I’ve seen the Solo: A Star Wars Story teaser trailer, and let’s just be honest: the film should be Lando’s. Just look at the one still that has got the interwebs talking:
If one image–ONE IMAGE–can get people excited, and that image isn’t featuring Han Solo, then either you have a big problem–your lead character doesn’t really have a fantastic backstory or it isn’t being approached in an innovative, exciting way–or your lead character is someone else in the story instead of the character who is actually cast as “the lead.” For instance, Harry Potter is the lead in his story, but the true lead is actually Hermione Granger, since she’s the actual brains behind the group.
Just from the one look at Donald Glover in that huge fur pimp coat, and you immediately get Lando’s story. Right away, you want to know everything about this guy, the story behind that coat, and what makes him tick. Meanwhile, I’m already bored with Alden Ehrenreich as Han, and Han is actually a very fun character who should have a very thrilling backstory. Why does his story look so boring? So standard?
One quick thing to say is “It’s because he’s a white guy and movies are moving away from white guys.” That’s a trite way of describing today’s shift from all white all the time to diversity and inclusion. But I actually don’t think diversity is all that’s making Han Solo’s story boring. It just looks like it’s going to be portrayed in the most pedantic way–he’s a rogue who’s stuck in jail who will probably bust out by pretending to want to be a part of the resistance. That’s my guess at what the story is, and I’ll be surprised if the film doesn’t start with Han in jail. In other words, we can already figure out what Han is about. What mystery is there left with Han?
Lando, on the other hand–we know next to nothing about him except that he lives in Cloud City, is the coolest MF in the galaxy, and has a plethora of fabulous capes and coats. Let’s hope we get a lot of Lando in this film, because otherwise, I might be bored silly.
As you’ve probably read before on this website, Solo: A Star Wars Story is not high on my list of must-see films, mostly because it seems like a film plagued with behind-the-scenes creative problems. But another reason it’s not high on my list is because it seems like a Star Wars retread in a lot of ways. Not only are we regressing to figure out what makes Han compelling (a fact that could be smeared by this film), but the film’s continues the annoying trend of white brunettes as leading women. It sounds like I’m singling out white women; I’m not. But you can’t deny that the only women of power in these films are brunettes. Like, enough already. Another Star Wars (and general film) trend that’s in Solo: A Star Wars Story is the use of women of color as exotic objects. Case in point: this golden woman.
Who is she and will we ever meet her again in a capacity that’s not in a fetishized context? Probably not.
What did you think of the teaser trailer? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
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There is a lot going on in this country right now. There are police battling protesters in St. Louis (the protests stemming from yet another cop not charged for killing a black man). There are protests for DACA and the protection of the Dreamers, people who were brought into America as children and have grown up under government protections that have now been taken away, putting them at risk for deportation to countries they have no familiarity with. Meanwhile, there are hate crimes happening almost every day, including that of a biracial boy who was lynched. Thankfully, he survived, but I’m sure his psyche has been scarred forever.
With all of that going on, what possible message could the Emmys have for those of us fighting for representation, when it seems everything and everyone else wants to literally and figuratively snuff us out?
Yeah, the Emmys didn’t win any points by having Sean Spicer as one of the main jokey appearances of the night. For many, it was a horrible moment of playing to the “normalizing Trump” deck. While Hillary Clinton is being shunned for speaking her mind on the election and answering the question many of us had–what happened??–Spicer, who has been willing to speak lies to power at the White House press pulpit and recently defended Trump on Jimmy Kimmel Live, now gets to go on the beginnings of a redemption tour, starting with being in Colbert’s opening Emmys act.
Sean Spicer's #Emmys cameo didn't go over well with the rest of Hollywood: https://t.co/veuFNC1HcC pic.twitter.com/gPgk95NRqL
— Brow Beat (@browbeat) September 18, 2017
The Emmys also didn’t deliver on reducing tone-deafness in other ways, such as Nicole Kidman’s ridiculously long (and seemingly rehearsed) acceptance speech, and Kidman’s later speech with Big Little Lies co-star Reese Witherspoon. As one Twitter user wrote, having two white Oscar winners complain about the lack of roles, when there’s a much more dire state concerning roles for everyone else, felt just a little bit gross.
It feels really gross to watch two Oscar winners complain about not getting offered great roles. #Emmys #BGNEmmys pic.twitter.com/uTRHhLiZMa
— Small Screen Girl (@KiraJW) September 18, 2017
But the most powerful takeaway from The Emmys last night was how amazing it was to see so many people who have been traditionally marginalized by Hollywood–and by society at large for their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, gender, and/or skin color–get recognized by the Hollywood elite. That recognition makes the Emmy board and Emmy voters pat themselves on the back for being “liberal,” but that feeling of recognition shouldn’t be for them. It’s for those winners and the people the winners represent.
The Night Of‘s Riz Ahmed, Master of None‘s Lena Waithe and Aziz Ansari, This is Us‘ Sterling K. Brown, Saturday Night Live‘s Kate McKinnon, Atlanta‘s Donald Glover, director Reed Morano for her work on the pilot episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, and Charlie Brooker for his script for the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror were all big moments highlighting the power of inclusive storytelling.
History was also made by Ahmed, who became the first male South Asian actor to win at the Emmys, and just the second Asian star period after Archie Panjabi. Ahmed is now also the first Muslim actor to win an Emmy. Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for writing in a comedy series and Brown became the first black actor to win the Outstanding Lead Actor-Drama award since 1998. Glover’s wins earned him the titles of being the first black actor to win the award for Outstanding Lead Actor-Comedy in 32 years and the first black Best Director-Comedy winner.
Waithe and Brown’s speeches in particular showcase just how powerful it is to be seen and validated for being exactly who you are.
“I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different, those are our superpowers — every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it,” said Waithe to her “LGBTQIA family.”
“And for everybody out there that showed so much love for this episode, thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the South Side of Chicago,” she continued. “We appreciate it more than you could ever know.”
“When people who have gone through anxiety said, ‘I haven’t seen this on TV. Thank you for representing it as well as you did, and making me not feel as if something is wrong with me,'” said Brown backstage to Entertainment Weekly, referencing the anxiety his character on This is Us faces daily. “You often have this feeling that it’s just me, and then you get a chance to see somebody else go through what it is that you go through, and then you feel like you’re not alone again. I’m always really, really proud of an opportunity to tell people that they’re not alone.”
Ahmed summed up the night perfectly in his backstage interview with BuzzFeed News.
“I think what we’re starting to see is more awareness around how beneficial it can be to tell a diverse range of stories and to tell them in a way that’s authentic,” he said, adding that he found Ben Skrein giving up his role in Hellboy 3 due to cultural sensitivity particularly moving. “When you see examples of that, what you’re seeing is just more awareness around these conversations. And I think awareness is the first step to reach change,” he said.
Emmy winner @rizahmed on the change he’s observed in Hollywood re: Asian representation #Emmys pic.twitter.com/LD3SZ12EGC
— Susan Cheng (@scheng_) September 18, 2017
So, when using the context of the Emmys, what does validation mean? It means being seen. “Being seen” is a phrase that gets overused on the internet, especially if you stay within certain circles on social media. But being seen is the best way to describe the feeling. Seeing people like Waithe, Brown, Ahmed, McKinnon, and Ansari getting rewarded for what they bring to the acting world–a certain point of view that reflects their uniqueness as individuals–can give viewers who aspire to be like them, but feel let down by today’s current society, hope. That hope can also be spurred into action.
Nights like the Emmys are chock full of the potential to be empowering, and despite a night full of hiccups, the Emmys still delivered on empowering moments in television. These Emmy winners showed that there is power in inclusion, because the fight isn’t about metrics or taking acting roles away–it’s about validation. It’s about someone saying that your story, your life, matters. It’s about a little kid (or, let’s face it, even a grown adult) gaining encouragement and self-esteem after seeing themselves on screen in the form of an actor winning an award. People want to act like such a simple act as that doesn’t matter, but most of the people who think that have seen themselves validated on screen and throughout society for their whole lives. Acts such as a marginalized person winning in a country that is designed specifically to target them can rewire a person’s entire trajectory for the better. These small moments are wholly important.
Hopefully, last night’s Emmys validated you in some way as well. We all have our stories to tell, and we all don’t feel qualified or allowed to tell them. We can feel as if our country doesn’t support us or love us. We can feel like our parents don’t understand us. We can feel like everyone and everything who is supposed to support us has failed us and refuses to understand our pain or our message. But we are now in an America where it is possible for actors of color and LGBGQIA actors to feel legitimate in telling their story, not a whitewashed version of it.
They can be who they are and be validated for that, and during these troubling times, that counts for something. It means that there’s still an appetite for connection. There are still people in this country who want to know about your experiences and care about how you see things. There are still many who would love to support you in spreading your story to the masses. In short, you have the permission to light the world on fire with your story as well; you can be an inspiration someone else looking for the message only you can give. As Waithe said in her speech, what makes you different is your superpower. Use it to change the world for the better.
For anyone w/ a dream, know how hard the great @LenaWaithe worked for hers. Congrats on your win, Lena. History has its eyes on you! #Emmys pic.twitter.com/dt6WC3waMr
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 18, 2017
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) September 18, 2017
Now go tell your story!
How did the Emmys positively affect you? What did you take away from it? Did you feel validated by any of the wins? Comment below. And, if you know someone who needs to hear a message of validation, let them know!
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Dear Hollywood: Make this Met Gala pic of Donald Glover, Riz Ahmed and Rami Malek into a blockbuster
The Met Gala has come and gone, and we’ve learned three things:
1. Rihanna is the Queen of the Met Gala
Rihanna won. Goodnight! #METGala pic.twitter.com/ZujhZRUIVu
— Affinity Magazine (@TheAffinityMag) May 2, 2017
2. Kylie Jenner doesn’t get out of bed unless she can copy a black woman
Well I mean… https://t.co/RZ3yghnspF
— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) May 2, 2017
3. Rami Malek, Riz Ahmed, and Donald Glover should star in a movie together. Any movie, whatever genre. Just make it, Hollywood.
Now I want to see a movie with Donald Glover, Riz Ahmed and Rami Malek. Make it happen, Hollywood! #MetGala pic.twitter.com/E8uIPBC9K5
— Denizcan James (@MrFilmkritik) May 2, 2017
Just look at these guys. I don’t even know if they’re friends in real life, but they’d look like they’d make great buddies. It’d be even better if they could showcase that friendship on celluloid (or, as it is nowadays, digital recording).
Picture it–a Girls Trip-esque film, but instead of having Queen Latifah and the gang go on an Essence weekend in New Orleans, it’s a Guys Trip, with Ahmed, Malek, and Glover going on a dude weekend in…anywhere other than Las Vegas, because that seems to be the cliche place for guys in a film to go. Let’s say they go to Miami, which is, technically also a cliche, but I used to live there and I like Miami, so there you go.
However, instead of the film being written like a typical “dudes on vacation” film, which usually involves a lot of ridiculous dude-bro behavior, the film would be written like…well, Girls Trip. From what I’ve seen of the trailer, it’s a film that is just as bawdy and sexual as any guys film, but instead, there’s the throughline of friendship and sisterhood. With the theoretical Guys Trip, the R-rated humor would be there, but there’s also tons of characterization and brotherhood there as well. It’d be awesome!
Also, we’d get to see Ahmed and Malek in comedic roles, something we haven’t seen from them in a long time, in the case of Malek (who has been in the Night at the Museum films), or ever, in the case of Ahmed (who hails from The Night Of and Rogue One).
If roadtrip comedy isn’t in the cards for these guys, then I’d certainly take a future in which Ramek joins Ahmed and Glover in the Star Wars universe.
The lesson to be learned from this picture is clearly that Rami Malek should play a character in Star Wars. #MetGala pic.twitter.com/GO83AHFh9g
— Carly Lane (@carlylane) May 2, 2017
What do you think of Guys Trip, and would you watch it? Or, what kind of film would you want to see starring this trio of handsome guys? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
Marvel has had a time with inclusiveness in their films. For most of their first two phases, they have failed at it, to be honest. The beginning of their third phase has gotten off to a rocky start with Doctor Strange. However, Marvel seems to be swiftly making up for their errors; first, we had Netflix’s Luke Cage (which has been greenlit for a second season, so hopefully we can get more #ShadyMariah action). We’ve also seen the amazing cast for 2018’s Black Panther. Now, we’ve got the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and boy does it look refreshing.
Let me count the ways in which Spider-Man: Homecoming might be the turning point for Marvel’s films.
1. It actually looks like the real world. Let’s face it; New York City doesn’t look like Sex and the City. I’d say Law and Order, New York: Undercover and Living Single are the closest things to what New York actually looks and feels like. It’s a high-class town, and it’s also one of the grimiest towns. It’s also full of people of color.
Spider-Man: Homecoming, unlike other Marvel films, actually portrays New York as the diverse melting pot it is. The film also goes one step further and imbues a freshness to the city. Maybe it’s because the film is also in a high school setting and the majority of the cast are young. But this version of New York matches the vibe of the city—fast-paced and full of life.
2. A black girl is the love interest. Laura Harrier’s Liz Allan is “the new top,” (which is what Peter calls her, I think), and I couldn’t be happier. Now, if I’m being honest, we can talk about colorism issues, since there’s no black or biracial girl who’s darker than a paper bag in this movie. But that doesn’t negate the fact that Harrier is the first black love interest in a Marvel movie. That’s both a legendary title (for Harrier) and a shameful one (for Marvel).
How Peter, who seems way out of her league, gets her as his girl is something I’m dying to figure out, because I’m not seeing how Liz would give Peter the time of day. And maybe Zendaya’s character (who is or isn’t Mary Jane) is the one Peter’s actually supposed to be with (a la Clueless). If that’s the case, I hope the racists are extra mad, since either way, Peter ends up with a non-white girlfriend.
3. Marvel finally showcases positive multicultural representation. Jacob Batalon’s character Ned Leeds is a Filipino-American actor hitting the scene in a big way, and what better way to kick off your Hollywood career than in a splashy Marvel movie. The film also showcases the talents of Kenneth Choi, Orange is the New Black‘s Selenis Leyva (shown in the trailer), Hannibal Burress, Garcelle Beauvais, Tony Revolori, Abraham Attah, Donald Glover and many, many others. This is the most diverse cast in Marvel Studios history, which is damning praise, but praise nonetheless.
4. It looks like the Spider-Man movie we’ve always been promised. When the original Spider-Man film starring Tobey Maguire came out, we were happy with it; it seemed cool and the comic book movie genre was still in its infancy. But now, after so many iterations of Spider-Man’s origin story, the film franchise was in danger of dying out just because we were all sick of seeing Uncle Ben die. Thankfully, Marvel had the sense to skip all of that drudgery this time around. Uncle Ben is already dead, Aunt May isn’t a grandma, and we’re following Peter (who actually looks like he should be in high school—sorry, Tobey) as he finds his place within the Avengers, aka The Grown Adults Club. Also, we get some extra Iron Man appearances for our trouble. The film is ready to immerse us in the rest of the stories Spider-Man has for us.
Check out the trailer below and write what you think in the comments section. Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theaters July 7, 2017.
If there’s one good thing that might come out of 2017 is that this just might be the best year for pop culture ever, particularly music. That is, if Bruno Mars and Donald Glover’s latest offerings are anything to predict by.
First, let’s talk about Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic. The album is short, but it’s jam-packed with late ’80s and early ’90s production value. One of my favorites is “Calling All My Lovelies,” which sounds one part ridiculous ’80s funky slow-jam and one part ridiculous skewering of the sensitive male ego. (Mars’ character’s dismay at once again being on the receiving end of Halle Berry’s voicemail is hilarious.)
The other fave, “Finesse,” is pure ’90s New Jack Swing. I’d been wishing songs could go back to this sound for years, and someone finally did it! Thank goodness it was Mars, who has shown a deft understanding what made party jams of the recent past so cool.
Rolling Stone Magazine called 24K Magic “a lush Nineties throwback,” with Christopher R. Weingarten writing:
“Mars wanted Magic to recreate the nostalgic wonder of the school dances he attended in he Ninetines–and his croweded productions, infectious attitude and soaring voice go well beyond ‘tribute’ into the realm of ‘IMAX reboot.'”
Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, is now taking listeners on a ride through the ’70s with his first offerings from his latest album, Awaken, My Love!, available Dec. 2. “Me and Your Mama” is great if you’re looking for some blaxploitation-esque funk, but “Redbone” really gets to the Bootsy Collins feel that I grew up listening to, thanks to my dad.
Glover also referenced memories of his childhood when talking about his new album to XXL Magazine:
“I remember listening to songs my dad would play–albums by the Isleys or Funkadelic–and not understanding the feeling I was feeling. I remember hearing a Funkadelic scream and being like, ‘Wow, that’s sexual and it’s scary.’ Not having a name for that, though; just having a feeling. That’s what made it great.”
Even Glover’s cover art evokes the same scariness and enigmatic mystery that surrounds the best of Funkadelic and Bootsy Collins’ cover art. Even though you’re repelled by the cover of Awaken, My Love!, you still want to know what’s inside the album. You want to know what has made this woman poke her head above the muck to grace us with her eerie smile.
(There’s also a reaffirming, apologetic blackness to the cover art as well, but you didn’t come here for an art treatise.)
To me, it makes sense that music would start harking back to another time and place, simply because music, as an escape, can take us back to times of our youth. With everything ranging from politics to the very state of the earth up in the air, it makes sense that millennials and Gen Xers want to go back to a time when everything seemed more stable and, frankly, a lot more fun. Right now, we all need an escape, and Mars and Glover are giving us the escape we need.
Now, if only Kid Sister would come out with another retro-’80s album, if Sharaya J would actually release her full-length album (WHEN WILL IT GET MADE?!), and if Monica, Missy Elliot, Remy Ma, and Lil Kim come out with stuff that evokes the ’90s and early ’00s, then we could really kick off 2017 on the musical good foot. For now, though, I’ll just keep Mars and Glover on and endless loop.
Who do you hope comes out of the woodwork and gives us the album we need to get through 2017? How are you liking Mars and Glover’s retro sounds? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
One of the coolest events is happening in Los Angeles tomorrow (Sat. Aug. 29) called the Blackout Music & Film Festival. The event, which will take place primarily at the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live, will feature tons of entertainment, but also a socially conscious message of awareness and activism.
I’ve been lagging on casting news! I’m sure there’s been more than this, but here’s what I’ve stashed up over the weeks.
Trailers, Promos and Posters: Jordan Davis and Nina Simone Documentaries, More "Magic Mike XXL" Posters, "Gotham" Sneak Peek
It’s Saturday, and it’s time for some promos, trailers, and posters!