Writer, journalist, and podcaster Marc Bernardin returns to Hard NOC Life! Keith and Marc engage in a wide-ranging conversation about representation in media.
When Yulree Chun stepped off Starline’s tour bus on Sunday, she didn’t expect herself to be in the center of attention at Hollywood’s biggest night — The Oscars. She and her husband, Patrick Tio, who recently returned from their honeymoon, were just planning on enjoying a nice day walking around Hollywood before they were asked by Starline “employees” to try out their new tour for free.
Chun and the other unexpecting tourists were told they would be viewing a special Oscars fashion exhibit but found themselves in front of the Dolby Theater among Hollywood’s elite.
While Chun and Tio were mingling with the celebrities such as Meryl Streep and Ryan Gosling, host Jimmy Kimmel called on Chun and asked for her name. Chun told him, “My name’s Yulree. Rhymes with jewelry.” This followed an exchange that would cause a bit of controversy on Twitter. Chun remained cool as she was too starstruck to think anything of it.
We got to chat with Yulree Chun about the event and how she’s now happy that everyone is able to pronounce her name correctly.
This has been an amazing ten months for Black cinematic culture. We had Beyoncé’s Lemonade in April 2016. Donald Glover’s Atlanta and Ava Duvernay’s Queen Sugar both premiered on September 6, 2016. Luke Cage’s entire season broke the Internet on September 30. Barry Jenkins’s Best Picture Oscar winning Moonlight dropped October 2016. So did Issa Rae’s Insecure. And then the wicked mind of Jordan Peele unleashed Get Out, this past weekend. There were other films, television shows, videos and the like, but damn. Look at this trajectory. It would be so easy to label this a Black Cinematic Renaissance, but I don’t think I want to be that optimistic.
On a very cold sub-zero January evening in Minnesota (talking windchill -30 F people) , one of our favorite NOCs was ready for some questions. Director, writer, activist, martial artist, general badass, and real life superhero Lexi Alexander joined me at The NOC for another round of #AskLexi. I wasn’t prepared for the hundreds of fans that overwhelmed us with questions, but the feeling of love radiated out of the computer and warmed my heart in the chilly house. Here are some highlights.
We try not to stray from the geek-o-sphere too much here at the NOC, but it’s kind of hard to deny that the one pop cultural topic that’s taking up all of the oxygen is the announcement of the 2015 Academy Award nominations, and the near 100% shut out of people of color in all the major categories1. The most egregious of these snubs was the almost complete dismissal of Selma. The Martin Luther King biopic was pretty much a lock for multiple noms for most of awards season but only managed a Best Song and a (token) Best Picture out of the deal. Star David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay were left on the outside looking in.
And if you need a direct connection back to the nerd world, Oyelowo provides the voice for the Star Wars: Rebels baddie Agent Kallus and Topless Robot wants DuVernay to direct a Marvel movie (something the director isn’t opposed to, by the way). So there.
The superhero genre — as we know it — was first birthed over seven decades ago in the pulpy pages of the 10-cent comic books. Mint copies of which that are now worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Not only are the books themselves more valuable, many of those original heroes are even more popular today than they were at their inception. Even the heroes who weren’t popular then have been resurrected to much critical acclaim today. We call this period of superhero storytelling “the Golden Age” of comics, but we are currently living in a new golden age of superhero storytelling, except the heroes have migrated from the four-color page to the fourteen-screen multiplex.
The fact that we can count on a new comic book superhero movie (or three) every year until infinity and beyond is both a blessing and a curse for the nerd contingent. For every billion-dollar grossing blockbuster that stars men in tights saving the universe — and it is almost always men — there are critics from both within and without nerdom that bemoan the genre’s grasp on pop culture and predict its demise every year. “Superhero fatigue,” it’s called. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is the latest film from writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu — best known for heavier, more melodramatic fare like Babel and 21 Grams — and it takes on the superhero genre, and the fatigue that may or may not come along with it, like no other film before it.
In Part One of our conversation with Michael Uslan, the Batman movie uber-producer recounted his decades-long journey to bring a “dark and serious” version of the Dark Knight from the comic pages to the movie screen, a journey that is the foundation of his memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman. After a string of Hollywood studios and financiers initially rejected the idea, the Batman film franchise has gone on to earn billions of dollars in box office and merchandising and solidify Batman as a cinematic legend, with even more big screen adventures on the way.
After the jump, Michael and I continue our discussion of what makes the Batman such an iconic — and enduring — character.
A while back, I shared a couple of lists I curated of DC superheroes and their Academy Awards. It’s a hobby I picked up a bunch of years ago because I’m as much of an Oscars junkie as I am a superhero movie one. I hinted that I would tackle a similar list featuring the actors of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but instead, I decided to take on the Oscar winners and nominees from that other multi-movie Marvel megafranchise: the X-Men.
Part of the reason is because X-Men: Days of Future Past just shattered a ton of Memorial Day box office numbers on its way to a $111 million opening. Also, with seven movies spanning fourteen years under its belt, the X-Men franchise is just as deep as the Batman and Superman oeuvres, though the mutants have far less noms and wins than DC’s big two.
Some more stray observations after the jump.
File this under “Things You Didn’t Know You Needed.”
Since another Oscar season has come and gone, and since — once again — nary a superhero flick was even in consideration, I’m sharing my Superhero Oscar list with you.
For the last several years, I’ve been keeping a running tally of all of the Batman and Superman alumni who have either won or been nominated for an Academy Award. This all started in 2006 when Nicole Kidman handed George Clooney the statue for his supporting turn in Syriana, and I realized, “Hey, these two were in (admittedly crappy) Batman movies!”
So I did what any Batfan with an internet connection and access to IMDB would do, I compiled a comprehensive list of all the cinematic Bat-actors and their Oscars. And it’s a long one! Last summer, in advance of the release of Man of Steel, I created a similar list for the cinematic Superman alumni as well.
(UPDATED March 2, 2014: Ridley actually won the Oscar, so what are you waiting for, DC?)
This morning, acclaimed screenwriter John Ridley scored his first Academy Award nomination for his adapted screenplay of 12 Years a Slave. If Ridley wins, will he be the first comic book writer with an Oscar?
That’s right. If you didn’t know, while John Ridley is known primarily for his work on the big screen (in addition to 12 Years, Ridley’s filmography includes writing credits on Undercover Brother, Three Kings, and Red Tails), he also has an extensive resume in nerdy television (Justice League, Static Shock) and comics (The Authority, The American Way). Unfortunately, collected editions of his work on either book is out of print.
That said, individual issues of The American Way are still available digitally on ComiXology. But I’m old school and still prefer holding a book in my hand instead of an iPad.