Being “white-passing” comes with a certain kind of privilege. One that can mean the difference between a life of discrimination or a life of luxury. Such a privilege is the topic of discussion in Passing, the brand new film based on the book by Nella Larsen, coming to Netflix and select theaters later this year.
I once heard the great political philosopher and activist Angela Davis argue that Americans are so obsessed with race as an identifying feature that when we meet racially ambiguous people, we are anxious until we know on which side of the color line they fall. Upon hearing this, I was relieved by the articulation of something I had suspected was at the heart of my experience. It was like experiencing great art, that rush of adrenaline that comes with recognizing what we’ve known all along presented as fantastically new.
There is nothing wrong with a good ole’ fashion teen feminism story. It seems the appropriate time to show off the power of angry women at a time when men, who behave badly, still seem to get away with it, especially one targeted towards teenagers. Directed by Amy Poehler, who is known for her funny, tough characters, Moxie is a cute story about girl power that’s been done before but, this time, written to fit this generation’s wokeness.
Based on the 2015 YA book of the same name by Jennifer Mathieu, Moxie follows a shy and very sheltered high school junior named Vivian (Hadley Robinson) who lays low to avoid any attention. She has lived in the shadows of high school with her childhood best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai of Terrace House fame). It’s not until the arrival of a new student, Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña) who quickly becomes a target for speaking up against popular jock, Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), that Vivian realizes how sexist her school is. Inspired by her mother’s (Poehler) teenage rebellion stage and a Bikini Kill song her mother used to play for her, Vivian creates her own anonymous feminist zine — ‘Moxie’ — calling out the toxic behavior from classmates and the school, led by Principal Shelly (Marcia Gay Harden). The zine is a hit among the girls in school sparking a Moxie Club created to topple the patriarchy — or at least in the school.
Earlier this month, I watched the opening premiere of West Adams at the Skylight Theatre Company and the first immediate thought I had when it finished was:
“Oh damn, this is Rich Liberal White People (And One Chinese Woman) Gone Crazy.”
I’ll definitely go more into this after the break as there were tremendous things to be praised for this show (acting, directing, and production design aspects) but at the core of it was a very troubling and, at times, a baffling story. Who was the intended audience? That aspect remains unclear but more on this later:
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 winningMoonlight 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.
This will be a collective review between Edward Hong and Josephine Chang. First, Edward provides a bite sized non-spoiler review for Jordan Peele’s Get Out while Josephine will go in deep to discuss the film in full detail. So for those wary of spoilers, you are safe!
Let’s say you’re a Martian. Let’s say you’ve been sent to Earth to study human society and culture. Let’s say you have a universal translator.
Let’s say you landed on Earth, randomly, a week or so ago in Brisbane, Australia, and followed the crowds to the Brisbane Writers Festival (culture! perfect!) just in time to hear Lionel Shriver’s keynote address about how cultural appropriation isn’t a thing and fiction writers get to have all the freedom. How is this going to sound to you?
Arrow fans, are you ready for next week’s episode, “Beyond Redemption,” directed by fan-favorite Lexi Alexander? Fortunately, the woman behind such films as Green Street and Punisher: War Zone — and one of the best follows on twitter — was kind enough to sit down with Keith to talk media representation, directing superheroes, and whether she should be a permanent guest host of Hard NOC Life.
UPDATE: The full conversation with Lexi is now available here.
HBO’s hit documentary series Project Greenlight has been a trending topic on twitter since its season debut featured Matt Damon “whitesplaining” diversity to producer Effie Brown. In an outtake from our forthcoming Hard NOC Life interview with Lexi Alexander, the Punisher: War Zone director explains how Brown’s experience on the show is indicative of how women of color are treated in the film industry and why Effie’s critics are just exposing their white privilege.
Say what you will about the film Bring It On, its commentary on cultural appropriation, racism, privilege, white supremacy, and the exploitation of black culture seems to be more relevant now than when the film was released 15 years ago.
Over the weekend Ain’t It Cool News revealed that the internet’s favorite hack director Brett Ratner is interested in remaking Enter the Dragon. At a screening of Rush Hour in Los Angeles, Ratner told the audience — almost in passing — that he is in the early stages of developing the movie and is looking for a martial artist to star. Now, before you start foaming at the mouth and cursing your keyboard, rest assured that this isn’t an official announcement that the movie is happening. For all we know, Ratner is just putting it out there with the hopes that Warner Brothers would give him the opportunity to do it — as blasphemous as it may be.
Of course, the internet is beside itself that a hack like Ratner would dare remake a classic like Enter the Dragon and is appropriately showing its disgust at the idea. Here’s the thing that no one’s seeming to be complaining about, though. Both of the names for the prospective lead that got tossed around in the original post are white. Buckle up, because some “reverse racism” is about to go down after the jump.
Breaking Bad, the television juggernaut that has taken over the pop culture zeitgeist for the last several months, will be airing its series finale this Sunday night on AMC. If you don’t follow the show, hype surrounding the finale is hard to avoid. And even if you do watch the show, it’s seemingly impossible to be on the internet and not find yourself wrapped up in a recap (or five) or wasting away your productivity on an easter egg hunt for Walter White’s khakis in the desert. Basically, everyone in the world — and their neo-Nazi uncle — is talking about Breaking Bad. So the question is, why should The Nerds of Color?