The impending release of Netflix’s Iron Fist show combined with some seriously tone-deaf and whiter than white comments from its star Finn Jones have led to a resurgence of the discussions around #AAIronFist. Created by Keith Chow of Nerds of Colour after the announcement of the show (not as a backlash to 45’s election as Finn Jones would like you to believe, oddly enough AAPI’s have wanted better representation for far longer than 5 months) to lobby for an Asian/Asian American Danny Rand it was ultimately ignored by the creators as they went for the traditional rich white boy hero we always get. For the record, it wasn’t because we hate canon or white boys it was because:
The conversation would pick up again in small bursts as announcements were made and cast photos were released but now that the first 6 episodes have been seen by critics and the negative reviews are flowing and the embargo on interviews has been lifted the hashtag has been quite active again with lots of people new to the discourse flooding in to defend Jones and his casting for two primary reasons.
- Danny Rand is canonically white in the comics (nevermind that he was created to be a white washed Gary Stu Bruce Lee)
- In order to be a fish out of water amongst Asians Danny CAN’T be Asian.
The first is ridiculous. Comics changes canon constantly. Characters can have 3 different origin stories and readers have to keep up with different multiverses and timelines but a bad decision from the 70s can’t be redone? Please.
But the second people seem particularly earnest about and it’s just as ridiculous. Asia is a big continent with many languages, cultures, histories and religions and that argument is saying that a Japanese Buddhist from the country is the same as a Filipino Muslim who grew up in Manila. It acts like China alone doesn’t have multiple languages and regions. And this is just sourcelanders, when you get into Asians who grew up in the diaspora, either immigrated young or born here, you have a whole other level of feeling out of place in Asia.
Why is the idea that to be a fish out of water you have to look physically different than the people around you so pervasive? Everyone has felt like that for brief and sustained moments. Have you ever:
- Been the new kid at a school
- Gone to a different religion’s church and not known the rituals and songs everyone performed so smoothly
- Visited relatives or friends in a different part of the country, North Easterner to the South, Midwesterner to the West
- Gone to a friend’s big family gathering as an only child with very few relatives
- Been the only English major surrounded by STEM majors
- Been a country kid who moved to the big city or vice versa
- Been the only sober person in the group
- Moved to a new place
- Started a new job
- Met a significant other’s family
- Tried to connect with your family’s cultural roots
Think about how you felt in those situations and then examine why you think Danny Rand has to be white in order to feel like a fish out of water. Then go ahead and read some of the excellent conversations happening by AAPI including the one that kickstarted it all. No one is creating backlash just for the heck of it Finn Jones.
The Tony Awards were last night and were completely stunning with James Corden killing it as the host and amazing performances from everyone! Bright Star skyrocketed to the top of my must see when I go to NYC in September, joining Hamilton and The Waitress. The Color Purple stunned everyone watching and Shuffle Along and Spring Awakening confirmed that they were robbed of the Best Choreography and Best Direction Tonys respectively.
But one complaint I’ve been seeing a lot is the choice of Hamilton to perform Yorktown (World Turned Upside Down) and since I’ve been defending that choice all over the internet (apparently this is a hill I will die on, who knew?) I thought I’d write up why.
I honestly don’t think there was any other choice for the Tonys, especially since they already performed Alexander Hamilton at the Grammy’s. I’ve heard Non-Stop being thrown around as a superior choice or doing a compilation of Satisfied and Room Where It Happens and I just don’t think either of those options would have the same weight as Yorktown.
For people who don’t know Hamilton backwards and forwards they know it primarily as a hip-hop historical musical and no matter your level of history education you know that the end of the Revolutionary War was major. Hamilton is being billed as a story of America and what better way to showcase that than with the number that seals Americas fate. Other choices might’ve showcased Lin’s clever words better or individual members (but Leslie Odom Jr, Phillipa Soo and Renee Elise Goldsberry got to showcase their talents in the closing number) but there’s just not another number in the musical that showcases the heart of the story without needing any other context.
Chris Jackson’s presence draws you in and then the company going into “who lives, who dies, who tells your story” is so haunting I get chills every time. “I know that we can win, I know that greatness lies in you.” He’s speaking to the room, to us, to the world. And then the transition to the upbeat telling of the Revolutionary War we all know showcasing the marvelous company.
And while obviously Yorktown was chosen as the number long before the shooting at Pulse, the ending of Yorktown in the wake of yet another gun-fueled terrorist act in this country speaks to how we can, we HAVE to turn the world upside down. Yorktown is a revolutionary song in a time when we need a revolution and there is no other song in Hamilton that could drive that message home.
The internet is rife with people ready to spout spoilers on any subject of choosing. Assholes who don’t care that there are people who want to go into a movie or start a book without knowing anything about it, they just have to proclaim their knowledge to the world, taking pleasure in affecting others experiences.
But while people think of spoilers in the “Snape kills Dumbledore” sense, big events, specific plot points, there’s dozens of ways to spoil a work for someone without even meaning to. Every piece of information about a work skews how view the work, takes away from the impact of seeing the work as a whole piece because consciously or subconsciously you’re waiting for that moment. It happens in trailers for movies all the time (for all that Age of Ultron was a mess of a movie I’m glad I didn’t see a lot of the trailers and got to be as surprised by Clint Barton’s family as the rest of The Avengers were) and there’s a reason I don’t like to read reviews of the things I’m interested in until afterwards (I do enjoy reading them afterwards. I get a lot of satisfaction when views line up with mine and I like seeing things from a different perspective once I’ve had the opportunity to form my own opinions).
This is obviously a specific level of spoiler avoidance and most of it is on me to keep away from the information but still a lot of people like to express their opinions on things in ways they believe are non-spoilery without realizing the impact they have. Because every piece of information skews experiences. If you’re livetweeting a show and someone sees that 15min into the show suddenly there’s a huge burst of OMGWTF tweets they’re going to be watching expecting that moment (which is why please always tag/announce your livetweets for easy muting!) and it doesn’t matter that they don’t know what the specific moment is, it’s enough to know that there’s something.
This isn’t a plea for no spoilers ever just shut your mouth and don’t say anything until you know everyone has seen it. That’s ridiculous and extreme. But this is a plea to be mindful of how your words can affect someone else’s experience. People who are assholes and don’t care about spoiling things for others, they aren’t going to change. But for those who think they’re being non-spoilery, an example of how experiences can be skewed.
I just finished the book Bloodline by Claudia Gray and I adored it to bits (spoilers for Bloodline follow. Specifically character development. Go read the book if you haven’t.) Continue reading
I’ve never understood the desire to yell at the internet for liking a thing that you don’t, for reveling in something that you thought was terrible and never want to see again. It seems so simple, just don’t think about it and ignore them right? Don’t rant like a crazy person and harsh the squee.
But then I’d never truly disliked something that went against popular opinion. Sure there were things I was indifferent too or just didn’t get the love or even didn’t like much that everyone else loved (Hello Mad Max: Fury Road, you’re very pretty and so so boring) but the dissenting opinion never bothered me and I’m realizing now that it’s because I didn’t care enough to want to talk about it or to be bothered by the fact that everyone else seemed to see something I didn’t.
And then I saw Captain America: Civil War.
I Did. Not. Like this movie. I’m almost to the point where I want to say I hated the movie. I was so mad afterwards that I sat in my car and cried (which isn’t that remarkable. I have a tendency to cry when I’m angry which completely ruins any angry yelling/faces. It’s a struggle.). I’d been as skeptical as anyone else given Marvel’s recent track record and the complete and utter mess that was Civil War in the comics but enough people had come out of early screenings raving about the movie that I let myself get excited. I thought yes, this will be a proper sequel to The Winter Soldier and not Iron Man 4 and Avengers 3 with a dash of Cap. I can’t wait.
An hour into the movie I was a little bored but still hopeful. An hour and a half in I was starting to get annoyed. Two hours in I wanted to walk out. By the ending credits I was crushed. The wonderful movie people were talking about never happened. And then I got online and saw people on twitter going on and on about wonderful it was and how well the Russo’s managed to make it feel like a Cap movie even with everything else and I just felt this up-swelling of rage in me. I typed out so many tweets in response to the praise. Ranting about how no Civil War was exactly the preachy self-righteous mess Batman vs. Superman was, the only thing it did better was have some likeable characters. How the only reason it flowed better than Age of Ultron was it was only juggling two story lines instead of four. How yes Iron Man was completely overwhelming and the whole movie was everyone responding to his manpain. How you could feel his presence and influence even when he wasn’t on screen because he somehow became the emotional center of a Cap movie. How completely pointless and annoying Spider-Man was. It felt like my anger was taking me over and I was just watching it spread out and want to attack.
I didn’t. For the most part I kept it contained to a few tweets and retreated and tried to think about something else.
But you know what? It’s damn hard. Fighting down that urge to lash out I finally understood why people go on sites and comment on articles about things they didn’t like. Finally got why people pick twitter fights. All that anger? It’s exhausting keeping it inside. It needs somewhere to go and the people who like what you don’t is an easy target for it. It overpowers. There were definitely parts of the movie I liked. Some cute character interaction and funny moments. But that took a back seat.
I didn’t. I texted a friend and ranted at her a bit. I muted some people so I wasn’t getting constant reminders. I watched a few episodes of a show I liked. I wrote a blog post. Because even though I get the other side now I still look at it and shake my head and say no, that’s not who I want to be. I may be an asshole about a lot of things but even that’s just a bit too far for me. People should be able to like (or dislike) what they like without anyone telling them that’s wrong. Just because the anger wants to doesn’t mean you have to listen to it. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to.
After several incessant text and FaceTime chats with my sister about how could I not be watching The Magicians yet I finally caved and started it this week. And caught up this week. The tagline for the show has been “sexy grownup Harry Potter” but my sister called it “magical Gossip Girl” and the latter is way more accurate and exactly the way to get me to watch. I received a reply when I tweeted that description “I’m guessing on GG they are just horrible pricks to each other, based on what I’ve seen of Magicians.” and yes, accurate but I loved the Gossip Girl assholes and I love The Magicians assholes.
After I finished I was still wanting to wrap myself in all things Magicians so I went looking for reviews and recaps and other discussions and started getting really annoyed. It seems like everyone addressing the show is coming at it from a position of the books are king instead of either fresh eyes or understanding that books and shows/movies HAVE to be seen as separate entities. I get the desire to have someone familiar with the source material writing up the show but it’s very frustrating when half the recap is how this and that are done better in the books.
But there are two common complaints I want to address.
- Aging them up to college seniors instead of high school seniors makes Quentin’s Fillory obsession make no sense
- Having Quentin depressed to the point of having to institutionalize himself is too heavy-handed.
First of all, have you met the internet? No matter what age Quentin’s Fillory obsession is completely in line with the rest of us nerds on forums and chats talking Star Wars or Harry Potter or Marvel or whatever in incredible detail but especially in conjunction with his depression.
Something familiar and comforting can be an absolute lifeline when you’re depressed. Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps you going. I watched the movie Up twice a day for a month+ during one depressive episode. I was 26. But sure, let’s talk about how Quentin is too old for his Fillory obsession.
I relate to show!Quentin in a way I never did with book!Quentin and I love that the show hasn’t tried to explain away his depression or use magic as a cure for it. He’s depressed and that’s something he has to deal with. It’s hard and it sucks and sometimes you backslide and think there’s no way out which is when you turn to your comforts and cling as hard as you can trying to climb back up. I don’t think the show is heavy-handed at all, I think we’re just so used to media being coy about depression that when it’s presented straight up it’s jarring. And I think the idea that it’s unrealistic if anyone other than children immerse themselves in obsessions is damaging. So thank you Magicians for facing all this head on.
This is just a quick spoiler-filled breakdown immediately post movie.
Wonder Woman: Gal Gadot was great. Her action was great, she played off Batfleck well. I’m super excited for her movie.
Alfred: Jeremy Irons killed it. So sassy and he got to take control!
DAT SUIT IN THE BATCAVE OMG JASON?!?!? 😢😢😢😱😱🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽
Lex: in general I’m a Jesse Eisenberg fan and I really liked his portrayal of my favourite villain.
THEY KILLED MERCY WTF SHE DIDNT EVEN GET TO KICK ASS AT ALL. We better get android Mercy smh.
In what universe would Bruce throw away a powerful weapon and just completely lose track of it what the fuck?!
And then Loius freaking Lane. Just casually walks in where the heroes are fighting to get it what? I mean her entire role has been terrible this series like she has no point except to be Superman’s humanity or some bullshit and it’s so frustrating.
I honestly didn’t understand anyone’s motivations in this movie. Like ok Lex is making a monster because…? Bruce hates Clark because…? I don’t even know. It was so weirdly rushed but completely drawn out in the worst areas?
Anyway that was a pretty terrible movie. Best part was when Superman died Louis was so eyerollingly OA we started laughing and then clapped a little and this sent off some smatterings of clapping and laughing especially as the ~dramatics continued and this made some people in the theater reeeeeally mad. It was great.
This feels like the sort of thing that once you’re out of the New Years celebrations and retrospectives bombs seems kind of pointless but with the Hugo Nomination deadline coming up (March 31st, don’t forget to nom if you’re eligible!) I figured it was finally time to compile my list of favourites from 2015.
- Jenna Kass for Best Fan Artist
- Advantageous for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form (available on Netflix)
- Uncanny Magazine for Best Semi-Pro Zine
- Something something Steven Universe and The Expanse eps for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form (haven’t fully thought this through yet for specifics)