Thursday, June 25, 2020

Throwback Thursday: 90s Black Sitcoms Warned Us

Last week, I discussed how, contrary to popular belief, classic 90s television shows were not only “political”, but often touched upon political issues that we still face today. I used the example of Family Matters and how one episode touched upon the subject of police brutality, a subject even more relevant today than it was when that episode first aired.

Renegade Cut recently touched upon the subject of classic 90s black sitcoms and how many of them, from Fresh Prince to Martin, all discussed issues like police brutality that are still relevant today, if not more so. To insist that these television shows were “never political” is to misremember these shows entirely. These shows and the subjects they touched upon are just as relevant today as they once were when they first aired.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Harry Potter Needs To End

Inverse

Do I even need to bother writing an introduction about Harry Potter? It’s one of the best-known children’s books in the world. If you’re a millenial like myself, you grew up reading the books, watching the movies, or absorbing the gist of the franchise through cultural osmosis. The books are some of the best-selling in the world, the movies are some of the highest-grossing, millions of tourists visit the themed lands in Universal Studios, and its author is one of the richest women in the world.

Of course, you know someone like me wouldn’t be writing about Harry Potter in this day and age without addressing the hippogriff in the room. The Author-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has become infamous for her notorious rantings and ravings on social media, especially with her most recent egregious tweets. She has since received backlash from fans, rebuttals from her famous child actors, disavowals from Warner Bros, and resignations from other authors in her agency.

Now the question remains about what to do with the Author-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and her work. Will fans still be able to read her books and watch her movies? Or has her recent controversy forever tarnished their reputation to the point where they are too “problematic” to enjoy?

Regardless of what you think of the Author-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and her work, even ignoring her most recent unhinged social media meltdowns, it’s probably high time that we close the Harry Potter books and return them to the shelves--not because their author has become "problematic" (though that certainly doesn't help), but because the franchise has long run its course. It’s high time that the Harry Potter franchise end.

To learn why we should close the book on Harry Potter, click READ MORE:


Friday, June 19, 2020

Fan Art Friday: Black Lives Matter II



Today is June 19, a day recognized here in the States as Juneteenth. This day commemorates the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which officially freed the slaves in America and helped bring about the end of the Civil War.

Juneteenth is a special day for African-Americans, as it is a day that commemorates their liberation from slavery and the start of their journey towards achieving further civil rights as American citizens.

In light of recent events, this day proves especially vital. For even in spite of the progress made since Emancipation, the African-American community still has a long way to go until they are treated fairly and equally. As the old song goes, "we shall overcome!"

To help commemorate Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter movement, I am once again showcasing fan art of black characters from Disney movies and properties. Here's to a brighter future where all lives matter because black lives matter.

For a showcase of black Disney characters, click READ MORE:


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Family Matters On Police Profiling

IMDB

Whenever a television show touches upon a contemporary topic, that show will often receive backlash on-line from angry white guys--and it is usually white guys! They will accuse the show of being "too political" and insist that the show creators "keep politics out!" And they will often reminisce on the "good old days" when television was "apolitical" and didn't touch upon politics.

They're wrong, of course!

Television shows have always been political because television is art and all art is political, whether that art is upholding or challenging the politics of the status quo. Even back during the "good old days" of the 1990s, many popular shows had at least one "special episode" where the characters would address a pertinent topic of the day.

In fact, one such show from my childhood not only touched upon an important political topic, but even today--especially today, amidst the protests against police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd--the message of that particular episode proves relevant now more than ever.

To learn more about how the 90s addressed police corruption, click READ MORE:


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Magic Ears Dudebro Reviews: Artemis Fowl

IMDB

This movie sucks.

Normally, I start these reviews with a soft opening detailing the movie's background and posing an open-ended question about whether or not this film is any good. Then I offer a brief summary, followed by my detailed thoughts about everything good and bad, then my overall final verdict, and then a few random thoughts with spoilers.

This movie doesn't deserve a formal review. It's not good enough for one. This movie is terrible and you shouldn't watch it. If you've never read the Artemis Fowl books, you'll hate it. If you have read the books, you'll hate it even more. Just don't watch it!

Still want a formal review? Fine.

Saying this movie is trying to rip off Harry Potter is giving it too much credit. This movie is ripping off Percy Jackson trying to rip off Harry Potter. It is a poor facsimile of a poor facsimile.

Ever since Harry Potter became a huge hit in the 2000s, every movie studio had tried (and failed) to copy the franchise's success by adapting a young adult book series to film. With the exception of Hunger Games and Twilight, every one of those attempts has failed: Percy Jackson, Unfortunate Events, His Dark Materials, Divergent, etc.

An adaptation of the Artemis Fowl book series was planned since 2001, but had been in development hell until 2013 when Disney finally received the movie rights. Even then, the film still went through development hell, with it scheduled to be released last year, only to be postponed until this spring, and now released directly to Disney Plus due to COVID-19.

If the past two decades of development hell wasn't enough of a warning that this movie was doomed on arrival, then not even the strongest pair of fairy goggles could decipher the code predicting this movie's downfall.

I don't need to ask an open-ended question about whether or not this movie is good. We all know this movie is bad. So let's dig deeper into the details to find out why. And I won't need to unhinge my jaw so I can eat dirt and poop it out the other end to do all that. (Yes, unfortunately, that's something that really happens in this movie. It's that bad!)

To learn why Artemis Fowl is a miss most foul, click READ MORE:


Friday, June 12, 2020

Fan Art Friday: She-Ra And Catra Pride


June is gay pride month. While I'm straighter than a stick, I'm more than happy to show my support for LGBT pride with several Fan Art Fridays dedicated to LGBT couples.

For my first week, I'm showcasing fan art of Adora and Catra from She-Ra. The show made history with the very first on-screen kiss of a gay couple in an animated children's show. So of course I had to highlight fan art of them. Then again, even if they hadn't confirmed their relationship, I'd still share fan art of them because I love these characters, and I love seeing them together. :D

For fan art of this power couple, click READ MORE:


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Should Splash Mountain Be Re-Themed?

Disney Wiki

Over the past two weeks, protests have been hosted across America to address police brutality and the systemic racism behind it. These mass protests have forced many companies to reconcile their positions about racism and the police. Many corporations like Disney have released statements in support of Black Lives Matter. LEGO has pulled cop and White House toy sets from store shelves. And the TV show Cops has finally been canceled after running for more than 30 years.

Perhaps the most controversial move involved HBO Max pulling the Civil War movie Gone With The Wind from its streaming service. The change was permanent, as, after receiving on-line backlash, HBO Max re-uploaded the movie with a disclaimer at the start denouncing the film’s outdated racial stereotypes.

This act of “censorship” and “political correctness” on the part of Warner Bros. has since reinvigorated discussion about another movie from the 1940s centered around the Civil War, and which has also been the center of controversy surrounding its outdated racial stereotypes. Yes, I’m talking about none other than Disney’s Song of the South—a classic so timeless that it hasn’t seen the light of day from the Disney Vault for nearly 40 years.

With the recent controversy surrounding racism in America, inquiring minds want to know: should Song of the South be released on Disney Plus? Or is it a film set in the land of cotton that needs to be long forgotten? And, more importantly, should the beloved Disney attraction based on the movie be re-themed to better facilitate modern sensibilities?

To learn the truth that’s actual about whether or not everything is satis-factual, click READ MORE:


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

How Modern Reboots Are Better Than Old Cartoons

IMDB

Television animation experienced a renaissance over the past decade with ground-breaking shows like Adventure Time and Steven Universe. Disney Channel also hosted plenty of original programs like Gravity Falls and Star Vs. The Forces Of Evil.

Along with new animated series, the past decade also released reboots of old classics. Some of these remakes like Ducktales 2017 and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic not only proved to be as great as the original, but in many cases, even better. Then there are reboots like Thundercats Roar. No comment.

For every modern reboot that surpasses the original series, there are dozens of reboots like Thundercats Roar, Powerpuff Girls 2016, and Ben 10 2016 that end up being far, far worse. But why? Why do some reboots end up being better than the original while too many others end up worse?

C.S. Lewis once said that a person cannot tell if a line is crooked unless they know what a straight line looks like. In other words, to tell if something is "bad", they need to compare and contrast it to something "good." Likewise, to understand why a show like Thundercats Roar is a "bad" reboot, we need to understand what makes a reboot "good." So here are some ways in which modern reboots are better than the old cartoons.

To learn how modern reboots are better, click READ MORE:


Friday, June 5, 2020

Fan Art Friday: Black Lives Matter


In light of recent events, I want to use this week's Fan Art Friday to highlight black faces and voices. In a time when black people still face systemic racial discrimination, they need to see their faces in media now more than ever. Disney has made baby steps towards increasing the diversity of their films with more POC characters. Their films and shows can be even more diverse than they are now, but what little POC characters they have are a treasure to behold. Here are just a few:

To check out some great black Disney characters, click READ MORE:


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Don't Let History Repeat Itself

Spiritual Cleaning

Normally, I post something nostalgic and light-hearted for Throwback Thursday. I normally don't get "political" or "controversial." In my defense, I don't believe "cops shouldn't be allowed to get away with killing non-violent, unarmed people, especially if they're black" to be a "political" or "controversial" statement. That's not politics. That's common sense!

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed after a cop pinned him to the ground for more than nine minutes, long enough to asphyxiate him. Nearly one week has passed since his murder, and the streets in every city of every state are still crowded with people demanding justice. Many of these protests have devolved into riots and looting, which in turn have elicited a violent backlash from law enforcement.

This is not the first time riots broke out after police brutality against a black man, and unfortunately, it will not be the last. Only seven years earlier, Baltimore erupted into violent protests and riots following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of cops; and one year prior, Ferguson suffered similar civil unrest following the shooting of Michael Brown.

AZ Quotes

From the protests of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s to the L.A. Riots in the 1990s, time after time, American cities break out into riots following the death or assault of a person of color at the hands of the police, a spark that ignites the kindling of systemic poverty and racism that permeates the urban landscape, setting it ablaze.

As the great Martin Luther King once said: "Riots grow out of intolerable conditions. Violent revolts are generated by revolting conditions and there is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people who feel they have no stake in it, who feel they have nothing to lose."

And yet, time and time again, politicans fail to do anything about these "intolerable conditions." They refuse to address poverty. They refuse to address homelessness. They refuse to address crumbling infrastructure. And they especially turn a blind eye to the abuse and brutality carried out by law enforcement against marginalized communties. Then the politicians feign shock when people inevitably rage against the failures of the system.



Jon Stewart of the Daily Show mentioned as much during his commentary on the Baltimore Riots. As he said, politicans can either address these systemic problems that lead to civil unrest, "or we can agree to keep ignoring the roots of how systematically, historically, and disenfranchised many African-American communities still are. Only paying attention to them; when we fear their periodic fiery ball of anger, threatens to enter our air space...AND once again breathing a blissful sigh of forgetful relief when it's another near miss. "

So the question remains: Why do we keep seeing these same problems repeating themselves over and over again? And what can we do to stop them?


To answer the first question, I'd recommend an excellent video essay by Contrapoints, "Baltimore: Anatomy Of An Uprising", which does an excellent job succinctly detailing the bad policies that led to the abysmal conditions of Baltimore, and how those conditions helped instigate police brutality, and in turn, the civil unrest against them.

Unfortunately, Contrapoints has taken down her video. So the bad news is that the video is no longer on her channel. But the good news is that a transcript of her video remains on her website. Feel free to give it a read. Here's a notable highlight:
"So how do we stop this? Well, one way might be to try to spread awareness of the circumstances that lead this to happen. And that’s worth doing anyway, since if we know what leads to this, we can start thinking about how to prevent it...When I think about Freddie Gray’s life, from the childhood lead poisoning, to the exploitative purchase of his settlement, to his quite possibly groundless arrest, to the fatal injury he sustained in police custody, what I see is a whole system of institutions that basically treat black lives as if they don’t matter."
As for what can be done to prevent future unrest, the simplest solution is to address the police brutality that sparks such unrest. How do we prevent police brutality? Campaign Zero lists ten policy suggestions. I'd recommend reading that.

As the old saying goes: those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it. If we don't learn from our past failings, then history is only doomed to repeat itself.

#BlackLivesMatter

Monday, June 1, 2020

She Ra Proves Disney Can Do Better With LGBT Rep


Earlier this year, Disney made history by releasing Onward, a movie that featured the company's first openly LGBT animated character. A minor character. With less than five minutes of screen time. And whose queerness is communicated with a throwaway line. A line that could easily be censored in other countries. Countries that banned the film anyway. Woo-hoo! Gay rights!

I already wrote about the controversy surrounding Disney's "first" LGBT character, and how it's not enough for the company to do the bare minimum and expect brownie points for LGBT representation. If Disney wants to present itself as an ally, it needs to do better.

I still stand by what I wrote. My only regret is coming across as too negative. Even if Disney's attempt at representation is miniscule, even some representation is better than none. Still, poor representation isn't an excuse for lack of good representation.

As one of the biggest entertainment companies for families and children, Disney can do more that throw a gay character in the background and call it a ground-breaking milestone, even if that "milestone" makes bigots angry. If it wanted to, Disney could make a show or movie with a main LGBT character.

Speaking of which, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power wrapped up its fifth and final season on Netflix. The show not only went out with a bang with a killer series finale, but it also made bigger history than Disney by featuring the first on-screen kiss between two LGBT characters in a children's animated show.

Disney wants to make history? It wants to offer greater and better LGBT representation? Then the Mouse could certainly learn a lesson from a talking cat and her golden-haired girlfriend!

To learn how She Ra did gay rights better than Disney, click READ MORE: