Monthly Archives: December 2015

More Iris West Please

Recently, The Flash released its tirisrailer for the show’s January mid-season premiere (remember the days when there was just one premiere and one finale a season?).  We actually got a glimpse of Iris West and Westallen, and it almost made me excited for the show’s return.   Almost.

I’ll admit that I’m incredibly jaded.  This show has let me down too many times in the past to truly allow myself to get overly excited about what may or may not be coming.  I haven’t been at all happy about the way that Iris has been sidelined so far this season in favor of setting up the upcoming spinoff Legends of Tomorrow and devoting precious screen time to Barry’s current love interest, Patty Spivot.  Iris’ journalist arc hasn’t materialized, her screen time has been woeful, and once again, she hasn’t been given a point of view.   I still don’t know how she feels about Eddie’s death as we haven’t been allowed to see her grieve; and the storyline with her mother’s return was more about Joe than Iris.

I’m tired of watching everyone else get to express how they feel, while being forced to piece together how Iris feels via other character’s observations.  I’m tired of the telling and not showing when it comes to the show’s female lead.  It wasn’t acceptable last year, and it’s even less acceptable halfway through the second season.  We shouldn’t still be having these complaints.

Here’s hoping that now that the writers no longer have to split their time between setting up Legends and trying to make us fall in love with Patty, they can concentrate on finally giving Iris West the storyline that she deserves.

Mic drops are for amateurs, Aretha does a MINK drop in tribute to Carol King

In an astounding performance, the Queen of Soul showed the world why she has held the title for decades. Aretha Franklin served up an incredible performance of Carol King’s You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman on last night’s Kennedy Center Honors that will have people talking for a long time. Carol King herself was ecstatic, singing along and bouncing up and down like the kindergartner who forgot their Ritalin. The President himself was teary eyed, and the audience responded with a standing O.

This is how you do it people.

UPDATE: The original version of the video I linked to was blocked by CBS. This new video is the CBS approved video. Sorry if anyone had trouble viewing the old version. *side eyes CBS*

I dare you to watch Gina Rodriguez’s tribute to Rita Moreno and not cry

For anyone who doesn’t understand that representation matters, I dare them to watch Gina Rodriguez talk about what Rita Moreno means to her. Gina wondered where all the Puerto Ricans were, so her mom showed her Rita Moreno. Now we owe Mama Rodriguez and Rita for the delightful Jane the Virgin.

Last night on the Kennedy Center Honors, Gina gave a moving speech on what Rita has meant to her. It’s short at just over a minute, but I can tell you that there is high probability that you will be sniffling by the time that 1:13 is up.

An Asian rates Asian Representation in Hollywood

Susan Cheng over at Buzzfeed has an article up on The Winners And Losers Of Asian Representation In Hollywood In 2015.

Among the winners: Constance Wu from Fresh off the Boat, Kimiko Glenn from Orange is the New Black and Priyanka Chopra from Quantico.

I was surprised to see Into the Badlands on the Meh list. It’s one of the few shows where a minority character is the hero, but she felt it was too stereotypical of the martial arts genre to have a hero who is an “emotionless killing machine.” I think consider Sunny emotionless, but I’m not Asian either, so I’ll agree to disagree on this one.

No surprise to see blonde, blue-eyed Emma Stone’s casting as a part Chinese, part Native Hawaiian character on Fail list. I was surprised to see Chiwetel Ejiofor from The Martian on the Fail list, I was unaware the character was Venkat Kapoor in the book, not Vincent Kapoor as he is in the movie. Needless to say she was unimpressed that they swapped one minority for another. I can’t really blame her, especially since they cast a white girl to play a character of Korean descent on top of it. The movie basically had none of the Asian characters from the book. Not cool, but not a shock either.

However there is good news – the Win list is longer than the Meh and Fail lists combined. That feels like some progress has been made.

Guess how many playable Black women characters there have been in gaming?

I think it’s no secret that the state of diversity in video games is even worse than that of movies these days. Game designers are overwhelmingly white males and, no surprise, they design large numbers of white male characters. Woe to anyone who points this out, the white males will turn out in droves to defend their turf and their right exclude anyone who isn’t a white male. Ask Anita Sarkeesian who reviews video games from a feminist perspective about it, she has received rape threats for speaking the truth. Look up #gamergate if you don’t believe me. (Fair warning if you look up #gamergate, you will need a shower and stiff drink afterwards. Those dudes are damaged goods.)

Jade
Meet Jade from Beyond Good and Evil, one of the few playable black women in video games

So knowing about all this, I was still surprised that the Houston Press could count only 14 playable black women characters in all of video gaming, since the start of video gaming. (This excludes games where you can design your character and choose their skin color like the old Tony Hawk skateboarding games, and it also exclude games like X-Men that are licensed from other properties.) The Houston Press kinda had to fudge the number a bit to get it that high by including a couple of characters whose ethnicity is a bit questionable, like one character who generally considered black in gamer circles but belongs to an alien race. Of the 14 on the list, three of the characters are killed in the end by the white hero. I see no problems there, do you?

The comments on the article point out a few more playable black women, but the numbers are still dinky even when you add in those new names. Of course a lot of commentators take the author to task for their criteria, but I think the author has a point. If you are not a white dude, playing character who actually looks like you is pretty rare. This probably due to the fact that white dudes dominate game design. Only 18% of software engineers are women and despite how engineers like to think of our profession as a meritocracy, there are real barriers to WOC. Full disclosure, I am a female software engineer with nearly 30 years in high tech, and I have only worked with one black woman in  that whole time. Until we have more WOC game designers this in equality will continue.

Happy Birthday to Nichelle Nichols, 83 years young

When I was growing up, back when dirt was young and dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I only had three women on TV who I could look up to, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Uhura. Star Trek was a huge part of my childhood, it was on everyday at 6pm on channel 2 in the SF Bay Area, and I would sit on the couch next to my dad and we would watch it. There were very few black people in my town as I was growing up, so Uhura fulfilled a dual role for me, not only was she was a woman on TV I could look up to, but she was also one of the few POC I regularly saw. Thanks to her I saw that WOC could shoot a phaser with the best of them and repair a communications array under fire. She was never a damsel in distress, she was a full fledged crew member who had the respect of her coworkers. When I stop and think about it, it’s depressing just how few women we have like this on TV even today.

To celebrate her birthday, here is a video where Nichelle talks about a young skin head she met in England. SPOILER: She had a huge impact on him. Everyone loves Nichelle!

Taraji P Henson Named Entertainer of the Year by USA Today

You know you have made it when even the mainstream press is drooling all over you, and Taraji P Henson has made it. In addition to her numerous award nominations for her portrayal of Cookie Lyon on Empire, you can now add Entertainer of the Year honors for national newspaper USA Today.

Let us hope that this recognition helps to lift other WOC! And Taraji hopes so too:

“I’m trying to capitalize on the success and get more business,” she says. “I’m looking to create more opportunities for other young artists coming up behind me, because I can’t do this forever.”

She laughs. “I want to at least enjoy all this money I’m making at some point!”

We hope she gets to enjoy her hard earned cash too!

If you have the Flash plugin installed you can watch the video here or you can go to the link above to watch it.

“Daughter of God” gets whitewashed into “Exposed”

The Root has a fascinating article today on how a “bilingual, multi-racial drama” got edited down into a white crime thriller. You’re shaking your head now, aren’t you?

To put the story into a nutshell, Daughter of God was conceived as indie flick about a Latina woman living with a Dominican family focusing on social issues that affect women. Keanu Reeves was attached to the project in a supporting role of a cop investigating the death of his partner, the real star was supposed to be Ana de Armas. Some of the funding for the film fell through and Lionsgate became involved. Once that happened, the film was re-edited so that the star in now Reeves, de Armes is now a bit part, the title was changed to Exposed, and the genre is now “cop thriller.” The changes were so drastic that Gee Malik Linton, the director, has removed his name from the credits.

The reason was of course, money. Keanu Reeves is a big name, and the studio, being a Hollywood studio, just can’t see actors of color bringing in the big bucks like white boys can. (Yes I know Reeves is part Asian, but movie audiences perceive him to be white, so the studio does as well.)

If you have the intestinal fortitude, head over and the article linked above. If you don’t I won’t blame you because who needs another story about whitewashing?

Daughter of God um, Exposed will drop in January, if anyone cares. No word on if we will ever see the director’s original cut. Here’s the trailer, looks like pretty standard cop stuff:

Lifetime releases trailer for Toni Braxton biopic

Unbreak My Heart, the Lifetime TV movie based on the memoirs of singer Toni Braxton has it’s first trailer! Lifetime released the trailer on it’s Twitter feed.

The movie stars Lex Scott Davis as Braxton and she looks fabulous! Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Braxton’s friend and collaborator, will produce and Baxton herself is the executive producer. The movie premieres January 23rd.

The Book of Mojo: the world needs this!

Another black girl super hero may be taking a bow soon . Former Pixar animator Everett Downing is making his self-published comic into an animated series and the teaser looks killer:

The story follows 13 year old Lucretia “Lucy” Jenkins who, with the help of her spirit guide Mojo, learns to use her magical powers for good. Downing describes it as “Harry Potter meets The Wire.” I’m there for it!

You can read the Essence interview with Downing here. Here’s an excerpt where Downing explains why he made the protagonist a black girl:

Why did you choose to make the main character a Black girl?
In the beginning, she was a little Polish girl. But then I remember at the time, I was like, ‘Man, I don’t see our faces, like I don’t see African-American faces in comics.’ Then I was like, ‘What am I talking about? If I want to see it, I have to do it.’ At the time when I was developing it, my daughter was not born yet and my wife had just found out she was pregnant.
I was like, ‘You know what? I need to start putting this imagery out here.’

Yes you do, Everett. And we thank you for it.

The Book of Mojo web site is here, where you can read the comic and learn more about the characters.

Shout out to member Treehouse31 for finding this gem! Let us know if you find any other projects like this that we can promote and support!