Sense8 Season2: So Many Questions

I’m really not at all interested in reviewing or analyzing Sense8 again, but I would like to get mah nerds into a discussion about the ENORMOUS plot holes, and the weird turns this in-spite-of-it-all-compelling show has taken. So let’s just launch in, shall we? In no particular, but very SPOILERY, order:

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Butler, Dystopia, Propaganda, and a Way Through?

This is an excerpt from a book I started in 2008. I wanted to take a more academic approach to afrogeek and afrofuturist culture and cultural artifacts. I felt this section was important in the present, in light of our new political reality. The books is done, but I’m not sure how I feel about publishing an academic text in a time when we need information to be as clear as possible. Continue reading “Butler, Dystopia, Propaganda, and a Way Through?”

Four Hollywood Rip Offs of Motoko Kusanagi

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Ghost in the Shell, (and 26 years since the manga was first published).

There is no denying the influence this film has had on Hollywood. From James Cameron to Steven Spielberg, directors have praised writer Matsume Shirow and director Mamoru Oshii for their work on the series. Ghost In the Shell was a game changer as it introduced a true Japanese post-cyberpunk world to American audiences.

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Sense8 and the Failure of Global Imagination

How do you imagine a life you could never live? Though not really a theme, this problem is at the heart of Netflix’s new original series Sense8, created by the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski, and heavily influenced by Tom Tykwer. Like many fantastical or science fictional premises, Sense8’s premise is a wish fulfillment: not — as is typical of this genre and the Wachowskis’ earlier work — the wish fulfillment of the disempowered middle school nerd stuffed into a locker, but rather the Mary Sue desire of a mature, white American writer/auteur who has discovered that an entire world is “out there,” one that the maker doesn’t know how to imagine.

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There are No Asian American Movie Stars

Last week, North Korean hackers allegedly broke into the personal files of Sony Pictures execs as retaliation for the studio producing the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy The Interview, which is about a CIA plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un. Normally, we’d be all over the nerd-friendly news about, say, Spider-Man coming home to Marvel Studios, but that’s been covered plenty of times on the web. Besides, we already told the world the best way to mashup Spidey and the MCU.

The thing to emerge out of the Sony leak that really bugged me was the assertion by Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin that “there aren’t any Asian movie stars.”

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Missing Polygons: Asians, Race, and Video Games

I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember. From my dad giving me four quarters — and no more than that — to spend at a video game arcade, to sleepovers at friends to play Atari 2600, to playing text-based adventure games on the Apple IIe, to helping my friend defeat shadow Link, to Doom to Half Life 2 to Knights of the Old Republic to Plants vs. Zombies to the Last of Us… OK, you get the idea. And for most of my early years, I had no problem that, in roughly 99% of the games I played, the protagonist was either a white male or a white elf or a white looking quasi-human.

It didn’t matter to me because it was drilled into my head that being white was the norm. Which is a bit weird because the neighborhood I grew up in was predominantly working class and poor people of color and American Indian. It wasn’t like I was trying to be like everyone around me (that came later), it was like being white was an escape. Escape from where I was, escape from people of all colors blaming families like mine for the Vietnam war, escape from a rainbow of bullies chasing me and calling me chink. And video games are in many ways the ultimate escape. Even more than films or books, you can get lost in lovingly rendered worlds and realities. You can effect a positive outcome and become a great hero or villain if you work hard and you don’t quit. But you better be OK with playing a white man, because you often won’t have a choice.

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Man of Tai Chi: Keanu and Tiger’s Unlikely Bromance

Many years ago, I watched a bonus feature on a Matrix DVD in which Keanu Reeves seemed to have a bromance with a stuntman and martial arts trainer named Tiger Chen. Slim, petite, and diminutive looking, it was obvious the guy had serious skills. But seeing him next to Reeves, a mixed race, tall and lanky Western movie star, it became apparent that, at least in the West, he’d never be a leading man type. Hollywood likes to train stars and actors in martial arts, not give opportunities to martial artists and stuntmen that don’t fit the Western standard of attractive leading man. Trained martial artists and stuntmen in Hollywood movies, especially the Asian ones, usually get the thankless job of making the lead white actor look really good by acrobatically acting like they’re getting their asses kicked. Tiger looked like the dude who’d be destined to be “Triad Hitman #2” at best. He was, in fact, one of the “vampire” baddies in The Matrix Reloaded.

tigermatrixFast forward almost a decade, and I see on Facebook that my fellow Nerd of Color Keith posted a trailer for a Keanu Reeves directed(!) martial arts film showcasing his homie Tiger. Yes, directed. And he also stars in the film as the lead antagonist, Donaka Mark. These facts alone will probably scare off the majority of people from seeing the film. Which is too bad, because I finally got to see it this weekend, and there is some enjoyment to be had here.

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