Spotlight on Spectacular SWANASA Stars

This will be the first of many posts whose purpose is to provide a spotlight on some rather amazing SWANASA (South West Asia, North Africa, and South Asia) actors that you should know, whether they are well known or not. What they have in common is that not only are they are all terrific artists but wonderful human beings that have come to my attention recently in their art and advocacy. Here are the eight (in the many to come) to kick it off:

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‘Ramy’ Season 3 is As Funny and Engaging As Ever

Ramy is never an easy show to watch. It’s compelling and funny, but it never shies away from showing the (many) faults of its title character, and occasionally those of his family and friends.

Slight setup spoilers for Ramy Season 3 follow:

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Interview with ‘Batman and Robin and Howard’ Author Jeffrey Brown

Damian Wayne has many fans. The popular Arab American character, son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al-Ghul, is an adorable crime-fighting — and previously murderous kid — whose fundamental charm and sincere desire to do good has captured the hearts of many DC fans, so much so that he has a current ongoing series. But we don’t see enough of Damian’s school life. When does he get to be a regular pre-teen who gets to have fun at school and make friends?

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Abubakr Ali Cast as Titular Anti-Hero for Netflix’s ‘Grendel’

Middle East and North African (MENA) and Muslim people have had scant options when it comes to the superhero genre or comic book adaptations generally. Arab and Persian people in particular have most often been vilified in popular media through the decades. But this is thankfully starting to change, such as with the Tarazi siblings on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow for Persian people, but perhaps now for Arab people with the news from Deadline that Netflix is developing a Grendel series, based on Matt Wagner’s comic series of the same name, and has cast The CW’s Katy Keene star and Abubakr Ali in the starring role!

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Hard NOC Life: A Whole New Podcast

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!

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The Live Action ‘Aladdin’ Doubles Down on Orientalist and Colorist Trends

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.

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Aquaman: A Mixed Kid’s Journey

by Maha Chehlaoui

I went to Aquaman for two reasons: First, the ticket was free. Second, this is basically underwater Magic Mike, right? I came for the pecs, I stayed for the pecs. But also for the analysis of what it is to be of two cultures. I mean races. I mean… worlds?

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