Ghost In The Shell: Worse Than We Thought

On February 28, I saw a 15-minute sneak peek of the Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. From the announcement of the project, this has always been a bad idea. But the announcement of the cast and story has made things much worse. Most noticeably, Hollywood adaptations of Japanese anime have yet to be successful. Either their stories veer too far from the source material, the director isn’t a good fit or the casting makes no sense. You would think Hollywood would learn, yet here we are, on the precipice of another anime-adapted flop.

Here are the takeaways from what I have seen of Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell so far.

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Ghost in the Shell and the Complexity of Cultural Appropriation

by Trungles

There is an old fairy tale popularized by Hans Christian Andersen as The Little Mermaid. I’m one of those odd first-and-a-half generation Vietnamese American immigrants, and tales of living in between spaces have always held my attention. The story goes that a little princess from a world under water wants to live on the land. She falls in love, exchanges her tongue for a pair of legs, and finds herself thrust into the unenviable circumstance of navigating a strange space where she literally has no voice. Ultimately finding no place for her in the world for which she had given up everything, she casts herself off the side of a ship into the ocean, drowns, and dissolves into sea foam. Victorian sentiments about Christianity and moralizing stories for children eventually got Andersen to amend the ending. This is more or less the state of Asian American identity politics. We’re always finding ourselves caught between “where we come from” and wherever we yearn to belong.

The buzz around the 2017 Ghost in the Shell film, among many other film and television projects of its ilk in recent memory, has ignited a bevy of thinkpieces about cultural appropriation and the nature of Asian American identity politics. The topic is complicated.

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Our Roddenberry Moment

The day after the election, I received a message from a frenemy I’ve known since junior high. He has kept close tabs on me and my career, always presenting himself as “devil’s advocate” or “the rational voice of the other side of the argument.” Basically, he’s a book smart troll I didn’t block because of the insidious effects of nostalgia. His message was one line:

“What good is all that science fiction stuff, now that we’ve won?”

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Sitting in the Captain’s Chair for Star Trek Beyond Now on Blu-Ray

People tell me physical media is a dying format and that everyone gets their movies digitally now. Well, I’m old and set in my ways. One of those ways is buying my favorite movies on blu-ray. Last time there was a new Star Trek movie available on disc, Paramount spread the movie’s bonus features over several different retail outlets, and I was not happy about it. This time, while there are still retail exclusives for Star Trek Beyond, you don’t have to buy five different versions of the same movie to get all of the featurettes in one place.

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Star Trek Beyond: Be Still My Trekkie Heart

Thanks to CAPE (The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) and AMP (Asian American Media Professionals), I got to attend a small screening of Star Trek Beyond at Paramount studios.

I won’t get into the story itself, but I must say to all my Trekkies: my solid ice cold anti-Trek reboot heart is starting to melt. I understand how this film had a 94% Rotten Tomatoes rating, making it a ripe tomato.

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Star Trek: The Shackling of Creative Fandom

Today CBS/Paramount delivered the most passive aggressive set of guidelines for Star Trek fan films. The first page was this boilerplate thank you to the fans for ticking by the franchise for so many years. They even acknowledged the hard work and creativity of fan filmmakers. Then when you clicked the link to what was and wasn’t allowable for fan films, it was like, “Here are your creative shackles.”

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The Wesley Crusher Appreciation Post

So recently Wil Wheaton won the internet (yet again) when he threw down the gauntlet for all writers (such as yours truly) when he stated that writers deserve to be paid with actual cash.

Truth be told, Wheaton was perhaps my first major crush, with a legendary character known as Wesley Crusher.

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Throwback Thursday: Why I’m Down with The LXD

So I thought I’d switch gears here for a second and discuss one of my all time favorite series: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers.

Hip hop culture is a long lost love of mine.

This usually shocks people when they learn that I used to be huge fan of vintage hip hop. It’s understandable given my cerebral and uptight demeanor.

As a kid, hip hop culture was starting to gain traction and even then I knew it was something special. It was from the streets, it was humble, it was pure. It was by the people for the people. It was inclusive. Hip hop/rap was for everyone: male, female, black, Asian, Latino, and white.

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Half the Battle: A Throwback Review of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

With Magic Mike XXL about to hit theaters in a couple weeks, Channing Tatum has been making the media rounds to promote the film. Recently, the star was on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show and expressed his displeasure with one of the key movies in his filmography. Talking to Stern, this week Tatum said in reference to the 2009 film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:

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Star Trek is a Television Program — Period

In the last few months, there has been plenty of talk about Star Trek. Whether it is the news that Simon Pegg (Star Trek reboot-verse Scotty) has been hired to make the franchise less Star Trek-y” or Popular Mechanics’ wonderful “8 Things a New Star Trek TV Series Must Have,”  or the legion of fan films, or Adam Savage’s construction of the Enterprise’s Captain’s chair, or the frequent talk about how Trek has influenced the real world — all this, but there is no Trek property. No show. No amusement park. No decent toys to speak of. Just speculation, scuttlebutt, and rumor. Yes, there is a new film coming sometime in the future, but do we really need it? Continue reading Star Trek is a Television Program — Period”