Harvard Man

As many of you may know, in addition to being a published author, an equal rights activist, and a nerd seraph, I’m also a pop culture analyst.

A regular fixture on the Nerds of Color, my work has also been featured on Salon, MTV.com, Mental Health Matters, Geeks OUT, Black Girl Magic Lit Mag, and a host of other places.

Whether it’s comic books, video games, blockbuster films, or music albums, it is absolutely paramount that we critique our media if for no other reason than to analyze its influence in molding minds and shaping society.

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NOCs of the Roundtable: Why is Chris Hemsworth a Movie Star?

This weekend, Universal Pictures’ Huntsman sequel Winter’s War — which brought back stars Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron along with franchise newcomers Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain — failed to top the box office, bringing in a paltry $20 million despite a massive production budget, a marketing campaign that promised a sort of live-action mashup with Disney’s Frozen and Brave, and a cast full of bona fide movie stars. Well, they keep telling us they’re movie stars. Take Hemsworth, for example. Since the last Huntsman movie, and not counting his Marvel ones, his films have all disappointed at the box office. If “bankable” results are the criteria for movie stardom, why does Thor get a pass? The NOCs come back to the Roundtable to discuss.

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Lost in Translation: Scarlett Johansson and Ghost in the Shell

As our friend Angry Asian Man pointed out earlier this week, Scarlett Johansson has been offered the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi in Dreamworks’ live-action remake of Mamoru Oshii’s ground-breaking anime Ghost in the Shell. And well, she’s white. Which to many of us here certainly feels like more Hollywood whitewashing at first glance. Particularly to anyone following the on-again off-again plans for a live-action remake of Akira with an all white cast or M. Night Shymayalan’s tragic The Last Airbender.

Ghost in the Shell is a seminal film in Japanese cinema for its part in a wave of anime releases in the early-to-mid 90s that set a new bar for the form in Japan, and solidified its legitimacy abroad. I watched GITS along with Katsushiro Otomo’s Akira and Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Ninja Scroll over the course of one night in 1996, and I was converted irretrievably to the understanding that Japanese anime was the default in animation.

But as much as Ghost in the Shell is essential viewing for anyone interested in entering this very Japanese world of anime — a rabbit hole through which careful consideration is required — the film’s premonitory vision of the future is not uniquely Japanese. There are certainly cultural nuances that drive the film, and its rendering of future Japan is one of its most enjoyable aspects, but that is why we adapt films, to make them uniquely ours.

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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.

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