Dial of Destiny

The Middle Geeks Episode 55: ‘Indiana Jones’ Dials Up the CGI and Orientalism

Joined by our friends Nadia Osman and Zaina Ujayli, The Middle Geeks review the latest Indiana Jones film and how it continues the franchise’s trend of racism and Orientalism against North African peoples.

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The Cast of ‘Ramy’ on What’s in Store for the Hassan Family in Season 3

When we find the Hassan family at the start of Ramy Season 3, the son of the family has brought not only shame, but severe consequences for his family that threaten the life they’ve built in the States. Where do they go from here, and will they ever be able to pay back their debts? How will the Hassan family change through their experiences this season?

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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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‘Ramy’ Season 3 Teases a Spiritual Crisis for the Hassan Family

Ramy Hassan’s stated journey has been finding moral clarity on his life and what it means to be a good Muslim. Only problem is, he’s a constantly selfish screw-up. When we left him at the end of last season, he was at his lowest and most morally depraved, having completely humiliated his new (and immediately former) wife Zainab (MaameYaa Boafo), and rightfully enraging her father Sheikh Ali Malek (Mahershala Ali). Where does he go from here, and how will this inform his apparent crisis of faith in Islam?

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NOC Review: ‘Moon Knight’ Raises the Bar for What the MCU Can Be

Many new viewers may ask themselves “Who the hell are Moon Knight and Marc Spector?” The protagonist of the titular Disney+ series, Steven Grant, grapples with the same question as he’s swept on a psychological and mythological ride across the globe.

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The Middle Geeks Interview: Abubakr Ali of Netflix’s ‘Grendel’

We are delighted to welcome Abubakr Ali on the podcast, who will be playing the titular role in Netflix’s Grendel, making him the FIRST Arab and Muslim actor to headline a comic adaptation in TV/Film! We discuss what got him into acting, his career so far, what his favorite superhero and other media are, and much more. Enjoy the conversation!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 29: ‘Lift Like a Girl’ and an MCU Assessment

Ferdosa joins us to discuss the Netflix documentary Lift Like a Girl! How well did this documentary do at showcasing the weightlifting journey of Asmaa and her team, and the depiction of everyday Egyptians? What could it have done better? We also discuss the exciting news that Black Palestinian writer and actor Yassir Lester will be the head writer of the upcoming MCU series Armor Wars, and speculate on what that might mean for the MCU’s penchant for military propaganda. Enjoy listening!

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The Middle Geeks Interview: Amin El Gamal of ‘Breaking Fast’

For Pride Month, we are so excited to have on Amin El Gamal, who plays Sam on the amazing queer Ramadan rom-com Breaking Fast, which is now on Hulu! We dig into what drew Amin to acting, the experience of filming Breaking Fast and working with Mike Mosallam, their thoughts on the current landscape of MENA and queer stories in film and, what he’d love to see more of in the industry, and much more!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 22: ‘Breaking Fast’ Review

We are joined by our friend Tariq Raouf to discuss the upcoming film Breaking Fast, which features a gay Arab-American Muslim as its protagonist! We discuss what we enjoyed about the film, what director and writer Mike Mosallam was trying to say with this delightful rom-com, how well it does with representation for Arabs, Muslims, and Ramadan, and where it could have been better. Before that, in our MENA news segment, we have some GREAT news to discuss with Ramy’s May Calamawy being base in Marvel’s Moon Knight! And another of our faves, Rami Malek, has been cast in a lead role in David O’Rusell’s upcoming film! Enjoy listening!

Spoilers for Breaking Fast begin around 26:06

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The Middle Geeks Episode 21: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and its MENA Issues

We are joined by the wonderful Hanna Flint to discuss Wonder Woman 1984 in this special bonus episode! We discuss the various ups and downs of the film, how well we thought the actors did with the script and story they had, and whether this movie did Diana Prince/Wonder Woman justice. We also discuss the many racist and Orientalist aspects of its depiction of Egypt and Egyptian people, and how detrimental it is for MENA representation. There’s a LOT to discuss, and we go through it all. Enjoy listening!

Spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984 begin around 11:26.

TW for discussion of rape and sexual assault 11:44 -12:57

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Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and Mosul

The Middle Geeks Episode 20: Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and Mosul

We’re back with a LOT to discuss. Joining us is a prolific cosplayer, streamer, and friend, Jasmin! We discuss Jasmin’s cosplaying and how the cosplay community has been doing in quarantine. We also discuss the announcement of a queer Ramadan rom-com coming out next month, highlights of the MCU announcements from last week, and how MENA people are WINNING as directors for Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight, why we’re so excited for these series, and our thoughts on the castings (and on the ones that are controversial), and discuss Netflix’s Mosul as our movie of the month. Enjoy!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 19: ‘Paranormal’ Activity in Egypt (on Netflix)

This month we’re joined by filmmaker Shahab Zargari to discuss Netflix’s new supernatural series Paranormal, a supernatural drama set in Egypt, with a story actually told by Egyptians! We’re excited to dive into this overall excellent show. We also interview Shahab on his filmmaking career and what drives his art, discuss the roller coaster of recent Arrowverse news and what it says about DCTV moving forward, and give our recommendations. Also, we have a very special announcement!

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How Gods of Egypt Adheres to Racist Fantasy Rules

Gods of Egypt is a mess. You can look at the myriad of reviews trashing it and see it for yourself. Heck, you can look at the traileror its box office receipts — to see how much of a joke it is. Have you seen such bad CGI in the modern era? But even more insidious than the CGI is that the film went out of its way to cast white actors in an ancient Egypt-set story. This is the second film within two years that showed audiences a white Egypt. You might recall how spectacularly Exodus: Gods and Kings failed.

Technically, Gods of Egypt had all of the ingredients necessary to make a fun “swords and sandals” fantasy. It’s a fantasy that’s not just set in ancient Egypt, but involves gods and goddesses interacting with their human subjects. Who wouldn’t want to see Ra and Horus get into it on the big screen? But where the film’s team went wrong is that they treated it like a “traditional” fantasy. What’s a traditional fantasy, and why was that the wrong approach? Let’s find out.

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Going Medieval

I’m always amazed at how many people are so quick to argue that people of color did not exist in Europe during medieval times or that black people, for instance, weren’t around during the Greek and Roman eras. And to include said PoCs during such time periods would be unrealistic and another example of shoving a PC agenda down our throats OH-EM-GEE.

This usually comes up in medieval fantasy stories. Like say for instance, Guinevere in BBC’s Merlin. Actress Angel Coulby caught heat for daring to be a beautiful powerful black queen.

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NOC Recaps Arrow: Hubris, Not Hope

As we know, Team Flarrow is trying to protect the Hawks from Vandal Savage, who wants to murder them because of destiny or habit or something. So everyone’s all teamed up, Kendra’s unlocked her hawking powers, and Oliver’s spotted his baby mama!

I’ve been so cautious this season, guys. Good things were happening. Oliver was LEARNING LESSONS. TEAM FLARROW WAS AWESOME. Despite some plot/exposition bumps, the team up in this half of the crossover was fun. There were things I wished for: Less Carter. ANY Snowlicity aside from their one nerd moment. Less white ancient Egypt (I’ll get on some of that later). But the Barry/Oliver moments were great — they’re wonderful foils for each other. As was anything with Cisco. Can he be my friend? Also he should be in every show. But just like we were burned last season with the Ra’s al Ghul arc, this Kid arc (I’ll come up with a better name for it another time) is only going to lead to terrible things. Unhappy fans. Annoyed fans.

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Remember the Time When Ancient Egypt was White?

Because Hollywood never learns its lesson, Summer 2016 is going to bring yet another whitewashed movie about Ancient Egypt. Late last week Lionsgate shocked the world and unveiled character posters for God of Egypt, a movie that, until now, literally no one had heard about. Then yesterday, they dropped an even more ridiculous trailer.

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Everything Wrong with Christian Bale as Moses

by Dion Beary

I’m throwing a temper tantrum over this one. Christian Bale cannot play Moses. No. I know arguing against the whitewashing of a Biblical character is a lost cause, and wandering into any mainstream Christian church decked out with portraits of a blue-eyed Jesus Christ should indicate that the tide isn’t changing anytime soon, but I still find myself just a little more perturbed than average to see Batman play the savior of the Hebrews.

Maybe it’s because in recent years we’ve seen a new wave of white outrage against racebending traditionally white characters. Racebending refers to altering the canonical race of a character. Whitewashing is a type of racebending wherein non-white characters become white or are not included whatsoever. For simplicity’s sake, this piece will use the term whitewashing to refer to that absence of colored folks, while racebending will be used to refer to white characters becoming non-white. Those aren’t exact definitions, but hey, if Christian Bale can play Moses, then I can bend a couple of rules too.

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