Tag Archives: Netflix

Ali Wong and Randall Park are #ExpressiveAsian love interests

What is really funny is that the first article for today was about the #ExpressiveAsian movement to illustrate the ridiculously racist idea some casting folks in Hollywood have against casting Asians (the belief that they aren’t “expressive”). As if to counter that racist idea, here’s talk about a rom-com film starring some very expressive Asian actors, Ali Wong and Randall Park.

Comedic actors Wong (who is also a stand-up comedian) and Park, who we know on Fresh Off the Boat, will star in a romantic comedy coming to Netflix. According to Vulture via Deadline, the film will be based on a script Wong and Park wrote with Michael Colameco. The film will follow “two childhood friends who find themselves in vastly different socioeconomic situations when they fall in love as adults.”

The film has no set release date, but you already know that people are going to shut Netflix down when this film comes to Netflix. It seems like Netflix has been hitting it out of the park these days with diverse content for diverse audiences, which is great, since its original ties with Adam Sandler weren’t helping.

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“Neo Yokio” is the anime tailor-made for the quirky black kids

Anime fans are going to have an interesting time with Jaden Smith’s latest project, Neo Yokio.

The project itself is delightfully weird in that classic Jaden Smith/alternative black kid way—the show was created by Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, which is the first clue that this show is tailor-made for black alternakids—as a college student, I used to listen to Vampire Weekend non-stop.

The second black alternakid bit of catnip—Neo Yokio is an anime. According to Shadow and Act, the name is an Americanism of “Neo Tokyo,” the cyberpunk city in Akira and, as the name suggests, is a mix of New York and Tokyo. In this anime, New Yokio is a “cultural oasis mix of New York and Tokyo at the forefront of fashion, finance and culture.” Smith stars as the main character Kaz Kaan, who is the youngest of a family of demon slayers called “magistocrats” who had once saved the city. Even though Kaz only demon-slays when his aunt Agatha (Susan Sarandon) sets them up for him, Kaz eventually realizes there’s more to Neo Yokio than just his favorite hobbies—playing field hockey with his friends, endless shopping, and hanging out with his robotic butler. However, in true affected rich kid fashion, he learns more about his city thanks to a former fashion blogger.

Comedians and TV/social media personalities Desus Nice and The Kid Mero voice Kaz’s friends Gottlieb and Lexy, and Jude Law voices Kaz’s butler Charles. Jaden’s sister Willow and Amandla Stenberg will also lend their voices, which leads me to the third black alternakid sign: Amandla Stenberg is in this show.

I don’t know what role Stenberg will have in this show, but Stenberg is no stranger to genre media. She was a part of FOX’s Sleepy Hollow for two seasons before launching her indie comic book Niobe: She is Life, which focuses on a young black elven girl who would become a savior . Yes, Willow being in this show is also black alternakid catnip, but we should’ve known Willow would be in a show her brother’s a part of; what’s the point of having nepotism powers if you can’t use them for good?

Check out the trailer below and see what you think. Neo Yokio, comprised of six episodes, will drop on Netflix Sept. 22.

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Misty Knight’s bionic arm makes its debut in “Luke Cage” Season 2 first look

Marvel is getting ready to bring us Luke Cage Season 2, and Misty Knight finally has her bionic arm!

The first look image was released exclusively via Entertainment Weekly, and it shows Luke (Mike Colter) and Misty (Simone Missick) on the case, as it were (maybe they’re walking to take down Shades and Mariah?). What’s clearly evident is Misty’s brand new arm, something fans have been waiting on since the first season.

According to Entertainment Weekly’s Shirley Li, Misty gets her new arm from Tony Stark and Stark Industries in the comic book lore. Also, the way Misty loses her arm in the comics is in a bombing. However, in the new Marvel cinematic universe, Misty loses her arm due to Bakuto (Ramón Rodríguez), a member of the Hand. In the comics, Misty gained superheroic powers with her new arm, and we’ll see just what Misty can do with her arm once we see it in action when Luke Cage returns to Netflix in 2018.

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New Castmembers Added to “Luke Cage” Season 2

Mustafa Shakir and Gabrielle Dennis have been added to the second season of Netflix and Marvel’s Luke Cage.

Shakir will play a character named John McIver, a charismatic leader who is focused on vengeance. Dennis will play Tilda Johnson, a holistic doctor who always seems to find trouble.

“Mustafa’s incredible presence and power ignited us from our first meeting, and Gabrielle brings the charm and smarts to a very complicated role,” said executive producer Jeph Loeb. “Both will be wonderful additions to our already magnificent cast.”

The second season of Luke Cage will premiere in 2018.

Read more at Shadow and Act.

“GLOW” Is An Unexpected Commentary on American Racism

When I watched Netflix’s latest success, GLOW, what I expected was to see a faithful-to-the-ugly-’80s dramedy about the makings of real-life ’80s wrestling show GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. I expected a focus on strong women, which there was. But what I didn’t expect was a sneak attack of much-needed racial commentary.

One of the show’s overarching themes is how much racial stereotyping and trope plays into the world of entertainment wrestling. Racial and ethnic stereotypes have been an often-overlooked, but integral part of entertainment wrestling’s success, such as The Iron Sheik, Samoa Joe, Sheamus, Latin Lover, SabuMexican America, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and G-Rilla, the original gangsta character George Murdoch (aka WWE’s Brodus Clay and Impact Wrestling’s Tyrus) adopted to start his career. Stereotypes of all forms play a part in wresting’s personas, from the hillbilly character of Bubba Ray Dudley and the gimmicky play on Hornswoggle‘s height as a little person to the cartoonish, flamboyant “macho man” brashness of Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, and Randy Savage and spoiled brattiness of “The Miracle” Mike Bennett and his wife, “The First Lady of Wrestling” Maria Kanellis Bennett, to the self-explanatory nature of The Honky Tonk Man.

The show explores exactly why stereotypes are seen as means to an end in the world of wrestling–it’s easy to create a character. Unlike how director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) was trying to create an indie subversive treatise on the patriarchy with characters who needed a lot of backstory, there is no need for characters with layers in professional wrestling. The ease of stereotypes, especially the racial ones, allow for the audience to quickly understand who a character is and what their motivations are in one sentence (or in some cases, no sentences at all). Carmen Wade (Britney Young) is part Cherokee, but instead, her character is the Incan gentle giant Machu Picchu, with simultaneously plays on Carmen’s lovable demeanor and the stereotype of the wise, ancient, “medicine woman” type. Reggie Walsh (Marianna Palka) plays on a mish-mash of Viking and Nordic stereotypes as Vicky the Viking, who pillages towns.

Sydelle Noel (R) and Kia Stevens in GLOW (Erica Parise/Netflix)

Beirut (Sunita Mani) is, in wrestling terms, a “heel” by playing on the “brown-as-terrorist” stereotype that was reinforced within the season thanks to a newscast of Lebanese terrorists who held a U.S. plane hostage. It doesn’t matter that the character behind Beruit, Arthie Premkumar, isn’t actually Lebanese. Welfare Queen (Kia Stevens) spoke to the image white America had (or still has) of the poor black woman–that she’s actually a lazy slob living in wealth thanks to taking advantage of the government. It doesn’t matter that the character’s real persona, Tammé Dawson, actually worried about if her son, who is getting an Ivy League education, might be made fun of or, worse, that her son could actually come to resent her playing on all the stereotypes they’ve worked to disavow. Fortune Cookie aka Jenny Chey (Ellen Wong) is actually Cambodian, but what’s important is that she wrap up all of America’s dis-ease with the Vietnam War and its growing tension with communist China in one small bamboo hat-wearing package.

The ultimate heel of the show, Zoya the Destroyer aka Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) plays heavily on America’s fear of Soviet Russia. Does it matter that “Zoya” isn’t actually Russian? Nope. All that matters is that she portrays every Russian stereotype to the nth degree. The same goes for Liberty Belle aka Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), who has to play up every nasty stereotype about “The Good U.S. of A.,” which includes believing White Jesus is an American citizen, that apple pie reflects patriotism (even though it’s actually Dutch in origin), and that blonde and white equals pure and “All-American.”

Alison Brie (L) and Betty Gilpin in GLOW (Erica Parise/Netflix)

However, stereotyping is quickly shown to be a double-edged sword; while it might be easy to get your characters out, it also opens the fans, particularly those who don’t realize the gag, to use the stereotypes as an excuse to showcase their racism. The best example of this is in the final episode, when Arthie gets spit on and heckled with racial epithets. The fact that she’s playing up the terrorist stereotype could be, if we’re using Sam and producer Bash’s (Chris Lowell) lenses, subverting the stereotype itself and taking the power away from that image by mocking the absurdity of the stereotype. But the audience for wrestling isn’t thinking about writing a thesis on stereotype subversion. What ends up happening is that there are some fans who believe whatever is put in front of them, and if they see a stereotype of a terrorist, they feel justified in hurling racial slurs. What happens to Arthie is exactly what Tammé and Junk Chain aka Cherry Bang (Sydelle Noel) discuss one-on-one; how will they know if the audience is in on the joke and laughing with them instead of laughing at them?

The first season of GLOW sets up for a second season that seems ripe to dig deeper into the emotional fallout the wrestlers will go through when it comes to playing up stereotypes. We were left with a question mark on whether Cherry would continue with the group, seeing how she aced an audition for a lead part on a TV procedural. The procedural itself seems to still be in line with Cherry’s blaxploitation past, but still, it’s miles better for her than the work she’s putting out as Junk Chain. For her, she’d finally be seen as a legitimate actress, not a B-movie star. Arthie might have a love for TV wrestling, but that love might pale in comparison to the amount of inner turmoil she’s already facing after her first TV match. Ruth is naively oblivious to the fact that she’s not portraying Russians as actual Russians, something made clear when she went with the hotel owner to his family’s gathering. But she’s primed and ready for a huge inner dilemma next season. Tammé hasn’t had to face her son yet, but with GLOW’s growing popularity, she’ll certainly have to.

(From right) Sydelle Noel, Ellen Wong, and Sunita Mani in GLOW (Erica Parise/Netflix)

As The Atlantic‘s Dion Beary wrote in the 2014 article, Pro Wrestling is Fake, but Its Race Problem Isn’t, it’s the behind-the-scenes dilemmas that are the real draw for wrestling fans, since what happens in real life is often woven into the on-screen conflicts. And, just like how racial stereotyping and racism itself is a part of GLOW, The WWE was also facing its own issues with racial bias.

Beary detailed how the WWE’s black wrestlers were constantly getting beaten in the ring, from “jobbers”–wrestlers whose main job is to be beaten–and veteran wrestlers alike, like Big E and “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry. All of this highlights the fact that in its then-62 years, the federation had yet to crown a black wrestler the winner of the WWE Championship, the highest honor in the federation.

The article focuses on a 2003 WWE match to make its point. WWE’s RAW World Champion was Triple H, and the underdog looking to take him on was Booker T, a black wrestler.

“‘Somebody like you doesn’t get to be a world champion,’ Triple H told Booker T during a promo, a segment meant to build excitement for a match. Triple H made mention of Booker’s ‘Nappy hair,’ and claimed Booker was in the WWE to make people laugh, to be an entertainer rather than a competitor, to ‘do a little dance’ for him.

The crowd ate it up, and loud ‘ASSHOLE’ chants rained down on Triple H. The next week, Booker T gave an impassioned talk about his past, about how he’s overcome every obstacle that has been put in his way in life, and how he was going to beat the odds again at Wrestlemania 19 to become the world champion. It was, in one sense, brilliant storytelling. Hollywood is chock-full of plots that involve scrappy minorities overcoming racism to accomplish their dreams. With Triple H as the franchise, and the franchise’s job being to eventually lose to the underdog, fans were thoroughly in the corner of Booker T. The storybook ending just made so much sense.

And then Triple H won. 1-2-3. There was no cheating, no controversial finish, non ambiguity about it.
There’s real-life drama and then there’s fictional drama. WWE’s response to allegations of racism, misogyny, homophobia ad ableism have always been the same: It’s fictional. But that excuse wears thin when the fictional racism lines up perfectly with the real-life racism.”

According to Wikipedia, there still hasn’t been a black wrestler crowned as the ultimate champion. However, wrestlers of other minority backgrounds have been crowned throughout the championship’s run in the late ’90s and ’00s, including The Rock, Eddie Guerrero, Yokozuna, Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio, and Batista. Still, the fact remains that in matches such as the one between Triple H and Booker T, racially-laced storylines play a huge part in professional wrestling, much to its detriment.

The cast of GLOW

What’s happening in GLOW not only shines a light on the issues plaguing professional wrestling, but also the acting industry as a whole. The same problem affecting Ruth and the other GLOW women are the same ones affecting actors today–all of the great, meaty roles are given to white men, while everyone else has to make lemonade out of lemon roles, with your success hinging on how much (or how willingly) you lean into your assigned stereotype. But as GLOW shows, even if you happily go into creating the best stereotypical character ever, your reward might be in the form of diminishing returns.

The success of GLOW’s second season will hang on just how much time is devoted to delving into the problems caused by the cast opening up Pandora’s Box of stereotyping. With so much material to mine, from the world of professional wrestling to the real life actresses’ own stories of offensive casting and other Hollywood horrors, it’d be to GLOW‘s detriment if it doesn’t hold Hollywood down in a headlock in Season 2.

It’s official: The Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o film is now real!

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Who knew Twitter would turn into the next Hollywood casting office! It’s amazing that this tweet about the two stars at a 2014 Miu Miu fashion show:

launched this result:

According to Entertainment Weekly:

After a dramatic negotiation session at the Cannes Film Festival, Netflix has nabbed a film project pairing Grammy winner Rihanna with Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, in a concept that began as a Twitter sensation. Ava DuVernay (Selma) will direct, and Issa Rae (Insecure) is writing the screenplay.

According to sources, Netflix landed the project in a very aggressive bid, beating out multiple other suitors.

The film will go into production in 2018 after DuVernay finishes her latest project. I, for one, is excited for this film and I can’t wait to see it when it comes to Netflix. Twitter–particularly #BlackTwitter, which started the whole movie talk–is excited, too:

Twitter users have also continued the casting train by providing Ava DuVernay tons of suggestions:

As Shadow and Act brought up, the big question is whether the person whose tweet originated this idea will get paid. “This could be one of those precedent-setting situations,” wrote Shadow and Act’s Tambay Obenson. If there is payment on the way, that means that the floodgates have opened for tons of films coming from Twitter, with tons of creators getting some steep royalty checks.

What do you think about this film? Give your opinions in the comments section below!