Diversity

Are We Ready For Will Smith as Captain America?

Will Smith, Fresh Prince of Bel Air

AZM Ally Hawk sent along a piece in Collider by John Rico that discusses the rumor that Marvel’s The First Avenger: Captain America will star Will Smith as Captain America. Rico concludes that Smith would make an excellent Captain America because movie-goers don’t care about comic book movies being perfect translations of the source material, that Marvel already has created a Black Captain America in the Truth: Red, White, and Black mini series, and that casting a black man as Cap would give the film a “political gravitas” that would otherwise be missing if there was a white man in the role. So, should Will Smith be Captain America?

No.

It’s not because he’s Black. I actually agree with Rico’s arguments. I think those are all legit reasons for casting Steve Rogers as a Black man. I also wouldn’t mind if he was White. Honestly, for once, I don’t give much of a shit who they cast as Steve Rogers as long as it isn’t Will Smith. My problem with Big Willie is that he plays Will Smith in everything I’ve seen him in. Even in The Pursuit of Happyness, which I think was one of his best performances, little Willisms snuck out. Any character he plays becomes Will Smith playing that character. If Will Smith was cast as Steve Rogers, it would really be Will Smith playing Steve Rogers. Cap deserves better. It’s Cap’s movie, not Will Smith’s.

This is a Hugh Jackman moment. Most of us didn’t know who the hell he was before he strapped on those claws and fast-ball-specialed his way into our hearts as THE Wolverine. We need someone like that. Steve Rogers needs an actor who can totally bury their own personality, someone who can fully realize Steve Rogers. That’s not Will Smith. Hell, that’s very few big names that have been rumored to have been cast in the. We really need a new face, someone we don’t have any attachments or preconceived notions about. Yes, I certainly think America is ready for a Black Captain America, but not Big Willie.

Source: Collider

Cause, You Know, Black People Like Fried Chickenz

Now before we go off the handle and call for a nation-wide boycott of Kentucky Fried Chicken for being racist, this commercial was never intended to be viewed by Americans. This was done by an Australian ad agency to advertise KFC in Australia where this light-hearted poke at the West Indian cricket team would not be all that offensive. The commercial was put online without the agency’s knowledge (thanks TMZ).

I know we have a few Australian readers of AZM. Can any of you chime in to tell us the context? I understand that KFC is a sponsor of the West Indian cricket team so that aspect of the joke makes sense. I don’t know what race relations are like in Australia so I won’t presume to judge until I’m given the okay.

Dear Avatar, We Get It. Sky People Suck!

Jake Sully

Finally got a chance to see the A–Dances With Enemy Mine Last of the Mohican Samurai–vatar in 3D and I shall now lay its body out to flay it for you good people. Actually, I quite enjoyed the film overall, but there are bits and pieces that I’d like to chew on for a bit. My review is split into three parts which I will attempt to keep spoiler free or at least spoiler light, but honestly, the previews pretty much tell you everything you need to know about the plot. The story is nothing new. But no one is praising it as a revolution is storytelling.

Shiny Blue Nipples

You will hear from everyone who walks out the theater that the visuals are stunning. And if you are like me, you will say to yourself, “bullshit.” I was a huge skeptic of the visual effects going in to the theater. I’ve seen cool shit before. I will see cooler shit in the future. What does a movie with ten-foot tall blue cat people have that CGTalk doesn’t? Well folks, I’m a believer. As far as the visual effects go, I’m a total Avatard.

The lush environment of Pandora looks like a giant, fantastical rain forest during the day. It’s at night that Pandora’s disco glory really shines. The effects folk had a lot of fun turning an entire planet into a living, breathing, disco nature rave. The plants, the moss, the trees, the bugs, it all glows with ethereal energy. At times, I found myself wondering when the shitty DJ would show up with pacifiers and glow sticks. The floating islands are freaking gorgeous in 3D. I suspect on a big enough screen, you’d get the same overwhelming feeling of depth, but the 3D helped to draw me in.

The human tech looks as though it was salvaged from the Aliens set and cleaned up with a nice, new coat of paint. The military hardware feels very familiar if you’re an Aliens fan. User interfaces of the future are all holograms. Do want.

The Na’vi are alright. I don’t really like the design of the blue cat people. The proportions don’t really work for me. But their movement is very realistic. There were only a few scenes that jumped me out of the film and screamed, “Hey, that’s a mo-cap rig on that 3D model right there.” For the most part, the cat people are quite good. I also like the way the Na’vi use their ponytails to connect with their environment and the animals of Pandora.

For me, the stars of the CG demo reel are the creatures. I absolutely loved all of the animals, the big hammer-head rhino things, the four winged dragon things, the dew licking eight legged horses. Sure, they looked like cousins of Cloverfield, but they were all absolutely gorgeous. Some of them looked so real that you could almost believe there was an animal under there wearing some kind of elaborate costume. If they weren’t as impressive as they were, I don’t think I would have liked the movie as much.

Noble Savage Ten-Foot Tall Blue Cat People With Blue Nipples

Now a lot of people have been railing against the noble savage aspect of the film. They express great disappointment that it takes an outside to save the day, that the Na’vi are a one-note pastiche of native cultures that have all been dominated by white people in the history of mankind, that it’s yet another white-man’s guilt fantasy film in which the hero falls in love with the native culture and becomes their leader, the great white savior.

That aspect of the film is kind of thrown in your face. I know, I know, how can this movie be racist against blue people? They don’t even exist. But science fiction serves as a mirror of society so it’s almost impossible to see the Na’vi as anything other than a hodge-podge of native cultures that have been oppressed and decimated here on earth. It’s so very Hollywood to have a hero from the outside come in and lead the natives to glory, but we know from our earth history how very rarely, if ever, that truly occurs.

I was sad to see that it was Jake Sully, our hero, leading the charge to defend what he calls “our land.” In my view, it should have been Tsu’tey, the male Na’vi warrior who spends most of the film just mean muggin’ at Jake. Tactically, it makes sense for Jake to be involved in the planning of the attack since he knows the tactics of the Sky People, the Na’vi term for humans. For him to lead the charge de-powers the native culture. Only the outsider can save them. Even the little twist to this Hollywood ending was initiated by Jake. The Na’vi are more like bystanders than actors in their own damn fate.

Of course, the outsider saves the day in all sorts of movies. Mad Max, The Seven Samurai, Beowulf, Yojimbo and plenty more. So why is it a big deal when Avatar follows in the same footsteps (although, let’s be honest, Jake is no Yojimbo)? Doesn’t seem fair that we let Beowulf get away with it and then give Jake Sully such a hard time.

I think the problem is that any time you bring the noble savage society in as the ones needing saving, you’re setting yourself up for charges of racism, ethnocentricity, or discrimination.

Sky People Suck

Joseph Campbell talks about the hero’s journey. The hero sets off to seek fame and fortune but during the quest, he or she finds something much deeper. The hero then returns to his or her people to spread that enlightenment to enrich the lives of those he or she left. Jake Sully completes the first part of the hero’s journey. He goes to seek personal gain and ultimately finds a deeper meaning to his life. But he doesn’t return. And humanity is not enriched from his experiences. Indeed, we are left to our fend for our greedy selves.

It is this aspect of Avatar that I found most disturbing.

Now granted, we aren’t exactly given a complete picture of humanity. We’re introduced to one-note, cliche spewing jar-heads and a handful of scientists. Not exactly a complete cross-section of our species. But because this small sampling of human kind is so horrid and greedy, we ultimately grow to hate humanity. The humanity of Avatar has raped its own home and will not hesitate to do the same to Pandora for mere profit. This implies that all the wars, all the hate, all the shit that we subject each other to even in this new millennium will continue in the future and ultimately lead to this. How sad.

Science fiction can serve to give us hope for the future. Star Trek is all about unity and the indomitable will of humanity. Avatar is about us being total dicks to ten-foot tall blue cat people. I find that far more sinister than the noble savage aspect. Sky People suck so bad that even Jake can’t stand to be one. He spends most of the film in his Avatar. Why should we give a toss what happens to humanity when our hero doesn’t.

Avatards Unite

In the end, even with all the nit picking and complaining and over analyzing, Avatar was damn entertaining. I’m not surprised it’s already clocked over $1 billion. The theaters around me are really pushing the 3D version hard. There were only two regular viewing show times on Sunday as opposed to six 3D options. Theaters are raking in more per ticket. And people are more than willing to pay for the experience. 3D is here to stay and I’m certain that more and more theaters will be pushing their 3D showtimes of future films.

Avatar was a lot of fun. It’s long, but it didn’t feel long. Be sure to eat something. We snuck in burritos so we could have dinner. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s definitely worth the ticket price.

It’s Raining Gays!

So there’s this:

Which is so monumentally stupid it makes me shake with rage. Fortunately, there’s this:

Ah… nice warm bath of gay rain.

Listen fucktards, the only people who want to infringe on people’s rights are the sick bastards who spent actual money on purpose to make that first ad. If you’re dumb enough to believe that gay marriage is going to take away your rights and bring an end to freedom, get the fuck out of my country. You shit heads, you fucking shit heads. You preach about a god who loves everyone and in the same breath condemn people for falling in love. Nice god there. You make religion sound so fucking ignorant and hypocritical. My wish for 2010 is that fucktards like this get slapped in the head with a giant reality glaive and stay the fuck home when it comes time to vote for gay marriage. It’s the new damn millennium. Let people marry who they want, gay, straight, transgender, bi, whatever.

Now goat fuckers? There’s a storm coming. And it’s full of evil goat fuckers. Stop fucking goats already!

Roger Ebert Calls Racebending Wrong

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert has a column on his website where he answers fans questions. When asked what he thought of the casting of the Last Airbender live action adaptation, this is what good ol’ Rog had to say:

Q. Regarding the upcoming M. Night Shyamalan vehicle “The Last Airbender,” what do you think about the whitewashing of the production so that all of the original Asian cultural landmarks, architecture, philosophy, and costume design are being retained while they cast white kids to play the main characters?
Arlene C. Harris

A. Wrong. The original series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was highly regarded and popular for three seasons on Nickelodeon. Its fans take it for granted that its heroes are Asian. Why would Paramount and Shyamalan go out of their way to offend these fans? There are many young Asian actors capable of playing the parts.

Oh man, I can’t wait to see what he has to say when he actually sees the movie. His flaying of Transformers 2 all but cemented my resolve to never pay money to see that travesty on purpose. I’m eager to see what he thinks about the Racebender.

Source: Roger Ebert, Answer Man

Ching Chong WHAT THE FUCK!

Ching Chong Beautiful

AZM Ally Jason Chu sent along a link to a review of a flash game called Ching Chong Beautiful. Again with the Ching Chong? What the hell! It’s the new millennium! Can’t you come up with a better fucking discriminatory phrase? Besides, you’re making fun of the wrong Asians assholes! And don’t give me the argument, “Oh, it’s totally a meta joke! See, they don’t even know they’re making fun of Japanese because they think all Asian are the same and that’s funny right? Right?” No, no, fucking no.

Ching Chong Beautiful takes the premise of Japanese games shows and repurposes it in the form of a side scrolling platform game. Fair enough. Indeed, it seems that a great many Japanese game shows are inspired by side scrolling platform games. The concept in and of itself is a win. But then why go the extra mile and slap on a racial invective? And a wrong one at that! Ching chong refers to the way the Chinese language sounds to non-Chinese speakers. It’s rarely used to describe anything Japanese. Why not come up with a nonsensical name like Super Fun Running Cheese? Japanese game show names rarely make sense. A silly name would have been perfect for a game like this. You still incorporate the Japanese game show aspect without throwing around any racial slurs.

I wonder why this kind of thing is still tolerated in the new millennium. SNL did their ching chong sketch. Miley Cyrus and Tobey Keith busted out the chinky eye. What the fuck. Is it because there are no militant Asian American activists groups out there with guns and shit? Is it because people think that Asian Americans are harmless and therefore perfect targets? Do people think we don’t mind? Are we still considered the silent minority?

It’s annoying to think that this is the kind of shit we have to look forward to in 2010.

Source: Escapist Magazine

Rachel Maddow, Uganda, and the Dangers of Pseudoscience

In America, when someone claims to be an expert on a subject, with a little research, it’s fairly easy to prove or disprove that person’s credentials. Take Healing Foundation “psycho therapist” Richard Cohen. Cohen’s underlying thesis in his book Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality is that homosexuality is a condition that can be cured. Cohen refers to himself as a psycho therapist which gives him instant scientific credibility to his words. Oh, he’s a psycho therapist! He wouldn’t make such claims in his book unless he can back them up with scientific research, accredited studies. He must be an expert. Except he’s not. At all.

Rachel Maddow exposes Cohen as an unlicensed practitioner of psycho therapy and a bit of an idiot who seems to have not even read his own damn book.

Hooray. Another quack exposed.

However, the damage is already done. Cohen’s work has been sited as a scientific justification for the anti-gay legislation proposed in Uganda, the “Kill the Gays” legislation that would sentence gay people to death by hanging if passed. Now while this controversial provision has been removed from the proposed bill, gays would still face imprisonment and forced treatment if passed. Cohen and his group are opposed to the legislation and have said so to the American media. A number of conservative politicians who have been affiliated with anti-gay religious groups have also spoken out against this legislation to the American public. But we’re not responsible for passing legislation in Uganda. The Ugandan people are. And as yet, no one affiliated with Cohen or any of those politicians have told the Ugandans that this isn’t really what they meant.

It’s more than likely that the people proposing this legislation in Uganda would have done so anyway. But the fact that they use Cohen’s work as a scientific basis for the bill sickens me. The fact that he won’t take responsibility, fly over there, and publicly state that he’s against the legislation is appalling. But what scares me even still is that words by some uncredited crack pot can be used to such vicious ends. It doesn’t matter that Cohen isn’t licensed. All that group in Uganda needed was an excuse to propose this bill. Cohen gave them exactly what they were looking for. Look, science says it’s so! Let’s write up this fucked up law! Ugh.

I gotta give it up to Rachel Maddow for bringing this to light and for getting in Cohen’s face.

Source: Towle Road

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