While not placing it in the pantheon of truly great television, I’ve been a fan of Game of Thrones since the show debuted in 2011. I normally like my drama pessimistic, with a hard edge, and even downright cruel on occasion. I like even more that a show in the fantasy realm cares as much about its tonal execution, as it does costumes and wacky names.
And yet, I’ve never been able to relax in the presence of the programme, never allowed myself to be fully swept up in the world of Westeros. The reason why? This is best encapsulated by the conclusion of Season 3 – which Sky were so helpful to remind us of during their promotion for the upcoming Season 4.
The character of Daenerys Targaryen is emblematic of “Game of Thrones” continuous problem with race. Beyond the emetic “white saviour“ scene to close Season 3, we are first introduced to her during a forced marriage to Khal Drogo of the Dothraki people (who are non-white). At the wedding, the Dothraki are painted as little more than savages, with the men literally killing each other to force themselves on the women; hypersexual and hyperviolent, two big racist boxes are ticked.
– From “Daenerys Targaryen Is Back To ‘Save The Coloureds’ Tour De #GameOfThrones 2014,” by Shane Thomas
By Arturo R. García
World-building is at the heart of Thor: The Dark World, both in front and behind the camera: with the character’s first film and inclusion in The Avengers out of the way, director Alan Parker and the film’s five credited screenwriters show viewers more of the workings of Asgardian culture, and the connection between Asgard and the rest of the Nine Realms enables the filmmakers to provide a world-jumping final battle between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston).
Which makes it particularly sad when this expansive view of the Thunder God’s world can’t find any time at all for one of his series’ more stalwart characters, Tadanobu Asano’s Hogun the Grim. Again.
SPOILERS under the cut
By Joseph Lamour
- Why Batman Can’t Be Black (Blogtown/The Portland Mercury)
People don’t like the implication they could be the bad guy on this issue. Racism is bad. That’s axiomatic. Thus, arguments against changing Batman’s race tend to go like:
“It’s not that I don’t want Batman to be black. With the right writers, I bet it’d be cool! I’d love for popular culture to be more diverse! It’s just that, unfortunately, it simply can’t be done in the case of Mr. Bruce Wayne. There’s too much history and continuity. It’s a shame, but that’s just the way the world works.”
Which is bullshit. Bruce Wayne doesn’t exist. He’s not real. It wouldn’t take a miracle of genetic engineering to somehow flip the needed switches in his DNA to transform him from a rich white guy to a rich black guy. He’s completely fictional. Of course he can be a black man. He’s been a lot of things over the course of his 70+ years in existence, most of them infinitely more ridiculous and unbelievable than possessing a darker skin tone.
- Jew Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me: Weiner, Spitzer, Filner … Are Jews less likely to cheat? The data says no. (Slate)
“What’s the matter with Jewish men today?” Josh Greenman, the opinion editor of the New York Daily News, raised that question after Anthony Weiner’s latest sexting relapse. Jodi Kantor, a Slate alumna and New York Times correspondent, responded with a 1,200-word essay on the troubles of Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. Although the three cases are very different, these “libidinous, self-sabotaging politicians are causing grimaces among fellow Jews,” Kantor noted. They’re discrediting the assumption “that Jewish men make solid husbands.”
Where did we get the idea that Jews are faithful in marriage? Sounds to me like an old yente’s tale. The data don’t support it. Jews stray as much as—if not more than—spouses of other faiths.
- An In-Depth Look at How “Orange Is the New Black” Compares to Real Life (Bitch Magazine)
It’s historically been difficult to generate activist attention around criminal justice reform, but increasing media attention could add more hearts/minds/bodies to the thousands who’ve been battling these issues tirelessly for years, like The Sentencing Project, The Women’s Prison Association, Families Against Mandatory Minimums and The ACLU.
And now we have Orange is The New Black (OINTB), the first American television program since Oz to so poignantly dramatize, eroticize, and criticize the system. Plus, OITNB does a thing Oz rarely did, which is make us laugh. As formerly incarcerated writer Joe Loya wrote about why he prefers the new show to Oz: “The show — though not a biopic, therefore not literally accurate — still captures truthfully the zaniness of prison. And the sex agonies. The fortunate camaraderie. The hidden likenesses between the guards and prisoners. The collaborations. The antagonisms. The pain of family visits.” Also: The humanity. You cannot write these people off.
By Arturo R. García & Kendra James
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.
By Kendra James
Upfronts are done, premiere schedules are set; Stefon and Seth ran off into the sunset; and, even though it’s only May, it feels like we’re already halfway through the summer blockbuster set list…so what’s a pop culture junkie to do? I humbly suggest using this hiatus season to catch up on a few British shows you may have missed while our gladiators were white-hatting.
At no more than six episodes per season, I promise you’ll be done before Olivia Pope’s return. Just give us a moment to close our eyes and turn around, so we don’t have to witness whatever it is you have to do to get your hands on the four shows underneath the cut.
By Arturo R. García
It was almost enough to make you say, F-ck The Muppets.
No sooner did Eddie Murphy give up his shot at hosting the Academy Awards in a heart-warming display of solidarity with Bro – I mean, Brett – Ratner than an online campaign recommending Kermit The Frog and friends get the job pick up some steam.
The Muppets hosting The Oscars? The most interesting part of that pairing would be figuring out which half should feel more insulted.
But at least Muppets fans are coming at this from a place of honest – if at times overbearing (wokka wokka!) – enthusiasm. It’s been more disappointing to scan around other sites and see the same basic wishlist of prospective replacements:
- Stephen Colbert/Tina Fey
- Neil Patrick Harris
- Somebody associated with Glee
- Nobody at all
- Not to be outdone, the Huffington Post also nominated a muppet, albeit one with his own talk show.
- And one black person
With such a lack of creativity from normally creative people (Tracy Morgan? Oprah? Chris Rock?) you’d think Ratner was still doing the show! O-HOHOHOHO!
By Arturo R. García
In a better world for Idris Elba, we’d be writing about the return of Luther, the cops-and-robbers drama he produced for the BBC, in more glowing terms: the rising film star (thanks to Thor) coming back as a producer and lead for his relatively-little project that could. But given that the show’s ratings actually decreased during its’ first season despite Elba netting an NAACP Image Award and a Golden Globe nomination for his work in the title role, let’s just be glad it’s back at all.
Especially since the show ended that first season on a suitably squirmy cliffhanger: when we last left the despondent Detective Inspector, he was in the absolute wrong place at the wrong time – standing near his friend’s bloody corpse with his co-workers, convinced he was involved in another murder, closing in. His last question before we hit the credits – “Now what?” – would surely be the first one answered this year, right? Especially since showrunner Neil Cross only had four hours to wrap the case this year?
The show returned to British airwaves Tuesday, though no word yet on if and when it will air on BBC America. So far, though, the answers are few, while the problems for Luther are new. Be aware, spoilers are under the cut.