Diversity Aboveground: Hopeful for 2016!
While February is half over and it has been a difficult couple of months of deaths and facepalm moments, 2016 is still looking promising. There are 10 more months of new voices, new thoughts and new media to consume. Here are some highlights about what’s to come:
In July, the reboot of the classic 1980s’ film will open. The cast has been gender bent so that the crew are all females (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon) while their secretary is Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). This would be amazing by itself but the director, Paul Feig, has been extremely supportive of the female fans on Twitter including providing better quality photos of the costumes and equipment for cosplay purposes. In a recent Tweet, he also revealed that tie-in merchandise would include action figures of all four female heroes…unlike Disney who can’t seem to handle having action figures for more than two females at a time.
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) January 8, 2016
HBO is expected to start airing episodes of Insecure this year. The series was created by Issa Rae who also created the web series, Awkward Black Girl. However, HBO first contracted Rae for Insecure in 2013. Part of the problem was that HBO had no interest in letting her hire the writers she wanted. HBO wanted writers with “experience” and since the majority of paid writers are Caucasian, you can guess what that meant. How can a writer gain experience if no one will hire them because they don’t have experience? This is yet another facet of Hollywood’s racism problem. Still, Rae has persisted. Those that she wasn’t able to hire for the show, she helps through her production company, Issa Rae Productions. There is also a digital domain, Color Creative, which is partnered with Project Greenlight to increase diversity in film-making.
Rae said last year that, ‘‘I don’t ever want it to be just me, ever. That is the worst feeling, to be alone, because then all the pressure is on you. People expect you to be the voice of everyone.’’
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
The first book in the series, The Sword of Summer, is still selling well enough to be #3 on the New York Times bestseller list for Middle Grade Hardcovers four months after its release. This previous book dealt with homelessness among teens, discrimination against Muslims and when parents disown their children for not turning out how they wanted. The title character signs to communicate with one of his protectors who’s deaf. Two characters were implied to be gay and will hopefully be confirmed in this next book. Riordan’s first book series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians, contained a supporting character that was confirmed in the last couple of novels to be homosexual. Book Two is due out in October 2016.
Molly Danger by Jamal Igle
New adventures of Molly Danger are expected to arrive in July. Danger may look like a ten year old girl due to her alien physiology but she’s incredibly strong, brave and old enough that she could have seen the Beatles in concert. It walks that fine line of being complex enough to keep adults interested but also innocent enough that children can enjoy it, too. Once again, Igle is proof that Kickstarter is helping more diverse voices be heard. Igle is also a producer on a current Kickstarter project, Black, by Kwanza Osajyefo. It’s based on the premise, “In a world that already fears and hates them – what if only Black people had superpowers?”
Last month, Gina Rodriguez started Tweeting about Movement Mondays. “With all this Oscar Talk and lack of diversity I decided to start a movement and speak from the perspective of a Latina American who desires to see more Latinos on screen…My solution is this, support is needed. Right now there isn’t one Latino that can Greenlight a movie. That means no studio will put their money behind a Latino face as a lead of a movie because they don’t believe we can make their money back. I am told time and time again “Latinos dont watch Latino Movies. Latinos don’t support each other” and sadly that is true. I’m not saying go and see a movie you don’t like to blind support, im saying if you want to see us represented on film and tv, if you want to see Latinos nominated for Oscars, we NEED to support one another. The industry sees money, the excuse can’t be racism. We can make a difference in a very powerful way if we unite our support as one Latino community…Each Monday I will highlight a latino actor we can support,” she explained on Twitter. Since then, she has picked those behind the cameras as well, such as director Robert Rodriguez. The star of Jane the Virgin was also asked about other cultures, like “wish more people would advocate for Asians as well.”
Do it! You have that power. You own that right. Do it! Your movement Monday can be for whom you want to champion! https://t.co/vGdEe2mJJU
— Gina Rodriguez (@HereIsGina) January 27, 2016
This actually makes Movement Mondays so much more powerful because it’s not just about Latinos. It’s about all minorities that the large film studios ignore and embracing the power within us all to make everyone be seen.
CBS ordered a pilot for a series based off Nancy Drew. The teenage super sleuth will all grown-up, “in her 30s”!, and working for the NYPD like all spunky women do on television when the FBI won’t take them. However, there is a really exciting part about all of this. CBS president Glenn Geller described casting Drew as “I’d be open to any ethnicity. … We’re not casting color-blind, we’re casting color-conscious. It’s not ‘the best actor wins,’ it’s the right roles for diversity. … It really is about being conscious of what America looks like. It is always going to change, it’s going to evolve, and we’re aware of that, which is why we’re making efforts every year to get more diverse.” He further clarified that while “open to any ehtnicity”, she wouldn’t be Caucasian. CBS is the same network that made made Sherlock Holmes’ companion John Watson into a Joan Watson, a woman of Asian descent.
Image Comics hasn’t released a date when Sunset Park will be released but it’s expected to happen this year. Ronald Wimberly uses the widely known vampire legends to introduce readers to a monster that can be harder to understand and more insidious: gentrification. A Brooklyn neighborhood is turned from a historic land of slums and bars into hipster haven of Starbucks and expensive lofts. Is it improving a disadvantaged area or another form of Blockbusting and Steering? Another intriguing aspect is that the comic will incorporate mixed media, using photographs, diaries and found objects in addition to the usual pencil and ink drawings usually contained in Image issues.
We are X
This documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month and will open in Japan in March. Unfortunately, no further release dates have been issued. It chronicles the rock band, X Japan. While virtually unknown in the United States, the band is one of Japan’s most successful rock bands. The film has been criticized for not delving deep enough into the band member’s psyche but the film is mindful of the Japanese importance of privacy. However, that could seem at odds with a band that resembles a melding of 80s hair bands with ’90s metal bands. This is actually a form of Visual Kei; a Japanese fashion style where musicians where long hair, make-up and often make themselves up to look androgynous.
Did you see Deadpool this past weekend?
Have you read Omega Underground‘s article about whether he might have a boyfriend in the sequel and who that might be?
Next column, Vixen is making the jump to live action on Arrow!