NOC Interview: Culture House’s Raeshem Nijhon Talks About the Importance of Representation

The last several years have seen numerous fallouts from Hollywood industry titans with regard to representation and the arts. NBC cancelling the 2022 Golden Globes amid the problems the HFPA essentially created for itself is a reminder of the strides still to be had for the industry. Enter Raeshem Nijhon, executive producer and founder at Culture House, a black, brown, and women-owned premium film and TV production company.

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In Praise of ‘ElfQuest’

Every single time there is a “best of” list of comics and graphic novels, it’s almost inevitable that most of these lists are going to look a little similar. You’re going to see Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns on there, Moore and Gibbons Watchmen; (very deserving of a spot in the top 20) Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. In writing this, I reviewed fifteen lists and this plays out, with some new additions like Robert Kirkman’s Invincible and Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina; and the more seemingly odder choices like, say, Brian Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And at some point, we’re going to have to talk about why there are so many damn men dominating these lists.

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Veronica Lodge on The CW’s ‘Riverdale’ Deserves Better

Everyone has that one character they relate to or see themselves in; everyone searches to find someone who looks like them on screen. For me, that character is Veronica Lodge on The CW’s Riverdale, which is based on the Archie Comics characters. Despite the fact that she has had one of the most important evolutions on the show and has been there since the pilot, she is often overlooked and over hated, for no real reason besides Archie continuing to choose her.

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Netflix’s ‘Moxie’ Should Have Been a TV Series

There is nothing wrong with a good ole’ fashion teen feminism story. It seems the appropriate time to show off the power of angry women at a time when men, who behave badly, still seem to get away with it, especially one targeted towards teenagers. Directed by Amy Poehler, who is known for her funny, tough characters, Moxie is a cute story about girl power that’s been done before but, this time, written to fit this generation’s wokeness.

Based on the 2015 YA book of the same name by Jennifer Mathieu, Moxie follows a shy and very sheltered high school junior named Vivian (Hadley Robinson) who lays low to avoid any attention. She has lived in the shadows of high school with her childhood best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai of Terrace House fame). It’s not until the arrival of a new student, Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña) who quickly becomes a target for speaking up against popular jock, Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), that Vivian realizes how sexist her school is. Inspired by her mother’s (Poehler) teenage rebellion stage and a Bikini Kill song her mother used to play for her, Vivian creates her own anonymous feminist zine — ‘Moxie’ — calling out the toxic behavior from classmates and the school, led by Principal Shelly (Marcia Gay Harden). The zine is a hit among the girls in school sparking a Moxie Club created to topple the patriarchy — or at least in the school.

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NOC Review: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Wish Granted

So real talk time: I’m sure this won’t make me very popular, but I’m not a fan of 2017’s Wonder Woman. I think it’s a movie with a lot of really good ideas, some really terrible villains, a lot of bad acting (the terrible, cartoony “Boris and Natasha Show” that is Danny Huston and Dr. Poison, along with Mortal Kombat Lupin at the end), and a terrible final act that invalidates some of the best themes introduced in the first two-thirds of the movie (Steve explains to Diana that wars don’t just end because one person dies, then 20 minutes later she kills Ares and the war ends). So for me to go into Wonder Woman 1984 expecting more of the same, but coming out, not just surprised, but actually quite happy should be a testament to how much I think the film improves on its predecessor. As a film, I think it’s not only going to make the millions of fans of the first happy, but also make believers out of the skeptical, like myself. And that, I think, all comes from the incredible storyteller that is Patty Jenkins (with a great assist from Geoff Johns).

**Please note, it’s a bit difficult to get into the intricacies of what I liked about the movie without diving into some spoilers, so please be warned, and feel free to skip ahead to the final verdict if you don’t want details spoiled for you! (Then come back and read this after you see it.)**

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No More Mrs. Frozone: Black Women Characters in Pixar’s ‘Soul’

Black adult women aren’t often depicted in animation. Most of the Black female characters are kids or teens or little-seen moms. Some notable central characters include: Storm. Trudy Proud and Big Mama. Donna Tubbs. Uhm, the Muses? There aren’t very many. It’s the Mrs. Frozone problem, off-screen and never developed. (Pixar could stand to improve upon that problem in particular.)

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Bringing the ‘Wonder’ Back with Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot of ‘Wonder Woman 1984’

You may be looking at the title of this article and saying to yourself, “yeah… but what does that really mean?” Truth be told part of it was my self-indulgent way of pretending to be clever by using the double entendre about the long-awaited screen return of Diana Prince, courtesy of the amazing duo of director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot. But the other part of said entendre is truly to acknowledge the truth about how challenging this year has been, and that after all we’ve been through, we deserve the treat and comfort of a celluloid (or digital) superhero spectacle at a time like this — particularly in the most appropriate form of Wonder Woman; a hero who embodies love, compassion, and understanding. And by bringing Wonder Woman 1984 to theaters and into our homes on December 25, so we can enjoy the continuing adventures of Princess Diana of Themyscira, that’s exactly what Jenkins and Gadot have done.

We had the great honor of participating in a conversation with these two powerful filmmakers recently to discuss their upcoming Christmas present to us, and what it means to them (as well as us fans). Here’s what they had to say:

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‘Mulan’ is a Thoughtful but Clunky Iteration of the Chinese Folktale

Mulan is the latest in a growing line of Disney live-action remakes. Based on the 1998 animated feature film of the same name, as well as The Ballad of Mulan, a young woman (Yifei Liu) disguises herself as a man to take her ailing father’s place in the Imperial Army, to protect the country from Northern invaders. Along the way, she comes to terms with realizing her full potential and to not hold back on who she is.

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Thoughts and Reactions to Watching ‘The Matrix’ For the First Time

There is currently renewed hype and interest for Keanu Reeves. The fact that he had three films come out over the course of a month — John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, Always Be My Maybe, and as of last Friday, Toy Story 4 — probably helps a lot.

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‘Toy Story 4’ and the Amazing Women Behind the Return of Bo Peep

“The world needs strong women. Women who will lift and build others, who will love and be loved. Women who live bravely, both tender and fierce. Women of indomitable will.” — Amy Tenney

Earlier this month, I wrote about the debut of Toy Story’s newest character, Forky, whom will be making his arrival in Toy Story 4.

However… Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the Toy Story gang aren’t just welcoming new friends like Forky in Toy Story 4 — they’re also getting reunited with an old one.

Bo Peep is back!

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The “Marvel”-ous Ms. Danvers: The ‘Captain Marvel’ Press Conference

A restless crowd found itself eagerly awaiting the commencement of an important event on Friday afternoon in the gorgeous ballroom of a luxurious Los Angeles hotel. High spirits were palpable all around, as everyone had come from seeing one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year a few days before the event: Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel. The film, a turning point for the ever-expanding success that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, represented something more than just a typical superhero FX-driven origin story — it was to become Marvel Studios’ first female-led superhero movie. And as such, the crowd was anxious for the announcement that they would soon be joined by the captain, herself, Brie Larson, as well as co-stars Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, Samuel L. Jackson, Gemma Chan, Clark Gregg, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and producer-extraordinaire Kevin Feige to discuss candidly what indeed makes her a hero.

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Brie Larson Talks Being a Feminist Superhero in ‘Captain Marvel’

Brie Larson wants you to know she doesn’t believe the hoopla over the rumors surrounding her character, Captain Marvel.

“I do not look at that stuff, man,” Larson tells The Nerds of Color during the Captain Marvel set visit last May.

Like her character, Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot who obtained alien powers to become the titled hero, Larson wants to focus on the good she could do in the world.

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Six Thoughts On The 13th Doktah’

So this weekend Doctor Who regenerated for the 13th time and is now a woman. Jodie Whittaker is replacing Peter Capaldi as the iconic Timelord.

As with all things speculative fiction and social justice, social media has been lit, to put it mildly with everyone expressing opinions for and against the new Doktah.

I have a thoughts on the new casting as well. Hence me writing this piece and you reading.

Allons y!!!!!!!!

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We Need #WonderWomanTAS

As Wonder Woman continues to break box office records, there still isn’t enough content featuring everyone’s favorite Amazon. That’s why artists Jermaine Dickerson and Taylor Cordingley have each been championing for a Wonder Woman animated series.

Both artists stop by Hard NOC Life, along with Keith’s DCTV Classics’ co-host Desiree Rodriguez, to talk about how an animated Wonder Woman can finally be the intersectional, feminist, and diverse series we’ve all been waiting for!

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Wonder Woman, Now the World is Ready For You

After shattering box office glass ceilings with a $200 million global debut, Keith breaks down the latest, and most successful, entry in the DC Extended Universe with two Wonder Women in their own right: N’Jaila Rhee (@BlasianBytch) — who also wrote the official NOC review — and Britney Monae (@HiBritneyMonae). Together they rank Wonder Woman against other comic book superhero movies and why the “No Man’s Land” scene is the best, discuss the problems with the last act of the movie, break down the argument that Gal Gadot is a person of color and/or a Zionist, and determine which Chris is the Ultimate Champion White Actor Dude Named Chris.

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Race, Intersectionality, and the End of the World: The Problem with The Handmaid’s Tale

by Shannon Gibney and Lori Askeland

Hulu’s reboot of The Handmaid’s Tale opens with a car chase: the protagonist (Elisabeth Moss), who will later be called “Offred,” is racing with her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake) in their faded, old model Volvo through a frozen landscape, sirens of their invisible pursuers wailing.

The decision to introduce us to Offred as a member of an interracial family revealed an obvious break from the overwhelmingly white world of the novel and 1990 movie. Many reviewers construed that fact — and the powerful presence of Samira Wiley in the role of Offred’s badass lesbian friend, Moira — as undeniable evidence that the series would be more intersectional in its approach to feminist themes than the novel had been.  (“There’s intersectionality, too, with Moira, a lesbian, played by a black actress, Ms. Wiley,” was the breezy quip of the New York Times’ Katrina Onstad.) But sadly, bodies of color alone do not a liberatory racial narrative make. Indeed, a deeper look at the series shows the uncomplicated, and therefore, problematic effects of this “colorblind” casting.

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My Love/Hate Relationship with HBO’s Girls

Girls is over. I have a lot of feelings about this show, if you’re aware of the criticism surrounding it, then yes I’m going to dabble into that. As well as some of the parts I actually liked. If you don’t want to read this whole essay, then it’s fine. To sum up how I feel: I showed up for Adam Driver and developed a love-hate relationship with the series overall. Brace yourselves, this is going to be long.

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We Made a Wonder Woman Jacket… and Guys Hate It

by Tony B. Kim | Originally posted at Hero Within

On Monday morning we released our summer collection that included our new Wonder Woman Denim Jacket. Out of everything new we are creating this year, this is the one piece I am most excited for. Wonder Woman is FINALLY getting her own live action film after almost 40 years since Linda Carter’s iconic TV version. Fortunately, in the past few years, we have seen more social advocating for equal representation of gender, orientation, and race in our favorite comics, TV, and films. Much has changed. Much has not.

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What’s Hiding Behind the Feel-Good Curtain of Hidden Figures: One Black Feminist’s Take

In a scene in Hidden Figures that is all too familiar for Black women viewers, or really anyone from a historically marginalized group, Taraji P. Henson’s character Katherine Johnson rushes to enter the NASA control room where she has just handed off crucial calculations for astronaut John Glenn’s safe return from orbit, and has the door summarily slammed in her face. The camera lingers on Henson’s profile, as she grapples yet again with the devastating knowledge that although she may be a useful “computer” for spitting out numbers that may make missions successful and even save lives, she is still not seen as fully human in the eyes of her peers and superiors. Indeed, in Henson’s capable hands, viewers ourselves experience the physical and emotional pain of being barred from entering the halls of power for absurd reasons beyond one’s control — in this case, race and gender.

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Womyn Warriors of The Great Wall

The Great Wall was, as the movie posters implied, about how we should all say #ThankYouMattDamon. Yes, he comes up with the brilliant plans that the Chinese hadn’t figured out in the last 2,000 years (even though there was a clue in ancient texts) and all that white savior stuff — fittingly, the movie was written by the same guy who wrote The Last Samurai. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up). But I’m not gonna talk about it because you can find it all over the internet.

You can read about the plot here — or read Valerie’s review here — so you know what I’m going to be talking about, but it’s basically Starship Troopers in ancient China. But there was a theme that made me not want to slit my wrists and go screaming out of the movie theater (which was the case when I saw Kubo and the Two Strings, but that’s for another day). What was it? It was the portrayal of womyn.

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Q&A with The OA’s Ian Alexander

by Jes Vu | Originally posted at Angry Asian Man

In a time where representation is such a hot topic in Hollywood, Netflix’s The OA does something few have done: cast an actual Asian transgender teenage boy as an Asian transgender teenage boy. Vietnamese-American teen Ian Alexander is one of multiple Asian actors in The OA’s main cast alongside Filipino/Puerto Rican-American Brandon Perea and British Pakistani Riz Ahmed (in a recurring role). Continuing the spotlight from his response to a viral anti-trans photo, Ian makes his on-screen acting debut as Buck Vu in the newly-released show having been cast from an online open casting call in 2015.

Growing up in places including Japan, Hawai’i, and D.C. have helped shape Ian. The fifteen-year-old high school junior has had more experiences than most teenagers his age, and his passion knows no bounds. He’s politically vocal, a huge admirer of actors and filmmakers like Jen Richards (Her Story) and Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) and relentless as a Marvel fanboy (he’s “Team Bucky” for those who are curious). Ian had time to sit down and talk about his upbringing and the show (don’t worry, there are no spoilers here).

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