The Middle Geeks Episode 17: MENA in the Stars and Middle Earth

We’re excited to have on TV writer, blogger, and Star Wars fan Arezou Amin on to discuss the long history of MENA people being excluded from Science Fiction and Fantasy media. Why are we constantly ousted from stories that were, in fact, inspired by works based on the Middle East and our culture? Where could we even find ourselves? We discuss Arezou’s project with Postcards from the Galaxy’s Edge featuring Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Star Wars fans, and what she and the podcast hoped to achieve with it. We also discuss various DCTV news, including the Legends of Tomorrow panel at DC FanDome and the future of Zari and Behrad Tarazi in Season 6, Supergirl ending with Season 6, and Caity Lotz’s bufoonish tweets, and the news that Alia Shawkat is creating and starring in a series based on her family’s Iraqi immigrant experience!

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Force Healing and Its (Re-)Emergence in ‘Star Wars’

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and the first season of The Mandalorian.

Force healing: The ability to heal oneself or another by way of pouring one’s life energy into a wound, but at the expense of their own vitality. While it has made appearances in the past in Star Wars Legends, it made its first live-action appearances in two recent Star Wars productions: the seventh episode of the first season of The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Continue reading “Force Healing and Its (Re-)Emergence in ‘Star Wars’”

‘Lost’ Legacies: How to Re-imagine Sacred Nerd Texts

Before December 2019 ends, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on one of the most significant pop culture artifacts of the year. This is the month, after all, in which one of the co-creators of the iconic series Lost gave us a critically acclaimed and universally praised ninth episode of a series that breathed new life into a franchise that had not been this beloved since the mid-1980s. By shifting the focus away from the historically white male heroes of the original and toward a story centering women and people of color, the creators had to also confront the toxic — and often racist — fan culture that had laid claim to the property for over thirty years. Plus, they were able to do all of this without the consent of the property’s original creator.

Of course, I’m talking about Watchmen on HBO.

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The Middle Geeks Episode 8: The State of MENA Representation in Hollywood and Star Wars

It’s the most wonderful time of the year on The Middle Geeks! Star Wars time! But is it really though, with the latest release of The Rise of Skywalker? Swara and Mae discuss, getting into what they liked about the film, as well as the issues they had with it and the Sequel Trilogy as a whole. Note that this is a SPOILER discussion. But before that, we get into the month of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) representation highs and lows, from the high of having an Arab-American hero introduced to Marvel Comics to the low of Aladdin star Mena Massoud not getting a single audition due to Hollywood racism, even after his film made a billion dollars. We still have a long way to go!

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Some Things are Stronger than Blood: The Core Theme of ‘Star Wars’

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The latest and final installment of the Skywalker saga of Star Wars is now out in theaters. In The Rise of Skywalker, the Resistance must face the First Order once more, in the midst of the mysterious return of Emperor Palpatine.

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Hard NOC Life: The Reaction to ‘Skywalker’

After 42 years, the Skywalker Saga comes to a close with the release of The Rise of Skywalker. Keith was joined by Jamie Noguchi to screen the movie at Baltimore’s historic Senator Theater. Here are their instant reactions. SPOILERS!

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NOC Review: ‘Rise of Skywalker’ Ends the ‘Star Wars’ Saga with a Whimper

Let’s be honest. The reason you, the skeptic who hated on The Last Jedi for two years (not me, but you know who you are!), went on this site and clicked on this review is to find out whether or not Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is any good. But the answer to this isn’t a simple one. Now before the cynic in you dismisses the movie entirely just because it’s not an overwhelmingly positive “yes,” just know that it’s not terrible either. To put it simply, in a year where we had Avengers: Endgame and the finale of Game of ThronesThe Rise of Skywalker, the conclusion to the 40 year Skywalker saga, is squarely in between: neither as amazingly uplifting and universally praised, nor as abysmally disappointing and anticlimactic as some other fantasy finales that pissed me off.

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Hard NOC Life: The Last Rogue Force Awakens One Solo Jedi

With Rise of Skywalker and the end of the Skywalker Saga at the end of the month to look forward to, Hard NOC Life is going to be a Star Wars podcast for the month of December. Because there aren’t enough Star Wars podcasts on the internet! Each week, Dominic and Keith will be breaking down a different trilogy that make up the beloved Star Wars franchise.

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The IX Best Moments from the Final ‘Rise of Skywalker’ Trailer

Finally, after weeks of anticipation — and one half of terrible football (unless you were a New England Patriots fan) — the world finally got to see the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and ultimately, the final trailer of the Skywalker Saga. And it did not disappoint!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 4: ‘Capernaum’ and Facing Hard Truths

In the latest installment of The Middle Geeks, we review Nadine Labaki’s 2018 heartbreaking masterpiece, Capernaum. Mae and Swara reflect on the state of conflict in the region, how institutions fail children, immigrants, and the most vulnerable, and how generational trauma affects us as Middle Eastern-Americans. It’s a hard but necessary set of discussions to have. On much lighter topics, we discuss the slew of news from D23, and express our dismay at a change in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow‘s upcoming season.

(We start our Capernaum discussion at the 32:51 mark.)

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Breaking Down ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

All week, rabid Star Wars fans have been debating the merits of the most recent entry into the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Directed by Rian Johnson and starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Kelly Marie Tran, Carrie Fisher, and Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi has proven to be the most polarizing entry in the Lucasfilm canon. To break down what they thought of the movie, Keith invited his DC TV Classics co-host Britney Monae.

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‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ and Moving Beyond Nostalgic Ownership

To properly analyze Star Wars: The Last Jedi, you have to go beyond the trappings of fandom and look at the movie as a part of a larger product of Disney/Lucasfilm storytelling. Approaching this as anything other than a corporate juggernaut mainly concerned with moving merchandise and building the next generation of consumers will result in total anger, confusion, and regret. This might sound cynical and cold, but it’s only the acknowledgment that Hollywood cinema is big business and sometimes actual art will slip through the image factory despite their best efforts to curtail imagination and wonder.

I’m not saying The Last Jedi lacks imagination or wonder, but there’s definitely a middling corporate influence throughout the movie that simultaneously keeps the movie in an inoffensive zone of bland character moments while setting up Rian Jonhson’s long-term vision for the Star Wars franchise.

What makes The Last Jedi interesting, though, is that it deliberately erases the nostalgic underpinnings of the Star Wars saga being about the Skywalker clan. Now this is where you see a lot of online outrage regarding The Last Jedi (even when you remove the knee-jerk right-wing racist backlash to the movie being “too diverse“) with the main complaint is that it “feels different” than previous Star Wars films.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

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NOCs of the Roundtable: Hot Star Wars Takes Awaken

You might not have known, but a little movie opens this weekend. It’s called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Heard of it? Well, it’s already shattering box office records worldwide, and it’ll probably be the highest grossing movie of the year. And there’s only two more weeks left in the year.

Anyway, a bunch of the NOCs have already seen the movie and want to share their thoughts. We’ll be updating this Roundtable throughout the weekend as more of us head out to the multiplex. In the meantime, know that anything and everything after the jump are massive Star Wars spoilers. Be warned.

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May the Force Friday Toys Be With You

One week after retailers unleashed the power of #ForceFriday on Star Wars fans across the stars, Keith assesses the aftermath with fellow action figure and Star Wars enthusiast David Yeh (@coheteboy) of the Disney/Lucasfilm fansite Endor Express.

We also announce the winner of the Finn action figure from last week’s Force Friday giveaway.

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