Thursday, September 17, 2020

Why I'm Not Canceling Netflix

I watched the controversial movie Cuties so that you wouldn’t have to.

I went in prepared to tear this movie to shreds, and instead, discovered a beautiful, realistic tragedy that has been unfairly represented in the media. Here's my honest review of the "Cuties" movie:

I accepted Netflix’s challenge to watch the movie [before judging it], and I’m glad I did.  I concur entirely with Tessa Thompson’s opinion: it gutted me.  It’s a beautifully done movie about a sensitive topic.  It’s as tasteful as it can be, considering that the POINT is to make you, the viewer, squirm a little.  The discomfort of the movie speaks to a very real issue not often talked about: how girls grow into women, and how various influences (pop culture, traditional cultural expectations, and peer pressure) guide them.  My takeaway from the movie was that the single biggest problem with Amy’s coming-of-age was the utter lack of guidance.  It was the blind leading the blind; she took her cues from her friends, from online videos, from her own misinterpretation of the world around her.  At no point did her mother (or any other woman) in the movie sit her down and have a frank conversation with her.  She was unable to ask for questions or for advice.  She was isolated, and alone.

The beautiful tragedy of the controversy surrounding this movie is that, by boycotting it, by demanding that it be silenced, the cultural conversation it begs to have is being shut down.  Amy experienced what too many young girls do: a nosedive into an empty swimming pool, from childhood to womanhood, with the nuances of sexuality and maturity being closely guarded, shameful secrets that she is expected to figure out on her own.  The attempts to cancel the movie is, essentially, mirroring the very problem that the movie highlights: that by ignoring a problem or refusing to confront it, we allow it to grow worse.  Yet another case of life imitating art.

For more information about the #CancelNetflix controversy, as well as a play-by-play of my reactions while watching the film, check out my full article on the Cuties movies here.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Rest in Power, King: A Tribute to Chadwick Boseman

 [A/n: This post was written last weekend and supposed to be published on another site Wednesday, but as it is still not out and I feel this is timely, I am reproducing it here.]


"You are a good man with a good heart, and it is hard for a good man to be king." - T’Chaka to his son T’Challa, Black Panther, 2018.

When I saw Black Panther in 2018, I called it “one of the most important and relevant [superhero] films of our generation.”  In my opinion, that sentiment has only grown stronger.  Behind every great movie is a great actor to carry it, and Black Panther owes its success, in no small part, to Chadwick Boseman, who passed away last Friday from colon cancer, which he had been battling in private for four years.

In a statement to the press, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, described Boseman as a man who “radiated charisma and joy, and… created something truly indelible.”  Former President Barack Obama, quoted in People, said: “To be young, gifted, and Black; to use that power to give them heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain – what a use of his years.”  Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther, described Boseman as "a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith.".  (You can read his full, official statement here.)

"Always and Forever," by BossLogic

Chadwick Boseman starred in an incredible 15 film roles over the course of his career, seven of them following his cancer diagnosis in 2016.  In addition to starring in fictitious roles, he also took on the mantle of some of America’s influential Black citizens, from major-league baseball player Jackie Robison (42, 2008) to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (Marshall, 2017).  But perhaps one of his best-known and most-cherished roles was that of King T’challa, aka Black Panther.  The recurring role (Civil War, 2016; Black Panther, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War, 2018; Avengers: Endgame, 2019) left an impact on both the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as on the sociopolitical impact of superhero films as a whole.

With a box office at $1.347 billion, Black Panther was the first of the Marvel movies to win an Academy Award (Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design), as well as the first “superhero” film to get a nomination for Best Picture.  Its commercial success speaks to a deeper cultural impact.  The first Marvel movie to feature a predominantly Black cast, Black Panther offered a generation of Black children the superhero representation that had been lacking from the prior 17 MCU films.  It was a nuanced, emotionally impactful movie that did not shy away from racial topics but treated all of its characters (even the villains) with dignity and honor.  Boseman, as T’Challa, gave power and emotion to a performance that represented important political and social questions within the context of a fictional world, and in doing so, transcended the superhero genre into something more meaningful.  He brought depth and soul to his characters, and in turn, allowed his characters to speak to modern issues and real concerns about racial justice in modern America.

Boseman’s death, at the age of 43, came on August 28th, which is, fittingly enough, Jackie Robinson Day.

At the 2018 Howard University commencement speech, Boseman describes struggles in life as being “meant to shape you for your purpose,” and encouraged the graduating class to “press on with pride and press on with purpose.”  Remembered as curious,  kind, inspiring, and driven, Chadwick’s death leaves an absence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that cannot (and perhaps should not) be filled.  Yet his legacy remains.  With regality and gravitas, Boseman’s performances left an impact that will survive him for generations to come.  He gave audiences of all colors something to aspire to and embodied his role as the King of Wakanda with the bearing of true royalty.  Graceful, inspirational, and humble, Boseman was not merely a fictional hero, but a cultural one.  He famously said he’d “rather have an action figure than a Golden Globe.”

Chadwick Boseman is survived by his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, and his parents, Leroy and Carolyn Boseman.

His death has impacted countless fans.  To those fans, we offer this wisdom from King T’Challa himself: “In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.”

Yimbambe.  Wakanda Forever.


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Review of Season 2 of Umbrella Academy

 I've made it pretty clear that I absolutely love the Netflix show "Umbrella Academy."  I had my expectations for season two set very high; every promo picture and teaser-trailer that came out got me even more excited, because it looked really good.

I was warned by many friends to temper my enthusiasm lest the second season fall short and I end up disappointed.  The truth was, my expectations were so high that such a let-down seemed inevitable.

At midnight I was up with a bottle of wine, ready to watch the ten newest episodes when they dropped.  It was like New Year's Eve.  The energy was palpable; I probably hadn't felt such anticipation since Marvel's Civil War.

In case you are wondering how it turned out: expectations MET.  Expectations SURPASSED!  The second season was everything I had hoped for, and more.

And you can read my comprehensive review of it here. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

A Surjikcal Approach to Style: A Conversation with Umbrella Academy Director Stephen Surjik

 Earlier this month I scored a HELL of an interview with one of the directors of the Umbrella Academy, two weeks before the release of season 2.  I have been working on getting this interview completed and posted on a larger website to be enjoyed by more people, hence my absence from my own blog.

You can read the interview here.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Ties That Bind: An Unlicensed Umbrella Academy Prequel

Welcome to July!  If  you are a regular follower of my blog, then you might have noticed that I took the month of June off.  After two years of weekly content, I felt that I deserved it.  Also, while I'm certainly well-aware that this blog isn't the most populous corner of the web, I felt that June should be reserved to amplify and elevate voices who needed it.  The world could wait for my Last of Us II review (coming soon).

Rest assured I was not doing nothing.  I was working on a personal project that was a year in the making.  (It would have/should have/could have taken 3 months, but I took a break in the middle to have a baby and get a journalism degree.)

I finally finished it, just in time for the show's season 2 premiere.  The unlicensed prequel for "Umbrella Academy."


It's a full-length novel that is canon-compliant with both the books and the comics.  As far as fan fiction goes, it's probably the best thing I've ever written.

It starts slow, build to a crescendo, and employs heavy foreshadowing.  Early reviews by fellow fans have described it as being "zany and sad," "hilarious and depressing as hell," and my favorite, "exquisite suffering."