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!
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!
by Jamal Igle
(Warning: This essay is filled with spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)
After 42 years, the Skywalker Saga comes to a close with the release of The Rise of Skywalker. Keith was joined by Jamie Noguchi to screen the movie at Baltimore’s historic Senator Theater. Here are their instant reactions. SPOILERS!
Let’s be honest. The reason you, the skeptic who hated on The Last Jedi for two years (not me, but you know who you are!), went on this site and clicked on this review is to find out whether or not Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is any good. But the answer to this isn’t a simple one. Now before the cynic in you dismisses the movie entirely just because it’s not an overwhelmingly positive “yes,” just know that it’s not terrible either. To put it simply, in a year where we had Avengers: Endgame and the finale of Game of Thrones, The Rise of Skywalker, the conclusion to the 40 year Skywalker saga, is squarely in between: neither as amazingly uplifting and universally praised, nor as abysmally disappointing and anticlimactic as some other fantasy finales that pissed me off.
With Rise of Skywalker and the end of the Skywalker Saga at the end of the month to look forward to, Hard NOC Life is going to be a Star Wars podcast for the month of December. Because there aren’t enough Star Wars podcasts on the internet! Each week, Dominic and Keith will be breaking down a different trilogy that make up the beloved Star Wars franchise.
Finally, after weeks of anticipation — and one half of terrible football (unless you were a New England Patriots fan) — the world finally got to see the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and ultimately, the final trailer of the Skywalker Saga. And it did not disappoint!
In the latest installment of The Middle Geeks, we review Wajib by Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir. Mae and Swara talk about what we enjoyed about the film, and how we thought it offered a realistic portrayal of families dealing with generational oppression and how meaningful it is for Annemarie Jacir to tell an intimate story of her people. We also discuss the great news that the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+ will have an Iranian-British writer with Hossein Amini, how we’re looking forward to the Arrow spinoff starring the Canaries, and give our recommendations of what to watch.
(We start our Wajib discussion at the 21:12 mark.)
All week, rabid Star Wars fans have been debating the merits of the most recent entry into the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Directed by Rian Johnson and starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Kelly Marie Tran, Carrie Fisher, and Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi has proven to be the most polarizing entry in the Lucasfilm canon. To break down what they thought of the movie, Keith invited his DC TV Classics co-host Britney Monae.
To properly analyze Star Wars: The Last Jedi, you have to go beyond the trappings of fandom and look at the movie as a part of a larger product of Disney/Lucasfilm storytelling. Approaching this as anything other than a corporate juggernaut mainly concerned with moving merchandise and building the next generation of consumers will result in total anger, confusion, and regret. This might sound cynical and cold, but it’s only the acknowledgment that Hollywood cinema is big business and sometimes actual art will slip through the image factory despite their best efforts to curtail imagination and wonder.
I’m not saying The Last Jedi lacks imagination or wonder, but there’s definitely a middling corporate influence throughout the movie that simultaneously keeps the movie in an inoffensive zone of bland character moments while setting up Rian Jonhson’s long-term vision for the Star Wars franchise.
What makes The Last Jedi interesting, though, is that it deliberately erases the nostalgic underpinnings of the Star Wars saga being about the Skywalker clan. Now this is where you see a lot of online outrage regarding The Last Jedi (even when you remove the knee-jerk right-wing racist backlash to the movie being “too diverse“) with the main complaint is that it “feels different” than previous Star Wars films.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
As is customary whenever a new Star Wars film is about to come out, Vanity Fair runs a special edition with gorgeous photographs by the renowned Annie Liebovitz. The Last Jedi is no exception since the magazine just released four special variant covers to this year’s Star Wars issue. They’re all great, but one photo definitely stands out the most for us nerds of color:
Stormpilot: It’s the fandom pairing of the decade! And it just might come true.
“Girl, please,” you might be saying, but just listen to me! Not only could it happen, but if it does, it’ll change the game forever (and in a good way.) First let’s get into the timeline. Keep in mind: the timeline is intense. Let’s get into it:
Note: No big spoilers here, at least nothing beyond what’s shown in the trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and what occurs in the first 15 minutes of the film.
The essential psychology of the Star Wars saga is mindfulness. “Using the force” is all about embracing the present moment. That’s what Yoda taught Luke and it’s something Anakin never picked up from Obi-Wan.
Mindfulness continues to be a part of J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I can’t get into specifics because things would get spoilery, but it’s safe to say the climax of the film is a moment of mindfulness. We also see new characters develop meaning in their lives, just like Han Solo did in the original trilogy. The way The Force Awakens honors the past mythology (and psychology) of Star Wars while also refreshing it for a new generation is a big reason why I’m a fan of the film.
by Jamal Igle
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a juggernaut. Critically acclaimed and the current holder of the title of “biggest film opening of all time.” It’s an engaging film that engrosses the viewer and harkens back to the early days of franchise. As it is with all things pop culture, particularly in the age of internet piety, the film also has its detractors. The complaints range across the spectrum but one of the most pointed complaints have been towards Finn, the character portrayed by British actor John Boyega. Two writers whom I’m good friends with — Hannibal Tabu and Joe Illidge — have both written pieces complaining about the character for similar reasons, calling him inept, and even neutered.
I love you guys, you know I do, but I couldn’t disagree with you more. Now this is going to be a rather spoiler filled piece, so if you haven’t seen the movie, now’s your time to hit the eject button and go look at Buzzfeed.
You might not have known, but a little movie opens this weekend. It’s called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Heard of it? Well, it’s already shattering box office records worldwide, and it’ll probably be the highest grossing movie of the year. And there’s only two more weeks left in the year.
Anyway, a bunch of the NOCs have already seen the movie and want to share their thoughts. We’ll be updating this Roundtable throughout the weekend as more of us head out to the multiplex. In the meantime, know that anything and everything after the jump are massive Star Wars spoilers. Be warned.
There’s only one thing about Star Wars: The Force Awakens that scares me…
It’s not the question of whether or not it’s going to be any good, because I know it will be. It’s not the possibility that the movie will birth an everlasting big screen dynasty, because it’s too early in the game to speculate on that. It’s not the intentional absence of Luke Skywalker from everything, because I think it’s admirable to preserve such a fundamental question for the actual movie. It’s not even minor spoilers, though I am taking some protective measures, and have sworn off any further clips, now that I have my Finn focused TV spot to watch over and over again.
No, what I’m afraid about more than anything else, is the true revelation of Finn’s overall role within this new trilogy.
First off, so very many congratulations for your role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I doubt that any of us can be as happy as you are about your casting, but most of us are ecstatic that you are more than just a one-off or a token in the Star Wars universe. Since being cast as Finn you have been rendered, effectively, immortal and omnipresent. You will be in films, made into toys, on posters and trading cards, possibly even comic books, we will be able to play you in video games, your face will be emblazoned on novels… you will be everywhere, for a very long time. Unless something happens where all media is destroyed, you will be famous for the rest of your life. And probably for some time after. Congratulations. I cannot imagine how heady a feeling this must be for you. Continue reading “Dear John Boyega…”
One week after retailers unleashed the power of #ForceFriday on Star Wars fans across the stars, Keith assesses the aftermath with fellow action figure and Star Wars enthusiast David Yeh (@coheteboy) of the Disney/Lucasfilm fansite Endor Express.
We also announce the winner of the Finn action figure from last week’s Force Friday giveaway.
Have you felt it? There’s been an awakening…
You’ve watched all of the unboxing videos. You camped in line outside Toys R Us, waiting for a special midnight opening. Now, #ForceFriday is finally here. Even though Star Wars: The Force Awakens is still three months away, you would be unwise to underestimate the power of Star Wars merchandising. Hell, you can’t spell swag with out SW, right?
Speaking of swag, we’re giving away some of it. Keep reading if you want to know how.