Super Sixteen: Top Television Shows of 2016

It’s one of my favorite times of the year. It’s where I review the best and brightest that television had to offer in the previous year. If you haven’t already, you should check out my Top Films of 2016. Go ahead, check it out, I’ll wait. No really, I’ll wait. You back? Awesome.

As is the standard with my movie year-in-review, my television selections have to pass the Upkins Media Litmus Test.

Without further adieu…

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Ghost in the Shell and the Complexity of Cultural Appropriation

by Trungles

There is an old fairy tale popularized by Hans Christian Andersen as The Little Mermaid. I’m one of those odd first-and-a-half generation Vietnamese American immigrants, and tales of living in between spaces have always held my attention. The story goes that a little princess from a world under water wants to live on the land. She falls in love, exchanges her tongue for a pair of legs, and finds herself thrust into the unenviable circumstance of navigating a strange space where she literally has no voice. Ultimately finding no place for her in the world for which she had given up everything, she casts herself off the side of a ship into the ocean, drowns, and dissolves into sea foam. Victorian sentiments about Christianity and moralizing stories for children eventually got Andersen to amend the ending. This is more or less the state of Asian American identity politics. We’re always finding ourselves caught between “where we come from” and wherever we yearn to belong.

The buzz around the 2017 Ghost in the Shell film, among many other film and television projects of its ilk in recent memory, has ignited a bevy of thinkpieces about cultural appropriation and the nature of Asian American identity politics. The topic is complicated.

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Ghost in the Shell Trailer is Just as Racist as Everything Else This Week

by Dominic Mah | Originally posted on YOMYOMF

Wow, where to start with this trailer. It OPENS on a person in stylized Japanese esoteric garb to tell us how much we’re in that place Japan where things are weird. Who is this person? Don’t know, don’t care at all.

Then we get a pretty faithful live-action recreation of the original Ghost in the Shell’s elegant opening action sequence, pretty much nailing the point home that the only reason you aren’t aware of this seminal science-fiction already is because it didn’t have Scarlett Johannson in it, and now we fixed that for you.

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New NBC Series Makes Light of Human Trafficking and Asian Stereotypes

Move over, Fresh Off the Boat! There’s going to be a new show in town that will diminish all the progressive work you’ve done for Asians.

Deadline announced recently that NBC has picked up a half-hour sitcom called Mail Order Family, a comedy about a widowed single father who orders a mail order bride from the Philippines to help raise his two preteen daughters.

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Creator Profile: The Ghetto Geppetto

There isn’t a week that goes by that I’m not asked some version of the following questions: “How do you know about all this comic book stuff?” It is usually followed up by: “There is so much out there. How do you know if it is any good?”

Instead of rehashing here my plea for people to take risks on art and culture, I’ve decided to be more proactive.

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NOC Recaps Voltron Legendary Defender: Get In Formation

When Netflix announced a reboot of the Voltron franchise, the inner child in me jumped for joy. More, I felt an instant connection to my identity as an Asian American. You see, when I think of Voltron, I’m instantly transported back to the 5th grade where I spent my time insisting to my American friends that, in the Philippines, Voltron (and a live-action TV show that turned out to be Super Sentai) was a thing before the Power Rangers. My friends wouldn’t believe me and would only laugh harder when I’d proffer that not only was Voltron a thing, but that it was actually better than the Power Rangers.

Voltron is tied, then, to that part of me that identifies as distinctly Asian American and to finally see a reboot that introduces this great franchise to a new generation is such a treat. That the first episode starts off with such great quality makes it like TV lumpia for me. Clocking in at just over an hour, the ambitious attempt to set and sketch the universe that this iteration of Voltron in is not only given space via quality writing and animation, but also time in this outsized episode. More, a roster of recognizable names lead by The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun as Keith, along with delightful surprise Rhys Darby as comic relief via Princess Allura’s (more on her in a bit) right-hand man, Coran.

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Finding Dory, Disability Culture, and Collective Access

Originally posted at Disability Visibility Project

On June 25, I saw Finding Dory after reading many positive reviews and recommendations from my disabled friends. I wasn’t disappointed. There was so much to unpack and process when I got home that I decided to write this review/essay.

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The Exhibition of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

My time in Japan is dwindling down fast so I have been trying to travel a lot. I went to Tokyo last week to check out a video game exhibit (more on that another time) but my friend informed me that there was a Sailor Moon exhibit over at Tokyo City View, the observation deck in Roppongi Hills. Being a huge Sailor Moon fan, I knew I needed to check it out for myself.

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Jon Tsuei is Right: A #WhitewashedOUT Ghost in the Shell Misses the Cultural Mark

There’s been so much talk about Ghost in the Shell, Dr. Strange, whitewashing, yellowface, and underrepresentation I bet some of you out there are saying, “Man, I might be at my limit!” But wait, there’s more!

When the first look image of Scarlett Johansson as The Major came out, tons of people, Ghost in the Shell fans and regular movie fans alike, were dismayed that yet another opportunity to cast talented Asian actresses passed Hollywood by. Or to put it another way, folks were upset that Hollywood didn’t take the opportunity to advance itself into something better than it has been.

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