Han Dago and the Millennium Falconi: “Star Wars The Force Awakens” and cultural diversity

A day or so after seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a friend who had just watched it messaged me the following: “Did you like Han Dago?”. It took me a moment to realise what she meant. Then I replied, “I hope he ends up flying the Millenium Falconi“.

Apologies to sensitive readers, but it’s a thing we do. In fact, it’s a thing many of us from non-Anglo backgrounds do. And we do it with gusto. We do it to claim our space. And my friend knows I’m a proud wog-boy (dago, for our North American  cousins), and knows I always appreciate non-Anglo casting, so she was keen to see what I thought of Oscar Isaac.

Now while I probably wouldn’t turn for Oscar (he’s no Don Hany – Google that fine Lebanese/French/Australian), I do love his work. The brilliant David Simon/HBO series “Show Me A Hero” and the film J C Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year” were both heavily fueled by his powerful performances. Even subtler turns, such as in “Ex Machina”, are a pleasure to watch. He’s an actor who’s hard to take your eyes off. And, hey, he’s a good Guatemalan boy with big eyebrows and a wonderful mix of machismo (it comes from the Spanish, after all) and openness. Why wouldn’t I love Han Dago?

My friend started a thought process which, I’m embarrassed to say, I hadn’t considered before: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not only the most culturally diverse movie of the “Star Wars” franchise, it’s quite possibly (outside of Fast and Furious 7 – which is brilliant, by the way) the most diverse major motion picture to come out of a major Hollywood studio in years. Here’s why that matters… Continue reading

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Cultural sensitivity and art – part one: Glenn Rhee and “The Walking Dead”

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If upon reading the title of this post you’re asking yourself, “Who the hell is Glenn Rhee?!”, then clearly you are neither a reader nor a watcher of “The Walking Dead” (henceforth TWD) comics (in which he is known only as Glenn – that’s important) and TV show. For the purpose of this post, however, my major point of reference will be the show.

To clarify, Glenn Rhee was (I’m assuming if you’re reading this you are aware of his fate) the only Asian major character represented in this long running and popular series (was the zombie plague particularly effective against the Asian community? Hmm…). Quite possibly there have been Asian zombies (I know, I know: walkers), but for the purpose of this blog, that doesn’t count.

Now, a confession: this post isn’t really about Glenn Rhee. Rather, it’s about Glenn Rhee, and my mixed feelings about Glenn specifically, and about the racial representation in books, film and television in general, using TWD as a example…mostly because I’m likely to get more reads if I just keep saying Walking Dead, Walking Dead, Walking Dead…

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Gender and reading…and while we’re at it, race, sexuality and the movies.

(WARNING: the following blog post contains an abundance of morally outraged italicisation)

Some time ago I made a decision related to my reading habits: I decided to rotate books based on the author’s gender (fiction and nonfiction, and including comics) – and, just to clarify, in no way restricted by biological birth.

My ‘why’ is quite simple: I am a card-carrying, unapologetic Affirmative Action acolyte. That is, I absolutely believe the only way to address in-balance across almost any field is through the adoption of quotas to ensure parity of representation and a fairer society.

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