the ASM brand independently of Marvel’s operation, but if movie!Spidey were truly independent from his comics counterpart, Otto Octavius’ stint assuming Peter Parker’s identity in Superior Spider-Man might not have wrapped up just in time for the new movie.

Read the Post Race + Spider-Man: Sony Confirms A Glass Ceiling For Miles Morales

April 29, 2014 / / academia

Friend of the blog Jaymee Goh tipped us off about a special event honoring Latino Science Fiction at the University of California-Riverside on Wednesday.

Held under the auspices of the school’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program, “A Day of Latino Science Fiction” kicks off its program at 10 a.m. with a panel discussion featuring authors:

The program resumes at 2 p.m. with a panel featuring longtime TV director Jesús Treviño (Babylon 5, Star Trek: Voyager & Deep Space Nine) and Michael Sedano from the long-running Latino lit site La Bloga. The event is free to the public, and the flyer is under the cut.
Read the Post UC Riverside Honors Latino Science Fiction

April 4, 2014 / / Quoted
April 2, 2014 / / Entertainment

By Arturo R. García

One of the arguments surrounding the #CancelColbert campaign has been that it has effectively given some white people “passes,” among them the target of the Stephen Colbert “Foundation” bit that inspired the tag in the first place, NFL owner Dan Snyder.

And that’s a fair point. But it’s also inaccurate to suggest that the campaign did not deal with “real racism.” Because, as we’ve seen over the past few days, a quite verifiable strain of hatred — at times veering into racism and misogyny toward activist Suey Park, as well as others discussing the issue — on the part of people who claim they’re not just defending Colbert, but comedy itself.

(Note: This post is image-heavy, with coarse and NSFW language under the cut.)
Read the Post On #CancelColbert And The Limits of ‘Liberal Pass’ Humor

January 30, 2014 / / cultural appropriation

In this February 2010 piece, Thea Lim examines how “Avatar” exemplifies a disturbing type of faux-progressive filmmaking.

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

How do you know when a story is allying, versus appropriating?

In other words, if someone of privilege writes a story about the political oppression of a group they do not belong to, what is the difference between:

a) a story that brings marginalised voices to a wider platform and advocates for their rights, versus
b) a story that simply appropriates a political conflict for a writer’s own end, taking advantage of the fact that communities who experience marginalisation are rarely ever allowed to speak for themselves?

Apart from the fact that a story that appropriates usually winds up grossly misrepresenting a marginalised group, this is my yardstick for telling friends from foes:  one of the central purposes of a story that acts as ally, is to use one’s own privilege to tell another’s story, in the hopes of ameliorating the others’ situation.  Meanwhile, a story that appropriates just wants to spin a good yarn, get some adulation, and uses another’s story in order to do so.  An ally story is giving, an appropriating story is taking.

Quit jabbering Thea, you may say.  It’s easy to tell the difference between stories that appropriate, and stories that ally! We don’t need a yardstick!

Not true.  At least within mainstream opinion, it is startling and depressing how many stories that appropriate get passed off as political progressive, as allies.  Like Not Without My Daughter.  Or the documentary Born into Brothels, which purported to tell the story of the children of sex workers in Calcutta, but really just seemed more interested in showcasing the magnanimity of the American photographer who worked with the children.* Or another documentary, Paris is Burning, about the black trans/gay vogueing community of New York City, which brought immense praise on the white outsider director, but painted the community as tragic and hopeless, while bringing little benefit to them. I’m sure you can think of loads more films like this.

Including…(drumroll)…Avatar. Which I finally saw last week, in all its headsplitting 3D glory. And it fulfilled all the negative press I had read over countless months, from anti-racist and anti-ableist camps among many others. But seeing how my esteemed peers did a lot of the deconstructing work for me, I was left to ponder another question. If Cameron is as leftist as claimed, why didn’t he tell the story of an actual conflict between big business (or colonialists) and an indigenous group? Why use blue allegory?

Hollywood films have a generally untapped power to sway how people think about political events. Packaging a political story within the rhetoric of emotion (and also I guess, within face-blasting special effects) is often the best way to get people to swallow arguments they would otherwise reject.  Hence a movie that – at least at face value – is very anti-war, anti-military and anti-capitalist is demolishing box office records with hardly a peep from conservative viewers.

Can you imagine the impact that a movie like Avatar could have, if Cameron had used all the CGI to recreate (for example) any area of the Americas the way it looked before first contact with the Europeans, and instead told the real story of an indigenous group struggling to protect themselves from genocide?  Imagine the kind of support it could create for indigenous rights.

Read the Post Stories that Ally vs Stories that Appropriate: a Yardstick [The Throwback]

January 23, 2014 / / academia