Memo to Non-Asians: Jeannie Mai is Not Brenda Song, and Riz Ahmed is Not Dev Patel

Originally posted at Reappropriate

It’s only been a month since racist Trump trolls misidentified a woman at Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing as Washington Post editor Doris TruongInside Climate News’ Lisa Songtravel and parenting writer Leslie Hsu Oh, or basically any East Asian woman journalist of any prominence — and already people who think all Asians are the same person are at it again.

Over the weekend, the Twitter account for Burberry tweeted excitedly about actor Dev Patel at the British Academy for Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) ceremony, who wore a custom Burberry tuxedo to accept his Best Actor in a Supporting Role award for his part in Lion. The picture that accompanied the tweet? That’s actor and Swet Shop Boys member Riz Ahmed… who is also not Dev Patel.

Continue reading “Memo to Non-Asians: Jeannie Mai is Not Brenda Song, and Riz Ahmed is Not Dev Patel”

Hollywood’s Strange Erasure of Asian Characters

Originally posted at Reappropriate

A mere week after I wrote a post swearing off of sharing fan news, the fandom insidiously pulled me back in.

This week, rumours began circulating that Tilda Swinton was in casting negotiations for Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange film starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role. Swinton is being considered for the role of the Ancient One, a nearly-immortal Tibetan sorcerer who becomes the young Doctor Strange’s mystic tutor and personal mentor.

That’s right. Tilda Swinton — a British actor whose Wikipedia article notes that she can trace her Anglo-Scot heritage back to the Middle Ages and who is about as far from “Tibetan” as one might get — may be cast to play a racebent and genderbent version of one of the few Asian characters of prominence in the Mystic Marvel world.

Continue reading “Hollywood’s Strange Erasure of Asian Characters”

The Time Travel and Ending of Edge of Tomorrow Explained

Originally posted at Reappropriate

I went to see the new Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt science-fiction film Edge of Tomorrow, which is based on the Japanese novel and manga All You Need is Kill.

The racial cross-casting of Cage’s character aside — he is inspired by Japanese protagonist Keiji in the manga — this film is phenomenal. Nerds and feminists — and especially nerd feminists — will adore this movie. It’s sharp, funny, entertaining, compelling, and visually stunning. Haters of Tom Cruise get to see Tom Cruise get killed about a hundred times in stunt scenes that Cruise himself described as “channeling Wile E. Coyote” on The Daily Show. Emily Blunt’s Rita is stellar: she is the aspirational super-soldier, and not the simpering girlfriend; she’s also got a bad-ass giant sword. Those who loved Pacific Rim‘s portrayal of a male-female peer relationship that was largely non-sexual will adore the relationship between Rita and Cruise’s Cage in this film.

Basically, it’s just really good. Go see it. I’ll wait.

Continue reading “The Time Travel and Ending of Edge of Tomorrow Explained”

Steven Yeun to Star in Animated Chew Feature

Originally posted at Reappropriate | (H/T Angry Asian Man)

After much effort to create a live-action version of Chew — understandably hampered by the story’s routine use of cannibalism as a central plot device — producers have decided to go in a different direction and create an animated feature instead (that is expected to go straight to home release). This, I think, is a good decision: the book has a very specific tone and atypical humour that I think would not translate very well through a live-action script.

And, in what is a near-perfect casting choice, producers have tapped Steven Yeun, best-known for his incredible portrayal of The Walking Dead‘s Glenn Rhee, to voice the main character of Tony Chu.

Continue reading “Steven Yeun to Star in Animated Chew Feature”

How Avengers is Ruining the Superhero Movie

As of April 2013, The Avengers had grossed more than $600 million dollars in the US, a box office performance that has nearly tripled its (already bloated) production budget. It would be fair to say that if you’re a Hollywood movie producer, The Avengers makes you very, very, very happy. In fact, you’re hoping to make as many Avengers franchises as you possibly can.

Against this backdrop of undeniable success, it seems major Hollywood production companies are hoping to do just that. For the last few months, the Internet has been a-buzz with casting rumours for Man of Steel 2: first with news that Ben Affleck was being tapped to play an aging Batman, and last week with the announcement that virtually unknown actress Gal Gadot (of Fast and Furious franchise fame) was assuming the mantle of Wonder Woman. Although fans have long clamoured for a live-action Justice League adaptation, the fact that all three members of the heralded DC Trinity will be making an appearance in Man of Steel 2 — a movie that we all expected would be just another Superman solo vehicle — is clear indication that WB/DC has drawn inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is looking to fast-track the Justice League movie by rapidly introducing other characters to the silver screen. Fans have since speculated that while Gadot might make a minimal cameo in Man of Steel 2, it’s likely that she will subsequently headline her own Wonder Woman movie that would further stoke the fires for a full Justice League film.

Continue reading “How Avengers is Ruining the Superhero Movie”

Identity in the World of ‘Locke & Key’

There’s a comic book out there written by Joe Hill. It’s called Locke & Key (from IDW Publishing). And, it’s the best comic book you’re probably not reading.

In fact, it’s proof that while the conventional superhero comic might be for children, the comic genre can and does create compelling, sophisticated, and intelligent stories for adults. And, it can do so while appealing to the cape-and-cowl crowd.

This post contains very minor spoilers. Please read with care.

Continue reading “Identity in the World of ‘Locke & Key’”

NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: And It All Came Tumbling Down

TWDe8001

This is my recap for The Walking Dead season 4, episode 8 — the mid-season finale — titled “Too Far Gone.” Please also check out our live-tweeting session #NOCemdead, featuring me at @Reappropriate and J. Lamb through @TheNerdsofColor.

And, here we go! Spoilers ensue, after the jump!

Continue reading “NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: And It All Came Tumbling Down”

NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: The Governor’s Endless Groundhog Day

TWDe7001

Welcome to my recap for The Walking Dead‘s season 4, episode 7, titled “Dead Weight.” Also look for our Sunday night live-tweet session: #NOCemdead, including J. Lamb through @TheNerdsofColor and me through @Reappropriate, with a quick guest appearance by Keith via @the_real_chow.

And without further ado, on with the recap! Be mindful of spoilers!

Continue reading “NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: The Governor’s Endless Groundhog Day”

Live-Action Akira: An All-Asian American Dream Cast

With all the debate this week over cross-racial and trans-racial casting of comic book movies, one aspect that hasn’t really been discussed in depth yet is the phenomenon of Hollywood White-washing of explicitly non-White characters in live-action adaptations. Famously, Aang of The Last Airbender was played in the live-action adaptation (directed by M. Night Shyamalan) by a young White actor despite repeated references in the comics to Aang’s non-White racial makeup. More recently, a non-comic book (but nonetheless grindhouse-esque cult classic) Korean movie called Oldboy is being remade in Hollywood with an all-White cast.

With the existing dearth of non-White faces in film, let alone comic book film, it’s safe to say that most of us can agree that cross-racially casting a non-White character with White actors is problematic.

A few years back, Hollywood was also rumoured to be developing a live-action adaptation of the landmark anime, Akira. At one point, the film was going to star Zac Efron, and although he has since backed out, it’s still unlikely that today’s Hollywood will cast Asian actors to play Akira‘s all-Japanese cast of characters.

And why not? Hollywood typically argues that there aren’t enough (or talented) non-White talent in Hollywood.

Well, that argument sounds like complete trash to me.

After the jump, check out a re-post of something I wrote in 2010, containing my own all Asian/Asian-American casting of a hypothetical Akira live-action movie.

Continue reading “Live-Action Akira: An All-Asian American Dream Cast”

NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: From the Ashes of Woodbury

the-governor

Welcome to my recap of The Walking Dead Season 4, episode 6 (“Live Bait”). Also check out our live-tweet coverage from J. Lamb (@TheNerdsofColor) and me (@Reappropriate) that took place Sunday night!

And without further ado, click on for the recap action (and spoilers)!

Continue reading “NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: From the Ashes of Woodbury”

NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: Fighting Against the Tide

Hershel001

Welcome, faithful zombie fans, to yet another edition of our The Walking Dead recap series! Today, I recap Season 4, episode 5. Check out also our live-tweet coverage of the episode as it aired from J. Lamb at the @TheNerdsofColor Twitter handle, and me at @Reappropriate!

Please be aware: there will be spoilers. You should already know this by now. 

Continue reading “NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: Fighting Against the Tide”

School of Hard NOCs: Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

Fun fact: I can sing the entire theme song of Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers by heart. Why? Because Rescue Rangers is freakin’ awesome.

Vitals: Rescue Rangers was a Disney Channel TV show that ran for 65 22-minute episodes between 1989 and 1990. And, it didn’t matter how old you were, if you were a kid in the 80s, you were watching Rescue Rangers.

Continue reading “School of Hard NOCs: Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: Truth and Consequences

TWDe4005

Welcome to our recap of The Walking Dead, Season 4, episode 4!  Please also check out archives of our live-tweeting coverage of the episode as it happened (#NOCemdead) from the official @TheNerdsofColor Twitter account, with bonus contribution by me through my @Reappropriate Twitter handle.

And now, on with the recap!

Spoiler alert! This is a recap. You know the drill.

Continue reading “NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: Truth and Consequences”

The Walking Dead’s Ongoing Black Man Problem

I wrote in one post during The Nerds of Color’s Walker Week that The Walking Dead is noteworthy for depicting one of the most racially diverse zombie survivor casts to-date: it features a band of survivors that has included (among others) a Mexican family, an Asian Indian doctor, two Deep South “rednecks” (a pejorative term that the Dixon brothers would probably enthusiastically reclaim), a samurai-sword-wielding Black woman, and one of the most progressive characterizations of an Asian man on television. This is a show where women kick ass just as readily as men, and where the divisions of race and class have largely disintegrated in the face of humanity’s near-annihilation.

It’s ironic, therefore, that The Walking Dead could have such a blatant “Black Man problem,” one so obvious it has spawned a million memes.

(This post contains spoilers of all events in The Walking Dead up to Season 4, Episode 3. Please read on with care.)

Continue reading The Walking Dead’s Ongoing Black Man Problem”

NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: Diary of an Angry Black Man

Welcome to our recap of The Walking Dead, season 4 episode 3, titled “Isolation!” Hat-tip to Twitter user @LaJoliePoeta for inspiring the title of this post. Also, please check out #NOCemdead, for archives of our Sunday evening live-tweeting of this episode by resident NOC, J.Lamb through our @TheNerdsofColor handle.

Only read on if you’ve already watched the episode, or if you don’t mind spoilers. Because, y’know, this is a recap.

Continue reading “NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: Diary of an Angry Black Man”

Robert Kirkman is the Frank Miller of Zombies

This month marks the 10th anniversary of Robert Kirkman’s ongoing epic The Walking Dead. Image Comics is marking the special occasion by releasing an anniversary edition of issue #1, colored by Dave Stewart. If you haven’t been reading this book — particularly if you are a fan of the AMC TV adaptation — then you should be. The Walking Dead isn’t just a great comic book, it’s a revolutionary comic book; one that fundamentally altered the zombie landscape and helped usher in the zombie Golden Age of today.

In fact, I’d even venture so far as to say that Robert Kirkman is the zombie Frank Miller.

Wait, wait, wait: before your brain explodes from the nerd-rage, hear me out on this one.

This post contains a few spoilers of The Walking Dead comic. Please read on with care.

Continue reading “Robert Kirkman is the Frank Miller of Zombies”

Where Are All the Zombies of Colour?

I don’t mean the zombie survivors. I mean the zombies.

Ironically, The Walking Dead is pretty racially diverse compared to other zombie movies in the genre. Remember Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake? There are, in that case, two sole surviving Black men, although one (Mekhi Phifer’s Andre) is singularly stupid. Meanwhile, there are no other notable characters of any other race or ethnicity among the survivors. And how about 28 Days Later? Sure, the main female protagonist is a Black woman (Selena, played by Naomie Harris), but why is she the main cast’s only character of colour despite the fact that London boasts a 20% Black and 20% Asian population. In fact, most zombie movies are typically populated by an almost all-White (with a token or two) surviving cast; against this backdrop, I’m relatively pleased by the racial diversity of The Walking Dead, One-Black-Man-At-a-Time rule notwithstanding (more on this later in the Walker Week).

But, here’s my gripe: where the heck are all the zombies of colour?

Continue reading “Where Are All the Zombies of Colour?”

NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: Accidents Happen

WDs4e1001

Welcome to our recap of Season 4, Episode 1 of The Walking Dead, “30 Days Without an Accident,” which first aired on October 13, 2013! Also check out the Storify of our Sunday night live-tweeting!

Don’t click on if you don’t want spoilers. Then again, what are you doing reading a recap if you don’t want spoilers? 

Continue reading “NOC Recaps The Walking Dead: Accidents Happen”

Glenn of The Walking Dead is the Best Response to Anti-Asian Stereotyping

In honour of The Walking Dead‘s upcoming season 4 premiere this Sunday on AMC, I am re-posting this post, which originally appeared on Reappropriate in February 2013.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to be talking about the events of Walking Dead up until Season 3, Episode 10. If you haven’t watched yet and don’t want the plot spoiled, don’t read on.

Hours after his reunion with long-lost brother Merle, Daryl has chosen his brother over his new family of survivors. After escaping from Woodbury with a banished Merle, Rick and Glenn are unwilling to bring him back to the prison; Daryl decides to strike out into the woods with his brother rather than abandon him to the wilderness. Blood, after all, is thicker than water, right?

But, it turns out, that after a year on the road with Rick and the gang, Daryl now shares less in common with his brother Merle than he thought.

Continue reading “Glenn of The Walking Dead is the Best Response to Anti-Asian Stereotyping”

School of Hard NOCs: X-Men #1-3

x-men-1-001 Vitals: X-Men #1-3 are the first three issues of the re-launched X-Men title, and serve as a natural jumping on point for anyone who hasn’t been reading. It made national news earlier this year for featuring the first ever all-female X-Men line-up.

Plot: We rejoin the X-Men to find that most of them are now teachers at the Jean Grey Institute for Gifted Children. Jubilation Lee, code-named Jubilee, has resurfaced as the caretaker of an adorable little baby boy and is seeking refuge in the home of her old teammates. Little does she know that she has unintentionally led one of the X-Men’s foremost foes — the sentient bacteria John Sublime who is capable of taking control of any organic being — right to the X-Men’s doorstep. It turns out that Sublime is also seeking help from the X-Men, this time to confront a long-lost evil twin, the sentient technoorganic bacteria Arkea who is capable of controlling all things technological. How does a bacteria do that? It’s a sentient bacterial cell, people. Let’s just go with it, okay?

Continue reading “School of Hard NOCs: X-Men #1-3″

Gravity Aims for the Stars, but Falls a Little Flat

grav001The critics have been salivating over Alfonso Cuarón’s latest effort, the ambitious science fiction thriller Gravity. And don’t get it twisted: Gravity is pretty darned good. It’s visually and narratively haunting — one of the few contemporary movies that succeeds in marrying a high-concept story with the audience’s (admittedly low-brow) yearning to see things blow up. Also, Gravity is one of the year’s few films that fully takes advantage of 3D technology to establish the various environments that the characters encounter (although I confess I chose to watch Gravity in standard projection because 3D makes my head hurt).

So yes, Gravity is pretty darned good.

But, I just can’t shake the feeling that it could have been so much better.

Spoiler Alert! Please don’t read on if you don’t want Gravity spoiled for you.

Continue reading Gravity Aims for the Stars, but Falls a Little Flat”

GTA V and Hating the Things I Love

As nerds of colour, we’re all too familiar with the conundrum: what do we do when our geeky fare is both awesome and offensive at the same time?

It’s a problem born of the simple fact that the creative teams behind some of our favourite nerd  media — comic books, video games, board games, and movies — tend to be overwhelmingly White and male, fostering a sort of nerd-bro culture that too often gets the voices and narratives of women and people of colour horribly wrong (an issue well-discussed on last week’s epic Hard NOC Life podcast episode featuring industry insiders Larry Hama and Joe Illidge). Often, the arguably racist or sexist mistreatments of non-White, non-male characters — while offensive — is a symptom of a much larger weakness in a comic’s creative team, resulting in a book that can be easily dismissed as universally bad. Take, for example, the much-anticipated upcoming Mighty Avengers book, which Illidge predicted in last week’s podcast was unlikely to succeed due to both racial as well as creative problems. On the flip side, a book like Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese gets things right on all counts: it is on the one hand both well-written and well-illustrated, and on the other hand a compelling exploration of the Asian American identity.

In short, things are easy when the politics of a book also fit the overall quality of a book.

But, what happens when a favourite comic book or video game is both incredibly good, and pretty racist? Or, vice versa, how are we supposed to react when the politics of a book are compelling, but the execution leaves something to be desired?

Put another way, what happens when we find our identities as Nerds and People of Colour at odds?

This conundrum was brought to a head for me this past week when J. Lamb and I snatched up our copy of Grand Theft Auto V.

Continue reading GTA V and Hating the Things I Love”

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Vitals: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is an 81-minute feature-length animated movie based on the major DCU crossover event called Flashpoint, which happened two years ago and was helmed by writer Geoff Johns that resulted in a universe-wide reboot called “The New 52.” It can serve as either a stand-alone movie, or a primer for those who want a quick recap of how “The New 52” came to be without having to read all of Flashpoint in collected trades.

Continue reading Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox