When I first caught sight of Pokémon Neo Genesis cards being sold on the Home Shopping Network as a kid, I almost took my mother’s credit card and picked up the phone to put in a few hundred orders. I remember on one such occasion using the spare change from a trip to the gas station to buy a single booster pack. I came home with a gallon of milk and yet another holographic Machamp, all while receiving the admonition I knew was waiting for me at home.
For Pride Month, we are so excited to have on Amin El Gamal, who plays Sam on the amazing queer Ramadan rom-com Breaking Fast, which is now on Hulu! We dig into what drew Amin to acting, the experience of filming Breaking Fast and working with Mike Mosallam, their thoughts on the current landscape of MENA and queer stories in film and, what he’d love to see more of in the industry, and much more!
Greenwood, Oklahoma aka “Black Wall Street,” dubbed so by Booker T. Washington, was a once thriving Black community. Thoroughly segregated from the rest of white Tulsa, nevertheless it boasted entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, entertainment venues, and markets, everything a town would need to sustain itself. To be happy and self-sufficient. That is until 1921 when a mob of deputized whites burned the town to the ground. Not only were the murderous white mob deputized to engage in the massacre, they were given weapons by officials of the city government. The even used an aerial bomb.
This episode of Southern Fried Asian features a special panel organized by community members from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Keith, a graduate of Old Dominion, joined the panel alongside, Dr. Francis Tanglao Aguas, Dr. Kim H. Nguyen, Dr. Melody D. Agbisit, Veronica Salcedo, and Tracie Liguid.
SYFY’s comedy-drama series Resident Alien has been a hit with fans of the graphic novel, and newcomers to the series as well, sitting pretty on Rotten Tomatoes at 93% as of writing this. Corey Reynolds (Selma, Straight Outta Compton), who plays Sheriff Mike Thompson in the series, said that the personalities of fellow castmates Alan Tudyk (Devil May Care and Raya and the Last Dragon) and Sara Tomko (3022 and Sneaky Pete), and series creator Chris Sheridan (Family Guy), are what most likely led to its positive reception.
There’s no question the global pandemic has affected the lives of many within the United States having the highest COVID-19 cases and death rate. The previous administration under President Donald Trump blamed China for the deadly coronavirus, labeling the disease as the “China Virus” and, more broadly, putting targets on the backs of Asian Americans by fellow citizens who are angry by the economic and social impact of the pandemic. Since then, there has been a rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes throughout the U.S. After multiple attacks on the elderly Asian population, the media started to notice, thanks to the help of Asian American advocates and allies pushing for these stories to be shared. Multiple brands, including Disney, Nike, and Apple, began releasing statements condemning the attacks on Asians and where people can donate and show support.
It seems like the perfect time to release Raya and the Last Dragon, a Disney film inspired by Southeast Asian cultures and traditions. Raya and the Last Dragon is set in the fantasy world of Kumandra where humans and dragons lived together in harmony. That sadly ends when the Druun, an evil entity, threatens the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, the Druun have returned and Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), the lone warrior princess, must find the last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), to stop the Druun and save the world. The film’s theme is centered around trust and how Raya must learn to trust in order to achieve saving the world.
On a new episode of Southern Fried Asian, Keith is joined by Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at the University of Oklahoma Dr. David Surratt to talk about growing up Black and Korean in Tulsa.
While the details of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ are debated, Judas goes down in history as one of the most infamous traitors — all over 30 pieces of silver. Maybe Judas didn’t like the fact that the people hailed Christ as a “Messiah” — a title the FBI used as code names for Black radical liberators in the 1960s to the late 1970s. One such “Messiah” is the young Black Panther activist and Chicago native Fred Hampton, mercilessly killed thanks to Black a panther Party (BPP) infiltrator and informant William O’Neal, FBI Agent Roy Mitchell, and J. Edgar Hoover.
Directed Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of Fred Hampton’s betrayal in great detail. As an activist, Hampton aimed to unite people from all walks of life against systemic oppression. Still, the counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO) FBI death squad stopped all. Can’t have people of color and poor whites thinking they have any power.
We are joined by our friend Tariq Raouf to discuss the upcoming film Breaking Fast, which features a gay Arab-American Muslim as its protagonist! We discuss what we enjoyed about the film, what director and writer Mike Mosallam was trying to say with this delightful rom-com, how well it does with representation for Arabs, Muslims, and Ramadan, and where it could have been better. Before that, in our MENA news segment, we have some GREAT news to discuss with Ramy’s May Calamawy being base in Marvel’s Moon Knight! And another of our faves, Rami Malek, has been cast in a lead role in David O’Rusell’s upcoming film! Enjoy listening!
We are joined by the wonderful Hanna Flint to discuss Wonder Woman 1984 in this special bonus episode! We discuss the various ups and downs of the film, how well we thought the actors did with the script and story they had, and whether this movie did Diana Prince/Wonder Woman justice. We also discuss the many racist and Orientalist aspects of its depiction of Egypt and Egyptian people, and how detrimental it is for MENA representation. There’s a LOT to discuss, and we go through it all. Enjoy listening!
Spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984 begin around 11:26.
TW for discussion of rape and sexual assault 11:44 -12:57
Amazon Prime Video has released the official trailer for Education, the fifth and final film in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology series. Small Axe premiered with Mangrove starring Letitia Wright and Shaun Parkes on November 20, followed by Lovers Rock on November 27 featuring Micheal Ward and Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn.
“When the police masked [in the events of the show], it raised the question of accountability, because at some point, [it becomes a question of] who’s the good guy/who’s the bad guy” — Christal Henry, Supervising Producer of Watchmen (2019)
This quote, which kicked off the most fascinating panel/segment in the DC FanDome for Watchmen: Unmasked, embodies more than just what was going on in the narrative of the show. It’s a quote that fully embodies what we’re seeing in our society today. When you replace the metaphor of a mask with a badge, we understand that Watchmen is, as the graphic novel was too, an absolute reflection of the sins of society told through the lenses of both the empowered and the powerless. And therein is why Watchmen is perhaps one of the best television events in the past decade.
We’re starting spooky season a bit early this year with a review of Iranian-American film director Ana Lily Amirpour’s 2014 horror classic “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.” What makes this film so unique in its abstraction and commentary, and how effectively does it pull it off? But before that, we have a heavy news section discussing police violence and brutality in the US, the recent explosion in Lebanon that has exacerbated the country’s numerous problems, and, on a much lighter note, we discuss the plethora of entertainment news out of DC Comics’ online convention DC FanDome!
[This review is based on the first five episodes of Lovecraft Country. The ADR nor the VFX were complete, so I won’t comment on those.]
If you’ve been reading The Nerds of Color for any length of time, you know that I routinely eschew the traditional review format. I don’t find it terribly interesting to read and I’m not a really big fan of writing that way. As I only cover the things I enjoy, I write endorsements instead of reviews and I am endorsing Lovecraft Country, with a few caveats.
We have a PACKED episode this month. After discussing some excellent and exciting MENA entertainment news, Mae and Swara review Netflix’s The Old Guard, which is directed by the incredible Gina Prince-Bythewood and stars one of our favorite MENA actors Marwan Kenzari! But before that, we have an open and frank discussion about “cancel culture,” why it scares powerful and privileged white people so much, and how if they just actually devoted themselves to be better people they wouldn’t have to worry about being “canceled.” Enjoy listening!
In this episode, we discuss systemic Anti-Black racism, how it crops up in MENA communities, and how we should address it. We discuss how we can start important and difficult conversations with friends and family, and how we should show solidarity with the Black community in the fight for racial justice.
We’re joined by Nawal Rajeh, a community organizer and activist who co-founded and runs the non-profit By Peaceful Means, which works with youth in East Baltimore, MD around issues of peace and justice.
In just over a month, Spike Lee’s masterful Do the Right Thing will be 31 years old. Me and a group of friends skipped out of our summer work program to see the film. We were budding Black and Brown cineastes who marveled at Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It and begged our caretakers and school counselors to help us apply to HBCUs after viewing School Daze (and A Different World) — well, those of us who could activate our dream machinery enough to believe we could escape the projects and could make it in university. It was the summer before our senior year and we all knew that in a year’s time, things would be different. Some of us would be off to the military. Some of us would go to either a four-year college or a junior college. Some of us would go directly into the workforce. And there was me. I had no idea what was waiting for me after high school. All I knew was that as soon as I graduated (if I graduated) I was running as far away and as fast as I could from my abusive mother. I didn’t care where. I just needed to get the hell out of that house. All this was bouncing around in my head as the lights dimmed. Continue reading “They Are Still Killing Radio Raheem”
The past few days have been a whirlwind, to say the least.
As we have all seen or heard at this point in time, George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police when former officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck. Chauvin has since been arrested — initially on the charge of third-three murder, but the charge has since been raised to second-degree murder. The other three former officers, Thomas Kiernan Lane, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, have also been arrested on aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder.
The escalation of charges, however, didn’t come without a fight. For an entire week, people marched in Minneapolis, around the country, and around the world, for Floyd’s killer and accomplices to be brought to justice. Part of those protests included a riot that ended with Minneapolis’ third precinct police station being burned down.
Throughout the riots, protests, and general unrest, I went through a myriad of emotions, to the point where I felt unable to write for this site. I still haven’t watched the video of Floyd’s death because for me, reading about the details, including Floyd calling for his deceased mother, was enough. If I watched the video, I knew I would be haunted by it for the rest of my life. I am already haunted by the lives of so many Black people who have been needlessly killed, and their stories were already compelling me without having to see them get killed on camera. I didn’t want to see the video that would only add insult to injury — the insult being that no one would care.
On June 5, the Oxford Film Festival will host the virtual world premiere of the documentary feature, Far East Deep South, a film about a Chinese American family discovering its unexpected history in Mississippi. Before its premiere, the filmmakers, Larissa Lam and Baldwin Chiu, sit down for this month’s episode of Southern Fried Asian.