Surprise: Hollywood is Still Whitewashing POC Characters

Happy Asian American Pacific Islander Month!

Good news! The story of the Ni’ihau Incident is coming to the big screen. Bad news? Hollywood has learned nothing from the whitewashing outrage that has been in the zeitgeist for the last year.

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Announcing New Frontiers Anthology Inspired by the Life of George Takei

The team behind the groundbreaking Asian American superhero anthologies Secret Identities and Shattered, in partnership with the Japanese American National Museum, have issued a Call for Submissions for New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei, an original graphic novel anthology that will serve as a companion volume to JANM’s historic exhibition of the same name (running through August 2017), which showcases Takei’s life and the cultural landscapes through which he has traveled. The anthology’s target publication date is July 2017.

Diverse creators with stories to share that speak to the themes and issues Takei has confronted in his life are encouraged to pitch them at the Submissions Form located at here before the pitch deadline of April 24, 2017. Relevant issues include, but are not limited to: unlawful incarceration, status as an “illegal” alien and the push for LGBTQ equality and civil rights for all, yellowface, whitewashing, media stereotypes, and the rise of digital culture and social media.

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It’s More Than Okay To Be George Takei

Last night, I had the distinct honor to attend a screening of To Be Takei — the new documentary about Start Trek actor, civil rights activist, and social media maven George Takei — as part of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center‘s ongoing Asian Pacific Heritage Month celebrations. Bookended by remarks from Smithsonian APAC Director Konrad Ng and a Q&A with the film’s subjects, the entire evening was a celebration of one of our culture’s most trailblazing icons.

Having made its debut at Sundance in January, To Be Takei was recently acquired by Starz for digital and theatrical distribution later this year. In advance of its formal theatrical release, the film has been doing the festival rounds and made its Washington, DC premiere at the Warner Brothers theater inside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. I was lucky enough to check it out with the homie (and fellow NOC) Patrick Michael Strange.

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Internment/Service by Bernard Chang

Last September, I mentioned how I was honored to coordinate and edit a digital comic in conjunction with the Smithsonian‘s touring “I Want the Wide American Earth” Asian American history exhibit.

(And once again, many thanks to Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis and Konrad Ng for allowing me to be part of such an honor).

Since today is the 72nd anniversary of Executive Order 9066, and a Day of Remembrance for the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II, I wanted to share Bernard Chang‘s contribution to the Smithsonian project. Titled “Internment/Service,” Bernard‘s illustration honors the Japanese Americans who fought for justice abroad while their families suffered from injustice at home.

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Magneto Was Right

Quentin Quire“The X-Men are hated, feared and despised collectively by humanity for no other reason than that they are mutants. So what we have here, intended or not, is a book that is about racism, bigotry and prejudice.”
—Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont, 1981

Call me Quentin Quire. Magneto was right.

A widely-held defense of Marvel Comics’ X-Men states that their stories chronicle the trials of an emergent minority who are hated and feared by the rest of humanity. Race presents the easiest and most popular application of this comic allegory, and casts Magneto’s mutant uplift through global terrorism perspective against the global harmony across cultural boundaries philosophy of Professor Charles Xavier. The parallel beckons: we are to understand Magneto as Malcolm X and respect Prof. Xavier as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Separation or integration, with superpowers. The African American political divide, replacing melanin with the mutant gene.

But when we examine this metaphor in the context of major X-Men storylines in comics, animation, and television, we observe an alternate reality where a human being can gain extra-normal abilities like flight and super speed through the caprice of the genetic lottery, a new world where those not blessed with pyrokinesis or healing factors vote for dogmatic politicians who shuttle public money into robotics programs designed to meet the clear and present danger posed by this modern American minority with lethal force. In the X-Men, Prof. Xavier promotes mutual cooperation and understanding between humans and mutants, while Magneto argues for violent uprising against human oppressors, and the creation of an independent mutant state. Of course, this is offensively sloppy thinking, a political reduction so dramatic it approaches bad comedy.

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