The Prince of Airbending: Donald Glover

2 06 2010

Last week this article and this site got me very angry at Hollywood and myself. Two huge tent pole movies this summer have been completely whitewashed and I was about to lie down and accept it. The movies I speak of are Disney’s Prince of Persia (released last Friday) and Paramount’s The Last Airbender.  Both films would have called for some ethnic lead characters, and yet, neither of these studios cast any Persians or Asians in the respective roles. Ultimately, I was not going to do this blog because I could not come up with a counter to the argument of why it was even important to have racial diversity in America cinema. But a comedian and a few Facebook users gave me incentive and motivation to stop being lazy and speak up! In short, I am heated.

It could happen.

A few days ago Donald Glover’s (Derrick Comedy and Community) name came up as a possible candidate to play the next Peter Parker after Marc Bernadin, a writer for the sci-fi site io9.com said: “In this day and age, why does Spidey have to be a white guy?” When I first heard reports of Glover as Spider Man I thought it was funny and I jokingly supported the idea but after reading Bernadin’s article I asked myself why does Spidey have to be a white guy? So via Twitter/Facebook I posted, “If The Last Airbender & Prince of Persia can be white. Then GODDAMNIT [Donald Glover] can be Spider Man!” I expected to get a lot of likes and agreements but I was shocked to see comments like “What!? He is an iconic character known for a certain look: The geeky white boy” and “Spider Man 3 was the last disaster, I don’t want to see another. “ WHAT!? I could not believe what I was reading! Movies like Dragon Ball: Evolution, Prince of Persia and The Last Airbender have leads that are completely whitewashed and no one seems to care but the second someone proposes the idea of a black Spider Man and people go mad! It does not make sense to me!

Some say that casting a black Spider Man would be a form of reverse discrimination and my respond to that is codswallop! Spider Man (and more notably Peter Parker) is the epitome of the “everyman character.” If ever there were a character that could be any race, whether it were African, Asian or Latin American, Spider Man is the one. On the other hand, the Prince of PERSIA is specifically Persian. Aang and Goku are specifically Asian, and yet, they are whitewashed without anyone batting an eyelash. I take great issue with the fact that we overlook the importance of racial diversity in today’s movies. If we cannot accept a minority Spider Man but allow several whitewashed movies something is terribly wrong with our current state-of-minds.

Aang in "The Last Airbender" (2010)

It upsets me that the only time we can get an ethnic character in any semi-leading role is as the villain. This year’s The Last Airbender previously had an all-white leading cast. Formally, Jesse McCarty was set to play the villain Prince Zuko but was then replaced by Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel. Paramount claims, “Night’s vision of ‘The Last Airbender’ includes a large and ethnically diverse cast that represents cultures from around the world.” The problem is that most of that diversity only seems suitable for the minor characters, background performers and antagonists.

American cinema should reflect American society. After all, art imitates life, right? It is important that we see more ethnic faces on the screen, especially as leading roles. At the very least we should see the same ratio of movies as we have in our population, but studies from racebender.com show that Paramount can’t even managed that! I don’t think it is important so much for adults as it is for kids. My favorite super heroes growing up were Blank Man and Meteor Man, though I’m sure most of you don’t know who either of those two are. For me, it’s really important to see someone on screen that I can relate to, whether that is socially or racially. I’m more prone to relate to the outcast character or the token black guy because I’ve grown up “playing” those roles in life. Kids are very easy to mold and manipulate and I don’t like the message the media is sending to them.

Meteor Man (Jefferson Reed, 1993)

There is some good being done in Hollywood and entertainment as well, don’t get me wrong. Green Lantern recently was depicted as a black man instead of a white one in one of the latest Justice League cartoons, Power Rangers has had a few ethnic leaders and recently we had our first black Disney princess in The Princess and the Frog (though we still have no black prince!). Still, it took me awfully too long to come up with those names and titles when I can spout off several heroes like Superman, Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman, James Bond, Neo, Rocky, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker off the top of my head. But I want to see more characters like Blade, El Mariachi and Bruce Lee and I feel some of the recent movies and television shows we’ve been receiving have not met that standard. At the end of the day, it does not matter if Donald Glover is the next Spider Man or not but I feel it’s really important that the entertainment industry sees past this as media hype and look more into its racial relevance.

UPDATE (6-26-10): One of my friends and mentors, Damian Gonzalez, has brought it to my attention that one of my statements was wrong and inaccurate. The blame should not fall on Paramount and Hollywood solely. Paramount, other movie and television studios are a business, they pander to the almighty dollar. As great web shows like Beyond the Trailer and Movie Preview Critic would say, it is up to us, the audience, to decide what movies we watch. Whenever we pay for a movie ticket we are voluntarily supporting that movie, though in the vast sum of ticket sales our purchase may seem small. So it is up to you and me to be the change we want to see in the world. For me, I want to see a change in white-washing practices in Hollywood. Therefore, I will not be watching The Last Airbender when it does come out and if you feel the same, you should too. In the great words of the movie preview critic: “Hollywood gives more of what we pay for so choose wisely.”

QUOTES OF THE DAY:

“It’s not enough to say that “everyone is equal” or “discrimination is wrong.” Those concepts are too complex for young kids to understand. Explicit, direct statements about race and skin color work best. “

– Racebending.com

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

– Mahatma Ghandi

Bruce Lee

Peace and Much ❤





10 Most Anticipated Movies

11 01 2010

2009 was another good year for movies though I thought 2008 was much better. 2009 didn’t have any Dark Knights or Iron Men, there were no Slumdogs or Benjamin Buttons, nor were there any Let the Right Ones In or Wacknesses. 2010 doesn’t look like it’ll hold a candle to 2008 either but I could be wrong. I tried building a list of ten movies I was anticipating over the next year and it was hard to even get five in.  But here is my list and I hope I’m proven wrong this year in movies:

#10 Alice in Wonderland

This really shouldn’t be on my list. The only thing I can really say I’m anticipating about this movie is the visual stimulation the 3D experience may offer. I like Tim Burton and most of the movies I’ve seen of his but something about the trailers for this movie rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, the movie is called Alice in Wonderland and yet we are presented to Johnny Depp, the Mad Hatter and Helen Bonham Carter, the Queen of Hearts. Granted, Alice is probably the least interesting character in the story of Wonderland and we are supposed to be going on this adventure with her but in the original story Alice was learning a lesson and I don’t see much in the way of plot and story in this one. I’ll probably see it as a matinee.

#9 The Green Hornet

I’m excited to see Seth Rogen take on an action movie. I really like him and what he’s done with his career (except for Observe & Report). I’m also really interested in seeing Jay Chou playing Kato, the role that first brought Bruce Lee into the spotlight of Hollywood before he started on his martial arts movie escapades.  Other than that I’m not too familiar with the series but I am certainly familiar with its theme song (thank you Quentin Tarantino). Again, I’d probably only see this as a matinee.

#8 Mystery Team

I already saw this movie about a year ago at a screening held by the filmmakers themselves but I’m excited to see it again and support their endeavors. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mystery Team it is the first feature film from Derrick Comedy, the popular Internet comedy series. What really amazes me about this film is the production value they got out of such a small budget. Anything independent like that really excites and inspires me to go out and make my own film. Derrick Comedy started with short videos on YouTube that gained popularity over time. They have a really strong cult following. Most of all, the movie was hilarious but I will admit the humor is different from the stuff you all may see in today’s comedies and that could put off most audience but I will definitely see this at full price in full support of Derrick Comedy.

Mystery Team (starring D.C. Pierson, Donald Glover, Dominic Dierkes)

#7 Tron: Legacy

Let me say this first. I did not like the first Tron. Understand that I saw it last year, about twenty years after its release, with a bunch of hype from the geek community. There was a level of Tron in Kingdom Hearts II and that was really fun and I enjoyed the soundtrack and it was one of those movies that all my friends say I “must-see” so I decided to finally sit down and watch it. First off, the most important thing to me in any movie is story and the story in this movie bored me. I mean it bored me so much I fell asleep. Plus, the special effects, which were supposed to be really revolutionary didn’t hold up and were very dated. Tron just isn’t for me. However, this new advent in 3D technology has snagged me up enough to want to watch this movie based solely on its visual merits. I’ll be watching this at full price (since there is no other way to watch 3D).

#6 The Last Airbender

I like M. Night Shyamalan. The reason for that is because the only movie of his I’ve seen is The Sixth Scene and that was a pile of brilliance. I’ve never had the opportunity to see Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water and The Happening, though everyone I’ve spoken to has told me that the rest of his films are no where near as good as The Sixth Sense and that he got stuck in a storytelling rut of the “big twist.” For me, in my little Antoine world I am not aware of this. Therefore, I am still a M. Night Shyamalan fan. However, when I first heard the casting choices for this movie I was really upset. I do not believe there is enough diversity in the film industry and here (just as with Dragonball Evolution) was a perfect opportunity to see some new faces in American cinema and yet we get a Caucasian lead as our last airbender. I’ve since gotten over this element of the movie and was thoroughly excited by the teaser trailer (comprised of only two shots). It looks like it’ll be completely epic and entertaining. I’ll pay full price.

#5 Babies

Have you seen the trailer? If you have then you know why this is on my list. The title says it all. The movie is about babies. It’s a documentary about four babies across the world: San Francisco. USA; Tokyo, Japan; Bayanchandmani, Mongolia; and Opuwo, Namibia. This is the point in my life I look forward to the most. I would love to fast forward my young adult years, straight to being settled into a career, marrying a wife and starting a family. I also think it will be interesting to see how babies are raised in each part of the world from the high tech Tokyo to the desert of Opuwo. I will see this at full price, probably with my mom.

Babies (Directed by Thomas Balmes)

#4 Kick-Ass

We’ve all had that dream of being a superhero but I’m sure we could all fly, had super strength or used telekinesis. But what if we didn’t need any of that? What if we could be the heroes without any superpowers at all? That’s the question Kick-Ass presents with their “real world” superhero movie. It looks like it’ll be a lot of fun to watch. I hear the graphic novel it’s based on is really dark, though the trailer makes it look very light-hearted (as light-hearted as rated “R” gets).  It’ll be fun to see how they pull of the “real world” aspect of this movie. I expect this to be a sleeper-hit that’ll garner a small cult following after its release. I’m going to see it Midnight!

#3 Iron Man 2

There were two superhero movies in 2008 that could be deemed “the best.” That of course is The Dark Knight and the first Iron Man. A lot of people ask one another what they think is the better of the two but I think trying to juxtapose those two movies is just silly. They tell two very different stories in two very different tones. However, they both did it brilliantly. Iron Man was easily the most entertaining movie I saw in 2008 and possibly the most entertaining superhero movie I’ve ever seen. Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect casting choice for Tony Stark; he oozes charisma. The trailer for Iron Man 2 was down right amazing. The chemistry between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts is impeccable, the action looks thrilling and the end of that trailer … nuff said. It is a bit disappointing that Terrance Howard won’t be back to put on the War Machine suit but I don’t even think the casting change to Don Cheadle will salt my experience with this movie. I’m seeing this midnight for sure!

#2 Toy Story 3

Last year I went to the Toy Story double-feature and I had forgotten how great those movies were. To me, Pixar can do no wrong (even with Cars). The trailer for Toy Story 3 got me teary eyed and I accidently watched a scene from the movie and that too got butterflies in my stomach (the good ones). I’ve been doing a new thing with movies and that’s watching the trailer only once and never seeing anything of it ever again. I’ve done this with Half Blood Prince and Avatar and both were better movie going experiences  and I don’t want to ruin the ending to Pixar’s first trilogy. Can anyone say midnight screening?

Toy Story 3 (starring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen)

#1 Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1

I don’t know what it is about this book and movie series that makes me so happy. The books are good but they aren’t literary masterpieces and the movies can even be boring at times but still, there is a, dare I say it, magic about Harry Potter that utterly and unquestionably holds me. I don’t know if it’s the actual magic itself, the characters or the story that makes me want to dress up and cast “wingardium leviosa” on every feather I see but it does and that’s all that matters. I’m sad to see the series coming to an end. I literally grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione and it’ll be depressing to see them go. The end of these movies will sort of be the thing to solidify the death of my childhood. The last two movies in the series have been my favorites though some fans have heavy opposition to Order of the Phoenix and David Yates in general but he makes the kind of movie I like to see and I think he’ll do a brilliant job with the last two installments at the end of this year! There is no question that I’m seeing this at midnight with my robe and wand ready! Death Eaters beware!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

– William Shakespeare

Peace & Much ❤