Go One Step Above #NoConfederate and Cancel HBO

Why using a hashtag to “boycott” or raise awareness to HBO’s Confederate is ultimately ineffective without greater action.

When I heard that Game of Thrones showrunners (and hacks) David Benioff and Dan Weiss were thinking about doing a new series for HBO centered on slavery never ending, I just shook my head. So far the title of the show is Confederate… And I remain unsurprised and eternally chagrined. In other words, nothing’s changed as far as I’m concerned.

I guess I’m more surprised that people–especially those who make it their business to hashtag the fuck out of every outrage–are surprised. I mean, it’s them. Benioff and Weiss have figuratively shown their asses when it comes to non-white characters and women, but their intentional erasure of canon black characters like Chataya and Alayaya–two sex workers central to Tyrion’s storyline–at least four seasons ago was the canary in the mineshaft.

And even then they did nothing. I did nothing. Like them, I complained and gnashed my teeth when I learned Weiss and Benioff had substituted Chataya and Alayaya for a minor character named Ros (played by Esme Bianco). Ros is a white woman and sex worker, also. This time, however, the jig is up.

People are fucking tired of all of the “Isms” and phobias that they have to encounter on a daily basis as they just try to exist. Another show about the brutalization of marginalized people? Miss me with that. That in and of itself doesn’t require this much fucking outrage, however. Where the outrage stems from is because it’s Benioff and Weiss, and they are unworthy of a project such as Confederate. They lack the ability and the aptitude to tell the story well, if at all.

I’ve seen supporters of the show reference Amazon Prime’s The Man in the High Castle. That show is an entirely different animal–and it has its own issues. It doesn’t hurt that it’s based on an actual novel by Philip K. Dick. What is Confederate based on, aside from the showrunners’ perverse fascination with black brutalization for the benefit of racialized capitalism? And why should anyone of color trust these two when they’re utterly untrustworthy in regards to sincere storytelling?

We don’t need another show to add to the narrative about black people getting fucked up. We can see that shit weekly on CNN or Facebook Live. Viewers are supposed to abide by this ridiculousness quietly and without comment? Give me a break. I hope that whichever path critics of the show choose to take that Confederate dies in its most nascent stage, well before it has a chance to terrorize anyone’s psyche.

That said, I find the hashtag activism surrounding this entire spectacle to be naive and perturbing. All of the people involved in the creation of #NoConfederate are respected, experienced writers, bloggers, etc. They aren’t new to the game of entertainment and media. They’re also pretty smart, so the level of naivete on display with the creation of #NoConfederate is baffling. Why? Because it’s ineffective. If I were HBO, I’d laugh. Here’s why…

Just think about it. What message does it send to HBO, Weiss, and Benioff if you still watch Game of Thrones, the show that allowed them to even bring Confederate to the table? Simply not watching it won’t be enough. They’ll still get paid because of subscriptions… At least for a time. If we are this upset and want effective action, don’t watch Game of Thrones tonight, certainly don’t live-tweet it, and cancel your HBO subscription. Email whoever is in charge of programming or inundate their assistant with calls. Leave messages, too. If you choose to cancel HBO, be sure to let the representative taking your call that it’s because of Confederate. That’s hitting them where it hurts: In their coffers. FOX News and Bill O’Reilly can attest to that. The free publicity that Confederate has gotten as result of this entire hashtag, and the surrounding discussion, is just an added bonus.

I’m not saying it can’t possibly work. Watching Game of Thrones tonight while only using #NoConfederate could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I just don’t think it’s as effective as letting HBO, and any other network that would follow suit, that if they don’t come correct, they don’t get our hard earned coins.

Either way, I hope Weiss and Benioff’s latest project bombs… That’s the goal and only thing that matters.…

How Celebrity Black Weirdos Changed My Life

These black weirdos taught me that gender roles can be broken, your clothes don’t dictate your sexuality, and that eccentricity is just fine.

Growing up black in some cities and towns is harder for some of us than it is for others. Especially if you’re one of the many black weirdos who feel misunderstood or alienated.

Some will have you believe that it’s not the case, but come on, that’s bullshit. I was one of those otaku kids who, despite desperate attempts to fit in, failed, and then felt worse because I knew I wasn’t showing myself for who I really was. Some will have you believe it’s because we’re all assholes and the people who didn’t understand us were projecting whatever vibes we were giving off, but that’s not always the case. It happens, but that wasn’t the case with me. I was too quiet and reserved for anyone to think I was an asshole. Being a foreigner probably didn’t help either. I mean, being a weird, eccentric, and/or geeky kid is tough no matter who you are or your race. But, some areas were just harder than others for kids of color. Seattle (or Skyway in Renton, Washington to be more specific) was a crucible.

Luckily, as the Nineties got fully underway, diversity seemed to be everywhere in media and pop culture. And I no longer had to lay all my hopes on Slash (Guns N’ Roses) rock the fuck out for little girls like me and the culture. Thanks to BET’s Rap City and Yo! MTV Raps devotion to creating spaces for black kids and teens to see artists like themselves; artists they could relate to, and my family’s affinity for Soul/Funk, Old School Country, and House/Techno music, didn’t hurt either.

So, it was through artists like Grace Jones, Missy Elliott, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Busta Rhymes, Lil’ Kim, and other celebrity black weirdos that I came to see that, while they weren’t super common, it was okay to be weird as fuck, even if it puzzles others.

While I think I was naturally inclined towards creative pursuits from the beginning, seeing these different entertainers bend gender, social, and sexuality norms to convey their message was vital, especially growing up in a strict household. Watching the latest Missy video was an event that inspired me for years to come. Yeah, I wanted to wear the latest fashions like anybody else, but there was part of me that knew the minute I could go where nobody knew my name that I would go on to express myself in more avant-garde ways.

This doesn’t make me a special snowflake. There are many others just like me. What it does make me is sympathetic and open to others who express themselves outside of what society expects of them. Take Young Thug, for example. His fashion sense has been relatively unorthodox for a black man from the south who raps for a living. He’s not the first, mind you. Andre 3000 and Cee-Lo Green are just two southern rappers/lyricists that come to mind. However, Thugger’s doing this in the 21st century, not the 90s where all of us were a little more on the hippier side of things. In some ways, hypermasculinity has become far more pervasive in the last decade or so, making Young Thug quite bold in his choice to don a gender neutral dress on the cover of his latest album,

Not everyone’s going to agree that Young Thug’s way of expressing himself is okay. I understand that. However, I can’t be mad at it considering it was artists like the aforementioned that showed me that things do and will get better; that somewhere it will be okay for me to wear or like certain things freely without having to answer to my family or anyone else around me. And that maybe, just maybe, I’ll find others just like me.

Geeky rap lyrics, female emcees donning huge plastic outfits blown up to epic proportions, Lil’ Kim being a carefree black fashionista, and the intersection of comics, wrestling, and other pop culture staples that provided me an escape when conformity was beating down on me. They still provide an escape for me to this very day, unfortunately for more depressing reasons lately.

Rock on, Thugger, and rep for all the young black weirdos who are on the fringe and feel like they won’t ever be able to express themselves freely. I ain’t mad at ya.…

Book Review: Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Anna Waterhouse

Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft Holmes goes on one hell of an adventure in the Caribbean in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s first novel.

Mycroft Holmes just doesn’t get enough credit. Everyone talks about Sherlock because he’s the most well-known (and the most popular) but Mycroft is every bit as capable as his infamous little brother, if not more so.

Last year, Titan Books sent me Mycroft Holmes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s first novel chronicling the adventures of Mycroft and his Trinidadian friend Cyrus Douglas in the West Indies. Children are turning up dead and there are mysterious backwards-facing footprints in the sand indicating that there may be something supernatural afoot. Mycroft is personally affected by these phenomena because his fiancee Georgiana and Cyrus both have interests and people they care about on the island. Unfortunately, Mycroft must intervene to not only help Cyrus, but to find Georgiana who has left for Trinidad.

What follows is the stuff of many a swashbuckling tale. There are bad guys everywhere, sniveling and conniving villains, betrayal, murder, and assorted intrigues. What makes the stakes even in higher in Mycroft Holmes is the fact that the underlying issue–the driving forced behind the brutality–is slavery and racism. Jabbar and Waterhouse deal with

Jabbar and Waterhouse address the racism of the time bluntly and matter-of-factly. Even in a country as advanced (compared to the United States) as England when it came to race relations, Cyrus and Mycroft have to appear to abide by the racist rules of the day in order to assimilate into society. We learn much about what Mycroft thinks about this which can be slightly distracting as it almost seems like Jabbar and Waterhouse were trying to say not all white Victorians are racist.

While the beginning of the book begins with a terrifying look at what’s going on in the island, the pace does slow back down for the first chapter or two. Because of this, I ended up putting Mycroft Holmes in my backlog of books for a bit while I turned my attention to other books. I am awfully glad that I picked it up again because the intrigue did not stop in subsequent chapters culminating in one hell of an ending.

If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes books then I think you will be pleased by Mycroft Holmes, especially considering his relationship with Cyrus is eerily similar to Dr. Watson and Sherlock’s. Just don’t expect Mycroft’s more famous sibling to make more than a cameo or two.…

New Totally Kickass LOGAN Red Band Trailer 2

Here is the brand new red band trailer #2 for Logan from 20th Century Fox after the jump.

20th Century Fox has dropped the new red band trailer for Logan and it is totally glorious. It rumored that Hugh Jackman took a pay cut to get Logan a R rating. Wondering if 20th Century Fox was not sure if a R rated Wolverine would do well so they wanted him to take a pay cut.

I really can not believe 20th Century Fox did not have faith in us Wolverine stands and our love for the character. This new trailer is absolutely amazing and again with the music is sure to bring out all the feels for long time fans. I need Wolverine 3 to succeed because we need more R rated super hero movies because this is what it would really be like especially with brutal characters like Wolverine.

20th Century is gonna have a box office hit and maybe they will get stuff right with future movies. Logan is the last hoorah for Hugh Jackman and he looks to be going out with a bang. Will that mean the death of Logan and Charles Xavier? I am really hoping not because I do not know if I can handle that.

There will probably a lot of grown ass men crying in theaters if they see the death of Logan. Charles not so much, but would still hit the feels. Not sure yet if we will see a major plot point from the Old Man Logan story line of the comics. Would be very cool and horrific at the same time. It would set up the movie though. 20th Century could do it in a flash back to show why Logan is hiding out and we hear Charles ask “Logan, what did you do?” and Wolverine saying “Charles, the world is not the same as it was, mutants, they’re gone now”. Logan hits theaters March 3rd. It is directed by James Mangold and stars Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant and Dafne Keen.

Plot Synopsis: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hideout on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.…

Here’s Your SUPER Unbiased Review of Marvel’s IRON FIST

You’ve no doubt read about Marvel’s Iron Fist via overlong think pieces and rants. Now, read the only unbiased review you’ll ever need.

Oh, Danny Rand… The controversy surrounding Marvel’s Iron Fist (now playing on Netflix) has brought more attention to the character in the past year than at any other point in Danny’s decades-long existence. Unfortunately, Iron Fist is an example of how bad publicity is not necessarily a good thing.

Unlike others, I actually waited to watch all 13 episodes of Iron Fist before making up my mind. I’m familiar with the drama surrounding the casting of Finn Jones (Game of Thrones) instead of an actor of Asian-descent. I also understand where critics were coming from in that an Asian Danny Rand would have rectified the source material’s played out racial tropes. I don’t agree with how these issues came to the forefront. And to be totally honest, the critics’ reasonings were incoherent and spurious.

Wai Ching Ho as Madame Gao in Iron Fist 2017

So, let me address that first and then we can proceed with the review.
Lewis Tan would have been an excellent Iron Fist had martial arts prowess been the only prerequisite. Tan played one of the final bosses Danny had to beat. There is more to the role than just fighting, though. Danny Rand is a sad, haunted human being. While Finn’s acting is somewhat inconsistent, he can still act. Tan was good, but there’s something about him that doesn’t convey the level of naivete and gullibility required of Danny in season one. He would have made a much stronger villain. Hell, he’d be a more worthwhile opponent than The Meachums.

Could they have done more with his Drunken Master character? You bet your ass they could have. And for not doing so the writers and creators played themselves. Tan was so captivating while on screen. Unfortunately, the way he went about bringing attention to the lack of Asian representation in media was messy as fuck. Everybody knows that Hollywood doesn’t like messy. If you don’t have the prestige in that town to back up that mouth, you’re as good as relegated to Sharknado movies.

Finn Jones, Jessica Stroup, and Tom Pelphrey in Iron ‘Fist

The critiques were often whiny, based on stereotypical media tropes, mean-spirited, and hypocritical. In some critics’ quest to take down Iron Fist for being White (as he was in the source material), they unwittingly showed their own glaring hypocrisy. I don’t want to be that minority telling another minority how they should be represented in media.

For example, AMC’s Into the Badlands is a whitewashed television adaptation based on a 16th-century Chinese novel called Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. Yet the cast features several non-Asian actors in main roles. This was not an issue for many of the same critics who came down on Iron Fist for less. Why was one accepted and the other derided?

Any further analysis of the critiques will be discussed at length in our next episode of The PettyCast. Still, the critiques left a very sour taste in my mouth. Iron Fist had a subtle anti-capitalist undertone in the first season. In focusing on why Marvel did not rectify an issue the way they saw fit, critics missed an important message.

That’s not to say that critiques of the writing in the show weren’t valid. There were glaring rookie mistakes all up and down the plot. One of the more incredulous mistakes came at the very beginning of episode one. A very disheveled Danny walks into the Rand building like he was only in the Hamptons for 15 years. Everyone is supposed to remember him despite his being “dead” for over a decade? Instead of keeping things fast-paced, the plot slows to a crawl for the first two episodes in order to establish Danny’s identity.

Colleen Wing kicks ass in a fight club

Jones was endearing as Danny Rand. Let’s be clear on that. That’s one kid I’d go grab a beer with. It was harder for him to convey the rage necessary to make Danny truly fearsome. If anything, the finale had him and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) looking like amateurs. Whereas Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Matt Murdock (Fine ass Charlie Cox) both strengthened their resolve to become crimefighters, Danny ends up losing credibility as the Iron Fist.

I hope that in teaming up with Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) for The Defenders this summer, Danny will find himself maturing fast. I also hope that he will own the mantle of the Iron Fist with confidence. I’m also hoping that Danny’s fighting skills will become consistently badass. Finn is just a tad too slow in his movements, but he’s not the only one. Some of Jessica Henwick’s fight scenes were a bit clumsy as well. She was more consistent in her ability to execute the fight sequences convincingly, though.

The first four episodes will test your patience because they’re crushed under the weight of too much exposition. At one point, we’re shown a flashback of Danny’s childhood that was more confusing than enlightening. I understand why the showrunners included a flashback summarizing the crux of Danny’s relationship with another character. The execution was piss poor.

I need more darkness from Danny Rand. This means that the director has to pull a certain degree of melancholy and weariness out of Jones for Iron Fist season 2 and The Defenders, Fist will need to be a hardened and mature warrior to win the hearts and minds of some critics.

As for villains, David Wenham’s Harold Meachum didn’t come as hard as the other villains in the Netflix Marvel universe. He was sadistic, intimidating, and wicked… I’ll give him that. If we compare him to Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali), he falls short of attaining such prestige. This isn’t for lack of trying by Wenham. I actually loved how malevolent Harold was. The writers couldn’t bring the best out of an actor as capable as Wenham, unfortunately.

Joy Meachum and Danny Rand – Iron Fist Season 1

The writers did not fuck up on the character of Ward Meachum, though. Tom Pelphrey was deliciously wicked as the money-grubbing capitalist and emotionally abused son of Harold. In the beginning, I hated his guts and prayed that Danny would whoop his ass. The stages then went from utter contempt to sympathy, to somewhat liking him, to hating his guts, and ultimately hoping that he gets a second chance… You’ll have to watch to see if he does.

There were a few scenes where Pelphrey stole the show. My favorite is a scene where his character hits rock bottom. Pelphrey really dug deep as an actor to nail the anguish and desperation eating away at Ward’s will to live. Pelphrey is definitely one of the actors to watch in Iron Fist, as are Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple).

Claire was the only voice of reason, and her frustration with Danny and Colleen echoed mine often. Dawson’s character has also come a long way from living an average life to kicking it with superheroes and saving their lives. Rosario also got her fight on, so don’t fuck with the Night Nurse, guys.

I would be remiss if I didn’t big up Ramon Rodriguez (Bakuto) and Wai Ching Ho (Madame Gao). I would have loved to have seen the two of them spend more time shading each other, each barb more venomous than the next. Rodriguez was chilling and calculating as Bakuto, Colleen’s vulpine sensei and benefactor. And if you were impressed with Gao before, you’ll be delighted with her in Iron Fist. Trust me.

Contrary to what the critics would have us believe, there were some scenes that kicked a ton of ass. One of my favorites goes down in an elevator. The red emergency light tinting everything a bloody, bold red. It is one of the far too few times where Danny looks like he’s ready, willing, and more than able to kick ass.

All that said, Iron Fist is still a worthy entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe… It just needs to hit harder.…