Hollywood, a new miniseries created and executive produced by Ryan Murphy, will be coming to Netflix this Friday. Audiences will both travel back in time to the 1940s and explore an alternative universe where a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers — who’re female, people of color, and/or LGBTQ — break into the business and dismantle the boundaries against them in the process.
Last week, a list started circulating online that supposedly contains all the previously released content that will be made available on Disney+ on its November 12 launch date. Of all the titles, the Disney Channel Original series, So Weird, is one of them.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the films, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Detective Pikachu, and The Sun Is Also a Star.
Although Loving v. Virginia officially abolished all remaining anti-miscegenation laws in the United States in 1967, it really hasn’t been until recently where the portrayals of mixed race characters and interracial couples on the big screen have improved significantly. Within the last six months alone, several films have had either mixed race characters as the leads or interracial relationships as the central focus. An added dimension to some of them is that apart from some of the characters being of the younger generation, the focus wasn’t on their race(s). That didn’t, however, stop these films from acknowledging their backgrounds. While it’s good that films like Aquaman are out there that get really real about being mixed, not all mixed race protagonists need to go on a journey of self discovery to that extent.
I went to Aquaman for two reasons: First, the ticket was free. Second, this is basically underwater Magic Mike, right? I came for the pecs, I stayed for the pecs. But also for the analysis of what it is to be of two cultures. I mean races. I mean… worlds?
A lot of people of color of my generation who are passionate about diversity and representation in the media tend to point to the media we consumed as children as the reason why — to the absences, omissions, and misrepresentations, and to the token presences we latched onto like lifelines. Today, our childhood experiences are ever-present motivators in our lives as fans, consumers, and creators in our own right, trying to redress past wrongs by ensuring the existence of the mirrors, windows, and doorways we were denied years before.
As a father watching contemporary media aimed at kids, tweens, and teens with my own tween and teen daughters, I’m slowly getting the hopeful feeling that their future will be different — or, if it isn’t, there will be hell to pay. That’s not to say that there isn’t vast room for improvement — we haven’t solved it, not by a long shot — but the energy, the diversity, the mere and sheer presence in the media world with which my children interact and which they take for granted as normal is so far from what we grew up with, and so close to what we wish the media landscape at large looked like, that I can’t help but be a little optimistic.
The “Whitelash” theory of Trump’s super-embarrassing slide into the presidency (well, we never claimed the U.S. wasn’t anti-intellectual, did we?) has the still-ascendant, but demographically shrinking and culturally stagnating white/cis-het/male contingent (helped substantially by their female counterparts) striking back at the diversity of Obama’s America by electing a crypto-white-supremacist in response to his racist and xenophobic dog whistles. Although not the only compelling narrative of the last year and a half, Trump’s Whitelash has enough truth to it to make it into at least a Ronald-Takaki-authored history book, if not a textbook from Texas.
Meanwhile, pop culture may be lashing in the opposite direction — and, in fact, contributing to the panic. Whereas the last Academy Awards shows of Obama’s presidency featured a field of winners that rivaled a wedding-dress-clad polar bear fainting on an iceberg for whiteness, it is President Trump’s first Oscars that saw the Academy — now led by a black woman — crowning its first African-American-made Best Picture. The last season of tv was the most diverse in history, and we don’t need numbers or stats to know this. And even the debate around diversity failures points to how far we’ve come, and how aware of the changing nature of American culture the mainstream has become.
So it’s not much of a stretch to see Logan, clearly the end of a franchise, as the gentle, mournful and mourning, Hollywood-sanctioned version of conservative white panic.
After reading Desiree Rodriguez’s essay about Latinx representation and how we assume one’s race based on looks, I was inspired to write my own essay on the assumption of one’s race and biracial representation, while sharing some of my experiences as a black biracial woman.
Before we go any further, I’m African-American, Greek, French, and Scottish. However, I identify as being Black-Greek, black biracial, or half black/half white. I know this is a question I’m going to get, so I had to address it as soon as possible before diving even deeper into these subjects. Please remember that not everyone who is biracial and or a POC have had the same experiences as me; however, I’m simply adding my experiences to the conversation to hopefully give a new perspective.
Okay my fellow NOCs, there are just a few truths we need to acknowledge when it comes to Spider-Man on the big screen. Out of five films, only one of them, Spider-Man 2, was any good. The rest were bloated messes that robbed Spidey of any and all joy. Tobey Maguire was a decent Peter Parker but not the best Spidey. Andrew Garfield was just the opposite. Spider-Man was done an injustice.
Depending on where you stake your claim on the internet, there has been a lot of chatter about a movie that tanked at the box office1 and another one that isn’t due in theaters for at least another year. The thing that links these seemingly disparate films is that both thought casting white women as characters who are written as Asian American and Pacific Islander was a good idea.
Last night, the director of one of those films — Cameron Crowe — finally broke his silence and offered this explanation for why he cast Emma Stone (Amazing Spider-Man) as a character called Allison Ng:Continue reading “These Actresses are Not Asian or Pacific Islanders”
Two years ago, comics writer and filmmaker (and familiar name to NOC readers) Greg Pak, known for his work on several Hulk and X-Men titles, including the current Storm book, and his current runs on Action Comics, Batman/Superman, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, among others (like Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology), was raising funds on Kickstarter for a graphic novel based on beloved geek culture singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton‘s Code Monkey character. As a reward for meeting a stretch goal, Pak and his collaborators promised an original children’s book based on Coulton’s popular twist on children’s fairytales, “The Princess Who Saved Herself.”
It seems that Spock and his mixed-species brethren and sistren haven’t served as multiracial muses only to me and fellow NOC Claire. Even during the last year of its original television run, just a year after the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case legalized all interracial marriage across the United States, Vulcan/human hybrid Spock spoke so much to a biracial black/white teenager in Los Angeles that she wrote to him, via a teen magazine, for advice, so moving that actor Leonard Nimoy wrote her back with a message of self-acceptance.
With Star Trek Week on The Nerds of Color coming to an end after an amazing week of posts both celebratory, critical, and somewhere in between, I wanted to introduce you to two artists of multiracial heritage who use Spock as a way to explore mixed-race identity in their work.
It was probably not a coincidence that my adolescent Trekkiehood (and no, I’m not uptight over the whole -ie vs. -er thing) coincided with the beginnings of the interrogation and articulation of the politics of multiracial identity that has preoccupied my academic and extracurricular life since then (and I’m 39 now).
I’d already spent a good number of my childhood Saturday afternoons watching Classic Trek reruns on Channel 13 when Star Trek: The Next Generation started airing at the same time that I started junior high. I don’t think I was quite sure why, exactly, I was so into it, but I was. My friends and I would spend science class talking about the previous night’s episode or passing around the latest NextGen comic book. I filled my bookshelf with TOS and TNG novels from Pocket Books, plus all the oversized manuals and behind-the-scenes-looks and field guides filled with art and graphic design. I hung a framed poster from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (a.k.a. The One With The Whales) over my bed and taped a pair of those shades they give you after the eye doctor dilates your eyes to slide into your glasses over Spock’s eyes.
I wore an original series command uniform made by my mom of soft gold velour to school on Halloween at least once if not twice (and somehow avoided getting beaten up). I received TNG action figures as gifts and pinned them to my cork board, keeping them mint-in-box. I went with friends from school to the monthly LA comic-con, first at the Ambassador, then at the Shrine, to browse the dealers’ room and see special guests (the “Save Max Headroom” flyer I got signed by Matt Frewer, Jeffrey Tambor, and George Coe hung on my bedroom wall for a long time after that show’s demise). We graduated to Creation cons devoted to our beloved Trek, and took the bus to the Westin Bonaventure downtown or got my dad to drop us off at the LAX Hilton, where I won a mug in a Pocket Books trivia contest and we saw a surprise preview screening of “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I” introduced by The Great Bird of the Galaxy himself in what was to be one of his last con appearances. I was a teenaged Trekkie, and I was not ashamed.
As a grad student in the United States, my mother accidentally fell into a vat of white dude while trying to do social work. As a result, I was born with the power to make total strangers harass me with impertinent questions, and professors, employers, and blind dates dismiss my bizarre notions of the world out of hand.