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Month: December 2008

A Controversy to Blow you Away

M. Night Shyamalan has decided to cast white actors in the main roles of the upcoming motion picture based on the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender. The problem: Avatar featured an Asian world with Asian characters, including Aang, the titular character, and his friends Sokka and Katara.

Some people are pissed, pointing to other instances of whitewashing. There’s a letter writing campaign and a Facebook group.

Bingo anyone?

So now what?  I’m tired of reading the LJ drama aroudn all of this; but here’s what I was going to post about this somewhere else:

I dig on the Airbender;  it’s clever and funny.  It’s not as smart as Phineas and Firb but what is on Saturday mornings?  All that said, I don’t get this outrage at all.

Not a bit.

I’m not from North America, I come from a culture that is as old as any other, but I don’t “get” when people (who are predominantly not a member of my cultural group) both co-opt and defend my group.  It’s my culture guys, if I want to defend it, let me handle the heavy lifting.

I can’t speak for the billions of Asians, no way, but I can speak for me and let me simply state what the outraged seem to fail to grasp, there is a vital and vibrant Asian film production market, Asians get to churn out all shades of asian movies all the time.  If an Asian film maker wants to make a movie that resembles the Airbender story (let’s face it, it’s REALLY generic) with an all Thai cast (for example) then so be it.

In this case a Malay person is at the reigns (for the most part) and has cast some box office candy in the roles.  This outrage really smacks of Otaku-Fanism, as if sharing your toy with the unwashed masses will somehow dilute the experience.  I’m not grasping how this is Racist at all, it might be a bit desperate or money grubbing, but Racist?  Please.

Me, I don’t know if I will pay to see a movie adaption of Avatar, why bother, right?  The cartoons are out there for me to watch with the kids if I want.  Why waste cash on what is bound to dilute the experience by virtue of not being the source material.

The last movie I saw that really expanded upon and made the source material pop was Trainspotting, so I don’t think any adaption cum money grab is going to shake any trees.

If you are REALLY outraged, vote with your feet and just avoid the damn thing.

I (for one) will be disappointed if they do recast the roles that have already been set; I’d hate to lose a job over my ethnicity,  wouldn’t you?  That kind of sums it up right there, in some way there are people out there so obsessed with their own ethnicity that it allows them to attempt to victimize others (en-masse) to somehow promote and protect that ethnicity.  Imagine if there had already been a full cast of Asians in place and the reverse was now true?  A bunch of European fans get together and form groups around demands for Caucasian actors in the roles of the title character and the blind girl (along with most of the people in the snow kingdom)  then what?

In the end; the source material stands and the movie will be the movie.  If you feel that strongly about the movie’s cast, by all means, feel strongly about it, but why impose your beliefs upon the general public?  Avatar isn’t some cultural phenomenon like “Kung-Fu” it’s a somewhat well known Nick cartoon, the general public isn’t down with it, so it doesn’t have a cultural cache to pull from, it’s got a studio, some creative types and a need to make money.  If we (as the general public) could have our dreams casts in our favourite movies Pierce Brosnan would have been bond right after Roger Moore and the Next Doctor might have been Joanna Lumley (or Rowan Atkinson)  but we don’t get our dreams. Do we?

Fight on you crazy stars, it’s your right to complain about casting choices, but damn if I wish that the racism card wouldn’t be tossed around so quickly, and this is coming from a guy who actually profiles racists on his blog.  I know that the last qualifier reads like “I can’t possibly be racist” which is the furthest from the truth, I totally can be racist and catch myself being so.  It’s one of those human failings that we should recognise in ourselves.

The whole discussion of “I don’t see people like me on the screen” argument blows me away.  Seriously.  Outside of imported TV, I don’t see anyone like me on TV either, and when I do see someone like me on North American TV or Movies, they are buffoons (without fail).  So What? Should I bitch about it and keep a blog of how offensive it is?  OR have I learned one of the big lessons about life that some folks still need to learn, the prevailing culture of North America is a melange of cultures that end up in a stew or milieu that doesn’t actually reflect society instead it distorts society for it’s own entertainment, which the majority seems to like.  Case Closed.

As for “I can’t Be Ang if Ang isn’t Asian on screen” what?  How did you kill that kid’s imagination?  Is it drugs?  Seriously, that kid is having trouble seperating themselves from cartoons as fantasy.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 7

The gravel stopped crunching and Patrick thought, for a moment, that he was alone on the roof.  The flopping monsters that had poured from the door had been dispatched like his former partner and he had pitched the majority into the flaming street below; crossing himself when he could for whatever passed for souls in their grotesque corpses.

Jacks corpse had stood again, stretched and began to lope at Patrick again, his face an obscene smile with mouth agape and askew.

“Jack, shit.” Patrick ran towards his partner and kicked hm in the chest, toppling the bloody thing over the side of the roof and sailing to the street below.

The roof was quiet and empty of danger now, Patrick walked with all due care to the roof door and looked down the staircase for any evidence of more monsters waiting in the dark.  Finding none he turned his radio on and called out for the chief.

“Chief, it’s 13.  I’m 5 by 5 here.”

“Pat?  Good.  We’ve just shut the tenants on 25 in the security office, join me in the main stairwell.”

“Got ya Chief.  13 coming in”

Patrick Farrel had never once killed a man in anger; not in the line of duty either.  His tour in Iraq had been a relativley short one, with a leg injury getting him an early reprieve from the desert.  Security work paid a bit better and couldn’t normally involve much actual fighting.  The busiest days for Patrick had been chasing kids out of the stairwell after sneaking in after-hours.  He hadn’t known Jack long enough for his death to really hurt, but the fight had left him like the long-termers at the VA, lost in the moment, staring into the distance for the next encounter.

He met the guys from Unit 11 as they trotted towards the main stairwell doors, they were smiling and chatting about the tenants.

“Did you see what they were doing in the one office?  I think they were trying to film their own little porno in there or something… hey Pat.  What the fuck was going on up top?”  Patrick knew the smaller one; Henry “Hank” Jacobs.  Young, former cop, fired for some kind of harassment issue.

“Yeah, they were naked, all of them, one dude had a camera and they were in a pile in the middle of the office, like 20 people all getting it on!” The bigger one had just kept on about the discovery in the office.  Patrick just walked on to the door and knocked.  Chief Pendegrass opened up and held the door for the Security Guards to walk out.  He gave Patrick as much space as possible, given the gore that coated his uniform.

“Chief, we got some shit up here like you wouldn’t believe.  Fucking Zombies or some shit.  I fought about 6 of them, Jack included.  I pitched them off of the roof as they came at me, I fucking shot two of them in the chest and they got right up, Jack too.” Patrick found his tongue and wouldn’t let go “Chief, Man. They kept on coming, like they was gonna tear me up like Jack.  I hadda kill them.”

Patrick could feel himself losing it.  He caught himself and led the walk down to the 24rth and down,  sealing the doors as he went.  He described the whole fight to the Chief, who remained quiet and offered no judgment or comment.  When they had finished the sweep to the ground floor, Patrick had told his story a few times and the guys from Unit 11 had simply gone silent and stopped meeting Patrick’s eyes.

Chief Pendegrass put his hand on PAtrick’s should and led him to the Security offices and offered him a seat and a drink.

“Pat, I believe you.  I’ve looked outside, I can hear that stuff out there.  Something has happened to Saint Paul and I’m not clear as to what.  There were two suns out there today, things have changed in a big way.  Find yourself a clean set of clothes and dump that shit you’re wearing in a bag, tie it off and dump it deep in a dumpster or down the chute.  Go nowhere alone and keep your radio on from now on.”  The Chief stood up to his full height and looked deep in thought.

Patrick got up, went to his locker and stripped off his gore covered clothes, dumping them like requested.  He cleaned himself up as best he could in the showers and found a new uniform and some of the tactical gear the other guys had on.  When he caught his face in the mirror, he was sure that it was still him looking out, but there was a small strangeness in his eyes, like when he first stepped off of the plane at Rammstein in Germany.  He had been through something and come back broken.

In Defense of my Religious Upbringing

Frequent readers of this blog or people who just look at the preceeding post to this one might get the idea that I’m a firm anti-religious type, and you’d be wrong.

I’m still a big fan of the Catholic School Board I was educated by from 2-13 in Ontario and wouldn’t exchange it for an irreligious or secular school any day.  I was taught by (for the most part) dedicated people who handed the students the tools and means to make an informed decision about Church and Religion. They taught us about comparative religion and evolution and science and reasoning and problem solving and history.  It wasn’t “The Catholic” version of things, it was “the facts as they knew and understood them”  which prepared my class and some of the surrounding years for a future where we could choose for ourselves.  I like that and encourage it.  I was handed a bible and a measuring stick and told to find out the distance the words in it would go.  For a long time they went pretty far.

I still write Roman Catholic on Government forms when I’m asked to identify my Religious Affiliation; although I don’t practice anymore (I got it right and decided that I’d leave an open seat for others).  I’m an Agnostic, not an Atheist.  I don’t know if there is something more than me, I don’t think it is likely that the Christians, Jews  or Moslems or any of the other Religious groups are correct though.  I critique the “Religious” because they are the Rediculous, they just seem to want comfort from the Universe; comfort from a Parent that they can’t touch or see.  I’ll admit that the thought that this life is all I have is scary, shouldn’t it compel me to make the most of this life?

I imagine that where the Religious and My Agnostic classmates diverge is motivation.  I do good things to make others feel good, not for the rewards (well, not the rewards alone anyway) but I do good things in secret too, without anyone knowing.  I don’t need magical rewards that only show up when I die to motivate good deeds; I try to encourage this in my daughter.  However in the Religious, good deeds are motivated not by love for one another, but by fear of punishment beyond the grave.  If you are living in fear of Hell, please take this simple advice:

If you die and there IS a god and a heaven and you have been good according to their rules, WIN!

If you die and there IS a god and heaven and you have been bad and end up in hell, at least you have eternal life and take comfort in the fact that eventually god saves all the souls in hell once they have been redeemed.  Also, famous dead people! WIN!

If you die and that is it, what would you know about it?  You’re gone.  Win (for you)

Death, scary as it is, is only hard on the living, the dead don’t suffer from the heartache that the survivors feel.

My Dad (who knows everything) says that Hell is probably the Black Nothing of being without life, but if one was aware of said blackness, then isn’t that still eternal life?  This is why my Dad calls me a smart ass.

All of that aside, I was well-educated and prepared for life by my teachers, almost all of them religious people, good church going folk.  Only three of them ever made me feel in danger for either my physical well-being or my uh sexual well-being  (One time a Religion teacher growled at me as I walked by, he was a former Monk and I swear he was coming on to me in some clumsy way that still puzzles me. I’m tubby, hit on someone who wants it Mr. Beardy Former Monk).  My history teachers gave us a rich view of the world, spanning the centuries, putting into perspective the stories from the Bible as the work of Men who lived in fear of the Night.  Our Science teachers (biology, Chemistry and Physics) gave us the keys to the worlds workings, showing us the diversity and simple beauty of the math behind it all.  Our Social Studies and Technology teachers showed us how we interacted with the world and let us discover how our interactions affected it.  Our arts teachers let us appreciate the written word and visual arts for what they were (within a strict and often compellingly bad structure, at least we had creative writing!)

All of this aside, I was given a good Education at Catholic School and wouldn’t prevent my own daughter from experiencing it or discourage other parents from signing up their kids for the same district.  I can only speak for my own experience and would love to hear from my former classmates if they happen on this post.

Prophet for Profit

“I think that you should hear what my opinion about the Obama election is: that he will not be the next president. I said on my home page in August that if he lost to expect to see the ‘riots’ that 2 Peter 2:13 tells us about. He didn’t lose. But the story is not finished yet. I still think they may begin the riots before Christmas 2008, as I said.”

Parowan Prophet — on Obama  (2008)

‘I”ve never lived through an explosion,’ Freeborn said. ‘But I”ve stood in the fire [in a vision], I”ve smelled the smoke, I”ve felt the blast and the wind. God has realistic videos that are fantastic.’

Freeborn”s visions get grimmer.

‘One million will die between Brigham City and St. George,’ he said. ‘If you live beyond 10 miles of Hill Air Force Base don”t let the sun go down without a full tank of gas.’ He suggested going there because Cache Valley won”t suffer as much damage as the rest of northern Utah.

Parowan Prophet — Predicting Nuclear war in 2003

Again the mystical Right Wingers take flight!  Rod Parsley’s Guest Gary Bauer proclaimed that if Obama was elected, which Rod (of course) bobble-headed.  Don’t forget the non-so-subtle threats from the “Concerned Christians” over there at the Victoria Advocate.  In Fact, let’s ask Yahoo Answers how the Mystics of the Desert feel about Obama.

It’s comforting to think that the last guy was so blessed with the power of “the sight” too.

When will it end?  Well, according to the Prophet, in about 10 days.   Good Luck!

Review: Transporter 3 aka Freckles McGinger and Frank McGrump

At least at this distance you couldnt see the Freckles
At least at this distance you couldn’t see the Freckles

I’m a big fan of the Transporter movies, I got into the series on number 2, instead of the traditional Number one.  In Number two there was a “Girl With Problems” character who spent a good deal of the movie in soggy lingerie shooting twin machine pistols.  It was an Instant Classic.

The (crazily named) Megaton Boomstick directed this movie and expanded the “Girl with Problems” role into “Annoying Ukranian Freckle Face that we force Frank to fall for”

This did not derail the movie, but it made the whole “What means Talent and Looks?” jokes come fast and furious while we were watching.  I should also point out that freckles are cute, the femail lead appears to have skin somewhere between her freckles, but I’m sure that will clear up the next time she is under a good strong lightbulb.

I’m spending too much time on the Female lead; true.  I should be posting about the action, but the action is good, it’s rediculous and incredible, you’re assured that if Frank doesn’t pound the bad weasel into fine jelly the bad guy will get his anyway at the hands of Freckles McPouty’s daddy.  So why bother?

Bother because it is the next movie in the series and we need to get them to make at least one more before they hand off the franchise to Shia Lebouf or Lindsay Lohan or something.

See it because it’s another Transporter and you gotta admit it’s fun to watch an Audi drive like a Bugatti.

Review: Crossed Issue 2; now with more Soggy Cookies

Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows set the Rape and Murder by crazed Rednecks bar really high in Crossed #1.  I can safely state that issue two doesn’t add to the horror, instead it shows the keen, steely and purposeful levels of evil the “Crossed” can reach.  Speaking of the Crossed, here’s the birth of one:

Crossed 2 preview

Our uninfected are telling this story in anecdotal form, which means at least one of them is alive “in the future” I’m guessing either as one of the Crossed or it is the kid that has been tagging along all this time.   Giving a hopeful narrator with such bleak and (really) dark subject matter strikes me as an odd choice.  The Crossed tear one of their own apart and rape the severed foot/calf, with that kind of determined horror, it’s hard to imagine some form of hopeful anything save a quick death.

As for the crossed themselves. when they aren’t mutilating each other and raping men, women and children (and animals I’m sure) to death, they are “spreading the love” in an inventive and evil fashion, through the use of a variant Soggy Biscuit game.

I’ll leave that there for you to puzzle out on your own.

Overall verdict; read it if you are a fan of post-apocalyptic stories as well as “zombie” fiction, as the Crossed are the implacable but intelligent foe that Zombie fiction sometimes wants for.

Review: The Book that Stinks

The Show that Smells

The Show That Smells is the most SHOCKING story ever shown on the silver screen! It’s also the tale of Jimmie, a country music singer dying of tuberculosis, and Carrie, his wife, who tries to save him by selling her soul to a devil who designs HAUTE COUTURE CLOTHING! Elsa is a powerful Parisian dress designer, and a vampire. She wants to make Carrie look beautiful, smell beautiful – AND THEN SHE WANTS TO EAT HER! Will Carrie survive as her slave? Will Jimmie be cured? Starring a host of Hollywood’s brightest stars, including Coco Chanel, Lon Chaney and the Carter Family, The Show That Smells is a thrilling tale of HILLBILLIES, HIGH FASHION, AND HORROR!

My rating: 1.0 stars

Bad Book. Bad Book. Bad Book. Horrible Tropes.  Bad Book. Bad Book. Stunt Typography. Bad Book. Bad Book. Bad Book. Vampires are all Homosexual Baby Killers.  Bad Book. Bad Book. Bad Book. Graphic and Morbid Rape Scenes.

There isn’t much of a plot to this screed, so I won’t waste any time with discussing characters or plot.  There are 6 actual characters and about 15 speaking roles in this made-for-Limbaugh Vampire novella.  It all devolves into a kind of stunt-book, with words strewn among typography tricks and over-used AMICLEVER section mastheads meant to evoke a maze of mirrors.  The Vampires are monsters and as they themselves state, they are gay, because everyone who is evil is gay, right?

My satire detector is broken again I guess, but the heavy “We kill babies and have forced butt secks” section was more than enough for me, as was the pointlessly brief climax.  Avoid this book and any derivative Jack Chick tracts it may spawn or else be forced to envision a melty-faced Lon Chaney standing behind a crying (pantsless) man saying “HAW HAW HAW” as he violates him with a perfume bottle.