We’re excited to have on TV writer, blogger, and Star Wars fan Arezou Amin on to discuss the long history of MENA people being excluded from Science Fiction and Fantasy media. Why are we constantly ousted from stories that were, in fact, inspired by works based on the Middle East and our culture? Where could we even find ourselves? We discuss Arezou’s project with Postcards from the Galaxy’s Edge featuring Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Star Wars fans, and what she and the podcast hoped to achieve with it. We also discuss various DCTV news, including the Legends of Tomorrow panel at DC FanDome and the future of Zari and Behrad Tarazi in Season 6, Supergirl ending with Season 6, and Caity Lotz’s bufoonish tweets, and the news that Alia Shawkat is creating and starring in a series based on her family’s Iraqi immigrant experience!
This month on The Middle Geeks, we’re joined by our friend and fellow DCTV fan Andy Behbakht to discuss why we love the character Zari Tomaz/Tarazi on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow so much. This character brings such wonderful representation, for which we’re very grateful. What does Tala Ashe bring to the role in her excellent performance of the character? What do we make of Zari’s story over the seasons and how she is written? How does Zari, through her cultural background, story, and personality, represent us as Middle Eastern people? We also discuss the news that we may be getting an Aladdin (2019) sequel, whether we feel excited about it, give our recommendations, and much more!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year on The Middle Geeks! Star Wars time! But is it really though, with the latest release of The Rise of Skywalker? Swara and Mae discuss, getting into what they liked about the film, as well as the issues they had with it and the Sequel Trilogy as a whole. Note that this is a SPOILER discussion. But before that, we get into the month of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) representation highs and lows, from the high of having an Arab-American hero introduced to Marvel Comics to the low of Aladdin star Mena Massoud not getting a single audition due to Hollywood racism, even after his film made a billion dollars. We still have a long way to go!
Welcome to The Middle Geeks! In our very first episode, Mae and Swara introduce the podcast and discuss our feelings on Middle East and North African (MENA) representation in popular media. We also review the live action remakes of Aladdin, discussing what we think it did well, how it could have done better, and how the unfortunate Orientalism of the film conveys how Disney and the rest of Hollywood need to do better on Middle Eastern inclusion.
We are a proud member of the Hard NOC podcast family.
Disney’s Aladdin will be the first live-action Disney film that showcases people of color in starring roles. The cast and creatives of the film know this and appreciate the effort. Starring Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud as the title character, British Indian Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, and Will Smith as the Genie, Disney wanted to be sure the characters in the beloved story represented the Aladdin origin story (which also included East and South Asian origins) as well as the animated film.
“I think it is critically important to be able to pull stories and colors and textures and tastes from around the world,” said Smith during the Aladdin press conference. “I think that in this particular time in the world, that kind of inclusion and diversity will be a critical part of turning our connectivity, because we have more connectivity than ever, but transitioning that connectivity into harmony is going to be really critical. And, I think these kinds of interactions in these types of movies are a powerful global service. It was critical and important to me. I spent a lot of time in the Middle East also. So this one particularly was critically important in that way.”
With Disney’s live action remake of Aladdin about to hit theaters worldwide, Keith is joined by Swara Salih and Mae Abdulbaki to discuss the film’s issues with representation and announce The Middle Geeks their new podcast on the Hard NOC Media network!
Aladdin is one of my favorite films of all time. It gave me, as a brown Middle Eastern kid, heroic representation that’s always stayed with me. I’ve already written at length for about my overall very complicated feelings on the live action remake. While the new trailer is solid, it’s also given more insight into the problematic trends this live action movie seems to perpetuate. Overall, I have little to no confidence that this film will improve upon the problematic aspects of the original (besides the welcome addition of having people of color play the main roles), and in fact will double down on more troubling aspects.
Like most of the world, we were shocked to hear of the passing of Robin Williams last night. It’s hard to crystallize all of the emotions that come when a beloved personality passes away. Shock gives way to grief and then finally reflection. There are countless tributes and eulogies celebrating Williams’ life and career all over the internet. Here, we’re going to remember the roles and memories that have touched our lives and will continue to bring joy and laughter to generations to come.