Women of Crazy Rich Asians

One of the most profound things about Crazy Rich Asians is how it shows Asian and Asian-American people simply living. It sounds basic, but when you consider Hollywood history, much of which erases Asian characters and Asian culture altogether, you know that this is major.  As nearly every advertisement has read: “it’s not a movie; it’s a movement.” But beyond its breezy, romantic, and genuine laugh-out-loud moments, it also shows the power of single women — particularly single women of color. And even more significantly, it highlights the grace, strength, and sheer self-efficacy that embolden so many single mothers and their daughters.

Spoilers for Crazy Rich Asians lie ahead.

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The Purge TV Show Characters

If there’s one thing The Purge movies have taught us, it’s that there’s no telling how someone will react when presented with criminal impunity. Throughout the films, we’ve seen everyone from the poor to the rich, the white to the black, grapple with the spaces they occupy in a capitalist and white supremacist society, and how that motivates them on the night of the Purge — when all crime, especially murder, is completely legal. But while the films have raised questions of morality in a lawless state, they don’t delve into each character’s story and the personal conflicts they’ve faced throughout this intentionally established dystopia.

That’s where the new TV adaptation comes in.

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I’m not one to champion a whole bunch of sequels, prequels, and spinoffs, but let me tell you something — when it was announced that there was going to be a TV adaptation of The Purge, I perked right up. I’m a fan of the film franchise — and its unflinching indictment of our real-life dystopia highlighting our history of violence and rage — and I was interested to see how creator James DeMonaco and producer Jason Blum would expand the story in an episodic format. After visiting their New Orleans set back in June, I can say that at this point I am truly invested.

Premiering September 4 on USA, The Purge will be a 10-episode series that follows several characters as they struggle to survive on the one night of the year when all crime — including murder — is completely legal. As the night wears on, each character is forced to reckon with their past and their own self-motivations as they determine just how far they’ll go to confront the horror around them.

The series, which revolves around the Purge’s standard 12-hour period, is written and executive produced by showrunner Thomas Kelly. Here’s everything we now know from the set visit.

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(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: Spike Lee’s latest movie is his first to cater directly to white audiences and that’s something worth talking about.)

At first glance, BlacKkKlansman checks all of director Spike Lee’s typical boxes — it’s black, unapologetic, and confrontational. It’s distinctly told from the point of view of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first black male police officer-turned-detective in Colorado Springs in the 1970s. That description alone is loaded with conflict, and Lee doesn’t shy away from any of it.

But the crux of the film tells an even more poignant story about this real-life hero, who boldly decides to go undercover in the Ku Klux Klan — with the help of his white Jewish colleague (Adam Driver) as his physical proxy while he infiltrates the hate group behind the scenes and through covert phone calls. It’s a radical plan and a subsequently radical film that succeeds in illuminating, through a common ground of oppression embodied by these two very different men, the true function of the KKK: absolute power and hatred of everyone who is not a white Protestant man.

But it’s the very thing that makes BlacKkKlansman as compelling as much as it is extremely palatable.

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sorry to bother you spoilers

It’s easy to get swept up into the sheer WTF-ness of Sorry to Bother You. A black male telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) becomes a white man over the phone in order to accelerate his professional success, subsequently gets swallowed up into the system, and tries to fight the power only after he becomes the mutant creature “the man” has always seen him as. It’s a lot to wrap your head around. But for many black people, this metaphorically captures the struggles that so many face on a day-to-day basis in Corporate America. 

(The rest of this post contains spoilers for Sorry to Bother You.)

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buffy the vampire slayer revival

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: it’s time that talent of color get their own narratives, not white hand-me-downs.)

I don’t know why Hollywood continues to ignore us (AKA people of color) whenever we throw free ideas up into the air about great original narratives centering on minority characters that can easily be adapted for TV or film. They know these stories exist. They know they already have built-in audiences. Still, they choose to not even consider it. They’d rather take an already existing white film or TV show and remake it with minority actors in roles immortalized by white talent — like they’re planning to do with the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, which will star a black actress in the title role.

This is not okay.

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(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

There has always been a strange appeal to Heath Ledger’s The Joker in The Dark Knight, a playful yet formidable villain capable of making you laugh uncomfortably just as easily as he could throw you off a roof and skip away without so much of a second glance. It’s a fascination propelled by the fact that he not only walks around in a wrinkled purple suit and a face caked with melted clown makeup, but he has a long jagged red scar where his smile is supposed to be. Because as absurd as his maquillage and attire are, The Joker’s scars hide something far more sinister and tell a story about him that, until The Dark Knight, we hadn’t heard before.

But The Joker doesn’t simply recall a haunting tale from his past to appease his curious victims. Rather, he captivates them with the comforting sense that his maniacal behavior is not ungrounded — right before he turns that on its head in the most brutal way.

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Evolution of The Purge

The greatest trick The Purge (2013) ever pulled was convincing us at first that it is your run-of-the-mill home invasion thriller, directing us to think that the protagonists are the typical wealthy white family in the suburbs and the villains are the hoodlums in the streets who’ve waited all year to terrorize them without consequences. Sure, there is a moment early in the film which establishes that the Sandin family — led by mom Mary (Lena Headey) and dad James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) — may not be the most liked in the neighborhood, but we’re generally still supposed to root for them. Especially when on the night of the annual Purge, when all crime is legal for 12 hours, they intentionally choose not to participate.

But as the movie progresses, we learn that things are not so black and white — at least not when it comes to the morality of our protagonists versus that of the street thugs. Because the annual Purge — a law established by the nation’s political New Founding Fathers (NFFA) in efforts to dissolve crime by murdering the poor and weak and elevating the rich, privileged, and usually white — has allowed the affluent Sandins the choice to simply lock up their home with the most expensive security system around and remain oblivious to the terror outside. As James even says early in the film, if their family was still poor, they’d definitely participate “because it does work.”

That’s what’s so great about The Purge; it challenges our perceptions of right and wrong and how that’s impacted by a broken yet highly functional society — one not unlike our own.

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Breaking In Review

It was just last summer when Halle Berry’s Karla Dyson took matters into her own hands when she jumped into her minivan and chased down a pair of villains who abducted her son in Kidnap. That marked the first time in far too long that we saw a woman of color — and “of a certain age” — centralized as a badass hero and a mom on the big screen. She was no longer merely the sidekick or the villain the main character (usually a white actress) knocks off within the film’s first 30 minutes. She was the star.

I felt a similar sense of progress while watching Breaking In, the new thriller starring Gabrielle Union. In it, she plays a mother who stops at nothing to fight off armed criminals (Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Levi Meaden, and Mark Furze) who break into her home and threaten her and her children.

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The Strangers: Prey at Night Review

The merit of most sequels is hard to evaluate without bringing up their predecessors — especially when it’s The Strangers. The 2008 horror film written and directed by Bryan Bertino that had all the makings of a rudimentary home invasion thriller ended up being a statement on the weaponization of idle behavior among seemingly innocuous young adults. It remains brutal, unsettling, and remarkably relevant.

So director Johannes RobertsThe Strangers: Prey at Night has big shoes to fill. But that’s okay, because it doesn’t ever really seem concerned with besting the original film. Instead, it moves with the confidence of an entirely separate narrative, one that just so happens to not only pay homage to the 2008 film, but also successfully present its message to a 2018 audience.

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