RACE CARD: Of Course They Think Black Panther is a FLUKE

Never Freezes lol

Now that Black Panther has cracked into the top 3 highest earning movies of all-time there are a couple things we have to consider. Firstly, based on the film’s success you’d think it would lead to an uptick into the development of material with a POC-audience in mind, right? Secondly, in the grand scheme of Marvel’s cinematic universe the center seems to have settled somewhere between Tom Holland’s Spiderman, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange. With that being said, is this next phase of Marvel going to be able to continue the success of the last decade or so?

Earlier this year I (along with the rest of The Nexcrew) hosted a Black Panther event at Dragon’s Lair in Austin. One of our big goals in planning the gig, was that we really wanted attendees to gain a genuine appreciation of who and what Black Panther is. I felt like the ‘preview’ of sorts fans got in Captain America: Civil War was solid, but didn’t do a whole lot to establish who T’Challa was. Thankfully, one of the biggest compliments we received about the event was how informative it turned out to be. People really enjoyed the history and cultural importance of the character.

Now during the success of the movie’s run in theaters (which is still going as of this post), a number of Hollywood execs have started to believe the movie’s triumph a sort of fluke. A billion dollar fluke, apparently. Marvel is a trusted brand in the realm of cinematic entertainment now, so some believe they could have turned any IP into a billion dollar movie.

Thor, Ant Man, and Dr Strange all say hello, by the way.

The criticism may be valid on some terms, but it completely overlooks one crucial aspect of what Black Panther so appealing to some many people.

CULTURE.

What is Iron Man? A rich white guy in a crazy, tech-suit.

What is Captain America? A soldier with a big, noble heart and super-human abilities

Spider-man? Nerdy kid with spider-based powers

Black Panther? King of a sovereign nation who is forced to take over after the death of his father, the former King. Oh yeah, and he’s also the super-powered, super wealthy, highly trained protector of his people.

 

It’s no secret that there were thousands (if not millions) of moviegoers who went to see Black Panther who hadn’t watched a single Marvel movie prior to. And why’d they go. Because of the sheer hype the Black Panther press tour generated. The stars, director, and producers were so visible and so likable that it convinced people who were otherwise on the fence to see the movie.

Not only that but the African culture and mystic that surrounded the film cast the whole project in a more uplifting and positive light. Instead of gang bangers and dope pushers–we were getting warriors, kings, and a what’s essentially a sci-fic action adventure. We as black people were so ecstatic to see ourselves in such a way, that the presale of the movie’s tickets also made history.

So then..why do Hollywood execs think the movie’s success is a fluke?

Because it’s discrimination, you twits! Remember the Sony email leaks of yesteryear? (2014?) Hollywood already doesn’t think black movie stars aren’t profitable. Of course they think set design, music, brand (Marvel), and big budget are the reasons for the billion dollar earnings. They also like to pretend other Marvel stinkers like the old Hulk movies and the mostly forgettable Ant Man and Thor sequels don’t exist too. Granted the budgets weren’t as big, but Thor has 3 movies!? THREE? Keep in mind rumors of a Black Panther movie had been around since 2005. So we get 3 Iron Man, 3 Captain America, and 3 Thor movies before one Black Panther? And Black Panther outperformed them all?

How about 2-3 more Black Panther movies, a Static Shock trilogy, and a Blue Marvel run? NO? Why not? Let’s stop asking ‘why not’ and instead hold these studios accountable. One way to do that is to show overwhelming support for this kind of diversity. Thank god Chris Evans (my favorite Marvel actor) is done after Avengers 4. Now hopefully, the spotlight can be shone down on characters like Captain Marvel and Black Panther, Falcon, War Machine and the Dora Milaje. And god save the queen if we get a Iron Heart (Shuri) in this cinematic universe! *Cues God’s Plan* It would be…MARVELOUS. I’ll stop.

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The powerful, captivating Dora Milaje

My Geeky Girlfriend (2009)

“…but I’m a fujoshi”

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Okay dudes,

I feel like we’ve all had that one friend who was super into pop-culture or more specifically a subculture niche, right? Maybe they were real big on collecting trading cards or really big movie buffs? As I run through the story of Fujoshi Kanojo in my head, I was trying to find an American comparison to the Japanese outcast otakus. Nothing immediately came to mind, UNTIL I remembered a friend of my older brother. Like Yoriko in this film, that friend was so into things like hentai, anime, and games; not many people really seemed to understand him. Somehow, some way–Hanata seems to understand Yoriko.

 

The majority of this movie consists of Hanata (Shunsuke Daito) dating and sort of being ‘schooled’ toward the ways of otakus via his former boss, Yoriko (Wakana Matsumoto). Honestly, the movie is literally just us touring one scene of geekdom after another. One of the earliest scenes (if not the earliest) is of Yoriko and her small pack of friends bringing Hanata along to what ends up being a Butler Cafe. It’s full of handsome, dashing men who are at the beckon call of the cafe’s patrons. This scene is full of Black Butler references, sub or dom quips, and whether or not Hanata’s treating Yoriko with basic, human decency means he’s ‘submissive’. Yeah, that submissive.

My Geeky Girlfriend spends a large chunk of it’s run time showing off Yoriko’s passionate otaku spirit, and the romantic comedy (or at least the conventional rom-com) takes a backseat until we’re more than halfway through the movie. Nothing really happens aside from Hanata being a committed boyfriend struggling to understand his love’s obsession; while Yoriko has trouble trusting him. In Yoriko’s eyes, Hanata is younger and could have anyone he wanted as a girlfriend. Her biggest fear of being seen as a freak almost ruins the relationship. Ultimately though, it’s a new job (out of country) that threatens their relationship. Even still, the movie doesn’t have any real stakes for the characters involved and is just as mundane (nuanced) as regular ol’reality.

I know it’s like my first review in forever (a few months), but I will be making an effort toward updating here more often. I do want to setup a new marathon, but that won’t really kick off until after my first few reviews. All that aside, WE BACK!

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Anime Reflections: “Nobunaga no Shinobi”

Had the opportunity here recently to check out this Spring’s offering of fresh, new anime series and movies. Unfortunately, what I saw was more of what I’ve come to expect from Japan’s seasonal, animated offerings. Stories of adolescent men and women falling in and out of love. Heroic forays into ancient Japan, or futurist, space-operas somewhere in a universe far, far away (had to switch it up a little). Eventually, whether through written review or through radio–my plan is to discuss some of those new shows and get at what’s hot and what could use some work.

Today though, I’m discussing a television show, that actually made it’s debut last October.

Ninja Girl and the Samurai Master

aka Nobunaga no Shinobi

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Nobunaga no Shinobi is a four-panel manga series by Naoki Shigeno. The historical comedy began in 2008, and has been running nine volumes strong since making it’s debut in Young Animal magazine.  The anime version is called Ninja Girl and the Samurai Master, and even it’s animation style lends itself toward something similar to a quick, snappy, ‘four-panel’ episode. As episodes are literally around three minutes long, the dialogue, narration, and colorful cast of characters fly in and out of frame as swiftly as they appeared. The jokes, sight-gags, and witty nature of the program really had me and my ten year-old laughing out loud; but I would like to give a bit of a warning. The show does feature blood, cartoon violence, and even some crude, gross humor that may be a bit much for some.

As it is a historically-inspired work, the series sort of summarizes each event in Nobunaga’s eventual conquest of Japan. The viewer’s eye ‘sorta’ comes in the way of a young, silly, but skilled shinobi named Chidori. Now Chidori and Oda Nobunaga seem to swear allegiance to one another fairly quickly and their antics and adventures with other characters in Oda’s clan. Again, it takes a lot for an anime to make me laugh, but the snappy characters featured in this anime pulled it off with aplomb.

As of now there are currently nineteen episodes available for viewing on Crunchyroll. Please give it a watch, and let me know what you think. While we’re on the note of thoughts and opinions, send yours to worduppodcast@gmail.com

 

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life

Words: Desmond Childs
Growing up, my “blackness” wasn’t necessarily something that I struggled with. I had a very diverse group of contemporaries, and although our teachers were often white–many were married to Blacks, Hispanics, or even Asians. I say this as a sort of reflection on the state of social issues. Comparing today to yesteryears, and I’ve definitely been singled out more so now as opposed to my childhood. Whether it’s jobs or even being picked first for basketball games simply because I was black. The color of my skin, not my values, are what many people have used as a way to interact with me.

The key difference between myself and legendary Disney animator Floyd Norman, is that he wasn’t a black man looking for a job with Disney—he saw himself as just another artist looking for a good gig with an iconic company.

This documentary mixes segments of animated anecdotes and biographical recollections about the historic career of one Floyd Norman–one the greatest, most consistent animators you’ve never heard of. From his work with Disney to his career as a writer and comic strip maker, and also his stints as an animator and writer with Hanna-Barbara. There’s even a well placed segment detailing Norman’s independent production company that focused mostly on Black history. The film doesn’t shy away from the struggle-hustle days of Norman’s making informational videos and his serving as a photographer in Nam’ before returning back to Disney to resume work on projects such as 101 Dalmatians. There is a segment, in which Floyd begins to throw out some of the names of shows he worked on throughout his career–some I heard of, others I was unfamiliar, but there were many that I absolutely loved and still do. However, instead of listing them here I suggest you look up Norman’s work yourself. Seek out his artwork, his legacy, and his impact.

My favorite part of this film had to be the discussions of how Floyd handled stress. Whether it was his drawing silly, yet insightful doodles of company bosses and co-workers; or quietly dealing with a separation and ultimate divorce from his first wife. Norman never was an emotional, excitable type. Actually (and arguably more unhealthily), he was a man who had trouble expressing his pain and heartache. Floyd did not vent often, at least verbally to others; he preferred to vent through his artwork. Interviews with his children, co-workers, and women in his life gave solid insight to Floyd’s dealing with his shortcomings and setbacks.

There are other segments that were just as engaging, but this is definitely not a film I want to spill into details over. Please do yourself a favor and check out Floyd Norman and his incredible run on Netflix today. Here’s the trailer below:

We are not going anywhere. They will not get that satisfaction. Not today.

​I’m a black man, with two black children, and a black wife. I live in a country that has historically devalued my worth and downplayed the contributions of my people. *looks at haters* if you think music and sports is all black men and women have contributed, google black inventors. *looks at people who are indifferent* Many of you joked about the terror of a Trump presidency, but made double the amount of excuses as to why you couldn’t vote. I do not hate, but understand that your indifference toward your fellow Americans, and people of color is duly noted. As for me and my house, we will CONTINUE to serve the Lord; something a Trump or Clinton presidency would not have changed. Trump supporters who I may have loved,.liked, or simply known; whatever reason you had for your vote is your own; you exercised your right. I will say that many in your number have frightened the backbone of this country; and your overlooking that will not be forgotten. President Trump, the clock is ticking–as far as I can see, nothing has changed in terms of the state of racial and social relations. If anything, a Trump win underlines ALL of what we’ve seen, experienced, heard, or read. Be safe everyone. Be wise. Learn from this.

Pray.

Plan.

Persist.