Diversity

Thoughts on “Fresh Off the Boat”

Friends have been asking me. It’s been out for a while. I finally had time to watch a few episodes. So it’s time to weigh in on Fresh Off the Boat.

I forgot to mention in the vlog that I have terrible taste in sitcoms. I absolutely hated Friends and Seinfeld when they were on with a probably undeserved vitriol that surprises even me sometimes. They are like the two definitive sitcoms of my generation and I absolutely abhor them. There is no Friends or Seinfeld in this dojo!

I also can’t stand Big Bang Theory. I’ve heard some call it “Nerd Blackface” and I think that’s a little too far. I just don’t understand why physics theories are funny. The laugh track doesn’t make sense to me. A theory or a proof isn’t a punchline.

So definitely take all of my opinions on what’s funny with many grains of salt.

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesday nights at 8pm on ABC. There’s some weird verification thing on the ABC site to view episodes so just head over to Hulu to check it out. The hell? Don’t you want people to watch things on your main site?

My Problem With the Live Action Ghost in the Shell

So I’ve heard about the petition going around to get rid of Scarlett Johansson as Mokoto Kusanagi in the live action version of Ghost in the Shell. Normally, I can’t stand it when studios white wash a cast and I certainly understand where the petitioners are coming from. But in this case, I’m not mad.

I’m certainly not mad as ScarJo. Although I absolutely love that comic book movies are mainstream, big budget blockbusters, I’m still disappointed in the lack of diversity. Since Catwoman, we haven’t had a DC or Marvel super hero flick lead by either a woman or minority. Before that one it was Blade. Oh sure, Black Widow had a much bigger role in Captain America: Winter Soldier. And they introduced Falcon as a major character. But fans have been calling for a solo Black Widow flick for a while now and there’s none on the horizon. And where the hell is a Wonder Woman movie?! So until DC and Marvel figure this out, I’m glad to see Scarlett Johansson grab a starring role in a live action manga flick.

What worries me is the source material. Ghost in the Shell isn’t exactly easy stuff to digest. I go into it a bit in the vloggy vlog I’ve posted.

Side note, I think I’ll be doing more of this style of posting than my usual stuff. It’s taken me a while to get back to AZM so please bear with me as I figure out what I want to do with the blogy.

So yeah, I won’t be signing the petition. I’ll just be hiding in the corner hoping that they don’t fuck this thing up too horribly.

It’s Lady’s Night With the ExpendaBelles

Talk shit, get hit.

Talk shit, get hit.

Though it’s fun to see every action star you ever loved punch the shit out of each other and shoot things in The Expendables franchise, it’s kind of a sausage fest.  Millennium Films agrees and hopes to expand the appeal with an all-female version, tentatively titled ExpendaBelles.  There’s no director or a confirmed title or even an announced cast.  But during her promotional tour for her upcoming film Raze, stunt woman turned leading lady Zoe Bell confirmed that the project exists and that she’s had meetings.

No, I have not yet [been offered] but we should print that they should. I’ve been in and I’ve met. Yes, I’ve had meetings with people but they haven’t got a director attached yet so that’s the next thing. I would obviously love to be involved in it.

It seems like it’s all in its very early stages.  Rumored to possibly star alongside Bell should she get the call are Milla Jovovich, Charlize Theron, Cameron Diaz and Meryl Streep.  I’m kind of surprised that Jennifer Lawrence isn’t on that list seeing as how she’s pretty good with a bow so I’m gonna put her name into the rumor put just for the fuck of it.  I’d also like to see Maggie Q join that lineup to kick some ass.  She’s been killer in Nikita.  Michelle Yeoh is absolutely mandatory.  And I don’t think you can have a legitimate all lady action movie without a zombie killer so Danai Gurira is a total must!  Michonne!

I sincerely hope this project gets off the ground because it’s the new damn millennium and we’ve kind of seen the all-male action squad movie over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.  Making the team all female already makes it ten times more interesting than action team movies we’ve seen in the past.

The only other action film that I can think of that had a predominantly female cast was The Descent which was more horror than action.  That movie completely blew me away.  I expected it to be a typical horror flick with a bunch of ladies running around getting their clothes torn off.  There was absolutely zero objectification, just a terrifying film with situations that pushed these women to their limits of sanity.  I think it would make a great template to guide the producers of the ExpendaBelles.

Women don’t need to be sexualized to be in an action movie.  They can just kick ass and take names.  And that’s what I’m hoping we’ll see from this project.

From: Crave

Kids Love Dem Cheerios

Somehow, I totally missed the whole interracial Cheerios commercial controversy.  And I would have been really pissed seeing as how I’m building an interracial family and my brother has one.  But before I could touch finger to key board to fire off a litany of vitriolic social justice I came across this video of kids watching the commercial.  It’s so fucking precious!  My favorite bits are Dylan with his whole “begins with an ‘E'” rant and Olivia’s bit at the end who just can’t take it anymore.

Obviously, I’m with the kids on this one.  It’s the new damn millennium.  Why is this a big deal?  And people say we’re in a post racial society. HAH!

And now I will buy all the Cheerios because they are awesome.

Walking With Master Hare — Behind the Scenes With Shattered

Master Hare

I inherited my love of comics from my dad. He was a huge Marvel fan and when my brother and I found his old collection of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Thor comics, we were hooked. It never really occurred to me as I was growing up, but as I was about college age, I noticed that my favorite comics lacked heroes that looked like me. Though many of my favorite titles were drawn by Asian artists, there were hardly any Asian heroes in the pages. I was pretty disappointed, but the revelation didn’t put me off comics. In fact, I expanded the types of comics I collected because the super hero genre just wasn’t holding up.

I figured that this was going to the be the state of things. Then a few years ago, I heard about an anthology that would feature Asian American super heroes, Secret Identities: The Asian American Super Hero Anthology.

Be Careful What You Wish For

I ordered a copy of Secret Identities and waited with great anticipation. Would this be the Asian American equivalent of the Milestone Universe, a super hero universe featuring Black super heroes created in the early 90s. Would this anthology encourage the big two to feature more Asian American heroes? I conjured all sorts of hopeful maybes.

It arrived at my doorstep and I tore into the packaging like a mad wolverine to get to its contents. I couldn’t wait to read about super heroes that looked like me. But as I turned the pages, I felt my brow furrow. These weren’t hopeful stories of heroes doing super human deeds. These were angry stories that sought to punish the White Man for years of oppression.

To be fair, not every story came from a place of anger. But the overall vibe of the collection was so angry and bitter that I hid the thing in a dark place on my shelf. I couldn’t recommend this to my non-Asian friends for fear that they’d feel like they were being attacked. I mean, I’m a pretty angry and bitter person in general, but even I felt put off by the overall tone.

These weren’t the heroes I was looking for. These weren’t the stories I had been waiting for.

A Second Glance

Needless to say, I was a bit hesitant when the Secret Identities crew contacted me earlier this year to contribute to their second anthology, Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology. I nearly declined, but I felt that maybe I’d have an opportunity to be part of the solution, to tell a story that featured Asian characters that wasn’t bitter or angry. After some soul searching, I agreed.

I was sent a few scripts to consider and already, my fears were put to rest. These were the kind of stories that I had been looking for. The one that spoke to me the most was Howard Wong’s Master Tortoise and Master Hare. As you might guess, it’s a retelling of the classic Tortoise and Hare fable set in ancient China.

One of my biggest concerns was creating a unique look for Master Hare. To me, the definitive long-eared action hero is Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. I was afraid that my love for Stan and Usagi would creep into my Master Hare. I hid all my Usagi books and my Stan Sakai sketchbooks and collected screen shots of Kung Fu villains and photos of hares.

With Master Hare somewhat settled, I went on to design Master Tortoise. Again, I had to push out childhood favorites out of my mind. I drew a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when it first hit the airwaves in the late 80’s. Their head shapes, body contours, hands are all second nature to my drawing hand. I can TMNT with the best of them. So I made a concerted effort to lean on my reference photos of actual tortoises. Even so, you can see the TMNT influence in Master Tortoise’s limbs.

I had an absolute blast drawing the story and playing with these characters. I was pretty pleased with the work and couldn’t wait to see how it fit into the rest of the anthology.

Shattered, A Triumph

I was absolutely elated when I read through the preview copy of Shattered that we creators were sent. This anthology is exactly what I had been looking for. Rather than spending time trying to shame the White Man for years of oppression, this collection concentrates on telling good stories that feature Asian leads. This is a comic I would be proud to share with absolutely everyone I know.

It’s a much more subtle statement than the first collection. It’s not trying to shame you for ignoring the plight of Asians in America. It’s telling good stories that are universal in relate-ability and proving that you can do so while featuring minority leads. It’s a powerful statement and one of the reasons I think this is such an important work.

Shattered is on shelves now. If you’re in the DC area and haven’t yet picked up a copy, you can come on down to Busboys and Poets on Monday from 6:30pm to 8:00pm for a signing. I suggest grabbing food at Chinatown Express before to stuff your face full of dumpling and noodle goodness.

And if you’d like to hear from some of the other contributors, here’s a list of us who have blogged about our experiences:

One More Time

Election night was an emotional nail-biter. But it didn’t last nearly as long as I expected. I full anticipated going to sleep and waking up without knowing who was going to lead our country for the next four years. I was watching a surprisingly hologram-free CNN while refreshing twitter, Facebook, the Washington Post like a mad fiend. And then they called it. At around 11pm, the major networks projected that Barak Obama had won re-election! I teared up like the hippie liberal commie freak that I am. And then I stayed up until 1am until I heard Mitt’s concession speech. I honestly wasn’t sure whether or not he’d want to drag this thing out. It’s been a long fight with some pretty hateful words from both sides. Wasn’t really sure how it would all play out after the call.

The Roundup

The biggest news for me was that Maryland and Maine have legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote! Washington and Minnesota are still counting votes on their ballot measures so we don’t know whether or not they’ll join us in the new damn millennium. But for the first time, same-sex marriage was approved by the people through popular vote! And we’ve just chosen to re-elect a President who is now very vocal about his support for same-sex marriage. I don’t think we’ll be hearing much about this in the 2016 election campaign, because by then, I damn well expect same-sex marriage to be legal in all fifty states.

The other thing that really surprised me was Washington and Colorado approving recreational marijuana use. That’s a good sign for the convenient stores and restaurants of those states. And I bet they’re going to be collecting a shit ton of tax money. This one is a little tricky because marijuana is still considered an illegal narcotic Federally. But I think it’s clear that we’re getting tired of the drug war. It might take longer than same-sex marriage, but I can totally a see a pot smoking nation in my lifetime.

Can’t forget some historical women coming to a new Congress. Illinois Representative-elect Tammy Duckworth is the first disabled female veteran to go to the House. Texas Representative-elect Mary Gonzalez is the first openly pansexual to go to the House. And Hawaii Senator-elect Mazie Hirono is the first Asian American woman to join the ranks of the Senate. I long for the day when we don’t mark these moments with qualifiers like “first woman” or “first Asian American” or “first pansexual” and just leave it at their names. But we’re getting there. And these ladies are helping pave the way.

Also, with the defeat of Aiken and Murdouck, America proved that if you say legitimately stupid shit about rape, the electorate has way to shut your shit down. Seriously guys, it’s the new damn millennium. If a woman doesn’t invite you, stay the fuck out of her vagina.

A Return to Civility?

This is wishful thinking on my part, but I hope there will be less Congressional gridlock in the next four years. Midterms are coming up in two years so it’s doubtful the election cycle of madness will ever end. But I do wish Congress would work the fuck together instead of catering to the extremes on both sides of the aisle. I just want them to work more on governing and less on re-elections. They spend more of their time campaigning and fund-raising than in their offices. It’s like their job is to keep applying for their job. That’s fucking crazy.

It’s been a long, horrible, loud campaign. I’m glad it’s finally over. But if this is the new normalcy for how these things will go, 2016 is going to be a goddamn nightmare. Still, I am hopeful about the direction the country is heading. And I think that even if Mitt had won the Presidency, I think Maryland and Maine would still have approved same-sex marriage, recreational pot would still have been legalized in Washington and Colorado, and dumb fucks would still be defeated for saying horrible shit about rape.

Christian x Muslim

One of the things that fascinates me about the religions of the world is that at their very base, they preach very similar things. Be nice to each other. Don’t kill each other. God is totes rad. So why does so much poisonous and divisive rhetoric come from people who claim to be the most devout? Religions are rad. It’s the people that have turned me off.

Grandmaster Chu is back with another track to remind us of these similarities. Perhaps if we can remind ourselves of our similarities, we can overcome so-called religious inspired violence. It’s an amazing track.

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